Romes Wars at York 2021
Odrysian Thracian vs Seleucid
Still too stuffed from the previous nights chips, and two days of breakfasts to do much more than gingerly pick at other peoples excess pizza slices (this is not a Northern euphemism. I hope), the Sunday lunch break as a short one, and quickly turned into the start of the fifth game - a matchup against one of the circuits top Professional Northerners, Dave "Did anyone mention Rugby League?" Handley and his Seleucid army.
The Seleucids had been a late change in choice by The Boy Handley, disqualifying himself from contention to win the even in the process. Given my own less than podium-climbing position in the table it appeared that the Seleucid list had also conspired to disqualify Dave from winning anyway, so all karma is fair in love, war and ADLG it would seem.
The lists for the Odrysian Thracian and Seleucid 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 Seleucids have long been a classic army, with more toys than you can shake a stick at. A small number of cataphracts and the obligatory couple of mercenary Thracians are some of the must-have troops who have seen positive changes in ADLG v4, and as it turned out they were also to feature in the army I would face in the final round.
Finally - or so it felt - the terrain didn't fall entirely badly this time, with the Thracians option to throw all 5 pieces onto the table and seeing one fall in the centre.
This clearly gave the Seleucids pause for thought, as they decided to split their army into two discrete sections and spread them across the table in what they clearly believed would be a cunning plan - only to find the Thracians had concentrated their army on the part of the table covered by terrain, and refused the open space on their right.
As Dave paraded his green credentials enthusiastically, his Seleucid army faffed around more furiously than a barmaid from Thorp Arch trying to decide which colour 1' square of elastic she would wear for her girls night out, as the Mini Cataphract and Crappy Cavalry Command first headed to the right flank, then about-turned and zoomed off to the middle of the park.
The Thracians had simply stepped up to the edge of the plantation dominating the middle of the park. They were now poised and ready to respond to whatever trickery the Seleucids could conjure up - but frankly right now there only trick looked like it would be a big gap in the middle of their army that seemed ready to receive a bucketful of Thracians.
What's Going on Here Then?
The presence of terrain in the middle of the park seems to have given the pike- and cataphract-heavy Seleucids a problem they do not yet know how to solve, as what looks like their standard formation of a cataphract centre and two wings of mixed mostly foot doesn't really work in this layout
The Thracian left-flank-concentrated deplyment has also further unbalanced the Successors, and their cataphracts are torn between moving out to the flank or supporting one of the main commands in the centre
As this is going on, the Thracians are shuffling troops to tee up an assault out of terrain on their left, leading with their best Hillmen to try and overrun one of the Seleucid commands before the Cataphracts decide what to do. The rest of the armyis waiting in terrain and fending off the advancing Seleucids with a screen of light horse
On the open flank a couple of Thracian light horse had been falling back already from the advance of another toolkit Seleucid command.
But - what was this?
The Seleucids had recruited their own Thracians!
Yes, strapped to either side of one of their elephants were a twinpack of some of the oldest old-school Thracians ever seen - arguably Mikes Models originals, but frankly barely recognisable as humanoids, never mind as specific historical individuals these mad warriors were resolute in their monopose approach to combat, and even more resolute in their disdain for the effete sophistication of Greek fripperies such as eyebrows - giving them a truly frightening visage.
With the Seleucids moving up their Cataphracts and crappy cavalry at some pace, the Thracians realised that their chance to engage the main body of spearmen in the Seleucid army at an advantage was fast running out.
The Elite Hillmen were leading the line, and it was these hairy chaps who launched themselves first into melee with the Seleucids Thorakitoi Spearmen, tying the Seleucid elephant into combat as well. Thrace-tastic!
The Thracians were taking plenty of chances here, stacking up their forces in a haphazard fashion in their eagerness to deploy their 2HW special skills against spearmen and pikes, and to delay any engagement with the cataphracts after the chastening experiences of earlier battles in the weekend.
The Seleucids however had built up a head of steam worthy of Edmund Cartwright, and were now piling their metal-clad horsemen into eager contact too.
Over on the Thracian right the wild-eyed (literally) mercenary Mikes Models Thracians, clearly painted by Dave when he was still in short trousers, were sticking more closely to their elephant than a Yorkshireman's fivers stick to the inside of his wallet as they moved up in a puzzled fashion towards the many and various defensive threats that the Thracians had managed to conjure up in and around the plantation.
Quick Seleucid History
The eyebrow-free maniacs rushed forward in unison (well, monopose figures do tend to do that), staggering with their stubbly little legs and struggling to keep their rather over-thick romphias held at exactly the same angles above their almost Harry Maguire-shaped heads as they charged.
This fearsome sight would have scared their own mothers, so the poor innocent modern-day Xyston Thracians facing them had no chance.
Instantly as the near-faceless monstrosities lurched forward, their very first steps triggered a speedy withdrawal by the proper Thracian javelineers.
