Elephantomachia (SoA Championship Games).

3 May, 2010

Last Saturday I got down to Christchurch and got to see The Wargames Room that I’d read reports from without realizing it was also a physical location. Keith had organized for two other Society of Ancients members to come over to fight some battles as part of the SoA Championship. We each got to play each other once, making for three games each. Keith has already described them on his website, but I’ll add an account of my three battles.

I’d brought my Carthaginians down, complete with their freshly painted elephants and full of confidence. My first battle was against Brian, who also had a new army, Lydians (I/50). I thought this would be a walk in the park for me, as my elephants and warbands would have the edge over his spear, and my elephants would be the bane of his knights, who would also not find my psiloi-supported spear an easy target (I had 1x3Cv (cmd), 2xEl, 1x2LH, 3x4Sp, 2x3Wb, 1x3Ax and 2x2Ps). I was the attacker and I got to have Brian fight with a wood in the centre of his line. He had his spear on one side and his cavalry on the other side of the woods with a psiloi in the woods and two behind the spear. I deployed with my spear on the left, facing his cavalry, and my cavalry and warband up against his spear. Brian decided not to advance the spear and to retire his knights behind the woods, leaving just the light horse on that flank. By the time I got my elephants across to his spear, the knight were behind them and the general was on the flank, facing my Numidians. My spear were fairly ineffectually shielding the two 2LH. This meant that on the flank that saw the main action I had half of my army facing most of Brian’s, not a sensible proposition. Anyway, I hoped that the QK of the Gauls and elephants would carry me to victory. I had some success; the psiloi that met his in the woods routed it and the Gauls charged to victory against an element of spear, but the elephants, flanking my general, were both repulsed. I now had a very ragged battle line that would need a lot of PIPs to sort out. My Gauls, overlapped on both sides by their pursuit, were ridden down by knights. I then got few PIPs to rearrange my battleline. I’m a bit hazy about how it all played out in the end, but I know his general destroyed the overlapped Numidians and I think I lost my psiloi, who lacked elan, rolling a 1! So I lost my first victory largely due to overconfidence.

In my next battle I faced Keith, who chose to field Numidians to give me a historical opponent. He took 6x2LH (1=cmd), 5x3Ax and 1x2Ps (I think—there was no elephant and only 1 2Ps). I took 2x3Cv (1=cmd), 1xEl, 1x2LH, 3x4Sp, 1x3Wb, 1x3Ax and 3x2Ps). Keith was the defender and chose a battlefield with a wood that was between us on the right flank and a steep hill on my side on the left flank. The other terrain proved irrelevant. Keith had a pair of 2LH on each flank and a group of 3Ax on a hill to his rear. He got a pair of 3Ax into the wood on my right flank. I deployed with the 3Ax and the 3Wb on the hill and a 3Cv on the left flank next to the 3Wb. My spear and elephant were deployed in the centre with the general in reserve, and I had a pair of 2Ps on the right flank; against 2LH they were had equal odds, though they were slower.

As the battle unfolded, Keith sent a pair of 2LH around each flank. I tried to head off those on the right flank by sending my psiloi towards the woods, but they were met by the 3Ax and outclassed. On the left flank Keith didn’t have the PIPs to advance (the other flank kept him busy, especially with command and control issues), so I brought my cavalry round to support the centre (though it never actually got into combat); meanwhile my general went LH hunting and had some success (he was supported by my 2LH, I think). However, one of these proved very resilient and delayed any progress on that flank. I advanced my centre by wheeling on the 3Ax that stayed on the end of the hill. This didn’t achieve much beyond encouraging Keith to attack the elephant with his general. This was a risky manoeuvre, but luck was with him and he got that QK before I could overlap the general with a psiloi. By the time my 3Cv was in a position to help it was too late, and his general had killed another psiloi, making my losses an elephant and three psiloi.

The last battle was for the wooden spoon, as Andrew had not had any success either. He chose to be Pyrrhus, again giving me a historical opponent. He took the early army (1x3Kn (cmd), 1x3Cv, 6x4Pk, 2x4Sp, 2x2Ps). I was the defender and decided on a waterway (as it looked so nice!). I then took a pair of small marshes and a small wood as the rest of the terrain. I had 2x3Cv (1=cmd), 1xEl, 1x2LH, 3x4Sp, 2x3Wb, 1x3Ax and 2x2Ps. I decided to risk a littoral landing, but a conservative one; I intended to land the two 3Wb, the 3Ax and a 2Ps next to a central marsh on the right flank. I got off to a shaky start with two 1s for PIPs and the littoral landing only just made it into the marsh before Pyrrhus and his knights arrived. I had an early success by killing a 2Ps that came into the marsh, but that was the end of my success. Andrew attacked my Wb with his Sp and destroyed one (who had his front out of the BGo—oops!) when the dice failed me. He then boldly went into the BGo after the other one and repeated the exercise at much more chancy odds. And before I could really react with the rest of my army my ‘conservative’ littoral landing was destroyed by decisive and daring work by Andrew’s hoplites, supported by Pyrrhus himself. It was a comprehensive defeat (not in the least Pyrrhic!), and one I simply would not have anticipated. Andrew had a certain amount of luck, but he deserved the victory with his unhesitating reaction to the littoral landing. I didn’t have time to reinforce these troops, who were not much over halfway down the field.

  • Review

It was a great evening. I enjoyed all the games, despite finishing last. I can see I’ve still got some learning around how to use the Carthaginians, particularly how to use those elephants, who did nothing of note in any of the games. Perhaps they could be used for trampling the unsuccessful generals (a variant on the more traditional crucifixion)!

With hindsight in the first battle I should have taken the time to get my spear where it could face Brian’s spear and then I would have had the odds and the favourable match-ups to win (his spear still had superior odds to my elephants, although vulnerable to QKs. As he was static, this needn’t have been too hard. Against Keith the biggest change I would have made would have been to put the 3Cv next to the general in the centre; then I could have intervened more decisively on the right flank. Against Andrew, I think the littoral landing was not so risky, but I should have had some cavalry ready to support it on that flank; the 2LH would have been the obvious choice.

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4 Responses to “Elephantomachia (SoA Championship Games).”

  1. TWR Says:

    Great description of the games as always. I had a laugh regarding The Wargames Room’s actual physical existance.

    • Mark Davies Says:

      Thanks, it was the way you started your post that made me think that the room we played in was *The* Wargames Room. It was a great venue, and you’ve got me thinking I should improve my terrain, especially after seeing that waterway.

  2. Craig C Says:

    A great read Mark.

    I’m starting to use Carthaginians so find your various combos you tried very interesting and have given me some ideas to test out.

    Maybe those elephants need a pep talk! I look forward to reading of a victory for them soon!

    Craig

    • Mark Davies Says:

      Thanks, Craig; after such an opening run of defeats I need to remind myself that I chose the Carthaginians for their history, not because they’re a super army (though I’m sure they’ve got potential when I finally get them figured out!).


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