A Late Left Hook Loses!
Galatians vs Augustan Romans
This was, timewise, a historical match-up: with the Galatians fielding average warbands as, by the late first century BC, they had lost their earlier fanaticism. However they could, and did, field some imitation Legionaries and units of Noble Veteran cavalry which are not in the published list.
Facing them was a tough Roman Army consisting almost exclusively of Veteran or Elite troops.
The battlefield had a river down one flank and a couple of patches of rough ground, none of which played any part in the engagement. Both armies deployed resting flanks on the river and then to the board edge.
Once the armies came into sight they discovered they each had overlapped the other's right flank and, to the Galatian commander's surprise, that he did not significantly outnumber the quality troops of the enemy.
The Roman cavalry started their right flank, with Auxiliaries, then Legionaries along the line to more Auxiliaries anchoring the Roman left. Initially opposite the Roman cavalry were the Galatian Legionaries, a unit of skirmishers and some armoured warriors, with warband running down to the right of the Noble cavalry.
The battle started with the Roman cavalry crossing the front of the Roman infantry to position themselves against the Galatian cavalry who already had Auxiliaries heading their way. The Galatian commander had given his warbands attack orders so they ground forward toward the Roman line whilst the imitation legionaries started a fruitless attempt to swing around to close with the enemy through the gap vacated by the Roman cavalry.
The first action commenced with Roman cavalry charging the outermost warband unit and one of the Galatian cavalry. The warband stood up to the cavalry charge due to an appalling double one thrown by the Romans, but their Noble cavalry fared worse and were forced back. Shortly afterwards the rest of the Roman cavalry got stuck in charging another warband and Noble cavalry unit, with both Galatian bases coming off far worse, losing the melees and becoming shaken. With the Roman Auxiliaries coming up, the remaining Noble unit made a furious charge into two units of the Auxiliaries and forced them both back, but did not cause sufficient casualties to do any real damage.
By now the main infantry lines were closing, and it was becoming apparent the Galatian left hook was going to arrive far too late. The Galatian warband leader doubled the depth of one warband in an attempt to give a degree of shock at one part of their line. Before the main clash the cavalry action was decisively resolved in the Romans' favour, as all the Noble cavalry were routed with even the successful Nobles swamped by superior numbers of Auxiliaries. The sole Galatian success of the game came as the Roman cavalry that originally attacked the outermost warband was flanked by another unit.
Shortly thereafter the four Roman legionary units charged the main warband line and essentially vaporised the Galatians as four of the five warbands involved routed immediately.
Game over and a massacre to the Romans.
I should have held back the Galatian centre until my left flank, which was facing air, could have got into position to supply real support.
Romans do make mincemeat of warband troops without really breaking into a sweat...at least they did this time!
Augustan Romans vs Late Galatians II
After their crushing victory earlier in the month the Romans replenished the few losses sustained and further strengthened the force with some additional cavalry and artillery.
Meanwhile the Galatians had gathered their last remaining warriors to meet the Romans in a final clash. They fielded about the same number of infantry but doubled their cavalry as Nobles and their retinues heeded the call from far and wide.
This would be a 600 pt game to re-match the earlier forces to see if the Roman obliteration of the Galatians was a fluke and test artillery for the first time.
Terrain placement meant the battle was obviously being fought further down the same river valley as before, with the river on the Galatian left again, and more rough ground which would again have no effect on the battle.
The Galatians formed up with the Imitation Legionaries and armoured Bodyguard forming the centre of the line flanked on both sides by warbands and both flanks this time anchored by units of Noble cavalry. The sole unit of skirmishers was also in the centre.
The Romans deployed all their cavalry on their left flank thereby outnumbering the Nobles facing them. To the right of these were Auxiliaries and Cohorts, then a tough centre containing veteran Legionaries and elite Praetorians, and the elite First Cohort. The Roman right consisted of more Auxiliaries and a unit of Auxiliary archers.
With no room to maneuver, both sides rapidly closed with only the Roman artillery, cart mounted in the centre, firing overhead at the approaching warband but not inflicting many casualties. Not surprisingly the first clash came on the Galatian right as the first two units of Noble cavalry charged the opposing Veteran Roman Horse who also launched a cavalry charge at a warband formed extremely deep to absorb the impact. Auxiliaries and an average Cohort also clashed with more warband on this flank.
Fighting with reckless abandon (ie better die than last time) the warbands held the line although they took heavy losses. The depth of the warband facing the cavalry also meant they held and the extreme right wing Noble cavalry unit, supported by runners and a leader, forced back the opposing Romans.
The Noble cavalry on the Galatian left were taking more time to close down as they were slowed slightly by rough going and the Romans refusing that flank. They did come under fire from the archers and would lose 2 points for the next 3 turns as they maneuvered into position to charge.
Back on the Galatian right the more heavily armoured Veteran Romans started to gain the upper hand as they forced back the Galatians, even the previously successful Nobles, with two warbands becoming shaken. The centres now started to come together as the Imitation legionaries and Bodyguard charged the Romans opposite them. Unfortunately the Galatians were worsted yet again as even their Legionaries were forced back by Auxiliaries. Even worse the best Galatian infantry, the Bodyguard, had picked on the Roman First Cohort and lost 60% of their strength in the charge (Jon rolled a double 6!!!!). However, showing true devotion, they survived the morale test.
The remaining warband and Veteran Cohorts, plus the Praetorians, also charged each other with the now usual result as the Legionaries effortlessly threw the Galatians back inflicting 40-50% losses.
However, the Nobles on the left were now in a position to charge the Auxiliaries facing them, with the Bowmen unable to inflict enough casualties to halt the charge.
This meant the armies were entirely engaged and the matter was soon resolved. The Galatian right enjoyed mixed success as the Nobles forced back one cavalry unit but another was forced back itself and the superior numbers of the deep warband began to tell. However, the other two warbands here routed but the Imitation Legionaries were still hoding out, as was remarkably the Bodyguard. To no avail as all four warband to their left now routed making a huge hole in the Galatian line. Some success on the right as the Nobles broke a unit of Roman horse, making up for the rout of one unit of Nobles, as did the deep warband finally see off their opponents. However, these units were now exposed to the victorious Roman centre who finally routed even the Bodyguard with the Praetorians demolishing another warband as it pursued another it had broken.
With all the warbands routed and only the Galatian left capable of maneuver the Galatians finally conceded the province to the Divine Augustus.
The Galatians actually did better this time than last as my die were better than before which meant we actually survived the charge, but not the melee that followed, with the warbands. Had some definite success with the Nobles but should have done better. The deep warband worked well; it was a very close thing and Jon could have routed two units early on before numbers told. However, with the front unit taking all the casualties and providing the morale test we couldn’t afford to lose a melee. As before the veteran, or better, Legionaries massacred the warband with little loss to themselves.
The artillery got off a few shots and inflicted a couple of casualties. It would be worth pointing out that we used artillery at half strength as when playtesting before they were far too powerful. This seemed about right but we need more games.
I commented on this last time and would say so again. Casualties in the first round are horrific with Romans taking about 20-30% and Galatians 40-50%. This also happened in other games we played so we have a house rule not to include disorder in that first morale test otherwise you rarely get a second round and fights of any length are an exception. You do inflict fewer in subsequent rounds but the massive effects of the first bound will always be felt by the loser in the next.
I always thought the biggest proportion of casualties were inflicted in the rout but in our games most combatants are already dead by then.
(Ed.'s Note: when a base loses strength from melee, it doesn't necessarily mean people are dying but rather that the combat efficiency of the base is being reduced. Routed units successfully charged by enemy bases are instantly removed from the table: that's the people being killed!)
Sassanid Empire Rising
Sassanid Persians vs Parthians
This was an historical encounter between the decaying Parthian empire and the upstart Sassanian empire around the year 220AD. Both forces were 600pts , the Sassanian's being an amended cavalry heavy force of three leader bases , the Parthians comprising seven leader bases: 2 EHC, 3 LC and 2 LI. Terrain had our usual river and some rough ground.
The initial scouting (Parthian 44pts vs Sassanids 18pts) resulted in the Sassanid force being fully deployed before the Parthians, who elected for a one leader base flank march (which would arrive on turn 6), four leader bases on the table's edge, and two leader bases pushed forward to menace the Sassanian troops.
Initial on-field scouting resulted in all the Sassanian troops being revealed whilst only the forward Parthian troops were identified - as all light horse. With both sides moving to contact the initial bow fire resulted in 12 casualties on the Parthian side for no casualties for the unshielded but cataphract Sassanians. Two Parthian light cavalry bases became shaken from the resulting morale tests.
The following move saw the supporting Sassanian elephant inflict morale tests on the Parthian line, with one shaken base turning to rout. A second round of missile fire saw 2 casualties inflicted on the Sassanian line with again another 12 casualties inflicted on the Parthians: Sassanid leader support to firing bases being very valuable. To the Parthian commander's horror, a light horse base was destroyed solely by bow fire.
The next move finally confirmed the composition of the onboard Parthian troops. Two heavy cavalry forces moved from the centre to support the light horse. Two light infantry brigades remained cowering in rough ground on the Parthian left. The Sassanian forces continued forward lapping around the flanks of the Parthian light horse. Bowfire resulted in the destruction of a second Parthian light horse base.
