Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Battle Report - Alexandrian Greek vs Persians

This is a battle report from my first game at Stalbridge Warmaster Ancient's day.

I was paired up with a fairly new player to the game called Jerry, who was in command of a Late Achaemenid Persian army led by Darius in his chariot, while I had Alexander's Macedonians led by the great man himself (Alexander not me!)

Alexandrian Greek (1250pt - Break Point 7)
Alexander - General
Leader x 2
4 Medium Phalanx
4 Unreliable Hoplites
2 Archers
2 Peltasts
1 Skirmishers (left in box!!)
1 Thessalian heavy cav
1 Companions Heavy Cav
2 Skirmishing Cav.

Persians (1285pt - Break Point 10)
Darius in Chariot - General
Leader x 2
4 Persian Infantry
8 Unreliable Subjects
2 Archers
2 Skirmishers
2 Heavy Cav
4 Light Cav
1 Light Chariots

The battle maps have been prepared using the free Battle Chronicler program, I heartily recommend downloading a copy! Through-out the report I'll be referring to "left" and "right" as per this map (and my perspective in the original battle). For those people not familiar with Warmaster Ancients I've provided a glossary of language I consider to be a bit 'Warmaster specific', at the end of the post.

The battlefield had a large hill with broken ground on the right flank and a smaller hill with a wood just to the left of the centre. I deployed the Greeks to move and take the centre ground, the Persians were deployed with their greater numbers across a wider frontage to try and overlap round the flanks.

As Gareth explained to us during set-up it was going to be a case of whether the superior Greek infantry could punch a hole in the Persian lines to be exploited by the Companion shock cavalry, before the Persian skirmishers and cavalry got round the flanks and disordered the Greeks.

The Persians had two solid brigades of subject infantry in the centre, with two small brigades of Persian infantry as reserves. Two big brigades of cavalry occupied either flank, with the heavy cavalry concentrated to the right flank Skirmishers and Archers covered the immediate flanks of the subject infantry.

I deployed the Greeks in two mirror image brigades of 2 phalanx, with peltast in front and archers to the flank. The unreliable Hoplite allies were on the right flank with Alexander to keep them in line and the cavalry formed a reserve. Giving me only 4 brigades to command initially (having forgot to deploy the unit of skirmishers!!)

Turn 1

I won the roll for first turn and ordered a general advance. Leader #1 got the right flank moving, but Leader #2 failed to move the second phalanx brigade in the centre, and thus the cavalry was trapped behind. Alexander got the Hoplites keeping pace, so my battle line was decidedly concave, but I was confident at this early stage there would be no problems.

 Jerry's turn started with a failed command on the right hand cavalry brigade, but all the other orders were passed and the Persians advanced solidly across the board, passing 7 other command checks.
Persian Turn 1
End of Turn 1
Turn 2

Luck was with me in turn 2 as I made most of my command rolls and recovered the shape of my battle line, first double moving the central phalanx brigade, before shuffling the left and right flanks a little and moving up the cavalry. Mindful of the threat posed by the light cavalry and chariots on the left I deployed the left hand brigade, moving the archers into line formation to guard the flank of the phalanx and moving the Peltast to the crest of the small hill to stall any charge by the Persian subject infantry. Alexander shifted to the centre and one of the leaders went out to the left flank.

Greek Turn 2
Persian Turn 2
In response Jerry was very unlucky with his command rolls, but nearly made up for it with his shooting. The left and right flank cavalry both advanced, but failed their 2nd and 3rd command checks respectively to leave them one move short of really causing problems for my flanks. His right-hand skirmishers moved up ready to shoot. In the centre however his general failed his command roll and the main infantry body stubbornly refused to move.

In the shooting phase the first genuine hostilities of the battle resulted in 2 hits on the front right Hoplite unit from the skirmishers, driving them back and confusing them! To make matters worse they had been pushed back so their flank was exposed to the hill which his cavalry was about to ride over, with no way of moving them next turn.

Turn 3

With the Hoplites immobilised on the right flank I somewhat lost my nerve this turn and mainly just shuffled around aimlessly in the centre. The exception was the non-confused Hoplite block who charged the skirmishers, who wisely evaded. This was the plan though as the Hoplites now had their flank resting on difficult ground protecting them from the flanking cavalry.

The Peltasts on the left pulled back to guard the phalanx flank and the archers shuffled along to accommodate them. All the phalanx unit shuffled forwards a touch.

