Friday, 13 December 2019

Mortem et Gloriam - Game 54 - 2019/12/13

Hello!

In my last, sixth game of Mortem et Gloriam tournament during MOAB 2019 event I played against one of my most regular opponents, Stephen. Many battle reports were created after our games and most recently, Stephen's Romans were proving superior to my Seleucids.

However, for this competition Stephen brought another favourite army of his, Mamluks! I must admit that among all the armies present at MOAB, I considered this one the most challenging to play against. I have already witnessed first hand how deadly their shooting can be in one of our previous games. The army is highly mobile so catching it is very difficult. But unlike many horse archers based armies of antiquity, this force fights very well in melee and has a good break point of 5 too!

Here are the details of the army Stephen brought to the tournament:

Mamluk Egyptian - Army List




Due to my previous experience against this particular army and the fact I thought I may not have good tools to deal with it, this time my main goal was not to lose! I would try and use any opportunity to catch the enemy, of course, but at the same time I would need to be very careful with my cavalry in particular. And hope that the shooting is not as deadly as last time!

Here is my army list for the reference:

Early Seleucids - Army List



Pre-battle

I was defender in this game but we still ended up with quite an open battle field. While it was good for Phalanx to manoeuvre, at the same time it added to the challenge because Mamluks were able to use the space to their advantage as well.

I don't recall any significant out-scouting results and it didn't seem to matter much. Especially that Mamluk army was quite uniform in its composition.

Deployment

Early Seleucids vs Mamluk Egyptian

I deployed the Phalangites in tight formation with flanks protected by skirmishers and cavalry. In this way I wanted to limit the number of enemy TuG's targeting the same unit of mine with the shooting. I thought I have better chance to survive if the shooting was spread among many units. 

My own shooting would possibly be a good way of dealing some damage in return and I hoped to be able to do that also thanks to deploying the units on flanks. As skirmishers they may be more vulnerable to enemy shooting and I wanted to keep them in play a bit longer.

Last but not least, the cavalry was deployed in second line. First, to avoid being the first target and second, to prevent the enemy from outflanking the Phalanx during its advance.

The plan was quite simple, I needed to advance regardless of the storm of arrows as if I didn't, Mamluks would still be able to shoot and inflict damage. As long as I didn't create any opening in the battle line to be exploited, perhaps there was a chance for me to even catch a unit or two.

Deployment of the Armies

Mamluks - Turn 1

Turn 1 - Sequence of Actions

The Phalanx vs Mamluks

Mamluks allowed their enemies to advance first and then moved at a slow pace to meet them. In this way they would be able to begin shooting at the Phalangites soon and still have enough space to keep the distance between battle lines.

Slow advance.

Seleucids - Turn 2

Turn 2 - Sequence of Actions

Getting closer

The Phalanx continued the advance and got closer to Mamluks but that also meant the shooting would begin soon. Royal Mamluks used the opportunity to perform outflanking manoeuvre and that caught Tarentines off guard, while Horse Archers managed to find a gap to move through. 

Seleucid Charging Lancers and Companions also moved to cover the right flank of the infantry battle line in response to the new threat.

Cavalry manoeuvres on the right flank.

Mamluks - Turn 3

Turn 3 - Sequence of Actions

The effects of Mamluks' bow fire

Phalangites made a first attempt to catch their enemies but skilful Mamluks easily avoided much slower infantry. The Phalanx suffered first casualties as well.

Cretan Archers did well in fire exchange but more mobile enemy horsemen simply replaced damaged unit with a fresh one. On the other hand on the right flank, Tarentines got caught by Royal Mamluks and while Horse Archers escaped, they were not yet able to shoot at their enemies.

First casualties.

Seleucids - Turn 4

Turn 4 - Sequence of Actions

Companions vs Royal Mamluks

The Phalangites continued their attacks and although they did not catch their enemies, they did not suffer many casualties due to shooting either. Unfortunately, Cretan Archers did not survive another exchange, even though their own shooting was quite efficient as well.

At the same time, Silver Shields, Companions and Charging Lancers attempted to form a front against outflanking forces of Royal Mamluks.

The fight goes on.

Mamluks - Turn 5

Turn 5 - Sequence of Actions

Companions defeat Royal Mamluks

The Phalangites and Charging Lancers on the left flank continued the chase despite slim chances of catching the Mamluks. They also suffered more casualties from shooting but Mamluks would not be able to avoid the fight forever.

On the right flank Companions got lucky and not only managed to tie Royal Mamluks in melee but also routed one unit completely!

Stretched battle lines

Seleucids - Turn 6

Turn 6 - Sequence of Actions

Mamluks exploit the gap in the enemy battle line

The constant chase of the mounted enemies resulted in lack of coherence in the Seleucids battle line. As a result Mamluks exploited the gaps that appeared and surrounded one of the Phalangite units. 

