Author Topic: Early Byzantines at Cancon 2018  (Read 761 times)

Barritus

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Early Byzantines at Cancon 2018
« on: January 28, 2018, 10:42:06 AM »
Well, Cancon 2018 has just come and gone, and I thought I'd start writing up my summary of the comp while I watch the score in the cricket (England v Australia) on the other tab...

Anyway, I decided to go back to the Early Byzantines, which I took to Cancon a few years ago (have a look a little way down the screen for my summary of that experience).

At 400AP + 10AP for stratagems, here was my list:

Early Byzantines - 512AD

Command 1: 33ME
Inert C-in-C as Reg Cv (S) (Hypatius)
8 Reg Cv (S)
5 Reg LH (S)
8 Irr Ps (S)
(2 Reg Bge (O))

Command 2: 18ME
Sub as Reg Bd (I)
8 Reg Bd (I)
4 Reg Ps (O)
(2 Reg Bge (O))

Command 3: 24ME
Sub as Reg Cv (S)
6 Reg LH (S)
8 Reg Bd (I)
4 Reg Ps (O)
(2 Reg Bge (O))

Command 4: 16ME
Sub as Reg Cv (S)
6 Reg LH (S)
4 Reg Ps (O)
(2 Reg Bge (O))

Command 5: 16ME
8 Reg Bge (O)
8 TF

Army: 107ME

One reason I took the army was simply that I liked the look of the figures - they're all Old Glory and I think I did a good paint job. Another reason was that I thought I'd come up with a better version of the army than the one I'd used previously, so thought I had a better chance of success.

I know a lot of people think (S) mounted, and Cv (S) in particular, get a bit of a raw deal in the current version of the rules. But I think Cv (S) and LH (S) are good antidotes to Kn. In addition, I felt that 16 Bd were a reasonably solid infantry force. Finally, I took the maximum amount of Ps (S) and put them in the C-in-C's command so that I could seriously challenge one piece of difficult terrain, while the smaller force of Ps (O) in Command 4 could at least occupy a piece of terrain.

I planned that the commands would deploy in command order (that is, C1 on one flank, C2 next to it, then C3, and C4 on the opposite flank). I also planned that PIP allocations would be in the following order: C1, C3, C4, C2. Thus, the C-in-C would get the largest of four PIP dice, while the small infantry command (C2) would always at least be able to advance once each bound using the sub's free PIP.

Tactics weren't going to be sophisticated. Despite having a lot of LH, I expected to always be a little short of PIPs, meaning no sweeping maneuvers. Instead, this was an army that was going to rely on terrain to deploy narrow and deep, and roll over opposing armies by weight of numbers. It's worth noting that, thanks to the enormous baggage command, this army could survive the loss of any two commands, apart from the two largest commands.

Phippsy

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Re: Early Byzantines at Cancon 2018
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2018, 01:53:39 PM »
Great - looking for instalments of how they performed.

Peter

Barritus

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Re: Early Byzantines at Cancon 2018
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2018, 01:04:15 PM »
Right, sorry about the delay. Plus, I've managed to lose the sheet I was recording my deployment maps on, so details are going to be a little incomplete.

Anyway...

= = = =

Game 1 v Later Hungarian (Aaron R)

I was the invader. Terrain was fairly open. Important terrain included: a couple of pieces of difficult terrain on the right side of the table around the centreline, with a road running through it between Aaron’s table edge and mine; and another road which passed my left flank and swung behind Aaron’s army.

Aaron deployed first, with three commands. On his right was a command of Irr LH (S) Szekelers, led by an Irr LH (S) sub (18 ME). In the centre was a small command including a Kn (S) sub, a Kn (S), a Kn (S/I) wedge and some Irr LH (O) (12 ME). On Aaron’s left was a large command (30+ ME) including a screen of LH (F), some more Kn (S) and Kn (S/I) wedges, some Reg LH (S) and a bunch of Reg Ps (S) handgunners (in the difficult terrain on the table edge).

I deployed my commands with C4 on the left, then C3, C2 and C1 on the right. My Ps (S) were on the edge of the difficult terrain; outnumbered by the handgunners, I wasn’t about to rush them into combat. I then deployed C1’s Cv (S) behind the LH (S), figuring that I could afford to lose a few LH from that command to allow my Cv (S) to contact Aaron’s Kn in my bound. On the left flank I needed to deploy C4’s Reg Ps (O) in the line to prevent the Szekelers from outflanking me.

I was hoping for a straight-up fight, in the expectation that Aaron would be under a bit of PIP stress if he tried any fancy maneuvering. Well…!

Moving first, Aaron turned the Szekelers outwards to their right in the hope of getting around my left flank. He also moved the heavy mounted of his centre command to his left to join the heavy mounted of his left command. He was obviously planning to mass his heavy troops against my C1, while leaving the LH (F) to keep my heavy infantry occupied.

