DBM Club Tournament 2004
A Player’s Perspective

Battle 7 – Early Carthaginians

Well, here we go, the penultimate battle (Dave and his Italian Condottieri have withdrawn from the tournament basically due to the fact that he hasn’t yet fought any battles and there are only about six weeks left before Christmas!). Bob’s had mixed results with his Carthage army and seems to score 10-0 or 0-10 against most opponents. I’ve hovered around the 6-4 stalemate range for all my battles so it’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out. From what I’ve seen and gathered, Bob’s force consists of two main elements; a bunch of nasty chariots (knights) and a horrible mass of spearmen. He also gets a variety of options to tailor his force but as I don’t have the army book containing his list I’m going into this blind. I’m not too worried really as my list is fairly static. I can have light horse and cavalry or cavalry and light horse.

Having defeated John’s knights, I’m unconcerned about Bob’s and the rest of his force is slow-moving infantry that I’ll be able to outflank or avoid. I’m planning to increase the proportions of light horse in my army for this one. The plan is that these will be able to take on the knights – preferably in the flank – and to swing round to hit the flanks of the spearmen. I’ve also radically changed the way that I use the slaves (hordes) after the clash with John proved my suspicions correct. These are now thrown out into the ground between my army and the opposition. There they perform the following duties:

Delay The opposition is reduced to slow tactical movement early on, further enhancing my early mobility advantage.

Disrupt I deploy them strung out singly across my frontage so that when they are engaged by the enemy, they are usually flanked an wiped out (no great loss to me as they aren’t intended to actually win or kill anything!). Against certain foes (like knights or other impetuous troops) this disrupts their lines early on.
Frustrate These slaves can be frustratingly stubborn sometimes and are often only pushed back rather than destroyed outright. I’ve noticed that many players become very frustrated to have the bulk of their army held up by a few AP’s worth of totally expendable troops…

So I’ll be using these slaves to try and mess up Bob’s lines a bit. If I can get a few of his knights out of formation I’ll have lots of light horse ready to pounce! I’ll deploy two light horse commands, each intent on out flanking left and right. With luck the hordes will disrupt his knights, but even if not, I should be able to turn an end element and get a two-knight kill in. If I can do this against the spearmen, it’ll be a four-element kill! These kinds of losses very quickly mount up. I’ll have a small cavalry reserve for more conventional actions and to react to the unexpected. I plan to avoid anything I can’t beat and basically to aggressively seek out the flanks.

Bob’s an experienced opponent though and it’ll be a hard fight.

And so to the battle itself. Crucially I won the aggression roll making me the attacker. This meant I would see where Bob set up his knights, giving me the advantage I wanted as I could deploy my hordes to counter him. I chose autumn to attack and we both minimised our terrain, meaning that with only gentle hills, the battlefield was effectively open. Perfect. The set up proceeded at a pace and my plan was modified slightly in reaction to what Bob was doing (something totally basic – taking account of the enemy, which I rarely do!). As things kicked off, Bob dominated the centre with a fearsome mass of spearmen. His chariots (hereby referred to as knights – which is what they are classed as) and some supporting light horse and auxilia held opposite my right. Facing my left were a line of his allied light horse. Bob also had two large reserve units of auxilia, that meant he outnumbered me almost 2:1. Gulp!

I have nothing really that can take on the spearmen frontally (without becoming bogged down in a brawl where Bob’s numbers would eventually overwhelm me, or simply sweep me from the field) so I opted to basically empty my centre. Only two hordes faced them, with two artillery pieces back defending the baggage. This effectively left my baggage open to be sacked, but Bob wisely chose to avoid this trap. If his spears had charged across the field to take this opportunity, it would have ended their involvement in the game as they’d have not been able to redeploy from my baseline.
I moved my cavalry across from their planned reserve stance to face Bob’s allied light horse and I backed them up with my first light horse command. My remaining light horse deployed opposite his knights. The bulk of my hordes set up at the front, ready to be ridden down, but hopefully disrupting the knights and allowing my light horse to get in among them for some juicy kills.

Being the attacker, I had the first turn and got stuck into the plan with some very aggressive advances. Basically I intended to take the game by the scruff and not let go! With only two games left I’m into ‘all or nothing mode’. My cavalry steamed into his light horse, while my light horse swept his units off of the flanking hill. In two turns of brutality, his command broke and fled. Despite his allied general bravely fighting on, it only served to delay my redeployment for a turn or two and pretty soon my battle line had formed, ready to sweep in on the rest of his army (and take his baggage to boot). During this massacre, Bob had redeployed half his spearmen to try and protect against this threat together with his remaining reserve auxilia. Meanwhile in the centre, his psiloi swept my hordes aside and pressed on into my bagage. Although my artillery repelled them, some psiloi were getting close; but not close enough before the battle’s end…

Over on my right, things were a little dicier. All but one of my hordes were ridden down immediately – d’oh! They normally put up more of a fight than that! The remaining horde however, mounted a determined resistance, twice pushing back their opponent! The complete destruction of the hordes is largely meaningless to me as they do not contribute to my command or army demoralisation. It would have been nice if a few more had survived though – to break Bob’s knights formation up a bit more. However the one stand did open up a little chink, and carefully, bit by bit I commited the light horse behind. Knights beaten by light horse are instantly destroyed and although Bob’s basic combat factors were far superior to mine, my increased manoeuvrability meant that I was able to stay out of combat where I needed to and commit critical force where I could win. Slowly and steadily, Bob’s losses mounted (I was still two elements from that command breaking at the end) until finally I caught and killed his CinC. Bob’s losses at this point meant he couldn’t make his command roll and the whole army broke!

10-0 to me. Yaaayy! My first tournament 10-0. Although outnumbered nearly 2:1, once again my kill ratio was huge. I lost 6 elements in total, while Bob lost at least 25 (plus those that fled off the board). That’s 4:1 losses. Unlike in other battles, however, my army was able to reorder itself ready for a second engagement so that I could actually exploit this loss rate. Even if Bob’s general had survived, I was about to launch an assault on his centre that (poor dice rolls aside) would have ended the game anyway. His isolated infantry units were wide open to my light horse hitting flanks and frankly, his auxilia reserves wouldn’t have even slowed my cavalry down!

The plan worked perfectly in this battle. The hordes disrupted the knights, allowing my light horse to engage peicemeal on their terms and score kill after kill. The cavalry punched through his light horse on my left, while my light horse here commanded the localised flanks and were able to sweep past into his rear almost unimpeded. A frontal attack on his central spearmen would have been suicide and so I risked exposing my baggage and left the centre open to him. As a result the spearmen – the bulk of his force – basically took no part in the battle as I avoided and outflanked them consistently.

Bob’s a hard player, difficult to beat and is supremely sporting and fun to game with and against. I’ve seen his Carthage army in action before and usually he seems to use his spearmen to close off a flank and his mounted troops to sweep in from the other. I think his deviation from this model helped my win as his mounted force was split, allowing me to concentrate my force onto it bit by bit. The thing I feared most was him getting his knights into my cavalry. In my experience, even my ‘superior’ graded cavalry is consistently chopped up by knights.

All told this was a very enjoyable game, made all the more fun for me as it’s my first 10-0 in the tournament.

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