The Parthian heavy horse finally came into bow range of the Sassanian bases. By this time the light horse screen had gone ( 43 casualties on the Parthians for 5 inflicted) but the Parthian heavy horse only took 1 casualty from long range Sassanian bowfire although they could not reply.
By this time the Parthian line had been disrupted by the need to face up to the larger Sassanian battle line. The next move resulted in 3 Parthian EHC's charging a larger mixed force of Sassanian HC and EHC bases. The charge being encouraged by the imminent arrival of the Sassanian Elephant. No decisive result was achieved by either side. The Parthian counter weapon, elite EHC Camelry finding itself faced by a wall of 4 Sassanian cavalry bases, did not move . The Parthian light troops moved forward towards the Daylami and royal archers.
Turn six arrived with the Parthian comander praying that his flanking force would save his battle line. On the Parthian right the heavy cavalry came together, the Sassanian forces being able to charge in due to being OO. The flank march was delayed by rough ground causing disorder to the light horse. In the centre the Parthian horse were being forced back, the Parthian left still moving forward to engage the Sassanian foot.
The next round saw a Sassanian flank attack in the centre routing a Parthian EHC base starting the disintegration of the Parthian line. Meanwhile the Parthian light troops yet again proved that levy can be outshot by all other troops. At this point the Parthian right was slowly pushing back the opposing Sassanian horse, but the Parthian general could see a mass movement of horse from the rest of the Sassanian line. Outnumbered he decided to withdraw to fight another day, aiming to recruit Elymaian troops to bolster his battle line.
The Parthian forces lost a total of 5 light horse plus a EHC base against no Sassanian bases by the end of turn eight. Paul's usual tactics of using his light horse to slow down the Sassanian battle line failed in a blizzard of bow fire.
Sassanid Persians vs Parthians
Feeling much aggrieved following their earlier humiliation, the Parthians launched an attack against the Sassanian rebels in a place of their choosing.
No river was to hamper their deployment, and only two gentle hills interrupted a flat plain. One, on the Sassanian deployment line, was to have no effect on the game but the other, on the Parthian right, was to provide a useful anchor.
The Parthians outscouted their opponents, and opted to deploy a flanking force that yet again was fated to arrive on turn 6. Again they threw forward two bases of Horse Archers (HA) to harass the enemy, each leader clutching a parchment detailing the new tactics that the Parthian Commander had received in a dream! Their infantry contingent was rushed forward to control the high ground on their right.
Three Sassanian brigades came into view consisting almost entirely of EHC and HC, with a couple of infantry skirmishers in the central brigade and 1 elephant in each of the flank commands, which was bad news.
With both Parthian heavy brigades on hold in the centre the battle was to open with the HA brigades forward to their left and right. As the Sassanians came into range the stationary HA shot a hail of arrows in their direction, inflicting four casualties and then flinching at the 13 hits they took from the advancing foe. Two HA bases became shaken.
Throwing their parchments away in disgust, the HA leaders now prayed their general would see their peril and order them out of the maelstrom i.e. roll enough CP's to change their orders.
Fortunately the Parthian commander saw what was happening, and ordered their retirement: leaving only one hapless shaken base in the path of the Sassanians (the command point rolls were 6 for the Parthian chief, and 5 and 3 for the Leaders).
The HA withdrew, leaving their hapless comrades to be annihilated as usual, and taking a further 9 casualties as the Sassanians followed up. The only Sassanian casualty this time being inflicted by a foot base on the hill now coming into range.
With his HA falling back and the flank march about to arrive, the Parthian commander now ordered up the Parthian cataphracts into the centre, flanked by the retiring HA.
The flank march arrived on the Parthian left, three bases of HA and one of levy light infantry, and were immediately ordered to attack as there was no room to evade if they tried their usual tactics.
This caused the Sassanian commander to, in hindsight, over react as he ordered some of his central command to head that way to support the Elephant and two HC bases already in the vicinity.
As it turned out the Elephant easily routed the levy infantry and the HA were just as good in melee as they were at shooting, being immediately routed, but they had sacrificed themselves to provide useful diversion.
Taking a few shots on the way in, the Parthian heavies charged home against the Sassanians who had left one of their elephants too far to the rear (the other was distracted on the flank, above). However the Parthians had their sole camel base in the line, and the disorder it caused and the impetus of the charge (better dice for a change) caused the Parthians to win every melee but one, drawn.
As the Sassanians reserve moved to the flank, the Parthian infantry followed to shoot, which was unfortunate as they left their hill as the Sassanians, seeing the flanking force disposed of with ease, began to turn back.
The next bound was decisive: the Parthians followed up their initial success and routed four enemy cavalry bases, including the Sassanian general, and drove back the others, the routed cavalry taking one of their infantry with it.
The Sassanian reserves now attacked the weakened cataphracts in the centre, with the elephants presence being felt as they caused a victorious Parthian base to become shaken. However, the Parthians proved no pushovers with only one base falling back and two other Sassanian bases elsewhere routed: one charging HC base routed by bowfire from 2 infantry bases - the only successful Parthian shot!
With six key bases routed (EHC or HC) the Sassanian commander decided to retire, with the Parthians having lost a similar number of bases, but only of HA and light infantry (in reality we had to pick up our children from school).
Realistically the Parthians had the edge with reserve HA to pursue on both flanks as well as archers on the right. The only potential problem was the elephant moving up the centre, as morale tests to the weakened cataphracts would cause problems, but the camels were in a position to charge it anyway.
The longest battle to date and a tough one, but a victory to the Parthians.
You cannot let the Sassanians shoot your HA, ever. You will lose every time and they can cause morale problems in one good volley. All I could do was fall back out of range. I was lucky there too as, if my commander and/or the relevant leaders had had bad command points, leaving the HA on hold, the Sassanians would have decimated them (Ed.'s Note: that's what happens when you send forward two average contingents of horse archers to skirmish with three veteran contingents of bow-armed cataphracts!).
Jon did not bring his elephant up far enough, luckily for me, which was a difference from last time, and I had better dice. If I want to avoid the morale tests, I will have to field some of my officers on elephants next time.
I should possibly have been more patient with the flank march, and allowed it to get to a position with room to manoeuver. That said, sacrificing it the way I did at least distracted some elements from the main fight.
"It's the horse that is a short-arse, not me!"
New Member, First Battle: Indians vs Parthians
As an introduction, I last played WRG when it was 3rd edition, returned to ancients ten years on with Shock of Impact, sold all but two of my armies when everyone started playing DBM, and play that as the last resort. In other words, I'd rather play DBM than nothing, but only just.
Last week, I bought Vis Bellica, read the rules, read a lot of the comments on this group, re-based a few figures to make Leaders, made up two armies pretty close to the lists (using 2x and 4xDBM bases on 8cm frontages) and took the whole lot along to the club last night.
The two armies were Parthians and Indians.
The Indian army was divided into two identical wings, each of two brigades: one of three bases of cavalry; one of two elephants, one spear and two bows. The army was deployed symmetrically on the table edge, with the cavalry commands on the flanks and the elephants spread out between the foot.
The Parthian army consisted of 5 bases of cataphracts in one brigade, and 14 bases of horse archers in three brigades. The cataphracts and a horse archer brigade were on the right, the other horse archer commands on the left.
The opponents I found were one experienced DBM player and one try-anything player. They opted to command the Parthians. As this was a first try, we did not use any terrain, nor did we use the leader bases.
The Parthians, having decisively out scouted the Indians, opted for one flanking brigade of horse archers on the right flank (arriving on move 6) and everyone else deployed in a single line halfway across the table.
Both sides elected to attack with their right flanks. The Indian left flank cavalry held to put off the cataphract impact as long as possible, and the rest of both armies advanced, with the left flank Indian archers inclining to the left to try to get some shots at the cataphracts.
The cataphracts advanced as quickly as possible, and, as they came within charge reach, they and the Indian cavalry charged one another. The cataphract charge hit home on the Indian cavalry, the spears and one elephant. Within three moves, all of these Indian bases were destroyed or routing off the table, but they had given time for the remaining Indians on the left wing to form a new line
On the Indian right, the cavalry swept 3 units of horse archers away, but lost one base to a poor morale throw which led to it being flanked and shot to pieces by the other horse archers. Meanwhile, the other horse archer brigade was being driven back by the Indian foot and elephants.
Meanwhile, the flanking horse archers had arrived, with nothing in front of them but their own cataphracts, now moving around the rear of the Indians, but suffering from archery from the bows and the remaining left flank elephant.
The horse archers sacrificed themselves to keep the Indian foot pinned so that the cataphracts could attack the flank, and soon the Indian left wing was finished.
While this had been going on, however, the returning right wing Indian cavalry had finished off the horse archers that the foot archers had not destroyed, and the whole of the Indian right wing was now facing left and advancing towards the remaining cataphracts (only one unit of which was above a strength of 4).
At this point, the Parthians admitted defeat, with 75% losses.
The game took 3 ½ hours to play. With only one rule book between us, and no one familiar with the rules, this seemed reasonable. Everyone enjoyed the game.
