Last weekend was the ALDG tournament at Hotlead, you can see my previous post about that in general. It was a great tournament run by Tod and I really enjoyed it. Everyone I played/interacted with was great. I thought I would do a quick write up of the background of my list and the games played etc for this blog. The number of photo’s for games is limited (yes, I kept forgetting to take them), and these reports are from my memory but I hope they are at least a little entertaining for you.
List preparation and tactics/practice game feedback
I decided to take Seleucids to the competition. I have been trying various lists and played some practice games with them. I was tempted at the last minute to go with a basic German tribe – just deploy and charge forward like a mad thing, but in the end decided not too. They are fun for a simple evening game but just a little too deployment and dice dependent for a 3 game tournament. So the Seleucids it was, at least I would have something more to blame than the dice no matter what the end results.
In my practice games I have been trying different lists, trying to get some of the more interesting elements of the army onto the table. Seleucids have options for using scythed chariots, elephants and cataphracts all of which are different. They have a little of everything but there is not many of anything in bulk. The most you can have is Pikes and all of the ‘good things’ in the list are expensive. The Seleucids do not have a lot of filler which can add bulk out the army either. That means they tend to be small but powerful. Getting to a decent break point of units while still having a good fighting frontage of troops was a challenge with this list. I even had tried lists with included generals (to save points) but that in the end seemed counter-productive. Being able to rally important units and choose when the commander gets into combat is really important with an army with few powerful units.
Elephants originally had been the main target for me to include, as I had never really used them before. I tried them out in some test games. The problem was, no matter what I did I could not seem to get a good list that worked on the table with them. Scythed chariots on the other had are cheap but also don’t add to the size of the army. As that was another problem I struggled with they did not help. Scythed chariots give an even roll off die to give a hit on pretty much any opponent, but that was something I decided to pass on.
So, I had moved to a lists using cataphracts. Not too many as they are expensive as well. I had one command where there were a couple of those supported by as much light horse as allowed (4 bases) and a single cavalry base. I had tried a strong cavalry arm in sample games, but that had rarely worked in those games. The cavalry are was not enough to guarantee the win and a few bad combat die rolls/match up with opponents caused all kinds of issues. So in a change of tactic, the mobile arm would be in the roll of trying to the hold a flank/take advantage where they could. If they could turn a flank great, if not then use the Cats to help the infantry in the center or at least not have them flanked.
The core of the list is pikes and always was my central command. I expected and did always put this command down in the middle of my deployment. They are great going forward but have issues being flanked or even turning once the battle starts for real. I had 4 units of Pike for command, one of them being elite. To help I added a base of impetuous heavy foot. I found I could put that to the rear of the last Pike in the battle line. It could not ‘burst through’ the pike impetuously, only go around the side. So this gave me some limits for their wild charge. That wild charge could help secure that flank when the Pikes were engaged to their front and I did not have enough command to do anything else.
The last command was a brilliant commander and included 4 bases of medium foot, 2 bases of pike, an elite cataphract and a small collection of light foot. The cataphract(cat for short) and the pike were to support the central pike command/fight what was in front. The rest were my terrain troops – to help take and hold terrain or at least threaten in those areas. This would be on one side of my deployment (where there was terrain) and the cavalry would be deployed on the more open side.
So onto the games:
Game 1 vs. Ptolemeic
So another Successor army – this one with a good amount of mediocre pikes. I was defending and the terrain fell with the majority on the flanks and my base edge. The deployment was not great as my cavalry flank was facing a mass of medium foot with some pikes added for strength, while my medium foot were facing impact horse and light horse…
The center was a typical ‘we all march forward and fight’ so my pikes did that took on the mass of the mediocre opponents. I was outnumbered but the odds were about even and thats how it turned out. Both sides would some wins in the combats but that took multiple turns – allowing the game to be decided on the flanks.
