Wednesday, 18 December 2019

2019 Summary - Part 1 - Mortem et Gloriam

Hello!

Although 2019 is not over yet, I managed to finish all my battle reports and I wanted to use the opportunity that the break offers to reflect on the passing year in the context of Mortem et Gloriam.

I wrote a brief article about my experiences with MeG in 2018 (2018 Summary - Mortem et Gloriam). I hoped that 2019 would be even more eventful and I am happy to tell you that it was indeed!

I would like to share my experiences with other wargamers in all aspects that were related to this system. I will write a bit about my games, of course, but not only. After all, this hobby involves a lot more and I think that is also worth sharing and discussing. There are probably as many approaches to it as there are people enjoying this hobby. For me, sharing these experiences is one of the most important aspects. 

I hope you will find this article interesting. I also aim to pave a way to progress my hobby in a new year 2020. I already have a few ideas I would like to make happen!



The Games and the Systems

In 2019 I played total of 38 MeG games, which is exactly twice as many as in 2018! I must say I am really lucky to have quite a few regular players in Canberra so that it is not a problem to organise game at all. As usual, the main obstacle is sufficient amount of time to do so, especially that I really enjoy documenting the battles with the reports. 

In addition, there were quite a few events organised either in Canberra or relatively close so that we could drive to the venue to attend it. I managed to participate in a few, namely CanCon 2018, MiniMeg II and III, Ascending Valhalla, WinterCon 2018 and MOAB 2018. Again, I think I am very lucky that many of these are organised in Canberra so it is very easy for me to participate.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Dean, Andrew and Dru among others, who were Tournament Organisers for these events. Thanks to them the popularity of the system grew significantly. They are often unsung heroes of the communities and I think they deserve more praise for their efforts in organising the events and promoting the hobby!

During these events I had a great opportunity to play against many players. What I found quite promising for the future of MeG is that at all of them I met new players. It means that the interest in it is much higher that the number of attendance for a particular event. 

In 2019 I had the opportunity to play all three versions of Mortem et Gloriam, Maximus, Magna and Pacto. It is good that there is a variety that allows people to either have a good entry point to the game and/or try armies at smaller scale (Pacto) and to use their various collections with different models.
Personally, I prefer Maximus as the combination of 15 mm scale and number of bases creates visually spectacular games. Even if they require more time to conclude they are worthy an effort. I would probably consider occasional Pacto games, especially if introducing new players to the system. 

Early Seleucids 218 BCE

The army I fielded in 2019.

I was very happy I managed to complete painting of the army by the end of 2018. I added only mobile camp as that was missing from the list. As you can see on the above picture, I have two camps now to choose the correct one for Flexible Camp options.

I chose Seleucids because of a few reasons. I am intrigued by this period of history, the army offers a variety of options and the potential historical opponents are both numerous and diverse. However, I intentionally limited the variety of units within the army so that I could learn the mechanics of the system quicker.

Here is the army list with all the details:



I would like to share you my experiences with them in a kind of review first:

Phalangites

Phalangites and Silver Shields

Phalangites form the core of the army and I had total of 4 TuG's, one of them upgraded to superior Silver Shields. They are often feared by the enemies and my opponents tried a lot of different tactics to deal with them. Mainly avoided them and/or shot them. Whenever they reached combat, they usually managed to grind through but that required time.

I noticed that I often split them in groups of two for greater flexibility. However, the side effect was that I also sent them into the fight individually. That resulted in a much more limited impact of Shove. 

Another observation I made was that it takes them time to get into melee in general and getting them into one against favourable enemy is even more difficult. I came to the conclusion that it is partially due to the fact Phalanx is relatively slow and it is easy to slow it down further with shooting. It was already suggested that I should include some more skirmishers on my own to deal with it.

But it was also partially due to the fact that even if I out-scouted the enemy and/or deployed cavalry first (if possible), the small number of units in the force means I had to deploy Phalangites before the opponent deployed the units I wanted to attack with them.

It is thus quite important for me to be able to get the right terrain on the battle field to force deployment in certain areas of it. And to anticipate where the enemy may be better in order to deploy Phalanx where it is needed the most right from the start. 

In addition to that I was also often wondering if I need Silver Shields and if 4 TuG's is the right amount of Phalagites. On one hand, having Superior units was helpful, either to generate better advantages and thus grinding through the enemies faster or to make it more difficult for elite units of the enemy to fight against mine. On the other, the upgrade to Superior unit is quite expensive and I had better results when Phalangites were supported by Cavalry with timely flank attacks, rather than when they had to deal with the enemy on their own.

Charging Lancers

Companions (left) and Line Cavalry (middle and right)

I really like these small units for they mobility and I am glad they are all drilled so that I can perform more difficult manoeuvres with them. Unfortunately, I often lose them to reckless charges when I hope they can create a breach in enemy lines all by themselves. I often lost battles due to that but for some reason I keep using them in a role that is better fulfilled by medieval knights.

Occasionally I used them properly, i.e. I used their smaller size to manoeuvre in between enemy units and charge those foes that were already pinned down by the Phalangites. In order to do that I need to resist the temptation to charge with them too early and to be able to create the gaps in the enemy battle line by other means. 

Their Charging Lancer ability is a bit of a double edged sword too. On one hand it is obviously an advantage as it allows charging without prompting. However, they are also hot blooded in pursuit that may take them too far from the fight or even draw them into a trap. 

I did enjoy occasions where I could also use their ability to disengage safely as many foes were slower than them but I need more practice in how to use it to even more significant advantage.

Thracians

Thracian Mercenaries

I decided to include Thracians in the army in order to deal with the fact that other elements do not fight well in rough terrain. Their role was often to protect the flank of an advancing Phalangites.