I pushed my army forward, limited by the slow speed of C2. Out on my right I moved the Ps forward as well, still well away from the handgunners. But between the Ps and Cv (S) was an annoying gap that Aaron might exploit with LH, so I sent a Cv (S) into it to provide an obstacle. On my left I hoped to catch the rear of the Szekeler column before it could get around the flank of my army.

First contact was on my right as Aaron’s heavy mounted crashed into my LH. As I expected, some of the LH died, but they did their job. In my turn the Cv (S) did their thing by destroying a Kn wedge. But the tit-for-tat combat continued, as in the next bound the remaining Kn destroyed a couple of Cv (S). This exchange of casualties continued for the next couple of bounds, although the loss ratio was very much in Aaron’s favour. Also, as I feared, LH began to move into the gap between my Cv (S) and Ps. My one consolation was that Aaron had too few PIPs to spare to set his Ps (S) on mine, which allowed me to slide a couple of my Ps across to interfere with the LH threatening the flank of my Cv.

Meanwhile, over on my left, Aaron managed to move some LH into contact with the Ps of C4. As I expected, the Ps died, but they did so slowly. In his next bound the Szekelers rolled low for PIPs, putting Aaron in the position of having to leave the tail of his LH column hanging loose where C4’s LH could attack it. But in my next bound C4 received only 1 PIP, which was reduced to 0 for my C-in-C’s inertness, and I missed the opportunity. Aaron was then able to take advantage of this and swarm my LH with his. A few more bounds saw the Ps and LH of C4 wiped out and the command broken; counter-attacks from C4’s sub-general achieved only a couple of recoils. But while the general survived the command remained un-shattered, and this kept the Szekelers occupied and away from the rest of my army.

In the centre, the Bd and LH of C2 and C3 plodded forwards. In response, Aaron pulled back the LH (O) of his small centre command and the LH (F) of his left flank command. In response I formed the LH of C3 into column and advanced quickly, past their exposed flanks. Aaron turned his LH (O) to the flank to move away from me, but clean forgot to do the same with his LH (F).

As C1 began to crumble I sent the sub-general of C2 into the flank of the Kn wedge from Aaron’s small centre command. Thanks to a lucky dice roll the wedge was destroyed. This raised the stakes – killing two of the three LH (O) with their rear to C3’s LH would dishearten his command, and killing all three would break that command. With decent PIPs I was able to attack both blocks of LH, hitting the column of LH (O) in the rear and flank with C3’s LH, and hitting the LH (F) with Bd and LH. But my combat dice were terrible: I was able to destroy only one LH (O) and one LH (F).

In the next bound C1 broke. This still wasn’t enough to break the army, so Aaron’s heavy mounted started working on the Bd of C2, while C3’s LH continued to attack Aaron’s LH. The contrast in results was striking: the Kn destroyed enough Bd (including the sub-general) to break C2, while my LH achieved no more casualties. My army broke.

Despite failing to dishearten any commands I still caused over 20% casualties, meaning a 4-21 loss.

This was a disappointing result – throughout the game I was scrambling for PIPs, and at crucial points I managed to roll sequences of bad combat dice too. Aaron also suffered from PIP stress at inconvenient times, but his combat dice were a lot closer to average than mine.

ETA: The result here was actually 2-23. Less than 20% losses, but I'm pretty sure I came close.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2018, 01:07:18 PM by Barritus »

Barritus

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Re: Early Byzantines at Cancon 2018
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2018, 08:39:30 AM »
Game 2 v Alexandrian Imperial (Zach R)

I was the defender, and managed to get the terrain organised in a way which suited me: at each side of Zach’s central deployment zone I was able to place difficult terrain – a 1FE piece of enclosed fields on his left and a 1FE piece of vineyard on his right. Zach was able to place a gentle hill between them.

But as defender I now had to deploy first and then move second, a dangerous proposition against a player as skilled as Zach.

This time I deployed C1 on my left, with the Ps (S) ready to dive into the vineyard and the LH again screening the Cv. The Bd of C2 and C3 faced the hill, and the LH of C3 and C4 faced the small gap beside the hill and the adjacent enclosed fields.

Zach deployed three commands, all of them squeezed between the enclosed fields and the vineyard. On his right, under a sub-general, was a command including some Kn (F) wedges and some Hypaspists regraded as double-based Bw (X) and (S). In the centre was a mass of Pk, including a couple of (S), 12 Pk (O) and a Pk (O) sub-general, along with a couple more Kn wedges in reserve. On his left (on the hill) were some Thracian Irr Ax (S) in front of Ele, along with (off the hill) some LH and Ps, along with Alexander himself.