Whether more playing will happen depends upon whether I can persuade the DBM fanatics to try with their less esoteric armies – after all, this is probably a no-win contest for the Parthians, faced by longbows, elephants and cavalry that are probably better than they ought to be. But it really was a waste to send the horse archers off on the flank march.
The Fyrd Stands Firm
Pre-Norman British vs Vikings
On a cold misty morning the Anglo-Saxon army made a very rare appearance against an even rarer appearance of Paul’s Viking battle force (based for pre-DBM).
The Viking force comprised four brigades totaling three Huscarl bases, a base of Berserks, eight Bondi Spears, a base of Bondi Axe, two Bondi archers and a base of skirmishers. Also the Sacred Raven standard was seen above the battle line.
The opposing Anglo-Saxon force was again in four brigades, comprising a total of three Huscarl bases, five Select Fyrd, six Great Fyrd and a base each of skirmishing Archers, Slingers and Javelinmen.
The battle ground consisted of three steep hills, two in the flank sectors of the Anglo-Saxon deployment area and one in the central area of the Viking line. A wood screened the Anglo-Saxon deployment area on their left flank next to one of the hills.
Turn one started with five leader bases on each base line each outflanking on the right flanks, mainly due to the terrain. Spotting resulted in only one leader base being unmasked on each side.
Both battle lines advanced, with turn two seeing another Anglo-Saxon and two Viking bases unmasked.
Turn three started with the Viking battle host fully disclosed, the last outflanking leader base turning out to be a false sighting. Two Anglo-Saxon bases remained hidden due to the terrain.
Turn four resulted in all troops being sighted with the Anglo-Saxon skirmishers bursting forward to take on the Vikings. In the middle a Viking brigade climbed the central Hill to allow their archer unit to dominate the ground.
Turn five commenced with skirmishing, an Anglo-Saxon Slinger base causing a casualty on a Viking Huscarl base. However returning bow fire from the hill resulted in the Slingers becoming shaken.
Turn six resulted in the central battle lines charging forward. The slinger base routing through the Anglo-Saxon line caused a delay in the Huscarls (one becoming shaken) going forward (my bad deployment ). The clash of the battle line resulted in the Select Fyrd pushing back the opposing Bondi. At this point the prayers of the monk supporting the Anglo-Saxon SubGeneral were answered. A thunderbolt from Thor struck down the Viking leader, his Huscals taking morale tests leaving one base shaken. Bravely a senior Leader took control but he was out of position.
Turn’s seven and eight concentrated on the battle lines coming together. The Great Fyrd initially held up against the Viking line, in the centre the select Fyrd did well pushing back the Bondi with a braced base halting the charge of a base of Huscarls. When the Beserks charged in they chewed through a Select Fyrd base who just held on. The Anglo-Saxon host was helped by its Leaders stepping into the melee .
Turn nine saw the Vikings take the hill on their right putting Great Fyrd and skirmishers to flight. On their left an Anglo-Saxon brigade of Great Fyrd threatened to overwhelm outnumbered Bondi. In the centre the Viking line started to crumble with the Anglo-Saxon Huscarls destroying an opposing Bondi base.
Turn ten resulted in the Viking centre turn to a mass route despite the Viking Huscarls brave defense: for the first time the Raven standard having failed to help . With his lord dead and main battle bases gone the Viking Leader decided to withdraw from the field to return to his longboats.
A good infantry battle, skirmishers need to be deployed in their own brigade to get into firing range faster and to take terrain features. The Viking Sacred Standard help Paul’s battle line survive several morale tests. The loss of the Viking subgeneral was a blow the command and control of the battle line at a vital moment.
The best Dark Ages battle for a long time. Paul needs to think past DBM but is improving! I need to think more about skirmisher deployment .
Seleucids Invade India
Seleucids vs Indians
A not unlikely historical clash as the Seleucids try to increase the size of the empire by invading neighbouring India.
As the invaders followed a road across the border the Indian Prince chose to oppose them where a line of hills nestled up against the road. He therefore deployed on his right flank two commands of Longbows behind the hills, a command of Spearmen on the other side of the road and the extreme left flank of his levy horse supported by an elephant and chariot.
The Seleucids upon arriving on the scene were met with a huge pall of dust behind the hills on their left and to the right of the road. On their extreme left a wood just forward of the left-most hill closed the flank to any quick manoeuvres.
Suspecting what his opponent would do the Seleucid commander sent a command of his Bow armed Asiatic levies into the wood to shoot any Indians taking the high ground. This would also protect the Seleucid centre comprising their Phalanx anchored on the right by the Argyraspids. Their right flank was almost entirely mounted and consisted of two bases of Line cavalry, 2 bases of Scythian Light cavalry, an elephant and the Agema and Companions.
The action opened with the Indians pushing the two commands behind the hills forward and a slightly slower advance by the other commands. Similarly, the Seleucid’s Asiatics went as fast as they could through the dense woods whilst the infantry centre slowly advanced to give them time. Through good scouting (spotting rolls) the Seleucids soon identified all the opposition especially as the Indian longbows crossed the hill crests and halted on the forward slopes. The Indian skirmishers (LB) and two units of Longbows remained off the hills to support the Spearmen. The Indian mounted levy were more cautious in their approach.
At this point the Seleucid commander was quietly optimistic as his Pikemen were facing the Indian Longbows which would be a tough struggle uphill but the Argyraspids were faced by Longbowmen on the flat and the skirmishers pushing forward. His mounted arm vastly outclassed the opposition and with his own cavalry used to elephants they would be only an annoyance.
This optimism was somewhat dented as his skirmishing Scythian LC were shaken by the first long range bowfire from Indians moving just behind their flank; the Cretan mercenary LI seeing this wisely decided to use their shields and not return fire. Shortly after the skirmishing Longbowmen opened up a withering fire on the Argyraspids and in 2 turns of shooting eliminated 30% of their strength, the second Argyraspid base also started to take hits.
The Seleucid General consequently ordered the whole Phalanx ahead at top speed to close the distance to the hills as the Asiatics were approaching the end of the wood. The cavalry were also moved more quickly forward although this brought the left-most Line Cavalry base into range of one of the Longbows and lost over 50% in two turns of shooting, becoming shaken.
The second Scythian LC base was now halted and shooting at the Levy cavalry to their front to no effect.
The next couple of turns brought down more devastating Indian firepower. The Asiatics were spotted on the edge of the wood by the Indians on the hill opposite them. Two bases fired at long range and despite their dispersed formation and the protection of the wood were immediately routed. Worse was to follow as the skirmishing longbows, aided by a long range shot from the hills, fired another volley into the Argyraspids and routed them. At the same time the Phalanx came into range and immediately started taking casualties.
Seeing his plan start to come apart the Seleucid General next ordered an attack by his cavalry and elephant and was similarly charged by the Indians.
The Scythians easily evaded their opponents whilst the Agema were attacked by an elephant, the Companions by the chariot and the remaining Line cavalry by Levy Indian cavalry. Despite facing an elephant the Agema saw the beast off but the Companions were pushed back by the chariot and worse still the awful Indian levy horse threw back the Line cavalry.
The rest of this turn proved the end of the Seleucids as more casualties were taken by the Pikemen, one base being shaken, and the second base of Argyraspids coming under fire at close range from 2 bases of Longbows was routed.
At this point the Seleucid General gave up and went home.
Don’t play Jon he rolls way too many sixes! Or ones if he needs those!
Bowfire aided by sixes was awesome but generally very, very effective. We played this game because in testing we thought bowfire was good and this proved it. The phalanx was not going to even make it to the hills losing about two casualties a go; at the time we stopped we were not even in short range. The Argyraspids were slaughtered at short range but Jon’s die rolls there were very good.
The Agema did what I expected against a lone Elephant, the Companions and Line cavalry were unlucky as Jon was again rolling double sixes.
Overall the overwhelming impression is bowfire is very, very effective. The units sheltering in the wood found it little protection. Yes, they were Levy (strength 6) but I did not expect them to lose half their strength in the first long range volley.
Now these were CO average Longbows because that is what I think they should be. If they had been OO Levy of course they would not have been as good. But should any average Longbowmen be this good? And I don’t think Longbows +2 at short range is the problem.
Any Wars of the Roses experience out there yet?
Later Hoplite Greeks: Spartans vs Thebans
Refought Leuctra as per the scenario on the website with all the Spartans and allies starting on hold orders except the cavalry.
Jon was Cleombrotus and of course rolled a six to start which meant he managed to get some of the allies rolling forward immediately as the Theban cavalry closed menacingly with the Spartan cavalry. Next round Jon rolls a 5 so even more allies get moving as the Theban peltasts on the right wing head forward to delay the allies, and the Theban Hoplites in deep formation (braced) follow up the cavalry.
The Theban cavalry charge the Spartans opposite them which means one Theban cavalry attacks Spartan peltasts. The levy Spartan cavalry is either routed or shaken by the charge and the peltasts recoil disordered.
