Friday, July 30, 2010

Ancients at Historicon 2010 - Part III

After a frustrating two days of Ancients gaming for me at Historicon 2010, (did I mention that at the Theme I had a total of four generals killed, two in a single melee sequence) I headed into the last day with low expectations.  The Saturday at Historicon is traditionally for Ancients in general, and Field of Glory in particular, the last day of tournament gaming, and it is the occasion of the Open event, where any army from any historical period is allowed to compete - yeah, I know, fantasy for you purists, but fun for me none the less.  Although the day still left me on my quest to become the lowest ranked player in the USA, I left at the end feeling much better about my abilities than I did when the day started.

I played my Catalan Company again for this competition, with a list that I have now settled on as my preference when putting the Almughavars out on the tabletop.  The list I used is:

1xIC, 3xTC
1x6 Greek Archers - LF,Unprotected,Poor,Undrilled,Bow
2x4 Albanians - LH,Unprotected,Average,Undrilled,Javelins,Light Spear, Sword
2x4 Turcomans - LH,Unprotected,Average,Undrilled,Bow,Sword
5x6 Almughavars - MF,Protected,Superior,Drilled,Offensive Spear
1x8 Almughavars - MF,Protected,Superior,Drilled,Offensive Spear
1x4 Cavalls alforrats - Cv,Armored,Superior,Undrilled,Lance,Sword

Intial deployment against the Carthaginians
Carthaginian Flank March Arrives

My first game was against a Later Carthaginian army, where a lot of dense terrain was clogging the table and all the action took place on the terrain heavy side.  In addition, the game was flavored by an early arriving flank march launched by my opponent.  This game ended as essentially a tie.  My opponent's flank march didn't come to much since I was able to divert an unit of Almughavars off to the side to deal with his protected, medium cavalry, but he was able to maneuver it along the side edge of the table to prevent it from being trapped there.  The rest of the battle involved my Almughavars facing some impact foot that I didn't want to take on in difficult terrain, some heavy infantry of his trudging along outside the terrain onto my flank, and some more of the Carthaginian cavalry being pinned by my Almughavars.  My Almughavars defeated the cavalry they actually got a chance to fight, my skirmishers shot up the heavy foot (even thusly breaking an unit), but some of  the Almughavars got beat and disrupted in impact by the Spanish impact foot outside the terrain, thereby loosing their spear POA advantages.  Lesson learned - when facing impact infantry, take the charge with the minimum frontage possible so as to reduce the number of dice your opponent gets to throw against you.

So after being frustrated by terrain and bad impact rolls (along with shifty maneuvering by my opponent), I moved along to my second game of the day against an elephant heavy, Classical Indian army.  This game unfolded unusually for several reasons.  The first was because I actually got a bunch of terrain down not only in areas that would actually help me, but also a nice big piece of difficult terrain in the middle of the battlefield that made it possible to spring an ambush - something that I had yet to do in a Field of Glory game.  In addition, in this game also, my opponent attempted a flank march.  Anyway, the ambush allowed me to deploy further forward than I would have normally been able to do, my opponent's flank march of protected, light spear cavalry was a complete failure that got slaughtered by my Almughavars, and once I was able to contact any of my opponent's bow-armed infantry, they were dead meat against my superior, offensive spear.  In addition, the Indians had difficultly on multiple occasions passing their "anything but a one" death throws with their elephants, causing an autobreak each time they failed. Actually, by the last dice throw of the game, my opponent failed another elephant death throw, resulting in a break result for his entire army, and a very rare 25-0 victory for myself.

Ambush Markers in Plantation Terrain

Almughavar Ambush Revealed

Killing Nellies
My tie in the first game, and my large win in the second game put me in the very rare circumstances for me of playing the last game of the day on the second table.  Although, even if I could have pulled off a win of 25-0 over one of the better players in the country, I would still have had almost no mathematical chance of  actually winning the tournament, but to be so high up had me situated in a position that my nerves weren't prepared to handle.  As a result, I probably played my worst game of the weekend - or possibly exhaustion from playing 9 games in 3 days was setting in - or maybe it was the decision that it had now become late enough in the weekend to not be as concerned with the quantity of personal beer consumption.  In any case, I didn't take advantage of the maneuverability of my Almughavars, I senselessly walked into matchups that I had almost no chance of winning, sent my light cavalry on wild goose chases with no chance of accomplishing anything, and I split up my Almughavars in different directions where they couldn't support each other.  Of all the games I lost all weekend, this is the one I keep kicking myself in the rear end for all the stupid decisions that I made.

Walking Obliviously into Armored Opponents

Getting Slaughtered by Armored Infantry and Chariots

Lancers Salvaging Pride against Chariots
Lessons learned:

Don't fight armored infantry with Almughavars, and if your opponent has them, use your drilled, medium foot speed to redirect your attack at targets that you can fight effectively.

Keep the light cavalry in a position to be supported by the rest of your army - in the Catalan Company, they are there to skirmish and to protect flanks - not to accomplish anything additionally on their own.  Don't get greedy with light horse.

If your skirmishing wing is widely separated from the rest of the army, make sure that there is a general nearby to bolster troops disrupted by your opponent's shooting.

Anyway, I did salvage one shred of self respect by breaking one of my opponent's heavy chariot units with my lancers and a rear charge by the Turcomans, but soon after that my army broke.  All in all, though still a better day for me since my ultimate finish in the open after this catastrophe was 8th place out of 19 players.

So, Historicon was a really great time.  It was nice to see all my Ancients gaming friends again, and it was fun to play three completely different armies over the course of three straight days.  The venue in Valley Forge was more than acceptable also.  As always, the highlight of my wargaming year.

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