The Bw (X/S) Hypaspists were an annoying addition to Zach’s army, facing C1’s LH and Cv. But my Cv were also facing some of Zach’s Kn wedges, something I was confident about, and I was also expecting to be able to threaten the wedges’ flank with Ps moved through the vineyard. In the centre I was confident the Bd would be able to make a good showing of themselves against both the Pk and Ax, particularly if I was able to make first contact. Out on the right I was reasonably confident the LH and Ps could keep Alexander’s LH and Ps occupied.

Zach moved first, and advanced out of his deployment box. In particular the Pk and Ax advanced off the hill, and Alexander moved his command forwards too.

In my first bound I discovered that Alexander was within reach of C3’s LH, and I figured it was worth the risk to try combat with (S) mounted against (F) mounted. Alexander survived. Elsewhere along the line I advanced, although I made sure to keep C1’s mounted back out of archery range.

The battle now developed into three separate actions, corresponding to my Bd and the troops either side.

In the centre Zach and I closed in. I was able to make the first contact, grateful I didn’t have to face Pk combat at factor 7 straight up. But despite this the combat dice deserted me. In that first round of combat, where I had the quick kill, instead my Bd destroyed nothing and I instead lost a couple of elements of my own, including one to the Ax. The bad combat dice continued. In the next bound the inevitable happened, and I lost more Bd to high combat factors or (S) modifiers.

Over the next couple of bounds my Bd between them killed a grand total of one Ax, while themselves being steadily dismantled by the Macedonian Pk and Ax. C2 collapsed first. C3 held on a bit longer, giving me time to shift some of its LH from the right to the centre to fill gaps. But eventually C3’s Bd losses pushed it over the edge and it broke too.

Over on the right I wasn’t initially worried about not killing Alexander. Instead, I was confident that my LH (S) would be too much for the Macedonians’ LH (O) and (F). And this turned out to be the case. Zach lost a couple of elements, and this gave me another shot at Alexander, this time with an overlap. But again Alexander diced his way out of trouble.

As problems started to appear in the centre I moved some of C3’s LH to the centre, and this meant I needed to shift C4’s LH over to fill the gaps, meaning in turn that C4’s Ps had to face the Macedonian Ps, which outnumbered them and also included some Ps (S). That fight went all right, with my Ps getting the better of things. But as the action hotted up elsewhere, neither of us had PIPs to spare so that fighting soon died down.

My LH killed another Macedonian LH, and this gave me yet another shot at Alexander, this time with an overlap and a flank hit. But once again my combat dice betrayed me and again Alexander escaped.

Now, with C3 disheartened, my efforts slowed on this flank. But more important events were happening over on my left flank.

Zach moved his Hypaspists forward to start shooting at my LH screen and was immediately rewarded with one dead LH and a couple of recoils. I was able to move the Ps (S) into the vineyard and tried to close in on the Hypaspists and Companions with my Cv/LH group. But at this point the tempo of my attack slowed down. Despite reasonable PIPs it was a lot of work to reorganise the mounted elements so that the Cv had room to charge through the LH. And when I finally managed the charge, I didn’t have the PIPs that turn to swing a Ps onto the flank of the nearest Kn element.

Despite the slowness of my attack I still managed to kill a Kn, but Zach had plenty of reserves to fill gaps. Even worse, the Hypaspists started knocking over Cv elements, and I also lost a couple of Cv elements to the Kn (yes, even without the quick kill, I still rolled badly enough that overlapped Cv would die).

In the next bound I had the PIPs spare to swing a Ps into the flank of the end Kn element of Zach's line, while still attacking with Cv (and now a LH to fill a gap in the line). But again the dice didn't help me; the attacks killed nothing, and the Ps recoiled back into the vineyard.

Zach kept up the pressure, and more of my elements died, disheartening the command. This was vital, because now the LH and Ps would take an extra PIP to move into contact. Poor PIP dice were also an issue as commands broke, and this left C1's attack in tatters.

Zach's next bound provided him sufficient opportunities to break C1's command, and with it the army.

25-0 to Zach, as I simply hadn't caused enough casualties to achieve anything.

This was a particularly frustrating defeat. I thought my tactics were sound, and I thought I made good use of the terrain. But my combat dice were terrible in so many important combats - against Alexander, against the phalanx and Ax, and against the Kn. Time and again good combat set-ups produced no results, or losses for me.

The big lesson was how much work the Ps (S) required, yet they had the potential to be really useful. In a sense, 4 Reg Ps (O) would have been more useful, but then I would have burdened a command with fewer PIPs a bunch of unmaneuverable infantry.

But at least I'd seen off two of the best players in the comp, meaning my remaining games should be easier...

