Friday 29 June 2018

The Ancient Battle of Gordium

Time to have another go with my ancients rules. I have risked sending them off to Osprey as a formal submission, but my hopes are not high. There are already so many ancients rulebooks available, and then there is the problem of how my rules would fit into the Osprey Games range. Nevertheless, hope springs eternal. Having put in a good deal of work on these rules, I am determined to make them available by some means or other. Time will tell how that plan works out.

Asymmetric Warfare
I have found that one needs to play a variety of types of game to test a rule set effectively. The Battle of Gordium poses the problem of a high quality army faced by a much larger, but low quality opponent. Here I was helped by my use of imaginary armies. Units could easily be shuffled around and two suitable armies produced without getting all unhistorical - or even worse, waiting a year until I had painted enough (for example) low quality Persians. In point of fact, I very much had the Alexander the Great vs. Darius example in my mind whilst preparing this game. The rules need to make it possible to re-create something like Gaugemela, and give the Greeks a good chance of victory. Apart from the battle rules, my points system would receive a test as two armies were assembled equal in points but very unequal in quality and numbers. I hoped a massacre either way would not result.

The Armies
Paphlagonia: Aristodemus Zephyros (rated 'brilliant'); Nicomedes; Theopompus.
A. Minerva Cavalry
B. Victrix Archers
C. Antium Infantry
D. Yellow Shields
E. The Black Legion
F. Blue Shields
G. Auricomus Cataphracts
H. Companion Cavalry

Latium: Maximus Decimus Meridius (rated 'dreadful'); Tarquinius Superbus; Spurious Larcious.
1. 100 Suns Mounted Archers
2. Medjay Cavalry
3. Galchobar Warband
4-6. 1st, 2nd & 3rd Regiments, Kingdom Infantry
7. Broteas Infantry
8. Zagora Archers
9. Na'Arun Slingers
10. Serpant's Tongue Infantry
11. King's Elephants
12. Guard Chariots
13. Sinope Chariots

Paphlagonia were outnumbered 2 to 1, but 5 of the 8 Paphlagonian units were elite, whereas 5 units of the Latium army were poor, and none elite. Points totals were therefore equal.

A traditionally terrain-lite ancients table! Not much to get in the way of the action, and a basic face-to-face encounter scenario. The town of Gordium is assumed to lie off the table to the west. The first army to break would be defeated.

The Game In Photos

Set up from the Paphlagonian side. I didn't put too much effort into the terrain.
Don't tell me - you noticed that already
And from the Latium side. The Latium right wing, led by Tarquinius, I mentally labelled the 'novelty wing',
formed as it was from just elephants and chariots.
The fragility of 'poor' quality units was soon in evidence. A charge by a single unit of Paphlagonian light cavalry across and down the hill (personally led by Nicomedes) put the Latium mounted archers to flight, and the warband and  other Latium light cavalry were quickly on their way as well. They didn't stop at the board edge!
The Latium left flank is now open for exploitation.
The Latium right flank rumbles forward - the tail of Tarquinius' horse is just seen between the elephants! Jon skilfully moved his cavalry aside and confronted the elephants with the Blue Shields phalanx. Long pointy things are certainly very handy in such an encounter. Aristodemus, in a very Alexander-like move, fought side by side with his phalangites.
The Na'Arun slingers put up a spirited defence to keep the Paphlagonian horse at bay. In the background, I try to do something with my heavy chariots. Looks a bit like a wild goose chase!
Fighting between the Blue Shields (supported by the Companion cavalry), and the King's Elephants (supported by the Zagora Archers), was intense and bloody. The much reduced Blue shields are seen here holding their ground, whilst eyeing with some trepidation the circling Latium heavy chariots. Three of the four King's Elephants are destroyed - but considering they were rated 'poor', the elephant's had done pretty well. The small ivory-coloured dice record arrows expended.
End game. After around 8 moves the Latium army had lost the equivalent of eight units and was defeated. The three regiments of the Kingdom Infantry are still fighting hard but are reduced in numbers and sorely pressed - they will surely crumble soon. As can be seen, the heroic and apparently tireless Aristodemus is now fighting with his cataphracts. At bottom right the remaining slingers would appear to be doomed in their fight with the Paphlagonian javelin men.
... a most enjoyable and quite intense game. A number of detail rules that I had skated over in past try-outs were implemented and seemed to work OK. The higher quality army, ably commanded by Jon, had won out, but not in such a way as to indicate the points system was out of whack - I think it could have gone the other way if the dice gods had been kinder and I had played a more tactical game. Thanks and a 'well done' are due to Jon, who found himself fighting with unfamiliar rules in an unfamiliar period. Rating his alter ego Aristodemus as 'brilliant' may have helped a bit - the initiative was with him throughout the encounter!

'Til next time.