On the right this was an issue. My medium foot tried to make for the fields on the flank and failed. A couple were bases of my medium swordsmen were ridden down by the Ptolemaic lancers in that process. The Ptolemaic lancers then went after my light foot which had evaded an earlier charge. This did split up the lancers though and gave my Pikes and Cataphracts time though to engage some of them. My pikes continued to advance even after the lancers disengaged from combat, and although it took time slowly I started to kill some of lancers. The Ptolemaic light had been left behind due to lack of command pips and the lancers and included general had charged onwards. I was losing on this side (in bases lost) but at least had caused some damage.
On my left flank my cavalry command tried to hold up the medium foot coming through a plantation. After a little light horse shooting which caused some disruption I had to commit to holding the infantry charge with my one base of Cavalry and the light horse. Otherwise, this flank would be swept away. This worked out better than I expected and although I lost some bases the light horse held up, doing about equal damage to their opponents.
Meanwhile, the two cataphracts in that command attacked the foot to their front. One died after severely damaging it’s opposing pike block, but the other routed it’s opponent. So the cats were powerful and it was about even on this side.
In the center holes were being created and the game came down to who had the pip’s to turn their unmanuverable units into the flanks of opponents. Both sides having pike blocks and my cataphracts, which all take multiple pips to flank attack opponents and our generals were often engaged in melee. I was lucky and got my remaining cat’s into the flank of an already damaged opposing pike block with the opposing General in. That fight was key as I eventually won that, killing the pike block and the opposing general as well!
The game had been brutal for both armies and in the end neither flank had been won with a clean margin of kills. So, we knew both armies were close to breaking (his on 25 mine on 24) on checking the next round we found that both armies had broken. Killing that General was key for me getting the extra damage to scrape the mutual destruction. A lucky draw for this one to be honest. It could have been a close loss with a different dice result or two. Neither flank had not worked out well for me, but then again the matchups were not great and my troops had done enough damage to keep me in the game.
This was not a great tactical game but more a a scramble and slog to get the kills where I could, I should have done other stuff with my medium foot vs. try (and fail) to get them in the fields. But then again I still am not sure what else they could have done other than be the obvious target for the lancers.
Game 2 vs. Ptolemeic (again)
So the second game was against the other Ptolemeic army in the competition. I defended again and this time with more terrain on my left which also was more into the table, I put the medium foot on that side, letting my cavalry face off against his cavalry on the right.
On the left I have the advantage in light foot numbers and I had a hill to sit my medium foot on. I quickly won that light foot battle and held the flanking terrain as the Ptolemaic foot and elephant moved up. In the end the elephant fell to the mass of those light troops. This gave me the advantage on this side of the table.
In the center the blocks of pike moved close and engaged. This again become a multiple turn combat ‘pit’ but my dice were hot in this game and generally my troops did well. This was helped by me having more numbers of pikemen. The Ptolemeic medium foot did ok, but did not have the staying power of pikes. My impetuous heavy foot came into their own as well here, moving out from behind the pike block to engage the opposing forces with ease.
I was aggressive on the cavalry side of things with my light horse, as I had an advantage of numbers. There were a lot more cavalry bases though on the Ptolemeic side. I moved up my light horse and took shots but the fled when attacked. In this way I was able to try to draw the lancers towards my pike and cats. This was to reduce their ability to move around my flank. It worked and soon I had a couple of those in favorable fights for me. Again my die worked well in this game and after a couple of turns the Ptolemeic lancer threat was muted. Just as I had found in my test games a strongish cavalry command which gets unlucky can be picked apart – which is what happened to them here.
Things were looking good, so I took a risk and have the medium foot charge down and attack the Ptolemeic pikes at the bottom of the hill. My fear has been they could turn and hit the flank of my now starting to win central pike blocks. This did not go so well for my medium foot – no shock really as it was the reverse of what had happened to the Ptolemeic central medium foot, but it did give time for my pikes to win in the center.
