Romes Wars at York 2021
Odrysian Thracian vs Triumverate Roman
The evening of the night before was about as Northern as it was possible to get - Haddock and Chips, with tea, bread and butter, together with sides of Mushy Peas and Chinese Curry Sauce.
The only downside (in some eyes) was that it was from The Wetherby Whaler rather than Harry Ramsden's, however as a Northerner pointed out to me that did mean it was about ₤4 more expensive - allowing us all to have a good old Northern whinge about the cost of Fish and Chips, whilst also having a Southerner moment of joy in realising it was still cheaper than it would have been back home in London.
After a very quiet night and a very identical full English breakfast the next day loomed large and with it a textbook Truimverate Roman army across the table. Rome vs Thrace - a classic battle of behemoths which one could only imagine was the ancient world's equivalent of an all-in tag-team wrestling bout between the staff of the York branches of both Harry Ramsden's and the Wetherby Whaler, but with less of a smell of chip fat.
The lists for the Odrysian Thracian and Triumverate Roman 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.
These Romans had certainly read the "How to be a Roman" book and taken it to properly to heart.
The army stretched across almost the full width of the table by dint of selecting a whole load of sub-par newly-minted raw legionaries and equipping them with box-fresh new armour as well - hopefully a mix that would taste like red meat to the carnivorous and armour-ignoring Thracian warriors.
Triumverate has enough cavalry to pretend to be a mounted wing, but here it found itself up against Thrace's finest Elite Heavy Cavalry, with a friendly javelinman wrestling with what may well be the world record longest ever Thracian javelin who lurked with a pair of small boys in a nearby field to provide extra support.
Basically they were happy to have some terrain to hide in, and irritated that they hadn't been fielded as Medium Spearmen to utilize the benefits of the new revised rules.
The rest of the Thracian army had simplicity in their bones and what appeared to be a foolproof plan - advance and engage the enemy as fast as possible and hope the dice, the 2HW armour neutralization ability, and the presence of so many Mediocre Raw Legions would all allow them to carve a path through the Italian army like a Beefeater serving wench cutting a slice of Black Forest Gateaux to finish off a Gammon and Chips (with pineapple ring) main course and tomato soup starter.
The Thracians were faster out of the blocks than a Yorkshireman leaving work on "Free Mushy Peas before 6pm" night at the local chippy, and raced across the open table towards the hastily reshuffling Romans.
Thrace-a-rama! Even the usually useless Thracian wing of 1 Medium Cavalry and 2 LH looked like it had found something of value to contribute, as it raced down the left wing and up a rather low-rising hill to harass the Romans even more paltry mounted component on that side of the table.
The Thracians "anti mounted wing" command usually felt quite smug with its combination of Elite Cavalry and Hoplites, but this time it found itself matched against an even better anti-mounted wing in the shape of Roman Cavalry, as well as a Mediocre Elephant (disassembled) Death Star with Spanish Scutarii.
The presence of the Iberian warband was a bit of a shocker for the mercenary hoplites, who were already starting to wonder if other professions may be available following their multiple meetings with Cataphracts in the two previous games.
Discretion was very much the better part of valour right now as the Thracian nobility urged their horses into a brave and ferocious retreat directly away from the enemy.
As Nobles have no doubt thought throughout the ages, "Why not let the peasants do the fighting?".
And the unpleasant peasants of Thracistan were certainly up for a fight.
As the Romans wriggled and jostled to see if they could form up in a position where they would not instantly have their flanks turned by the romphiaistic warriors the Thracians simply charged forward as fast as they could, looking to get into combat before the Romans could reform a solid line.
Combat would certainly be happening imminently, whether the Romans had finished their elaborate reorganisation or not!
The Romans meanwhile had sought to trump the military cynicism of Thrace's Nobility by pushing forward a unit of impressed slave Gladiators to try and half the advance of the Pretty Crappy Usually Thracian mounted component on this wing.
Just about taking advantage of the "uphill" rules by dint of a crestline the Murmillos, Retitarii and Coledangelos of the Hancock School of Glatiatory Prowess willingly joined the fight.
Frankly I imagine they were just happy to be fighting some 15mm Museum Miniatures 'sold as' Scythian horsemen rather than lions, tigers and bears in the arena.
The Thracians headlong charge suddenly halted as the Romans launched themselves back at the advancing forest-friendly Bulgarians.
Fighting was now breaking out on a wide frontage on the Thracian left flank, and the Thracians were already enjoying a few advantages as the Roman reshuffle had yet to be completed, leaving overlaps and flanks available for perusal.
With battle joined by the peasants, and seemingly starting well, the Nobles on the opposite flank suddenly panicked and faring that they may not even be able to claim credit for the inevitable-seeming victory turned about and themselves charged into the Roman mounted wing.
Or, possibly they realised that if they waited much longer the elephant would drift across into their faces and give them a right good trunking.
The Roman Legions it now appeared had been luring the Thracians into a false sense of security
Despite their often-Mediocre status and de-facto lack of Armour against the 2HW of the puppetesque men of Thracie Island these Legions still packed a pretty solid wallop, especially when they could manage to get a good run up with their pilums out (bought at the Pilum Emporium on the Appenine Way near Rome, a retailer who had just won a lengthy and expensive legal battle with a very similarly named (yet differently-stocked) roadside retail establishment on Ermine Street just south of Lincoln).
The Legions of Rome continued to hack away manfully, using their scutums with skill and expertise honed on the training ground and in the dormitories of the Legionary barracks no doubt.
