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Mithridates goes to Britcon

Page history last edited by Rob Brennan 8 years, 12 months ago

FWIW an account of my progress at Britcon last weekend last week, which I would
like to preface by thanking Geoff for umpiring, JD McNeill and his team for
organising and all of my opponents for six convivial games played in a true
spirit of friendly competition.

Having built up a large collection of Xyston figures over the past few years, I
wanted to bring something Hellenistic and having pondered the various options,
settled on Pergamene. But then with just over a week to go before list deadline,
I made a last minute decision to switch to the Mithridatics. This was partly
for romanic reasons (they have been a favourite of mine going back to 25mm WRG
6th edition days) but also because I have always felt there is a good list in
there trying to get out. Anyway, I went with:

C1 (24ME)
Irr Kn (I) Sub
4 x Irr Ax (S)
4 x Irr Ax (O)
8 x Irr Ps (O)
8 x Irr LH (O)

C2 (30 ME)
Reg Cv (O) C-in-C
8 x Reg Pk (O)
16 x Reg Pk (I)

C3 (28ME)
Irr Kn (I) Sub
4 x Reg Ax (S)
6 x Irr Wb (O)
3 x Irr Bd (F)
4 x Irr Ps (O)
4 x Irr LH (F)
3 x Irr Kn (I)
2 x Reg Exp (O)

C4 (12ME)
Irr Kn (X) Armenian Ally-General
3 x Irr Kn (X)
2 x Irr LH (F)

Train (6ME)
6 x Irr Bg (I)

Army ME: 100

The ability of the Regular C-in-C to swap with whichever Irregular sub is closer
gives the army a powerful PIP swapping option for less than the cost of three
regular generals, without presenting a lowest PIP command target. Putting the
C-in-C in charge of the PIP efficient all regular pike command facilitates this
as it can usually get by on a low PIP score. I should say this command structure
was pioneered at our club in Dublin by Rob Brennan, so my thanks to him for
alerting me to the idea.

The high ME count also makes this a very forgiving army in terms of its ability
to both absorb losses and swamp opponents, both of which suit my style of play.
It also has a good mix of troop types, which makes it a good all-rounder, while
the 3:3:3:1 structure is also sound.

On the minus side, it has a lot of low quality troops and while (I) is a lot
better in DBMM than it used to be, it can be sensitive against the wrong kind of
opponents - Bw (S) being a classic example. Which reminds me that I must thank
Mick Hession for teaching me to give proper respect for Bw (S) over the course
of several defeats at the hands of his Tudor English.

Anyway, because it is not renowned as a tournament tiger, and not having used it
in open competition before, I was unsure about the Mithridatics would fare, so
can appreciate where Lorenzo was coming from when he made his "true man's army "
comment in the run-up to the competition!

So that's the theory. Here's how it worked out in practice over the course of my
games, none of which were affected by weather and in all six of which I was the
invader. I set up second in the first five and set up first in final game. The
Armenian ally was reliable in all six games.

Round 1: v Adrian Coombs-Hoar (Late Imperial Roman)
Adrian's Inert variant comprised a huge centre (45ME) deployed deep in classic
Roman formation with successive lines Ps (O), Ax (S), Ps (O), Bd (O) and Bd (I)
plus no fewer than 4 Art (F) somewhere in the middle of all that ready to shoot
over the forward lines. On each wing were identical commands (22ME I think) of
Kn (X), Cv (I), LH (O), which of course meant that to win the game I would have
to break that massive centre.

I deployed C1-3 from my left to right in that order with the Armenians in
reserve. At this remove it's hard to remember the precise details, but
basically, the presence of the massed artillery spurred me into attacking his
centre as rapidly as I could so that I could avoid shooting losses by getting
into close combat. Adrian's first line Ps proved surprisingly ineffective
against the Pikemen and Wb (O), which allowed C2 and C3 to quickly engage and
start inflicting heavy losses on the second Ax line, which forced Adrian to
commit his reserve Bd (O) line.

Meanwhile, C3's right most elements did a good job holding off Adrian's left,
allowing me to reinforce the attack on his centre with the Armenians, which
eventually disheartened and broke,taking his army and with it to make it 25-0
to go joint first. Good start!

Round 2: v Dave Pallin (Sargonid Assyrian)
Dave deployed with a big command (32ME) in his centre, which like Adrian's in
the previous game were deployed in successive lines, this time of Ax (S), Ps
(O), Sp (S)/Sp (O) and Bw (O). To the left of this were two 12ME chariot
commands (3 x Kn (S) including generals, padded by Hd), screened by an 18ME
command of Cv (S) supported by a few mounted Ax (S).