The next move sees the Spartan cavalry rout through one of the Hoi Homoi units throwing it into disorder and the Theban cavalry order an immediate pursuit into the disordered and vulnerable hoplites. Jon then rolls a mass of sixes for command which enables the rest of the Spartan allies to start moving which is looking ominous for the outnumbered Boetian allies and peltasts facing them off.
The Theban cavalry commander is also worried about extracting his cavalry as the deep block of hoplites is sandwiching him between them and the Hoi Homoi, so when the second Spartan cavalry routs he again orders immediate pursuit into the disordered Spartans.
With the whole Spartan army coming forward the allied hoplites go forward to protect the flank of the Theban hoplites and support their now retiring peltasts. At this point the Theban cavalry charge into the disordered Hoi Homoi who promptly hold them and then throw them back. Their colleagues to left and right do better: routing the Peltasts and recoiling a unit of Hoi Homoi (Jon rolled a 1).
Inspired by this the Sacred band finally get stuck in attacking the remaining unengaged Hoi Homoi unit who recoil them disordered for their trouble.
Assessing the situation the Theban cavalry commander orders the repulsed cavalry to retire, gambling that the Theban hoplites they disorder in the process can be reformed before the Spartans follow up. Also with them losing he does not want to risk routing units passing through fresh but average hoplites.
The next couple of turns are decisive. The Spartan allies finally close with their opposites and start pushing the whole line back but this turns out to be a sideshow. The successful Theban cavalry continue to push back and finally rout one unit of Hoi Homoi (Jon rolled only 1's and 2's for that whole fight) and the deep Theban Phalanx in good order rolls into a Hoi Homoi unit and a unit of Spartan allies who hold in the charge but are gradually pushed back by superior weight of numbers.
The Sacred Band are having a pushing match with the remaining Hoi Homoi unit but that give the remaining Theban cavalry unit time to return from destroying the peltasts and take them in the rear.
With all 3 Hoi Homoi gone it was game over to the Thebans.
Outcome was historical except the Spartan allies got moving, which put the Thebans under pressure, but the Spartans have too much against them with Cleombrotus' insane deployment of his own cavalry immediately in front of his Spartiates.
Theban cavalry were very good, taking advantage of the disordered hoplites, but nonetheless one was thrown back and the other won through a succession of bad die from Jon. I would not expect shieldless MC to do well in this situation so it was good to see it done through good vs awful die.
Immediate pursuit worked, giving the cavalry the chance to hit disordered troops who otherwise could have re-ordered during the command phase and teaches you not to put poor troops in front of your good troops unless they have a gap or can interpenetrate freely.
Bracing rules worked very well giving an advantage but not a huge one; no "rout immediately" type results: just a hard slog as I would expect.
Elite vs elite is not a bloodbath as essentially they are equal and cancel each other out.
We combined command and leader casualty rolls into the command phase which worked okay. Jon as usual does not suffer leader casualties, but my brother had three seriously wounded Thebans.
Casualties overall came at a lower rate which meant combats were lasting a couple of round longer than usual (unless levy vs veterans!) but the game was still quick despite more variety in melee results. The battle lasted nine turns and took about 2.5 hours, and all thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
The Spartans Try Again
Later Hoplite Greeks: Spartans vs Thebans
Decided to play Sparta against Thebes as even forces in a 500 points fight using the armies at Leuctra as a base. The Spartans stayed the same but the Thebans lost one of their Veteran cavalry bases but gained three units of allied Boetian cavalry.
Sparta invaded down one of the innumerable river valleys, the river to their right and then some steep hills, orchards and vineyards to the left of the river, leaving only the Spartan left half of the board open.
Jon was again commanding the Spartans and placed Allied hoplites on the extreme left then going right the Spartans and their peltasts with the Phocsian and Thracian peltasts opposite the difficult ground. The allied Arcadian and Corinthian hoplites directly faced the difficult going too, with the Spartan cavalry in support.
Gary put all the allied cavalry across the small river and his peltasts facing the hills. The Theban cavalry and some skirmishers were on their right in good ground with the Boetian allied hoplites facing the Spartans and then the Theban hoplites, once again very deep, with the Sacred Band anchoring the far right.
The Thebans very quickly sent the allied cavalry forward as far as possible to threaten a flank attack into the enemy rear which compelled the enemy to try and defend the river, so the Spartan cavalry were deployed there with the Arcadian hoplites. Similarly the Theban peltasts rushed forward to take the high ground to their front before the allied Spartan peltasts could do so, who were also approached by the Theban cavalry. The Theban and allied hoplites were content to wait as the Spartan Hoplites and their Arcadian allied hoplites came forward.
The Thebans easily took control of the high ground which was quite menacing for the Phocsians and Thracians below as the Spartan commander was reluctant to send hoplites into the rough ground in their support and as they edged away the Thracians left this ground and found themselves and the Spartan peltasts charged by the veteran Theban cavalry. This forced the Theban hoplites to get moving forward in their support, although this meant their Boetian allies would be engaging the Spartans. The Theban allied cavalry were by now in a position to threaten the rear of the Spartan right flank but were content to tie up more numerous hoplite forces in that area.
The Theban cavalry charge threw back both peltast units as the main hoplite lines came together. Not surprisingly the Spartans easily pushed back the allied Boetians. The Thebans, however, in their deep formations, were either held or driven back by the Arcadians. Only the Sacred Band had success as they recoiled a deep formation of hoplites themselves, but tragically Pelopidas died causing one of the Theban units to become shaken.
The Theban commander now ordered a mass attack as the allied cavalry picked their spot and charged across the river into the Spartan horse driving them back in disarray. The peltasts came down the hill into the Phocsians recoiling them as the Theban cavalry routed the other peltasts. The Sacred Band revenged themselves by routing their opponents and as before the weight of the Theban hoplite phalanx ground back the other allies, even the shaken unit standing firm.
The sole success for the Spartans was in routing the Boetian allies with few casualties to themselves. But as Cleombrotus looked back all he could see was his allies routing or in disarray with Theban cavalry rampaging across the field, so he called for terms.
Jon played Cleombrotus to a tee! Letting the awful Spartan horse defend the river was not a good idea especially when he had lots of spare hoplites uncommitted facing the rough ground. And he could have sent hoplites in there to help out, they would be disordered but could still contest the ground.
Peltasts in the open against Veteran cavalry is not good for the peltasts as both recent games have proved.
Deep units are good but not invincible I am glad to report: if they can keep rolling they are good but even if stalled can be a tough nut except when facing the Sacred Band.
The Spartans unmolested by their own cavalry did what they do best and were victorious: unfortunately the rest of the army wasn't!
Marian's Mules Win Again
Marian Romans vs Galatians
Historical matchup as the Romans under Gary invaded Galatia to be met by Jon's non elite warband and Imitation Legionaries. The Roman left had some hills in the Galatian half of the board that played some part in the early game, but otherwise terrain was insignificant.
Both commanders deployed almost their entire cavalry on the same flank, the Roman right and Galatian left; the Romans having a slight edge with elite Bodyguard, German cavalry and a unit of Numidian cavalry. The Roman centre was a mixture of average and veteran Legionaries with a unit of Balearic slingers and Spanish Scutiari in support. Opposing them warband, Imitation Legionaries and the Chieftain's veteran warband; only one warband formed deep directly opposite the Roman veteran 1st Cohort.
The Roman left consisted of two units of Numidian cavalry and another unit of Balearics all thrown forward to oppose four more warband deployed on the hills. Having outscouted the Galatians the Romans also advanced their centre.
The game opened with the Balearics rushing forward to engage the enemy as soon as possible, those on the right supported by the Numidian cavalry. The two cavalry wings approached, the Romans more slowly as they adjusted their formation. The Roman centre stood where it was with the warband moving slowly but steadily toward them. Much of the initial skirmishing fire was ineffective although the Balearics on the hills managed to get a couple of good shots off as the warbands were slowed by the terrain. The Numidians were taking more casualties from the massed warbands than they were inflicting so were pulled back as the lone Galatian skirmisher unit moved across from the centre to add more javelin shots.
The action proper started on the cavalry wing with a mass charge by all units except the Roman Bodyguard and the opposing Galatian Nobles who were out of range and closed up for a quick flurry of javelins. With more HC we were expecting the Galatians to come off better in the charge and the first combat saw the Spanish Horse shaken by the enemy but luck turned against the Galatians as they were forced back everywhere else by the Germans and the Romans' Gallic cavalry.
On the Roman left the Numidians and Balearics carried on withdrawing from superior numbers of warband and the Roman commander saw that he had to delay the main clash as there was a real danger his left would be outflanked so he started withdrawing the whole centre facing the enemy, the Balearics continuing to shoot as they withdrew but to little effect.
The Germans followed up their advantage next go although their Gallic companions were held up, the Spanish routed and the Bodyguard charge repulsed. Once again the Roman centre fell back and finally the Roman cavalry got the upper hand as three Galatian cavalry units were routed and a fourth followed shortly after. The only reverse was the Galatian unit that routed the Spanish charged one of the victorious Gallic units in the rear but luckily only did enough damage to shake but not rout it and support was available.
