Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Other Side of the Pass

The Ron Emperor sent this picture of his army occupying the pass after the Bactrians had collected their dead and wounded and gone home and an account of the battle from the other side. He had actually had his camera to hand but the game we were both too "into" the game to think about pausing for pictures. 


The clever Graeco-Bactrians had laid out their position hiding most of their troops behind the crest line of the pass and in difficult ground. It was going to be up to the Chinese -Light Horse archers and the spear armed Light Cavalry to penetrate the Scythian Light Cavalry screen. The Chinese marched bravely down the road lead by the Light Horse archers (2 stands) and spear armed  Light Cavalry (2 stands). The order of march then had the Medium Cavalry (2 stands) and War Chariots (2 stands) behind them. This was the first command. The second command consisted of the infantry. Two stands of Spear & Sword armed light infantry, followed by two composite stands of spear and crossbow light infantry. These were followed by two stands of spear armed Heavy Infantry, then 2 more stands of spear & sword armed light infantry in the rear.

Unfortunately for the Chinese the units arrived on table and could not deploy off road until their second turn on the table. It would take about 6 turns before the Chinese had completely deployed into some semblance of order, in fact the Heavy Infantry were never to make it into contact with the enemy. On turn one only the Light Cavalry and the light Horse made it on table. In the following turns the rest of the troops arrived at 3 or 4 stands per turn on the road.

The Chinese managed to cover the deployment with the light cavalry to the fore. As they approached the Scythian scouts, the Scythians fell back tempting the Chinese to blindly go where no Chinese had gone before. But the Chinese maintained their discipline as they moved forward. The Chinese commander had studied the enemy Commander over many months and was well aware of his penchant for ambuscades, taking advantage of the terrain and sudden charges especially when faced with a larger enemy force.

As it turned a unit of skirmishing arches appeared at the northern edge of a wood that stretched half way across the battle field and opened fire. A second unit made an abortive attempt to leave the wood to get into archery range and revealed its position for little gain.

The Chinese troops continued to arrive, then deploy into multiple lines of infantry. Two units of Light spear & sword armed infantry headed towards the enemy archers in the aforesaid wood, supported by two composite units of spear & crossbow armed troops. The remainder infantry deployed as soon as possible off the road and advanced towards the pass.

Meanwhile the cavalry command had forced the enemy light horse back towards the crest line, actually the enemy light horse were feigning retreat yet again. The light cavalry finally crested the pass and got a clear view of the enemy line waiting patiently behind the crest. The cavalry was in contact with the enemy elephant and long bow men before they could react. The chariots plodded steadily forward followed by the medium cavalry. The cavalry and chariots managed to impede each other and get to close to the light horse screen to their front. But their was nothing for it but to go ahead, expecially as war chariots once moving have to move at least half a move a turn, even before declaring a stop.

As the southern wood was being cleared of the enemy skirmishing archers, the remaining infantry deployed in line behind the cavalry screen. The cavalry screen became embroiled in a bitter struggle for mastery of the crest line in the centre of the pass.

Finally the Chinese infantry on the broke into the long wood decimating the enemy skirmishing troops. But the Bactrian Cataphracts and cavalry then moved up to face them off. Meanwhile the massive fighting in the centre continued the elephant continuing to charge while the war chariots attempted to contact the elephants. The cavalry was in front, and even though not the best troops to face elephants (especially when the elephants are supported by long bow fire, they had no choice with the war chariots pressing continuously forward behind them.

Eventually the chariots managed to contact the elephant, and after a multi turn melee, defeat it. The end was finally approaching as the Chinese now moved forward in a steady line of infantry that stretched from north to south across the battlefield. But the cost to the cavalry had been high. The cavalry command was within one point of breaking. The infantry forces were desperately trying to cross the open ground of the pass and contact the enemy line which was holding the gap.

In the end the Chinese luck held while that of the enemy took a quick and downward spiral. The results the Chinese lost 2 stands of Light Horse archers, 2 stands of Light cavalry spears, and one stand of medium cavalry (7 out of the 16 morale points in the command), while the infantry command managed to retain all its stands they were highly damaged at the end of the battle. The Chinese were had lost 7 out of  the 17 morale break point.

The Chinese had cleared the pass, but lost the element of surprise  As the Chinese continue their push to control the trade routes across the middle of Asia the Graeco-Bactrians are preparing for another encounter as well, this time with full knowledge of the new enemy they face.

Preparing? Indeed!
And a closer view. Infantry and cavalry by Ral Partha. Chariots by Hincliffe if I'm not mistaken.

1 comment:

  1. A great looking game.I am glad you are enjoying playing with Impetus. What modifications did you make to use the rules with hexs? My apologies if I missed the post about this earlier...
    best wishes