Ian has been away ‘down-under’ over the festive period and this was our first opportunity to play a game of Sword and Spear. Ian provided the armies, both beautifully painted, and I simply had to turn up. We diced to see who played what; I got the Late Achaemenid Persians whilst Ian had the Classical Indians. The terrain was open, but Ian reduced the potential frontage by choosing a river on one flank.
I deployed my mercenary Hoplites near the river and thought these would vanquish the opposing large body of Indian foot, maybe suffering damage from the bow fire on the way in. On the other flank I was convinced my better cavalry would prevail against the supposed poorer Indian mounted troops. My major concern was in the centre where the enemy Elephants and chariots were located. I was unclear about how to counter this threat, so I planned for my lighter Persian troops to slow the Indians and avoid direct conflict.
|View from the Persian side of the table|
In many ways my hopes for the Hoplite flank were proved correct; they cut through the Indians like a ‘hot knife-though-butter’ with little damage, but it took so long to get them into action that they could not exploit their success fully. On the other flank my plans went astray and essentially lost me the battle. I’m not entirely sure why my cavalry failed. I think I could have strengthen the flank with another unit; I feel I made one poor decision by opting for a tempting flank attack rather than engaging another unit; and I had not accounted for the intervention of an Indian light chariot unit. Whatever the reason, the losses on this flank mounted at a rapid rate. In the centre my plans to counter the Elephants went well for most of the game, but I finally made a simple error and they got me!
|Indian elephants keep trundling forward!|
So, victory went to Ian in a close fought battle. This was a game I really enjoyed and it reminded me of how good Sword and Spear is. The rules keep both players constantly engaged, and tough decisions need to be made when allocating dice. The luck element is not overpowering but you can never take things for granted. I think Sword and Spear is my favourite Ancient rule set for club games that are time-limited. Impetus is a close second (plan to get v2 soon), and To the Strongest in third place. I look forward to many more games in the future.