Fortunately for Seleucids the rest of the army has not suffered sufficient casualties yet. As the night was fast approaching, both armies disengaged to fight another day.

The battle ends without conclusion.

Summary

Turn-by-turn animation summary
After-battle

Many thanks to Stephen for another great game! This time, quite luckily, I managed to survive and the game, despite a lot manoeuvring, ended up in a 4-4 draw.

However, I have no illusion that 1-2 turns more and better luck in shooting would eventually see Stephen winning. My units were already damaged and all that was needed was a good turn of shooting. With all these green dice it was actually quite surprising my army still was in relatively good shape.

One unit of Phalangites was surrounded due to my mistake of leaving the gap in between the units as well. In fact, I made quite a few in this game, starting with Tarentine cavalry being lost for no gain. I think that if I moved them behind Horse Archers instead and then run away forward, even going through the friendly unit, I would have had better chance of keeping both elements in the game.

I often considered wider formation for Phalangites to limit the slowing effect of enemy fire and to cover wider area. In this way I should have prevented any enemy sneaking in between and surrounding my slow infantry. Unfortunately, I have not tried it properly this game.

I wonder how to better use my own shooters too. Perhaps sending Cretans with Thracians through difficult terrain would have been a better option? Or keep them in between the Phalangites so that Mamluks would not be able to focus the fire of 2-3 units at the same time? 

It was even more tricky with mounted skirmishers. I know they are a priority target for Stephen with his Mamluks as they can return fire and a few lucky shots can even eliminate one TuG. I think I need to come up with a better plan how to use them, especially in cooperation with Charging Lancers. 

MOAB 2019 - Summary

This battle report concludes the series of reports from the games during MOAB 2019. In fact, it is also my last Mortem et Gloriam battle report in 2019!

It was a very good event, well organised and run very smoothly. It was great to catch up with players I met before and meet new ones. It was fantastic to meet Simon in person and play against the author of the game himself! Simon completely dominated the field and had a perfect score of all 6 games won by triumph!

I liked the fact that for the first two days we had a separate, cosy room just for MeG players. It definitely helps to have games in much more comfortable environment. We also had frequent visitors, also from players who do play MeG but on this occasion chose another gaming system or simply came along to say hello. It is definitely very re-assuring to know that the player base is, in fact, bigger than it seems based on the attendance.

The overall results of the tournament were as follows:


It was interesting to notice that majority of armies are medieval, in fact, even later medieval. Because of that I must admit I felt a bit out of place with my Early Seleucids, having only one game against Simon that was a good historical match up. I do understand that this is quite normal in the open format so I hope the player base will grow enough to accommodate themed tournament with classical theme. At the moment, however, it seems that other periods are gaining more popularity among the players. 

Another observation I made was that all but one army I played against had a significant shooting abilities. To an extend that my own force was not only slowed down in its advance (quite easy to achieve against narrow phalanx TuG's) but also dealt substantial damage. It was suggested I may need more skirmishes of my own to deal with this problem in the future. I agree with this and I am already considering some tweaks in the army list to accommodate it.

However, I often learned more from the games if I tried to come up with better ideas on how to tackle the challenges with exactly the same force. I noticed that while slowing down of the phalanx and inflicting damage on it contributed to my defeats, it was not the only factor. Perhaps not even the main one either. 

I often lost because I lost more fragile elements of my army, i.e. cavalry and Thracians. It is quite funny but I keep considering Charging Lancers in my army as line breakers and tend to send them in early. That often backfires badly (see the game against Paul and his Jasoean Korean for example). I need to use them more like in the game against Pat, where I first pin down the enemy and use the smaller size of Charging Lancers TuG's to manoeuvre to flank/rear charging positions.

Having said that I cannot simply ignore enemy shooting either and I think I would have benefited if I deployed Phalangites 3 bases wide rather than typical 2. In this way it would have been more difficult to slow then down and the army would cover wider area so that it would have been more difficult for the enemy to avoid my units.

I am still not happy with how I use my skirmishers either. All three units have a good potential to do some considerable damage to the enemy. I consistently find it difficult to either to deploy them well so that they are where they are the most needed (Cretan Archers) or do not manoeuvre them well so that they can slow down the enemy (mounted skirmishers).

I should have some time over the break to ponder on potential changes to the army list and how to implement the lessons learned in 2019 to new season of 2020!

Thanks for reading!

13 comments:

  1. Hi Pawel, my names Tommy. I have a suggestion: Cataphracts. Full armour helps them survive shooting. In fact, upgrade your early seleucid to later seleucid to get the Roman Infantry.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Tommy,

      Thank you for your comment! Indeed, I am considering Cataphracts. Either as Agema (quite expensive, however) or regrading Line Cavalry. It would require some further changes to the army to accommodate them of course, but I am working on it!

