Game 4 – Ghaznavid – John and Malcolm
So, game 4 , Sunday afternoon. With 2 loses now we were right down the pack. When the draw was put up , and we had drawn Ghaznavid, I had mixed emotions. An army of Ghilmen and Turkomen wouldn’t be much fun. But my thinking was if that’s the army they wanted why pick Ghaznavid when there are probably better armies out there for that style of play. The main difference I could see was the amount of elephants available. I wasn’t disappointed. There were 8 beasts in total
The list (~)was
- 3 BG of elephants
- 3 BG of Ghilmen (arm/sup/bow/sw)
- 4 BG of Turcomen (sup/bow/sw)
- 1 BG of Ghazis (prot/sup/if/sw)
- 1 BG of Dailami (arm/sup/if/sw)
- 1 BG of LF with a firearm
The terrain was mixed. On our left flank was a couple of contiguous field giving a 8” corridor of RGo against the short table edge. In the centre was a large open field. My suspicions were raised when they had won the PBI but picked agricultural and have a big open field as their compulsory. Not the move of a cavalry commander. ON the right were more fields, but nothing that bore and impact on the game
Our plan was to deploy neutrally. Spear up front , Knights on reserve. Our trump card of deploying our 16 bases of Crossbowmen opposite the open field as our last move was somewhat trumped by the placement of a further 2 BG of Elephants and Dailami opposing them (the field would not pose a problem for the elephants and the impact foot would surely sweep us away).
The Ghaznavids had deployed (from left to right) the ghazis to go through the enclosed field. A string of Ghilmen covering the gap in-between. Elephants deployed somewhat in reserve, to exploit any gaps. Then 2 more elephants and Dailami and then a cloud of Turkomen to cover the open right flank.
The game started slowely. At least having the first move allowed us to deploy the Crossbowmen who were in a vulnerable spot. One BG turned and marched left, the other right. The gap between replaced by 2 BG of spear, who were deployed to the rear. This somewhat limited our strategic advance , as the spear couldn’t really enter the field, but would act as a barrier on the far side. To be honest the Dailami might fancy their chances anyway.
In response the Ghaznavids made a general advance. The Ghazis entered the enclosed field. We had placed the 2 BG of LF(4) bow there and really that was their game. They advanced we shot and evaded. But were enough of a nuisance for the ghazis not to ignore us , and therefore they played little part in the game.
The Ghilmen advanced and started shooting the spears. But the spears are pretty robust to shooting and not much happened. The Dailami & Elephants advanced into the open field, and on far right the Turkomen rushed forward , we had 2 BG of Knights and now 1 BG of Crossbowmen to hold them all off (not great). However, fortune favoured them , and 8 bases of Crossbow can shoot with as many dice as 12 bases of Lh when they dice to close to short range to try and win the shooting war. All of the Ghaznavid generals were marshalling elephants elsewhere and a couple of bad dice throws and the LH became disrupted, and then fragmented, as they pulled bad to get away some more targeted long range shooting broke one units and the Knights provided sterling support (not failing any impetuous charge tests). With that the Turks fell back and it was the Crusaders who would have the opportunity to envelop.
But the main event was in the centre. We had 2 blocks (of 2 BGs) of spear one in advance on the left. The other was limited by the field in front of it. It had fallen into a bit of a sticky situation. It was being shot at by the Ghilmen (superior), and now the fire syphoniers (cheeky). Our advance was limited as there were other troops , including the elephants, threatening the flanks. So we were being peppered with a lot of arrows and now taking a minus on the test (being shot at by firearms), we had to do something.
To the left of the , while the Ghazis pushed on to their road to nowhere, gaps where appearing and the Elephants were trying to wheedle their way through. We has some KN in reserve (no ideal), but we tried to intercept with some spearmen. Then we had a breakthrough. One BG of Elephants did start of get through the gap, so we did have to commit some Knight. But the elephants were isolated, with a general. Our Knights did have a general and with the elephants angle of approach meant that the initial impact would be small , only 1 base,(thus avoiding too much of 3 dice per elephant at impact). We held in the impact. Then we swung around and started to overlap. The elephant then could only ever get 4 dice (at a +POA), and the Knight (even disordered had 4 dice , then finally 6 as both flanks were overlapped), while at a minus POA re-rolling 1&2s meant that the fight was pretty even. At the same time the left most spear BG charges some Ghilmen, just to get them away, but in the charge threw a 6” , not catching the cavalry but allowing a little wheel an contact the other BG of elephants at the furthest distance. Again only a small contact reduced the Elephant impact effect and even though we disrupted in the impact, we held and then the numbers would tell. We had 8 bases and with the overlaps we could muster 6 dice (and then 8 when bolstered). While both sides were average, and level on POA , we were throwing more dice.
The Elephants proved to be the proverbial glass hammer, and within a couple of turns both had lost a base, and broke. This crashed them through a supporting BG of enemy MF who were acting as rear support and allowed the Crusader spearmen to convert the pursuit of elephants into charge into the disrupted auxiliary foot (who held briefly then broke). So on the far left we had troop swinging around. With both flanks collapsing the Ghazanvids pressed the centre. The cavalry got close and allowed the spear to charge, they evaded and fled around an elephant to its flanks, but the spear crashed into an elephant. This combat was swift and the elephant broke. The Crusaders pursuing toward the camp. By virtue of alignment and line ups as part of this combat the spears were behind the enemy lines and had cavalry to front rear and flank, so my hopes for them wasn’t high. Over the open field on the centre with the break of some of the supporting units crossbowmen advance, their target the last remaining BG of Elephants. The Elephants , given their compatriots less than stellar performance , thought better of it and tried to retire. This was leaving the Dailami somewhat isolated in the field ( we still tried to give then a wide berth as they are as tough as nails in the rough going)
The Ghaznavid army was rocking, it has lost about 8-10 points of its 14-15. Most of the elephants were gone, LH had retired to the four corners of the board trying to bolster. As a final last ditch attempt some Ghilmen stood to be charged by some spearmen , to allow the last elephants to charge them from the rear. Even though we lost the fight the doughty spearmen did not break (hurrah)
At that point the Ghaznavid losses elsewhere , accumulated to a point where they broke. Leaving the Crusaders with a final 24-1 win. This was an interesting game. Our opponents were definitely committed to win, I suppose picking 8 elephants makes that decision for you. A great battle to end the weekend off with.
The final win shot us up the board and we ended up with a respectable 8th place.
Not bad for an army that had never won previously. As a final post mortem, I think in the past my army composition had been a bit basic. You want big BG of foot, you want the Military Order knights (why else Crusader?) , but this always lead to small BG army count. Actually picking the Armenian ally was a breakthrough. In the past I had disregarded it as ‘nothing good’, and only ever really contemplated Bedouin allies to up the BG count, and give a bit of skirmishing potential. But the boost that the Armenians gave was access to the 4 bases BG of LF bow and MF JLS. Having 4 of these boosted the army size of 12-13 to a respectable 15. The Medium foot (with the change in v2 rules) meant they could support 2 BG of 8 Crusader foot (with resorting to silly columns). The general with his entourage of Armenian Knights was a hammer , so all of the allied troops had a role to play. Good choice, and I might use the Crusaders more often now!
We had 4 great games, against 4 great opponents, who have reinvigorate me to do more FoG ancients! Thanks to all whom we played 🙂