Wednesday, August 4, 2010

8-9 July 2010 Historicon Warhammer Ancients Tournaments (Intro)

This review of my games at Historicon 2010 will be somewhat different than normal.  Instead of writing individual battle reports for all my games, I’ll do a more general overview of my results, and what I learned while playing.  I’m doing this for two reasons:

(a) I was playing a completely new army list, and completely new army, using unit types I’ve never fielded before in Ancients games.  As a result, I don’t know that a detailed analysis provided by me would be terribly useful.

(b) I have enormous difficulty writing up battle reports for games that I didn’t much enjoy.  This is not to say that I had no fun at all, but let’s just say that one person cheated, one person was a bully, one person was both, and one other surprisingly lacking in social graces.  This meant that the games with the several other gamers I played with were somewhat overshadowed as a result, although I did have good fun with several quality opponents.

8-9 July 2010 Historicon Warhammer Ancients Tournaments (Analysis)

All my list construction theory was tested during actual fielding of the army, at which point I noticed a number of things:

(1) Elephants are quite punchy, but they are also very slow, and against large blocks of infantry really do need to be supported by another unit (ideally a second elephant).  Given how slow they are, they really can't be held in reserve, and putting them on a far flank is a bit of a risk -- there's a danger that they'll never actually get into battle at all.  Elephants need to be set up with a plan to throw them into the thick of the enemy, as soon as possible.

They are also an all-or-nothing investment, as I discovered that in half of my games, my elephants panicked fairly quickly, rampaging around the field uncontrollably after being either shot to pieces, or (more commonly) losing combat after doing poorly in melee against a large block of resilient infantry.

In my match-up with Heraclian Byzantines, all three of my elephants managed not just to stampede
but to stampede directly into each other at one point.  Pratfalls and other hilarity ensued.
In fact, in this picture, you can see the Greek skutatoi (spearmen) pointing and laughing.

8-9 July 2010 Historicon Warhammer Ancients Tournaments (Doubles Results)

Warhammer Ancients Doubles Tournament
Despite not teamed up in advance with anyone in the doubles event, I was confident that other singletons would be in attendance, with whom I could form an ad hoc alliance.  Indeed, I was matched upon my arrival to the event with Adam Hughes, fielding a Han Chinese army made up of four units of crossbows, four of spearmen, and seven heavy chariots -- plus general and battle standard on horse.  Despite some lackluster contributions on my part, the Nubian/Chinese tag-team still placed a respectable 6th out of 16 total teams.

Adam's Han Chinese force.  Hard to make out clearly in this picture is his fourth unit of crossbows,
which are in ranks in the center of his line, just back of the other crossbows.

8-9 July 2010 Historicon Warhammer Ancients Tournaments (Classical Results)

Ancients Tournament, Classical Division

In a change of pace for me – I have played in the Chivalry division (1200-1500 AD) division for many years – I entered the Classical (400 AD and before) division with my Nubians.  In what was possibly one of the more…interesting…aspects of the tournament (and something that managed to very neatly suck out what enjoyment I’d had during the course of the three games I played), I realized later that the tournament organizer had not been joking when he told me I had intentionally been matched up against three armies with drilled infantry – the bane of an Elephant army list.  Out of 12 players (and 11 possible opponents), only four fielded drilled infantry.  I faced three of those four, twice being re-matched in later rounds to ensure I faced drilled infantry.  The tournament standings (and round-by-round results) that support this grim conclusion are all available online.  Ah, organizer shenanigans.  How exciting.

Despite this, I somehow managed to pull a draw in all three of my games, and finish a moderately respectable 5th out of 12 total players.  And by the end of the third game, I felt I had a fairly solid grasp of what I should be doing with my Nubians on the tabletop.