I have been a bit lax of late with games and subsequent games reports recently. As such Bob was kind enough to write a rather excellent report following a game at the club between him and Mick last week.
A fictional conflict using historical opponents, later Skythians with a combination of light horse archers and cataphracts coming to blows with a contemporary Indian force featuring lots of infantry longbows supported by light javelin armed foot, a couple of elephant units, a chariot force and some pretty dreadful cavalry.
We actually messed up both the terrain and deployment rules within Impetus but we carried on regardless. As might be expected the more mobile Skythians cavalry advantage forced the Indians to deploy first on to a pretty featureless plain. I was commander of the Skythians and Mick the Indians. He lined his eight archer units across the battlefield with a light infantry unit at each end. Two Cavalry units formed up slightly rearward at each end to prevent envelopment and his elephants and chariot in the rear. My side split into unequal lumps (lumps because they have a poor command structure so need to stay up close and personal with their generals), four light horse with four cataphract units in support on my left, three light horse with a single cataphract unit and further light horse to their rear on my right.
The Skythians rolled forward a little, the Indians advanced enough to get in long range bowshot range. The Indian longbow isn’t in the same class as the English medieval type and his shooting reflected this, as did mine when I rode units forward to reply. Not a hit (sixes or double fives) was recorded from the first 11 dice rolled! However with units relatively weak in strength (VBU) once hits started to occur units could quickly crumble.
First blood to the Skythians, on the right the light javelin armed foot decided to scarper after a couple of hits. Mick replied on his left where he shot down a horse archer unit that got too close and too cocky (it could have evaded out of range but I didn’t take the option).
Mick lost a longbow unit on his left and rode his general’s elephant unit into the resulting gap to fill it and bring the various missile weapons an elephant unit has to bear on the Skythians threatening his weakening infantry line. A bold, but ultimately doomed move as it turned out. The Skythian cataphracts on this side of the battlefield were further wide than the enemy elephant general and forced the Indian cavalry to fight them or be shot to pieces by horse archery. Indian cavalry are the only thing that doesn’t shoot in their army.
Unfortunately they don’t fight very well, in pretty short order both such units were gone and the cataphracts were beyond the Indian flank. They’d taken a casualty though and attracted the interest of the second elephant; this spent the rest of the game trying to get at them. Mick’s elephant mounted General was now his left flank guard and the Skythian horse archers fancied elephant burgers for tea. Their constant sniping sapped its strength pretty rapidly.
On the left the Skythian shooting weakened the longbow units they faced. The cataphracts behind rolled forward to try and triple move into them. It didn’t work and instead stalled directly in front of them in a disorderly fashion. The longbows stepped forward to minimal range and rolled fistfuls of dice. Hits were recorded but no units lost as cataphracts are tough units to kill off quickly. On their next activation they girded their loins, dressed their ranks and rumbled into the archers, killing three units of them and then riding through the line to be faced by an Indian Prince in a chariot.
The Skythians had done a lot of damage but it was spread across two commands. The Indians had taken out only one enemy unit but had weakened several, including both Skythian General’s units. Both sides thought they could end things in their favour in one last turn….
Mick successfully activated both his commands before either Skythian. His dice failed him in pretty much every other way. He couldn’t clear disorder with the elephant trying to run down my right flank General so no melee and ineffective shooting saved him. On the other side of the field multiple longbow shots failed to finish off the other Skythian commander and the chariot didn’t land a hit on the cataphracts facing it.
The game was won when a veritable swarm of horse archers surrounded and took turns to pepper the Indian General astride his elephant. Finishing him off took his command to 50% losses and so they fled, which in turn took the whole Indian army to 50% and so they gave up and went home.
An excellent game (well I would say that, they were all my toys and I won!) which went down to the wire.
Skythian tribesmen have now acquired some nice new territories in northwest India; just a few Greek cities will need subduing before they can really settle down for a “Kush(an)y” lifestyle….just like what really happened.