Because the table featured open terrain on my right and an enclosure in the dead
centre of the table, I deployed C2, 1 and 3 in that order from right to left.
After some initial manouvering that featured rapid advances and retreats by both
of us on my right/Dave's left, the game settled down into a more conventional
pattern as C1 and C3's combined infantry battled it out with the Assyrian centre
for possession of the enclosure, from which the latter where eventually pushed
out, with significant losses to both sides.

On the left I concentrated C1's and C3' mounted troops to counter the developing
threat presented by Dave's redeployed Cv (S) and one of the Kn (S) commands.
With C3 on the brink of being disheartened as a result of infantry losses in the
central battle, I committed C3's Kn (I) in a "use 'em or lose 'em" attack that
proved surprisingly effective, helping to kill the Assyrian Kn (S) sub and
inflict losses on the Assyrian Cavalry.

On the right, C2 spent most of the game grinding remorselessly towards the other
Assyrian Kn (S) command and the large block of hordes guarding the camp. The
Armenians meanwhile reinforced C3 in the battle against the Assyrian centre,
helping to demoralise and bring it to within half an ME of breaking.

With two commands in both armies now disheartened, at this point the game came
to a spectacular end as C2 killed enough Hd to break the Assyrian chariot
command fighting my left, which in turn broke the Assyian centre. Resolving the
remaining combats of the bound however, Dave now inflicted enough losses to
break C1, which in turn broke C3 and with it my army to make it a mutual
destruction. As I was the invader the result was 13-12 to Dave, which meant I
was relegated from the top table.

Round 3: v Jim Gibson (Navarrese)
Jim got a nice defensive position featuring a line of rough hills across his
front well suited to the two Ax (S) commands in his army, which he deployed to
the right and left with a Free Company Bw (S)/Bd (S) command in the centre,
supported by an Irr Kn (S)/(O) command in reserve.

I countered by concentrating my army on my far left, with C1-3 in that order
from left to right and the Armenians in reserve. My plan was to attack Jim's
rightmost Ax (S) with C2 and C3, with C1's light horse to skirt round on the far
left and C3's and C4's LH detailed to distract the Free Company from any attempt
to attack my right.

The plan worked reasonably well. C3's infantry did well going uphill against Ps
and Ax (S). C2 made heavy weather fighting Ax (S) and a lone Bd (S) to its front
in the open to the left of the hill, but eventually killed enough to break Jim's
right wing Ax (S) command. To the left of these, C1's foot faced off the
Navarese Kn command, which was in a difficult position because C1's LH had
sneaked behind their flank onto a rough hill in Jim's right corner, forcing him
to drop off significant numbers of knights to counter the threat.

On my right, Jim eventually overcame tricksy manouvering by the LH to start
applying pressure with the Free Company and his left wing Ax command on C3. Had
the game gone on, I suspect both C3 and the Navarrese Kn command would have been
in trouble, but as it was we timed out at 14-11 to me. Back to the top table

Round 4: v Chris Jolley (100YW English)
I have lost my notes from this one but from memory Chris deployed with two wing
commands of Bw (S)/Bd (S) (the Bw (S) on his left all mounted) plus supporting
elements and a central reserve command of False French knights, all held quite
far back to give him time to counter my second deployment advantage. Just as
well as his first PIP roll was a truly miserable 1,1,1!

My main memory of this game is that after his poor PIP start, Chris redeployed
effectively to pose a serious threat to my right with his mounted Bw (S) and the
False French, while bringing up Bd (S) in the centre to face C2. There's nothing
like the threat of overwhelming force to one of your wings to encourage a rapid
attack, so I decided to go for broke by peeling off the Armenians to delay
Chris's left and launcing an immediate attack on the Bd in his centre supported
by C1 on the left.

And it paid off. In an early combat I lucked out to destroy an element of Bd (S)
in the one place where Chris had no reserves to cover the gap, so was able to
exploit with flank locks that killed doubled ranks, which created more gaps to
exploit causing more losses that first disheartened and then broke both commands
and with it his army. On my right the Armenians held on long enough to protect
C2's flank. It was all over fairly quickly, which was welcome because the third
game on Day 2 is the equivalent of the wall in the marathon that is Britcon, so
the early finish was welcome.

