As mentioned in another post, the worst enemy of us the wargamers are not our fellow opponents; and although if you play solo most of the time (like yours truly), the main enemy is no other than time: 'so many games to play, so few time available'...therefore on Saturday 4/6/13 taking the chance that real power at my household (my daughter) was at a friend's house for a birthday party and my wife went shopping with my in-laws, the moment was good for a case study.
It was a battle I wanted to try for a while: the Mauryan Hindu army from GMT GBoH Chandragupta (and led by Chandra himself) facing the Roman army from CoG Battle of the Rhine (its leader needs no introduction, being no other than Julius Cesar). The map sheet was the one for the Battle of Gandahara...this time I broke up with my laziness and posted some pics in the gallery under the title 'A PITCHED BATTLE 4/6/13'. The battle took place using the Men Of Iron/Infidel rules and was played solo.
Before jumping into the AAR, just note the original Battle of Rhine scenario specified 9 units per Roman Legion; however as to keep odds even I added the missing unit to each one of the 6 legions involved.
Now the AAR:
Both armies deployed according to its respective scenarios; in the case of the Romans the original setup is a little 'open' but I followed the general idea, deploying the legions in 4-3-3 formations, cavalry in front of the legions, catapults adjacent to any of the units within the legion and the Aquilae in the back; Julius Cesar was at the back of the Roman center. The Mauryan Hindu deployed according to Gandahara.
The strategy for the Romans was simple: contain the Hindu onslaught and then counter attack; for the Mauryan Hindu the opposite: with their elephants at both flanks and to a minor degree the chariots at the center, roll over the Romans; no finesse, just brute force ahead!
The Romans moved first; their Cretans and Numidians SK (skirmishers) attacked and forced both Indian tribal contingents (Sibis and Pottala) to flee the battle field.
Next, the Mauryan Hindu LC and LN cavalry contingents moved towards the center; their objective was to remove both the SK and Roman cavalry from there, thus clearing the area for the incoming chariot attack. An interesting cavalry duel took place in the center, at the end of which the Hindu had the best part of it, eliminating 3 Roman cavalry units while retiring another 4. Two SK got retired and the rest dispersed by the Mauryan Hindu cavalry, since these units are capable of flank attack the chariots. Two Hindu LN got lost as well, plus one retired; for the Hindu cavalry, mission accomplished.
At this moment, the first line of legionnaires in all 6 legions moved one hex forward, getting ready to perform the Pass Through Avoidance maneuver (PTA), on which I'll elaborate later; it was due to the fact that the chariots at the center and Heavy Cataphracted Elephants (HC) at the flanks started moving on; the Romans knew what is was approaching.
Moments later, the Mauryan Hindu chariots and heavy chariots attacked head on against the Roman center; the PTA came into effect and as consequence, several chariots got disorganized (see the pics), while other eliminated. The attack was violent since one Roman legionnaire got lost and two more retired; the chariots line was followed by Hindu light infantry(LI), its dreaded archers conducting fire against targets of opportunity but without causing major damage.
In both flanks the HC attacked frontally and again the PTA maneuver contributed to make to cause some lost of cohesiveness in the attacking elephants; two Roman units (one in each flank) got lost and some others retired, the impact being obviously higher than that of the chariots at the center.
The Romans took the initiative and those second and third lines of legionnaires started to work: moving the disorganized units to the rearguard (the ones which faced the brunt of the Hindu attack) while advancing fresh ones to the front, the Romans capitalized in the lost of cohesion and command the PTA caused on the attackers, and Hindu casualties (specially the all mighty elephants) were mounting up by the moment. To this we add the excellent leadership from Julius Cesar, whom was able to seize the initiative from his Hindu counterpart Chandragupta several times and the resilience of the legionnaires, and things started to look bad for Chandra and his people; last but not least, the Roman catapults had a role here (more on this later).
The Hindu leader tried to launch his LC/LN contingent again, but elements of the Roman Cavalry fell upon them thus forcing them to retreat. Meanwhile at the center the chariots got pulverized and the Romans came to grips with the Hindu LI and despite the later tenacity and their missile intensive kind of warfare, they were no match for the feared legionnaires.
At the Roman left/Hindu right the HC contingent was simply wiped out, while at the other flank (Roman right/Hindu left) the elephants were a little more successful but still, their attack failed. In some part, a reason for this failure at Roman left/Hindu right was that some of the HC had to circumvent the position of the Hindu cavalry, so it disrupted the charge as not all elephants were ready to attack at once. Chandra started moving up forward all the remaining LI while at Roman left/Hindu right the second line of elephants (regular non cataphracted elephants EL) went on to the move as well.
Resisting a natural instinct to go into the offensive Julius Cesar ordered his troops to keep their positions; at the Roman left/Hindu right the EL contingent charged, but the PTA came once more into effect, although this time the Roman lines were not as neatly organized; even so the attack failed as well, since these pachyderms do not have the same punch like their HC brothers in arms have.
