Battle Cry 2014, FoG Tournament, Ancients 15mm

Heed the Call – Battle Cry 2014 FoG Ancients tournament report Part I

We had quite a good turnout this year with eight competitors and a nice mix of armies (Vikings, Early Scots, Late Republican Romans, Later Carthaginians, Spartans, Lydian Greeks, Later Mycenaeans and Mitanni). Armies had to be 600 AP and we played on a smaller table size (150 x 90), all with the aim to have a decisive outcome earlier and allow a more relaxed pace while playing. Terrain was also reduced to the two compulsory pieces and only two more pieces each, instead of up to four choices per player. Battleline Miniatures contributed prices and helped with the organisation of the event.

One of the participants playing Vikings was so nice to load the army lists up on his blog, so feel free to check them out if you want a better idea how people constructed their armies and his perspective on the games.

Same as  last year I played my Later Carthaginians, however, this time using the Hannibal in Mainland Italy list. The list gives you the opportunity to field three battle groups of superior armoured offensive spearmen representing Hannibal’s African Veterans he relied on during his campaigns in Italy and which were crucial at Cannae. The list also offers drilled Gauls which makes them much more versatile, but does not allow more than one battle group of elephants.

I ended up with three battle groups of veterans, one battle group of Gauls, some Numidian light horse, one unit of Iberian cavalry, some medium foot Scutarii and finally two battle groups of Caetrati.

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600 AP Later Carthaginian Hannibal in Mainland Italy list. Click to enlarge.

The plan was to use the Caetrati as a screen against shooting and hit hard with the veterans. The Gauls would add some power to the battle line and the Scutarii could be used as support or camp guard. The cavalry, so I hoped, could protect my flank and maybe go for the enemy camp.

At this point I also have to thank Kiwi Colour Studio to borrow me some stands of Gauls, Numidan Light Horse and African Veteran Spearmen (all based slightly different to my stands, so you can check out his beautifully painted miniatures on the photos below). I do own some Gauls, but they are based as medium foot. My veterans and the two missing bases of Numidian horse await the day when I paint them. So thanks to him I was able to run the list.

Last years Battle Cry was also the first time I played Field of Glory. So while I learned quite a bit I also lost every game. In the meantime I did play some games, but given that often weeks or even months were between them the rules still did not sink fully in. I knew the guys competing were all good chaps, but also very experienced and good players. I did not expect to place highly, but to once again learn some tricks of the trade and get a compressed fresh up of the rules and a feel for my army. The goal for the weekend was to win at least one of the six games and, if at all possible, to not place last like last year. Field of Glory is one of these games where experience really pays off and not everything is down to good dice rolls. It is also a game which does not forgive mistakes, which will be readily exploited by a skilled opponent. Up to the weekend I could not claim victory in any game of Field of Glory I played so far, but my spirits were high and I prepared for some enjoyable gaming. As I do not like very descriptive battle reports I will try a bit of a narrative account of the games.

On the first day I faced Vikings, Later Republican Romans and Spartans. Would I be favoured by the gods and achieve my aim already on the first day or would fate have other plans with me?

I. Viking Invasion

The colourful sails on the horizon were first an odd sight at the shores of Africa, never been seen before and even the oldest and wisest could not say where they hail from. Soon they revealed their true nature and tall, blond warriors  enveloped the fertile land around Carthage in flame. They had to be stopped and expelled by all means necessary.

While these intruders were plundering the land a young Suffet named Hanno was given the task to destroy the threat and claim back the artworks, gold and produce they took.

The morning of the third day since the army departed was cold and a fine spell of rain made the men in the Carthaginian camp restless. It seemed  the devils from the sea brought bad weather with them, as it had rained for days. Hanno summoned his men, making sure that they understood their orders and knew what to expect of the forthcoming battle. Reports described these men as indomitable, never retreating, some of them two metres high and wielding axes as long as a whole man.

The devils deployed in a long line wielding spears and axes. Their unkempt beards bulging out under oddly shaped helmets. They taunted them in their strange language, reminding more of the utterances of beasts than men.

The battlelines slowly deploy. A fine mist hoveres over the fertile plain, as do the screams of battle.
The battle lines slowly deploy. A fine mist hovers over the fertile plain, as do the taunts of the invaders. Photo: Painted Addiction.

Hanno sent first the light troops to break up the lines of these devils, but their javelins did not reach their aim or were stopped easily by their shields. He had deployed his best troops to the left and right to hold the Gauls in the centre in line. They were fierce fighters, but easy to demoralize. While the left flank was protected by some swampy terrain the enemy would not dare to enter, the right was open and he hoped the Iberians would be able to hold it supported by some Numidians, famous for their skill riding their horses bareback.

