Monday, 14 September 2020

Spartans vs Early Macedonians with Fantastic Batles

 

As the seasons change, and parts of Northern Ireland start to descend, once more, into Covid-19 lockdown, I seized a fleeting oportunity to head up beyond the Foyle and run a game of Fantastic Battles with Lee, using our 10mm Greco-Macedonian forces.

We didn't overly think the terrain, and just used every unit that we had available on the table. In retrospect the table size was far too small for the size of forces available (well, not really retrospect, it was patently obvious during deployment).

Lee commanded a force of Spartans: two companies of Spartiate hoplites and five companies of allied hoplites, supported by two companies of hippokontistai (skirmishing light horse javelineers), two companies of peltasts, and a company of slingers. My early Macedonians were spearheaded (or not as it turned out) by two companies of Macedonian hetairoi, followed by two companies of mercenary hoplites, six companies of tribal levy, and two companies each of Illyrian mercenaries, slingers and archers. As characters, we used only a strategos (warlord) and a single polemarch (captain) each.

The size of the table hampered both deployments, but especially the Spartans who, as the attacker, started on a narrower frontage. It isn't normally a problem, but all of the Spartan units needed to depoly in march columns in order to fit (top of the photo).

When rolling for mishaps, the Spartan's peltasts were enthusiastic and deployed too far forward, and their slingers were demoralised due to disease. On the Macedonian side there was no disruption save for the mercenary hoplites in the centre of the line who must have wanted to claim the best spoils for themselves as they deployed further forward than they were supposed to.

The opening turns saw the Macedonians advance to form two waves, with the rubbish tribal levies forming the second line. The Spartans shuffled their slingers into the woods on their right, and advanced their light horse on the opposite flank. Their main line becan to change into line formation to make ready for battle.

As the Macedonians contined to advance their foward line, the Spartan peltasts made a mad charge for the slingers on the Macedonian left, while the Spartan light horse showered the Illyrians with javelins on the opposide end of the line.

The follow turn saw the Macedonian slingers extricate themselves from battle, allowing a unit of tribal levies to come howling up from the second line to crash into the peltasts. At the same time, the hoplite lines met in the centre. 

The Illyrians charged at the light horse who attempted to evade. However, they ran into the rough ground before they could make their escape and the Illyrians caught them. The Macedonian hetairoi turned around and pulled back, while the archers on the right now wheeled to start shooting into the exposed flanks of the Spartiate phalanx. The trap was set and the Spartiates were falling into it...

However, far from slaughtering the Spartan light horse, the timely encouragement of the Spartan Strategos ment the horsemen rallied and saw the Illyrian assault falter as the mercenaries scattered. The light horse then followed up their advantage on the flank by charging into the skirmishing Macedonian archers. 

In the centre, the Macedonian mercenary hoplites were holding on determinedly, but they were now facing the full might of two larger units of hoplites and it was only a matter of time before their luck ran out. 

In the woods on the Macedonian left, the tribal levy completed their assault, scattering both the Spartan peltasts and their slingers. However, in doing so they had passed beyond the control of the Macedonian polemarch (captain) and were to become subject to impetuous actions for the remainder of the battle. 

The second unit of Macedonian levy spent several turns changing formation, trying to decide which flank to lend their support to. The Macedonian hetairoi too, messed about in indecision, not really being too keen to engage the front of a Spartiate phalanx. In the end, the Macedonian strategos decided to get them to work together, using the levy to engage the phalanx and allowing the hetairoi access to the flanks. 

Meanwhile, the archers scattered before the Spartan horse, and the successful tribal levy on the left flank decided to pursue their routed foes/abandon the field rather than return and face the hoplites in the centre.

In the centre, the Macedonian hoplites were close to being overwhelmed. If only there was a large unit of tribal levy available, capable of charging their enemies in the rear...

As one unit of Macedonian tribal levy left the table, the Spartiates crashed into the other in the centre. While the Macedonian hetairoi striggled to get through the woods to take a bite out of the Spartiate flank, the levy felt the full weight of the Spartan education system. 

And at that crucial juncture, the Macedonian mercinary hoplites broke before the weight of their opposition (but not before killing the Spartan polemarch). The Macedonian polemarch was also killed in the route. The flight of the the hoplites caused panic among the levy to their rear who likewise scattered. All that was left of the Macedonian army were the badly shaken slingers away on the left flank, and the elite hertairoi who failed to distinguish themselves in any way, shape, or form.

We were both really pleased how the game played out, and how the various mechanisms interacted allowing for subtle variations in how different units performed. Even though Fantastic Battes is written with fantasy armies in mind, choosing not to take magic and flying traits did not leave us feeling like we were missing out on anything. 

All in all, a most satisfying evening in good company. May this lockdown be shorter lived than the last!

