Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Retrospective: Cold Wars WAB Singles Tournament, 12 March 2011 (Game 3)

Opponent: Duncan (Spartacus Romans).  Possibly the only plausibly historical match-up I had this tournament!  The Spartacus Roman list is an interesting one, and in hindsight, possibly one of the nastier Roman army lists out of the many that exist in the Ancients rules.  The key elements are dirt-cheap Legionnaires, led by what are effectively minor heroes in the Centurion upgrades – and those Spartacus-era Centurions are head-and-shoulders above the ones from other eras, too.

Army: (1750 pts)
  • Special Character General Crassus, on horse and not attached to unit
  • BSB and Lictor on foot, not attached to unit
  • 2 units of 12 legionnaires (veteran/drilled/stubborn) with Centurion
  • 1 unit of 21 legionnaires (drilled/stubborn) with Centurion
  • 3 units of 18 conscript legionnaires with Centurion
  • 2 unit of 9/10 archers without command
Mission: “Delayed Reserves”.  Both units must set aside a formed infantry or cavalry unit as a reserve, and note which short table edge they will enter (left/right) later in the game.  Alternating deployment 12” in from long table edge, and an unmodified roll-off to decide who takes first turn.  Flankers enter on 4+ on Turn 3, or 3+ on Turn 4, or 2+ on Turn 5, or do not enter at all and are considered lost.

Terrain: Low hills and trees surrounding an empty midfield.  The Romans (as a melee army) didn’t really need to worry about terrain in their deployment zone; my Nubians ended up being squeezed a little by some woods in my deployment zone.

What happened?
During the first turn of the game, Duncan and I discovered a flaw in the 2e Ancients rulebook – one that allowed elephants to directly use the Leadership score of the army general.  After multiple judges finally consulted the 1e rules for clarification, Duncan graciously allowed me to rewrite a portion of my army list, to allow me to take the Ld8 upgrade for my elephants (I had not taken it, as it seemed a waste of points with a General nearby...unless, of course, the General is not allowed to lend her Leadership to the Elephant’s morale checks).  With that done, we continued our game.

Expecting the Romans, who had a grand total of zero non-javelin ranged weapons, to march toward my lines, I had set up a bit back from the forward edge of deployment zone, with elephants spread out and ready to double or triple-team some Romans.  Duncan, however, moved up only gradually with the units on his wings on the first turn, forcing me to spend a turn moving my own archers up to get them into range.

The game continued to develop slowly, as I forced Duncan’s skirmishers to flee with my own skirmishers.  He had been waiting for his sixth legion unit to enter the table, and they did on my left flank, completing the pincer maneuver.

I finally had my Elephants within charge range, and charged two of them straight into biggest unit of Legionnaires on the table, winning the combat, but of course the stubborn chaps hung around for three more combat phases.  My third elephant ground its way through a smaller unit of Conscript Legionnaires on my left flank, finally wiping it out in the fourth turn of the game.

The Worst Cavalry in the World had been my flanking force, and they came in from my right, headed straight to the Roman backfield, and caused a minor traffic jam between the three roman characters and two legion units, as they frantically shifted to protect their leaders and their flanks.  I counted that a job well done, as it effectively took two Roman infantry units out of commission for the rest of the game. 

The sneaky Romanses sneaks around
the hill and attacks us, yes they do.

Of course, although I had managed to account for four of the six legions through my cleverness, and threaten a fifth with a largely fresh elephant, the point of all this back-and-forth had been to allow Duncan to maneuver his sixth and final legion into my backfield and threaten my archers.  I shored up the nearest threatened unit with my General and BSB, and unexpectedly, they lost the combat.  The Romans ran them down, and with the death of my general, a nearby Archer unit panicked and fled.  The subsequent points swing took the game from a narrow victory for the Nubians, to a narrow victory for the Romans.  Final score: 1169 Romans, 668 Nubians.

Turning the Tables
I finally played my Elephants well – I lost none of them, I was careful to put them into combats they were favored in, and they chewed their way through two of Duncan’s legions quite thoroughly in the process.  I also had (re)learned my lesson during the doubles tournament, and kept my skirmishers well away from combat with formed units, especially when my elephant was involved – no point in “giving away” wounds to combat resolution.

But I definitely took a risk with my General, putting her in a unit of Archers to bolster their melee ability and take down some Roman legionnaires.  Although I would probably do the same thing again (I was statistically favored in the match), it was definitely a risk, and I ended up losing the game as a result.

Both the legion and the Nubians play
a deadly little game of keep-away.

Both Duncan and I had played relatively cautiously in this game, and apart from over-anticipating his initial movement and losing a turn of archer fire, I think I played this game well.  Similarly, Duncan was equally able in managing to tie up my elephants for several turns, and only the fact that he hadn’t accounted for my flanking cavalry kept him from sneaking more of his units around my flanks to threaten my soft, juicy back line.

In all, one of the closest games of Warhammer that I’ve played in a long, long time, and one that I enjoyed even more for the fact that I played so well against a top-notch gamer like Duncan.

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