Long run for nothing
Our Mare Nostrum Campaign is running it's third round and I had challenged my neighbors and arc enemies aka K's Persians.
Game itself was actually pretty ok, it just ended way too soon. Hence I'm going to write this report so, that it includes both the actual 6 rounds (too few!) played and "what if 7th round). Not surprisingly that will lead to a conclusion, where my heroic army finally wins the somewhat cowardly Persians (dressed as Romans) after a hard fight...
This battle took place in a region formerly known as Persia, by the coast of the black sea where my Ptolemian empire had expanded over the region of Seleucids:
Scenario for this round had the option for the players to leave a division in reserve, that would then have the opportunity to arrive from the flank. Further details here (in Finnish).
My army was as follows:
With two changes: Medium artillery was moved to the second division and my Agema Cavalry got Cavalry Wedge rule with 5 points (it's our house rule).
K's army included several units of Legionaires, three warmachines and an elephant. All legions were already in Testudo formation, even if the models weren't correctly formed into testudo boxes. I was quite shocked and annoyed of this quite gamey use of Testudo, but decided to proceed anyway.
K then suggested / announced that we would play a 6 round game. I guess I was still too agitated by the fact that I was facing Romans in testudo instead of Persians and didn't react or protest on this. 6 rounds is quite a short game for HC, where the game should end when one of the army breaks eg. more than half of it's divisions is broken... (unless otherwise dictated by the scenario)
K won the roll of for the first round but decided to let me go first, sensible decision since his tactic was obvious: stand back in the border of his deployment zone and shoot my troops with his warmachines, so he wanted me to move first to come to shooting range.
My two divisions (1 and 2) were deployed in the extreme left and partly behind big rocky hill. Practically all were deployed in march column - I had to try to reach Romans as quickly as possible. My third division with slow heavy chariots and elephants was sent to outflank as per our scenario. K didn't have any divisions in outflank reserve.
I succeeded in my first round command rolls very well. My first command sent my light cavalry units flying towards enemy lines with an intention to screen my main force from Roman warmachines and to try to take them out if possible. Rest of the army moved slightly more cautiously, denying Roman warmachines by staying just out of range. My horse archers opened fire on the nearest warmachine, causing a wound (this was later negated as the warmachine wasn't the nearest target and legions in testudo had a 2+ save against missile fire). K's warmachines opened fire on my harassing horse scouts and caused a break test on the light cavalry, whom panicked and scattered into the wind, damn! My screen had taken a serious blow!
Round 2-3My troops pushed forward still mostly in march columns, except cavalry and skirmish elements, whom deployed into battle lines.
K's line only shifted lighty on his left flank, anticipating my rush towards his right flank, Mr. Elephant also took a position on the extreme right. This time his fire drove my horse archers back, but my main force was still safe from the warmachines.
On round 3 my two divisions were closing on K's right flank and deploying into battlelines - ready to engage! My skirmishers were still successfully screening the army and hence K's plan to wither my fighting strength was duly negated. My light missile fire now focused on the elephant while my warmachines were finally in range to start engaging K's legionaires - whom didn't have any screens - just testudo (which was quite adequate for the job indeed!).
K's elephant monitoring the advance of my army and growing anxious on being peppered by my light missile fire.
Round 4 - flanking force arrivesOn round 4 it was coming quite obvious that 6 rounds of gaming would hardly give a clear conclusion for the game and my gambit focused on one goal: crush K's right flank division and break it -to gain a marginal victory. So I needed to have all my strength to deliver this blow and hence deployed my outflanking 3rd division, whom duly responded to my command and quickly moved to my extreme left. My cavalry could have charged, but since I wasn't well enough acquainted with testudo rules, I thought that I would be very hard pressed to succeed (testudos can't support other units in melee, so K's legion would have fought alone). So I decided to steer the to the right to force / lure K's left flank troops to reel back to avoid a flank charge. This scheme worked beautifully as Romans reeled back left their right flank to face the wrath of my main force! I could smell the Roman blood in the air...
View from the Roman battleline
Round 5 closing in for the kill
Time was running out and my third division hastily maneuvered into left and deployed into battle line. My cavalry restrained from charging and shifted even further right and into position to take the flank charge, should an opportunity arise. My missile file drove the Roman elephant back, while Roman warmachines didn't do bad damage to my cavalry. I had the Romans in ropes!
My cavalry poised to strike, should the Romans dare to move and threaten the flank of my main force.
Round 6 - to slaughter!Horns were blown: to charge! My heavy chariots were thrown forward striking both the nearest legion and the Roman medium ballista, while the charioteers bailed out just before the impact! My peltast on the enemy flank quickly closed formation and charged the same legioneers into the flank with an elephant and a pike phalanx moving into support.
Unfortunately I then learned, that heavy chariots can't be supported to the expected shattering of the legion didn't happen, I won the combat against the legion, but they held - disordered. The Ballista lost combat against the other heavy chariot and was destroyed. Both Heavy Chariots were removed as per their rules.
Roman sixth turn started with charges all around, their elephant charged my peltas (the empty base with white foot prints below) and two legions charged my troops, one of them used initiative and failed it's charge as my open order peltast evaded to safety (as planned) through my drilled veteran phalanx. The other legion (see picture above), with another one following in support, crashed into my phalanx, but I was prepared: my phalanx had skirmishing archers as side supports and Thorakitai as rear´supports, but Romans are always dangerous with their pilums. Commanders from both sides joined the fray and no quarter was given nor asked! My brave soldiers won the combat by 1 casualty (4 against 5), but of course the Romans held, damn!
In the left flank battle my flanking troops won the combat again - even if we made the mistake and removed the disorder from them (dirorder can't be removed while melee continues) and gave ground all shaken. Round six ended my army in position to roll up the Roman flank!
*** K requested that we'd end the game t this point as he had suggested when the game started and I had been too annoyed about the fact, that I was facing Romans to protest this evil plan. Now I protested, since I saw, that round seven would bring me victory AND because HC game ends when one of the armies is broken (more than half of divisions are broken). K actually admitted, that I'd win the game if we'd continue, but insisted on ending the game to keep the result as a draw to gain 2 points in our campaign. I really felt angry and frustrated about this cowardly act - the real action had just begun and now those yellow RomanPersians wanted to end the game! Blaah!!! ***
Round 7 - the fall of Rome / PersiaFrom this on the events are fictive, what if we would have played the 7th round...
Once again horns were blown for charge! My cavalry charged the flanks of Roman legions, that had charged my phalanx. Since the fighting Roman legions was already almost shaken, my combined arms made short work of them and their supports, running down one of the Roman commanders in the process - the Roman division in their left flank watched in horror as their comrades were slaughtered by the dozens! My troops then surged forward (sweeping advance) and struck new opponents already pinned to combat by my other troops...
My fresh phalanx charged the flank if the shaken division and javelinmen and an elephant joined in support. The other elephant charged the front, while my veteran phalanx stormed the legion with the green flag. All troops from behind moved into support. Most of the moves were made on initiative. I played combat in both flanks (elephant and phalanx in the left and cavalry in the right), so that when they succeeded in breaking their already badly mauled opponents, they could join in to the fights in the middle. This steamroller decimated several legions and left the rest of the two divisions shaken and broken.
Terrified by the fate of their brothers in arms, the remaining Roman Division quit the battlefield as fast as they could and as the day was over the field was ours! Hail Ptolemy the Greater!