Slowly but steadily the two lines marched closer and closer, while the Iberians and Numidians advanced ahead of the main battle line. It was not long until the lines in the centre clashed. Hanno was sure those devils from the sea were possessed as they hacked through the shields of his men slaughtering them were they stood. He directed his gaze to the right, hoping to signal the horsemen to attack, but the Numidians straggled and made it impossible for the Iberians to reach the battle before it was too late. The centre disintegrated soon after and the remnants of his men scattered in the near fields. He stood motionless looking at the battlefield, the line of the enemy unbroken, advancing. A tap on his shoulder made him turn around. It was his friend Hasdrubal pointing to a nearby wood were they could hide. Hanno looked back at the cursed intruders, moved is horse around and followed his friend.

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Unable to reach their friends in time the Iberians decide to leave the battlefield and avoid the slaughter. Photo: Painted Addiction.
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Hanno tries to rally the Gauls for a new attack, but it is not enough. Photo: Painted Addiction.

As fast as they appeared the devils took their booty and sailed away. While his defeat was total, he hoped for the day they would return. This day would either bring glory or demise, for whom only the gods know…

Post game analysis:

I made a mistake deploying my cavalry so that it obstructed its movement in the end and was unable to do anything noteworthy. The dice were against me in the centre, but it didn’t help that my battle line was too short and the right flank exposed. A total defeat, but still a very nice game against a good opponent with a nice and interesting army. Please check out his blog Painted Addiction and his reports of the Battle cry weekend. He also made the pictures of the game as I did not have my camera with me on the first day.

II. The might of Rome

Carthage had defeated Rome in many battles under the leadership of one of their most revered heroes: Hannibal Barcas. More and more of Romes friends changed sides after the battle of Cannae leading to the collapse of the fledgling empire and making way for hundred years of prosperity and Carthaginian dominance over the Mediterranean. However, Rome was merely slumbering waiting for a chance to break the tie of Carthaginian rule. A man who might have had quite a different fate if Rome would have been victorious a century ago emerged and led the rebellion: Gaius Julius Caesar.

The rebellion quickly grew stronger and it was not long till the proud suffets lay in the dust before them. Carthage was first reluctant to send a force to oppose the rebels, as they feared the expense and did not see the rebels as a threat to the might of Carthage. In the end an inexperienced young general Mago was dispatched to take care of – as the elders put it – farmers and beggars. Uncertain of what to expect he recruited a group of experienced sell swords which followed him to Spain were he negotiated with some of the local tribes to gain access to their prized warriors. Successful with this task he set over to a town still friendly to Carthage on the west coast of Italy and gathered more mercenaries around him.

The Romans were well prepared and had equipped their men with whatever they could find in Carthaginian armouries. Caesar had a place in mind were he would trap the usurpers and crush their force.

On the day of battle both armies deployed in a long line, the left of the Carthaginians only guarded by the Spaniards and faced with some Auxilia and horsemen. The centre had legionaries facing the Veterans and some Gauls only recently recruited. On the right the Roman cavalry was more numerous then the small contingent of Iberians Mago could muster.

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They expected farmers, but found able warriors fighting for their freedom. Photo: Will’s Ramblings.
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Slowly the battle lines advance, while the Carthaginian skirmishers attempt to brake the Roman defense. Photo: Will’s Ramblings.
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The brightly coloured shields impress the romans, but they press on as soon they will be spilled with blood. Photo: Will’s Ramblings.

While the Carthaginians only fought for money, the Romans fought for their freedom. The fierceness with which they held the centre impressed Mago and he hoped for the cavalry on the right to be victorious.

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The battle lines meet in the centre. Mars is with the Romans. Photo: Will’s Ramblings.

The gods were not with him on this day. The cavalry was outnumbered and crushed, while the roman horsemen on the right destroyed the Spaniards and thus exposed the Carthaginian flank.

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The left flank disintegrates, as the Iberians have not much to oppose the Roman light foot and Auxilia. Photo: Will’s Ramblings.
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In a display of cowardness the Spaniards flee and expose the left flank. Photo: Will’s Ramblings.
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With a last surge of power, fueled by despair, the centre holds for some more moments, fighting the inevitable. Photo: Will’s Ramblings.
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Finally the centre succumbs to the pressure and the Romans zealously pursue their former masters. Photo: Will’s Ramblings.

Surrounded the centre collapsed and none of the mercenaries could save his life, succumbing to the overwhelming force of the Romans. The Romans claimed a total victory on this fateful day, marking only the beginning of a new age: The age of Rome!

Post game analysis:

It went reasonably well in the centre, but I let the Scutarii advance too far and made a grave mistake making them not attack, while being faced with some Numidian horsemen on the flank. I hoped for the centre to break through, but that was not going to happen. On the right my Numidian light horse were fragmented by some skirmishers which I underestimated, followed by the demise of my Iberian cavalry which could not hold out against the more numerous roman cavalry. Again a problem of being too short and outflanked.

