Ryan Powers
United States
Marble
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The semi-chronological playthrough of GBoH continues. This time with a VASSAL PBeM game of White Tunis.

This is a fairly small game, and so figured to be decently suited to PBeM. I played Syracuse, and Carthage was played by
Jon
Canada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb



Here is the initial setup:



As you can see, Carthage has the numbers by far, but they are mostly lighter troops (the exception being the Sacred band hoplies anchoring their right. Carthage is also pinned against the back of the map.

Syracuse doesn't have the numbers to prevent being flanked, and has no second line. Less obviously is that the Syracuse infantry cannot activate all as one line via a line command.

So my initial plan was to advance to my right, towards his bunched up light infantry. There were a few issues with this.

Issue #1) I was afraid of getting my two heavy infantry lines out of synch and allowing a chariot unit to blast into the temporarily exposed flank.

My planned solution to this was to put a knot of skirmishers in the way when the two infantry lines were split.

Issue #2) I was also afraid of the high quality Carthaginian units on my left. By shifting to my right I was giving the mobile stuff over there more room to work around my flank. Being flanked by the TQ 8 Carthaginian heavy cavalry and hit in the front by the TQ 8 Carthaginian hoplites (or worse yet, a double depth unit of Carthaginian hoplites since the rules for those guys say they can double up) would put a world of hurt on my line.

My solution for this was to sacrifice my own heavy cavalry by throwing it up that flank right from the start. Their job was to die gloriously but buy me some time. If I could blast through his light troops using the time purchased that way, I figured the fight would be all but won before my left flank would really start to be rolled up. I also wanted to shuffle some of my single unit infantry over to the left flank. That would give me a bit more flexibility to delay the high quality Carthaginians even more.

Turn 1:
With those plans in mind, the game started. I charged my cavalry up the left side and engaged his right off the bat. While trying to get my main line in motion, I kept finding my skirmishers were always one hex from where I needed them to be. Either one hex from the correct spot to cover the gap, or one hex out of command so I couldn't order them. This meant my line was moving more slowly than I had hoped, not good when the plan had a built in time limit before my left flank became problematic.

As for the Carthaginians, the chariots did something unexpected. They largely relocated to the flanks. This made the gap between my two main groups of infantry less dangerous. On the other hand, this meant that his right now had additional punch that I hadn't taken into consideration with my sacrificial cavalry delaying tactic.

His other moves involved trying to get away from the map edge, and preparing to double up his Sacred Band infantry.

As part of moving my left side infantry up, I started to move some of the mediums to the end of the line. I find the flexibility of the single hex units is better suited to the end than the middle. And then things started to change. I got a two momentum rolls while doing this, and after the second one realized that my medium infantry was in range of his Sacred Band cavalry. Which, being engaged my cavalry could not withdraw, so I charged and defeated his heavy cavalry.

That was a heavy blow for Carthage because those guys count for extra rout points. I also used some skirmishers to shock attack his chariots, wiping out two of those as well. That was the first time I have ever actually used skirmishers in that fashion, and so was neat.

This left the situation at the end of turn one looking like:


With the casualties and rout points:


Turn 2:
Looking at the situation, my initial plan was completely invalidated. My sacrificial delay had clearly become the main effort. It was time to reinforce success. The first leader I activated only had an initiative of three, so my options were somewhat limited. Still I hit his sacred band infantry in the rear with my no longer sacrificial heavy cavalry and spent some time allowing the medium infantry to recover.

He formed his double depth phalanx, and sent some light infantry over to stabilize the flank. His infantry needed a momentum to get them all the way there though and instead I trumped that momentum.

My goal at that point was mainly to ensure that all of his remaining leaders were bypassed. Things were looking good for me, and I didn't want a long chain of momentum to swing the balance unexpectedly. What I didn't expect was to rack up thee activations in a row with my initiative six overall commander for the second time.

Those three activations pretty much sealed the game. While he had successfully formed his double depth hoplite unit. That formation was a hindrance now. It was more vulnerable than previously to rear and flank attacks, though terrifying against a frontal assault. I did attack it frontally, mainly o get another unit involved in the combat that could take some hits in place of the currently exhausted lighter units hitting from the flank/rear.

That frontal attack illustrated everything that's scary about double depth phalanxes bu tin the end, I had applied enough pressure to wipe out the Carthaginian Sacred Band infantry and Hanno the overall commander for Carthage.

Much like the Sacred Band cavalry, the infantry is worth extra rout points. A single double hex TQ 8 hoplite unit is normally worth 16 rout points. These are worth 24. And there were two of them stacked up, so 48 + the leader. Those losses were enough to put victory out of reach for Carthage. We were initially going to play it out and so carried on with part of the next activation, but travel plans were threatening to interrupt our playing anyhow, so calling the game was the simpler answer.

Game situation most of the way through turn 2 (shock was just about to be resolved here when we called it):


Casualties at the same point:


Notes/Thoughts:
While resulting in an overwhelming Syracusan victory this could have ended much differently.