      I would prefer to stick to Early Seleucids, however, just because I find this particular period of history quite fascinating. Rome is not yet dominant power in the Mediterranean and a lot of other sides are involved in power struggle. There is a nice potential for many interesting historical match ups for the games here!

      Thanks!

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    2. Later Seleucids dont have Cataphracts by the way. I found that out yesterday. Isnt the Seleucid getting a bit boring anyway? You've now used it for 54 games in a row. I think your figures are easy to morph into other successor types as well. But, if you like the Seleucids, why not trade a block of Pike for changing the line Cavalry to cataphracts?
      Kind regards,
      Tommy.

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    3. Hi Tommy,

      Thank you for your comment.

      No, not at all! In all my other gaming systems I always enjoyed playing with the single army as that helped me to understand it better. Even more so with Mortem et Gloriam because it has a completely different dynamics.

      I feel much more comfortable with Seleucids at the moment but there is still a lot for me to learn. That is why my first thought about every game I played is what I could have done differently with exactly the same army.

      At this stage I am interested in trying out new units because I have painted all I have collected so far and I would like to expand the selection of choices. Yes, some of them such as skirmishers and cataphracts will also help in dealing with the challenges I have encountered so far. But it is not the main reason.

      I did consider replacing one of the blocks of Phalangites with Cataphracts as well. I think I simply need a bit of time to check what are the possible configurations. I have recently focused on catching up with unfinished battle reports but that is done now!

      Thanks!

      Delete
    4. It might be a good idea to spread out your pikes when you face shooters.they are normally rubbish in combat and pikes are hard to beat even if in a shallow formation, especially against Cavalry.

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    5. Good idea! I actually did it a few times before and I even started expanding the frontage with one TuG in this game. But I should have started with it. Not only I can cover wider area but any incoming fire does not slow them down that much either!

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    6. Would you think of using an external ally for the seleucids?

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    7. Hi Tommy,

      I have not thought about that option yet. What would you suggest and why?

      Thanks!

      Delete
  2. Use a Hellenistic Greek ally. Maybe dump 2 of your phalangites and invest in the Cataphracts. They're worth the points because of their resistance to shooting.

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    Replies
    1. By the way, Hellenistic Greek is the only ally available to you. Also, I'm a fairly new player to Mortem et Gloriam, but I've got loads of gaming experience from Dbmm and Adlg.

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    2. Hi Tommy,

      I checked Hellenistic Greek and it looks like pretty much all the units are available in Early Seleucids list anyway.

      Yes, I am considering Cataphracts as well. I am currently checking the details and what can fit in. It will also depend on what will be standard army size for 2020 season. Obviously, 10,500 points gives me more options but in 2019 10,000 was usually the limit.

      Thanks!

      Delete
  3. "Isnt the Seleucid getting a bit boring anyway? You've now used it for 54 games in a row."
    "No, not at all! In all my other gaming systems I always enjoyed playing with the single army as that helped me to understand it better. "

    Slightly off topic, but this is interesting. I've been wargaming for 40 years and have always hat a shotgun approach, buying bits of lots of armies I'm interested in. For example I have about 30 15mm napoleonic armies and who knows how many 1980s Cold War armies. Which had kinda gotten out of hand, as I'm running out of house to put them in!

    Now I am getting shut of all my 15mm and 6mmm and standardising on 10mm, but this time just building a few but more complete armies. For my WW2 and Cold War armies I'm raising actual named units, for example currently the German 29th Grenadier Division for Italy late 1943-early 1944.

    It's not something I've done before, but now I'm gaming with the one force a lot, my opponent is trying out various combinations of Brits and US for the same time slot. It's a bit of a new experience re-using the same army over and over again for me, rather than trying different forces each time.

    As regards ancients, I've far too many 20mm plastics to give up currently, but am currently raising a 11-13th C Georgian army to fight my Saracens. Will be adding Mongols at some point. They were based for some home grown Fire & Fury derivative rules I'd written, but now having to rebase them all on 60mm bw to MeG so I can try out the rules at some point.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sultanvev!

      Thank you for your comments!

      Indeed, I noticed that even among MeG players I am a bit different in this approach. Many players have a few armies at least for one system. Many invested in a lot of games over the years like you did!

      The great thing about wargaming is that there is no right or wrong in enjoying the hobby. You can even go through different stages, like you have just explained. You collected vast amount of armies that give you a huge choice of what to focus on at this moment.

      One of the reasons I decided to stick to one army at the time for particular system is that I am less likely to repeat mistakes during games. I also noticed that I can learn more from fewer games if I do so, especially when I started documenting the games with battle reports.

      The period you chose for MeG sounds very interesting! I like the idea of building 2-3 armies that represent historical opponents. I noticed that it is quite difficult to have the relatively historical match ups, especially at tournaments, unless they are themed. Having 2-3 armies like that is a good option for games with friends, they don't need to collect the same armies, all they need to do just show up for a game!

      All the best and I hope you are going to enjoy MeG!

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