Mid Republican Rome vs Pyrrhos Starter Army AAR
Friday November 21
7:30pm – 10:50pm
Rome Player – Mike
Pyrrhic Player – Brian
Game Duration – 2.5 hours
Since my last trouncing using the Gauls against the Romans we decided to try a pike army and thought the Pyrrhic list would be a good introduction. So we chose the starter armies one more time. We diced for sides and Mike won the chance to be Roman and the enviable task of being Pyrrhos was mine. Big shoes to fill.
Since our last game I have completed 3 hills and 1 open field piece. I will be focusing on more terrain pieces for our next game. Also I FINALLY have all my bases properly painted, no more pics of some bases done and some just green.
The starting forces can be found right out of the army lists for the above armies.
Brian: My plan is to try to divide and conquer the Roman. From past experience I know the Roman infantry are tough when in a solid mass. So I plan on using my MF to harass the Roman right wing in the bad terrain. In front I will have 2 groups, the left will be 1 pike and 1 elephant. To attack the right side of the Roman line I will have another pike BG and a 3rd one which I will use to flank the Roman line with. I will use my cavalry on one wing (Right) and will use the lancers to protect my pike’s flank and the LH and Cavalry to keep the Roman cavalry occupied or melee should the situation warrant it. I must keep my mounted alive and able to disrupt any attempts by the Roman to hit my pike in the flank. Regarding commanders I will have 2 on the main line. Initially I will use them to maneuver the troops that I need to then move them into contact with troops about to go into battle to help bolster as I will have no troops supporting behind so I need the modifier. I will fight with my TC’s but will bolster with Pyrrhos, he is too important to lose in melee.
Mike: I'll admit it. This was the first time I fought against pike blocks and I was a bit intimidated by them. My plan was to anchor my right flank against the difficult terrain (forgetting that medium foot can move easily through it) and to use my horse on the left flank to try and draw out the Pyrric horse to prevent them from flanking my legions. I placed my medium foot on the left flank as well as they move faster than my Roman heavies and I hoped they would be able to help my horse tie up his horse. As I wanted my left flank to be agile I placed two of my commanders there to help them move about. I kept my Triarii on the flanks of my centre and was hoping to use them to outflank the cumbersome pike blocks should my legions become engaged with them.
I (Pyrrhos) won the initiative and decided to fight the Romans in an agricultural setting and chose terrain accordingly. We played on a 3x5 table as suggested. All but 1 hill and a couple of open fields remained and we relocated to the table edges. I had thought here we go again, terrain won’t be a factor. We I was pleasantly mistaken. Even terrain on the edge of the table can be very useful.
Here are some pics of the set up:
Turn 1 saw the Roman far left Cavalry BG swing even further left in an effort to draw off my Cavalry.
The Roman Velites turn to their right in order to better position themselves against the Pyrrhic slingers. The slingers wheel slightly to the left and focus their fire on the 1 BG with little effect.
A close up of the Pyrrhic left flank. My strategy with the MF was to advance through the terrain and set up on the far side. My options then would be to either try to sack the Roman camp or to flank the Roman right flank BGs. I knew my MF could not stand up to the Roman HF but was hoping to either draw in a HF into the bad going or to gain a position of advantage. The cat and mouse game continues.
I also decide to start moving my right side of the main line. I want to delay the contact with the left after I pin my opponents and hopefully draw off his rear support.
Turn 2 sees the Roman line continue its advance and the Roman skirmishers close to javelin and charge range. The ensuing javelin fire and sling shots were ineffective on both sides. I must now decide whether to stay and fight at a disadvantage or to evade when the time comes.
View from the Roman side
On my right flank I advance my cavalry in order to try to set up an advantageous charge. I also advance my far right pike block on its own in order to flank the Roman line and to disrupt his line in order to gain overlaps.
At this point Mike turns his far left Cavalry BG in an attempt to flank my Cavalry.
Here is a shot of the battlefield after turn 2
Brian: I advance my MF to near the edge of the bad terrain to see if I can draw out some Romans and break up his line, gain a flank or rear opportunity or charge his camp. I also turn my slingers 180 degrees and advance them to the rear and safety. My middle pike block now wheels to its right to better position itself for the coming battle. I don’t want it too close to the elephants when the battle starts.
