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Subject: An Ancient Afternoon rss

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James Lowry
United States
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[This session report is cross-posted from my blog.]

Well, we were scheduled for a continuation of an interesting Soldier Kings game yesterday, but Patch was unable to make it, so we had to adopt Plan B for the remaining four of us.

Which we quickly decided was a day of Commands & Colors: Ancients. This was another first time for Zjonni, but it's a simple and fast game. All told, we managed ten two player games during the day. For most of the day, I was squared off against Jason (who seems to be the best of the group on CC:A), and Zjonni was facing Mark. For the final round, Mark played Jason, and I played Zjonni.

On my side of things, we started off with the second part of [url=]Utica[/url] (there are two scenarios covering the two days of fighting). This is an interesting affair, with two ridgelines going down the length of the board, and the opposing armies drawn up on top of them. Since this is 49 BC, the Julian Legion rules are in effect, which really changes the nature of the game (heavy and medium infantry move faster and have limited missile ability). I don't remember too much about the first game (as the Romans under Curio), except that I could never figure out what I wanted to do, which showed in the final score of 1-5 (as well as some good dice from Jason). Of course, I also found out afterwards that I had accidentally missed setting up a unit of medium infantry. It would have helped, but I don't think it could have saved things for me. Still—very embarrassing!

The second playing, with us switching sides (and the extra unit put back in), went a lot better, even though I made the mistake of pressing forward off the ridgeline at the start. As a result my (Pompeian) right flank pretty much ceased to exist, and some good fighting towards the middle got the score to a 4-4 tie. However, much of my army was smashed and easy to pick off, while there wasn't much I could get at Jason's forces. Before I could come up with anything, he got the fifth banner and the win.

Mark and Zjonni were still involved in the longer Paraitacene scenario, so Jason and I went on to the longer Lauron scenario (76 BC, during Sertorius' rebellion against Sulla). This is a fairly complicated scenario. The town of Lauron appears on the board as four impassable hexes, Pompey's army is ranged around it, and Sertorius' entire left wing is on the Pompeian edge of the board (coming out of the hills in an ambush). This creates a certain amount of fighting against instincts, as units retreat toward the friendly board edge, but instincts are saying to move them away from the enemy body of troops.

Jason led off with the ambushing force attacking fairly piecemeal and losing their best units (warriors) to no effect. This rather solidly gave me the initiative, and good card draws helped me keep going. Certainly, it's the only time I've seen Jason at a loss in this game. And I wrapped things up at 7-2. Of course, I then had to figure out how to do better as Sertorius. The first thing was to lead off with the ambush, but keep more of them together. It's hard to move six units all together, and I only moved four of them out of the hills into Pompey's flank. However, as that included the leader, I was able to hit a lot harder, and got an early edge. Despite a six-card to five-card edge, and going first, this is a tough battle for Sertorius as his army is broken up while Pompey has a good line, and and his units are not as tough. Things went back and forth for a while, with Jason slowly closing the opening gap, and he pulled out an eventual 6-7 win. Again, he smashed a greater portion of my army, and left me with few good options, and the game ended with a risky cavalry move deep on my right flank to try and force him to loose a unit to casualties and retreats. But my units were in bad shape, and when they couldn't get a result, the battle back got me.

At that point, Mark and Zjonni's third game wrapped up, so we decided to swap opponents. Since Zjonni and Mark had just played one game of Cynoscephalae, we played a second game of that, with Zjonni switching sides, and I taking the side that Zjonni had taken earlier (the Romans).

It decidedly has some interest, with a jumble of hills in the middle separating the two forces. The Macedonians have a decidedly heavier force, but if the fighting stays in the hills, that won't matter much. Also, the Roman force has a single unit of elephants on the right flank. They, of course dominated much of thoughts of the early game, with me trying to drive them into the Macedonian positions, and with him eagerly shooting them whenever adjacent to my troops. Surprisingly, for all the effort expended, and several trample attacks, they managed not to create too much carnage. They did catch a Macedonian heavy infantry as they came off the hills and managed to wipe it out, before dying in the next turn or so.

Other than that, the beginning of the game saw a lot of ranged attacks without much close combat. This eroded units on both sides, but did not generate much of a decision. In the end, luck told as Zjonni got two Double-time cards and pressed into the right flank with his heavies, causing great carnage both times (three banners per card!). Final score 1-6.

We mucked around for a little bit after that, but it was well past 4 by that point, and when Mark and Jason finished their second game a little bit later, we packed up for the day.

I don't know what happened in the other battles, as I was too busy to really look in, but Mark won both of the first two matches with Zjonni (Paraitacene) 7-4. He also won the first game of Cynocephalae 6-4. Mark's and Jason played Dyrrhachium twice, with Jason winning both times (giving me the only victory against Jason, and the only loss against Zjonni...) 6-4 and 6-2.

This gives Jason the win for the day with 31 out of 36 possible banners (or 86%), Mark had 26 out of 32 for 81%, Zjonni got 18 out of 26 for 69%, and I got 19 of 30 for 63%. More importantly, everyone had a great time with a truly fun game.
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