Carthaginina Sacred Band hoplites
I think the double depth phalanx approach has merit, but to pull it off in the face of an aggressive Syracusan flank attack I think you need to move over some lighter troops first before assembling it. With them covering the flank, you have a major weapon available.

As Mark Twain said via Pudd'nhead Wilson "Put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket.” This could be one of those circumstances. You'd be gambling on the results of the double depth guys, but i you support them sufficiently they could change the tide of the battle.

Chariots
The chariots were interesting. Their potential scared me. I was afraid of them hitting the flank of a heavy infantry unit. Even if they just charged the skirmishers, I would probably have to then attack them frontally. I have been burned more than once by forgetting the unfavorable columns that are used to resolve attacking chariots in the front. This probably would have cost me a turn recovering cohesion before really getting underway again.

On the other hand, when he moved them towards the edges, thoughts of unimpeded chariots roaming behind me sprang to mind. I'm not sure how to execute that, but if you can it would be devastating.

As it was, having the chariots threatening both flanks made me move closer to straight forward instead of shifting as far to my right as I would like. This was against my initial plan, and so worried me at first. Fortuitously for me, it meant I was less out of position when the plan changed to reinforcing my left.

I'd love to give this one a shot as Carthage sometime and see what happens. Despite the lack of results, I think there's potential there.
10 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon
Canada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
Superb write up Ryan. I think you captured the essence of the battle quite nicely.

Carthaginian Pre-Game Thoughts:


As noted, the Carthos have a swarm of light infantry (LI), a mixture of medium (MI) and heavy infantry / hoplites (HO/HI) and some rather nice heavy cavalry (HC). As I looked across the field at the intimidating row of Syracusan HO/HI which make up the majority of the foe, I had a rather strong fear of being overwhelmed by a straight forward rush. I felt that this would not only render my centre to mincemeat over time, but collapse my left wing with it's preponderance of LI. Given the small map, the close proximity of the armies, little room for maneuver and having my back against the map edge I felt that time was also my enemy. What do to?

As it turned out, my fear of lack of time played a role in my plans...

The answer, I felt, lay on my right wing where the two HO/HI units of the Cartho Sacred Band were positioned, along with my overall commander (OC.) As Ryan noted, the Tyrant rules allow for these two-hex units to be combined into a powerful, yet somewhat unwieldy force. To me, this was where the answer to my problems lay.

So the plan was fairly simple:

1) Maneuver to get some room from the map edge to my rear. Routing units need somewhere to run to else they were going to contribute to Army Rout Points quickly.

2) Try to delay contact with my centre and left. I thought that if they ended up fighting the Syracuse HO/HI too early they would lose the day before it had even begun.

3) Move the Cartho chariots out of the way. I did not want to sacrifice them needlessly and thought that they could provide some threat on my flanks.

4) Combine the two Sacred Band HO/HI units on my right and use it as the hammer, along with my medium infantry, to turn the Syracuse left flank.

That was the plan anyway .... :D


The Results:

Ryan describes nicely how it all fell apart for me. In rather spectacular fashion I might add. And the conclusions he draws are spot on. Here are some more of my thoughts on that:

The Cartho Centre and Left
This turned into a bit of an amateur hour for me. The fighting was primarily confined to his skirmisher (SK) units against my SK and LI. Added to this was the ever encroaching menace of his main HO/HI line not too far behind. Since this never came into contact with my LI, I cannot complain too much. However, no credit is due to the Carthos since the battle was being won over on the Syracuse left flank in such a manner that his centre/left did not need to bother beating on my LI. LOL! Before that, though, I attempted to form a unusual column formation with about six of my LI, some cavalry and the leader on that flank. It's purpose was twofold; being odd, it was meant to distract and cause reaction to it and also I had hopes of running it along the board edge with the aim of getting into the rear of the Syracuse right flank. It never got that chance ...

The Cartho Chariots

Now here is one of my errors that help add up to losing the battle. The plan to move them to the flanks (especially my right flank to help turn the enemy's left) was faulty to begin with. These are delicate instruments, so much so that even turning them can lose their cohesion. I found that getting them to my flank(s) was wrecking them and would taking so long that they ended up being in the way (and worse, caught between the lines in an exposed position). In essence, I wasted them.

The Cartho Right
It is on the right that my primary error occurred. Linking the Sacred Band took a few activations and by the time I did that he was on top of me. My worse decision though, as noted, was attempting this while ignoring my exposed flank. I broke one of the Golden Rules of GBoH (and wargaming in general: DON'T EXPOSE YOUR FLANK!). So the question may be, gentle reader, just why did I do it? Good question .... I have been trying to justify it ever since. LOL! One reason was that I felt pressed for time (there's that word again) so did not make the effort to bring up support in a timely fashion. Another is that the CHs never made it to the flank in strength yet I had committed myself to joining the Sacred Band, so proceeded regardless. Lastly, I gambled that the opposing Syracuse leader would fail his Momentum rolls.


The Conclusion(s):

Ryan is spot on with his post-game analysis. The relative isolation of, surrounding of and dispatching of the Sacred Band was the decisive factor in the battle. It was, to the point taken, to have all of one's eggs in one basket. Once the basket broke, the jig was up.