After being obvious the second enemy charge at their left failed, Julius Cesar ordered his legions at left and center (legions XII, XI, X and IX) to move forward against the Hindu right and center; with this maneuver, he also wanted to release the pressure against legions XIII and XII at the Roman right, so although the Hindu attack there was a little more successful it was also in the verge of being repulsed, and their second line of EL there could get on the move at any moment.
However, the elements of the Hindu EL at the Hindu left/Roman right remained uncommitted, and Chandra perceived this Roman advance against his center and right as an attempt to outflank his position; well, using a common term from boxing lingo, he 'threw the towel'... Battle was over, the Hindu had catastrophic casualties with a total Flight Level of 189(including 7 retired units), while the Romans had 57 FL(6 retired units included). For Gandahara scenario the Mauryan Hindu FL is 155, but as to level things up I gave them 25 extra FL for a total of 180.
First of all, I have mentioned in some other posts that in my case studies the idea is to confront different armies for the ancient world and sometimes from different epochs, not with the idea to seek a winner and a looser (I play solo after all), but as to compare, evaluate and review the interaction of different tactics, battle formations and weapon systems in the battle field. The commonality of rules between Men Of Iron/Infidel and GBoH plus a little tweaking, allows to do so.
With this particular battle I feel there is ample material to review, and here I'll appreciate your comments whether you agree or not, since the whole point is to enhance our beautiful hobby:
1-PTA: When properly executed, this maneuver allows the first line of attackers (being Elephants or Chariots) to get sandwiched between two lines of defenders; and if the defenders are able to keep the first line (the one 'behind' the attackers) in command, the result is an envelopment and certain destruction for these attackers, as happened at Roman left/Hindu right. This maneuver is not applied against charging cavalry of any kind, and seems curious during our battle the two legions at the Roman left were the recruits, and those performed the PTA remarkably well. The Mauryan Hindu knew about the PTA, but they thought with the brute force of their HC and EL would be enough, but it was not.
2-Roman catapults: Since the clash of cavalry at the Roman center, the catapults were opening fire at extreme range but it was mostly ineffective; but once the chariots and HC/EL charged forward against the legions, I had the idea those catapult projectiles were being aimed with laser designators (not true please!!! only a joke). At closer range, the effect of these catapults was devastating: I did not keep any record track but those were responsible for the elimination of at least 5 El/HC and 1 chariot; keep in mind EL/HC do not retire but instead go into rampage, and more often than not get eliminated anyway. And comparing with previous battles where Romans took part, I feel the catapult is superior to the Roman ballista and scorpio since it fires in an high trajectory (like a howitzer) instead of a flat trajectory; and the catapult has more the 'area effect' kind of fire as compared with the more accurate fire effect of the ballista/scorpio. The idea about the catapult is akin to the artillery in modern warfare, a supporting weapon for the infantry; but in this battle is came to be lethal due to enemy proximity.
3-Command styles: The Mauryan Hindu formations are a single broad line which (at least from experience on this and some other battles) could be hard to command and control once in contact with the enemy, unless such an enemy follows the same type of formation. By contrast the Roman formation in three lines provides for a depth and some resilience, evident by the fact that Romans were able to move into rearguard their disorganized units and put fresh ones to the front, a rotation which the Hindu with their single line formation were unable to contest.
4-Julius Cesar: to have JC in the Roman side made a huge difference in this battle; Chandra is a good leader but JC with its Charisma feature was able to seize initiative almost continuously. At some point, the Mauryan command hierarchy looked broken as a consequence, while the Roman leadership showed up to be more compact for command purposes.
5-Light Cavalry: in this battle the Hindu had an initial advantage with their LC/LN but after defeating the Roman cavalry, were unable to maximize it; the Hindu LC/LN moved to the flank as to allow the chariots to charge, when it should have been more interesting if they attacked the Roman left and harassed the XII legion prior to the HC charge; the reason why it was not done was due to the risk of being cut off from the rest of their army, but such a cut off had forced the Roman XII to show up their right flank against the incoming HC charge, thus no PTA could have occurred there.
6-HC/EL and Chariots: I compared the pachyderms with the MBT of modern warfare; due to initial deployment the HC/EL attacked by themselves, but I feel when escorted by infantry their survival chances are enhanced. Their punch (specially the HC) is huge and properly employed are a lethal weapon, capable of both missile fire and charge in the same impulse. This is reason why JC declined to let his troops go into offensive: in open ground the infantry is minced meat against an elephant charge; but in a tight, defensive formation (specially when the PTA is executed) the results are different. About chariots am not truly convinced in their value; IMHO they are like a modern LAW (light antitank weapon), a single shot weapon system. Their charges are lethal but their maneuver capacity and tendency to go out of command quickly are serious handicaps.
My friends, sorry for this long AAR if it is too verbose, but it was done with all the intention to share and comment about our hobby the wargaming.
- Last edited Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:22 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:32 pm
Daniel Axe / "daxelos"
Do you have file or something that explains how you use the Men of Iron rules for the GBOH series?
If you do have one, I would be most interested to have a look at it. Or maybe you could post it at BGG?
Anyway keep up the interesting experiments! Even though I seldom take the time to read whole AARs (generally). it is nice to know what you are working at. Shows what is possible with some interest and dedication.