Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Romans have a bad day in Armenia (or how not to deploy cohorts)

Another battle of TacticaII(playtest rules), this time Marian Romans vs Armenians. Game was played at Blue Sky Hobbies in Bremerton on Sunday, November 15th. Gary Williams and Tom Condon handled the Romans While Kevin Walker and myself played the Armenians.

The Romans consisted of two Legions plus supporting Cavalry, Light Infantry and Skirmishers. Total Points value was 1754. Army Breakpoint= 110  Legion Break Point= 59. Their composition was as follows:

Legion 1:
9 Cohorts of 8, Veteran, FV5-6
1Senior Cohort of 16, Elite, FV5-6
Legion 2:
9 Cohorts of 8, Veteran, FV5-6
1Senior Cohort of 16, Elite, FV5-6
12 Heavy Cavalry(HC), Veteran, FV5-6
8 Light Cavalry(LC), Veteran, FV3-6
12 Allied Light Infantry(LI), Veteran, FV3-6
12 Auxillia LI, Veteran, FV4-6
9 Arab Archers, Veteran, FV4-6
9 Slingers, Veteran, FV4-6
12 Javelinmen Velites, Veteran, FV5-6

The Armenians, sometime allies to Pontus, were very Hellenized. Total Points value was 1753, one less than the Romans. Army Breakpoint= 128. The Imitation Legionnaires had done so well in the last few battles that I upgraded them to FV5-6, paying the appropriate points cost for doing so. Composition of the Armenian was as follows:

18 Cataphracts HC, Veteran, FV5-6 with Impetus(I)
18 Cataphracts HC, Veteran, FV5-6 with Impetus(I)
 8 Armenian Light Cavalry(LC), Veteran, FV3-6
 8 Skythian Light Cavalry(LC), Veteran, FV3-6
32 Pike Phalanx Body Guard, Veteran, FV5-6
48 Pike Phalanx, Veteran, FV4-6
48 Pike Phalanx, Veteran, FV4-6
24 Imitation Legion(Azaku Mardig), Veteran, FV5-6
36 Spear Foot(Nizagamartik), Veteran, FV4-6
16 Iberian LI, Veteran, FV4-6
9 Armenian Archers, Veteran, FV4-6
9 Armenian Slingers, Veteran, FV4-6
12 Armenian Javelinmen, Veteran, FV5-6

For this Battle, we used a deployment screen(a big long piece of a cardboard box). This was to allow each side to deploy without knowledge of the other sides deployment. We hadn't done this before and I think it led to a more interesting game. On the Armenian side, our plan was to attack with the phalanxes on the left of the main battleline while holding back slightly with the right. One Cataphract units was to protect the left flank of the Phalanxes and the other was to assist the Light Cavalry on the right flank. I was hoping to be able to hold the wooded hill on the left flank with out sole Light Infantry unit.

I don't know what the Roman plan was, but they put all their cavalry and light infantry on their left flank, leaving the right bare except for a single unit of Arab archers. Gary on the Roman right had all his cohorts in column while Tom on the left had all but two deployed in line.

View from the Armenian Main Battle Line
View from the Armenian Right Flank

First couple of turns were uneventful, both sides cautiously advancing. The slightly more numerous Roman Velites with Javelins hot diced the Armenian archers and soon reduced them to Break Point.
End of Turn 1

Romans advancing in what looks like Acies Duplex formation.

My Armenian LI reach the wooded hill on our Left Flank. Roman Slingers clash with Armenian Javelinmen in Right Center. Lots of maneuvering by Cavalry and LI on the Armenian Right, both sides trying to gain some advantage.
End of Turn 2
Cavalry and LI maneuvering on Armenian Right Flank

On Turn 3 things start to heat up. My LI occupy the wooded hill. My Cataphracts plow into Gary's Cohort#8. They get Impetus, but Gary's Pilum throw gets 3 out of 4 hits. In the main line Gary's cohorts meet two of my Phalanxes and the slugfest begins. His Cohort#5 had previously taken a missile hit from my now absent archers. With depth advantage, I get 10 dice to his 4 and manage to get 7 hits! OUCH! One cohort gone. While my other rolls aren't as good as that one, the single cohorts in column are taking a beating against my denser phalanxes. Elsewhere the Armenian Javelins and the Roman Slingers reduce each other to BreakPoint and they leave the field.  On our far Right the Armenian Cataphracts contend with the Roman Heavy Calvalry.
End of Turn 3
Cohort#2(with Blue Shields) shown disorder due to failing Control test when Cohort#5 routed

