2011-03-16

Cold Wars 2011: Saturday

Saturday had two big events with a free slot for shopping.

Luckily, the "good old days" of playing 4 new rule sets and coming home with 4 new armies to paint are long gone!  I managed to buy relatively little this time around. Besides picking up some random stuff at the flea market and more bases from Gale Force 9, I also got a 15mm Hordes of the Things army from Splintered Light.  They have really beautiful figures.  I chose a mixed Undead force, with dwarves, humans, centaurs, goat men, and even an undead elephant.

Hordes of the Things: Good vs. Evil

The Diceman. Some people call him... Tim.
The morning event was Hordes of the Things in 25mm.  I brought my Elves of the Offwhite Tower, but I never defended; so I never got to place my "vaguely flesh colored" tower, as David Kuijt described it.  My army was comprised of 3xSp (gen), 2xBd, 3xSh, 2xKn, 1xMg.

In the first round, I faced Rich Baier's Lord of the Rings Orc army, and lost.  Next, I faced Frank Popecki's Dark Elves, and lost.  Finally, I faced David Schlanger's Haradrim, and lost.

I like Hordes of the Things, but so far in a very different way than DBA.  It's a very similar game to DBA from a rules perspective, but the different element types require very different strategies than DBA.  HotT seems like a game I want to play mostly for the fun and cinema of it, while DBA feels like a game I want to get better at.

Campaign Theme: 4th War of the Diadachoi

For me, there are two main events that bookend every convention: BBDBA doubles at the beginning, and the Two Davids campaign event at the end. This time around, the campaign included Alexander's successors and some outlying barbarians, during the 4th war of succession.

This was an interesting mix of armies. The successors all had heavy pike armies, but most of the other armies had light foot or spears. In many theme campaigns, the very different army compositions are typically not close to each other on the map, so you usually face a comparable enemy. On this map, the light armies were all over the place, so any Pike army that wanted an easier target could probably find one.

Successor campaign map
I played Lysimachid (II/17): 1x3Kn (Gen), 1x2LH, 4x4Pk, 4x3Ax, 1x2Ps, 1x4Sp. I hadn't tried a 4 pike army before, and I really enjoyed this one; even against armies with 6 pikes. I initially wanted to play Kassandros, who has an elephant instead of a spear, but I think I'd prefer this army to have more PIPs available to maneuver the light foot, instead of dragging an elephant around with me.

In the first round, I played against Alex Bostwick's Bithynians: mostly auxilia.  He defended, and I beat him in a fairly straightforward, unmemorable battle.

Frank
In the next round, I faced Frank Popecki with Antigonids: an elephant and 6 pikes.  He attacked, and sent his elephant with 3 other elements around the far side of a wood.  I decided to respond by sending a larger portion of my force to that side, to try to isolate them from their general and kill them when they were out of command.

The strategy was working fairly well, until he took a risk and killed off one of my Auxilia in the woods.  After that it was a very intricate, tactical game, but he had the upper hand and eventually won.
DOOM!  But I won...
In the third round, I faced Alex Halkiadakis and his Aiotolian League: a few spears and a lot of psiloi.  This was going fairly well, as I punched a hole in his spear with my knight general and exploited the gap.  He had heavy losses, and I could win by killing only one more element, so I took a risk.  I sent my spear against his light horse with an overlap on one side, and used my general to flank him on the other side.  This left me without a recoil, so I'd die if I lost the battle... but since it was 4-0, that was only possible if we rolled a 6-1 split in his favor.

We rolled a 6-2, and the combat was tied so neither of us moved.  Alex sent his general against the rear of mine, who turned to face.  It was his 5 to my 4, and if I recoiled I died.  Things weren't looking good, and then... another tie!

On my bound, I brought up my psiloi to compensate for the missing overlap, and closed the door with my light horse so I would actually kill his element, and got rid of his light horse before my general recoiled (but lived).  That was a close battle that came down to only a few rolls.