Mike: When I saw Brian's MF move into the difficult terrain I realized my mistake but it was too late.
Brian: On the far right I am setting myself up with the pike to flank the Roman or to offer battle in such a way as to make him break his line. My lancers were to provide flank cover for the pike. My LH and far right Cavalry were to temporarily tie up the Roman MF and cavalry until the pike won the flank. I know I could have just charged in but I wanted to fight to a specific and timed plan and fought hard to hold back and play a cat and mouse game. I also tried to focus on commander placement and it turned out to be key in some of the victories.
Mike: When I saw Brian advance his pike on my left flank I thought if I advanced my legions forward I may be able to outflank his pike holding the centre. With Brian's horse in one group I moved my horse towards him as I thought I could flank him and get them committed to combat.
With the MF now in a position to get to the rear or flank Mike decides to turn a BG of HF and Triarii to intercept my movement. And the skirmish battle continues.
Brian: The Pyrrhic pike keep advancing and now see an opportunity. I want to now support my lancers when they charge the enemy cavalry so they keep advancing straight. This will put them in a better position, further to the Roman rear so that they will draw off a BG or 2 from the main fight. On my far right I now turn the LH and Cav to face the lone Roman Cav BG.
Mike: It was at about this time that I realized how scattered and precarious my position was. If seemed from this point onward I was reacting to Brian's moves. I still held out hope that my legions could break his centre.
Brian: At this point I decide its time to turn my MF around and get some distance between me and the Roman HF. The plan is, if the HF enter to draw them further in to keep them out of battle. Otherwise if they turn back into the battle that’s about to start, to try to position myself for a flank charge, or end run around the flank.
Now its time to move the left flank. With Pyrrhos leading the elephants they move forward to engage the broken Roman line. At this point I positioned my commanders to be with the BGs doing the fighting to bolster them as needed. I learned the hard way last time using the Gauls and not having a leader in the right place.
Mike: Pesky Medium Foot.
Brian: The pike keep advancing now with the intent of charging the Roman Cavalry and keeping the lancers as flank support. My only concern is the Triarii. They look like they can gain a flank charge. After a quick risk assessment I decide its worth the risk. I know I will be charged in the flank but want to charge the enemy horse.
Brian: I try to position my left most Lancer BG to block the Roman MF. The LH move in such a way as to gain the flank of the Roman Cav BG and my right Cav BG changes to a looser formation and sets up to receive a possible charge or to charge in return should the situation warrant it. At this point in time I am trying to set up multiple tactical problems for my Roman opponent while trying to mitigate his moves. I am trying to keep him off his balance as long as possible. If my luck holds out I might be able to do it.
Brian: The Roman mainline advances to almost charge range while the right flank guard advances closer to my MF. Now only if I can draw him in.
Brian: Lancers retire and the pike advance further. The Roman cavalry are standing fast.
A few of the pictures turned out blurry for some reason.
Brian: This pic shows the elephants disrupted from javelin fire charging into the Roman HF . The pike on the right also charges in.
Brian: My pike finally charge the Roman cavalry and the melee is extremely bloody and short. The Romans lose a base in the impact phase and melee and then they auto break. I did not do a pursue move which I seem to remember that you have to even though the BG is supposed to be cut down to the last man sort of thing. This might have saved them for what was to occur next. The Roman commander was also killed in this melee, which would be a hard loss as it meant less bolstering for the Romans.
Mike: Because I did not place my cavalry in line they could not evade. I for some reason forgot about that and my cavalry paid the price.
Here’s another view of the impact phase.
With the Roman Triarii now set up to charge, it charges into the flank of the pike block.
Brian: I decide to turn my lancers to the left and charge into the flank of the Hastate before hopefully charging the Triarii in the flank if the pike can hold on that long.
Mike: When I decided to use my Triarii to attack the flank of the Pike they were no longer in a position to protect the Hastate flank.
Brian: With the Roman cavalry turned to pursue the LH. I move the LH into the rear to cause more problems to the Roman commander. I then use the Cavalry to pin the Roman in place, or to make him withdraw. But not with this Roman, he was out for glory.