However, I often find it difficult to use them well. In some instances I lost them in theoretical even fights against enemy units. In some other cases there were no terrain pieces where they could fight well and I had to avoid enemy cavalry. Loose formations are at disadvantage in the open. Especially when TuG has 6 bases instead of 8 or 9.

My conclusions so far are that, similarly to the Charging Lancers, I need to be more patient with committing them to melee. Sometimes it seemed that mere presence and threat of joining the fight would have been enough to protect the flank.

Having said that I would like to use them in a more active way as well. After all, this is what Devastating Chargers and Melee Experts seem to be for!

Mounted Skirmishers

Tarentine Cavalry (left) and Horse Archers (right).

The reason to include mounted skirmishers in the army is to deal with the challenge of having small army that cannot form wide battle line. I often deployed on a single half of it and I needed some units that would be able to slow the advance of the more numerous opponents. 

In addition, I wanted small contingent of my own skirmishers to deal with the similar units in the opposing army. 

Tarentine Cavalry has a bit of an advantage there as they are protected and can engage in exchange of missile fire even at a short range. Other, unprotected skirmishers may get shot to pieces at close distance so a bit of an advantage helped. The ability to form Cantabrian circle also adds to their usefulness. 

Horse Archers do not have any particular advantages but their longer range for shooting comes in handy. They can avoid the enemies, especially infantry, easier that Tarentines as they can stay that one base further and keep shooting.

I like both units and I would include at least one of them in the army. I am still learning how to position them well so that they are performing their role well, they keep shooting at the enemy and do not block or run into their own units at the same time.

Cretan Archers

Cretan Archers

The only unit of foot skirmishers I had was the SuG of Cretan Archers. These are quite special as thanks to their Skilled bow shooting they are not as expendable as other skirmishers. In fact, they are quite valuable and when I used them well, they were able to eliminate an enemy TuG on their own.

At the same time they need to be used with care as they can be quickly routed as any other skirmishers. This is another unit I am still learning how to use to the fullest potential. In a similar way as with Phalangites, my opponents know they can be dangerous and have ways of deploying more vulnerable troops away from them. In some cases, the proper terrain also limited their effectiveness while the enemies in loose formation were able to advance at full speed.

Cretan Archers are also quite expensive, especially for skirmishers, so I was contemplating including smaller, 6 bases strong unit instead. And use the points for some less skilled skirmishers to add to the army.

Commanders

Sub-Commanders

In almost all my games I had a Competent Army Commander, two competent and one mediocre sub-commanders. As I had 11 units in total, I tried to attach each commander to a group of 3 units, with the exception of mediocre, who commanded 2. 

The mediocre commander almost always had mounted skirmishers under his command. The competent commanders usually had the following groups to lead: 2 TuG's of Phalangites and Cretan Archers, 2 TuG's of Phalangites and Thracians, 3 TuG's of Charging Lancers.

I found it was a good way to do as I usually had enough cards to move the units around. However, because Army Commander had to lead 3 TuG's personally, I rarely used the ability to distribute the cards to the Sub-Commanders. What is more, I have never used floating Army Commander either. 

I think I need to re-think this arrangement as it seems I am not really using the ability the army has. I noticed that some of my opponents use it to a great effect, one of the successful combination was with all competent commanders as well. 

General Observations

I observed a certain evolution during 2019. At the beginning I was rarely able to finish my games. As a result, I also rarely lost them but they often ended with a low point score for both sides.

Later on I managed to gain some pace and played sufficient amount of turns to reach the conclusions. But I also started losing more often. It was usually due to too early commitment of the cavalry and I reached the low break point of 4 either by losing whole cavalry contingent and Thracians or a TuG of Phalangites.

On the other hand, when I did not make such mistakes, my opponents found it difficult to eliminate the Phalangites and suffered substantial casualties in the process anyway.

It is thus my conclusion that I need to have better plans on how to get the Phalangites into melee, preferably in situation where multiple chances for Shove exist. And how to keep the cavalry active but alive and ready to exploit any gaps in the enemy battle line.

I think that I also need to revise my approach to Pre-Battle System. I often considered choosing the terrain setting as secondary and attempted to save the best cards for out-scouting. I can see that I need to change that. 

First, I will need to carefully study the terrain types again and choose and model/paint some more in order to be able to place it on the battle field. I learned how it can be used very well against my army and I would like to use this phase in a more active way. Second, I need to learn how to use any terrain available to the fullest as well. 

Some examples of rough terrain pieces I have prepared so far.

Plans for 2020

I know it is quite unusual among the players I have met so far to focus on a single army but I would like to continue playing with Seleucids. I am in a quite comfortable situation where I already have a painted army and the one I believe I understand much better now than a year before.

I could, in fact, continue playing with it and focus on expanding the selection of terrain both for tactical reasons and visual effects. However, I also would like to expand the collection for this army and simply try out a few more units that may, perhaps, suit me better. And help, eventually, to develop my preferred style of playing with this particular army. 

In this way I should be able to implement the lessons learned from the games played in 2019 and enjoy painting/modelling aspects of the hobby at the same time. 

I have some ideas on how I would like to expand the army and with what units but I still need to refine it, especially in the context of command structure, preferable terrain and some generic deployment. I hope that in this way I would also make my opponents happy that they do not have to fight against exactly the same force again!

However, I would be extremely grateful for any suggestions on how would you update the army (if at all!) and what units would you consider for 10,000 - 10,500 Early Seleucids army. 

I hope to organise sufficient amount of time to add to the visual aspects of the army and continue playing at least as often as in this year.

Thank you for reading and see you again in 2020!

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