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Subject: Session Report - Zama vs. Steve Duke rss

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Dave Long
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Session Report – Zama vs. Steve Duke

It’s been a busy week or two, and I’ve fallen a bit behind in my quest to play all the Command and Colors: Ancients scenarios to celebrate the stickering of all the blocks. I had a chance back on February 1 to play Steve Duke in the Zama scenario on Vassal, and I will post the smackdown delivered to me here. Steve was very kind to school me in the etiquette of face-to-face play over Vassal, and also sent me some notes he made as we played.

So, without further ado, here is my match versus Steve. Steve’s comments will be interspersed in the report in italics.

Steve gets the Romans, and I get the Carthaginians. Steve opens with a 3c, advancing up the two light infantry to take potshots at my elephants. Things start off badly, as he stampedes one of them, killing another elephant block and four auxilia because of the rampage. A heavy infantry moves up next to Scipio.

As the Romans in this one, I tend to try and snipe at the Carthage elephants, hoping for a lucky flag or two and a good rampage roll, anticipating that he’ll either come after my lights after that or try and screen his elephants after my initial shots. I will take as many opportunities as I can to range attack his elephants, especially when their retreat path is blocked.
I also tend to use my cav in the sniping role too, trying to be wary of being surrounded by his cav, or run off the map with banner or two. Once the skirmishing part is over, I’ll do my best to maintain a good cohesive line with strength on the flanks and leaders distributed where they can have the most effect with my MI and HI.
My initial hand: 3 units Center, Line command, 3 Units Left, Inspired Right Leadership, Counterattack.
Turn 1 results: Ok, a reasonably successful range attack nets me some losses to Carthage from ranged attack. We are off and running!
I draw a Rally card.




I start with Order Light, two Double Times, Leadership (Any), and Move-Fire-Move.
I order light troops, and move to screen the pachyderms from further ranged sniping, while sending one light cav up to snipe at Masinissa’s light infantry screen. I send one light infantry retrating and kill a block of the second for no loss. I draw another Leadership (Any) card.



Turn 2 placing Inspired Right Leader, trying to spread out a bit on the right and counter his ranged attacks with my own. Always trying to remain supported and able to ignore at least one banner and to support a future line command move.
I draw Clash of Shields, which I can never seem to play very effectively. I always seem to hold it too long but it can certainly be a powerful card.





I play M-F-M next, trying to get more ranged units into the fray. I also finish screening the elephants as well.



Line Command. Range attacking and getting some good result there. First kill of a LC on the enemy so I at least avoid the shutout. Bringing up my main forces and trying to remain strong to counter a potential mounted charge with elephants.



I order 2c, and send an elephant after Scipio. I get two hits, but lose the elephant on the battle back. The auxilia forces the Roman light infantry to evade. 2-0 Rome, and my impatience and inexperience are rearing their heads.



Carthage attacks the center of my line with elephants but no mounted charge. If he gets hot with dice, this could be bad, but I would not expect to lose more than I get in return with support and leader power. I would not typically do an attack with elephants like this but instead use them against unsupported flank units that ideally have already been weakened and as often as possible in concert with a mounted charge card to get the extra die. Elephants like this are literally a dice roll hitting the strength of my line. I’ve seen attacks like this blow holes in strong lines and others bounce off like a bug on a windshield.
Not wanting to use Clash of Shields yet but worried about my center unit. I also don’t want to play my Rally card yet because I don’t have enough chance of a favorable result on that card and seek to have red, blue and green units near a leader before I play that card if at all possible. Am hopeful he does not follow up in the center.
Dave played a 2 Center card on me and I really don’t want to use my counter attack card for that either. So out of 5 cards, I have 3 that I don’t want to use yet: CATK, Clash of Shields, and Rally. Sigh. Feeling like my good hand is not good at this very moment but we’ll see what unfolds.
I have 2 possible card plays : 3 units left and Outflanked to choose from so I play Outflanked to try and get a kill of his Aux on my right while I shore up my left.
The result is a wounded but not dead Carthage Aux, my overextended Hvy Inf , and the expectation that this will be met with angry elephants. This did not work out as I’d hoped but we’ll see what his counter blow is.




I now show my inexperience, using Double Time to attack with my two right flank warriors. Thanks to some spectacularly poor die rolls, I manage to lose three of eight blocks to the auxilia, while only doing two hits to his unit. My folly is about to be exposed.



