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Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Battle of Chevellu Pass

Last night, we tested a scenario Clay designed based on Hannibal's descent from the Alps and the Allobroges Tribe's ambush. The scenario was built for fun and to that end, it was a smashing success! The battle featured 3 commands-Carthaginian 650 pt. army with Hannibal + 2 sub generals and his Spanish Ally 650 pts. + 2 generals.  Against them was a 1,100 Gallic army + 3 generals and a Spanish contingent.  To simulate the difficulty of an Alps descent, all hills were Steep Hills except where the Gauls had their camp.  The center of the board was dominated by 2 impassible mountains, edged with steep hills and forest. The Carthaginians and their Spanish ally each had a Mob that represented baggage trains with a movement rate of 3".  If the baggage train was touched by the Gauls, it was sacked and points given to the Gauls.  The challenge for Hannibal was to get the 2 baggage trains through the difficult terrain loaded with ambushes and off the board for points.  The challenge for the Gauls was to slow down/stop a larger Carthaginian army and sack the baggage trains.  The table was 9' by 4'.  Clay will present the Gallic point of view and I'll report for Carthage. This was my first time photographing a match after dark and the photos are not great.  I hope that doesn't detract too much from the overall narrative. I'll order a tripod, read some tutorials and employ the steps necessary to achieve better results in  the future.   

Carthage:  My partner and I split the board.  The terrain left of center made the large board feel claustrophobic and the map was littered with ambush markers.  I took Hannibal and the Carthaginians.  I estimated I had little chance of forcing the center so I only posted 2 battlegroups of African Spear and a group of skirmishers for the task.  I deployed my baggage train so it could follow the Spanish advance to my right or up the road if I were fortunate enough to force the gap.  I posted most of my troops on the left flank, which had a gap between the forest and the steep hill that anchored the Gallic flank. I hoped to knock down the Gallic line and swing around his flank.  Deployment is key  and my deployment on the left flank sowed the seeds of my difficulties.  My Spanish partner deployed his Scutarii Heavy Foot in a double battle line.  Since Spanish foot is all average, he was counting on rear support to win him the day.

Gaul: Late yesterday we could see the clouds of dust on the horizon signaling the arrival of the Carthage-Celtiberian invaders.  Before dawn, I ordered our Iberian Spanish ally to the forests along the mountain passes setting up numerous ambushes-in all 4 Scutarii battlegroups and one Catraetti battlegroup hunkered down in the steep hills and woodlands in the expected path of the enemy.  Our camp was behind a large gentle hill that looked out over the open valley on one side and the mountain pass road on the other. The hill would be the perfect location from which to fend off the Celties or the Hannibalites that make it thru the pass. All roads to Rome pass right by my Hillcamp!  The hill defense will include 3 battlegoups of warriors, 2 BGs of light troops, some chariots and my heavy cav...and of course the women and children will guard the camp itself!  To my right, I have 3 BGs of warriors including the Elite Soldurii, plus the 4 BG of ambushers guarding the pass itself plus the woodlands along the Carthaginian approach.  Finally, to seal the deal, I will send my eldest son, Vignor, to outlflank the Celties with cavalry and chariots...ohh it will be such a joy to watch as Vignor rolls into the flank of the invaders, while i enjoy a glass of mead on the hilltop!
Ambush Alley
How do Elephants and Cavalry mix? Right, they don't
Spanish advance reveals...more Spanish!
Carthage: The early going saw us move up cautiously and uncovering ambushes.   I only had one unit of Medium Foot and my Heavy Foot Offensive Spear turned out to be useless in difficult terrain. The Gauls had a flank march under way that kept us on our toes as we advanced.