What should be noted though is Ryan's superb handling on his army. His initial plan was sound, but even better he had the wherewithal to adapt it under changing circumstances. He also did the little things extremely well; in particular keeping his army in check with judicious use of recovery to reform any weakened units. He performed a masterclass in this aspect of GBoH generalship and I feel it played an important role in allowing him to maintain his pressure. Most importantly, though, was realizing the opportunity on his left and taking advantage of it. Many of us would not do so given the same situation, yet his decision at that time was the main turning point in this battle.

What would I do differently you might ask? Well, for one I would not horse around (pun intended) with my chariots. Yes, it would be nice to have them on the flanks and yes it would be nice to preserve their impact on my Army Rout Points. However, they are just too fragile to do anything fancy with. Next time I would aim them straight ahead and charge into a death-or-glory run at the Syracusan SK and whatever comes after it. Ryan notes correctly that this would help buy the Carthos some needed time.

I still think that the doubled Sacred Band is the way to go for Carthage. I mean.... the rules for them are there to a reason huh? Ha! However, it's loss is devastating in Army Rout Points so it must be much, much, much better protected than I ended up doing. Even if it takes time to set that up, it has to be protected and supported.

So, incompetent Cartho generalship and a corresponding great handling of the Syracuse forces was at the heart of the matter. Hannibal Barca is somewhere doing a face palm. Wrong war, but still...

4 
 Thumb up
1.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Powers
United States
Marble
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Capt_S wrote:
Lastly, I gambled that the opposing Syracuse leader would fail his Momentum rolls.

That was one of the keys. You needed activations badly. So I felt free to gamble with a trump because I could make do with another init 4 leader for a turn if I had to. You would likely not have enough activations to make me really pay if I blew the roll. Instead the trump succeeded and my OC racked up another three activations. 6 activations in two turns from the best leader on the map is rough. I kept hoping I'd fail a roll with him (but not enough to decline making the roll in the first place)

Quote:
in particular keeping his army in check with judicious use of recovery to reform any weakened units. He performed a masterclass in this aspect of GBoH generalship and I feel it played an important role in allowing him to maintain his pressure.


I learned that the hard way in another VASSAL game. I believe it was even another Tyrant game. Probably one against
HMS Iron Duke
United States
Bartlett
Tennessee
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
but possibly some other GBoH game/some other opponent. It was several years ago at this point.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Brock
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Capt_S wrote:
Well, for one I would not horse around (pun intended) with my chariots. Yes, it would be nice to have them on the flanks and yes it would be nice to preserve their impact on my Army Rout Points. However, they are just too fragile to do anything fancy with. Next time I would aim them straight ahead and charge into a death-or-glory run at the Syracusan SK and whatever comes after it. Ryan notes correctly that this would help buy the Carthos some needed time.

Yeah, although my experience with them is purely from the ancient computerized version of GBOH
http://flashofsteel.com/index.php/2008/04/08/great-battles-o...,
I very much remember that chariots were like a one-shot semi-guided missile. You could direct them a little, but only enough to let you pick target units. You'd better have a really good reason to bother turning them and taking the cohesion hit. And you could reliably expect most of them to self-destruct on their first attack, but every once in a while one would survive long enough to give the enemy minor conniptions.

The need to accept that they'd lose you more RP than they'd generally gain you was part of the... charm... of the system.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon
Canada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
Yep, it was a lesson learned about those chariots. I seem to remember they were a little more mobile in Chariots of Fire, but perhaps my memory is faulty else I was playing it wrong. Sigh....

Unfortunately, I tend to learn my gaming lessons the hard way. Not gleamed from a rulebook, but rather in the cold, hard cardboard jungle in the midst of battle.

The real trick is to remember them for next time.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Powers
United States
Marble
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Capt_S wrote:
Yep, it was a lesson learned about those chariots. I seem to remember they were a little more mobile in Chariots of Fire, but perhaps my memory is faulty else I was playing it wrong. Sigh....

Unfortunately, I tend to learn my gaming lessons the hard way. Not gleamed from a rulebook, but rather in the cold, hard cardboard jungle in the midst of battle.

The real trick is to remember them for next time.



Pretty sure they're more mobile in Hoplite too.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Powers
United States
Marble
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
jwb3 wrote:


The need to accept that they'd lose you more RP than they'd generally gain you was part of the... charm... of the system.


Losing more RP than they gain is fine as long as they gain you something else.

Chariots are pretty good for grabbing some tempo. Something I'll glady pay a few RP for. Heck, changing the tempo was the whole point of initially throwing my left flank heavy cavalry into the fray so early. I expected to lose those RP with no RP gained in return. But I expected a payout in activations.

Chariots are also a pretty decent threat in being if you can get them to a spot where they're not in the way of the rest of your army. Moving them off to the flanks might accomplish this, but it's going to take a few activations to get them put back together. This is probably only feasible if you have a leader basically dedicated to herding the chariots.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.