As the Numidians continued to fall back the Roman centre's left was exposed and with good command die the Roman went on the offensive and the centres finally came together as the warbands delivered a ferocious charge to recoil the whole Roman line with the leftmost cohort taking on a warband and Imitation legionaries. However on the right the Romans drew off one warband with the Scutiari and the Numidian cavalry which gave the Romans an overlap there. During the melee phase the whole Roman line held despite being pushed back previously with the 1st Cohort, inspired by the Commander, standing firm against the deep formation opposed to them.
By this time the Roman cavalry had seen off the last of the Galatian cavalry rescuing their beleaguered comrades and fending off a charge from one unit that had been rallied. They then started to regroup and move toward the centre.
There the outnumbered cohort was finally being overwhelmed by superior numbers as was one of their colleagues. Elsewhere though one of the other veteran cohorts was hoding its own against the Galatian bodyguard and the first Cohort was driving back the deep warband which suffered a complete demoralistion. The overlapped warband was then broken by a charge into its flank by the unengaged cohort. As the Roman cavalry started to arrive charges were delivered into the rear of warbands which collapsed after such a long struggle and the Galatian chieftain decided to call it a day. He still had some reasonably fresh warriors on his right but with four units of Roman cavalry able to attack his rear he found himself outmanoeuvred.
Well the Galatians lost again, but a much closer game as it was a real tussle between the Legionaries and the warband using the new combat rules. The initial charge was effective but not overwhelming and it did need another good combat to follow it up which Jon was unlucky not to get. Thereafter a real scrap where the superior Roman armour counted and it was nice to see that huge warband held then pushed back by the first cohort. We used bracing AND a warband charge here but I have since decided the two are not compatible. Bracing is deepening a formation for a solid shove, a warband delivers a fast and furious charge so the two should not be used together.
It was nice to see the Romans withdrawing in the face of the enemy as Gary rightly concluded he had deployed too far forward and needed to give his cavalry more time once he saw they gained the upperhand. The light troops also did a good job distracting the enemy, evading where necessary and not so vulnerable now to being destroyed very easily but relatively ineffectual themselves in causing casualties. The Galatians missed having their own light troops as historically they did.
Combats still lasting a couple of melee phases longer than usual, more opportunities to pass morale tests and my brother likes the rules too.
This is a report of a battle between a Spanish force defending their homeland from marauding Western T’sin Chinese. To start with both generals were knackered, which may account for some basic errors (that is an excuse for some poor decision making on both sides) .
The battlefield comprised a mixture woods and hills mainly centred on the central Chinese deployment area.
Out scouting the Chinese, the Spanish general, Paul M, dispatched a flanking force consisting of Caetrati & Balearic light infantry, which would arrive on turn five. Initial spotting in turn one resulted in two Chinese commands being exposed, as well as the right flank of the Spanish, which comprised their cavalry. Turn 2 saw another Chinese command unmasked on the Spanish left, this comprising heavily armed foot. The only command not spotted was debouching from woods in column via a road. The Spanish general was still searching for any dastardly crossbows, but decided anyway to re-deploy his troops to take on the Chinese horse and infantry already spotted.
Crossbows finally spotted
In the next round, the final Chinese command was spotted and, as suspected, comprised crossbow-armed infantry. The Spanish troops started to move away, leaving a lone base of Caetrati light infantry to face the music. Meanwhile the opposing cavalry wings moved closer towards contact, with the Chinese opening derisory bow fire to no effect.
Movement and an exchange of missile fire continued as the opposing forces came into charge range. Finally the last Spanish command was exposed, and the Spanish flanking force arrived to be faced by the second line of Chinese heavy infantry. The Chinese cavalry, responding to missile fire, charged forward with their lance-armed light cavalry giving the opposing Spanish light horse a fright. Finally the main infantry lines came to blows with the two Celtiberian warbands charging Guard infantry and Dare to Die swordsmen. In a show of cunning, a flanking unit of Scutarii ran away from the opposing Chinese base, leaving them vulnerable to a flanking attack. On the extreme flank, a base of Chinese auxiliaries reached the crest of a hill to face off a mixed force of Caetrati and Scutarii. Meanwhile the Spanish flanking force recoiled from the opposing heavy infantry.
The cavalry forces came together: with the Spanish light horse retreating but causing casualties on the opposing cavalry. The T’sin light Lancers then inflicted heavy casualties on their opponents, who had elected to stand their ground ( ie reached the table edge). The Chinese guard cavalry came to grips with the sole base of Spanish heavy horse, with the Spanish bodyguard cavalry charging into the only average heavy Chinese cavalry base. We have introduced a rule to stop heavy cavalry charging every round to chase off lights unless they are prepared to take a strength hit. The infantry battle saw a flanking attack on the exposed Chinese base which was held, meanwhile a Celtiberian warband held by the Chinese guard was in turn charged in the flank by a crossbow unit.
Pushing & Shoving
At this point the opposing forces were engaged in a pushing and shoving match. Neither side had a major advantage, although the Chinese centre (crossbows) was now unopposed, whilst the Spanish were crumbling the opposing Chinese auxiliary base on the hill. The flanking force was running for the cover of some woods behind the Chinese lines.
Further melee combat resulted in two central Spanish Scutarii bases recoiling with the Celtiberian warbands weakening to combined frontal & flank attacks from crossbow units charging into contact when targets were not in range for missile fire.
In a desperate measure the Spanish general pushed forward his remaining light troops to contest the centre. Also a base of Scutarii, pushing over the crest of a hill, became shaken under a hail of missile fire from crossbows and bow-armed skirmishers. The flanks saw continuing struggle with a spate of bases recovering from routs much to the surprise of both generals: double 1's again! However the Spanish bodyguard cavalry, following up a routing cavalry base, also destroyed one of the Chinese leaders. The bodyguard then came to grief when first shot at and then charged in the flank by a bow armed skirmisher base which caused four casualties in two bounds.
Battle in the Balance
At this point the battle was delicately poised: with the Spanish right flank & centre in trouble, but the left flank pushing forward and a flank march moving into woods to the rear of the Chinese line. The next round of officer casualties resulted in the Chinese Sub-general taking two hits. The Spanish side continuing a proud tradition of their general lost a leader in one flurry of die roles (three 6's on three 6-sided dice) closely followed by casualties to the leader of the flanking force.
With the Celtiberian warbands finally routing in the centre and the Chinese heavy cavalry pushing back the opposing Spanish light horse into the path of the routing Spanish infantry, the Spanish General realised that he could not move his finally victorious left flank forward in time to meet the advancing T’sin forces, and decided to withdraw.
A narrow victory for the Chinese T’sin Army . A highlight for the Spanish being a base of Caetratii from the flanking force holding a base of Chinese heavy infantry for three combats allowing a unit of Scutarii to advance over a hill to charge into the flank of the Chinese base causing it to rout. Flank attacks did a lot of damage in this game.
It Should Be Mayhem
A 100 Years War Free-For-All
The game takes place somewhere in northern France during the later part of the 100 Years War. Rumour has spread that pay chests are being transported to a remote garrison, and everyone is suddenly interested.
Moving across the table are 4 carts/mule trains/groups of guys carrying things. Any one of them could have the pay chests.
Each player has a Leader and 150-200 points of troops. Given the setting, groups could be English, French, Dutch, Scots, Germans, angry peasants or groups of mixed unemployed mercenaries. They choose an entry point. The plan is that they grab one of the carts/mule trains/groups of guys and then exit on the opposite table edge.
It should be mayhem!
We had 4 players:
English (1 foot knights, 2 bills, 2 longbows, 1 Irish foot)
French (2 knights, 2 partizanmen, 2 Francs Archers)
Dutch (1 heavy lancers, 4 pikes, 1 handgunners)
Germans (1 knights, 1 heavy lancers, 1 mounted crossbows, 1 mounted handgunners, 2 crossbows).
The battlefield was 6x4 with a scattering of villages, woods, cornfields and low hills. The four carts etc were spread out with one near each end and two near the middle. Movement of these was decided by moving them 10cm in a direction decided by a scatter die.
The battle settled into two separate battles between the French and Dutch, and Germans and English, with one base of Francs Archers spending a couple of turns taking long range potshots at the German mounted crossbows and inflicting no damage whatsoever!
Starting with the French (me) and the Dutch.
The Dutch HC rushed forward and grabbed a large cart, while the pikes rushed to keep up. As the cart started to move off under the guidance of its new driver, the French leader and a unit of Gendarmes charged the HC, first pushing them back and then routing them. They then caught up with the cart and started it moving back the way it had come, covering its retreat, while most of the Dutch pikes stopped and stared.
One pike base, however, went of a lone flank march around a blacksmith's, routing a unit of partizanmen that were sent to stop them. They then swung round behind the French line, but were stopped by shooting from a Francs Archers base (amazing!).
At about this time, though, the main block of pikes regained their courage and charged the Gendarmes that were covering the retreat of the cart. Three bases verses one: it was a short and bloody fight, with the French base being destroyed and the leader suffering four points of damage, limping to the rear and jumping into the cart.
He was not safe, however, and the cart was soon captured and its wounded occupant put to the sword!