Barritus

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Re: Early Byzantines at Cancon 2018
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2018, 02:06:47 PM »
Game 3 v Julian (Wars of the Roses English – Yorkist)

This was Julian’s first actual game of DBMM – he’d read the rules but thanks to the thin ranks of DBMM players in Australia at the moment he hadn’t had a chance at a game before now.

Of course, this wasn’t Bill’s fault, and to his credit he picked things up quickly. But for this reason the game was a little frustrating for me, given the amount of time I needed to explain things as we went.

I was the invader, and weather and time of day didn’t figure in the game.

The terrain featured a 1 FE rectangle of enclosed fields on my right near the centreline, and 1 FE area of scrubby flat on my left also near the centreline. On Julian’s side of the scrubby flat was a small patch of woods.

Julian deployed first, with three commands. On his left was the C-in-C with a group of Kn including a couple of household Kn (S) and some (I), along with some Bw(S) and Bd (O) in the supported 2 rank arrangement. In the centre was the sub with a command consisting pretty much only of some more double-ranked Bw (S)/Bd (O). On his right was the ally with a few more double-ranked Bw (S)/Bd (O), then some Kn (I), and a couple of Cv (O) currours in reserve.

I deployed my commands with C1 on the right, followed as usual with C2, C3 and C4 from right to left. C1’s Ps (S) were positioned to jump into the enclosed fields, where they could support C1’s mounted; as with game 1 I figured on using the LH as a sacrificial screen to allow the Cv (S) to charge in, with flanking support from the Ps. On the opposite flank, with some good PIPs, C4's Ps might just be able to get around the flank of Julian's ally and maybe cause some mischief.

This was going to be a tricky game. Julian’s centre, of Bw and Bd, was going to be tough to break through – my LH weren’t going to manage it, and my Bd (I) were likely to have their formations blown apart by the Bw, while also needing some luck to defeat the Bd (O). My main hope was that C1 could overrun the Kn of his C-in-C’s command, then swing around and hit the flank of his centre. But it was going to take some careful timing.

Julian’s first game got off to a spectacular start with his ally general unreliable. He used the one PIP to move an ambush out of the wood on his right – some more Bw and a couple of Art (I) (yes, the Art (I) shouldn’t have been there, but I wasn’t about to make a fuss about them – the Bw facing C3's 4 Ps (O) were more of a problem!).

My PIPs allowed a steady advance. Julian’s unreliable ally wasn’t a major problem – I knew I was going to attack in the centre, and those troops would be close enough to activate the unreliable ally. And in that case I’d need troops close enough to my Bd to cover their flank, which would in turn put them in range of the ally’s Bw. So it was a simple enough equation to ignore the fact that the ally was unreliable – he’d soon become reliable anyway.

On my right, the Ps moved into the enclosed fields, while next to them C1’s mounted closed in on Julian’s Kn block and in the centre the Bd came under fire from the Bw.

A single rank of shooting Bw wasn’t likely to inflict casualties, but I’m pretty sure Julian managed to jag one Bd dead to archery. The main effect, instead, was in breaking up the Bd groups. This became a serious issue for C2 – with the lowest PIP dice it received 0 PIPs nearly every bound, which meant the Bd often had to rely on good luck with shooting dice to press forward into combat. This in turn meant that the Bd often moved into combat with a single or double overlap against them, and over the next few bounds poor combat dice again saw the Bd take heavy casualties even as they slowly ground their way through the Bw.

Over on my left Julian was able to get his recalcitrant ally on side, moving the ambush Bw forward to the edge of the rough. Otherwise he waited for me. I decided that I had to take the chance, and charged the LH of C4 into the ally’s Kn. Several times. With no casualties caused, but a few suffered.

Meanwhile, the main action was over on my right. I moved the LH far enough forward of the Cv to give the latter some maneuvering room, whereupon Julian charged his Kn into them and blew several away for the cost IIRC of 1 Kn. I then counterattacked with the Cv (S) and a couple of useful overlaps, but didn’t have the PIPs spare to send the Ps (S) into the flank. The Cv achieved nothing but a couple of recoils.

Julian completed his moves, and we’d just started shooting when time was called. IIRC Julian's infantry did just enough in shooting and combat to break C2. And then his Kn (S) killed a couple of Cv (S). Combined with the 2 ME penalty for being close to a break, this left C1 disheartened.

15-10 to Julian, in another frustrating game for me. I couldn’t fault Julian’s play, but then I also think my own plan was fairly sound. Once again, though, I was betrayed by bad combat dice at crucial times, particularly in the last two bounds of combat between Julian’s Kn and my Cv (S); had the combat results gone the other way I could easily have broken Julian’s C-in-C command. This was also a game where the lack of PIPs bit home – my difficulty in getting the Bd and the Ps (S) into combat probably had an effect on combat results.

