BC’09 Round 3: Later Carthaginians 202BC

Sunday Morning saw us facing Andrew “Benny” Bennetts and Al “the Spartan” Donald, running Hannibal’s army from Zama, complete with Hannibal as the Brilliant C-in-C. Cam and I switched roles for the second day, and I’d command 2 fighting Commands and he just 1 plus the baggage. Faced with the Carthaginians mass of Expendable Elephants we were a bit gun shy and we basically had our worst game of the tournament – being both indecisive, excessively complicated in our plan, and overly cautious (although Cam may argue the last game was definitely our worst). Terrain had come down very conventionally with nothing affecting the game other than a convenient piece of scrub in the Carthaginian deployment area (see below).

BattleCry 2009We finally came up with a plan to screen as usual with our Lh(S) but to have our Auxilia to hand to rapidly advance in the face of the Pachyderm Expendables and held our Cataphracts well back not to be committed until after the Expendables were dealt with. The Carthaginians had intended to switch the Expendable Command and their Heavy Foot Spear & Warband command, but the time of day was too late to allow it – this caught them out as the late (10am) start to the battle prevented it. If Al & Benny had realised the effect of the time of day when deploying, their deployment would (we suspect) probably have been different – at the very least they probably would not have deployed the Spear and Warband in depth with such a narrow frontage (presumably this was to match the frontage of the 8 Elephants the command was to switch places with) – and ironically this itself may have offered us more of a target to attack with the Chionites & Cataphracts, so the stymied Switch Command Stratagem possibly worked unintentionally in the Carthaginian’s favour!

First Moves - the Carthaginians are on the left with Al the Spartan closest, and Benny hiding behind the table! The mass of Expendable Elephants can be seen in the Carthaginian centre, and on the left my Flank Command's Lh(S) and Ax(O) have closed rapidly with the Spanish Infantry skulking in the Scrub.

First Moves – the Carthaginians are on the left with Al the Spartan closest, and Benny hiding behind the table! The mass of Expendable Elephants can be seen in the Carthaginian centre, and on the left my Flank Command’s Lh(S) and Ax(O) have closed rapidly with the Spanish Infantry skulking in the Scrub.

Our C-in-C deployed in the centre as he had the bulk of the Auxilia (as well as the Elephants) and pushed his Auxilia forward holding back his Chionites. On the left I pushed my Chionites and Auxilia up very rapidly – to pin the Carthaginian foot in place, both the Spanish (who were loitering in some scrub, and the large body of Celts & African Spearmen in the open with Hannibal). On the right Cam cautiously advanced his Chionites to support the Auxilia, but did not aggressively attempt to engage the Numidians (despite numerical and qualitative advantages) as there was a body of about 5 Cavalry in support. The Carthaginian Baggage Command was initially delayed and subsequently came onto the table.

A closer view of the Centre & Right very early in the battle!

A closer view of the Centre & Right very early in the battle!

Retrospective: Even here at the start we had made a couple of poor decisions as far as PiP availability would have allowed us to do otherwise, my Cataphracts on the left should have been advancing close behind the Chionites, so as to pass through and engage the Infantry in the open, or draw forward the Cavalry, either of which they could happily engage at an advantage (although Cam may well be horrified by Cataphracts charging well ordered Veteran African Spearmen)! Secondly Cam probably should have attacked, where PiPs allowed, more aggressively on the right and had his Cataphracts up in immediate support of his Chionites – again his Lh(S) could probably hold its own against the Lh(O) Numidians and Cv(O) Carthaginians over the long-term, and his Cataphracts really wanted to fight the latter… Unfortunately PiP starvation on that flank seriously impaired this to some extent regardless. Also too much fretting about the Expendables resulted in these troops being deployed far too far back, and then not being mobilised until well into the game…

Back to the game – Effectively we then squandered several bounds pansying around with the Expendables and doing very little elsewhere – the Carthaginians quite happily looked on as they were able to start deploying their Cavalry reserves in anticipation of the ‘post-expendable’ battle!

The Auxilia start to take care of the Exploding Elephants.