With little appetite to insert yet another "A1 roadside Adult Store" reference into the narrative at this point the easily visible facts of the above picture will sadly have to do, showing as they do the Romans shutting the door on the Thracian attack and starting slowly to advance into them ready to do some flank-rolling-up activities of their own fairly soon.
What for a while had been starting to feel like it could well turn out to be "one of those" games suddenly started to come good for the Thracians however, as the Rather Crappy Cavalry Wing received an injection of javelin-shaped help from some of the Thracian infantry to sweep away what had been proving to be an unusually resilient set of Gladiators.
This now, finally, opened up the entire Roman right flank, leaving it at the mercy of ... erm, 1 injured Medium Cavalryman and 2 LH (one of which was also on the brink of death).
OK, maybe not that game-changing but heck, it cheered me up no end after a string of crappy dice rolls!
The opposite flank was also starting to look brighter than the Northern weather that morning, as the Nobles and their followers gained the upper hand also against slightly half-hearted opposition.
In the nearby fields the Thracian Javelinmen and their small child accompaniment were also having a real good hurl, impaling the allied Roman foot more times than an orange at a 1970's "keys in the bowl" party attended by customers of A1 retail emporia would be impaled by cocktail sticks bearing pineapple and cheese chunks.
The Roman line in front of their fortified camp had stood remarkably firm, but here and there the odd unit of Hillmen had been behaving impishly and darting through gaps in the Roman line (the cheeky beggars eh?).
The Romans had been chasing the interlopers all morning, and as the tribesmen danced the Legions started to get dizzy and run out of will and pips to keep rotating to face the many varied threats coming at them from all angles.
Slowly, bit by bit, the Thracians were starting to claw back towards parity from the bottom of the very deep hole they currently found themselves in.
The Crappy Cavalry Wing was now in full hue and cry, coming off the hill like a band of local North Lincolnshire Huntsmen seeing a lone Hunt Sab in an area with no mobile phone coverage.
They clattered down the hill, hammering into the flank of the last surviving gladiator to suddenly leave the Thracians in near uncontested control of the left hand side of the table
The Actual Proper Thracian (anti-) Cavalry Wing however seemed to have picked up the bad-dice baton and were conspiring to throw away whatever advantaged might accrue to any army with better quality troops and overlaps on their opponents.
Losing one Noble was careless, but with the Roman elephant starting to roam around dangerously in their rear areas things now had the potential to go further south than a Sicilian Legionary messenger finding himself lost in Milano riding a 1000cc Motoguzzi chariot combination.
Everywhere you looked the Thracian warriors were struggling, carrying markers and not winning combats with any sort of alacrity whatsoever.
The Roman line had been well and truly shattered, so there were surely opportunities to be had but the Bulgaro-Croato javelineers and sword-swingers were fluffing their lines at every opportunity.
At last, the Pretty Crap For A Mounted Wing broke free of the psychological shackles of the hillside and raced into the middle of the maelstrom of combat, hammering into the rear of Rome's lightest troops in a combat matchup surely even these harmless light horse could not fail to win?
The rest of the mounted outflankers also piled in, trapping Legions in a pincer movement and suddenly starting to claw the game back from the very jaws of Rome.
Thrace-tastic! The Thracian Nobility took this as a signal themselves to finally turn on the afterburners and start a bold and aggressive fightback against the stubborn Roman cavalry.
Turning on their flanks the horse-riding Croato-Romanians teed themselves up for what could well be a final round of furious dice-rolling before their army slipped to an inevitable defeat
Thracian FACTS !!!!!!
Boom! Boom! Boom! We're back in the Room!! The Romans, weakened and damaged by the long sessions of close quarters melee the Thracians had inflicted upon them over the previous hour, suddenly as one lost heart and started to wilt like roadside flowers under a hot diesel exhaust from a convoy of overweight Eddie Stobarts.
Everywhere the dice rolled, the Romans were taking fistfuls of figures from the table!
In a last round flurry the Thracians finally gathered together all of the luck and fortune they had been hiding somewhere and racked up almost 10 hits against the Romans 1, taking the army of Rome just over the edge of defeat and leaving Thrace only one point shy itself!
With both armies shattered and exhausted, and with survivors scattered across the table like scraps at the bottom of a fryer after a busy night at the Wetherby Whaler, the final score is a staggeringly close and heroic Thracian victory against a brave and resilient Roman army, much of which was still fresh out of Legionary School !
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
Haworraghywoarh! Worra magic reet good neet and moring this has been, wif a breakfast and last nights chippie still fartin' through me veins me lads done good like and gizza Roman pizzza boy a tonking he'll never forget
We looked like we wuz down and oot, mugharhghghyphynlatypops. But then, wif a harsh word and a reet good kick up the arse me men started fightin' like. Wot a batterin to rival any chip shop eh?
Yous can say there is tactics an' other bollocks but this were all about Northern hard men tekkin' hard knocks and standin' oop proud like, mraghagghantygur.
Ah am brilliant like, anmd I cannae weet fur tha' next game noah.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
That was an entirely predictable near defeat, as your tactics were so tosh my only explanation is that you forgot how the +1 for Impact works differently for non-impetuous troops and just went for it with no mind on that issues at all.
At least your crappy little mounted command-ette found something useful to do, but even they struggled due to lack of real grunt and no-one in their command to work with either
You seemed to assume that the mediocrity of much of the Roman army would just win you the game, which I guess in the end it sort of did - but you came awfully close to losing too along the way.
I only hope you manage to ally some actual tactics to your strategy of attacking anything Mediocre in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition