Syrian Wars players try out downloaded lists

Remember he who writes the history wins the battle.
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Syrian Wars players try out downloaded lists

Postby jjonas » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:10 pm

Successor Wars try Swordpoint Rules from Gripping Beast (reposted form TMP)

Myself and Paul Rigby trotted out our venerable Ptolemaic and his well painted Seleucids in 28mm for our holiday morning game fest. This would be our second play of the new Swordpoint rules from Gripping Beast, developed by Martin Gibbins.

Ptolemaic vs. Seleucid SP Game report 01-16-2017
1250 pts. Jeff Jonas vs. Paul Rigby. A 4'x8' table was enough room for this sized game. ... e=591F9EA6
My shiny shields were better than his, this time.

Our two army lists were similar, and were gleaned from Gripping Beast's website- four or so phalanxes, and formed light infantry, one elephant, and light troops. The Ptolemaic player wisely had Thracians.

Both had one elite heavy cavalry unit, and one line cavalry. The Seleucid had horse archers and skirmish cavalry, while the Ptolemaic side countered with Tarentine cavalry. Both sides had Cretan archers, and each had two other units of javelins or bow skirmishers.
Both armies had a full allotment of commanders.
Deployment—Hidden . Scenario 3. ... e=59083E9A

I set up the table with my lovely BigRedBatShop Plains design battle mat, 8' x 4', 15cm grid. Terrain was simple, just some hills channeling the action to the decisive center.

Initially I was at the mercy pf the turn sequence. Paul kept us on target. It is so asymmetric that I have not quite figured out the flow. We have learned to hoard our momentum chits, and not blow them on initiative. By the end of the game I was getting it.

Generally the Seleucid cavalry pushed hard on my left flank and I pushed onwards to my right flank. The centers slowly developed since the heavy foot wanted to stay in phalanx. I did push two phalanxes at 8" moves… I don't think that was wise… losing phalanx for the whole turn until after the next charge phase means folks will simply not do much full moving… plus we need markers to show a unit cannot be shieldwall—or, conversely, a marker to show the unit is in shieldwall. ... e=590F0F85

Missile fire removed skirmishers stands but mostly bounced off formed troops. Having to shoot at the closest or greatest threat means there isn't too much room for converging fire.

My expensive Cretan archers ran because they took two full casualties, lost a stand and failed there 8 or less—they never rallied— without a Commander nearby they simply loped off the table.

Missile fire was mostly ineffective against formed troops except that the Seleucid Cretans did get a "D" result against my heavy cavalry that dogged them for the rest of the game. "D" for discouragement—means they lose combat easier and suffer other minuses.

After fits and starts both our right wings offed the other's left wing. His left wing routed because of an elephant terror test. On the other wing, his elephant routed a 40 figure phalanx by terror. Terror is quite effective. Cavalry just run away and evade elephants. This left things up to the phalanxes.

However I found the Terror rule to be far too powerful. A substantial part of my battleline simply ran off because they rolled a 10, and were not going to rally soon, or ever on a 4. Without a staged response this makes the elephant overpowered. As a comparison, in WAB an elephant caused terror against cavalry but only Fear against infantry-- this meant when a large unit failed its Cohesion (in this case) it simply suffered adverse combat effects, or couldn't charge. i keep looking for a section that reveals we did something incorrect here, but have not come across it. ... e=591A285D

Once the phalanx's engaged we expected the game to heat up… but things kind of went flat, no push, no casualties, a stalemate. Then I rolled box cars and his general croaked. That really put an end to it as his line broke up due to panic checks.

Generally the game owes its framework to Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB). It uses multiple figure bases instead of individual figures. The rules streamline a lot of the old issues of WAB making game play faster. Commanders are no longer superhero style characters. Many of the rules work similarly to the comfortable past, others have nuances. The turn sequence is sort of an alien thing to me. The momentum system has a learning curve, eventually one figure out when to hold them and when to spend them. The key part is remembering when to earn your momentum points.

The rules have gone to extra lengths to clarify mechanics, which is great. There is even an index which helps immensely. There are many army lists in the works, some already published. We cobbled our lists from already posted sample lists on the internet.

Generally the game flowed as expected of this kind of period match. The flank forces tried to force the action. I delayed on my left and bought time, but broke through his left. The game would have been tighter if his general had not been eliminated, I (apparently wisely) kept mine behind the lines. Our only concern was how to heat up the phalanx battle in the center, but we admitted we are using preliminary lists.

Some things were apparent. Thracians with halberds were very effective, this is because the two tier wounds system of the past has lost one step-- magnifying halberds and other +1 modifier effects.

Skirmishers had no real reason to engage each other as shooting is much more damaging than hand to hand combat.

We found some charge/counter-charge anomalies when multiple units were charging.. luckily the rules sorted those out, rather than resorting to the old dice off. The strangest anomaly was when the above Thracians impetuously charged the enemy cavalry in flank.. but the enemy cavalry declared their own charge, but then had to receive the charge even though the cavalry charge order is higher than infantry.

So in summation the game worked as a Hellenistic battle. I think with specific period tweaks this can be a nice competitive game set because the games do move fairly fast. We concluded about five turns in a two hour time frame, and had reached some conclusion.

Still learning, but improving. We hope to try Republican Romans vs. Pyrrhus soon.

I think a real test will Indians with elephant and lots of archers en masse.

BigREdBat's Shop battle mat, I really found the grid useful since pre measuring is not frowned on in these rules:

Plains design battle mat, 8' x 4', 15cm grid ... -15cm-grid

Bob Stradling
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Re: Syrian Wars players try out downloaded lists

Postby Bob Stradling » Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:53 am

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the report. I think we are all still finding our way around.

A couple of points I noted that might be helpful:

Elephants only cause terror in mounted troops (p41).

The disruption from shooting is automatically removed in the initial phase at the start of the next turn unless you have been engaged in combat and then it persists until the end of the combat.

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Re: Syrian Wars players try out downloaded lists

Postby jjonas » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:07 pm

Hey that is great.. we mis-read that section I think because of the page layout, we may have missed that nuance.

But it is always good to post everything so folks can be reinforced to do it right! Next time we will. I was having some trepidation about Indians, now that issue is off the table. I can focus on how shooting works!

Bob Stradling
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Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:46 am

Re: Syrian Wars players try out downloaded lists

Postby Bob Stradling » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:24 pm

Sorry Jeff, I may have been pre-emptive in my enthusiasm, someone else has raised an issue re elephant terror in another thread where the p45 description of terror indicates cohesion tests all round! We'll see what Martin has to say.

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Re: Syrian Wars players try out downloaded lists

Postby jjonas » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:19 pm

Aha.. so we are both correct... your page reference clearly states cavalry only... the other reference is apparently where Paul and I settled on.

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Re: Syrian Wars players try out downloaded lists

Postby Rigbyp » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:36 pm

I figured I'd make that question it's own post in the rules section so it didn't get missed in the shuffle here. Sorry if I got both our units running on a bad rule call, Jeff! I was reading a post here a while back about elephants fighting Romans I think and there was a comment in there "after we made the relevant elephant terror saves". That made me take a look back and re-read the since I only remembered the part about terror in cavalry.

While, we're talking. I'm curious about armored or pike armed heavy infantry in others games. We've never actually had a stand die in any of our games yet. We've been running 3 stands wide, usually with a commander attached. For stands, like warbands, with a save of 6 I can see stands popping, we've had no luck with the more hardy guys. I can't imagine what it takes to kill Romans. Is what we see pretty standard?


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Re: Syrian Wars players try out downloaded lists

Postby Jcspqr » Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:15 pm

I have played about 1/2 a dozen pike on pike on pike games. Where both sides play a conventional army composition and deployment, and no-one does anything stupid to open up a flank, in at least 1/2 of our games the phanlanx battle has turned into a inconclusive drawn out draw since neither side has the ability to inflict enough casaulties in the pike combat to acheive anything other than a battle line moderated draw. To some extent I have chalked thsi up to the fact that I am playing against the same group of guys and we have all been playing pikes for years, so the deployment and tactics all tend to be be standard issue macedonian/successor.

The games that have turned out more decisive have generally involved a slow push back followed by an eventual collapse when once side has been able to gain a flank. So I guess this is not un-historic, but is it taking some time for us to get the dynammic right.

I also agree with Paul that Romans are going to be extraordinarily tought to beat straight up in a purely classical match up.

I think in the dark age context the proliferation of 2HCW makes it more likely that more casualties wlll be inflicted in the battle line and as such a more decisive combat result is more likely. That at least has been our experience with the Norman/Viking era games we have played.


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