Gary, not wanting to send his lead cohort into the woods, decides to use his Arab Archers to whittle down my LI. He sends Cohort#7 to help Cohort#8 fighting my Cataphracts. His Cohort #9 reinforces Cohort #6 fighting my Phalanx(B). Cohort#10 charges in to replace Cohort#5 which routed last turn. Cohort#3 reinforces Cohort#2 against the BodyGuard Phalanx. Tom sends in his Cohorts 9 and 10 to help them. Tom's Cohorts 3,4,5,6 and 7 attack the Imitation Legion and the Armenian Foot(Nizagamartik). His Cohort#8 catches my Phalanx BG with a Wing Attack. On the Roman Left Flank, Tom sends in Cohort#1 to help his HC against the Cataphracts, but the HC has had enough and breaks. His LI try to catch the Armenian LC, but end up taking a lot of missile hits. In the Center, Cohort#4 disordered last turn, is outscored in melee and fails its Control Test. It therefore breaks and causes Control Tests on all the adjacent Cohorts within 4". Since the Cohorts are all deployed in column( about 2.3" wide) they end up having to take 4 Control Tests. The inner ones pass, but both outer units fail.
End of Turn 4
The two outer Reinforced Cohorts fail their Control Test and are now Disordered. Not good for the Romans while the Phalanxes having only 9 and 6 hits respectively are in good shape

A view toward the Roman Left from their side of the field.
Turn 5 and my Cataphracts finally break, but Phalanx A is there to fill the gap. Three more of Gary's Cohorts break as does one of Tom's fighting Kevin's Imitation Legionnaires. Toms Auxillia LI breaks having been shot up by Kevin's horse archers and Slingers. A quick count shows Gary's Legion is getting close to break point.
End of Turn 5

View ofCenter right from Armenian side. Armenian Foot(the Nizagamartik) are struggling against Tom's Romans. The Imitation Legion having broke one Cohort are holding their own.

Armenian Foot (Nizagamartik) cannot withstand Tom's Cohorts and his LI which charges in this turn. They break, but it is too late for the Romans. Two more of Gary's Cohorts break putting his Legion over its Break Point. Combined with Tom's losses, that results in the Romans reaching Army Break Point. It looks like a decisive Armenian Victory.
End of Turn 6

View from the Armenian Right

View from the Roman Right.

This battle was more lopsided than usual. The Armenians only lost two main Units, one Cataphract unit and the Armenian Foot. The main reason for the Roman debacle I think was the use of cohorts in column against the Armenian Pike Phalanxes. This is especially true when the Cohorts are not reinforced(i.e single cohorts). An eight figure Cohort in two ranks melees with only four dice needing a 4,5 or 6 against the Armenian Phalanx. Generally you can get three Cohorts against one Phalanx. So starting with full units, a Phalanx would have two rank bonuses against the Cohorts in each melee area. That's a total of ten dice against the four Roman dice although the Armenians are only hitting on 5 and 6's. The reinforced Roman cohorts(16 figures) do a little better, but they loose ranks pretty fast.

The other problem for the Romans was that I was hot dicing them fairly often in this game. Combined with their deployment disadvantage in melee, they were doomed when one Cohort broke and they failed several critical Morale rolls. The Gods were just not with the Romans this day.

Tom's Romans deployed in line seemed to do better on his side of the field, but battle was lost before they had much impact. Both sides enjoyed the game, but the Armenian side definitely was better blessed with good die rolls. The use of the deployment screen may have influenced the outcome a bit but it also seemed to add some level of excitement to the game. For that reason, I think we will use it again.

If you are not having fun wargaming, then you are doing it wrong. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

1 comment:

Caliban said...

Thanks for posting, Mitch. We do like to see a Roman defeat...