Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Bridge of Boats: Battlegames Tabletop Teaser #1 Refought

Note: for those who are starting with this post, what follows is a refight of the Pontoon Tabletop Teaser from Battlegames Issue #1 using prototypes of Mede and Lydian armies using the basic Warhammer Ancient Battle Persian and Greek lists.
Skythian border guards, startled to see King Alouettes' Thracian mercenaries on their side of the river,  leap onto their horses and ride madly off in all directions to get help.
  The game opened with the Lydian commander dicing to see how many troops had managed cross during the night. This turned out to be two units of mercenary Thracian peltasts and one of javelinmen. The javelinmen moved off to occupy a village to the left while the peltasts hunkered down on a hill overlooking the bridge. Two units of light cavalry and one of foot archers were left on the near shore. There were six Skythian mercenary horse archers on border patrol based on a farm overlooking the river. Two of these stayed to keep watch while two rode off north and two to the south to call for help from the main army. The scenario is designed for a 24 turn game so I halved the time to build the bridge and the arrival times thus making a 12 turn game with the bridge being completed on turn 7 and Mede reinforcements arriving on the turn number equal to or greater than 1/2 the sum of three dice, arriving at 1 of three points decided randomly.
Lydian pioneers pole a boat out into the stream as the bridge gets well under way.
Two of the Mede units rolled 3 ones and arrived on the 2nd turn, a unit of Persian infantry, with spear and bow, and a unit of Skythian horse archers.  The Persians deployed and advanced down the center. The Skythians rode forward to shoot at the peltasts. To my surprise, the peltasts were able to advance into javelin range and hold their own in the exchange of missiles. By the time I decided that the horse archers would be better off falling back to long range, the peltasts had advanced 1/2 way across the table and the Skythians had lost nearly 1/2 their strength. Luckily, help was at hand as a regiment of subject archers supported by Ethiopean mercenaries arrived right behind them. 
Turn 7 and the air is thick with arrows and javelins, but the bridge is complete.
In the center, the Immortals had arrived to support the Medes and behind them came heavy cavalry, massed Skythian archers, Cappadocian light cavalry and some Kurdish javelinmen.  The 2nd regiment of Thracian mercenaries advanced to expand the bridgehead, only to be driven back by a storm of arrows. On the far flank, more Skythian foot archers, a regiment of Medes and some slingers arrived and were supported by the 1/2 regiment of Skythians that had been on border patrol and had now regrouped. The Medes moved to the center while the rest moved against the village, expecting to shoot the javelinmen out of it.

Back on the river, the bridge was finally completed as the Lydian cavalry rode up. On the Lydian right, the mercenaries, faced with a  regiment of foot archers, raised their shields and charged. The archers fired a quick volley but  their nerve failed them and after a show of resistance they fled taking the Ethiopeans and the remnants of the Skythian horse archers with them.  The Thracians deployed into skirmish order and waited for the promised relief.   
The first climax of the battle, the Mede heavy infantry converges on the bridgehead but the Thracians have cleared the Mede left from the table as the Lydian cavalry rides forward into the gap. A second regiment of Persian cavalry lurks just off the bottom of the picture.
Reacting quickly, the Persian cavalry and Skythian foot archers wheeled left and moved to plug the gap. The Thracians, unable to fall back safely, took the desperate measure of charging into a column of Persian cavlary, catching them by surprise. (in other words when I moved the cavalry forward, I expected the battered remnants of the Thracians to fallback but once I took over as the other side, it no longer seemed feasible and I suddenly remembered that the cavalry get no rank bonus.) The first round was closely fought and the Skythians were forced to drew their hand axes and charge in to rescue the cavalry. This time the issue was not in doubt but a handful of Thracians outdistanced the pursuit and rallied in some rocks on top of the hill.

In the center,  the Immortals pressed forward under a shower of javelins from Thracian cavalry and the fire of the supporting archers from  across the river. The broken Thracian infantry rallied on the bridge, blocking the progress of the mercenary hoplites. Things looked bleak as a regiment of Ionian Greek cavalry braced themselves to charge in but suddenly the Immortals broke under the shower of javelins and ran back towards the shelter of their friends. (25% casualties and boxcars on morale, what can one do?) The Thracians swarmed back over the bridge followed by a regiment of hoplites. The heavily armoured Lydian  lancers lowered their points and charged into the Whitecaps, a regiment of lightly armoured Mede cavalry. On the left, the javelinmen were more than holding their own against four times their numbers. Victory seemed at hand for the Lydian army. 

Ahh but fate is fickle. The Lydians crashed into the Medes with advantage of weapon and superior fighting skill and....whiffed! The Persians did not. With dismay the Lydian general watched the Persian and Mede infantry stand firm as the Immortals rushed past them. (Even the morale 5 Armenians stood firm!) Raising their bows, the sky was darkened by the stream of arrows and the Thracian cavalry was crushed and routed, carrying away their countrymen with them. On the hill, the Medes again forced back the Lydian cavalry and routed them. In their flight, they swept away their supporting heavy cavalry. At the sight of the cavalry thundering down on them as they stepped over the bodies of the Thracians, the hoplites that had crossed over the bridge panicked and rushed to the rear. Evening drew a veil over the sad spectacle as men were trampled under foot or threw off their armour and tried to swim the broad stream.

   Panic overcomes the Lydian army.
So ends the first battle between the not quite historical Mede and Lydian empires as I refurbish my OS 25mm ancient armies. (See Gathering of the Hosts blog ). What better cause could the King of the Medes desire to excuse a counter invasion in May?  ( A mini-campaign)

So also ends the first month of the Battle of the Month blog. Two solo refights of the Battle of Marathon and the Pontoon Tabletop Teaser  from Issue one. Next month, the ancients will take a rest. We may see the Centurion tanks of the Hants Heavy Horse take the field or else the armies of the Red Queen.     
We shall almost certainly see a BKC2 battle, possibly the debut of my nascent Russian Civil War forces.

Stay tuned!

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