In the shooting phase the left hand archers took a few pot shots at the chariots and succeeded in driving them back, although not substantially disrupting the brigade.
Greek Turn 3
Persian Turn 3
The Persian 3rd turn was very much where it all kicked off! The right flank cavalry brigade split to move the heavy cavalry into reserve and to move up the light cavalry, who then failed their 2nd command roll to charge! In the centre however Darius was calling the shots and first moved up the left hand subject brigade, before successfully double moving the right brigade into combat with the respective phalanx block.

The shooting phase was again useful with the right-hand Hoplites taking hits and again being pushed back and confused, this time by the light cavalry. The advanced block of Hoplites took two more hits and were threatened with a substantial drive back off the difficult terrain, so the rear unit decided to stand their ground, refusing to give way to the fleeing unit and forcing them into confusion.

The combat phase was quite messy. Because of the layout of the units Jerry had only been able to get 3 units from his brigade of 4 subject infantry into combat; one against the front of the Peltasts, one into the front unit of archers on the right and one unit in support. The Peltasts lost their combat and rather than risk being confused the Phalanx coldly stood their ground and refused to make way for them as they were pushed back, resulting in the Peltasts being destroyed. The archers made a decent effort of it, but were also wiped out. Devastatingly the loss of the archers meant the Persians could charge into the flanks of a phalanx unit, where the phalanx would be unable to effectively fight back. In the ensuing scrap a whole phalanx unit was lost and although the Persians had lost 1 unit of subject infantry and had two others down by a stand, the Greeks had lost a unit of Phalanx, Peltasts and Archers and had two stands of subject infantry in the flank of a second phalanx.
The Greek centre in trouble
End of Turn
VP: Greeks - 25; Persians - 150
Break: Greeks 3/7; Persians 1/10

Turn 4

As we were nearing our time limit for the game I threw caution to the wind in this turn. I firstly used initiative to charge the Thessilian heavy cavalry into the rear of the subject infantry menacing the phalanx, and the right hand unit of light cavalry into the same unit's flank. I then used initiative to charge my two left hand phalanx units into the heart of the Persian lines, my plan was to then double the Companion cavalry through the resulting gap into another part of their lines. Although the first command roll was a success they failed their second (needing 8 on 2D6). This forced Alexander to join the Thessalians instead as he was spoiling for a scrap.

Greek Turn 4
The Phalanx punched through the Persian lines, taking heavy losses themselves though trading one Phalanx unit for 2 subject infantry.

In the centre the effrontery of the subject infantry in the flank of phalanx was paid back, facing Alexander and chargers to their flanks and rear they were wiped out. The victorious Phalanx and light cavalry reformed while Alexander and the Thesselian cavalry rampaged through another 2 units of subject infantry to leave the Persian centre in disarray.
Alexander rampages through the Persian centre
Alexander leads the charge through the Persian Centre
End Game

Unfortunately at this point we had to stop with the game nicely balanced. Both sides I think felt they could have gone onto win.
End of Game
End of Game
Toting up the damage it was clear how close the battle was:
VP: Greeks 150; Persians 200
Break: Greeks 3/7; Persians 6/10

The Greeks had an extra turn, but both sides had a turn each of dictating charges, so it was probably reasonably balanced. Although the Persians had next turn it is hard to see where they could kill another 4 core Greek units in order to force them to break. The right hand Hoplites would probably be able to hold their own against the Light Cavalry, even if charged in the flank, certainly to the extent of avoiding being wiped out. There was a possible flank charge against the left Phalanx, which would have been fatal, and with some lucky command rolls the left flank light cavalry would have maybe been able to deal with the Peltasts and Archers.

However in the subsequent Greek turn the Companion cavalry would have had the two remaining subject infantry in their sights and Alexander and the heavy cavalry would likely have a charge against the Persian infantry in the centre, which would have taken the Persians to one unit short of their break point. So I think the Greeks probably had the upper hand positionally.

Let me know if you enjoyed this battle report, or any feedback you've got.

Warmaster Glossary
Brigade - 2-4 units in base contact that can be activated with a single command order
Command Roll/Test/Check/Order - 2D6 roll against commander's leadership, modified by distance, etc
Initiative - allows a unit to charge or evade from an enemy unit in 20cm with no command rolls
Evade - either in initiative or as a charge response (for skirmishers) unit can move away from an enemy unit
Drive Back -units taking hits from shooting are forced to retreat D6cm for every hit
Push Back - unit driven back into friendly units can "push" them back as well as they make way
Confusion - units driven back on a d6 roll of 6, or who cannot pass through friendly units are "confused" they cannot receive orders next turn.

1 comment:

  1. Great report and a nice little bottleneck you created in between all the terrain.
    A shame there are so few Warmaster Battle reports availble but this one makes up for some of it :-).
    Best regards,