For my second outing with the rules the plan was to have a warm body on the opposite side of the table. Instead I had to settle for a shivering mass of humanity that goes by the name of Lee. Whilst I really can't fault Maelstrom games for their excellent facilities which includes free use of 60+ tables!!! we just happened to pick a cold day to play. Two other guys were there playing Flames of War and one of them was trying to move his figures with padded gloves on!!! Not only do they provide the tables but also they allow free use of a large mix of terrain, though most of this in fact is more suited to 28mm and a lot of it would be warhammer 40K but still plenty enough to make use (though I had taken my hills and got good use out of them).
So to test run the rules and get Lee's just arrived army out we went for a Late Achaemenid Persian V Alexandrian Macedonian for about 800 points. In fact both of us pipped the points by about 20 so as evenly matched as it would get.
Above is the set up, can anyone see the pike? Now Lee had bought his army off E-bay as he could not wait to get something on the table to play. Yes he owns all the figures for this army in unpainted lead but it did not stop him going for it! As it was advertised as being 800 points and I already knew what came with it I tried a little force matching. The army came with 4 elephants so I fully expected to see these on the table. This was the first thing I got wrong as Lee had been painting up units before weakness struck and swapped out the elephants for some of these units. We both had a three reconnaissance score so it was down to the dice. We tied the rolls until finally after 4 re-rolls I got the draw on him.
Set up was a pain, neither of us like the idea of picking terrain only for the dice to throw them all over the board. In fact your opponent seems to have more say where they go than you do. Am I missing something? Certainly an area of the rules we need to re-read in depth. This was really the biggest sticking point of the game. Lee ha only so far read the rules, no trial for him and when we came to the first combat he confessed to being somewhat confused about the POA but when I explained how it worked to my understanding he was quickly up to speed. Both of us agree the rules are about as badly set out as you could manage.
I had two advantages over Lee. First I had played the rules through once but more importantly I had read a beginners battle report on one of the blogs and knew that getting a missile block of 8 bases is much better than having a block of 6. But even better was my getting 8 slingers against his 4 Cretan Archers, I was happy to trade shots and then go for the melee. Sure enough I was quick to disorder him and soon these were fragmented and caught in an evade for the first rout of the game. I must say these went down fairly quickly but as Lee was in one thin line and no reserves I could just keep going after them. Really these should have been in front of the Pike. This breaking allowed me to go after his baggage as I planned to try and break his army before the Pike got into the battle.
My Next success was driving off his left Flank, in fact it could be said I had one Cavalry BG too many on this flank but time was to show this was not the case. Lee could not hold me on this side but I could not contact him. Here the dice just hated me. Every variable distance roll from this point on on this flank yielded me a 1 or -2 to my charge. Lee always rolled enough to get out of my way. In the meantime his bow fire got a lucky disorder which I never had the opportunity to shake off.
Meanwhile he had drive off my Parthyaian LC which took awhile to get back into position. On the other flank I also suffered a disorder to Javelin Armed LC, rather unlucky but I was rolling pants on Cohesion test after test. Lee then charges the two other Cavalry bases with his Lance armed Companions whilst fragmenting my disordered Cavalry with those horrid Javelin LC.
Next turn and it all went wrong. Whilst one BG of Cavalry remained solid I lost one of the LC BG's to those bloody Javelin LC, my Fragmented Cavalry turn and flee even though they have the General with them, and then one of the other two Persian Cavalry breaks. All of a sudden I have no flank!
Remember my first victory? well they finally make contact with the enemies fortified camp (two charges rolling a 1 for VMD added one extra turn to contact! Obviously this task was to much for them as they kept rolling far to low to take it. Very frustrating. Whilst we could have played on it was fairly obvious who was going to win and by now the room was filling up as the evening groups (Tuesday and Thursday are late nights till 11PM) arrived. Simply put I was worn out, cold and was struggling to pay attention.
Both of us liked the rules overall. Yep a few bits left us either confused or thinking that's not right. We are both keen to play again and think we will stick with the rules, not 100% happy but it feels a better and faster game than 6th edition and the lack of bookkeeping is fantastic.
Not enough missile troops but despite the poor range of Javelin you can get them in there, and with anything other than my dice you should whack the beggars as they try to run!
Mistakes were there, but no howlers. CMT's were missed by me, as I get more used to the rules I will be able to pay sufficient attention to whats going on.
Tactically I think I was sound but being unsure of the rules did not make enough use of what I had, I also used terrain to hinder Lee but in fact it was me who suffered so will think on that.
Both of us are looking at the results, what we fielded and tweaking the armies for next time. A rather good sign I think.
Once we got going a lot of the tests and mechanics became routine and we knew the results without having to look to much up. Should play fast and fun.
Oh yes one last point. If you go to the trouble of painting casualty markers, why not take them with you? I was not pleased with myself!!!