My overall plan was to try to use my cavalry advantage on the left (command 1) to win through there and either get into the baggage or hit the rear of the phalangite line.
The knottiest problem I faced was how to deal with Luke's deep pike units - each of which could take three hits - with my legionaries, who could only take one hit each. Would I try to defeat him with depth, or aim to get around his flanks and win that way?
All this and more was going around in my little head...
As usual for me, things started badly. Pulling four ones in a row for activation meant I only got to move a single unit in the whole of turn 1!
|April fool! The velites are sheepish after the rest of the army played a wee trick on them...|
With that confession out of the way, we return to a battle in which, over time, our main lines came into contact in the centre of the field. Luke's lighter troops had secured the wood on his left, forcing my right wing into a defensive posture, but on the other flank my cavalry command had made better progress, taking the hill and endeavouring to drive off the enemy horse.
Unfortunately, in a most dreadful few turns, the javelins of the velites and the pila of the legionaries proved completely ineffective. The phalangites hit us at full strength, destroying both the hastati units of our centre command almost immediately.
|Ouch! Hastati gone, and veteran pike leading the advance.|
|A grim struggle in the centre.|
and then they charged in...
...scoring two melee hits! At this there was much rejoicing amongst the Romans, not least because these very Tarantines were a gift from the author of TtS! himself!
Luke sportingly agreed that their success was very appropriate!
Sadly for us, the success didn't last - the phalangites coolly saved one of the two hits and the line steadied.
This was the high point of the battle for the Romans, and from here our fortunes rapidly declined, as the remainder of this report will illustrate:
Nail-in-coffin 1: The phalangites advanced.
Nail-in-coffin 2: They shrugged off hits with timely rallies.
Nail-in-coffin 3: Every time they scored a hit of their own, one of my units was destroyed.
Nail-in-coffin 4: We lost the cavalry battle on the right flank (this as the result of a rash advance which I gave myself a good kicking over!), our cavalry on the left were tied up and picked off by some great shooting by the camp guard and the Tarantines were unable to follow up their success against the rear of the infantry line.
|Ouch! Down to the triarii.....|
|And our right flank guard is now gone, too.|
|The Cretans - and grinning death - put paid to the other Tarantines!|
Seeing that the poor old Romans were being well beaten - and it was 3:30 in the morning - we called it a Macedonian victory, took a few photos, and prepared for a new game on the morrow.
We both really enjoyed the rules. There were cries of elation and frustration during the gameplay but no sighs of boredom, so Simon is onto something good.
We did feel that there may be a few oddities. It seemed for example that light cavalry could evade off board and then reappear on table a little too easily (and could reappear in some rather awkward places). I was biased though; this minigame of evade-off-table-and-reappear-on-a-unit's-exposed-flank effectively prevented my victorious left from being able to capitalize on their initial success.
The other thing (and again I am biased!) was that the Macedonian phalangites were able to sustain hits and then rally them, but being small units, the Romans once hit were removed from the table. There is not the ability to rally and reform a Roman line in the way that Scipio did at Zama, for example.
But - as Simon warned me in advance - the game has its nuances, and it's quite likely that, first battle in and gaming with a tricky opposed pair, I have simply failed to see subtleties and employ optimum tactics.
Anyway, minor quibbles aside, it was a thoroughly enjoyable game, and the more we played the more we came to admire what Simon has done with these rules. In my opinion, they are well worth checking out.
I'll stop here, but there is another battle report to come at some stage.