What About My Greeks? Optional Lists for AoA2

A long time ago I wrote a Classical Greek Campaign for several myself and several of my friends in Southern California.  Back then, the only 2 sources for playing any type of Classical Greek army was the original AoA and Jeff Jonas’s ATG supplement.  So I compiled a few lists, and we played a 2 year long campaign.  Sadly, 4 of the players back then spent large amounts of time and money putting together armies which are now not included in AoA2.  So going back over my old notes, here are the updated lists if you would like to use them.  When an entry refers to a stat line and points cost, please refer to the entry as it now appears in Later Hoplite Greek List (pages 40-41) of AoA2.  Unless specifically mentioned, all equipment options remain the same as the original army list entry.

The first army would be that of Thessaly, in the 100 year period prior to the rise of Alexander the Great.  Thessaly was noted for the extensive use of cavalry and the quality of it’s horses.  The army General would be referred to as a Tagus, in 344 B.C., Philip II was declared as Tagus for life.

Thessalian Army– Characters: up to 25%. Cavalry: at least 25%.  Hoplite Infantry: at least 25%, may not include elite hoplites.  Light Troops: up to 25%. Allies:  up to 25%, may select from Early Macedonia or Minor City-States list .  All cavalry units cost +2 points and are M8.

Phocis was a Minor City State, located in central Greece which played a pivotal roll in many conflicts.  It was the luck-luster performance of Phocian troops at Thermopylae which was partially blamed for the loss of that battle.  Phocis later played a key role against Philip II of Macedon during the Sacred Wars (355-346 BC).  The Phocians employed larger numbers of light troops than most other Greek armies to defend the mountainous terrain of that region.  Highly trained bands of light troops known as ‘Epilektoi’, functioned as the elite troops of the Phocian army.

Phocian Army– Characters: up to 25%.  Cavalry: up to 10% (may not take Elite Cavalry).  Hoplite Infantry: up to 50%, a Phocian army must include at least 1 unit of Mercenary Hoplites (may not take Elite Hoplites) and 1 unit of Militia Hoplites . Light Troops: up to 50%, 0-1 units of Peltasts (light troops) per 1200 points may be upgraded to Elite status for +4 points (these troops are WS4, I4, Ld8) and must upgrade to shield and thrusting spear.  Artillery: up to 10%, may select Stone Thrower per page 85 of the EIR list.   The normal restrictions to artillery per page 4 of AoA2 still applies.

Greek Mercenary armies had existed nearly as long as there had been Greek City States.  Greek Mercenaries fought for and against Greeks, Persians, Egyptians and later the Romans.

Greek Mercenary Hoplite– Characters: up to 25%.  Cavalry: up to 25% (0-1 unit may be upgraded to Elite).  Hoplite Infantry:  at least 50% (may select only Regular or Mercenary Hoplites, 0-1 units may be upgraded to Elite).  Light Troops: up to 25% (any unit of bow armed psiloi may be upgraded to Cretans).  Note- Regular Hoplites represent newly recruited hoplites, while Mercenaries and Elites represent the ‘old-guard’.

I will work on getting lists out for Argos, Corinth and Epirus.  These lists are not official, but I will post a link to them on the WAB Forum website.

Against All Odds- Fearless Skirmishers in WAB

There is a little known rule on page 77 of the WAB 2.0 rulebook, which reads skirmishers with a leadership value of 7 or less automatically ‘fear’ formed units.  And since the vast majority of skirmishing units are of leadership 7 or less, many WAB players simply assume that ALL skirmishers fear formed units.  I only know of a few leadership 8 or better skirmish troops out there but they should be noted; Etruscan Cavalry*, Illyrian Warrior Cavalry*, Thracian Noble Cavalry*, Agrianians, some Agema/Hypaspists*, Cretans, Xiongnu Nobles*, MIR Light Cohort* and Bushi Cavalry*.  As noted with an ‘*’ several of these units are Light Cavalry or Light Infantry, which means they have the option of deploying as skirmishers.

