Romes Wars at York 2021
Odrysian Thracian vs Sassanid Persian
Three games in a day, comfortably exceeding the best monthly total achieved in the last 18 months, and the afternoon post-lunch event was another cataphract-likely matchup against Mike Bennett and his Sassanid Persians.
The lists for the Odrysian Thracian and Sassanid Persian from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at York can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The Sassanid is a top tier army, with good quality shooting heavy cavalry, cataphracts (of course) and the option for elephants as well - but in the timeline for this competition it appeared that the elephant options was not first choice in what is always going to be a very expensive and potentially small army composition, as neither of the two players picking Sassanid had gone for the beasties.
For this game the relatively successful terrain deployments of the previous battles was thrown entirely out of the gaping open window of the tented structure in which we were playing, as almost nothing of interest fell anywhere of use on the prairie-like green tabletop. This left the Sassanids an open field across which to advance their wall of mounted troops and Cataphracts
As was traditional, the Thracians had placed their Hoplite and Horsemen command on a flank, and this time they had rather lucked out as the Persians were matching them up with a normally-flank-dominating command of Ordinary Anorexic Asarvan HCv Bowmen.
This gave the Spear + Elite HCv Thracian combo a decent chance to at least make the enemy think. The Elite HIllmen were in the centre of the Thracian line, ready to do, erm, I'm not quite sure even now.
The bulk of the loose formation warriors from Bulgaria then extended across the open plains and into the one defensively placed field, greatly out-width-ing the Persians who's army seemed to rather peter out as it crossed from Anorexic Asarvan to Essex Cataphracts to, erm, bowmen, Mediocre Spearmen and a couple more lost-looking Slimline Asarvan to round out the line. Perhaps weight of numbers could come into play after all?
The almost-Persian Thracian noble horsemen were actually feeling reasonably happy with the matchup - yes, their opponents could shoot, but they weren't elite and were also rather apparently ill-fed Lurkio horses and riders compared to the hefty and firmly-Grealish-calved Xyston chaps who made up the Thracian ranks.
Given the wide open enemy-free spaces on the opposite flank the Thracians and Greeks only really had to wait around and try to delay things as long as possible here in order to buy time for a rather surprising infantry outflanking move to pay off on the other side of the board
And that move was happening with alacrity as a tidal wave of hairy romphia-waving lunatics charged frantically across the open playing surface towards a scattering of things which they felt more than reasonably confident about chopping up into small pieces suitable for a bbq on a warm Thracian summers evening.
The skinny sideways-on Persians closed on the Thracian anti-cavalry wing cautiously, very aware that the Elite Thracian Nobles were more than a match for the bog-standard Persian horsemen.
Even the Light Horse matchup of bow vs javelin on the end of the line was a nervous one for the Iranians to contemplate - however the Thracians were both mindful of their role to delay, and also conscious that the Greek Spearmen were much better off if they could tempt the Persian's Skinny Asarvan to make the first charge.
Wobbly Tripod Scenarios yet again afflicted the official recording team of the Thracian army, but the general gist is still pretty clear even if the picture is in soft focus.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Sassanid army is narrow, and has stacked it's entire force on one wing of the table - the one where the Thracian army has its anti-mounted combination of quality cavalry and mercenary Hoplites.
Persia needs to record some shooting hits before launching an assault on this formation, and this also plays into the hands of the Thracians as the longer this flank is inconclusive, the more time their rather surprised regular warriors will have to advance across the open, uncontested terrain on the opposite flank and get stuck into the soft underbelly of the Persian rear echelons.
The Persian Cataphracts in the centre are better than the Thracian Hillmen facing them, but they cannot ignore them and turn to face the threat from the flanking move as the Hillmen are more than capable fo causing serious damage if given the right flank and opportunity to do so.
With the Persian Cataphracts seemingly committed to advancing straight forward, the Thracian outflanking move gathered pace and soon the romphia-men were charging into the best target on the board - Mediocre Spearmen in the form of the newly upgraded Sassanid Levy.
The Thracians had not seen such an easy opportunity to get on the scoreboard since Harry Kane had stooped to head in against Germany in Euro 2021, so they raced forward into combat with some alacrity
Even though it wasn't the Elite Hillmen in the prime position, that whole "We win a tie, you go down if you roll a 4,5 or 6" malarkey was still about as good as it could ever really get
Thrace-a-rama! Thracian javelineers made a bee line for the Persian Fire Temple, coming up against a paltry force of half-hearted bowmen and Mediocre Spearmen who surely would only prove to be a hors d'ouvre before the main feasting on Persian delicacies commenced?
The Persians saw the clock running down on their cheering supporters and initiated an attack - combining Cataphracts and Asarvan in a concerted charge against the barely-weakened Thracian bulwark on the flank.
The Thracians and Greeks had shrugged off the Skinny Asarvan archery in the main, and successfully rallied off almost all of the hits they had picked up anyway.
This resililence had run down the clock, and even though they surely had better targets the Persians found they had little choice but to drag across some Cataphracts to help try and force a way through the resilient Thracian line.
Thrace-tastic! Hand to hand battle was now being joined furiously on a broad front extending from the centre of the table back to the Persian baseline as the countless multitudes of Thracian infantry did a much better job of filling space than the rather sparsely distributed Sassanid second string troopers.
