Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bagradas Plains Redux

After getting in one game of Simple GBoH yesterday, I decided to play the same scenario again to try to reinforce what I'd learned the day before. One problem with learning games solitaire is that you don't have someone else to help you notice when you're doing something wrong. Although I did pretty well in this regard, there were some other ideas I wanted to try out.

First off was how to deal with the Velites, who really don't have the ability to do a "hit and run" from any distance, although they are allowed to fire missiles (only, no movement) if they start two hexes away from their targets. So, instead of running the units right up to the elephants, this time I stopped them two spaces back to force the elephants to move first, and also to allow them to use reaction fire as the elephants advanced. While it might appear that the Velites are better off getting the moving unit drm during Shock, especially as opposed to the elephants getting it when they move, the bonuses actually wash out because of the weapons matrix giving a -3 for LI attacking EL vs +2 for EL attacking LI.

The thing that did screw me up a bit was that the elephants managed to break through the line to some extent on their move and do some damage to the Hastati formations, forcing the Romans to fight the elephants in their ranks rather than advancing on them. Of course, having the Velites completely whiff on their missile reactions (only two elephants routed) didn't help, although the elephants then whiffed to a large degree in shock. As a result, half of the Velites survived combat, which was a bit better than before. I'm still not sure how to do this. Of course, in most battles the elephants aren't right out in front (I think), so this may change as I try out different Roman scenarios.

Second was my attempts to try stacking the legions. My thinking was that I could bring more force to bear on the MI and PH infantry. By bringing up the HA/CO units in front in alternating hexes, with the PR/CO units of the third line right behind them, I could keep the HA units in place attacking, then bring up the PR units after. This worked to some extent, although there had been quite a bit of damage from the elephants and so my units were more beat up than I'd have liked. The other problem that I never anticipated was that my line quickly disintegrated as far as command went, so that the flanking units were soon out of command and unable to move more effectively. I guess this is historical, and it went both ways - half of the Phalanxes were out of command within an activation or two, and a third of the Celt MI.

Of course, the real problem for the Romans was failing their seizure rolls, only making 1 of 3, while the Carthaginians made all three they attempted. As such, the Phalanx and MI were the ones hitting the HA units, not the other way around. Those elephants really did quite a number on the Romans! Also, I learned again just how hard it is to do damage to a phalanx unless you have the ability to get an effective flanking attack in, which never really happened.

I did feel that I had a much better feel for dropping off CO alae units to watch my flanks, which were tied up with the cavalry never really getting past the initial clash stage anyway. If I ever try this game out ftf, I'll definitely want to push with the cavalry a bit more just to see if it makes a difference, but in this game I was too busy moving up the heavy infantry. I never did get the Carthaginian light infantry going, it just seemed that you got very little bang for your buck, and their main purpose was to prevent a premptive strike by the Roman Cavalry on the Carthaginian Heavys.

A brief synopsis: After the Velites and Elephants had their initial clashes and the Velites headed for the hills, the elephants did a little tapdance on the second line of the Romans, but only really enough to keep them busy. In the meantime, while the Romans were getting the pachyderms out of the way, the Carthaginian cavalry tried to rout out the Roman cavalry, but to no avail on either wing. The Romans reformed with stacked units, and the Carthaginian main line deployed into battle, taking advantage of a seized turn to charge the Roman line. The African phalanxes did very heavy damage, while the Celts had mixed success. The Romans responded by bringing up their Principes, who managed to break the command line (if not create any holes) in the line of phalanxes, as well as do some real damage to the Celts.

However, the problem with engaging the phalanxes is that your units can't really get away, and the Romans started routing on that flank. On the other side, the Celts were starting to give way, and had the Romans had another turn they probably could have created some real problems for the African phalanxes, but time ran out and the Romans were forced to withdraw. I think the game could have gone either way had Regulus had better luck trying to seize the turn, or Xanthippus failed (especially when he brought up the main line - that +1 can really make a difference). I'll definitely want to play this one when I manage to get Jesse up on the rules and playing. Hint.

I'm unlikely to get another game of this in short term, too many other things coming up this week. However, I'm definitely glad I took the time to figure the Simple rules out and I'm looking forward to a "real" game in the near future.

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