Saturday, September 13, 2008

Western Civilization in Peril!!!

And now for something completely different! You were tired of Gauls and Romans, right? Well our latest Warmaster Ancients report has thrills, chills, and unwarranted ethnocentric slurs aplenty! Today I had a game with my good pal The Moor. That's not his real name and he's quite pale, but there you have it. The Moor ironically brought those poster boys of alabaster-skinned democratic values, etc., the ancient Greeks! (Applause) Yours truly showed up with those perennial villains, the Thousand Nations of the Persian Empire ! (Boo hiss). (Early Achaemenid for you nerds like me.) We played a 1000 point game.

The Moor's army, as I recall, consisted of 9 Hoplite units, one was Sacred Band. He also had a unit of Noble cavalry, two skirmish cavalry and two skirmishers. The champions of all that is pure and good in the world were led by that paragon of personal freedom, Leonidas. He left his Helot slaves home today so as not to spoil the narrative. Leonidas gives +3 attacks to a unit and increases the armor save of a unit he attaches to by 1. He also brought his pal, Brasidas, to assist. The Greek break point was 5.

My army consisted of 4 Persian infantry, 4 subject infantry, 2 Greek Mercenary Hoplites, 3 Light cavalry, 2 Heavy cavalry, and a unit of Persian archers. The dark droves of despotism were led by Xerxes in a chariot and his lieutenant of lechery, Megabyzus. I did not take the actual Xerxes upgrade (can cause enemy units to be unreliable!) for lack of points, so Xerxes had a simple +3 attacks to contribute. The Persian break point was 8.

We rolled game length and got six turns. Deployment was by mutual ignorance, i.e. we did not look at each other's setup and just put the troops down. When the dust cleared, the Greeks were arrayed as follows:

The Persian horde (and I guess they look the part) deployed from one end of the field to another:

Greeks contemplate individual liberty and the doctrine of the separation of powers:

Xerxes: "I come on my four-horse chariot to extinguish human freedom forever! Failing that, I will accept instead a 20% tax levied on your trade income. "

Turn 1: The Persians advance en masse led by Xerxes, excepting the cavalry on the right:

The Greeks send skirmishers and one brigade forward on the left. Leonidas gives a great speech about the benefits of abdominal workouts, so no one else moves:

Turn 2: The Persians fail to move the cavalry and the rightmost brigade, the rest advance. Megabyzus, commander on the Persian right, updates his resume.
The Greeks move their flank units but the center brigade still won't move as they wax their pectoral muscles.
Greek skirmishers double move to take the hill. Some individuals will work, some others will not!

Turn 3: We fast forward as not much happens, really. More advancing an maneuvering all around. Pictures confiscated by the Persian Ministry of Boredom. Sorry!

Turn 4: Persian cavalry finally move forward! No one else moves. Shooting from the Persian infantry kills a Greek skirmisher stand and drives the unit back.

Greek Hoplites get angry about the fancy arrow-work and charge off the hill. Brasidas gives them two orders in a row and they hit the Medizing Greek mercenaries head on! Take that, Xenos-lovers!

After the scrum, the Greek Hoplites have lost 2 stands but the Medizing Greeks have lost an entire unit. No doubt the citizen-soldier advantage was at work, there!
Turn 5: The hordes of the East move to extinguish liberty! Xerxes leads a charge of his Greek lackeys and the Persian foot to crush the Hoplites who had attacked last turn.
Meanwhile, the Persian horse annihilate a unit of Greek light horse on the right flank and harass the Greek skirmishers.
In the center combat, Xerxes and his troops eliminate 6 stands of Hoplites for the loss of two stands of Medizing Greeks. Xerxes has a little "Darius III" moment and retreats to the rear, fearing a serious counterattack. On the right, the Hoplites behind Xerxes have been driven back and confused by Persian shooting.

And here it comes! The Greek Hoplites charge everything that can reach into the center of the Persian line. Leonidas puts away the Muscle Milk and joins his troops in battle.
After a monstrous 2 rounds of fighting, almost no Persians are left in the center. The Persians lose 3 units in one blow, but Xerxes has escaped the fury of the Hellenes! Although I have no pictures of the moment, Leonidas confidently advanced on Xerxes with only a 2-stand unit to protect him. He sent his other 2 victorious units to guard his flanks.

Turn 6: Xerxes and Megabyzus throw all they have at Leonidas in a desperate attempt to finish the battle before the Hoplites can cause more damage. Most of the Persian cavalry launch a spoiling attack on the Hoplites and skirmishers near and on the hill. The rest of the infantry in range move to surround and destroy Leonidas. Two orders were necessary to move the infantry in to support, but Xerxes manages to cajole them with promises of hot chicks and war rhinos back at camp. Xerxes and Megabyzus join the fray to finish the Greek hero once and for all. After two lopsided rounds of combat, Leonidas and his bodyguard fall to the Persian blades, ending the battle.

A gaping hole in the heart of freedom: Xerxes stands triumphant before the space where Leonidas has fallen.

As the Greek general was dead, the Greek army was forced to withdraw at the end of the Turn 6 combat phase.

We then calculated victory points, aware that the massive losses of the Persians might have been enough to give the Greeks a draw. In Warmaster Ancients, the withdrawing side cannot win, but if they have scored victory points equal or greater to those scored by the winner, the battle is a draw.

Persian losses are 2 units of Persian infantry, 2 of Subject infantry, a Greek Hoplite unit, and half points for the other Greek Hoplite unit reduced to 1 stand. Total VPs for the Greeks: 225.

Persian casualties:

Greek losses look light, but their quality has a quantity all its own: victory points. The Greeks lost 3 Hoplite Units and a mounted skirmish unit, as well as losing 2/3 of another Hoplite unit for half points. Oh, and Leonidas fell, worth a whopping 145 vps by himself! Total Persian VPs: 395. (Thanks to MA of the Yahoo Warmaster Ancients group for checking my math!)

Greek casualties:
Conclusion: This was an excellent game and I have to thank my friend The Moor for good sportsmanship and generalship. It was a very close game. This was the first time either of us had played the Greek vs. Persian matchup in Warmaster Ancients, and it was very interesting. The Greeks have superior power but are not as mobile nor as numerous. The Persians have superior shooting and mobility through their abundant and effective cavalry, but their infantry do not fare well unless they have overwhelming numbers. The battle between the two armies will likely turn on the question of who can get the game to go to their strengths. The Greeks cannot outmaneuver nor outshoot the Persians. They must steamroll forward with the infantry and get stuck in as soon as possible. The Persians must play more of an ancient-style "fire and maneuver" game, using archery to create localized advantage, and maneuvering superior numbers of infantry or putting strong cavalry into combat at the right place in order to win. It's a classic match-up or pure power versus finesse and I look forward to our next game.

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