He plays Double Time. I am glad I held my CATK card as I like DT a lot and think it is a potential game winner. Not sure where he will come at me, but I don’t fear for my overextended HI at the moment.
He uses it for an unsupported attack with two of his Warriors. My units hold their own thanks in no small part to some poor rolls by Dave. My supported battle back beats his Warriors down well and sets them up for destruction next turn.
I think that now is the time to use Clash of Shields as I am next to at least 3 units that I can eliminate with decent rolls. The result was very good for me with 3 eliminated Carthage units. I’ve now jumped out to a good lead and this is where I tend to play attrition warfare.
I draw Coordinated Attack. My hand also includes Rally, 3 Units Left, CATK, and 3 Units Center. I was very tempted to play CATK for his Double Time but decided to save it and use Clash while I had the chance.




Well, now it’s 5-0 Rome, and the handwriting is on the wall. But, I’m in this to learn, so it’s time to try to rescue some pride. I play Leadership-Any, and Hasdrubal orders the elephants to hit Masinissa, that Numidian traitor. Two hits and three banners are nice, but I need kills now.



His elephant attack on me was pretty successful, putting 2 hits on my Hvy and 3 banners. I run like the wind out of there! Feeling like Rally time since I’m now next to Blue, Red, and Green. Good rally result and I should probably consolidate the line. Instead, I push forward.
I feel big time overextended with Scipio and my weakened Med Inf in the center. Got the lead and trying to get a couple more banners. Thought I could kill his 1 strength Elephant but missed it. Did manage to kill a 1 pt Aux with the rampage, but I am now way overextended with Scipio and waiting to get crushed there. A little too cocky with the lead. If I had 1st Strike, this would be ok. Without it, Scipio is leading the lost legion forward.
Maybe Dave will see the consequences of overextension as he sends Scipio to a prison camp…
My hand looks like: Order 3 Left x 2, Coordinated attack, CATK, 3 units Center.




My elephants have done more damage to me than to Steve. That’s the danger of them I suppose. Sometimes (when you have them) they are running all over your own troops, others (when you don’t) they’re trampling the enemy….

I play Spartacus, to try and avoid the shutout, getting to order 3 heavies and two lights. Hasdrubal advances on Scipio, and smashes Scipio’s legionnaires handily. 6-1, yea! At least I’ll have something to show for my efforts. My light units, the LI and slingers roll really hot, and kill a Roman LI with three hits and a retreat that can’t be fulfilled. 6-2, and can I come back? Umm…Magic Eight Ball says, ‘Not Likely.’



I play CATK and roll for Spartacus myself, getting a good roll and attacking forward. Ouch! He hits me with 1st Strike. Well played by Dave. Fortunately, his rolls were average there and I kill a Hvy inf. But I am once again vulnerable and over extended with a leader in the center within striking distance of his Elephant and other Carthage units.
My hand right now looks like a lot of left. Order 3 left x 2, Order 4 left, Coordinated Attack, Order 3 units center. I expect Dave will catch up in some banners this turn due to my overextension.




I order 4 center to try to get some elephant ‘love’ for Masinissa (traitorous wretch!), and…well, let Steve tell the tale…

Elephants all over the place, led by Hasrubal. Fortunately, elephants aren’t helped by leaders and Dave’s attack was not particularly effective, so my BB killed the 8th banner by eliminating a 1 strength elephant.
A couple of instances where I was overextended and could have paid a steep price for them. A tendency I have is once I get a lead, I take a few chances realizing that I can afford to trade banners. I think had Dave used the Double Time more effectively and perhaps withdrew some of his damaged units, this could have been a different outcome.
I felt like Dave’s use of ranged attacks early on was effective. The two pivotal events to me were his elephants hitting my main line and not achieving a breakthrough, and his Double Time Warriors attacking my left supported line without leader help. There was a fair bit of uncommitted Carthage combat power at the end that could possibly have gotten into the fight. Newer players (and older ones for that matter!) do tend to be overly aggressive with the game sometimes, leaving themselves vulnerable to counter jabs. This often is coupled with powerful units that are not committed to the fight, preventing the axiom of ‘get there first with the most men’ from happening. I liken this game to two blind boxers punching at each other’s faces. The tendency is to try and take the punch and deliver one back yourself. Often the best tactic is to fall back and strengthen your line as you build a hand that will enable you to deliver more than one punch back.
Thanks to Dave for agreeing to use his demonstrated great skills of session reports and turning this into something like the old ‘Series Replay’ . Hope you enjoyed it!