ETA: The result was actually 14-11 to Julian.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2018, 01:08:09 PM by Barritus »

LawrenceG1

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Re: Early Byzantines at Cancon 2018
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2018, 03:27:46 PM »
Quote
Julian’s first game got off to a spectacular start with his ally general unreliable. He used the one PIP to move an ambush out of the wood on his right – some more Bw and a couple of Art (I)

Another oft-forgotten rule is that an unreliable ally suffers the "Command Diffculty" PIP penalty so can't do anything with his 1 PIP (except move his own group if he and they are regular).

Moving artillery also incurs the "Unresponsive troops" PIP penalty.

Unless the ambushing troops ended more than 800p away from your elements, they couldn't have advanced anyway.

4 "rule-learning points" from 1 move is pretty good going.


Barritus

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Re: Early Byzantines at Cancon 2018
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2018, 12:35:28 PM »
Quote
Julian’s first game got off to a spectacular start with his ally general unreliable. He used the one PIP to move an ambush out of the wood on his right – some more Bw and a couple of Art (I)

Another oft-forgotten rule is that an unreliable ally suffers the "Command Diffculty" PIP penalty so can't do anything with his 1 PIP (except move his own group if he and they are regular).

Moving artillery also incurs the "Unresponsive troops" PIP penalty.

Unless the ambushing troops ended more than 800p away from your elements, they couldn't have advanced anyway.

4 "rule-learning points" from 1 move is pretty good going.

Well, I admit to not knowing about the Command Difficulty rule for unreliable allies.

But I was aware of the other points. The thing was, seeing as the Art shouldn't have been in the ambush in the first place, I was happy for him to simply place them out of the wood in the nearest legal position. As it was his first game I wasn't about to demand either their removal or their placement on his rear edge.

And as for the distance from enemy, being the first bound of the game, and the ambush some distance behind his main line, they were well over 800 paces from enemy, so that wasn't an issue either.

Barritus

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Re: Early Byzantines at Cancon 2018
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2018, 01:05:37 PM »
Game 4 v Ewan (Cypriot)

Compared with my last game, I was a lot more confident about this game. I knew that Ewan’s army contained a mountain of Sp (I), which I figured my Bd should be able to deal with, along with a Thessalian Greek ally command of LH and Ps which I was also sure about being able to dismantle (yeah, okay, more on that in a moment).

Not surprisingly, given the respective aggression factors, I was the invader. Ewan’s terrain selections included the compulsory sea which went down on his left flank, and a 1 FE sized BUA which went down on his right. In front of the BUA was a small wooded hill. I chose my own edge for terrain selections, to keep the main part of the board as clear as possible. The result was that no other terrain played any particular role in the game.

Ewan deployed first. In reserve was a command of Kn (O) chariots. In front of them, occupying most of the space between the BUA and the sea were two commands containing masses of Sp (I) in three ranks, plus a few Ps (O) and (I) in behind them. The command nearer the sea also included a couple of Gal (I). He placed his Thessalians around the BUA – Ps (I) massed in it, and the LH between it and the Sp.

Now Ewan was one of those brave types – his army contained three ally generals (I’ve been there myself, and golly it makes for an exciting first bound). Unfortunately, all three ally commands were illegal. The Cypriot army can have Early Hoplite Greek allies, but they must be Ionian Greeks not Thessalians. And the Cypriot allies needed to have at least a quarter of the minimum of all compulsory troop types, which meant they each needed at least one chariot but didn’t have any (they met the other minimum criteria). As it was, none of these errors was a problem (in fact I was a lot happier facing the Thessalians than Ionian Greeks!), but as each of these errors was missed by the list checker it shows the importance of careful list checking.

My own deployment pretty much wrote itself: C1 on the left, with the Ps (S) aimed at the BUA and the mounted aimed at the Thessalian LH; then C2, C3, and C4 on the right. I was confident that I didn’t need much more than a frontal attack with the Cv and Bd, with the LH spread out enough that the LH of C4 could aim at the gap between the end of the Sp line and the sea.

Not surprisingly Ewan was cautious at the start. IIRC the Cypriot ally in the middle of the line was unreliable, but as I was planning to attack there anyway it didn’t really affect my plans. Otherwise about the only thing he did was to send the galleys paddling up towards my line.

In my bound I advanced steadily across the line.

In his next bound, Ewan moved some Ps to fill the gap between the Sp and the sea. He also moved a group of 4 or 5 LH from the Thessalian command away from the main group and out to the edge of the table near the small wooded hill. From there they could easily cause mischief, so in my next bound I moved C1’s LH out to the left to face them, while steadily moving the rest of the army forward.

