Monday, 13 June 2016

AAR; Early Macedonians v Greek Hoplite (Sword & Spear rules) 12 June 2016

This was the first competitive game I have played for a couple or months or so. Ian kindly provided both of the armies, both nicely painted, and this would be our first use of pike armed phalanx units. We randomly selected our forces and Ian got the Macedonians. The terrain choice was unusual, the number of pieces was low and they all ended up on my right flank. Effectively we would be playing on a flat, open plain bordered on the extreme right with multiple areas of rough ground.

I could immediately see a dilemma for my Greeks, how to counter the 3 unit wide Macedonian phalanx of large units? I knew my hoplites, even the 2 units of tough Spartans, would not hold such a force. The obvious tactic would to be to worry the flanks of the phalanx, but I had less cavalry and the Macedonian cavalry were better quality. I had a small advantage in Psiloi but this clearly would not have the desired impact. My sole advantage lay in having more heavy hoplite infantry but this was poor quality (discipline 4 and undrilled, or discipline 5), which would lack the manoeuvrability and speed required. Only my Spartans had discipline of 3 that could undertake such action. I therefore deployed my main hoplite line at an angle to make contact problematical for the Macedonians, and I deployed my Spartans at either end of the line. I planned to use the more manoeuvrable Spartans to move and pressure the phalanx as it advanced. I deployed my cavalry on the extreme left, not in any anticipation of victory, but rather to draw the larger Macedon cavalry force away from my battleline.

The opening moves were favourable for me. My psiloi dispatched their opponents and surprisingly my light cavalry destroyed a couple of units of better quality Macedonian light cavalry. Unfortunately the victorious Greek light cavalry pursued, moving them out of support distance from the other Greek heavy cavalry. I was leading the victory points race at this stage! The superior Macedonian heavy cavalry now rapidly destroyed their Greek counterparts. I moved both my flank Spartan hoplites forward to attack the supporting enemy units protecting the Macedon phalanx. Unfortunately the right-hand Spartans lost their supporting peltasts and now faced 2 units of Thracian heavy infantry by themselves. On the other flank my victorious light cavalry had a choice; either take the enemy camp (for 3 victory points), or move around the enemy army and attack the Thracians is the rear as they faced my Spartan hoplites to their front. I choose the latter option, and it almost worked, the Spartans only needed to hold for one more turn. Instead my right-hand Spartans collapsed. My advancing left-hand Spartans were also only a turn away from potential success but were just intercepted by the returning Macedonian cavalry. They went down in a Companion/peltast sandwich, and this also cost me my sole Captain. I was now in dire straits. I did throw a good group of order dice (including 3x 6’s) so I threw my poor Theban hoplites against the slightly disrupted Macedon phalanx. I did inflict a few hits but the pikes won, routing my hoplites and killing my C-in-C. A clear victory for Ian’s Macedonians.

I’m still not sure what I could have done to avert defeat. More favourable terrain may have helped. I think I definitely needed another Captain to help rally off hits. My numerical advantage in heavy infantry did not help me at all, due to their poor speed and manoeuvrability. It was a pity that my light cavalry pursued out of support distance from the other Greek cavalry. I think my decision to move them around the Macedonians to attack the Thracians was good and almost worked. I think the Greeks had no counter to the clear Macedonian strengths (phalanx and cavalry). Overall, a good, enjoyable game. It was great to play an opponent again!

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