Gaul:  The Carthaginians are stumbling into the Scutarii at every turn!  And they are marching the Carthage spearmen right into the mountain pass!  Meanwhile Hannibal is in the Carthage rear, harrying women and children to get the baggage and rush to the mountain pass.  All is going according to plan, except our Iberian light troops got too cute and were caught in the rear by a Carthage light, leading to a quick demise.  On my left, the Celtiberians continue a slow plod up the meadow passes, and have sprung yet another ambush-this time his light troops revealed a Scutarii, who will stand steady in the forest awaiting the real enemy-the Celtiberian heavies. Fortunately son Vignor is wise enough to hold off on his outflanking move...the trap is yet to be sprung. Ahhh, the mead is strong and the view is spectacular!
Peek a boo!
My only Mediums rout in 1 turn and disrupt 3 units in the process. Ugh!
The Spanish make it look easy.  Nice lines, nice advance. 
Carthage:  Against long odds, my advance up the pass in the mountains succeeds.  I charged a line of skirmishers and caught them!  When the skirmishers routed, we pursued and caught them again, getting us through the gap.  My 2nd unit of African Spearmen would not prove so lucky. They deployed, tried to catch the ambushing Scutarii in the flank and failed.  In face to face melee in the difficult terrain, my Spearmen broke.  Meanwhile, Hannibal was overseeing the baggage train and its double moves.  I should have had him out on my left flank and not fooling around with mules and wagons.  On my left, disaster strikes when my only Medium Foot is charged and routed in one turn! This disrupt 3 nearby units and forces my Elephants to pivot in place and out of line.  My commanders had to bolster my disrupted units while the Gallic commanders led charge after charge from the front.

Gaul:  Reports from my right flank, where the Soldurii fend off Numidian horse and the Scutarii are crashing out of the woods onto the flanks of the enemy, couldn't be better.  I send back a message to move the warriors forward to aid the Scutarii, and trap the elephants.  But I also hear disturbing news that a battlegroup of Carthage spear has made it thru the pass...how can this be?  Offensive spear, fighting in a state of disorder, uphill, is no match for our nimble and fearsome Scutarii-they will certainly win the day!  Now on our left, I must say that Vignor is taking his sweet time. I would have crashed into the side of the light cavalry trying to flank us up here on the hill...that opportunity is long past but certainly he will come to battle now, as the main army exposes its flank. Oh that Eldest son of mine is wise, but perhaps a might bit slow, I'll send out my own cavalry and chariots just to pin the Celties long enough for Vignor to get involved. I shouldn't have to do this but it is Vignor's first time on an outflank move, so I can help make his first time a success.
The Spanish tide rolls forward

Carthage:  At this point of the game, I had to pass a Complex Movement Test to not consume more beer.  Beer dulls the pain of failure but it also dulls the mind. The left flank came undone after I lost a leader in melee and that morale checks undid what was left of my front.


Gaul: WHERE IS VIGNOR?!!  My chariots are battling on and on, my heavy cavalry fall back in anticipation of the flank move, the Scutarii ambushers have calmly waited in the mountain forest under a constant barrage of missiles, and now falter, the Mead is warming, the women are starting to smell in the hot sun...WHERE IS THAT HALFWIT KID OF MINE!  The messenger from the right flank indicates the Carthaginian invaders are all but routed...Two BGs of elephants, a BG of Celtiberian warriors, and a cavalry unit are all in full rout, and we haven't even brought the Soldurii to bare yet!  But wait, what's this?  The Scutarii guarding the mountain pass, uphill, in the woods, have fallen to a BG of African Spearmen?  IMPOSSIBLE!
Spanish success!
Success!
Carthage:  With the pizza gone and the beer supply looted, we call it a night.  Taking stock, the Carthaginian left is in ruins.  The Gallic center is cleared, allowing a baggage train to exit the board.  The Spanish have cut a path to the road to exit their baggage train as well.  Clay commented that with our Friday night game, beer and pizza, it felt like we were back in college.  That is the mark of a great night!

Gaul: VIGNOR YOU IDIOT!  NOW you arrive!  The battle has been decided you FOOL!  Darkness is here and Hannibal is marching his baggage train thru the pass.  I gave the Kid EVERY opportunity...I  put up flagging to lead him to the field; I gave him fast reliable troops and yet he couldn't find his backside with two hands!  Blahh!  Well we sent much of the Carthaginians packing and should do some serious damage to the Celtiberians as they attempt to take this hill...but in the end it appears the baggage will get thru, and I will have to retire from the field; we have dealt a serious blow to Hannibal, but he will make it thru our lands with some of his army intact....alright, where is the Halfwit son of mine?!

In hindsight, I overpowered my right flank. My Soldurii never saw combat, and one Scutarii didn't either. I dearly needed these troops in the center; or closer to my camp.  While I defeated the Carthaginian left, it wasn't tied to the primary objectives, so this was a big mistake.  I was too weak in my center and left. Even if Vignor the halfwit showed up with his +2 bonus flank move, he might not have had enough power to carry the day, not without me stepping forward OFF my wonderful hill.  A couple of troops stripped off my right might have really made the day.  Goes to show, the setup is often the most important part of the game. As it was we have great battles, and everyone had some success.  Fun fun!