The French now only had one base that was capable of restoring the situation: the last base of Gendarmes, which now executed a flank charge on a pike unit. To my utter shock and horror the Dutch took it like real men and stood their ground. French honor was now finished completely by the return of the routed Dutch HC who hit the pinned Gendarmes in the flank and sent them streaming from the field.
Meanwhile, the Germans had come out fighting, using their knights and crossbows to take on the bulk of the English force while sending their three HC units to round up the cart, mule train and porters that were within their reach.
The mounted Handgunners made an epic march to catch a cart that seemed determined to give itself over to the English, but managed to snatch it from under the noses of the Irish foot base that was trying to get it. They then settled down to shooting out with these Irish who holed up in a church.
The lancers caught the mule train, but then suffered the indignity of being first shot and then charged in the flank by a unit of English longbowmen as they tried to join the main battle, which I am about to describe.
Showing the sort of over confidence that would be seen many years later at Kursk, the German knights charged forward straight into the middle of the English line.
The impact was taken by a unit of bills, who held the line: just! Next turn the melee expanded in a way that can only happen in VB. First a base of German crossbows charged into the melee, but they had little enthusiasm for the venture (threw double 1), failing to break the bills. Then the English reinforced their own side, sending in two more bases: one of bills and one of bows. This was too much for the German knights, who broke and fled, their leader being wounded in the process. The German crossbows, however, stood their ground, fighting to the last in a desperate rearguard action.
As the Germans melted away the English were able to grab the cart that had eluded the Irish earlier, but the mule train and the porters remained in German possession.
So, who got the cash? The Dutch? The English? The Germans? Certainly not the French!
It turned out to be in the mule train, so the surviving Germans were all able to retire rich men.
This was a really good game, enjoyed by all.
With each player only having a small force to worry about it was an excellent way of teaching new players the rules. Two of the players had not played VB before (being mainly WHAB players) but they soon picked it up and enjoyed themselves. One went on to say that he now wanted to see how the rules dealt with Hellenistic battles, so we me soon be making sabot bases for his 20mm stuff.
The 3rd player had played before and I have now persuaded him that his Dark Ages collection should be re-based for VB!
One Sandwich Short of a Picnic
I decided to use an entirely mounted Parthian force to try out the old adage that the most successful Parthian armies used the fewest cataphracts.
The Sassanians were once again the aggressors and invaded along a river on their right flank; a couple of other bits of scrub featured but took no part in the game.
With 92 scouting points the Parthians deployed their bases after the Sassanians (with 600pts of 15mm on a 6x4 board this is no real advantage) but did get to push 3 of their 6 commands to the centre and have 2 flank marches which is why Jon went with a river to seal off a flank. All commands were Horse Archers (HA) except a reserve to the rear of 2 Cataphract units plus 1 of Cataphract camels.
With commands thrown forward the Sassanian deployment immediately became clear with 2 commands of cavalry in the centre flanked by light cavalry on their left and infantry against the river on their right.
Both sides advanced steadily forward with the Parthians sending one HA unit to harass the infantry, the rest opposing the Sassanian cavalry. The Parthian commander expected the Sassanians to keep moving steadily forward in the face of alternately halted and moving swarms of HA but once in range the Sassanians halted and commenced shooting. This obliged the Parthians to fall back as they were at a disadvantage against the closer formed veteran Sassanians in the centre and had to stay out of charge range of the light spear and shield armed Vassal light cavalry.
Trading ground for time the Parthians had 2 shaken HA units when the first flank march arrived on the Sassanian left which meant the Vassals now had enemy to front and rear. At this point, anticipating the other flank march arriving, the Parthian cataphracts started to advance on the left to menace the infantry and cavalry in the centre.
The flank marchers headed for the cavalry and vassals to either attack or distract the opposition. Having fallen back, the right flank Parthian HA command now went into attack mode against the Vassals driving off the opposition horse archers and sandwiching 2 Vassal units in a HA sandwich.
The Sassanian centre though had turned 2 of its cavalry around and either charged or started shooting 2 of the flank marchers to their discomfort.
The other flank march arrived to find the river blocking their path and lined by Sassanian levies which came under fire as one unit moved downstream to cross unopposed.
However, in the centre the other HA were running out of room and now had 3 units shaken from the Sassanian bowfire. The cataphracts were coming up in support but looked to be too few in number to help.
On the Parthian right were mixed fortunes. One sandwich destroyed a Vassal but the other was composed of badly shot up HA so one was routed and the other shaken. Meanwhile another HA unit was pinned against the flank board edge and destroyed by Sassanian cavalry, an occurrence starting to be repeated on the Parthian baseline as space and time finally ran out.
Not fought to the end as we ran out of real time but the Sassanians were heading for another win.
The river certainly helped a lot in cutting down space. I could have elected to not flank march but I needed the room and the river cut that down so I really needed to get behind him.
The other flank march was easily countered as the Sassanians just turned 2 units 180 degrees for a disorder marker and we had even less room to play with on the flank.
Where the opposition is close to the flank you can get them sandwiched as long as the sandwichers are in good shape.
Making SO troops harder to hit definitely helped. We were still quite rightly outshot but were not annihilated in 1 or 2 bound of shooting. At the end 5 of my 9 HA units involved in the archery duel in the centre were badly shot up, 4 of those shaken. Damage was done to the Sassanians but not enough to cause real problems unless they were then attacked by my cataphracts.
What the Parthians really need is a bigger board! Lost too many units crushed against the board edge! (Ed.'s Note: This is what I am always saying: horse archer armies need room to manoeuvre and aren't suited to a standard set piece game. Russcat take note!)
Refighting the Battle of Barnet, 1471
John Graham-Leigh is the Editor of Slingshot, the magazine of the Society of Ancients. One of his many good ideas is to arrange for the same historical battle to be re-fought using as many different rule systems as possible. Each re-fight is written up and printed in the same issue, allowing readers to compare and contrast the way in which the various systems coped with re-creating the encounter. Here is the battle report for Barnet.
Being outnumbered, the Yorkists decided to attack in echelon, leading with the right wing, hoping for a good victory on this flank before engaging the rest of the Lancastrian line.
Caution got the better of the Lancastrians, who decided to sit and await the arrival of the Yorkists, greet them with a hail of arrows and then counter-attack.
The Yorkists advanced in their echelon formation, while the Lancastrians tried to spot them through the fog.
The Yorkist right and centre emerged from the fog, to be hit by a lethal hail of arrows that caused much carnage in the front line of archers, whose return fire was rather pitiful by comparison.
Oxford, on the Lancastrian right flank, started to advance, hoping to be able to attack the Yorkist centre in the flank, but was engaged my archers who had been hanging back in the fog.
The Yorkist centre and right now pushed forward to point blank range, and took a good hammering – 1 unit of Longbowmen being destroyed while 2 others broke and headed for the rear.
The Yorkist right and centre now hit the Lancastrian line, with Longbowmen from both sides moving to the rear to escape the carnage. Unfortunately, the Lancastrians were not able to give all of their heavy foot Attack orders in time, with the result that some were caught flat-footed. The Lancastrian line was unceremoniously shunted to the rear, with 2 units breaking on impact. Both Warwick and Montagu suffered injuries in the melee, too, severely impacting their ability to control their troops from this point onwards!
Hastings, on the Yorkist left, moved his battle line forward to engage Oxford, who was facing him, but was not able to prevent Oxford moving some of his units to attack Edward’s exposed flank. This gave the Lancastrian centre a welcome boost and Warwick was able to stabilise what had been a dire situation. No such help was getting to Montagu, however, and his troops completely gave way at this point. They had given a good account of themselves, though, and leaving the victorious Yorkist right in no state to influence the battle further.
On the Yorkist left, Oxford hit and pushed back Hastings, while in the centre, Warwick re-dressed his line for one final charge. Edward was not up to the challenge, however. Outnumbered 3 to 1, he decided that a winter at the Burgundian Court suddenly had a certain appeal, and headed off into the sunset.
This was a very enjoyable and interesting battle to refight, and I hope that this came across in the above report. Not only was it fun, but the course of the battle and its various events felt very realistic and plausible.
So, how well did Vis Bellica work for this battle? Was the game good because of the rules or in spite of them? I will look at some salient features of the battle and explain a little about how Vis Bellica turned a good scenario into a great game.
· Spotting. Vis Bellica has a system for spotting enemy troops as they approach. Using this rule (modified as explained above to represent fog) meant that the players did not know exactly where the enemy was until they emerged from the fog, usually at very close range! Real ‘fog of war’!
· Shooting rules. In Vis Bellica, stationary missile units have an advantage over units that are moving (i.e. they shoot first and are not penalised for moving!) This meant that the Lancastrian plan to remain halted gave their Longbowmen a big initial advantage over their Yorkist opponents.
· Command system. Each turn, Leaders and Generals get a random number of Command Points (similar to PIPs in DBM) that are used for a variety of purposes, such as spotting enemy troops, issuing orders (units follow an order until it is changed or the enemy persuades them not to) and rallying Disordered or Shaken troops. A shortage of Command Points resulted in much of the Lancastrian line being stationary when the Yorkists charged them – not a good thing. Wounded leaders get less Command Points, with obvious results.
