The Worlds 2018
Alexander The Great vs The Yuan Chinese
After Charleroi and Salamanca, The 2018 Worlds came to a town which combined the very best of both previous host cities - Birmingham, in the romantically-named "The West Midlands", full of its evocative imagery of cowboys, chuck wagons and the M42 motorway with its overhead gantries and variable speed limits. The event was rolled up into The BHGS Challenge, putting L'Art de la Guerre (and some other rulesets) alongside 24,000 other gamers in the NEC exhibition centre as part of UK Games Expo.
The intrepid Central London contingent, stiffened by the not inconsiderable addition of an American ringer had deployed ourselves to the smokingly-cool suburb of Solihull earlier on the Friday, giving us a full day of west Midlands hipster inspired boardgaming and (plastic cup standard lager) beer to prepare for the curry marathon of the rest of the weekend in some fine style.
Having played in many competitions but not having fitted in any practice or club games possibly all year so far my list choice for this top-tier international event was a tricky one. In the end, not wanting to keep with my usual style of taking an entirely new army and risk finding it wasn't put together in any sort of optimized way I ended up defaulting to a slightly modified 2 versions of the Alexander The Great list I had taken to Salamanca, on the basis that I knew it was pretty decent against both Medieval and earlier themed armies, the two lists were both quite different (one has an Indian ally) and I had proved last year that it was fairly competent.
With the draw being published in advance (well, after the lists were finally all submitted, so not that far in advance) I also had plenty of time to prepare myself for my opponent - the suddenly popular Yuan Chinese army under the command of Harrison Pearce. OK, of course 'prepare myself properly' did actually only involve asking one of the guys in the car on the way up 'what's in that army then?' - but it's a start. The lists for the Alexander The Great and Yuan Chinese from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at The Worlds can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Having opted not to take Alexander himself as a commander my army had a relatively low aggression of 2, and partly as a result my Indian Ally V1 list ended up defending, securing both the Waterway and a Village as part of my terrain picks to narrow the table against what I expected to be plenty of decent cavalry.
The Indians were aimed at two fields on the left, with the Pike in the centre to advance and support the Indians by providing them with a secure flank in the open terrain, with the Half Hearted Death Star (2 Elephants, 1 Javelinman and one - bizarrely - only-one-handed Thracian Peltast unit) looking to nudge up against the terrain on the right.
The Yuan either hadn't read the script about being a cavalry army, or I'd not listened properly in the car when everyone else told me about the strength that the Indonesian Ally of Elephants and Impetuous Foot Swordsmen brings to the Yuan (You decide). The Indians clearly would need some help from the Pike, who were not exactly enamoured of the idea of being the blockers for Javanses warband.
Pictures of Indians from my Ancients Photo Directory
(Click any image to see details of the manufacturer, and a larger version of the photo)
The entire army stuttered forward in a remarkable display of self control, advancing the minimum necessary to drift one base width to the right and then fit in a cheeky wheel where the gaps existed already due to my somewhat incoherent deployment.
Ensuring the table was closed down properly I'd actually done a proper ambush, with a unit of Thracian Javelinmen shocking the Yuan Light Horse who of course expected a fake marker. The Khans Guard in the distance had held back to see if their LH had a free run to the baggage - but as they didn't they started to advance towards the gap in my line that the drift of all of my troops to the left had created.
The gap was significant and with the Khans Guard being lethal shooters as well as pokey combat troops I decided that driving them off with a couple of Companion charges would buy me some much needed time for the rest of my army to get stuck in.
Unfortunately the Khans Guard had not read the script, and elected to stand even with my sneaky Agrianian overlap in play.
Both sides took hits at impact.
The first unit loss was however one of Alexander's Companions - the possibility of Khans Guard rolling up my right flank seemed imminent even as we went into the 3rd turn, which was less than ideal. At least though the Khan himself was dicing - literally - with death as his embedded unit was the one taking hits from the other Companion unit.
I was also absorbing an entire enemy command's worth of command and control on this flank with just 2 Cavalry (OK, now technically and literally 1) and 2 Medium Foot.
The Pike command had now stopped monkeying around and had joined up almost magnetically with the 2 Death Star elephants to form a reasonably coherent 5-wide line stepped some way in front of the Indians (who wanted to shoot as often as possible before combat).
The Indo-Yuan-Malaysian warriors and pachyderms sailed in at high speed - the combat here would be all about the first round, and whoever did best would have a huge advantage in the ensuing melee.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Impetuous Swordsmen are at a base factor of 1, + 1 for Impact at first contact against my Pike and Spears. The Pike are at a base of 2 as well, with the Hypaspists at 1 (but Elite). However if the Warband win they inflict an additional hit through "Furious Charge". It's a scary, finely balanced interaction !
The Greek Expeditionary troops ended up coming out on top by some margin, with Pikemen and Hypaspists blasting a hole through the middle of the Malaysians, stepping forward smartly after destroying the enemy in their next turn.
The cutting edge provided by the Javanese infantry had been blunted by the combination of Pike and Elephant, and now the Sinhalese General himself was in deep trouble, engaged by Pike frontally and with Hypaspists ready to turn on his flank too.