At this point, Ewan revealed he had an ambush of half a dozen or so Ps (I) hidden on that small hill. This tied me up particularly well: I couldn’t hope to fight the Thessalian LH with some Ps leaping out at my flanks, so I pulled my LH back towards the rest of C1. Ewan responded by turning the LH around and running back behind the hill to a point where he could threaten the flank of C1’s Ps. I spent big on PIPs to turn a couple of Ps to the flank to face the returning Thessalian LH.

Ewan charged the Thessalian LH into my two Ps, who bravely held on. This gave me time, but at this point I ran desperately short of PIPs, trying to move the Cv, LH and Ps separately. In the next bound one of the Ps died, but I was able to move a LH to take its place.

Elsewhere, the Bd and LH of C2, C3 and C4 continued their plodding advance. Ewan’s galleys had a few shots at the LH, but they managed only a couple of recoils before I got everyone past the threat.

And finally the combat started. I charged the Bd into the centre Sp command, C3’s LH into the seaside Sp (I), and C4’s LH into the Ps filling the gap between the Sp and the sea.

Once again the combat dice betrayed me. The Bd achieved one kill, and in return lost a couple of elements of their own. The LH achieved nothing against the Sp and modest success against the Ps. In Ewan’s next bound the Sp continued their work, with nearly half the front rank of Bd destroyed, and a couple of LH spent.

In my next bound I charged the Cv (S) into the Thessalian LH, and the Ps (S) into the Thessalian Ps (I) lurking in the BUA. Results were again underwhelming. The Ps exchanged elements and the Cv destroyed one LH in return for losing one Cv. Further along the line the Bd-Sp fight was continuing to turn against me, as I lost another couple of elements in return for killing one Sp. Out by the sea, however, Ewan’s Ps had run out of reserves and were still taking losses.

In Ewan’s bound the Bd continued to die while again causing only a single loss. Over by the BUA C1’s troops killed a couple more elements, while losing another Cv (S). And by the sea Ewan’s Ps were in tatters. Both C2 and C3 were disheartened, along with the Thessalian command. My only hope was that I could break the Thessalians and swing the victorious troops of C1 onto the flank of the Sp.

My next bound saw little movement – just about everything that could fight was already in combat. Anyway, out on my right the LH finally wiped out all but a couple of the Ps, leaving a path open onto the flank of that Sp group. But at this point time was called, meaning there wasn’t going to be any more opportunity to exploit gaps, just finishing off combat for the bound.

As expected, both C2 and C3 collapsed under the combined onslaught of bad combat dice, overlaps against them and already being disheartened. But thanks to the army’s enormous size the loss of these two commands wasn’t a problem – C4 hadn’t lost anything, and C1’s losses totalled only 5.5 ME, so neither was close to breaking.

Combat now moved to the mounted fight by the BUA, where I only needed to kill 1 LH to break the Thessalian command. The first two combats yielded one dead LH, so the Thessalians were broken. But there was one last combat, featuring an overlapped Cv (S) against an overlapped and disheartened LH (O) – factors 2 to 0. Dice roll: 1-6. Yep. Dead Cv (S). Which pushed C1 to 7.5 ME losses. But, now we had to add 4 ME to the losses for being close to two broken commands, pushing C1’s losses up to 11.5: exactly what was needed to break C1. So C1 broke, and with it the army.

To say I was gutted would be understating it: my army had broken on a 1-in-36 combat result – anything else would have left my army intact and at worst a 10-15 result – and had done so on the last combat of the game. Instead I was left with a 4-21 result.

Once more my combat dice were generally poor: the Bd performed dismally against the Sp (in retrospect I realised it was going to be harder than I first thought against Sp always fighting in two ranks, but I was a little aggrieved that the Sp killed something like 4 Bd for each Sp lost), the Ps (S) lost as many elements as they killed against Ps (I), and the Cv (S) killed only about 5 LH (O) at the cost of 3 elements of their own. And the cherry on top was that last appalling combat.

Even so, full credit to Ewan. He used his army perfectly – the little expedition of the Thessalian LH delayed the attack of C1 by two bounds for very little cost to him, in turn giving his Sp the time they needed to complete the demolition job on my Bd. By holding back and waiting for me he made sure I had to press the attack along the front, rather than starting out by attacking only the Thessalians and the seaside Ps.

LawrenceG1

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Re: Early Byzantines at Cancon 2018
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2018, 06:08:48 PM »
Quote
the Bd performed dismally against the Sp (in retrospect I realised it was going to be harder than I first thought against Sp always fighting in two ranks, but I was a little aggrieved that the Sp killed something like 4 Bd for each Sp lost),

Yes, I think two Blades for a Spear would be a realistic expectation if both are (I), provided the Sp don't get thinned down to 1 rank.

Barritus

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Re: Early Byzantines at Cancon 2018
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2018, 02:07:43 PM »
Game 5 v Yuan Chinese (Nick)

This time I was the defender, but the deployment dice favoured me and I got to deploy second.

