Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Mortem et Gloriam - Game 17 - 2019/01/01

Greetings!

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great celebrations and that you are now ready to embark on a new journey through 2019!

What better start for the new content of the blog for 2019 than a battle report? Fortunately, I still have three games to write about from the one-day event I participated in at the beginning of December. 

This event was organized by Dean from Olympian Games and was aimed, much as the first event of that type in April 2018, to help potential new players to learn the rules. This time, however, we were going to use Magna version for Mortem et Gloriam. If you are interested in the details, here is the link to the document with the rules modifications:


This version of the rules was designed to allow for quicker and more decisive games. Hence, the idea for the event was that we would aim to complete three games in one day, with two hours allocated per battle. That would allow for more interaction between the participants and help the newcomers in particular in gaining as much experience as possible.

The event attracted a lot of attention and we had 14 participants, including players coming out of Canberra, just for that event. It was really great because in just a few months one could see how much Mortem et Gloriam gained in terms of popularity. I really hope this trend will continue, especially that there were a few spectators, actively looking for more information on the system. 

The first round was organized in a way that would allow more experienced players to play against  newcomers. In this way new players should have been able to learn the rules quicker. And wherever possible, the first round matched armies from the similar historical periods.

I had an honor and great pleasure to play against Dean himself and his beautifully painted Parthians! As expected, it was fully mounted army, with half of it being Horse Archers and the other half fully armored Cataphracts! Here are the details:

Parthians - Army List

Commanders

Army Commander - Talented Instinctive
Subordinate General 1 - Competent Instinctive
Subordinate General 2 - Competent Instinctive
Subordinate General 3 - Competent Instinctive

Camp

Camp - Mobile, Poor 

TuG's

4 Royal Guard Cataphracts - Cavalry, Tribal Close, Superior, Fully Armored, Long Spear, Devastating Chargers, Shove
4 Royal Guard Cataphracts - Cavalry, Tribal Close, Superior, Fully Armored, Long Spear, Devastating Chargers, Shove
4 Cataphracts - Cavalry, Tribal Close, Average, Fully Armored, Long Spear, Devastating Chargers, Shove
4 Cataphracts - Cavalry, Tribal Close, Average, Fully Armored, Long Spear, Devastating Chargers, Shove
4 Cataphracts - Cavalry, Tribal Close, Average, Fully Armored, Long Spear, Devastating Chargers, Shove

SuG's

4 Horse Archers - Cavalry, Skirmisher, Average, Unprotected, Experienced, Bow, Cantabrian 
4 Horse Archers - Cavalry, Skirmisher, Average, Unprotected, Experienced, Bow, Cantabrian
4 Horse Archers - Cavalry, Skirmisher, Average, Unprotected, Experienced, Bow, Cantabrian
4 Horse Archers - Cavalry, Skirmisher, Average, Unprotected, Experienced, Bow, Cantabrian
4 Horse Archers - Cavalry, Skirmisher, Average, Unprotected, Experienced, Bow, Cantabrian

The fact that this army is fully mounted already creates a challenge in itself. It seems that it may be able to maneuver around my infantry and pick the fights conveniently.  In addition, the large number of Horse Archers means I would also need to take into account casualties due to ranged attacks and their slowing effect. 

To battle the enemy skirmishers I probably would have to use my own. I was outnumbered in that department but three units versus five is not too bad. Cretan Archers have longer range than any mounted counterparts and Tarentine Cavalry may attempt some charges against reckless foes as well.

Five TuG's of Cataphracts look very intimidating but then I realized that many of their claims that would normally count in Charge Phase would be nullified by standing pikes. Melee phase was less advantageous for the Phalangites but depending on which unit they may be fighting, it could be green vs green or green vs white dice. 

The trick would be to force the Cataphracts to commit to such charges. It seemed to me that one way to do it would be to march the phalanx up in front of the Cataphracts and park less then three base widths away. In such situation, Cataphracts would be forced to attack due to Devastating Charges ability unless they are stopped by playing the card. As they are Tribal, it may mean red card and that is not always available.

Hence, the plan was to use the terrain to protect the flanks of the phalanx, use my own skirmishers to keep enemy horse archers in check and to advance to box the Cataphracts and force them to attack. My own Line Cavalry would be vulnerable in one-on-one fights so I needed to use their greater mobility to get them to the flanks of the enemy formation. 

