The Worlds 2018
Alexander The Great vs Italian Condottieri
Following a significant stroll around the UKGE trade hall (like, just wow, what a big show!) in which I avoided buying some boardgames on the spot, but did realise I would return and buy them later the second game came around - the quiet but deadly Mr Young in his favourite Worlds environment with an Italian Condotta army.
The lists for the Alexander The Great and Italian Condottieri 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.
Faced with a prospect of both Knights and 2HCW-armed foot I elected again to lead with the Indian Ally version of my 2 lists.
The terrain had fallen more kindly, like a poppadum breaking into 4 exactly equal quarters in the middle of the plastic basket at the centre of a 4-person table... but even so it was basically similar to last time. With more canals than Venice, Birminigham is no stranger to waterside situations and again here there was a waterway and a better-positioned village constricting the frontage into what I hoped would become an Elephant Bowling Alley.
This saw the Indians slapped down in the centre, flanked on the waters edge by the Death Star command leaving the Pike and Spears to (hopefully) face Knights and horse on the more open left flank.
I'd also dropped a Javelinman in ambush in the village. Yes, another real ambush!
The Condottieri were somewhat over-supplied with Light Horse and Cavalry compared to what I had been expecting, and on my right the rapid advance of a stylishly dressed but not Vespa-riding Italian skirmish screen pinned my Death Star back immediately - however with no other real battle troops on this flank the left hand end of the Condotta centre looked exposed if these pesky LH could be swept away.
The rest of the Condotta centre were also moving up smartly in their Armani armour, a solid wall of heavy metal infantry with spears and an assortment of various polearms.
With the end of the line looking very tempting and the Italians rushing forward anyway it seemed opportune to drive the Death Star forward and clatter right into them before they hit the somewhat squishier Indians - hopefully halting their advance in the process and buying time for my shooting to have some effect on the enemy Pikemen.
When Alexander was Posh
Driving away the Condottieri light horse screen with some disdain both Greek-owned elephants charged forward into the solid but worried line of cappucino-supping Italian infantry, supported by a cheeky Agrianian who had managed to sidle up to the end of the enemy line to add a vital overlap.
This was a solid opportunity to unhinge the enemy early doors and start to roll up their line like a huge swatch of expensive fabric.
On the opposite flank both sides were also starting to get to grips even though we were still only in turn 2.
The Condotta had an unfeasibly large number of Fiat-500-mounted troops, with a veritable Tiber-esque flood of Impact Medium cavalry supporting their 2 Knights on the extremities of the battlefield - the small 3-unit Alexandrian Pike command was struggling to fill the ground against such a numerous foe and so ended up resorting to splitting its units to pin back the enemy as far away from the main action as they could manage.
The Phalanx was now isolated, but with 4 cohesion points even if it went down it would still represent a decent trade of time, space and capability against the Condottieri knights.
The Elephants however had suffered a Cappucino-flavoured catastrophe! The overlapping pachyderm had merely managed a draw against their Milanese opponents in the vital impact phase, and the overlapped Elephant then pulled out a shameful 1-6 dice roll to explode at first contact with the enemy. Then adding injury to insult, it proceeded to Elephant Rampage to its' right, knocking a hit off the first Elephant anyway!
The plan to force an opening had instead ended up creating an insecure flank on my own Indian command.
Jumping Jalfrezi! The Pike command was stretched further than a wargamers post-curry t-shirt as they struggled to deal with the unexpected threats of the mostly mounted Condottieri raiding force on my left. The Hypaspists may be Elite, but when outnumbered and overlapped they can still go down like ninepins.
With only them and a sole Companion standing in the way of a run to the baggage by the Italians their task looked tricky to say the least.
Learn how to play the popular Condottieri board game
The Condotta light horse were now flooding back as they reinforced their unexpected success against the Elephant assault by using numbers and shooting to pile the pressure on the troop-denuded Greek right. Elephant-free, it was now looking difficult for the Thracians to do much other than hope to again prevent another baggage run through their own slow but eventual attritional loss.
Sidestepping to avoid the Pikemen in the Condotta centre, the Indian Elephants then took their own turn to try and break the Italian line through sheer force of impact with their thundering charge.
The battle was now getting hotter than a Vindaloo and the Italians were gaining in confidence by the moment. They piled on the pressure by committing their Lancers against the sole unit of Companions on the left as half of the Pikemen and the vague whiff of Birmighham Balti they carried with them at all times continued their staring match against the Knights.
