Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Orchomenis 150bc

Well, It's been well over a year since I played an ancients game; but some revitalisation of the system has been encouraged in my club by the recent development of Plastic figures, and the interest in the expected 2nd edition of the rules.

A mini campaign keeps being talked about, but has got nowhere yet, however Cal - who has recently moved from fantasy to history with an interest in classical warfare - had a shiny new Late Roman Republican army he wanted to try out.

So shiny and new in fact that they were a mass of grey plastic! Not out of character for Cal to be honest. And similarly, he was not out of character in having picked a well tuned army. Three blocks of quality legionaries, one of green recruits, lots of skirmishers and a couple of bolt throwers.

For my force, it was to be a first outing of the Spartans for over two years; bolstered now by new plastic recruits too! The core (and well over a third of the army - pointswise) being the Spartan Royal guard, 27 points a piece of pure gaming cheese; being immune to psychology, unbreakable and hard as nails. Attached to the general they made for a 20 figure unit of over 700 points! To accompany them was another unit of Spartans and two city hoplite units; a bunch of Thracian's and plenty of skirmishers.

And so 2000 ponits and about 140 figures a side faced off against one another.

As we began I rushed forward with the Thracian's, deciding to target his artillery and then chop through his flank. In this grinding match the Thracian's were the closest thing to cavalry on the table, and Cal recognised the threat. Sending his veterans to intercept them

Truth is, it was a cock up on my part, I should have rolled up the skirmisher line with the Thracian's first. It would have kept the veterans out of range and given the dismal performance of the ballistae during the battle, not cost me anything. As it was the drilled veterans turned and charged the Thracian's, destroying them before they could close on their preferred target.

Thus compromised I had to take a more conventional approach, Using the hill in front of my deployment zone as cover I baited the Romans to advance by advancing myself; putting my skirmishers in range to harry his lines. Neither sides skirmisher fire achieved very much but the goading was enough to get Cal moving.

And to get him to charge. Sadly I narrowly lost both melees, both involving City troops who broke. But to my relief they at least outran the Romans. On the next turn one unit rallied and the pursuing Romans suddenly found themselves in a trap, as the Spartans on my left hit them in the rear. On unit routed the other was destroyed

Meanwhile the Royal Guard was tar-pitting against the other two Roman units. Losing each round by seven or eight points doesn't matter when you don't take morale tests! It was classic Spartan stalling, soon the other Spartan unit arrived on the flank and swung the combat my way. One unit routed, one destroyed again.

However men of the match had to go to Cal's slingers, whom once the Thracian threat evaporated, ran the length of the battlefield, attacked the flank of my last city hoplites, fended off my own counter attacking skirmishers and beat both units! You gotta respect that sort of determination.
Never the less,i f the game had ended there I'd have been on top, carrying a fistful of Roman Eagles. But neither of us had quite hit 75% losses so according to the rules it wasn't over yet. And I knew I couldn't hang on to more than a draw at this stage, fast marching Romans were approaching after rallying inches from a table edge, and the remaining troops were going to stall thanks to mutual stubborn rules.

I'd call it a points draw, but a strategic Roman victory; I'd also call it a great game, which swung both ways over its course. Cal is a good player with an encyclopedic knowledge of Warhammer and its tactics, which held him in good stead here. I made my mistakes, and so did he, but with point and click armies like these, a simple grinding match will always come down to whose luck is best on the day too

No shame on the heroes of Sparta today, only the Glory of death and Eagles.

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