Out on my right was the sea. A road crossed the table from left to right, starting out behind Nick’s flank and reaching the sea around the centreline. By the sea, just on my side of the road was a small piece of rough going. A short distance away, and also on my side of the road, was a BUA, and then next to it another small piece of rough going. Then, over on my left flank was a small rough hill. Other terrain played no major role in the game.

Nick deployed four commands. Dominating the army, in the centre, was a large Javanese allied command of about 20 Wb (S) with an elephant general in the rear. On its left was a Chinese command with some Bw (X/O) and Art (O) in the rough, some Ps (O) in the BUA, and a reserve of a couple of Cv with the sub. On the right of the Javanese was another Chinese command with a mix of Bw (X) and Bd. Then, out on Nick’s right was a mounted command with a mix of Cv (S) and (O) and LH (S).

I deployed my commands with C1 on the right, then C2, C3, and C4 out on the left. For C1 I deployed the LH out on the flank, the Ps facing the BUA and the Cv in reserve. C2 faced the Bw and Art next to the BUA (organised in three ranks, Bd, Bd, Ps). C3’s Bd faced the Javanese (organised as Bd, Ps, Bd) while the LH of C3 and C4 faced the infantry and mounted on Nick’s right. C4’s Ps sat on the rough hill.

My plan was to use the Ps to clear out the BUA; this would allow C1’s LH to slide past the BUA and threaten the mounted reserve of Nick’s left wing and C2’s infantry to attack Nick’s infantry on that flank. C1’s Cv I planned to move behind the infantry as a reserve, while C3 and C4 would hold off Nick’s right wing.

Nick’s first bound threw some of these plans into turmoil. Receiving 6 PIPs for the Javanese, he wheeled them to the left so that they were now aimed at all of my infantry. C2 were in a vulnerable formation for facing Wb, but with the lowest PIP dice they were going to be a problem to reorganise. Otherwise, Nick advanced the infantry on his right and grouped the LH on that flank to move around the small hill. On his left he moved the Ps to the edges of the BUA in pairs.

Over on my right I had to spread my PIPs thinly. The LH advanced as far as they could without risking being hit in the flank by some of Nick’s Ps in the BUA. There they stayed, waiting for the Ps to clear the BUA.

My Ps advanced slowly towards the BUA. I then had to split the group to take on the groups of Ps (O) which were spaced around the BUA’s perimeter. Finally, after a few bounds and a lot of PIPs, they were in position. But the combats proceeded terribly slowly – time after time my Ps (S) lost combats against the Ps (O) despite mutual overlaps and occasional flank hits. By the end of the game I think I’d destroyed two of the six Ps holding the BUA, meaning of course that the LH never got the opportunity to slide past the BUA and threaten the mounted reserve on that flank.

My Cv (S) turned to flank, and over the next few bounds moved their way slowly from the right flank to a position behind the centre and left of the army, where they turned back into line.

In the centre, I tried to separate the two ranks of Bd in C2 and insert the Ps into the gap so they could support the front rank against the Javanese Wb. I managed it, but it cost me any opportunity for any of them to attack the Chinese infantry in the space between the Javanese and the BUA.

I wasn’t looking forward to the fight between the Javanese Wb and my Bd. If past experience was anything to go by I’d be doing well to inflict any casualties at all. But as it was the Bd was remarkably successful. They still suffered terrible losses of their own, but they managed to kill nearly half as many elements as they lost. The problem for me was that the casualty rate was so high that the fight was effectively over in only about four bounds, when C2 broke. This in turn affected the combat on my left flank, when C3 became disheartened. The other problem was that the losses the Javanese suffered, heavy as they were, weren’t enough to push the Javanese to being disheartened.

The Javanese began to spill forwards, and IIRC I was able to engage some of the Wb with the Cv (S), but to little effect.

Over on my left I advanced the LH of C3 and C4 towards the infantry and mounted of Nick’s right wing commands. I started by charging some of C3’s LH into the Bw (X), forgetting that they fought as Sp. Despite this, I still managed to jag one dead Bw in the first round of combat. But over the next few bounds I inflicted no more casualties, for the loss of a couple of elements either dead or spent.

I was reluctant to get too aggressive with C4’s LH, partly because they were facing Cv (S) and partly because I wanted to keep my options open while the Chinese LH (S) were starting to move around the small hill. To slow them down I moved the Ps to the edge of the hill, ensuring the LH couldn’t march past.

The next major influence on the left flank was C3 becoming disheartened thanks to infantry losses. However C1’s Cv were arriving. So by the time C3 broke I was able to feed in some Cv to fill gaps.