Here are the details of the army list I brought to the event:

Seleucids - Army List

Commanders

Army Commander - Talented Professional
Subordinate General 1 - Talented Professional
Subordinate General 2 - Mediocre Professional

 
Camp

Camp - Poor, Protected
TuGs

6 Argyraspides - Infantry, Drilled Close, Superior, Protected, Pike, Shove
6 Phalangites - Infantry, Drilled Close, Average, Protected, Pike, Shove
6 Phalangites - Infantry, Drilled Close, Average, Protected, Pike, Shove
6 Thracians - Infantry, Formed Loose, Average, Protected, Devastating Charger, Melee Expert

4 Companions - Cavalry, Drilled Loose, Superior, Protected, Charging Lancer, Melee Expert
4 Line Cavalry - Cavalry, Drilled Loose, Average, Protected, Charging Lancer, Melee Expert

SuG's

4 Tarentine Cavalry - Cavalry, Skirmisher, Average, Protected, Javelin, Experienced, Cantabrian
4 Horse Archers - Cavalry, Skirmisher, Average, Unprotected, Bow, Experienced, Cantabrian
4 Cretan Archers - Infantry, Skirmisher, Average, Unprotected, Bow, Skilled, Combat Shy

Pre-Battle

I was not able to secure the coastal or river bank area for the upcoming battle. We ended up with a secured flank, however, that provided some much needed terrain to anchor the formation. 

Interestingly, I cannot quite recall at the moment if anyone actually outscouted the opponent. I think it may actually be the case where it either did not matter much due to small margin or nobody managed to get better.

In this game I was an invader.

Deployment

Seleucids vs Parthians.

Deployment of the armies.

I separated the phalangites a little to be able to cover a bit of a wider area of the battle field and perhaps be in a better position to intercept the Cataphracts. I spread the skirmishers in an effort to be able to affect multiple enemy horse archers SuG's. 

I also decided to place Line Cavalry on the right flank as I thought they may still traverse the difficult terrain in time to outflank the enemy there. It seemed as a better choice as there were fewer elements there to deal with and I could use infantry as a second wave too.

Companions ended up in the middle to be able to assist each flank, depending on the needs. Hence, the modified plan was to advance as normal but with Phalangites being extra careful to not get outflanked on the center left. I thought it is quite risky but perhaps it would take too long for the slower and not that maneuverable Cataphracts to move around the infantry. 

Seleucids - Turn 1

Turn 1 - Sequence of Actions

Cautious advance on the right flank.

Seleucid army marched forward towards the enemy lurking in the distance. Parthian Horse Archers have already started galloping to intercept the invaders. Hence the orders of the Seleucid commanders were to advanced in a staggered formation, with the elements on right flank leading the way and using the terrain as a protection.

Slow advance towards the Parthians.

Parthians - Turn 2

Turn 2 - Sequence of Actions

Horse Archers keep harassing Seleucid Phalangites.

Parthian Horse Archers were now fully committed to their favorite role of harassing the enemy infantry. Seleucid mercenaries were outnumbered three to one and were a bit reluctant to engage in such uneven fight. But kept close nearby and were awaiting an opportunity to intervene.

On the right flank, one of the Cataphract groups decided to turn around and come back to the formation. Seleucid Cavalry decided to seize the moment and spurred their horses. The Line Cavalry managed to traverse the difficult terrain and were now in charge range to attack slowly maneuvering Cataphracts.

Phalangites are getting closer.

Seleucids - Turn 3

Turn 3 - Sequence of Actions

The attack on the right flank failed.

Seleucid Line Cavalry charged through the storm of arrows. Encouragements from the nearby Army Commander helped them to keep the momentum of the charge and they slammed into badly exposed Cataphracts. But despite that, the Parthians not only managed to keep the formation steady and casualties at a very low level but they simply turned around and pinned Seleucid horsemen. 

Unfortunately Companions and the infantry were too far away to help. Not to mention other enemy elements closing in and threatening interceptions. When the squadron of the Royal Guard joined in, outnumbered Line Cavalry finally broke and fled the battle field.

Seeing this, the Seleucid Army Commander signaled a withdraw in good order before the enemy could capitalize on that local advantage.

After-battle

Many thanks to Dean for a game! It was fantastic to see his beautiful army in action and I really like these historical match ups. I hope it is just the beginning and after this initial skirmish we will have more opportunities to play.

It turned out that two hours was not enough to complete the game. I do not think next two turns would result in a decisive shift of balance in either way. However, routing Line Cavalry on the right flank did open the flank for the Cataphracts to exploit. The Horse archers also started inflicting some damage on the Phalangites so who knows, may the following two turns would have been enough for Parthians to achieve the triumph.

While the result of the charge by Line Cavalry at the exposed rear of the Cataphracts was unexpected, I think the overall plan and deployment in particular were not good. 

I came to the conclusion that I should have deployed the cavalry together on the center left instead. In this way I would have had a better chance to fight against the horse archers with my own mounted skirmishers. And use the space and maneuverability of the Line Cavalry and Companions to outflank slower Cataphracts. 

This game shows clearly that I still have a lot to learn about the respective speed and maneuverability options for various units and how to use these differences to my advantage. It seems to be a crucial element for the force that will be outnumbered more often than not. After all, if the drilled troops are more expensive, I'd better learn how to use the fact they are better trained!

Thanks for reading!

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