First off, thanks to Philistine Jim for hosting me at his home and sharing his many pearls of wisdom as I fumbled my way through my first games. On to the action…
Romans VS Judeans
Well, my Romans decided to head to Palestine instead of Hispania and wound up fighting the Late Judean army II 51.! This battle was lost in the deployment phase. Going into the fight I was very concerned about keeping a nice battle line to engage his units that were in the open. The problem was a steep hill in my deployment zone, and hills all over the board for that matter; in the center there was enough room to deploy. So what does the commander of a heavy infantry army do in this situation? Deploy in column of course! Bad idea… I deployed in a pseudo column of a two-element wide block towards the left of my deployment zone, moving up on my first turn, filling the gap between my line and the board edge with a unit of Cav. My camp was placed in the middle of my deployment zone butted up against the foot of a steep hill. In the first couple bounds extreme pressure from the Judeans hovering in bad going on my right flank forced me to spend precious pips expanding my frontage and preparing for the flank attack. It is notable that I rarely rolled over a two for pips during this game.
During the battle my army basically ground to a halt, mostly rolling ones for pips (for the uninitiated, pips govern how many units you can move during a turn). The Judeans (often rolling fours and fives for pips) repeatedly smashed into my right flank with his General (Kn) and Blade element, and using hit and run tactics with his cowardly Aux hiding in the hills. I sent two elements of Psiloi into the hills to stop the flank attacks and an impending assault on my camp. One of my elements was sent recoiling away back towards my flank, and one actually put up a fight standing between an Aux element and my camp.
To make a long story short, the Judeans were on the verge of completely rolling my flank, and his General was smashing into my Blade elements with absolute impunity. The fight for the camp was desperate and my lone Psiloi, after fending off another Psiloi element and an Auxilia, was finally driven down the hill and butchered against the wall of my camp. (I wish I had pictures for you). Seeing that things were looking bad, my general, who was sitting reserve, decided it was prudent to try and kill the Judean general (I lost one element of Blade, and my camp was taken, so I knew the game was going to be over soon).
Spurring his horse, the Roman general crashed into the Judean army’s general and after a brief shoving match promptly found himself skewered on the Judean general’s lance, which ended the game.
Some observations: Was it stupid to send Cav against Kn? Yes. Was it also valiant and befitting a Roman member of the nobility? Yes. Fortune favors the brave sometimes so I took the gamble and lost, but the game was lost anyways. Pip management is key-you must be able to maneuver. Constricting terrain and low pips just killed me. Zone of control is very important and is a very useful tactic. I also came into the game playing very conservatively and was too worried about sending my blades into bad going against Aux. Next time I will just march them through since the modifiers will simply put them on equal terms. I was also hesitant to commit to a fight unless the situation was optimal, but what I realized was that the situation is almost never going to optimal and I need to trust in the quality of my Blades.
Second Battle: Sparta VS Athens
This will be brief…We set up with Sparta invading and the terrain was Littoral. We had two pieces of bad going: one hill on my left flank near the edge, and a forest on his right with about 300 paces between the two terrain features creating a bottle neck on one side of the board. The other side was wide enough for me to deploy eight elements of spear with one element doubled supporting my left flank. My general was on the right, second to last in line, directly across from the Athenian general. The Athenian line had smaller frontage since he decided to double rank some of his spear and extended the line with Auxilia on his right flank who would have to cross into the forest to reach my line.
The first couple of bounds were spent moving the Hoplite phalanxes forward. He sent a group of Light Horse and Cav. up his right flank towards the bottleneck. I moved my Aux. and Psiloi onto a steep hill to try and ZoC anything that came through the bottleneck. I moved my Cav. over to my left to prevent a flanking maneuver by any Aux. or horse elements.
Finally, the Spartan line crashed into the Athenians with such vigor that the entire Athenian line was pushed back. The Athenians answered back in their bound by charging in and killing an element of Spartan spear. I got worried at this point because the element that was destroyed was right next to my general, who was now separated from his army save one element of spear on his right. So the Spartan battle line looked like this against an ordered Athenian line:
The Spartan general faced the Athenian general who had rear spear support and a full line to provide overlaps, things did not look good. However; the Spartans began to fight like hell (rolling sixes) actually pushing back the Athenian’s left. The Spartan General won his combats, but didn’t kill anyone, so he began to move back causing a break in the Athenian line who decided to try and roll my flank. The Spartan left flank, however, began to roll the Athenian right flank after shattering the Auxilia anchoring the line and the two battle lines essentially began to rotate clock-wise.
To make a long story short, the Spartans, despite being flanked, won a series of important combats and won the day.
Observations: Putting my Gen. on the back-foot saved me (Thanks to Jim’s advice), true, he fought like a son of Zeus, but I knew his luck would run out. Keeping my Gen. out of killing range gave me the chance to focus on my other (intact) flank, winning some very crucial fights. The horse in this battle were essentially inert. I really, really enjoyed this game. I thought the fight would be boring with pretty equally matched armies, but it was very tense and fluid. I really liked it. I got to put some tactics into play that I learned in the earlier game and fought with more confidence and daring, and it paid off. I’m really looking forward to my next game. Thanks again to Philistine Jim for showing me the ropes.