Monday, August 23, 2010

How not to win

Next game report - I played Middle Imperial Romans vs Mark's Carpi.  Since my figures were freshly painted, I decided that they must be invulnerable, so I failed to make any sensible decisions at all.  But judge for yourself...

I had a road angling up to the left out of my deployment zone, and some gentle hills in the middle of my deployment zone.  The Carpi had some steep hills in their deployment zone.  There was another gentle hill in the midfield to my right between us.

Here is where I began to lose.  My setup makes no sense.  From left to right I placed:
with the leftmost Bd almost up against the board edge.  Then the Carpi deployed as shown below, leading me to switch my LH and my two leftmost Bd to try to centralize my Bd line a bit.  (Click all pictures to embiggen)

Terrain setup and the board after my first bound, in which I rolled a '1' for PIPs as that is the tradition.

What I should have done, if I'd been thinking, was something more like this:

Wishful thinking: if only trees were made of ice-cream too!
If I'd had my Ax opposite the bad terrain I could have used them to flank to the left of the enemy camp while my LH flanked to the right of the enemy camp.  Meanwhile my Bd and my Cv could have marched directly at the enemy camp to force battle.  Even with my bad setup, I could have used the road to rapidly redeploy my Ax in column to the left and brought my LH to the right.  But I didn't do that.  I just charged everyone forward, meaning that my Bd line got jammed up against my Cv group because I didn't want to send it into bad going against the Wb, and on the right my poor Ax were quaking in their boots against the enemy Kn.  This is what happened next:

Plan A failed.  What do you mean, there's no plan B?
My CvG, with an overlap from Cv and Ax, charged his unit of Wb.  Good odds, but I recoiled!  Meanwhile my Ax woke up to the danger of the onrushing Kn and flanking Ps which were about take the uphill position against me, and reversed back out of danger.  The Carpi Bd+Ps left the steep hills to threaten my Cv.

Discretion is the better part of valour
I ran my LH in column in front of the Wb on the steep hills, hoping that they would take the bait and come out to try to kill me.  What he really needed was to lock me in and then flank me, but of course my LH just fled, which was helpful in getting them over to the other side of the board where they were needed more.  My Cv line backed up to gain some thinking time.  If only I'd thought to think!

Here's what happened next:

Carpi battle plan: kill the enemy. Roman battle plan: ride around in circles.
I got my LH where they wanted to be and kept my Bd on the move, but the onrushing throngs of Carpi had me intimidated and I didn't really know what to do.  So I came perilously close to losing the game on the next bound when the Carpi CvG and LH ganged up on my CvG and nearly assassinated him!

We have a situation.
Fortunately I rolled very well and recoiled the Carpi mounted troops and then killed the Wb facing my Cv.  Situation averted. But this is when things started to go pear-shaped...

Watch out for those Knights
The Carpi Kn massacred my Ax where they stood.  One Ax retreated to stand beside the LH, while the other flanked the Carpi Ps which my other LH was trying to cut down but it ended up being entirely ineffectual.  Meanwhile my Bd line bit the bullet and pounced on the Wb which were still lingering on the edge of the bad going.  I'd been putting this off because I was spending all my PIPs trying to rescue my Cv and Ax and hadn't properly figured the odds.  Even as it was, we didn't do this combat right.  We allowed the Wb an extra +1 for the rear rank but it shouldn't get that in bad going.  Didn't affect the combat (6-1) but it did mean that we took off both units of Wb instead of just one. Whoops!

Then things continued to go pear-shaped...

I said watch out for those Knights!

The Carpi Kn spun around, charged my Ax and dispatched them.  The Carpi Ps recoiled my LH.  Stupid LH.

The Carpi LH and Ps trapped my LH and killed them.  The game was now poised 3-3 but my Ax would now be a sitting duck for the Carpi mounted troops.  So I charged my Bd/Cv/CvG and LH against the Carpi Bd/Wb/CvG.  The odd were with me but I think I should have resolved the combats in a different order, starting with the central one where I had a small advantage.  Thanks to the hill, the CvG vs CvG fight was even odds, even though the Carpi CvG was flanked.  We resolved this first, I lost, and was recoiled.  Now the Carpi warband was even odds against my Cv and it was killed in a 6-1 massacre.  My Bd had to win to keep me in the game but it was recoiled, and the game was over.

Carpi 4 - Rome 3.

It was a fun game, but I think I played really badly.  I was too cautious with my troops.  I need to attack when and where I have to advantage, rather than trying to engineer the perfect engagement.  I set up my troops foolishly, putting my slowest troops on the flank where they would take too long to get into action, and my bad going troops nowhere near the bad going.  Even worse, I failed to correct the situation once I recognized it.  But most of all, I just didn't have a plan at all.  The whole game I simply tried to patch up the things that the Carpi general was doing to me, rather than trying to do things to him.

Next time - [shakes fist] - next time!

And finally, here are the things I realized we didn't play right:
  • Wb don't get rear rank support in bad going.
  • Bd don't get rear rank support from Ps when fighting Bd.
  • Once again we forgot line-of-sight issues when considering PIP costs.
It didn't make any difference to the outcome but it's funny how just a two-week gap can make me absent-minded.


  1. Great report once more Peter although you are a bit harsh on yourself.You are correct be more aggresive and put your opponent on the back foot amd try to control the high ground.Use your light horse and cav to flank the enemy and try not to run away if possible.We have only been at this a short time so are both still learning.The Trees have arrived and they look magnificent so a forrest battle field will be the go next time.
    Cheers Mark

  2. Thanks Mark. Looking forward to using those forests to hide from your knights!