Next, I faced Alex Bostwick again, with him attacking this time.  I killed a psiloi early, which was lucky; because in the next combat I sent my Knight general against his light horse with one overlap: 5-1.  Again, I had a huge chance of winning, but I'd die if I lost... but I'd only lose on a 6-1 split in his favor.  In retrospect, since this was not a game winning move, I probably should've been more careful; but I wouldn't be saying that unless we rolled 6-1 and I lost, so obviously that's exactly what happened.

The game wasn't over yet, because he hadn't killed more elements than I had.  I held on for a few turns through even more locked combats that I would've preferred to win, but with my moves requiring 2 pips after losing my general, it didn't take long for him to take out one more element and win.

In the final round, I faced another player whose name I forget, and who wasn't originally signed up for the event so I can't look it up, either... sorry about that :)

It was another 6 pike army with an elephant, aren't they all?  I defended and deployed 3 pieces of bad going diagonally across the board and a road down the center.  There was enough space for my 4 pike between the bad going, but not his 6.  My plan was to catch his flank of his pike as he tried to push through the bad going, or crush him in the bad going if he tried to take the central hill.

Early on, things were going well, but eventually he started catching up.  We ended up in another very tricky tactical battle with elements all over the place.  He killed a fourth element before I did, and took victory at 4-3.

The event was a lot of fun, as usual.

The main mistakes I know I made in this event were taking some small risks of losing instantly, and taking advantage of short-term tactical benefits while failing to maintain coherent battle line.  I noticed several times when I was broken into too many groups.  I know the decisions that brought me there made sense at the time: I was intending to win with combat odds that were in my favor, not to lose and end up spread all over the place.

I enjoyed playing the Lysimachid army, but I have mixed feelings about it overall.  I guess I'm not inspired by it, even though it's quite fun to play.  I think it worked well in this campaign event: if I attacked I could choose an enemy who had more light foot and would likely place terrain; but if I was attacked it was most likely by a 6xPk army so I could deploy bad going and gain an advantage. 

I may not play this army again soon, but I think a triple Lysimachid or triple Kassandros army might be a better alternative than double Alexander with Mountain Indians.

It was another great convention!  Now I'm looking forward to Post Tax Day BBDBA in Columbus, Stoogecon here in town, and Historicon.

Cold Wars 2011: Friday

I didn't take enough notes to post details of everything I did at Cold Wars, so a summary post will have to do.

We stayed at the Lancaster Host again... that place is getting to be a bit of a dump.  We got a pretty crummy room: it reeked of smoke and had clogged drains.  Fortunately we really only slept there anyway so it wasn't a big deal.  On the other hand, food options are better than they used to be.  There are burritos available for lunch, and the "family restaurant" next door turned into a Japanese/sushi restaurant.  They also still have the nightly pig roast, if you're into that sort of thing.

JM and I arrived a bit after 8pm on Thursday, so we probably could've played the Dismounting Knight event.  Instead, we decided to get in some more games of Hordes of the Things, since we had hardly ever played and had an event on Saturday that sort of expected us to know most of the rules.

BBDBA Doubles

Friday's main event was BBDBA Doubles.  JM and I took Alexandrian Imperial (II/15) with a Mountain Indian Ally (II/2).  This was supposed to give us good punch in Alex's mounted wing, a defensive wall of pike, and lots of bad going troops in the ally.  It's a high aggression army, so we expected to attack every game, and weren't disappointed.  Although we considered many of the enemies we might face, some of our opponents gave us a bit of a surprise.

Stephen Aspenberg and Doug Austin
In the first game, we faced Doug Austin and Stephen Aspenberg, playing Bosporans and Sarmatians. They had a lot of knights, with some light troops and artillery in the center.  We deployed the mountain Indians on the far left flank to outflank them, and Alexander on our right.  Unfortunately my Mountain Indians were crushed by playing with knights they should've stayed away from, and our pikes were too far off our right flank to be as useful as we would prefer.  In the end, they beat us with two commands demoralized after taking 50% losses to the army; but our C-in-C command had no casualties; mostly because they took so long to get into contact with the enemy.

