Wednesday, February 15, 2023

History Repeats Itself - Strength & Honour AAR

This past weekend, I ran a game of Strength & Honour at the monthly SJGA meetup. I'm planning to run this scenario at the Springfield meetup this upcoming weekend (and have volunteered to also run it at Cold Wars in March), so I needed some refresher games to get my head around the rules. John commanded the Romans, while Chris commanded the Pontics. 

The Chaeronea scenario refights a major battle of the First Mithridatic War. Three years into the war, Lucius Cornellius Sulla found himself and his 30,000 strong army facing a Pontic army twice its size, led by the Greek nobleman, Archelaus. 

John set his legions up on top of the heights of Mount Thurium, with his cavalry behind the Roman shields. Chris' pike blocks were flanked by lighter infantry and cavalry, with archers and skirmishers out in front. 

Chris moved aggressively, his massed ranks of pikemen rolling forward and the Scythed Chariots attacking the Romans' Greek allies. 

John began maneuvering his cavalry to swing out to the flanks of the Roman lines. 

Unfortunately, the Scythed Chariots failed to do any damage, and were instead pushed back and destroyed (any Push Back result against Scythed Chariots automatically destroys them, but it only costs a Setback card and doesn't force a Rout result). Buoyed by the victory, the Thureophoroi surged forward to attack the Pontic Cavalry. 

John pushed hard on the left flank, with his Raw Roman Legion joining the Thureophoroi to push back Chris' flank, exposing the line of pikes. 

In the center, legion met phalanx and skirmisher fought skirmisher. 

On the far right, you can see John's Light Cavalry ranging out in a flanking maneuver. 

With Chris' flank tied up, he could only watch as the Roman cavalry turned and prepared a charge into the open side of his pike phalanxes. 

Chris' Thureophoroi had also been caught by the fast moving Roman Light Cavalry. Of course, it didn't help that the Thureophoroi had refused to move for several turns.

At least Chris' attack on the Roman left flank was going better. Two pike phalanxes, supported by the Pontic Light Cavalry, were pushing back two of John's legions. 

With the skirmishers on both sides chased out of the line of battle, the Roman legions and Pontic phalanxes continued to clash. 

However, the Pontics were in a precarious position. With the legions to the front, and flanked by cavalry, Chris' Veteran Phalanx was automatically Disordered. And his Thureophoroi ended up fleeing the Roman Light Cavalry... right into his phalanxes' other flank!

Being stuck between two enemy units in Strength & Honour (really, in any wargame) is pretty disastrous, although I did mess a few things up. There probably shouldn't be this many Disorder markers on the phalanx the Pontic general is attached to, or on the skirmishers. But by this point, Chris had accrued enough Setback cards that, when John called Haemonculus Est, they were well above the Pontic break point of 20. 

Chris and John were great players, and I really appreciated them helping me out.

Later that very same day, I then went up to Ted's and replayed the game with him, Chip, and Steve. Steve and I played the Romans, while Ted and Chip played the Pontics. 

I won't get into the full details of the game, but it seemed like the Romans' luck had turned sour, and we were gathering Setback cards left and right. However, a reversal of fortune from the Pontics gave us the momentum to win some important combats and give the Pontics enough Disaster cards to barely eke out a win. 

Chip was a major help in figuring out several rules that I had misread or misapplied, which will be great for this coming Saturday. And it's a reminder that I shouldn't play in games I'm also trying to teach! It does my head in trying to do both at the same time (although already having played the game once, and not sleeping all that well the night before didn't help).

All that aside, I'm definitely more confident in running this scenario. I do think I need to "pretty up" the tale a little more. I do need to make the stream that the scenario mentions (which is entirely fordable and doesn't impact the battle), and maybe toss down some green tufts for small groves of trees. 

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