Brian: The Triarii hit the flank and the pike go to disrupted and turn 1 file to meet the Romans in battle. The odds are now extremely bad for the pike.
Mike: The only satisfying engagement I fought.
Brian: Back on my left flank things are looking up. The pike has dropped the Roman BG to fragmented after a horrid cohesion check roll by the Roman
Mike: My Centre and Right flank were crumbling. I was fighting at a disadvantage and with a commander lost and one on the distant left flank I had only one commander to bolster the legions.
Brian: Things are looking bad for the pike as they drop to fragmented. I need to maneuver my BG into a legal formation and expand my frontage by 1 file.
Brian: Now with the Roman turning to join the fight, I decide to turn around the MF and move him into a flanking position on either the Hastati or Triarii. The elephants are also working out extremely well and destroy a Roman base and drop it to disrupted. Having Pyrrhos there also helped. Also the other Roman BG was routed and lost a base. The Pike did pursue but rolled very low and was not able to keep up.
Mike: Elephants, Some days its a good day to be an elephant. Again my mistake to let the elephants hit my Heavy foot.
Brian: The pike are finally broken and rout, They rout directly away initially then turn to their rear. The cavalry also finally engage but the results would be ties for the most part. The Roman did drop a cohesion level but I was unable to capitalize on the advantage and Mike bolstered them back and they fought on till the end of the game.
Mike: Despite routing a body of pike I was in terrible shape. My legions could not hold their own and with my left flank in tatters I woundered, "which is the quickest route to Rome."
Here's a view from the Roman side
Brian: Mike turns his Roman HF to the right and I to the left my pike BG and we start a new melee. Meanwhile the elephants break their opponent who do a VMD but are not fast enough to outrun the elephants who catch them and auto break them. This is sweet vindication for all the times my elephants would break in the past.
Brian: My plan now is to catch the Triarii in a vice with the MF and elephants. The pike to the front is doing well and I feel its only a matter of time before the battle is decided as there are no Roman commanders to bolster the troops.
Brian: This turns out to be a bloody turn for the Romans as their flank HF go directly to Fragmented. The lancers also wheel to the left to set up for a charge on the Triarii should they attempt to assist.
Brian: the routing continues, and the LH move to a position to stop any attempted rallies. Meanwhile the cavalry battle continues.
Brian: My plan of attack.
Brian: at this point we decide to call the game as it is nearly 11pm and the Romans are about to take a beating.
End Game Comments
Mike: This was an interesting game. I knew the only way to defeat the pike blocks was with a flank attack. As I did not have good cavalry I had a difficult task to win the flanks but it was not impossible. I made some poor choices and as a result my Romans were crushed. Brian played an excellent game and did a good job in fragmenting my army and destroying it. I'm presently building a Marian Roman army and seeing that they have some good cavalry I'm even more determined to get them finished and on the board. Mars Exulti!
Brian: I felt that I had better dice and that Mike had worse dice this game. Last time it was my Gauls rolling and dropping cohesion levels like they were going out of style. But I also felt that I had a plan and tried to carry it out and not be distracted. I also wanted to be flexible enough to alter the plan should opportunities arise. The use of commanders was critical and I focused on having the leaders in the right place at the right time. This saved me a few times from dropping a cohesion level. My strategy was to try to split the Roman infantry line while either destroying or skirmishing the Roman cavalry. With Mike deploying his MF in the centre it allowed my MF to control the flank in the rough terrain. Having split the Roman line I was able to get the overlaps needed as well pike men are stiff competition from the front. I was always wary about my flanks and tried to maneuver to keep them safe. I preferred to keep my right flank fluid for that reason.
All in all I think we had a really good game. It only took us about 2 and a half hours to play to a conclusion. I think in the end the attrition points were about 6 to 2 in favour of Pyrrhos. We forget only a few things this time and spent even less time looking for things in the rule book and what we did we found quickly so we spent more time playing.
Next game will be an 800 point affair with the sides to be chosen, but we’ll post up another AAR. :cool:
(Edited by Mike C)