Wednesday, 19 June 2013

A Successor-ful Evening

As a rarity the Monday Night Group met on Monday Night this week. Following a request last week I set up a game using Neil Thomas' "Ancient & Medieval Wargaming" rules, a perennial favourite that we haven't used for a while as a group. Plus the requirement was to use some of my 20mm plastics.

Flicking through the pages of the book I realised that as I have a very large Alexandrian Macedonian army I can make up a couple of Successor Armies, if I plunder my Greek, Thracian, Persian and Carthaginian boxes to plug the holes. I quickly discovered I've got light archers in simple tunics in quite a few of my boxes. So, Antigonids & Seleucids it was. I increased the army size from 8 to 12 units and added light levy cavalry to the Seleucid list, but otherwise no changes to the base system.

My first surprise for the players, however, was my first attempt at an old-school style deployment screen.

This has been improvised using some old speaker cable tied to the rafters, one of my board-cloths and a few clothes pegs.

I have to report that Phil's not a fan, on the grounds that he doesn't like deploying without being able to look at the terrain. This is a fair point, although in this case the table was flat and open, - as most battlefields in this period were.

Ian took the Antigonids. His forces were:
  • 4 units of Phalangites
  • 2 units of Companions
  • 2 units of peltasts
  • 2 units of Cretan archers
  • 2 Elephants

Phil got the Seleucids:

  • 4 units of Phalangites
  • 2 units of Companions
  • 2 units of Asiatic levies with bows
  • 1 units of Asiatic light cavalry with javelins (these aren't in the original list)
  • 3 Elephants
 The Seleucid Companions are more heavily armoured than their Antigonid opponents. When the curtain was pulled back we had the following:

Ian had gone for the cooler looking set up, with his elephants interspersed with his phalanxes.

Phil meanwhile had put his elephants out on one of the flanks to disrupt Ian's cavalry and give him a flank victory, whilst managing the other side with massed cavalry. I had failed to appreciate this was what Phil was doing, so I didn't take close up pictures. I did photograph his massed cavalry, however.

And his third elephant in the middle of his line.

The two lines closed together slowly, with the initial action developing out on the wings

Here you can see that Ian's Companions are under threat from the elephants, some light horse and levy bowmen. In the end it was the levy bowmen that did for the cavalry, whilst Phil shepherded them about with the elephant(s).

Here you can see that Ian (on the left) is thinking long and hard about how to keep his Companions out of the way of both elephants and bowmen. He's now about faced and trying to get out of the way. Phil, on the other hand, is worried about his centre and has about faced one of his cavalry units to gallop round his rear to shore up his right centre where he thinks Ian is going to get a breakthrough. I think.

However, Ian's attempts to "get out of the way" were tying him into even greater knots, as you can see below:

In the distance indecision over how to deal with the elephant is allowing Phil's archers to shoot lumps off one unit of Companions. The other, meanwhile, is exposed to a rear attack by light cavalry.

Eventually Ian got a unit of bowmen into the action, which softened up one of the elephants a bit and gave his cavalry a breathing space. Alas the elephant also managed to contact said light infantry...but this did enable Ian to attack the elephant in the flank with his cavalry.

Alas this went spectacularly wrong, as Phil then stuck his light horse into the flank of the cavalry. The following photo is posed, as it shows units routing, but you get the idea.

Although the elephant did die too.

Focus now turned to the centre, where Ian was closing rapidly on the Seleucid centre infantry with his elephants. Phil realised he need to bolster the middle a bit, and sent the remaining elephant from his right flank along as reinforcements.

Phil was right that he'd need help. Here's the elephants contacting his centre:

And this is what was left after one round of combat and a few failed moral rolls:

Elephants can be very nasty. In fairness on the "unit destroyed" count Phil was well ahead at this stage, but he hates to lose any unit at all.

In Phil's turn he charged his elephant into one of Ian's phalanxes and left his to their fate. Luckily for him they held on this turn, although things weren't looking good for the survivors.

After this, Ian broke the two phalanxes, and Phil roughed up one as well. The battle started to do one of those "revolving door" things and I lost track of who was doing what to whom. A real problem when both sides have the same type of units, and you've left it a few days before you start sorting the photos.

Phil was taking pictures as well, so maybe he'll throw some light on what happened next.

Basically, he lost his centre, but destroyed everything else in Ian's army, and ran out winner by a margin of 5 or so units.

A really fun game that played well in 2 1/2 to 3 hours. There are a lot of figures on the table, and they started a fair distance apart for armies where most of the infantry moves at 8cm a turn, so a good speed of play was achieved.

Phil certainly out thought and out played Ian in this one. However, I think I would take the extra elephant and light cavalry over two units of peltasts most days of the week.

The game has rekindled my interest in plastic figures and the Neil Thomas rules. I love them for their simplicity and ability to get a decisive result in a good game length (DBA can be a bit short, sometimes).

So I think I'll revisit the Hat catalogue again. I like the look of those Alexander period Indians, and possibly those Sumerians. The Assyrians look interesting too....


  1. The SoA BattleDay next year _might be Hydaspes, and there isn't usually an AMW game in the mix. Just sayin'.

    My comment re the deployment screen is that it is artificial: generals just don't deploy armies whilst looking at a big blank sheet. Also I think it is the bit of the standard Armati game that leads to the silly artificial deployments.

    A more narrative approach is needed ...

    Enjoyed the game - enjoyed the report ...


    1. Hydaspes with AMW.....stranger things have happened.

      I've never used deployemnt screens, really. I accept the artificiality of them, but at least it is clear where everything is, unlike the use of deployment maps.

      I think Armati ends up with silly looking deployments as that's what the game mechanisms drive out. I don't think it has anything to do with screens. No one deployes in a long line. Offset deployment is essential to win.

  2. How to make a 'watched pot' boil ...

    No sooner have I mentioned the original front runner than RL announces that the 2014 BattleDay will be ...

    Montaperti 1260 ...
    NB: you heard it here first, folks - well you did unless you were visiting the SoA froums already :) ...

    That will be quite special ... but the elephants will have to wait (Hydaspes will certainly be along soon)

    1. Never heard of Montaperdi, which may say more about me than the Battleday.

      Well, it gives me an extra 12 months to put the Indians together.

  3. Very well documented battle between Florence and Siena i.e. Guelphs and Ghibellines ... and, well, ... I'll not spoil it ... but it is the quintessential Italian Medieval battle full of heraldry and 'ox wagon' bell towers and the like - all those flag sheets are based on it :)

    I'm never sure about these things but it will certainly be the most splendid of the BattleDays so far ...