The Madras-tastic Indian attack, and an in-step Phalangite assault had been met with indifference bordering on insolence by the sharp-suited Condottieri infantry. Having despatched one unit of Elephants their confidence was clearly sky high, as they refused to even absorb a single hit against the massive body slam that was a combined Elite Pachyderm and Pikemen attack.
Gaugamela - The Battle
In the next phase the Condottieri continued their ruthless and efficient mission with glee, removing a whole slab of supposedly competent combat troops from the middle of the Alexandrian line as if they had never existed.
It was as if the Indian troops were ice creams that had just melted away in the fierce indoor Birmingham sun...
This was going from bad to worse, as with now barely any combat-capable troops left alive in my army and literally zero hits inflicted on the opposition I was facing the very real prospect of a complete wipeout.
Yes! Success! The loyal Companions had eked out a lone hit on the Italian horsemen on the left wing, restoring a pathetically small about of pride to the once world-conquering army which has now finding out why they went East instead of West in their adventures - apart of course for their love of curry over pasta and pizza, which had apparently been a large factor in the voting.
Things were getting as turbulent as a Villa home game at New Street Station as the Indians and Greek-run Elephants were now all either dead or on their last stubby legs as the Condottieri chopped their way through the ragged remnants of my force. This was not a saveable game, never mind a winnable one and so the once-proud Alexandrians were reduced to seeking scraps of kills and hits on whatever they could mug in order to minimise the scale of the coming defeat.
Wearing Italian Armour
All Elephants back in the box by turn 5, leaving Mediocre and Average Medium Swordsmen as the last stand against an Italian victory. Well, that won't end well, will it... ? It might end quickly, but certainly not well...
With no opponents left to destroy in the centre the Italians were able to wheel their forces out to the wings and exploit the space and time, ganging up on the already embattled Companions and Hypaspists as the Condotta sought to close out the game in time for mid afternoon expresso's and biscotti.
Even my vague attempts to roll up the Italian line with a Thracian and a Companion were hopeless - it was all coming to naught as the mail-clad axemen shrugged off the attacks and chopped them down.
This was pretty much all that was left of the Indian command, a lone infantryman shouting impotently in Telagu at a line of puzzled mercenary halberdiers.
Critiquing the Alexander Film
Blabbering Baltis! Marooned and static, the Pikemen on the extreme flank were now meeting their much deserved and well trailed fate as well as the Condottieri surrounded them and charged home.
The left flank collapsed, and took Alexanders army down - but truth be known their morale had been long departed from their bodies as they failed to hold steady in any meaningful fashion after the initial elephant debacle. The result is a crushing defeat.
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
This was a rather painful experience which I do not intend repeating any time soon, and hopefully not at all. The loss of my two wholly-owned elephants was a traumatic event which took place in a combat I was supposed to win and from where the game could have been mine in under an hour, but instead everything went wrong and I was left scrabbling for scraps and shavings in order to stave off the worst defeat in recorded history
With that in mind it seems strange to say that one of my best achievements from this debacle was to remain focused enough to switch my strategy from one of trying to win into trying to stave off defeat for long enough for me to claw back some casulaties from the enemy, thus increasing my score to a half-acceptable total.
The composition of the enemy army was also surpising to me, with the large flank of mounted troops catching my deplyment cold and unhinging my plan from the start.
Fortunately Medieval Italy was not on my original itinery when I planned to conquer the Ancient world, as the dastardly Persians were a much higher priority. Should I end up doing a Dr Who style regeneration after my death perhaps by the 10th or 12th version I will be in a position to do this better next time around.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
What an utter shambles. Frankly my dear boy, you were lucky to finish this game in second place as for a moment I feared you may be going down to hard that you woudl have ended up banished from the entire event on account of breaking the scoring spreadsheet and ending up on negative points.
Quite why against an army known for its solid infantry you elected to try to narrow the table with terrain is utterly beyond me - a surplus of fields and plantations would have been ideal and allowed your forces to march around with impunity as the close formation and mounted opposition struggled to respond and find open space to march through. Perhaps even your mysterious second list could have proved more useful - who knows?
Pinning your hopes on an elephant charge into heavy infantry spearmen who you also gifted with an overlap was also stunningly stupid. Quite how you expected to win in an evens comnat at impact where you had less hit points than your opponent and where you would be down a factor once the malee continued ... I ask you, what foolishness is this?
This has been a chastening experience and one I look forward to seeing if you have learnt anything from in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition