I kind of feel I have gone full circle, should I wrap all my stuff up and call it a day? As journeys go this one has been a total blast, I remember so many good times and the odd bad one just acts as a reminder of how lucky I have been in my choice of hobby pursuits.
What the hector am I talking about? My very first opponent came back to the area for a good part of the week giving us the opportunity to get a game in without any rush or distractions (well almost LOL). It really felt that all things had just come back to what was right. Andy just happens to be my type of opponent and in fairness to all the others I seem to have been lucky enough to fall in with guys who play to have fun first and win second (win at any cost never comes into it). Don't get me wrong we all have a strong desire to win but not at the cost of a good game. So without spoiling the AAR I can say it was such a great game, against that most special of opponents (THE FIRST) so can it ever get any better and if not why go on? Obviously such questions are utter bull clag and just serves as a reason to go on but I like a bit of drama to start the post.
Andy has not played in years (14+ to be more exact), not played ancients for 3-5 years more and never played using my figures or played rules even close to these (I smelt blood in the water). To add to the shock effects we were playing at Maelstrom Games and whilst I mentioned they had tables I had not really gone into detail. His face when we entered the room and he saw rows of them was worth the effort alone. The fact it's free to use (this includes any terrain you need) just added the sucker punch.
I could field a Late Achaemenid Persian Army no bother, but the Macedonian really was going to be a struggle. I got the 2 Cavalry units painted giving me more than the list used needed but only by a couple of figures. Pike wise I was short by a whole unit but this was after all a friendly. The big question was would I play with the shinny new almost never played lot or the re-based boys I already had played with three times before? In the end Andy had the Macedonian lads as it was closest to his Bactian Greeks of old. Rather than use the correct terrain set up we took it in turns to set it up and then used the correct system for final placement.
Andy loaded his right with the Companion and Agema Cavalry fronted by some light horse, leaving the Prodromoi (light horse lance armed) to cover the left along with Peltasts, Cretan Archers and Agrianian light foot (just off camera). The ever ready pike stuffing up the centre. You can see the sole surviving hill just in front of the Cretans.
A full view from the side. Woods bordered both sides of his army with a olive grove to the front and brush in the centre.
My right flank had a single average Persian cavalry unit supported by a light horse unit, a unit of crescent shield bearers (Light Spears) with the centre just held by two large units of skirmish troops (1 each of bow and sling). My left had 2 more Persian horse but Superior, a unit of Kappadokian cavalry, a light horse bow armed. Behind all these was a single unit of Hoplites ready to plug the rout for any cavalry that forced their way past my horse.
The first lack of knowledge and understanding of the new rules came when I was able to intercept Andy's first charge (I had explained the rule before starting but I explained a lot!!) His charge was meant for my Parthyaian bow horse) but the Kappa's intercepted thought he stepped forward to make contact with my lights. A fairly predictable series of events that saw him both loose a base but also over the two rounds drop to fragmented before finally being routed. These were never to come back and off the table they went. His second charge was on the other flank as his lance armed lights hit my javelin armed LH. Andy had to win the melee to get the extra advantage of the Lance in later tests but instead his dice were cold (as they were all day) and I won the melee though just a disorder.
In the centre I had pushed forward my bows to end that nasty double move bonus, here you see them trying to do harm to the pike. Not going to happen. The problem with these is that you have to use them either in 6 or 8 base units, if only I could have them in 4's.
Andy really needed his LH to last another round on his right to allow him to get his three Cavalry units into position. This lead him to feed them in over two turns which allowed a certain amount of ganging up (his nearest unit failed the test not to go in).Again poor dice by Andy and good dice for me was more than making up for facing better troops.
The battle lines, I still have one Persian Horse in reserve alongside the Hoplites whilst Andy is already down a base with his Companions. My Persians are 6 bases to his 4 bases. No help in the impact phase but nasty come the later melee rounds. Right at the top left you can see the lance armed lights making large for the rear though my lights up that way are starting to get themselves into trouble.
The new guys turn up at last. Again not being able to get both the remaining horse into position at the same time was going to hurt. Rather than wait I charged the lead unit and surprising Andy I made off with my light horse allowing for the Hoplites to move forward to plug that gap whilst me reserve Cavalry came around on the extreme flank to prepare for the next series of charges. Both of us were throwing our Commanders into the action in an attempt to get or keep the advantage. Typically I would in these situations roll a couple of 6's and the rest would be 1's. The re-roll obviously coming up with a 5 or 6 (feeling good about the new dice).
By this point it was rather obvious the Pike were not getting much in the way of play time. In spite of this I took a picture of them as they look rather nice.
Andy continues to drive forward with the Hypaspists whilst swinging the Foot Companions to now try and rescue the horse from a possible disaster. The big problem for this game was the placing of to much terrain in the centre. I think it ended up giving me too much of an advantage and would have been a more interesting "Normal" game with less, not that the game was not fun.
My slings face off against the better trained Cretans but numbers (dice) can count more and the Cretans pick up a disorder bringing their effectiveness further down. At this point I really should have charged but with them on the hill I just kept up fireing on them. My horse in the background were in trouble. I did not want to evade as that would disorder the unit behind so if they charged I would try and stand.
Of course he charged and of course he charged with two units!! So charged in the flank and pinned from the front, what did I do? I stood and took it like a man! Well for a turn. I rolled nice and high to receive and they paid for it. They survived the contact just losing a base and even only dropped from Disordered to Fragmented in the melee phase. The following turn they were routed but by then I had made the space and my Persian Cavalry was threatening the pikes flank.
Andy had been forced to react to my horse but in doing so presented his flank to my light bows. These passed the test and charged in. It was never going to be a winner for me but it did manage to halt them in their tracks. My horse was never able to take advantage of this though as they had other issues to deal with, but the Pike were not going to get involved any time soon.
Two units of Andy's cavalry were routed (one removed due to being down to one base) and the Agema charged after the unit it was fighting as an overlap with fled. All three of my cavalry on this flank were in excellent condition. The only one of Andy's left was disordered and odds were rather long. The pike is coming to try and help but my pursuit looks to take me past them with the closest unit.
The centre about to be punished. The bow was taking more than they should have. The disorder being all I suffered in two rounds of combat (told you his dice were bad).
The last act. As Andy struggles on his right he tries to intercept my charge on the left, the dice say yes though all it means is I get to chew them over instead of the big bash at the back. Andy lost his last horse on his right bringing his lost units to 5 and pushing him over the army break point.
The verdict? Andy had a great time, that sparkle in his eye for wargaming has returned and I can see him pulling out his figures again with intent. But what did he think about the rules? He certainly liked the idea of no book keeping, the speed of play and low complexity to result also sat well. He did admit to struggling at the start as it was all new to him and not helped by my lack of confidence as I still learn the rules. We did a few bits wrong but no game breakers. As for me? Well it confirms for me that FoG is the direction to go. A few bits still don't sit perfectly but I can accept them in with the rest. Impetus still has it's place and still is fun and faster but I won't be looking for another set to fill the space.
Lee is a little tied up with work but believes he will have time for a game as well so looking good for FoG, though the Persians will be the army for that game I hope to get either the Macedonian or the Later Seleucid out on the table with me at the controls soon.