The pictures were made by my opponent and please feel free to check out his blog Will’s Ramblings. There are some excellent photos of the convention offerings and battle reports of his games. Being a gentleman gamer he also deservedly won the sports price of the tournament.

III. This is Sparta!

After the battle of Thermopylae Sparta’s glory spread over the known world, their sacrifice securing them the lead in the Greek world. Jealous of their prowess in battle and fame after they smote the Persians a certain Hannibal, later called the Hotspur, set out to invade Greece and not only subdue Sparta, but all of the Greek city states to Carthage’s rule. Not having any backing by the carthaginian Suffets he used is great wealth to muster a small invasion force, not unlike Agathocles of Syracus would do centuries later.

Little did he know that the Spartans knew about his plans, as a Numidian called Capussa sold this information for a good price to the Spartans. Their king Leonidas dead, it was Pleistarchus who led the swiftly assembled force.

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The opposing armies are fully deployed. Who will be the favourite of the gods?  Photo: Workshop Zero.

Veterans of the Persian wars formed his right flank, supported by lightly armed Phokians and Thracians, while the less experienced formed the centre flanked by Sparta’s finest cavalry. The centre deployed opposite an olive grove, which the Carthaginians had chosen as a defensible place for their camp.

Hannibal, being faced with such a formidable force, resorted to a plan making use of the grove. He deployed the most experienced soldiers between the grove and a freshly harvested field on his left flank, hoping to entice the Spartans to attack him first with his best troops and after crushing them destroy the remainder. This mixture of Libyans and Gauls had seen many battles, yet Hannibal did not trust the Gauls, as he saw them enjoying unthinned wine too much the day before. To achieve a quick demise of the Spartans he cunningly ordered a group of Spaniards to hide in the Grove and to only attack when the Spartans would engage the centre. This way he could orchestrate an attack from two sides and make victory a certainty. Behind his main battle line he placed a reserve of spearmen and, knowing well the ferocity of his Gauls, but also their drunkenness the day before, let them lower their spears. His cavalry he placed on his left, hoping to overcome the Phokians and Thracians.

As Hannibal hoped the Spartans advanced fast to meet his centre, their left flank attempting to not only quickly reach the grove, but also to seize the Carthaginian camp. He gave the signal to  advance slowly, but to stay close to the olive grove. Some bloody skirmishing saw his Iberian javelin men fleeing back to the grove, but it did not stop the advance of the main line. Finally the Spartans clashed into his centre, while on the left his cavalry was overwhelmed by the Thracian and Phokians. Hanno knew that he had to achieve a breakthrough or the day would be lost. He sent a messenger to the Iberians waiting in the grove and joined the Gauls. The battle was raging, men fell on both sides, but the struggle went on, no side willing to give in.

As he saw the standard of Pleistarchus he thanked the gods for this chance to decide the battle and advanced to meet his foe. Pleistarchus welcomed the initiative of the Carthaginian. Hannibal dismounted and charged the Spartan, who swiftly adjusted his stance and deflected the first thrust aimed towards his throat. Years of training made Pleistarchus sure of himself and he opened his defence to strike his opponent. Hannibal was able to evade the reach of the Spartan spear, but was unable to regain his balance. Pleistarchus’ second thrust did not miss its aim, penetrating the richly adorned breast-plate of the Carthaginian. With his last breath Hannibal witnessed his centre breaking and his men being cut down in their frenzied rout.

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The centre disintegrates after Pleistarchus kills his opponent and presses on. Sparta is victorious! Photo: Workshop Zero.

The only survivors of this ill-fated venture were the Spaniards placed in the grove, as they never received their orders and decided to not partake in the battle. Instead they offered their services to the Spartans and gained much wealth and glory during the coming wars in  Greece.

Hannibal’s disgrace was diminished by his honourable conduct, but it took centuries before his name should be connected once again with an able general.

Post game analysis:

I made three mistakes, which did negate any chance of winning the game: My camp was placed inside the grove, but my opponents cavalry was able to reach it well before the battle in the centre was decided. I should have placed it behind the centre.

The Scutarii, while in a perfect position for a flank charge could not do so in time, as I turned them one turn to late 90 degree and lost the chance to decide the battle quickly.

Finally, to commit my Inspired General and get him killed sealed my demise, as it forces cohesion tests on anybody nearby. Naturally in this crucial moment my troops fail this test and run away. While re-rolls are excellent, the risk was too high, as I would have needed him for the rest of the battle.

Once again, please check out my opponents blog Workshop Zero for his perspective and some more photos of the tournament games.

To be continued….


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6 thoughts on “Heed the Call – Battle Cry 2014 FoG Ancients tournament report Part I”

    1. It indeed was. You are right with the smaller scales being good for that large scale battle feeling. They also paint up faster and cost less. Did you ever give Ancients in that scale a go?

      Like

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