Yep, time for another installment in the saga of "how to sack the Holy City"! as performed by Aaron and Alan.
AP1: Aaron = Roman, Alan = Judean. As Roman, the onus is on me to get the ball rolling, but I have recently been experimenting with the UC wall on the SW side; so Roman setup put two rams "down south", and the other two backed by Titus and the majority of Romans on the NE New City wall (a personal favorite attack zone of mine). THe key objective was capturing NC, but secondary objectives included:
1.) capture/rubble the DD, GG, and PP forts.
2.) break a breach into the UC at the double-bastion.
3.) damage/rubble the SW L fort.
4.) keep Roman casualties under 200 CPs.
Regarding the NC redoubts, The Romans used heavy missile fire, in what dad usually calls the Frankenlegion, to dislodge the defenders. Titus was critical for this, to keep all legions' missile units in CC. It wasn't very elegant, but Titus was able to keep everyone shooting... the Judean conuter-move put militia on the first wall, inviting the Romans to advance and quickly capture the bastions- only to confront a barrage of regular MF in the following round. A back and forth ensued, but the FL was largely at a loss as to where to fire, especially since they captured the PP fort by turn 3. The GG fort was close behind, and the DD fort was rammed into rubble on turn 7.
In the south, Phrygius and Cestius stayed with their rams and completed their objective; three breaches appeared down the UC wall, and the L-fort too! If/when the Romans try to take the UC, this will be a critical entry-point.
However, by the time night turns rolled around, the Romans were still dealing with a very formidible defense in the built-ups of the NC. The shock troops had been shocked, so it was up to Titus to do the dirty work with the FHI. 290 casualties. Ouch. But the win was made possible because the Romans attacked from both flanks and made the Judean line stretch- Lepidus led the charge over the walls to the west, and elements of legio XV penetrated a second breach at the DD fort. Turn 10 left the Romans with 19 built-up hexes under control. Ben Yair led a deadly counterattack, but the win was squarely in the Romans favor.
Analysis: As the Roman player, I think I played it too close... but then again, I am happy to say I made every turn count! In past games, I have always tried to secure a win by turn 8 to minimize night turns, but experience tells me that the best time to take your time is AP1, when Roman force is greatest over the widest area against the fewest defenders. It was stressful to play closer, and on turn 7 I admit was was suddenly shocked to find I was nowhere near picking up a single built-up. What tipped the balance was the all-out Roman advance at night that put 10-20 hexes of pressure against a Judean line. The game was not truly won in the first breach- instead, the best Judeans set up to defend this breach, and were thwarted by Romans slipping in in other places and blowing the defense apart. The principle I used: put pressure everywhere, as many places as possible, and wait for it to work somewhere. Once it did, the Judeans couldn't be everywhere at once, and the Romans played a blitzkreig to the finishline.
The UC wild-card is now a whole different problem, but one I hope will pay off over time. Instead of using any mine-shafts in AP2, I have a three hex breach ready to use when I assualt the UC. My campaign strategy looks like this:
Take NC and damage UC wall in AP1. (accomplished, barely)
Take Tyropean and HP in AP2. (mine-shafts vs. TC and AF)
take/destroy AF and capture UC in AP3. (???)
Attack TQ in AP4. (???!!!)
How to attack Herod's Palace could be an issue, especially if I don't use a mine-shaft, but the next game-breaker is the Tyropean, so the weight of the assualt must go there. A few secondary "issues" I hope to deal with at the same time:
1.) capture/rubble the QQ28 redoubt.
2.) capture the Women's gate redoubt. (in my experience, the adjacent bastions make this easy.)
3.) capture the L50 redoubt.
**these three are to minimize a sortie-recapture of the NC when Romans are busy in the TC.
4.) mine and ram AF as much as possible, with an eye towards easing into AP3. (again, experience cautions any half-attempt around Death Valley, but night turns might actually make this slightly more feasible... once again, the AP2 should strive to max out the turn-clock for the longest chance to do damage... gulp!)
So now that I've laid out my plan on the table, let's hear the Judean side of things!
Hello All –
It was indeed a pleasure to take the part of ben Yair and have yet another go at Titus Himself. I had him on the ropes at one point in this Phase, but a flurry of punches (Continuous Combat) allowed him to slip away …
The Story …
Judaean Artillery was set up with Ballistae in the Women’s Gate and Psephinus Tower to maximize their range and killing power by establishing crossfire over the northern Plain. Onageri did the same for the NE Plain where Titus attacked. Cauldrons were placed in Forts all along the north, east and west Walls. Herod’s Palace was defended by an Onager and several Cauldrons; the southern Wall as well. As it turned out, the HP and LC Cauldrons (as well as the Artillery) were totally ineffective. Not a single Roman unit was lost in that assault. More on this later …
Ben Gurion and his Light Greens defended out of the Upper City, augmented by 6 Zealots. With such a narrow front, I figured that this would be enough to prevent UC capture. It turned out to be more than enough …
Everyone else set up to defend the New City. I saw that the Roman FrankenLegion was going to EE almost every target, so I went against my own advice and set up Militia in the Forts, Bastions and along the Wall. Regulars backed them up.