Chris didn't have much luck in this one and to add insult to injury, I even
manged to mow down a Bd (S) in a rare success with one of the expendables, which
followed up into his right wing sub. In the subsequent combat, Chris rolled a 1
but in a rare stroke of good fortune for him, I duly rolled a 1 of my own, which
was just enough for the general to survive and the expendable to die.

Round 5: v Niall Taylor (Alans)
Having a healthy respect for massed LH (S) I decided to batten down the hatches
in this one, a decision which was happily facilitated by the way the terrain
fell, giving me a nice wooded hill on each flank and a large gentle hill in the
centre. Accordingly I defended the front line with two deep pikes (most of them
uphill) and Ax, stuffed the woods with Ps and covered the wood-rear table edge
defile on my right with Armenians and that on my left with C1's LH, while the
remaining mounted troops stood in reserve.

Niall redeployed his entire army to my left, rode around the hill there and sent
one command to attack through the defile while a second screened the wood from
the side table edge. Niall's inital attack was quite successful but he himself
suffered losses from the inevitable counter attack assisted by flank and rear
attacks by my Ps in the wood. I refinforced C1 with some pikemen and with his
command eventually becoming disheartened Niall withdrew it.

Niall then gamely attacked C1's Ps and Ax in the wooded hill with fresh LH from
his second and third commands, which is not as crazy as it sounds as just a few
more losses would have disheartened and then possibly broken C1. However,
attacking Ps and Ax uphill in Dgo was just too big an ask and the attack got
nowhere, leaving the game to time out at 13-12 to me.

Highlight of the game for me was a raid on the Alan baggage by the Armenian LH
based on my belief that pillaging the camp of an army comprised entirely of LH
(S) with a couple of impudent LH (F) deserves special bragging rights! Mind
you, Niall had the last laugh when one of the Armenians was spent by a baggage
element that heroically 6-1'd it.

Round 6: v Dave "Inert" Thompson (Burgundian Ordonnance)
I was still in first place going into the last game, but with a margin of only
five over second placed Niall, and any number of other people close behind him,
it was very tricky knowing how to manage this last game against Dave. On the one
hand, a draw might allow someone else to leapfrog both of us but on the other,
massed Burgundian Bw (X/S) are a bad match-up for the Mithridatics so going for
a win might result in a disastrous defeat which would knock me off the podium
entirely. So I decided to play cautiously, see how thingswent and only try a big
attack if the opportunity presented.

I was again helped by the terrain, which gave me a nice big gentle hill on my
left behind which to hide C2's Pks and a rough hill in the centre behind which I
hid C3. C1 was on the far left but with the LH held back for use elsewhere and
the Armenians in reserve. Dave deployed with two commands of Bw X/S plus
supports (each of 18ME) forward and a 33ME all knight command behind.

The first half of the game was virtually bloodless as Dave marched to his right
to counter the threat posed C1 overlapping him, while I redployed all my army's
from C1,3 and 4 to the far right to threaten the exposed flank of his knights
and some Bw (O) and Ps (O) from his left wing Bw X command, which as the lowest
PIP command was vulnerable. What started out as a small scale skirmish developed
into a serious fight as more and more of my LH and Dave's Kn (O) were drawn in.
Sensing an opportunity, I now committed C3 to refinforce the attack and finally,
to prevent Dave reinforcing his left with his right, sent C2 over the crest to
enage the Bw (X).

In spite of several flank lock opportunities, the LH failed to do any damage to
the gendarmes, but at least combined effectively with C3's Wb attack to
dishearten the left wing Bw (X) command.

On the other hand, C1 was now beginning to take significant losses while with
PIP priority going elsewhere, C1's infantry were unable to help C2's attack on
the Bw (X), which consequently stalled.

The game now timed out and with 1/10th losses against me v. one disheartened
Burgundian command, Dave had the advantage to make it 13-12 to him, which gave
me a final total of 99. Happily it was enough to hold on to top because of all
the following pack, only Greg Mann achieved a big win (23-2 I think), which
zoomed him up to 2nd place on 96. I gather Niall and Jim played out a draw on
table 2, which left Niall in third.

Post Mortem
I must confess that although I felt there was a good army in the Mithridatic
list, I certainly had no expectation that it would do so well., as evidenced by
the fact that I had only travelled with a cabin bag so had nowhere to put the
trophy on the way home.

Thanks again to everyone for a really great weekend.

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