Friday, 11 September 2020

Fantastic Battles army showcase - Wyld Elves

This army showcase is a little bit different in that it is only a 500 point army rather than 1,000. Fantastic Battles scale perfectly well for smaller armies and this army of Wyld Elves is about as small as it gets. It has focused on a small number of elite, resolute units supported by the full cadre of character types. All miniatures are 3D printed figures from Excellent Miniatures.


Always watching, the Wyld Elves of the far north are seldom seen unless they choose to be. Longing for nothing more than to dance in mountain meadows lit by the midnight sun, they are never-the-less ruthless and resolute warriors when summoned to war. The fleet-footedness of Wyld Elves is their racial trope, represented by the fast trait (+1 to their movement value).

From left to right are the she-elves commanding this small army: Hjartardottir the army warlord on her white stag, a Huldra magic-user, a captain and a rogue. In most small games, players take just a warlord and a captain; taking so many Wyld Elf characters will make this army very flexible and easy to command, but at the expense of additional units. 

Moving swiftly and ignoring terrain that would hamper more conventional cavaly, the strongest Wyld Elves ride to war mounted on proud stags.

Most Wyld Elves are skilled archers and slingers. They muster in small skirmishing companies fighting from woods and excelling in hit and run tactics.

Attuned to the natural world, Wyld Elves often call upon their friends among the giant eagles to soar above their armies providing assistance from the air.



Sunday, 30 August 2020

10mm Wyld elf blade dancer

 

The only painting I've been able to finish this week is a rogue for my 10mm Wyld elf force. The figure is another 3D printed blade dancer from Excellent Miniature's 'elves of the wood' range. The sculpt is so dynamic that I wanted to use her as a character, so I glued her to a spare tree to use as a rogue. I can't explain it, and I don't know where the thought has come from, but everytime I see her I hear a wee voice calling out "Ca-caw ca-caw! You thought I was a tree!" followed by maniacal laughter. It's been a tough week...

Saturday, 29 August 2020

l'Art de la Guerre - Parthians vs the Kushan

Having suffered rebuttle in the west at the hands of the Seleukids, the Parthian Empire turned its eyes eastwards to Alexander's legacy in Arachosia and northern India. The only thing standing in the way of eastern plunder were the Indo-Skythian Kushan. The stage was set for the next outing of Andrew's Parthians...


The Parthians deployed the same army as last time with a large command of medium and light horse archers commanded by a strategist, a command of seven cataphracts, and a micro-command consisting of two units of light horse archers. Opposite them, my Kushan were feeling very symetrical. The centre consisted of two elephants flanking two mediocre pike units screened by light infantry archers; the commander was embedded in the right flank elephant unit. On either flank were four catepharacts and four light cavalry - Maues the Indo-Skythian king commanded the right where two of the catephract units were elite.


While I was expecting the small command to be on a flank march, it actually sprang out of ambush in the field to the right (come to think of it, can light horse be place in ambush in fields?) in turn one, came off second best in an exchange of horse-archery, and then sped off down the flank enroute for the Kushan camp. 

Across the rest of the battlefield, limited command pips meant that progress was slow. The Parthian centre gradually crossed the central field and the Kushan centre tried to advance to defeat them in detail. The Kushan commander of the left dispatched two units of javalin armed light cavalry to slow down the encircling Parthian light horse archers.

Over on the right, one unit of Kushan cataphracts pulled away from the main line to charge at the Parthian flankers. One unit chose to evade off the table rather than be caught in the flank.

On the left, a line of the Parthain light horse archers engaged the Kushan mounted javelineers who were then supported by Kushan horse archers.

In the centre the pike/elephant formation split in two, the righthand side heading towards the line of Parthian cataphracts, the left units angle into the line of medium horse archers who - contrary to my expectations, recieved the charge rather than evading.

The light cavalry clash on the left saw one Parthian unit destroyed, but the compat go against the Kushan across the rest of the melee. The Kushan cataphracts on the left charged forward - half in support of the pike and elephants, and half headed straight into a longer line of medium horse archers.

On the far right, the remaining unit of Parthian flankers tenaciously held on against their Kushan cataphract opponents.

In the centre, the opposed lines crashed in a clash of cataphracts. I referred to this as the cat fight... the joke went down like a lead balloon.

Everywhere on the left saw the Parthians successful - Kushan units were scattering, whether light horse of heavy cataphracts. 

In the centre and on the right however, the situation was reversed. Almost across the board the Parthians were taking heavy losses.

Simultaniously, the Kushan left wing and the Parthian centre collapsed.

The final reconning saw a pretty comprehensive victory for the Kushan - 15/24 breakpoints for the Kushan against 22/21 for the Parthians. It was a good, well-fought battle which we followed up with a bit of a discussion about the best ways to use these sorts of mounted armies which are fairly new to both of us.