Your probably asking yourself why should I care?  The answer is simple…dependability.  These troops never have to check to see if they flee when charged by formed troops and can even charge a formed enemy (this is often suicide, which I will discuss later).  I guess the best way to explain my point is via an analogy which happened in a game I played today.  It was an odd game of Macedonians vs. Dacians (thanks Steve).  Now, the game was part of a scenario, which placed large amounts of terrain on the board which caused my phalanx to be exposed to the highly mobile warbands.  At one point, one of my flanks was exposed to a unit of Falxmen, and doom seemed imminent until I noticed I had a small unit of 9 Agrianians with slings within charge range.  By charging these skirmishers at the Falxmen, who I figured would be easily beaten by the warband, it would pull the enemy away from my Pikes (which were closer than the skirmishers) and out of a wooded area where my Companions could charge the Falxmen over open ground.  Well I charged and it went as planned, and the warband was forced to pursue, pulling them out of the woods and into the path of my Companions.  It was a glorious day for the Sons of Macedonia.  I can almost guarantee that if I would have been unable to charge my skirmishers into the warband, I would have lost the game based simply on that point.  The game was won on the fact that I didn’t have to test vs. panic before declaring my charge.

The next piece of observed evidence earlier this year when I was watching a game between 2 friends of mine.  The first was playing Normans and the other Japanese.  After routing most of the Japanese with other Norman Knight units, the Norman player moved his character stacked unit of Norman Knights (which consisted of a frontage of eight models, with 2 complete ranks) towards the main Japanese Bushi Infantry.  The characters in the unit included the General and Army Standard Bearer.  At this point, the Death-Star Norman unit was poised to charge the Japanese General and the Bushi, and although stubborn, simple combat resolution made it look pretty bleak for the Sons if Nippon.  As the Japanese player said, well this shit is over we might as well call it, I said, Dude you are in really good shape.  Both of the players looked at me and the Norman player stated, What do you mean? There is nothing YOU can do either.  I told him not only would I win the game but I would destroy his Death-Star to which he replied, if you can do that I will buy you dinner at Black Angus (and I love Black Angus).  I then proceeded with my turn, I then declared my only charge…this unit of 7 Bushi Cavalry skirmishers will charge the rear of your Norman Knights.  The other player didn’t look concerned and then I charged.  The bow-charge fire yielded a casualty and then the charge struck home.  The charge was likewise unremarkable and only one more Norman Casualty was caused to the rear rank of Norman Retainers.  The Normans rear rank (without any character support) then stuck back killing a Bushi.  Combat resolution was 4 for the Japanese (2 casualties caused and a rear charge) to the Normans 3 (1 casualty, a unit standard and an army standard).  The Normans held, but on my next turn, the unsupported Normans received a charge to the front by the unit of Bushi containing the Japanese General.  Without their First Charge, Shock Cavalry, or Lances and being denied the charge, the Norman General’s unit was broken and destroyed.  As a result of the General’s death, about half of the remaining Norman’s panicked.  All because of 7 Bushi Cavalry who didn’t fear the enemy and wouldn’t auto-break if they lost combat. 

WAB at Strategicon-OrcCon 2012

Well, President’s Day weekend has come and gone.  And I am already looking forward to next year and the next Webster Open Warhammer Ancient Battles Tournament.  Above is a picture of the my first game against the legend (he would say ‘no’) Jeff Jonas.  Jeff’s army is on the left hand side and I am on the right (turn 1 just after deployment).  I was playing my Early Successors Imperial Macedonian Army from AoA2, and Jeff was playing his Ptolemaic Egyptians.

As with the common Strategicon format, each players plays 2 games with ‘in-period’ match-ups as often as possible.  After turn 1 games are in, winners are paired against winners.  Battle points are added and if a clear winner looks obvious, awards are handed out.  Otherwise, a third round ensues.  The 2nd game with optional 3rd is a very popular format because nobody is ever rushed, lunches are normally 1 1/2 hours, and those who want to enjoy a cold beer after game 2, can sit around and play a third game (out of time period) and not feel pressured, while those who have long drive (and it’s Sunday) can head on home early.

With a field of 16 players, it was a good time with enough armies to give a broad range of time periods.  Both of my games were ‘in-period’ and I think the same was true for everyone else.  Harold Hildebrand did a great job and prize support was given by Gripping Beast Miniatures.  As always, no additional fee was required which is VERY different from many of the other tournament style events at Strategicon.  Harold brought a couple extra armies for anyone who needed one, and supplied all of the terrain.  I am happy to report that I won both of my games, largely due to the failed die rolls of my opponents and much less on the tactics I employed.  So I took 3rd place over-all and realized I still need more practice before Adepticon…and I need to play less COE until after Adepticon as I am getting rules screwed up with increasing frequency.

For those WABers out of the Los Angeles area, I would really like to encourage you to think about heading down to the event next President’s Day weekend.  I will be in attendance, and if any of you in Washington want to head down next year, make sure to get a hold of me…perhaps we can organize a pilgrimage which will include several of us.

Dean Motoyama’s WAB Blog

When I see something useful or interesting I normally make a note of it for myself and friends.  In this case I want to let everyone in the NW to get the information on Dean Motoyama’s WAB blog, under the title of WAB CORNER.  Dean just loves the game and enjoys putting up the blog, and so it isn’t cluttered with all kinds of advertising or self-promotion.  It is just an endeavor of one guy, his love for the hobby and the hope of ‘if you build it they will come‘ .

Dean probably wouldn’t classify himself as a hard-core WAB’er, but he is a fantastic painter and wargaming enthusiast.  For those of you interested in seeing some really good painting and commentary on WAB, Black Powder and whatever else Dean is painting or playing you should check his blog website at http://wabcorner.blogspot.com/

Stand and Deliver! The Use of Archers in WAB!

More than a few novice wargamers have looked across the game table and despaired when seeing the massed archery formations of an opponent.  A recent email to the podcast included ‘I dont’ know how many archers to take in my Roman army.  I tried putting two groups in but they don’t seem to work at protecting my flanks and people just move right up to them and wipe them out.’  The email went on to explain that he rarely has any success with the tactics he uses for archers.  He also states that he thinks archers should perform better and be more inclined to ‘shoot an enemy off the table once in awhile.’   Twenty years ago I would have shared similar thoughts regarding wargaming vs. history (or my media inspired view of history).  Perhaps many of us had watched one too many Robin Hood movies growing up and thought that every arrow (or other missile) fired in the direction of the enemy was going to lead to a casualty.  In the mechanics of wargaming, much as it was on the ancient battlefield this concept is largely false.  The use of mass formations of archers combined with the use of armor and shields made archery a tactical consideration and only rarely (very rarely) a decisive one.

This leads us to an important question; how deadly is bow-fire?  From a statistical viewpoint it can become very easy to analyze.  If an BS3 archer fires a bow at long range at a T3 model with a 5+ Armor Save, there is a 1/9 chance of a casualty result.  This ratio is hardly in the spirit of Robin Hood or William Tell.  While firing at short range may improve this result to 1/6, this does not take into account movement or skirmish modifiers which also commonly come into play.  So why do wargamers fear the bow?  I think the fear arises out of the anomaly, not the average.  While a unit of 10 bowmen firing at short range a 6 man cavalry unit will on average cause one casualty, it is that more rare occurrence of the removal of 2 or 3 models and the subsequent failed panic test that becomes etched deeply in the memory. This is were the clinical statistician freaks out (who expected the predetermined 1 casualty result) and the typical wargamer singing praises to the dice-gods (and begins to refer to his archers as VIPs or otherwise a good-luck unit).

Now do not start to think that I am down on the use of missile weapons or that I do not think of them as an important part of a solid, well-rounded army.  Quite the opposite, I think the use of combined fire from missile troops can be instrumental to victory and force your opponent to close or move in response, I just want to point out to some newer players that the WAB game mechanics, much like historical battles were rarely won by the use of the bow alone.  It was a combined arms approach that won the day!