As expected, the Militia were annihilated. Roman incursions along the Wall resulted in the formation of a rather large Dead Pile, due to concentrated Missile fire from within the NC. Staircases out of captured Bastions and Forts were easily blocked by the remaining Militia. Interestingly enough, I found myself without enough of those 2-6’s as the Phase wore on ! Imagine ! Not enough MILITIA ??? Zounds !
A classic Breach occurred, which gives rise to the classic Breach defense. I did take pictures, which I will share in a more detailed analysis later on.
As Aaron mentioned, the FrankenLegion milled around a bit without a juicy target to focus on. With Rams and Towers abundant, their purpose devolved into a role that simply kept Judaean units out of a hex. Not bad … but certainly not the Attrition Machine that they are meant to be. Again, more on this later …
Roman Rams made a Breach here and there, but their positions were not optimum. Just after Nightfall, Titus led an assault into the NC Built Ups. It was testy, but well thought out. Aaron typically uses low odds attacks along the edges to reduce defenses and then springs his central attack to maximize Continuous Combat and roll back down the line that offers him the best position. In this assault, none of those Melees worked. He was left with a 3:1 flat (with Titus) in the middle to keep the Melee going and rolled a 6. That allowed him the necessary CC to bring a Cohort into play and his next roll was a 5. More CC ensued. The Judaean defense fell back again, and held after that, but the Roman had established a position that protected Titus against counterattack and ensured a viable Melee next turn. It was the turning point in the Phase. Had the Judaean held against that final attack, the Roman prospects would have been dim indeed !
Defenses on the eastern Wall proved adequate, as the Roman Towers held back. Eventually, they took the Bastions and pored into the NC. Their threat was significant (4 Built Ups), but it cost them on Turn 10 as ben Yair led a counterattack that took out 20+ VP’s from those units.
Western defenses within the NC are notable because of where they came from. Upon realizing that the Roman UC/HP attack was not capable of taking the UC (or HP), ben Gurion sent 6 Regulars and 6 Zealots to reinforce the NC. The timing was perfect. As soon as the Roman broke through the DD Fort, there were Light Green Regulars facing them. Zealots and more Regulars followed. Unfortunately, Titus had ensured that the middle would fall and there simply were not enough Judaeans to defend the Built Ups and plug the gaps. It was a matter of defending Built Ups and allowing a breakthrough or defending the gaps and giving up the Built Ups. Lose/lose … … (great bloodletting though !)
The Roman assault on the UC and HP is worth some note. In effect, he moved up under Missile cover, destroyed the double Bastion connecting the UC to HP with Rams, as well as the UC Wall adjacent, and pulled back. He picked off a few Judaean units and lost not a man. He also was smart enough to take out the L70 Fort on the far SW corner.
The Analysis …
Strategic: I almost had him ! I’m not sure that the Artillery placement would have made any difference. The NC is really quite vulnerable. Aaron took what I gave him and made it work. He got the most out of it. Kudos to him for extending the Phase and getting the Breaches in the UC. It is my belief that any success in the Campaign Game is predicated on planning that starts before Phase I and extends thorough Phase IV. His plan appears to take this into account and his execution is spot on. Except for those casualties …
Tactical: Terrain allowed me to kill about twice as many Romans as they would probably have lost if they had Breached the Walls earlier. It makes one think about Mining in Phase I and figuring that for every unit saved now is worth some week’s wait. Gotta figure two units lost now comes back as one later on …
If you are the Judaean, it is oh so easy to visualize the Roman walking through Breaches and outflanking units that have too many Clear hexes to defend and too many Built Ups that can be so easily surrounded. For the Roman to understand this … and do what is necessary to make it happen … that is his test.
As the Judaean, I try to stop the Roman THIS TURN. It inevitably leads to Roman units in the Clear … and I move to get a 12/Flat Missile shot against them in the ensuing Missile Fire Phase. As long as I can stop them THIS TURN and hit them with that automatic EE in my MFP, the attack will most likely stall. Even if it does not stop the Roman cold, it bleeds him dearly.
Eventually, this tactic runs dry. There are not enough Judaean units to make this work as long as the Roman keeps the pressure on. But … IF … the Roman gets careless … DOOM awaits him. Casualties mount to an unacceptable level.
Unless he can figure out how Testudine play into this. Then casualties drop significantly.
All in all, I think the Roman did well to get away with a Win in this Phase. He pushed the envelope and came through with a better situation than might be expected, but he has paid a huge price in blood. He will have to be very sharp in the upcoming Phase to leverage the advantages gained.
1) Redoubts are still a threat.
2) The TC is the key now. Without it, all else fails …
3) HP will not fall. The Roman does not have enough to commit over there …
4) Death Valley will take out 150 VP’s. How silly of him to think otherwise …
5) Mines, Rams and Ramps are all going to be critical this Phase …
Good luck, my Son …
Oh yes, and if you think you can sneak up on me with a LC attack … do think again …
Happy New Year to everyone and by all means let us know how your own games are going !