· Damage and Morale systems. In Vis Bellica, units accumulate damage from enemy shooting and in melee. This means that as the game progresses you can see your once proud units becoming more and more battered. Even if they pass all of their morale tests and avoid becoming Shaken or Routed, attrition will eventually get the better of them. This played a huge part in this game, as several units (notably on the Yorkist right flank) became so battered that sending them into action again would have meant almost certain destruction.
· Turn Sequence and Melee system. These features, in particular, contributed a lot to the enjoyment of the game. When a unit charges into contact with the enemy, the results of the impact are resolved straight away, including recoils and routs, before anything else is done. Add to this the rules allowing units to charge into an existing melee (to either help out a struggling friendly unit or to finish off a battered enemy) and you should start to see that the charge phase of the turn can see some major changes in the situation on the battlefield. The frantic reinforcement of wavering units was what saved the situation for Warwick.
So, in summary, Vis Bellica added a lot to the success of this game. The Wars of the Roses are often pointed out as being a very interesting period of history that makes rather dull wargaming. This is certainly not the case if you use Vis Bellica!
Greece Is The Word
Later Hoplite Greeks vs Galatians
Jon and I thought we would stage a clash between Late Hoplite Greeks and Galatians as per the latter's invasion in 279BC.
Being Greece the battlefield was littered with terrain with the Greek half having a steep hill on both flanks and one in the centre, leaving two open channels between them. Opposite the central hill was another in the Galatian territory. The Greek general (me) was quite happy with this situation.
The Greeks deployed their two mixed peltast and javelinmen commands opposite the hills on the left and centre with the aim of taking the high ground as soon as possible. The far right Greek command was their three units of cavalry supported by archers also intent on the high ground to their front. The gaps were to be plugged by hoplites, again with javelinmen in support.
Within the first two turns spotting resolved most of the troops except one Galatian command coming over the central steep hill in their territory.
Heading for the Greek left were some treacherous Thessalians who had allied themselves to the barbarians and given them some unexpected mobility with principally their light and medium cavalry. Heading for the hill on the Greek right were three Galatian warbands and coming between them and the unidentified mass on the central hill were the noble cavalry backed up by more warbands.
The Greek plan had one flaw to start with as they had the far left command facing air and would need time to cross the hill to their front and get into the Galatian flank. Otherwise it was a case of harassing the warbands with light troops and keep the hoplites away from them until they could be worn down.
The Greeks soon seized all the high ground keeping their cavalry in reserve on the right whilst the archers started shooting at the approaching warbands. Javelinmen also went forward in the centre but started being worsted by shielded Galatian and allied Greek slingers and had to fall back.
The terrain now started to work against the Greeks as a log jam formed on their left as hoplites and peltasts tried to get through the gap but found the space closed down by advancing allied Greek horse. In the other gap the javelinmen had been obliged to stay behind the hoplites because of the Galatian noble cavalry but now the warbands came through so the Greek general decided to halt the hoplites and send forward the skirmishers. Disaster! For the next couple of turns the Greek general and his most senior lieutenant both threw ones for command, so the hoplites pressed forward on attack orders toward the warbands.
The centres were still eyeing each other up, all the action was taking place on the flanks as Thessalian allied cavalry charged a hoplite unit and threw it back whereas the similar Greek cavalry were obliged to break off their attack on the Galatian bodyguard due to heavy losses. And then the warbands went in against the hoplites driving two back with great loss but the other being forced back itself.
As units fell back, flanks were exposed allowing both sides to launch attacks in support against winning enemy, the Greeks more able to do this with reserve light infantry. However things were looking bad for the Greeks as their right was giving too much ground as the archers were forced off their hill inflicting minimal casualties (awful die rolls) and repeated cavalry charges were repulsed by the Galatians with ease (more awful die rolls) and the Greek second in command ended up badly wounded (expected awful die) then killed in the subsequent rout of the hoplite unit he was with.
On the Greek left pressure was finally brought to bear with the rout of the Thessalians and a unit of allied peltasts but it was too late as the Greek right was disintegrating allowing the fresh Galatian cavalry to get into the rear. A win for the Galatians!
Another good game maintaining my remarkable lack of success.
In most games a superior number of units is a very good thing and I know Jon was worried about how Paul(Russcats) amended tariffs for Veterans and elites was going to effect him. Trouble was I forgot that, and was fooled by 5 leader bases, one false, leaving one of mine not facing a target and slowed by terrain in getting into action. We both think the amended tariffs a good idea as levy, veterans and elites need some adjustment as they are too cheap/expensive as they are. (Ed.'s Note: see the Yahoo discussion group files for more details)
The truth is that I was really hamstrung by bad Command dice at a crucial stage. The irony is that if I had given my prestige units, hoplites, to a more junior commander the pips could have been passed down. Bad die were the order of the day with me again, shooting was terrible and had a senior officer badly wounded as usual.
I keep playing this game in the hope of seeing Jon's plans go awry one day and all his leaders die in a game to level up the karma!
Death by Dice
Hellenistic Greeks vs Galatians
Having sacked various shrines a few generations ago the new Galatian Chieftain decided to refill his coffers the same way and invaded Greece recruiting his traditional Thessalian Allies along the way.
The Greeks, as always, chose to make a stand where the road the Galatians were using passed between two hills . The left hand hill had orchards, vineyards and rough ground on its right and rear effectively sealing off their left from the centre and right. The left contained the Greek Cavalry, a mixture of Tarantine and Thracian lights and Greek mediums with some missile support from light infantry occupying the hill.
The Greek centre consisted of six pike blocks with javelinmen support and the right saw the hill confidently held by Illyrians, Thereuphoroi and slingers.
With Greek cavalry and light infantry sent forward the Galatian dispositions soon became clear. The Galatian chieftain had also elected to place his Noble cavalry on the right, directly opposite the Greek horse, supported by the Thessalian allies giving them a clear advantage with their veterans. The Galatian centre and left was warband all the way with support from only a single unit of slingers as the Thessalian light troops were with their cavalry.
The cavalry wings soon closed the distance with the skirmishing Greeks outshot by the Galatian nobles. The phalanx rolled forward with the javelinmen from the centre and slingers from the right flank hill racing forward to start pestering the warbands.
With their light cavalry coming off worse some Greek cavalry charged to drive off the enemy light horse and others into the Thessalians who promptly threw them back, shaken. The others failed to contact the evading enemy and found themselves disordered and facing a fresh unit of Galatian nobles.
The Greek skirmishers closed down the warbands who promptly started outshooting (Jons better die) them and continued to roll forward driving the skirmishers back in disorder. The only place the psiloi were making any headway was in the orchards in the centre where the warbands were slowed down and the naked fanatics were coming under an effective shower of javelins. Not being able to degrade the warbands was starting to worry the Greek commander.
On the left the Greek cavalry were starting to give with the tired unit charged by nobles and immediately shaken but the previously shaken unit held the Thessalians up as a unit of Thracians delivered a ferocious charge to rout a base of allied light horse. The other Greek light horse were being driven back by nobles becoming shaken in the process. On the hill to the right of the cavalry action the Greek archers were shooting rather ineffectually at approaching slingers and peltasts bent on driving them off the hill.
All the time the warbands pushed forward driving back the skirmishers who were soon called off and retired behind the main infantry line. The Greek commander now hoped his pikes could halt the advance and his veteran Illyrians dispose of any warband coming up the hill and then hit them in the flank.
The cavalry action was virtually over as the Thessalians routed their opponents as did the nobles the tired Greeks. The successful Thracians were then taken in the rear by more allied light horse and disposed of. Seeing this the archers surrendered the hill and retired to the orchards to the rear to harass any approach that way. It all now depended on the phalanx.
Warbands now crashed into the pikes and charged up the hill as the Illyrians came charging down. Where the Greek commander stood with his deep pike block came success as they drove back a warband. Everywhere else disaster as the whole line was thrown back disordered. One unit of Illyrians triumphed but unbelievably a disordered average warband charging uphill threw back the other Illyrians and routed them. The next melee phase confirmed the inevitable as three of the five pike blocks became shaken leaving the Greeks no option but to concede the field.
Terrain was better for the Greeks this time as even if the Galatian cavalry won they could not easily threaten the rear of the phalanx. Greek shooting, and all other combat die, was abysmal which was a pain as I needed to wear some warband down. Making the fanatic naked warband LI(for protection only) worked a treat as they really did suffer from shooting and offset the cost of being elite. Russcats tariffs are worth going for.
I should have kept my own cavalry further back and hit the Galatians in the narrows rather than advancing to where their superior numbers worked.
At the end of the day you can do tactics all you like but the dice count. In that last melee there were seven attacks and Jon rolled 5 or 6 for each whereas I was rolling 1-3's all the time. That hurt.
Encounter at the Pass
Galatians vs Spartans
Having vanquished the other Greek armies the Galatians and their Thessalian allies pushed on into the Peloponnese. Here they were met by a Lacedaemonian army comprising three regiments of Spartiate Peers, a similar number of perioikoi and a slightly larger force of Peloponnesian League allies. Strong in foot the Lacedaemonian force was weak in cavalry, hopefully offset by the mountainous terrain.
The Spartan left was comprised of steep hills and rough going so a command of Thracian foot and light horse was tasked to occupy the high ground. Beyond their left were the perioikoi supported by javelinmen, then the Peers and their supports and finally the allies almost resting the left wing on another hill. To the rear of the hill were the Spartan cavalry trying to keep out of harms way knowing they were outclassed by the enemy.
As the Spartan army slowly advanced the Galatian dispositions soon became clear. Thessalians were heading for the high ground in front of the Spartan horse whose commander responded by sending his javelinmen to contest the ground. The Thracians were not opposed on the other flank and quickly moved to seize the hill on the right of the perioikoi as the Galatian Noble cavalry came forward with a number of warbands to their rear. The Spartan centre of Peers and allies was opposed by a wall of warbands slowly coming forward.
Action opened on both wings. The Thessalians pressed to the foot of the hill and found skirmishers there before them. A base of Spartan cavalry was obliged to come forward to protect the allied flank and was charged by the veteran Thessalian horse and pushed back. The Thessalian officer, used to total success, was appalled that he had not run completely over the hapless Spartans.
On the far side the Nobles halted in front of the perioikoi and showered them with javelins to which they could not reply. The Galatian centre now halted as the General tried to turn the flanks.
The shieldless javelinmen on the hill were being shot at by Thessalian slingers and Peltasts and coming off worse prompting a charge against the slingers that was driven off and a retirement in the face of advancing peltasts. The Spartan cavalry at this time were easily routed. However, the Thessalians could not stop their pursuit and although they destroyed the enemy horse they were in turn caught in the flank by allied hoplites and routed with great loss.
On the right the perioikoi were caught on the horns of a dilemma. They could not charge to drive off the Nobles as there were warband waiting in support to counter any such attempt which would leave the hoplites disordered as the Nobles evaded. So, they were taking a steady trickle of casualties with one base in particular suffering heavily.
Thessalian light horse now came forward to attempt the same against the allies but with warband much further to the rear these were driven off by hoplite charges and another base of Spartan horse coming up from behind the hill. So, once again the massed warbands started forward.
With Thracians parked menacingly on the hill above their cavalry the warbands to their rear now edged left to start up the hill but still the perioikoi were obliged to stand under the hail of javelins; the wounding of their officer did not help as he was distracted and unable to order a coherent attack. Back on the left reserve Spartan horse were being shot at by the Thessalian peltasts who had seized the hill but in doing so had exposed their flank to the javelinmen. These took the opportbasey and charged uphill into the peltasts and drove them back!!! Pressing home their advantage they then routed the peltasts but were cruelly taken in the flank themselves by the enemy slingers. Warbands now went up the hill toward the waiting Thracians who timed their charge to perfection and came barreling down the hill, crashed into the disordered Galatians and routed them.
The peers had been advancing slowly during this time and were now coming level with the perioikoi as the first central warbands approached. However, the nearest perioikoi base had suffered most heavily and in a final barrage of javelins broke and ran just as the first charges were launched.
The Peers drove back one warband and held another but the Veteran Galatian bodyguard got the upper hand and forced the other Peers back. The nobles then charged the remaining perioikoi who, weakened but not disordered, held the first charge but then collapsed due to their casualties in the ensuing melee. This freed up one base of nobles who drove into the flank of a base of Peers. With typical Spartan stubbornness they shrugged off this assault and routed the warband engaging the front before turning, badly mauled, to face the enemy cavalry. They could not survive another round against these fresher foes and broke in the next round.
With a base of Peers lost, another giving ground and the perioikoi destroyed the Lacedaemonian centre was exposed to Galatian cavalry and the allies decided to withdraw as more warband came up. After all if the Spartiates were being worsted what chance did they stand?
Lost again, what a surprise! Die were not too extreme though for a change. What did for me was the destruction of the perioikoi by javelin armed cavalry supported by warband. In hindsight I should have risked it and hoped to drive off the Nobles, through the warband thereby disordering them. Trouble was their commander was by that time wounded and unable to muster enough pips to do it.
Hoplite armies are vulnerable to a more mobile foe and that was proved this time. Could not use the skirmishers either to pester the warband; those Thessalian traitors give the Galatians just enough mobility to render them ineffective.
The Romans Are Coming!
Augustan Romans vs Spartans
Once again the Spartan army with Peloponnesian League allies (brigade consisting of 5 Hoplite bases) took to the field to defend Greece against the invading foe, this time being Augustan Romans. As usual, steep hills and orchards dominated the field of battle. However this time the Hills were mainly to the Spartan right leaving an open plain for the Romans to exploit. Initial deployment had the Spartan brigades spread across the battlefield whilst the Roman General aware of the small size of his force (16 bases v 23 bases) deployed in the plain avoiding the hills.
The initial turns resulted in the main Heavy Infantry brigades being unmasked along the plain and the Roman Heavy Cavalry being spotted to the fore of the Roman lines. The Roman General noted that his best troops appeared to be facing the Spartan Peers. At first no Spartan cavalry were seen so the Roman General sent his mounted troops (two veteran heavy, and one Moorish light, cavalry bases) forward to slow down the Spartan advance with showers of javelins.
By turn five all brigades had been spotted with, the Spartan right being revealed to consist of Thracian light troops, both infantry & cavalry. In response the Roman left sent forward a mix of Auxiliary and Symachiarii bases to contest the high ground. Advancing Spartan peltasts came under derisory bow fire from the lone auxiliary archer base. The Roman cavalry had started to whittle down the opposing Hoplites resulting in the Spartan heavy troops charging out to force the Romans back.
The Roman line halted apart from Auxiliary bases moving into rough terrain on the Spartan left. The Spartans continued to advance with the Spartan Levy cavalry appearing on the flank of the Peloponnesian Hoplites to threaten the Roman Cavalry. By turn 8 the main battle lines were getting close, the Roman Cavalry withdrew behind the legions to give support and also provide a reserve to halt a developing flanking move through the hills by Thracian light horse. On the Spartan left a base of levy horse charged a forward Roman Auxiliary base in rough resulting in a draw. Also a braced Peloponnesian Hoplite base charged into an average legionary base pushing them back.
The next turn saw the main battle lines clash. The Spartan Peers pushed back opposing Praetorians and legionaries but the supporting Perioiki and Peloponnesian Hoplites were being worsted by the 1st Cohort and veteran legion bases. The next few turns saw the Spartan left being held up by opposing Auxiliary bases with Spartan horse and allied Hoplites being routed. On the Spartan right the Thracian forces (light cavalry and medium infantry) came to grips with the opposing Roman troops causing the Symachiarii to rout. In the centre the Romans lost two legion bases but with one base of Peers being held up by the Praetorians and another taken in the flank by Heavy Horse the rest of the Spartan line started to crumble, with braced Hoplite bases taking heavy losses when they routed due to Roman pursuit. As usual the Spartan General ( Paul) following on in the footsteps of his ancestors started to lose his leaders to wounds causing command and control problems.
The Spartan right wing overwhelmed the Roman opposing forces by turn fourteen. On the Spartan left the Roman Auxiliary bases surprised everybody by yet again forcing back and then routing new opposing Perioikoi and Horse.
The rear of both battle lines were being filled by routing bases but better Roman command and control saw Roman Legion bases keeping close contact as they broke the Spartan line.
In the centre one base of Spartan Peers had became shaken by heavy horse, with the second base of Peers starting to lose against the Praetorians. Also at this point the victorious leader of the Spartan right died from his wounds.
The Spartan General threw in his remaining Horse supported by Hamipponi against the legions behind his front line but they suffered badly. The surviving base of braced Peloponnesian Hoplites split after breaking the Roman line to be faced by Heavy cavalry and legionaries.
On the Spartan right, the forward Thracian light Horse came to grief when faced by a lone base of Moorish light cavalry, the loss of the command’s leader resulting in the failure of a second Thracian light horse base to move up in support.
The melee phase of turn sixteen resulted in the Greeks losing single base’s of Peers, Hoplites, levy horse & light cavalry to rout, the Romans lost an Auxiliary base also to rout on their left. At the same time the Roman leader on the Roman left flank was wounded by the opposing Thracian infantry, later to die in the next rout phase.
The Roman centre continued to overwhelm the opposing Greek troops: the remaining base of Peers was being pushed back by the Praetorians towards a reforming Legion cohort. The 1st Cohort destroyed the opposing levy horse only to be attacked in the rear by a base of Periokoi which caused them to become shaken.
The next two turns saw the Roman commander redeploy his heavy horse to face the advancing Spartan right. However the Greek General's morale fell when the 1st cohort faced up to the Periokoi and comprehensively beat them in the next round of melee whilst at the same time the last base of Peers fought to the last man but could not stop the advance of the Praetorians. Once again the Greeks ran for the hills.
A good long game with the Roman heavy armour proving decisive. Command and control was important with the Romans losing one leader and the Greeks two to battle field wounds.
P.S. A quick note from Jon's opponent, Paul, from the VB Yahoo Group:
I have just read Jon's report on our latest game and would like to point out that the Greeks did not "run for the hills" but retired in an orderly fashion to the rear. I know I lose every game but I like my troops to retain a little dignity!