Phil Steele & Chris Ager with Early Libyan
( FoG:AM 900pts)
So, all bright an breezy Saturday morning I turned up to Burton town hall to find out how bad the first game would be. With 9 Graeco Bactrians and another fist full of Parthians it didn’t bode well. However, know how they do the draw at BADCON did. So, being 1250 BC think we were likely to get either an Early Mycenaean or an Early Libyan. After looking at the draw we had drawn Phil and Chris (of SOA fame) and the Early Libyan. Now, thinking back to DBM days this was a bit of a monster not necessarily with quality but there was a lot of it. After a cursory glance at the list in Swifter than Eagles it seems to have been less generously treated. The core of the warriors were AVG unprotected I/F , which as I see it have nothing going for them. Most foot is protected or better and being undrilled they are likely to go tearing off in directions you wouldn’t like! And at 6pts each they are not really that cheap! There is a option for MF bowmen (but under FoG these aren’t great). So, the remainder would be LF Bow or LF Javelin. Options for a dozen Light Chariots (Sup with a Bow) and a Sea Peoples Ally.
Our PBI is not great +1 and theirs was +2, so perhaps an IC with few Chariots or an FC with more chariots. It turned out to the be first of these ( probably rightly so, and IC is probably a required option for this army with so many undrilled types. We lost the roll off and they picked Desert as their terrain type. Having never fought in Desert reference to the rule book was called for. Soft sand was the compulsory terrain type (which in general is pretty nasty difficult going, unless you have camels – which neither of us did). The Libyans selected some more rough going types (a gully and brush), seeming to close the table down. From my point of view as our army was primarily MF too that didn’t really cause concern. We picked an impassable area (a nice Pyramid borrowed from Chris). As an aside perhaps there is some mileage in asking a player to provide all the terrain for a given army. Both players could then select from that pool. BADCON is probably one of the worst exponents of poorly presented armies. You were lucky is the table had a cloths and the ubiquitous felt squares were still ‘de jour’. Chris had a few boxes of terrain that really complemented his army and gave the whole game ‘added value’ from a experience point of view – well done Chris and Phil.
The Pyramid landed on their back edge and had no effect on the game, so we’d have nothing to secure our flanks on.
The Libyan army turned out to be not much bigger than ours anyway. They deployed 4 LF bow units to start, so they only have a maximum of 16 , against our 15. They also had 2 BGs of 4 Chariots, and 4 BGs of MF Libyan warriors and a Sea Peoples Ally (which was 6 Arm Sup I/F and 2 8’s of Avg Prot I/F) and some more LF Bow. They Libyans have obvious read the manuals and deployed in triplex acies, Libyan warriors to the rear Sea People ahead and a decent amount of LF Bow covering the frontage. That narrowed the army, which was probably only as wide as ours now, and we had refused a flank. The main event was just left of centre where 2 foot of tables was lined with the Sea Peoples supported by the Libyans (flanked by 1 GB of chariots, that has to cross a gully)
The Achaeans felts that the fighting was best done on foot today. Only 1 Chariot BG remained ‘mounted’ while the dismounted ones stiffened the lines of our proto Hoplites. We matched the open space with an assortment of dismounted Chariots , Armoured Spear types and the Myrmidons (with a bit of rapid redeployment from the start shown here).
This would be our offensive flank, and stretching back to the right was the Protected Spear and Nestor’s spearmen. Opposite were 2 units of Libyans warrior in the soft sand and more archers with the other BG of Chariots. I have a feeling we would be shot here! Nestor’s spearmen would have been useful in the centre (being Heavy foot , with everyone else being ‘Medium’) but they are in big block and good for holding up a flank.
On the far left it was 1 Chariot unit a piece. The Greeks armed with Light spear , the Libyans with a bow. It was in the interest of the Greeks to charge. With a POA up in the impact we would try an press our advantage. However , Phil and the Libyan chariots had other ideas. Both sides throwing 8 dice, the Greeks needing 4’s the Libyans 5’s (both sides re-rolling 1 & 2s though). Jon did well to get 7 hits for the Greeks, and then Phil pulled out a handful of fives and sixes! In fact 7 in total – it was a draw. Both sides lost a chariot, and then it settled to be an equal fight…. which the Libyans won, and the Greek Chariots broke – through casualties, 1 base per combat phase to be precise! First blood to the Libyans.
The Libyan main plan seemed to be soften us up with missiles and then send in the impact foot. Ours was to close with the foot before the archers started to take the toll.