The Auxilia start to take care of the Exploding Elephants – they eventually dealt with all of them except the one on the far right which charged right through the Kushan lines and had to be pursued and finished off by a couple of Lh(S) from Cam’s right flank command.

Al & Benny were pretty effective in holding their line and resisting the urge to rush us for short-term gain, we (in theory) pretty much had quality and numbers over them in most areas and simply failed to aggressively attack them soon enough, taking too long to deal with the Expendable Elephants, and manoeuvre our own Elephants & Knights forward, and not bringing a decisive advantage to one or two points before they could react… Our Auxilia did successfully deal with 7 of the 8 Expendables, the last one however broke through and had to be run down by a Chionite or two peeling off and rushing to the rear – but by then we were over halfway through the game…

Eventually we cleared the Expendables from the centre and began an advance with our Elephants supported by the left-flank Cataphracts. On the right Cam was attempting to bring the Numidians and supporting Carthaginian Cavalry to a decisive action, and get his Cataphracts up to make the breakthrough. On the left I had ceased dancing around in front of the Spanish in the Scrub and the Spear & Celt Infantry alongside in the open, and formed up my Chionites a wee way back from the rough terrain (see photo below – middle left). I even started to move my Auxilia that I had brought up on their flank back away from the Spanish as well. Indecision and a lack of early aggression was costing us by allowing the Carthaginians to redeploy their mounted reserves to counter our ponderous advance – something they did with great success…

Slowly grinding through the centre!

Slowly grinding through the centre – for a mounted near-all cavalry army this battle was a slow, grinding, sluggish event. The above photo is taken just after the Carthaginian Auxilia in the centre have killed a Kushan Elephant!

Finally we cleared the Auxilia in their centre who had come out to face our Elephants (having successfully killed one), and we started to make some progress, but time was flying by and it came time to throw some of the C-in-C’s centre command Chionites into the Veteran Spearmen regardless, as we just weren’t doing enough damage fast enough elsewhere (see photos above & below), while on the right Cam endeavoured to turn the Numidians and use his superior quality to defeat them.

In the centre it just ground into a stalemate, on the left we made little progress against the block of Spearmen backed by Celts, and on the right the Numidians actually turned Cam’s Chionites and got the better of the combats, putting Cam a little on the defensive there. Things just wouldn’t go well and to compound the issue my brain decided to stop working halfway through the game and I just could not remember key parts of the rules when I needed – all those old ingrained 15 years of DBM rules kept wanting to pop back into my head!

At last the real battle begins...

At last the real battle begins – the Light Infantry are all but gone and the main Cavalry Battle prepares to start in the centre.

By the time the round ended we had muddled and ground our way through to an advantageous draw, somehow, although in fact if we had got more bounds in its possible Al & Benny’s Carthaginians & Numidians might get a slight upper hand in the centre and on our right – which may have given them the advantage. Even one of our opponents (Benny) commented after the game he couldn’t understand what we were doing and why we had squandered so much time and worried about the Expendables so much.

Incidentally, facing unusual troops the first time is always problematic, neither Cam nor I really realised how long it could actually take to beat the exploding pachyderms. We had both expected a faster but more bloody fight (which if we won would allow us to turn the flanks of the remaining Carthaginians) – instead it took a number of bounds just to break the Expendables and soaked up valuable attacking time and PiPs. If we played this game again, given this experience, we would know to attack elsewhere immediately rather than wait for the Expendables to be defeated.

The Kushan right near the end.

The Kushan right near the end – the Lh(O) Numidians have actually got the upper hand slightly over the Kushan Lh(S) Chionites.

The final result was 15-10 to the Kushans, leaving us on 46 points and in 2nd Place after 3 rounds – Ivan and Dickie were leading on 53 having had another ‘costly’ win, this time against Philip & Andrew who were now in 3rd place and on 38 points. For the final round we were counting on John & Lance with their Sassanids holding out Ivan & Dickie’s Portuguese to at least a draw (or better still beating them), while we were looking for a big win against Philip & Andrew’s Kushite Egyptians to have any chance of snatching the top spot…

Continue to BC’09 Round 4: Kushite Egyptians 700BC.

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