Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ancients at Historicon 2010 - Part I

I recently returned from Historicon 2010, and I found that I really enjoyed the new Valley Forge Convention Center.  The facility itself was a definite upgrade from the Host, with noise-limiting high ceilings, no moldy smells, reasonably clean bathrooms, and food no worse than that served at the Lancaster Host. Yes, the elevators were slow and broken down in the Ramada where I stayed, but my room was more than sufficient for my needs when my primary purpose was to play as many games as possible in the time I spent there.  I also really liked the way most of the gaming, including tournaments and participation games, were all located in one large hall, and that the vendor's hall was located in the same building on a separate floor.  Although  Historicon's move to a new location has been one major imbroglio for the HMGS Board of Directors, I think that they have ultimately settled on a fine new location with a reasonable amount of room for growth.  Good job, I say.

At the Convention, I decided this year that I was going to do all Ancients gaming, all the time, playing in as many tournament games as I possibly could.  I arrived just before noon on Thursday, and almost immediately, even before checking into my room, started to play in the first round of the Field of Glory 650 point mini open tournament.  My plans for my Historicon postings had been to put up detailed After Action Reports of all my games over the weekend, but after playing nine games in three days, everything has become a bit of a blur.  And either my photographic abilities are rapidly degenerating, or my camera isn't operating as well as it used to, because only a few of all the photos I took came out well enough to even consider posting.  So, I'll only post a general description of how each of the tournaments went for me, and wrap up with my thoughts on the health of Ancients gaming in general at the convention.

In the mini, I played below even my normal level of incompetence, finishing 9th out of 12 players.  My first game was against Philistines, a game that I thought was a good matchup for me - armored romans are supposed to cut through those barbarian hordes.  But if I recall correctly, the Philistines were all offensive spear instead of impact foot, so once my Romans lost their impacts, it became an evens-up battle everywhere. I also made the mistake of worrying during deployment too much about chariots (of which my opponent took few), and cooperated in putting down too much terrain onto the table.  Flank charges and numbers eventually got me, although the Romans didn't break and they did score some kills.

The second game was against a Chinese Warring States army.  I found that to be a tough list to go up against, with all the armored medium foot with crossbows in the second rank. Heavy chariots too.  And my opponent was a top player whose play definitely outclasses mine.  To the right, you can see my "heavy" cavalry trying to run away like little girls from all the nasty stuff in the Warring States army

In my last game, I managed to salvage a bit of dignity with a hard fought win over a Dominate Roman army that was not a Morally Bankrupt Swarm, but was cataphract heavy instead. According to recollections, the game was close, but the Romans were able to take out the heavily armed lancers by outnumbering them locally and getting in some flank charges - see photo to the right.

The list that I played was:

Fortified Camp
1xFC, 2xTC
1x6 Archers LF, Unprotected, Average, Undrilled, Bow
2x4 Light Cavalry LH, Unprotected, Average, Undrilled, Javelins, Light spear
5x4 Legionaries HF, Armored, Superior, Impact Foot, Skilled Sword
1x6 Legionaries, HF, Armored, Superior, Impact Foot, Skilled Sword
1x4 Heavy Cavalry Cv, Protected, Superior, Undrilled, Light Spear, Sword

I'm still convinced that this army can work with a bit more practice and concentration during play, and I intend to play again once I get a chance with the full 800 point version.

Although most of the tournaments I've played in are of the full 800 point variety, I must say that I also really enjoy the 650 point minis.  The quicker games are nice, and they make for a nice warm up at the beginning of a convention.  These size games are probably also a good point total for introducing new players to Ancient gaming.

That's it for now.  My next post will cover the "Steppes versus Civilized" theme tournament from the second day of Ancient gaming at Historicon.

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