Meanwhile, Nick’s LH had passed the hill and had reached my table edge, before wheeling around to head for my baggage. And he started to advance the Cv (S) of his far right flank. Not surprisingly, they quickly knocked over C4’s LH. This in turn opened up gaps for more of my Cv to attack, and the combat in this part of the table quickly turned into a messy brawl.

C4’s losses mounted, but against the run of play I scored a major success by flanking and killing the sub-general of Nick’s far right flank command, which IIRC was enough to break that command. Unfortunately for me I was running right on the edge, and it was little further surprise when C4 finally collapsed. So with three commands gone, my army finally broke.

Nick’s losses were a little more substantial than the losses suffered by my previous opponents, but even so it was still a 4-21 loss for me.

In retrospect this was a game where I made it hard for myself with my deployment. Rather than trying to take on Nick’s army across the front, I should have shifted my deployment over to the left. That would have meant placing C4’s LH between the little hill and the table edge. The knock-on result would have meant that C1’s Ps might have been able to get in the way of the Javanese, and that command’s LH holding off Nick’s left flank command. C1’s Cv could still have remained in reserve to deploy wherever needed.

I still got some bad combat dice, particularly with the Ps (S) in the BUA, but I don’t think it was as bad as in previous games. This time, instead, I struggled with some bad match-ups which I could have avoided with better deployment.

Barritus

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Re: Early Byzantines at Cancon 2018
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2018, 03:21:05 PM »
And that was the effective end of Cancon for me. My score was so low that I earned myself the bye in the last round.

To fill in time I played against umpire Jon and his New Kingdom Egyptians. I won the game, but it took a mighty effort: my infantry struggled hard to overcome deadly Bw (I) and Ax (O) (!), although my Cv (S) had a surprisingly easy time against the chariots they faced. In the end a messy brawl involving LH from C3, Bd from C2 and Cv from C1 against a second group of chariots, but it took a lot of bounds to assemble victorious troops in C1 and C2 and swing them through 90 degrees.

So what was my assessment of my performance?

First, luck played its role. Obviously you’ll have seen me banging on about my constant stream of bad luck with combat dice and (to a lesser extent) PIP dice. But luck also plays its part in the mix of armies you run into in a competition. A few years ago I took an army to Cancon which included elephants, and then ran into armies with artillery in every game except one. Last year I took an army with a bunch of knights, and ran into several armies with massed Bd (X).

This year I brought an army with a lot of (S) mounted, and in most games faced a decent number of mounted which should have been vulnerable to the risk of (S), and I think I deployed appropriately to make the most use of that advantage. Yet somehow the dice didn’t turn out that way – missing out three times with LH (S) against Alexander in game 2, the complete failure of my Cv and LH to inflict losses on Kn in game 3, or the disproportionate losses suffered by my Cv against LH (O) in game 4.

So while I think I had good luck in terms of the armies I ran into and the opportunities they provided my (S) mounted to make mischief, somehow the battlefield luck didn’t run the same way.

Second, for the most part I think my tactics were sound. I felt that my tactics played to the army’s strengths and avoided its weaknesses. The one obvious case where this wasn’t so was in game 5 where, as I worked out later, I should have compressed my line and concentrated on only a small part of Nick’s army while screening the rest. I admit I probably overestimated the abilities of my Bd (see comments for game 4), but I think the combat dice meant my Bd under-performed. In other words I think the Bd were, in theory, a good solid bunch of infantry for keeping a decent section of the enemy army busy. For example, in game 2, if my Bd had knocked over one or two Pk elements in that first bound of combat I think the Bd would have eventually worn down the phalanx altogether.

Third, I think my army structure was mostly sound. That is, with all regular generals, I organised the troops in each command so that the command with the highest PIP dice had the most elements and the most complex tactical role, down to C2 with the lowest PIP dice and the simplest tactical role.

The one obvious problem with the structure was the Ps (S). They essentially had two roles - clearing out difficult terrain, and offering the possibility of flank hits for the Cv (S). The former required reasonable combat dice, which didn't happen in the two games where they engaged in combat (games 4 and 5), and the latter required PIPs, which they rarely got in the two games where that was required (games 2 and 3). One possible solution would be to swap the Ps (S) in C1 with the Ps (O) in C4, but that might tempt an opponent to attempt to attack the Ps (O) and hit my Cv in the flank...

Another possible change would be to swap the baggage's TF for another LH. No one came close to my baggage, and in fact the main reason for taking it was to allow me to use the Delay Battle stratagem as a defender, in case I felt like flank marching. But I never felt like trying that, so perhaps an extra element might have been useful.

In conclusion, I'm reminded of an old wargaming maxim - use an army you can still love even when it loses. Well, I still like this army in its inert format, despite my dismal performance, so I'd suggest you keep watching for reports of Hypatius going into battle.

And if you've made it this far, thanks for reading my long-winded comments.