That was the key, as the Ptolemeic army had taking losses all across the field but especially in the center and it broke. I was lucky that I had lost just a few units in this so it was a good win for me. I believe this Ptolemeic list suffered some of the issues I had with list building. These successor lists are not easy to come up with a great list and it’s too easy to have a little of everything but not enough to be good at anything. That is the challenge for my level of play as well.
Game 3 vs. Classical Indian
So the 3rd game was against Indians and thus a load of elephants. I believe there were 5 in their list. I was attacking this time into forest. Most of the terrain fell on my opponents side and none of it got moved around. So he had a forest to anchor one flank but I think the terrain setup was not what he was after at all. It worked for me though as I had all of my terrain troops over that side and quickly moved up to threaten that area. While doing this I held all my force back on this flanks so after clearing out the Indian light troops I had a medium infantry ready to hit the flank of the main Indian line as it moved forward.
While that was happening my central command moved confidently forward – I was not too worried about pikes vs. elephants and medium foot/archers. My main concern was to avoid the having a cataphract vs. elephant fight as that was really not in my favor. That meant I held back my 1 cataphract base on this side behind the front line as they advanced.
On the right side of the table my mounted command saw there were only a couple of mounted Indian stands. So, I went to town trying to get around this flank. I was still cautious, (there was a lot of archers which could spoil my day quickly) but soon had a good matchups on the medium cavalry. I had kept the cataphracts out of bow range as much as I could but they did start to take shots. Meanwhile the Indians were redeploying their foot to face this flank as well.
Soon the center with my pike blocks were fighting the elephants and their support. I managed to get the pikes into elephants while the cataphract base in the center continued to hold back. On the left my control of the forest flank had slowed the Indians. The fear of that open flank if they charged forward had stopped the last elephant and its support in its tracks. This was the one facing my medium swordsmen and I was happy not to force a move. This was I believe my weakest area and so them not risking anything meant that I did not have to either.
On the right the Seleucid cataphracts had engaged a couple of mixed swordsmen/bowmen units. This soon became came a swirling mess drawing in other units. First, the remaining Indian light horse hit a cataphract in the back. Then my light horse hit that and soon killed it. But additional supporting Indian mixed swordsmen/bowmen also got engaged and then were then hit in the flank by more of my light horse. My general was with my only unit of cavalry not engaged. It and had fled a charge from an Indian elephant. A couple of turns later that elephant did get into the fight, but that was after the cataphracts had killed the first units they were fighting. So things were going ok on that flank.
In the end the Indian general could see the writing on the wall, as the central pikes were slowing doing their stuff. Even the central cataphract had been committed vs a unit of bowmen. So he threw forward the last elephant and support at my medium foot on the left. They did ok in the end, as I had thought but it was too late. I did not even need the next turn to bring in the flank charge of my waiting medium swordsmen. The pike blocks had continued to push through the center and big holes had opened up. The shock of the elephants had not been enough vs the massed pikes. The pikes had ground a victory in the center with help from the right flank. Speaking of that side, the swirling mass around cataphracts continued, and the cats survived even when fighting vs. elephants long enough to give me the victory.
So a good victory for me in this one. The terrain really did not help the Indians in this battle. I think they were hoping for the woods to break up my battle line. As it fell in the end it really helped not hindered me. Having the cavalry advantage to come around the flank, added to the strength and durability of the cataphracts also helped. I doubt I would have had the same success if using normal shock cavalry. This enabled me to take on the Indian foot in a sustained fight even with the elephants around.
So in the end I came second in the competition! Two wins and draw is a result I am VERY happy with. I also hope you enjoyed the read and the background. A large amount of luck was involved in the wins but isn’t that always the case. Still it was a fun set of games and my opponents were all great and played well.
So if anyone has doubts about trying ADLG tournament’s I would say have a go – they are fun and friendly events. I hear next years Hotlead ADLG tournament will be crusades themed…Time for me to start looking at the lead pile.
All sounds good, Mark, and a very good result for you! 🙂 I can imagine you must be pleased that your army choice performed so well!
Well done on a very creditable second place. I always love to read a tournament report.