The Persians were so badly outnumbered that their prime rib Asarvan were being mobbed from all sides by the swirling clouds of pedestrians from Romanbio-Bulgaria-ish each time they dared to venture forwards.
With most fingers out of the handful of Sassanid Cataphracts having been drawn into combat against the Greek Spearmen, gaps were even opening up in the middle of the Sassanid line allowing rampant Thracian Hillmen to charge through hollerin' and a whoopin' like students returning to the bars around York University straight after their exams, desperate to pick up a dose of Delta Variant before all restrictions were finally lifted next month.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Persians attack on the Thracian left is going slowly - as expected against better quality troops.
The Thracians outflanking move with a wall of infantry is now impossible to ignore, and they are starting to engage what would normally be considered as "filler" in the Persian army.
The Persians are having to react to being outflanked, and both the Cataphracts, who are notoriously hard to turn about, and the filler itself is forming an ad-hoc battle line to resist the arrival of so many lowland Thracian infantry. This is allowing the small yet difficult to ignore band of Hill Tribesmen to start to assault the Cataphracts, as they become isolated and start to give up the occasional flank in the face of these multiple threats
The Hillmen were in fine form, even pulling the odd boney-assed cataphract from his boney-assed horse in plain honest frontal combat before following up to threaten to do so again to the stunned metal-shod horsemen who had expected to be safe only a base depth behind their supposedly invulnerable colleagues.
Thracian romphia men had even now reached the holy grail of opponents
The Mediocre spear defending the Persian back edge had become a target for the Peltasts, and their romphias were swinging more wildly and with more enthusiasm than a Ford Mondeo-driving couple shortly after visiting an A1 roadside retail establishment on their way to a house party with a legally mandated 4 of their "closest" friends
The melee in the centre continued to swirl, with the embattled Cataphracts struggling to make much headway against the bold Thracian Hillmen - however the Persians second string troops were dicing out of their skins as if they knew the fate of the army depended upon them this time around.
The Levy in particular were proving tougher than an overcooked Premier Inn sausage as the Thracians started to consider whether their romphias had been replaced with plastic cutlery as they repeatedly failed to implement their "straight through the middle and out the other side" strategy.
ADLG hint - The Thracian fighting the Levy Spearman in the middle is subject to a flank attack from the front edge of a Sassanid LF in this picture.
It's a LF, so it only counts as "Simple Support" ... however because the Thracian has enemy in front-edge contact with its flank it cannot count any "Special Abilities" in combat.
That means neither the 2HCW "tie breaker" special ability vs spearmen, and the "+1 if we win" special abilities have any effect in this melee.
As seems to have been the case in previous games, the Thracian Elite Noble Cavalry had come to a sudden and ignoble end in the face of what on paper were less effective, and certainly less well fed Sassanid Heavy cavalry.
This has in turn exposed the flank of the still-fighting Greek spearmen as the Persians sought to roll up the Thracian army from its left hand edge, forcing the men of Thrace to commit unsuitable troops to be fighting mounted opponents in the first place into situations where they could be surrounded and (as is happening here) destroyed too.
This was now doing serious damage to the ability of the Thracians to carry on fighting much longer
In the final reckoning the Thracian sweeping outflanking move had ended up falling just short of success, mostly down to some unfeasibly stoic resistance on the part of the second-string Sassanid supposed-filler.
Perhaps the Persian levy had been eating the Weetabix that the Asarvan and their horses appeared to have declined, or perhaps the need to race across quite so much open terrain had exhausted them, but the Thracians had failed to complete their plan whilst the Persians had managed to fully finish theirs.
The Result is a defeat for Thracistania.
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 Odrysian Thracian Commander
hawooorarahsgha! That were reet painful like, as I wus shure we had the buggers on toast and skewered through the flank like kebabs on a kebab sheel thing arragha! The clever little buggers seemed to wriggle oot of it like though, and me choppy choppy chop chop boys could nae do nowt like to stop 'em
As would a hooped that me romphistic bloked woulda done some redecorating 'tha fire temple thingammyjig, but the bastard levy seems possessed - tha Persians must have Bielsa doing their coachin' or summat as they played ooot of that skins meahhhegnabryargh!.
Lots was done reet by me boys here like, but the end result didnae happen for reasons I am findin' difficult to fathom
I shall blame the dice, and the terrain and get messen off for a pie and a pint and hope for betta luck tomorrow. Warghaggharryah!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Well, yet again a load of old nonsense and no coherent analysis of the military failures that led to defeat in this game
The inactivity on the left flank was in some ways masterful, but in others perhaps was typical as in hindsight it seems possible to have a punt here when you had a chance even though you rplan was of course to refuse and delay here and let the other wing win on it's own.
Perhaps you forgot that cavalry only have a factor of 0 vs Heavy Foot frontally, so your 2 spearmen and 2 Elite cavalry were actually more than a match for the Persians right from the off, especially with that javelin-armed light horse there too, with a bit of a reserve as well
Your warriors did come a cropper in the middle and on the enemy base edge as well as they managed to get so strung out that it ended up being hard to secure much more than straight one on one fights, or even ones where you went in with overlaps against you. No matter how poor the opposition is that is not a plan for success I'm afraid to say.
I suppose the only saving grace is that you did look for a long while like this game might be yours for the taking, which given the terrain must have been a surprise to both you and the Persians. Perhaps we will see more success in the next game?
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition