I’m ashamed to admit that I couldn’t wait until the army was finished, so I drafted in some ringers from my other armies to make up the numbers and set up my annual Christmas game with Phil.
|Belisarius' boys....with a few friends from elsewhere|
Phil has a Totilan Gothic army, so as mine are Belisarius’ Italian Army it’s a perfect match up. In theory.
|Phil's Goths, pre-deployment. Nioce, aren't they?|
Actually they do provide an interesting pair of armies, but what the game showed us was that if you play with an army regularly (Phil had taken his army to Britcon) then you probably have a better idea of what to do with it than if you’ve just thrown it together from some bits and pieces.
A further problem for me was that I hadn’t played Armati for 12 months, I think, and I struggle to remember all of the nuances and I lose my eye for distances on the table.
All of which is way of saying that I got beat fair and square by 5 units to 4, (I had an army break point of 5 and Phil had a bp of 6). Even if we’d played a couple more turns I’d have struggled to get to 6, whilst my broken units would have gone past 7. Ho hum.
The thing with a Byzantine army is you don’t get a lot of units for your points. Apart from your Skirmish Infantry/Psiloi types which you can have by the bucket load the rest of your stuff is armed to the teeth, in armour, with bows. All of this means units cost a lot of points. Of course if you have a cunning strategy that means you get your archery well deployed and turn your opponents into pin cushions it’s points well spent. If you get them all tied up in knots, blocking each other’s way so they get off one (completely ineffective) shot at most then you’re better off having the extra unit.
Still I had a plan. I was going to use my Kataphractoi to disrupt the Gothic line (although they’re not true cataphracts, but they do have bows) and then exploit any gap with my Gothic Heavy Cavalry. What I hadn’t worked out was that the key to breaking Phil’s army was to get round his front line and pile into his ex-slave rubbish infantry he’d hidden at the back. What I did instead was put my Goths too close to the front line so I couldn’t deploy them properly until it was too late. In fact I had to wait until I lost one of my Kataphractoi before I could get them in the game. Add to that the fact that I got some of my heavy horse archers too close to a chunky block of heavy foot and it all looked pretty horrid by the end.
Having said all of that it was quite a tense game and if Phil hadn’t had a stunning run of sixes on his Peter Pig dice once the armies had locked together in hand to hand we’d have gone on for a couple more turns and we may have finished even closer. I was a turn off ploughing my (admittedly exhausted) veteran Kataphractoi into Phil’s dross units and then it would have been really nail biting.
So I need to think a bit more about how to use the army, and I need to paint up some more units. I think, as well, that I’d prefer to play with slightly larger armies. We were using 75 points, and you can go up to 100 on the basic list which I think will give a better game. At least I won’t have to compromise so much on what I chose and it’ll look even more like a Byzantine army when it’s deployed.
Perhaps we can get that in for next week sometime.
Otherwise Merry Christmas to all of you out there.