The battle was now getting hotter than a Vindaloo as the Khan and his Guardsmen were still hacking away at the Companions indecisively as the rest of the table started to become a dictionary definition of decisive. With the rest of their command seemingly on autopilot as the Elephants ploughed onwards, the Alexandrian commander joined in to try to bolster his lancers, conscious both that their survival secured his army's flank and also neutralized the command and control of the Yuan left flank.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - when a General is engaged in combat all moves from their command take an additional +1 pip. Sometimes it can be worth engaging an enemy embedded general simply for the command and control degredation effects.
That strategy could only work for a little while however, and the Companions finally gave up the unequal fight and succumbed to the best horsemen the Mongol Diaspora could cook up in a wok. This left the entire flank ridiculously exposed with only LH and some rather worried looking single-armed Thracians standing in the way of a Khanate baggage looting exercise.
Mongols vs China
Polishing off the Malay warband and elephants in the middle was proving rather more difficult than their initial success had indicated. The jungle warband were gripping the tabletop for dear life, as they hung on grimly on 1 and 2 hits, refusing to give up their third point of viability. Clearly they were expecting to take heart at the possible arrival of the Khan himself to save their local version of bacon.
Alexander vs The Indians
Blabbering Baltis! The Khan was gathering his forces and considering options - suddenly every road lay open before him and his men as the Thracian Javelinmen finally succumbed to sustained shooting to be removed from play. This flank looked lost - time to win quickly elsewhere.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Plantations look like the closest thing to woodland in the Agricultural terrain list, however despite their ability to hide proper battle troops in ambush they do still only count as Rough terrain. That means they only slow cavalry by 1 MU, giving LH a 16cm move even in this visually closed-looking area. If they get caught by infantry, mounted troops will suffer in terrain, but at that sort of speed they may not be in it for very long.
The King of Siam was overwhelmed and dragged from his elephant as the Hypaspists (extra-large Xyston Roman range figures, who coudl therefore easily reach onto the back of the nellie) flipped onto his flank and took him down. The mopping up was speeding up, but would it be quick enough to win before the baggage fell?
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The Khan had way too many targets - in the absence of the development of a Mongol shotgun his men raced forward and he led a furious attack on the flank of the battle-worn Alexandrian elephant corps in devastating fashion. The Gods of Dice had been even handed and capricious after their initial favouring of the Greek infantry and now the threatened roll-up was very much on the cards.
The Khans Light Horse bounded over the serried ranks of fruit trees to emerge, blinking into bright daylight and the smell of last night's curry wafting from the Alexandrian camp.
One more turn...
Jumping Jalfrezi! In a valiant effort to save the day the Thessalian Light Horse raced back through the same fruit orchard to clatter half of the Khanates skirmishers over like so many skittles in a battle of low factors.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Hit in the rear the Khanate LH start at a base of Zero, reduced to -2 by the terrain. The Thessalians start on 1 vs LH and LF, +1 for Javelin, +1 for attacking the enemy rear and -2 for terrain for a net +1. As the other Khanate LH is facing away it doesn't contribute an overlap.
Inspired by that 2-VP success the Madras-tastic Indians (who you haven't really seen yet) pushed forward on the extreme left flank where they had been playing "eat the enemy pips" with a handful of reluctant sub-par Yuan cavalry all game.
A final well aimed shot and the Yuan cavalry picked up a marker, and Alexander's subordinates picked up a narrow squeaky-bum-time first round win by tipping the Yuan over their break point only moments before the Khan could steal the Alexandrian baggage!
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from the Aleksander The Great Meerkat
Happy days eh? Its a first round win against a tough opponent, and so I imagine from now on I'll be rolling forward towards victory in every one of my next four battles to end up as the inevitable champion of the world.
I was delighted to see how well the Pikes and Indians were able to fight, especially against the Javanese warband who could have been devastating when they charged. The clever combination of elephants and pedestrians was awesome and I can see muself thrusting this rock-hard anvil into the faces of many enemies in the rest of this weekend.
The other cool bit of this battle was that I managed to almost perfectly balance the pace of victory on one flank against the pace of losses on the other - the Thracians in the terrain on the right were always going to go down, but it was all about making sure they at least delayed the Khan's Guard long enough so their eventual impact on the rest of the battlefield was limited. And if the Companions had been a little more fortunate in the first round this could even have ended up as a flank on which we won, rather than lost slowly enough.
I'm clearly still a genius, even after all of these years and even with one of my subordinates managing the army today. Simples!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
A comfortable win? What a dullard - you came within an inch of utter defeat here, and the number of mistakes you made were almomst toomany to count - but hey, lets give it a go anyway.
Other than the usual problems involved in not practiocing at all with your list prior to turning up, you again failed to understand the terrain rules properly and deployed every one of the 5 pieces you were allowed as Defender - thes denying yourself the chance to try and reposition even one of them into a better place on the table. Imagine if this army of Alaxander had actually been led by him personally as well - they your Strategist would have given you even more control!
You also then failed to do anything clever at all with your forces, just lining up and waiting for the enemy to attack - which fortunately this incarnation of the popular Yuan does seem to want to do. But against the Khans Guard your Companions were idiots of the highest order - why would a 4-strong force with a General want to do anything else other than stand and fight your 2-pack of units on what would otherwise be a totally open flank?
Had they won more quickly your baggage would have been gone and with it the game, putting you in a far more lowly position for the beginning of the next game.
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition