Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Battle of Himera 480BC

I went over to Friendless' house on Tuesday evening for some more Commands & Colors: Ancients gaming.

We had previously decided to play the Battle of Himera 480BC from Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #1: Greece & Eastern Kingdoms and I helped Friendless set up the board when I arrived. I happened to sit down on the side of the table that the Carthaginians were on and so the battle commenced.

The Battle of Himera (480BC)

Historical Background (From the scenario booklet)

Phoenicia and Greece both colonized the western Mediterranean. Carthage unified the Punic cities into an empire, while Syracuse rose to become the leading Greek city under its first Tyrant, Gelon. With Theron of Akragas, Gelon took control of Himera and drove out the former ruler, Terillus, in 483. King Hamilcar of Carthage, an ally and friend of Terillus, led an army to Sicily in 480 BC to restore him to power. Hamilcar established two camps to the west and southwest of Himera. As the armies skirmished outside the city, Gelon's raiders captured a message providing the date of arrival of a body of Greek cavalry reinforcing Hamilcar's army. A treacherous plan was hatched to substitute Gelon's own cavalry for these reinforcements. At dawn on the specified day, Gelon's horsemen entered the Punic sea-camp without raising any suspicion. They suddenly attacked, raising havoc and killing Hamilcar. Meanwhile the rest of Gelon’s army launched a surprise attack against both camps. Most of the forces in the sea-camp were slaughtered but a successful counter-attack at the hill camp prevented the total destruction of the Carthaginian army. A peace treaty was signed between Syracuse and Carthage, which held for seven decades. Since Hamilcar’s expedition coincided with the Xerxes’ invasion, it was believed to be part of a coordinated assault on the Greek world.

The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. The rest is history.

War Council

Carthaginian Army
• Leader: Hamilcar Gisgo
• 5 Command Cards

Syracusan Army
• Leader: Gelon
• 5 Command Cards
• Move First

6 Banners

Image from ccancients.net
Click for a larger image.

Game 1: In our first game I commanded the Carthaginians (brown blocks), while Friendless commanded the Syracusans (light blue blocks). This looked to be a very interesting scenario, due mainly to the fact that the Carthaginians had a lone leader in a hex vulnerable to attack on the first turn of the game!

Friendless commenced the battle by playing an Outflanked card giving the Syracusans two orders on both the left and right flanks. On my left flank he sent forward a unit of Medium Cavalry to attack and score two hits on my unit of Auxilia defending the rampart of my sea-camp. On my right flank the Syracusan leader Eumachus, commanding the Medium Cavalry outside my sea-camp, charged at my lone leader, Hamilcar. To kill Hamilcar, Friendless needed to roll just one Leader symbol (a 1 in 6 chance) on three dice. Luckily for me he failed to roll a Leader symbol and Hamilcar was able to evade back and attach himself to the unit of Heavy Chariots on my back board edge.

I responded to the Syracusan attack with an Order Two Units Left card. Hamilcar, now commanding a unit of Heavy Chariots, charged forward at Eumachus and his Medium Cavalry. The Heavy Chariot attack was devastating and Eumachus’ Medium Cavalry were destroyed. Banner check – Ozvortex 1, Friendless 0. As a result of this Eumachus was left alone in the hex. I then had to roll a Leader Casualty Check. If I rolled a Leader symbol on one die (1 in 6 chance) Eumaches would be killed as a result of the combat. I rolled the die – a Leader symbol! Eumachus is slain! Banner check – Ozvortex 2, Friendless 0. As I had destroyed both the Medium Cavalry and the attached Leader I then momentum advanced my Heavy Chariot unit and did a bonus close combat against a nearby Syracusan Medium Cavalry unit. I was able to destroy one block before it evaded away.

Friendless then played Order Four Units Centre to move up his Medium and Heavy Infantry as well as a couple of charges by his Medium Cavalry against my Carthaginian Auxilia defending the ramparts of my sea-camp.

I noticed that one of Friendless’ Medium Cavalry units that had attacked the previous turn was within range of a unit of my Medium Infantry. The Syracusan cavalry unit had also suffered further damage from my Auxilia unit and had only a single block remaining. I played Order Three Units Centre and moved forward a unit of Auxilia, Medium Infantry and Heavy Infantry. My Medium Infantry attacked, and although the Syracusan Medium Cavalry attempted to evade it was wiped out. Banner check – Ozvortex 3, Friendless 0.

After these setbacks, Friendless then played Order Medium Troops. He pulled back a wounded unit of Medium Cavalry and used the remaining orders to straighten his battle line in all three sections.

Seeing the Syracusan troops massing for an attack on the ramparts on my right flank I decided to send some missiles their way with an Order Light Troops. My Light Slingers and Light Infantry managed to do a block of damage each to both a Medium and Heavy Infantry Syracusan unit.

Friendless next played Order Heavy Troops to move forward his units of Heavy Infantry. They were now almost in contact with the rampart on my left flank.

I realise that some of my best infantry are languishing at my rear so I play Line Command to move them forward towards the advancing Syracusan threat in my centre.

Friendless now unleashes his attack on the ramparts by also playing a Line Command card. My troops defending the rampart can ignore a crossed swords symbol and may ignore a flag. Two Syracusan Medium Infantry units attack across the rampart at a unit of my Light Slingers and Auxilia which both take one hit but give as good as they get in the battle backs. A Syracusan Light Slinger unit attempts to cross the rampart but one of my own Light Slinger units blocks its advance and causes a casualty in a battle back. Finally, a Syracusan Heavy Infantry unit commanded by the leader, Gelon, attacks my Light Infantry unit holding the extreme right flank of the rampart. Knowing that the attack would be five dice with each die having a 50% chance of scoring a hit, I choose to evade my unit of Light Infantry. By choosing to evade, each die would then only have a 16.6% (1 in 6) chance of hitting. My Light Slingers survive the attack and evade to safety. Gelon and his Heavy Infantry momentum advances onto the rampart (we made a mistake here. Units can’t momentum advance after a unit evades).

Gelon’s cheering Heavy Infantry atop the rampart are soon quieted as I play Order Four Units Right and they see a unit of Cathaginian Warriors charging towards them and a Light Infantry unit moving behind them to cut off their retreat. My Warrior unit hits the Heavy Infantry and destroys it. Banner check – Ozvortex 4, Friendless 0. Gelon is left alone in the hex. I have a 1 in 6 chance of destroying him as well. I roll the die and am amazed to again see the required Leader symbol! Gelon is slain! Banner check – Ozvortex 5, Friendless 0. Over on the left of the rampart another of my ordered Medium Infantry units attacks a weakened Syracusan Medium Infantry unit and rolls sufficient hits to also kill it. Banner check – Ozvortex 6, Friendless 0.

Victory is mine!

This was a memorable game, notable for the deaths of two Leaders and the wide margin in victory banners. I was very lucky to eliminate the two Syracusan Leaders and had I failed to do so I am in no doubt the final scores would have been much closer.

Final score was me with 6 banners for the win against Friendless with 0 banners.

The placement of forces at the end of the battle. Viewed from the Carthaginian side.

Game 2: We swapped armies so I now commanded the Syracusans (light blue blocks) and Friendless commanded the Carthaginians (brown blocks).

I commence by playing an Order Three Units Right to first send Eumachus and his Medium Cavalry against the lone Hamilcar, then send a unit of Medium Infantry to assault the Carthaginian Auxilia unit defending the rampart, and finally to move forward Theron and his Heavy Infantry. As had happened to Friendless in our first game, I also fail to kill Hamilcar and the Carthaginian commander is able to evade back to a unit of Heavy Chariots. The doughty Carthaginian Auxilia manages to hold off the attacks of both of my Medium Infantry units, knocking out half the blocks of one unit and sending the other retreating two hexes.

Friendless responds to my attacks by playing an Order Two Units Left. He counterattacks with Hamilcar and his Heavy Chariot unit against Eumachus and his Medium Cavalry unit. The attack by the Carthaginian Heavy Chariots reduce my Medium Cavalry to only one block, however in the battle back I also reduce his Heavy Chariots to one block. Friendless then orders his Light Cavalry to attack my Medium Infantry which stands its ground and takes no damage.

I play another Order Three Units Right card. My first order is to charge another Medium Cavalry to attack the Auxilia unit defending the rampart of the sea-camp in the flank, thus negating the protection of the rampart. My second and third orders are to advance two of my Medium Infantry units assault the Carthaginian sea-camp rampart.

The attack by my Medium Cavalry on the Auxilia unit is a success and I am able to totally destroy it. Banner check – Ozvortex 1, Friendless 0. Having destroyed the Auxilia my Medium Cavalry is then able to momentum advance and make a bonus close combat against Hamilcar and his remaining block of Heavy Chariots. My bonus attack also succeeds and I destroy the Heavy Chariot unit. Banner check – Ozvortex 2, Friendless 0. As Hamilcar was now left alone in the hex the Leader Casualty check is a roll of one die looking for a Leader symbol to kill him. Hamilcar is lucky and manages to evade back to a unit of Carthaginian Light Cavalry.

Friendless now plays Order Light Troops. Five units of Light Slingers, Light Infantry and Auxilia unleash a barrage of missiles across my battle line. One of my Medium Infantry units loses two blocks and a unit of Medium Cavalry is forced to retreat.

I play Order Three Units Centre. My first order is to retreat Eumachus and his one block of Medium Cavalry out of danger. My second and third orders are to move up my two units of Medium Infantry into line with the units facing the hill-camp ramparts.

Friendless plays Move-Fire-Move. All his ranged combat units shoot but do little damage.

I respond by playing Order Two Units Left to start preparing my assault on the Carthaginian hill-camp on my left flank. I move my Syracusan leader, Gelon and his Heavy Infantry, up to take position on the end of the left flank of my battle line. I have a Line Command card in my hand that I intend to play next turn which will allow a line of six of my infantry units to move up to the ramparts and attack.

Friendless sees the threat of my last move and plays Order Four Units Right. Four of his units defending the ramparts send a rain of stones, arrows and javelins down on my advancing line. One of my Medium Infantry units, already wounded in a previous attack, is destroyed. Banner check – Ozvortex 2, Friendless 1. Another unit of my Medium Infantry, now resembling a pin-cushion, is reduced to half strength. A further unit of my Medium Infantry is forced to retreat twice.

My main battle line has now been separated in two. If I play my Line Command card as intended it will have little effect. I instead choose to play Coordinated Attack to move up units of Medium and Heavy Infantry to beef up the line on my left and send Theron and his Heavy Infantry to assault the Light Infantry defending the rampart of the sea-camp on my right. The Carthaginian Light Infantry unit evades back to the protection of the camp behind the rampart.

Friendless plays Order Three Units Centre. Hamilcar, now commanding a unit of Light Cavalry attacks a unit of my Medium Infantry but does no damage. A Carthaginian Auxilia unit does a block of damage to one of my units of Medium Infantry.

I play Order Two Units Centre. I detach Eumachus from his wounded cavalry unit and attach him to a full strength Medium Cavalry unit. I also move forward a unit of Heavy Infantry to face the threat of the Carthaginian centre.

Friendless plays Order Heavy Units to move forward his sole unit of Heavy Infantry commanded by Terrilus from the back edge of the board.

Having reformed my main battle line I decide the time is right to play Line Command. My line moves forward but the units which make contact with the enemy do little damage due to the protection of the rampart.

Friendless plays Leadership Any Section to advance Terrilus’ battle group of Medium and Heavy Infantry forward.

I play Order Two Units Centre to bring up more reinforcements.

Friendless plays Order Three Units Centre to again advance Terrilus’ battle group.

I play Coordinated Attack to move one unit in each section of the battlefield. On my left I pull a wounded unit of Light Slingers back to safety. In my centre my Medium Cavalry charges Hamilcar’s Light Cavalry and destroys it completely. Banner check – Ozvortex 3, Friendless 1. I fail to kill Hamilcar on the Leader Casualty check and he evades back to attach himself to a unit of Auxilia. On my right a unit of my Light Infantry attacks a Carthaginian unit of Auxilia but does no damage.

Friendless plays Counter Attack. Hamilcar, now commanding a unit of Auxilia, attacks Eumachus and his unit of Medium Cavalry. On the previous turn I had drawn the card First Strike. I now play it to attack before Friendless. Eumachus destroys Hamilcar’s Auxilia. Banner check – Ozvortex 4, Friendless 1. This is the third unit Hamilcar has had destroyed out from under him. He again survives the Leader Casualty check and evades to safety.

I now play Order Medium Troops. I move two units of Medium Cavalry forward and retreat Eumachus and his now wounded Medium Cavalry back to safety. I debate whether or not to send a unit of Medium Infantry with just two blocks remaining to attack a unit of Carthaginian Auxilia. The red mist descends and I attack. The Auxilia unit survives my attack and battles back killing my Medium Infantry. Banner check – Ozvortex 4, Friendless 2.

Friendless makes an attack on my right flank with a unit of Auxilia and two units of Light Infantry by playing Order Three Units Left. A unit of my Light Infantry evades and a unit of my Medium Cavalry loses one block.

I play Darken the Sky with the only two units I have in range that are capable of missile combat. My unit of Light Slingers is able to destroy a unit of Carthaginian Auxilia defending the hill-camp rampart. Banner check – Ozvortex 5, Friendless 2.

Friendless again plays Order Three Units Left but his attack with his light troops in the sea-camp are ineffective.

I play Line Command to have my Medium and Heavy Infantry units continue their attack on the sea-camp on my right flank. I do some severe damage but fail to destroy any units.

Friendless plays Counter Attack to attack with Terrilus and his battlegroup of Medium and Heavy Infantry. I lose a unit of Medium Infantry in the heavy fighting. Banner check – Ozvortex 5, Friendless 3.

I’ve been holding the card I am Spartacus in my hand for some time. Now is the time to play it. I send Gelon and his Heavy Infantry to push forward past the rampart of the hill-camp on my left flank to engage a unit of Carthaginian Auxilia that has only two blocks remaining. The Heavy Infantry unit, inspired by both Gelon and the I am Spartacus card (which allows them to roll an extra die) totally wipe out the Carthaginian Auxilia. Banner check – Ozvortex 6, Friendless 3.

Victory is mine!

Final scores were me with 6 banners for the win and Friendless with 3 banners.

The placement of forces at the end of the battle. Viewed from the Syracusan side.

The final total score of both games was me with 12 banners and Friendless with 3 banners. When Friendless and I next meet we will play the second scenario of C&C Ancients: Expansion Pack #2: Rome and the Barbarians - Telemon 225BC.

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