I thank Steve for the lesson, and even more for not bugging me too badly on when I’d get this Session Report out. I certainly appreciated Steve taking an extra 30 minutes or so to tutor me on some tactics, and hope to get another shot at him. Maybe this time with some Greeks and Persians, as I’m almost done with the base set scenarios.

Rating: Zama is the last scenario of the base set, and it’s a big one. Lots of units to play with, and the armies are well matched in terms of Commands. I’d give Zama a 9/10, as a knock-down, drag-out donnybrook.
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Miguel (working on TENNISmind...)
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Great "collective" report, Dave and Steve!

I had not seen one like this before, it adds a lot reading what each of you separately thought at each step. Dave, you are going to learn much faster with opponents like this!

I'm playing Zama on Monday against my brother, with Carthage (I always take the "upper" side), so I'll try to score better than Dave... The few times I've played it already, I try to reorganize my center first before contact (if the Roman allows), both screening the elephants and keeping them for a critical moment AND taking the HI to the front line.

And two things that caught my attention over the rest, Dave: be careful when screening elephants with lights that the elephants don't block the lights' evade path (specially when the MI/HI approach...), and never leave a LC unsupported and within fire range!
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The other Euro guy
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Agreed - great job. Really interesting to read an account of the same game from two different perspectives. There should be more of this!

I'd be happy to contribute.
 
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BrentS
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Great idea, guys, and well done.

At one time I'd toyed with doing a similar thing "live to air" with Skype and IshowU video capture software I've used for strategy demos for other games but the logistics of giving both players the opportunity to discuss strategy to screen secretly with only one hand on view from the primary player's log meant it wasn't really feasible. This sort of report OTOH works really well.

I'm a CCA and Vassal junkie and love throwing my opinions around so please feel free to call on me for a session or two.

Brent.
 
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Miguel (working on TENNISmind...)
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franchi wrote:
I'm playing Zama on Monday against my brother, with Carthage (I always take the "upper" side), so I'll try to score better than Dave...
Well, I lost 8-2...

Not easy in front of an aggressive Roman! He started with Order Lights, scoring a hit AND a flag on my elephants, with rampage taking a block from ANOTHER elephant and the two Aux blocking the retreat behind. Plus two Line Commands!

So I had very little time to reorganize my (weakened) line and sent the elephants, that took two MI down to 1 block but all died: 3-0. Then he exposed one LC on his right, and I took the bet to cut its retreat and finish it with my two LCs... but I missed and both were cut and killed! 5-0.

Then I had advanced the Warriors on my right, and being so pressed I charged the two Aux before ordering my line more optimally. I killed both but the Warriors were too exposed and were surrounded by MCs and killed by the MI/HI: 7-2.

Now my center was ready, with MI/HI plus two leaders ready to hit the Roman weakened center (yes, my elephants had gone through...), but too late, at 7-2 he could afford trading banners: 8-2. I hope next time the Roman in front will give me a little more time to prepare!
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BrentS
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franchi wrote:
franchi wrote:
I'm playing Zama on Monday against my brother, with Carthage (I always take the "upper" side), so I'll try to score better than Dave...
Well, I lost 8-2... :(

Not easy in front of an aggressive Roman! He started with Order Lights, scoring a hit AND a flag on my elephants, with rampage taking a block from ANOTHER elephant and the two Aux blocking the retreat behind. Plus two Line Commands!





One of the things I love about CCA is that the variability of card draw means there are almost no scripted moves. OTOH Zama is one of the few scenarios where the opening moves are pretty much scripted, barring unusual hands. Any Roman commander with even half the tactical marbles of S. Africanus wants to get as many shooters as possible targeting the retreat blocked elephants, hoping for a rampage/trample (Order Lights or MFM being the best starters here).....and the Carthaginian's first turn priority is to get his elephants screened ASAP or, at the very least, open up their retreat paths.

I wouldn't want to see this type of set move opening for every scenario but it does add a little bit of early excitement and desperation here (particularly for the Carthaginians), which is a fun change.

Brent.

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