Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ancients at Historicon 2010 - Part II

Continuing my Historicon Ancients roundup...

Greco-Bactrian Lancers searching for a target
On the second day of Ancients gaming, I played in the 15mm, "Terror of the Steppes" theme event.  Finishing in 18th place out of 20 players, I actually thought about naming this posting "How Not To Play Field of Glory".  My first error was in showing up with an army that I played zero practice games with.  If there is anything that I have learned playing over the last several years, it is that for me, doing that is a recipe for disaster.  The way the theme was organized though, with half the players representing a variety of steppe armies and the remainder doing the same for a selection of civilized armies was an unique tournament organization, and made for a bunch of fun and interesting matchups.  There was supposed to be a campaign map that could be used to track the progress of the campaign, but the organizer who was to bring these materials couldn't make the convention at the last minute due to family obligations.  Regardless, I think that attempts like this that offer something in addition to the standard, open format, line up and kill-the-other army type games, are fantastic for maintaining interest in a gaming system.

The army I played in the theme was Greco-Bactrian, and the list that I used was:

4 x Troop Commanders
2x6 Archers - LF, Unprotected, Average, Undrilled, Bow
1x6 Cretans - LF, Unprotected, Superior, Drilled, Bow
3x4 Bactrian Light Cavalry - LH, Unprotected, Average, Undrilled, Light Spear, Bow
1x4 Saka Cavalry - LH, Unprotected, Average, Undrilled, Bow, Sword
3x8 Phalanx - HF, Protected, Average, Drilled, Pikemen
3x4 Iranian Lancers - Cv, Armored, Superior, Drilled, Lance, Sword
1x4 Greek Lancers - Cv, Armored, Superior, Drilled, Lance, Sword

The Phalanx advances with lancers on the flanks
My thought was to fix an opponent with the phalanx, skirmish, with the LH and LF, and strike with the lancers.  All that is easier to accomplish in theory, I suppose, than actually executing on the tabletop - I had trouble getting the phalanx into range of anything, my lancers kept getting shot up while losing bases, and I still indulged in my typical Ancient gaming flaw of misplaying my skirmishers in such a way as to loose enough of them to end up on the short end point-wise of scores.  My first game was against Mongols, and I forget the specifics, but in general, I made all the above mistakes, loosing even though my army didn't actually break because of getting all my skirmishers into jams that I couldn't extricate them from.

Lancers performing poorly...grrrr!!!
My second game was the most frustrating of any game that I played all weekend.  My opponent played Dominate Romans (on the steppe side since we needed to balance the field out and his army was built more like a steppe army than a traditional Later Imperial Roman army).  I thought that this was a good matchup for me, with plenty of protected, undrilled, lance-armed cavalry as targets for my own armored lancers.  I maneuvered my army in such a way as to get all the matchups I wanted, with my plans all coming off exactly as I wanted.  In most cases, when the climactic battles took place, I even had overlaps and rear support. set up  But everywhere I completely whiffed  on my dice rolls while my opponents scored hits, and of course I always dropped in cohesion while loosing bases to death rolls.  All of the melees I thought were to my advantage turned disastrously against me, and I ended up with my largest margin loss of the day.  I guess that some days the bear just gets you.

Kushan lancers facing pikemen
My last game of the day was again a dignity salvaging event where I got a narrow win against a Kushan army that kept me out of the overall last place position.  I think this game ended with my phalanxes getting into position where the Kushan lancers were forced to charge into them when they failed their "don't make me charge" rolls - and lancers versus pikes is not a good thing for the lancers.

So...even though I didn't play as well as I would have liked, I loved the tournament format and had an overall great time.  I would love to see some more alternate format events like this on the circuit.  For instance, I have heard of other ones like:

"Homage to Ganesh" - where players must bring a legal list with 4 stands minimum of elephants
"Average Joes" - any legal list allowed, but all units can be graded no higher than average.

I think that events like this, along with historical theme events are great for the health of Ancients wargaming.

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