In all, I played three fine opponents that day, starting with Dave and his samurai list. Now, it’s no secret that the official Samurai list in the “Armies of Antiquity” supplement is quite nasty, and I rather expected that Dave would hurt me quite badly. That said, I was a bit surprised at how small his army was, and in particular how he had no cavalry to speak of. I even (foolishly) allowed myself the hope that I might actually win this.
Beautiful models, apparently of the “Mountain” clan.
General and ASB, complete with scenic bases.
Samurai Army List:
- General & ASB on horse
- 1x12 Samurai on foot (med infantry with stubborn) with Katana (as shield), and full command
- 1x18 Samurai on foot (med infantry with stubborn) with Katana and Longbow, and full command
- 2x18 Light infantry on foot, with spear, and full command
- 2x12 Light infantry on foot, with longbow, and Standard/Musician
- 1x5 Ninja (skirmishing hidden deployment)
the other two are pressing hopelessly onward. Spearmen
Ashigaru are maneuvering to charge several of my archer units at once.
It didn’t help that one of my elephants stampeded directly into my archers, causing mayhem and havoc and generally mucking up any plans I might have had to throw a bunch of arrows at the approaching samurai. Who finally charged into combat in the sixth turn, despite all the maneuvering I had done to try to prevent it, and the damage they had taken, and a mere seven (!) samurai simply annihilated a full sixteen-model unit of Archers, despite the ranks and height bonus I had. Because, see, they all have TWO attacks each, which is why the “Armies of Antiquity” Samurai army list is so, so nasty.
The final charge turned the game from a narrow tie into an outright loss, and although I had managed to smack up a few of Dave’s units – more by sheer dumb luck than anything else, he had lost two units of Ashigaru to my stampeding elephants, who had miraculously chosen to run TOWARDS him – but I had lost half my forces to his dastardly samurai and ninja (who had very neatly taken out my Ballistae), and had three elephants running wildly amuck about the board.
So, lesson learned: protect my ballistae better. And don’t get distracted by shiny enemy shooters. Focus on the assault types that are marching toward your lines. Check.
My next opponent was Don with a Republican Romans list. This is the Roman variant (one of seemingly dozens and dozens of published lists!) in which the Romans use lots of little mutually supporting units of medium infantry, rather than the classic legionnaire list of med/heavy drilled infantry.
Republican Roman Army List:
- General on horse (Ld10 variant)
- 4x 16 Hastati medium infantry (pilum, large shield)
- 4x 16 Principes medium infantry (pilum, large shield)
- 2x 8 Triarii heavy infantry (light armor, large shield, drilled, stubborn)
- 2x 8 Velites skirmishers (shield, javelins)
- 2x 6 skirmishing slingers
Despite the gap in the lines, you’re looking at a single unit of Hastati (red shields)
in front of some Principes (light blue shields). Behind them are the elite Triarii (dark blue shields)
So I moved up with everything, shot up some Romans, and then did it again. I chased off the Velites with my elephant escorts in the third turn, quite handily trashing them in combat, and my Elephants finally made it into charge range as well. Unfortunately, as noted previously, they are unreliable. Instead of trashing three Hastati units (which they were odds-on favored to do), two of the three elephants blew their attack rolls, lose the combat due to crazy Republican Roman rules about ranks and command models, etc, and stampeded from combat. Only one of three elephants did anything, although he did what I had expected (ate the Hastati), and smashed into the unit of Principes behind them. At the same time, the Worst Cavalry In The World came out of reserve and threatened the Roman left flank. Hah. Right, I wish.
No, Don’s not picking his General off the table. He’s advancing
three units out of cover and marching them toward my archers.
The little plastic rings indicate casualties…because Don’s
refreshingly old school about how he bases his units.
The rest of the game had a depressing familiarity about it. Although my one (well-trained) Elephant went to town on the Principes, and then helped the WCitW beat down some elite Triarii, and although I grabbed quite a few standards as a result of that action, I ended up losing quite a few units of my own as the Romans marched along behind my stampeding elephants, and spent the last few turns of the game picking off a few Nubian units frantically getting out of the way of several tons of berserk pachyderm. It ended up being a tie game, with some of the damage I sustained being self-inflicted, but with the Romans managing to kill three units themselves (two Archers, one Cavalry) and grab some standards of their own in the process.
This just about sums up the second half of the battle. In case it isn’t clear,
the Romans *are* indeed laughing uproariously.
So in this case, the overall plan was probably pretty solid, but the unreliability of my units demonstrated itself quite decisively. Oh well, I suppose that’s what happens when you play an Elephant-heavy army.
My stellar record to this point (zero wins!), and the fact that there were an uneven number of players in the event, meant that I was up against the tournament ‘ringer’ – my old nememenisesisis and tournament organizer himself, John Bianchi.
Because John is *insane*, he has hand-painted tartan on his Scots.
That’s four units-worth of stripey Scottish clothing, folks.
John was playing his Scots, an army he had long talked about, and which he had finally completed. It consisted of large infantry blocks, with some supporting cavalry and skirmishers:
Medieval Scots Army:
- General on horse
- ASB on foot, in a unit of Spearmen
- 4x 28 Spearmen with Light Armor, Spear, Shield, full command, Medieval Phalanx
- 1x 10 Knights (3+ save, lance, warhorse, First Charge, impetuous), full command
- 2x 10 skirmishing shortbows
Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth (if you’ve heard otherwise, it’s a lie, I swear it), I sent the elephant escorts careening into them, and in a trice, John had lost all his missile troops. Sure, some of my escorts overran into the nearest unit of spearmen and were cut down, but my Elephants now had clear sailing… assuming they didn’t mess up the charge. Happily, they did not – two smashed into the ASB’s spearman unit and shredded it, while the last charged the unit of Spearmen next to that, and the flustered Scots were forced to Fall Back in Good Order.
John moved his Knights out of cover, and I promptly fired all my ballistae and archers at them. Undaunted despite heavy losses, they charged my nearest unit of Archers…but with the losses they had sustained from earlier shooting, my ranks, and the hill bonus, I won the combat, and the knights fled off the table, chased by my cheering archers all the way!
This does not happen often. Savor it when it does.
Unless those are YOUR knights, of course.
Down to just two units of Spearmen, and having inflicted almost no damage on me (apart from one unit of expendable skirmishers), John was in a spot of trouble. Although one of my Elephants eventually ‘bounced’ and stampeded (when working solo against a large formed unit, especially one in Medieval Phalanx, that sort of thing happens from time to time), by this point I had trapped and destroyed a second spearman unit between elephants and archers, and the remaining two were looking somewhat battered.
You are having a bad day when this happens to your spearmen.
John’s general hopped into a unit of spearman for protection, and got dogpiled by some overly-exuberant Nubian archers from both the front and flank – his spearmen having gotten badly turned about what with all the craziness on the field. He was saved by the setting sun (game ran out of time), however, and with that, the two armies quit the field.
It was a near-total demolition of the Scots, and finally, a win for me on the day. My schemes and plans had finally worked, with the Elephants doing what I had asked of them. What had helped in particular? Sending two elephants after one unit – perhaps a little bit of overkill, but definitely a way to ensure that they do some damage when they hit.
So, in all, a fairly entertaining day, with some beautiful and well-painted foes. And what’s more, I collected one each of a win, tie, and loss, so nothing to complain about there. The new army list worked much better, and the infantry in particular were far more sturdy (as demonstrated by the fight against the Scottish Knights!). Now all I needed to do was cross my fingers and hope that the Elephants don’t completely crap out on me – which is to say, I might as well enjoy the wins I get, because an elephant army is going to be inherently unpredictable regardless.