Friday, 18 May 2018

The Battle of Yeah But

Kevin came up yesterday for our Thursday afternoon bash, back to War and Conquest after Bolt Action last week. I was looking forward to this battle and had decided to completely change my tactics, this time I was going to attack the enemy centre not go for the flanks. To do this I took two veteran phalanxes, two elephants and some light units to watch my flanks, I also went overboard with four skirmish units when I normally use at most three. The enemy, Carthaginians, had the usual solid line of hoplite style infantry, a warband and more skirmishers than me but in smaller units, as they deployed I had not altered my thoughts about going for the centre. The terrain suited me as well as it closed the field of battle down and was more friendly to me than Kevin, my flanks should be fine.

Seleucids on the left, Carthaginians on the right.

I advanced my left and centre while moving my right back towards the phalanxes to better protect them, I threw my skirmishers forward and although they took heavy casualties on the left they stood their ground and eventually drove off the enemy. No one shot at the elephants so again job done. On the right the enemy fell back from my large skirmish unit which effectively took up the attention of three Carthaginians skirmish units, thus keeping them from my battle line.

My left in real danger.

I had planned to smash the two elephants into the Gallic warband but it sidestepped them and I mucked up my attack so only the Thracians went in minus pachyderm support, this unit looked smart in their black tunics and white shields armed with the dangerous rhomphaia, this was their first test, and it was disastrous, they fled back to Thrace with me cursing them all the way, but this now took the warband away from the clash in the centre and I could turn an elephant on them.

Nellie saves the day as the struggle in the centre intensifies.

Meanwhile my phalanxes had hit the Carthaginian centre and I lost my momentum, the African infantry are incredibly hard to budge and although the Purple phalanx kept winning their opponents would not break, my top phalanx the Whites had an even tougher fight and it swung both for and against them, I even managed to throw my mercenary peltasts into the fight but still got nowhere and eventually Italian spearmen joined in so a real slaughter ensued with no one giving in.

The elephants rule.

 My elephants had dispersed the Carthaginian cavalry and had now hit the warband and a unit of Numidians and knocked them both back, the Purple phalanx had vanquished their foes and my Thorakitai were about to be charged by Italian Hoplites, the Whites and Mercenaries held on by the skin of their teeth, and ................ that was it, we had to stop.

We are left with an interesting what if.......
 This is usually the part where each player gives his account "Yeah but" of how the battle would have ended, but at the point we had reached it was balanced on a knife edge too close to call. Neither of us seemed to be as concentrated as we usually are, several rules were missed which could have swung combats one way or the other, my head particularly had turned to jelly, and time had run away from us. Kevin had to call it a day in the end and return to HQ, so a frustrating end to a vicious struggle.

I do wonder if the author of the Carthaginian list had a touch of 'Hannibal Fever' which causes you to forget that the army won because it was led by one of the most successful of Ancient generals not because it was simply unbeatable which leads to coming up with an army which is damn hard to beat on the tabletop, even when not led by Hannibal or his alter ego. I have found this akin to "Rommel Fever" and even the more general "German Fever" or dare I say it "Roman Fever" although obviously it is correct in this form (tongue is in cheek), I am sure there are others. I have only a cursory knowledge of the Carthaginians but their fighting capabilities in WAC seem a tad overpowered. Maybe chariots and elephants will do it next time.


  1. Your final paragraph implies I am not the equal of Hannibal which is rather harsh! I take your point that a combination of phalanx, light armour and large shields gives the African infantry good defensive qualities but we can drive ourselves mad questioning aspects of the army lists. After yesterday with the realisation that an elephant in combat nullifies all armour saves I have decided that 1 or 2 of the beasts are essential and I shall also invest in some bolt throwers!
    On a more general point my disenchantment with cavalry grows with each battle. I am clearly not getting the best out of them but they seem expensive show ponies. Input from a "horse expert" would be appreciated as mine have never achieved anything of note beyond a glorious death.

    1. Mad indeed. I on the other hand am waiting to spring my Companions and cataphracts.

  2. Always the danger of over egging it, but then it would be pretty boring if all units were the same, we have tried to take the edge off the Romans by making the Goths units bigger, all units are four bases in Neil Thomas Ancient and Medieval rules you see.
    A nice report as usual none the less.

    1. Sometimes it doesn't pay to get too involved, it's a shame when the enemy don't die as quickly as you would like :)

  3. Replies
    1. I had a chuckle with that as well and have fought several of those through the years.

  4. Plans and little lead chaps just don’t seem to go together often...

  5. Interesting point about list design there George. I think we've all read lists that come across as a bit underpants-on-outside for the author's favourite army. I guess the main concern for a Carthiginian list is that they should play well against the Romans, as that's the most likely match-up.

    1. I like the underpants bit. With the Phalanx rule they are superior to the Romans man for man. I am moaned out on this and army lists are always a nightmare, so all I will say is it leads to some tough battles.