Our own skirmishers started to lose the exchange of missiles (as we had less), but the morale held in the ‘big fight’ Both sides closed and it threatened to sandwich the skirmishers. The Libyans nerve broke first as they retired their skirmishers to behind the Sea Peoples. This actually gave the Greek the tactical advantage. In Fields of Glory ‘shock foot’ (which Greeks, Sea Peoples & Libyans all are) have to test not to charge impetuously when in charge range – even of skirmishers. An exception to this is when the they have friendly skirmishers in-between them and the target. Skirmishers are really useful in this capacity to stop your impetuous troops tearing off when you don’t want them charging enemy light foot ( which is unlikely they will catch and leave your lines in a mess)
The situation was – Sea Peoples were in ‘normal’ charge range of the Greek light archers, but not of the Greek Spearmen. So they would have to test not to charge. There was a grim inevitability of this situation. The Sea People could charge ‘all’ and hope they held together as a line after their variable moves – or – dice to ‘hold’ the charge and move closer to guarantee contacting the Achaean Spearmen in good order. Being Undrilled they needed an 8 and being an ally the big Inspired general was not in ‘line of command’ . Even worse is that the quality of the troops makes no difference as wild superiors are equally likely to want to ‘get stuck in’. Phil decided to ‘hold’ and the dicing commenced. With a predictability that can only match my performance only one Sea People BG held (worst of all – the one in the middle), so the end two units dashed, and diced sufficiently high, to make it into the Greek Spearmen piecemeal.
Now, at the moment of impact things aren’t so bad for the Sea Peoples. Being I/F they get a ++. Our Spear get a single +. Overlaps and armour don’t count.. so they could still punch though! If we did lose then we’d get and additional -1 for losing to I/F and would all start looking decidedly dodgy. The rightmost Sea Peoples BG smashed into 2 BGs of armoured Spear. Who ……. held in the combat (just , 1 unit disrupting…) woo hoo.
The Retinue swords (the Sea Peoples Armoured foot) smashed into some dismounted Chariots (2x) and lost – even better – they disrupted in impact! Couldn’t get better. Once the melee started the Sea Peoples would enter into a world of pain. The Retinue sword were disrupted (losing a third of their dice), they were overlapped on both flanks, and as they failed to disrupt the Greeks their ‘steady spear’ would negate their ‘swordsman’ POA. So it was something like 4 Sea People dice needing 5’s , against 10 Greek dice needing 4’s. Both sides were superior (with Generals) and a lot of re-rolls would be going on. The other fight was even worse. The Sea Peoples were steady so throwing their full complement of 8 dice. But against steady spear their sword was lost and being only protected their armour was worse than the Greeks. So, they would need 5’s , again overlapped on both side the Greeks would throw 12 dice needing 3’s. This was the dream matchup for the Achaeans. All they had to do was break these 2 BGs and the last Sea Peoples would be in isolation and hopefully get the same treatment. In the ensuing turn the Protected Sea Peoples held , but were haemorrhaging causalities. To add to their pain the Myrmidons wheeled around the corner to threatened to charge the flank. The disrupted Retinue lost heart and fragmented, only a matter of time for those guys. In the following Libyan turn, things were looking grim. The last Sea Peoples unit was still too far away to charge, and the Libyan warriors were unable to ‘get out of the way’ from behind the fragmented retinue. The melee saw them break , and burst through some unfortunate Libyans behind – disrupting- them. Their problems compounded when pursuing Greek spearmen smashed into them, their blood singing. The Myrmidons charged the flank of the other Sea People BG. That disrupted them, and consequently lost the initial impact and worst of all diced sufficiently low to break. Because they were fighting in two directions they had to bisect the angle to rout and moved right in front of the more troops. The Myrmidons pursued (throwing a 6), a mighty 6” smashing into more troops that has just being burst through. Overall in 2 turns the whole Libyan centre has collapsed. It was just a question of finding a few bits to force the whole army to break.
On the right flanks, Nestor spearmen had outmanoeuvred the other Libyan Chariots who had got too close. Having an extra drilled unit on the flank was handy. Once the chariot is pinned to the front it is really stuck for options.
It seems strange that a units with the potential to skirmish/evade cannot moved backwards to avoid getting trapped, relying on only the charge/evade process. The savvy player won’t charge, and just hold you in place while some devious unit works its way into a position where it can’t evade. In this case that was me… unfortunately I nearly screwed it up by charging too early and allowing the chariots to turn 90 and flee away from the flanks charge. Fortunately the flee move took the chariots into even more of a danger zone. In the following turn Chris obliged by failing his CMT to turn and move, and was stuck as he couldn’t move far enough anyway to avoid a rear charge (and now he was in column). Greek spears ended up charging in the rear! The chariots held on briefly, but they were up against it.
In the soft sand the Libyan warriors had ventured forth, to threaten some Greek spears and more dismounted charioteers. Again it was not a good fight for the Libyans, even against our 2nd rate troops (the protected spears) unless they can cause a disruption and get their swords to ‘kick in’ , they will be – - POA (spear and better armour) .
In a unlikely set of circumstance, one Libyan unit disrupted the Greeks, but then themselves went fragmented in the following melee, however, in the next turn beat the Achaeans sufficiently to allow a double drop , which our dice obliged and broke. Always impressive to be broken by fragmented troops.
However, overall that drew a close to the game as the Libyan army finally collapsed. 15- 5 in the favour of the Later Mycenaean’s … a cracking start.
The last bound showing the complete collapse in the centre
I really enjoyed this game – which is easy to say when you a winning – but it was fought in a very pleasant manner, effort had gone into the presentation of the terrain ,and an unusual army selection (my favourite). I think taking Libyans was a brave choice into this competition, and I’ll be keen to see how they go on with the rest of their games. I think it was Chris, that said – from the PB Purple primer – on army selection, pick an army you love even when it loses. A worthy statement, that perhaps a few more players should consider.