This was both a success as a tactical withdrawal, and also a great advertising opportunity for Little Big Man Shield Transfers as their wares were now on full display.
Thrace-a-rama! The melee on the other side of the table was expanding faster than my waistline had been under a steady assault of calories across the weekend.
More and more Thracian units were being drawn into the fray, and despite being Elite and having 2HW advantages against the Seleucid Thorakitoi, they were struggling against a resolute Successor fighting spirit.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Thracian attack on the left had started somewhat piecemeal, in the hope of checking the advance of the Seleucid heavy infantry and buying time for the Hoplites to move out to match off against the Cataphracts. Ostensibly a decent initial set of combats with the Hillmen against Medium Spear Peltasts has become a protracted struggle as both sides feed in yet more units to the expanding melee.
On the Thracian right, the skirmish screen has now withdrawn into terrain, and the Seleucids are weighing up sending their Death Star in to the plantation, conscious that it will struggle to be supported by their Heavy Foot if it does advance. The Seleucid army is being drawn into combat along the line, which is leaving a gap in the centre of their army the Thracians are keen to exploit
Seeing opportunities to push for victory the Mock-Roman Legions and retro-style Phalanx of the Seleucid army stepped forward more sharply than a Sheffield knife-maker at clocking-off time on a night when the Arctic Monkeys would be playing at the Leadmill and charged into the next wave of Thracian romphia men.
The rest of the Thracian force was still enmeshed in combat, and finally the Hillmen were starting to rack up some serious hits on the spearmen facing them.
Perhaps there was still a chance here for the Thracians to push on through?
The Seleucids elephant corps however was proving a tough nut to crack - and the "in combat since the very start" Thorakitoi even tougher.
Both punched a hole through the Thracian line and stepped forward resolutely - well, the elephant stepped forward mandatorily under one of the v4 changes and the Medium Spearmen were kinda forced to follow too or risk leaving the elephant hideously exposed.
By now the innate aggression of the Thracians - and the opportunities and gaps afforded them by the Seleucids rather centre-less approach had meant that they had almost all stepped out of the plantation that dominated the battlefield
Now they had gone on the front foot, and were pushing and probing the varied components of the Successor army in an attempt to eke out a meaty victory from the most unappetising-seeming pie of indeterminate contents that was being thrown at them fromtally by the multi-faceted Seleucid forces.
Using that 3rd bullet point rule on p50 yet again to great effect, romphia-waving peltasts descended legally onto the flank of the Seleucid cataphract general after some of their crew launched an attack on the mediocre cavalry to remove their ZoC from play.
The battle was developing into a series of swirling unconnected melees, with the more numerous Thracians clawing their way back into contention as flanks and opportunities opened up with every unit of the densely packed Seleucids to fall by the military wayside.
Even the cutting edge of Cataphracts now looked badly exposed as the centre of the Successors line started to simply evaporate
Everywhere you looked, fantastic opportunities and enormous heroism were spilling out onto the playing surface like chips from a newspaper on a student-infested street in central York.
But, with both armies now believing they were within touching distance of cuccess the referee called time, and the curtain came down decisively on this first competition post-Lockdown - the result is a hard-fought draw.
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
Howaorarooahgnaf! Worra reet good head-smacker that were eh? Thracians against Thracians, and some other troops as well meant it were sure to be a good clean fight wi'knuckledusters an' blades in equal measure.
T'were a reet shame the enemy spearmen seemed to stand up to that first charge o'me men, gragghnurffghle, as that were a chance to knock tha buggers back on their heels like, afore out started to happen
I can't see nowt wrong wi nowt here, but a mo more time and I would've 'ad it I'm sure. I gonna get a load of chips and gravy now t'drown me sorrows. Mwurghangtypop!
Ah meet even have a curry too - reet proper Sunday night like eh?
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Another load of nonsense as you dodge responsibility for mistakes all of your own making, many of which were conjured up long before this weekend started.
Yet again an army with Cataphracts gave you a bucket of problems, and even though you did finally manage to knock them over and shove some spears into them, they were the anchor in the middle of the enemy army that you failed to pull up - if they had been able to be taken out earlier then the Seleucids would have been unzipped like a northerner making his first trip to the gents of the evening after downing 8 pints of John Smiths
At least you haven't embarassed yourself in v4, which I suspect is somewhat of an achievement with an army entirely of medium foot.
Looking at this list in the light of 5 games, I do wonder if the Greek Ally might be an interesting option - although that does rather kybosh the 2HW guys - or indeed the Roman one, and also if some Medium Spear might give you a better balance against enemy mounted than your two half-hearted mounted wings.
Interesting food for though - and I need to get some more pie and chips while I watch the Madaxeman Video Podcast discussing this list, as well as the top 3 finishers from this event, or perhaps listen to it as a Podcast?