Alex and Jonathan Bostwick
Next we faced the Bostwicks, who had a ton of cavalry with some light foot in the center.  Since they didn't have anything affected by double ranked pikes, we thinned out our line and faced them on a wide frontage.  My Mountain Indians had relatively even odds against their Cavalry, but they were more able to take advantage of holes in our line, so my right flank was the first to fall.  On the left, we fared much better: JM demoralized their C-in-C command.  Unfortunately, we had more losses than they did, so we didn't win outright.  Instead, we lost the battle of attrition as they killed us faster than we could kill them.

I think our setup worked better in this game, and I'm not sure how we could've improved things very much from a strategic perspective.  One possibility would've been to place our Mountain Indians in the center, and hope they responded by deploying their Cavalry opposite us.  This would've been essentially the same matchups we had, except our pike would have been able to gang up on them... eventually, if they ever made it into contact with the enemy.

In the third round, the only teams we were likely to face were both from Pittsburgh and were both playing Ptolemaics.  We ended up facing Larry and Rich instead of Tim and Lisa.

The Stooges: Rich Baier and Larry Chaban
Since Saturday's campaign theme was a Successor event, we did a bit more thinking than average about how to face another Pike army.  The biggest questions we had were: what do you do with the Mountain Indians, and how can you break their C-in-C command when it's built entirely out of Pikes?  Our typical strategy was to try to break the C-in-C command, but against pikes we might need to settle for killing everything else; but we needed to keep their pike at bay while we did it.  The answer we came up with was to send the Mountain Indians against their pikes, while facing the rest of their army with our remaining two commands.

The Mountain Indians have 7 elements that can't be harmed by pikes unless they step out of formation and make themselves vulnerable, so that's relatively safe. Our light horse general can also quick kill their pikes relatively easily... in theory.   We did relatively well, but our main mistake was to send too much of our pike against their pike instead of facing their lighter troops.  Our other big mistake was thinking the center of their line was made up of auxilia, when it was in fact blades.  They concentrated two commands against our C-in-C command, and crushed us relatively quickly.

Littoral Landing Lovers

After BBDBA Doubles was a themed event that only allowed Littoral armies.  In the first round, I faced Larry and he finally got his payback against my as-yet-unbeaten Leidang (III/40d).  This time, I took 1xKn, 5xBd, 3xAx, 1xPs, 1xSp, 1xBw.  I did a landing and had some initial success, until he killed my bow with his knight and rolled me up.

Doug Mudd
Next, I faced Doug Mudd.  The game went so quickly, I don't remember his army.  He attacked, and did a landing behind my line.  Using a first turn psiloi double move, he sent a psiloi against my Knight general, which turned to face.  The combat was his 2 to my 4 with me quick killing him, but he rolled high and recoiled my general into my own troops, winning the game 1g-0 before I even had a turn.  Oops!  We had a lot of free time, considering some players weren't even done deploying yet, so we played an unofficial rematch (shown here), and I beat him in this second game.  I don't think either of us did a landing.

Stephen Aspenberg
In the final round, I faced Stephen Aspenberg's Athenians.  I decided that since this was a Littoral Landing event, I'd better do another landing.  I sent 2 elements against his flank, and he sent 3 against mine.  My elements were able to kill 2 of his, while I held off his landing with only 2 of mine.  When we met in the middle, my blades beat his spears and I won.

This leaves my Leidang with a 7-2 record, which I'm only keeping track of because it's one of the only armies I've managed to win consistently with.


Midnight Madness

I don't remember a lot about Midnight Madness (and don't have any pictures), but there wasn't much to remember.  In the first round, I played my Hittite Empire (I/24b) against Jonathan Bostwick's Minoan & Mycenaean (I/18).  I won, but that's all I remember... though I have a feeling neither of us remembered to place our camp.  In the second round, I faced Later Mycenaeans and Trojan War (I/26) and lost.