Thursday, November 24, 2022

"Pork. It's what for dinner", hopefully! (A Foraging Scenario Battle Report)

Libyan spearmen at the ready.

Today I fought another engagement in our ongoing Sicily campaign for Clash of Spears. Again, my opponents were the darned Greeks, this time Bryan's force of Pyrrhic warriors.
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Malchus stared into the rising sun and surveyed the idyllic scene before him, the small building and livestock arrayed peacefully about the valley. The scouts he had sent out yesterday had returned with news of the farm, and his men's hunger had spurred him into investigating with his full force.

When he'd learned of the pig herds gathered here, he had immediately ordered a night march. He hadn't even spared the time to consult the gods. That would have been tough anyway, since he'd had the last priest put to death, perhaps a tad prematurely. 

No matter, there weren't many problems a full belly couldn't fix, and from the look of the fattened pigs before him, that should no longer be an issue.

As he began to advance on the farm, his eyes caught a faint glint in the distance. It could easily be the dawn's light reflecting off enemy arms and armor, or just as easily be nothing at all. Warily, he arranged his line and his men moved forward cautiously, alert to the possibility of an enemy presence...

Initial positions after the deployment phase. Carthaginians are on the left.

By the gods! It was an enemy after all. And not just any enemy. He recognized the shield design of the same Greek bastard that had fought off Malchus's men in Messana. Today he meant to kill him once and for all -  it would be a shame, as beautiful as he was, but a blood feud cared little for appearances.

The Punic citizens were able to advance almost to the pig herd on the left flank. Unfortunately that was as close as they would get...

From behind the Greek lines you can appreciate the perfectly formed ranks of spearmen and the flanking skirmishers.

Malchus was pleased with his deployment thus far.

He'd put his useless Punic citizens (Baal Haamon alone knew what he was thinking when he offered them a place in his company. So far they had been worse than useless. And there were more of them on the way from Carthage to join him.) along out on the left flank with simple orders. Get. The Pigs. Truly, he thought, that should be simple enough for even them to accomplish.

On his right, his experienced Libyan spearmen were a formidable obstacle, standing in firm ranks.

But, in the center of the enemy line he spotted the hoplites. Those were the only opposing troops he had concerns about. Their weapons and armor were a match for his best spearmen. He noticed his javelin men milling about, and had an idea.

"Hanno!" Malchus called. "Have the tribesmen draw out the hoplites. If they fail to entice a charge, I'll have their skins!"

Greek hoplites advance on Libyan javelin men.

The Carthaginian line maintains its rigid formation.

Greek Pezhetairoi advance on the pigs, menacing the Punic citizens. 

The Greek slingers began to rain stones down upon the central spearmen unit. The rocks flew past them, buzzing like insects. Damn them, but it was like death from a thousand stings. Some of the spearmen fell, and their ranks became disordered.

Supported by accurate missile fire from the slingers, the pezhetairoi advance on the far right.

At the end of the first turn, either play could be cooking BBQ at the end.

There! That was the break he was waiting for. Prodded by the throws javelins which had felled one of their number, the Greek hoplites charged the tribesmen. "Quickly now, Hanno, order them to withdraw!" But either Hanno was too slow, or the javelineers blood was up. They stood their ground and faced the onrushing Greek spears.

The javelin men successfully taunt the hoplites into a charge...

... but are unable to scamper away and take the full brunt of the enemy attack!

Malchus could not believe what he was seeing! Despite being at the mercy of the foe, the javelin men had adopted a defensive posture and were able to parry every incoming blow. They would get an extra portion of pork tonight!

Despite successfully defending against all the attacks, the tribesmen are forced to fall back.

Meanwhile, on the left, the citizens were proving themselves to be unable to complete even one simple task. After launching a barrage of javelins, the pezhetairoi charged into the laggards, wiping them out with scant loss to themselves.
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I must not know how to use these guys properly. Their poor armor and need to get in close to score hits makes them vulnerable to missile attacks at range before they are able to get to melee distance. In three battles, this was the first time they'd killed any enemy, and they were still eliminated themselves.
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Trying to look at the positive, Malchus realized that at least that combat was on the far side of the battle, and none of his other troops seemed to have noticed. Plus, he thought, there would be more meat to share among the surviving soldiers.

Pezhetairoi charge...

Pezhetaroi kill.

Situation after turn 2.

The hoplites realize they may have overextended themselves in their eagerness.

On the right, the situation, though fluid, still seemed to favor Malchus. Though one of his spearmen units was down to half strength, the other was doing well. They had driven the herd of pigs into the pezhetairoi, disrupting them and making them vulnerable. They had died well, taking three of the spearmen, but they had died nonetheless.

He could make out the pezhetairoi on the other side making off with some of the pigs. Swine! In order to feed his men tonight, he would have to act decisively. "Men of Carthage! Do you want to live forever? Attack!"

After seeing off the pezhetairoi, the spearmen set their sights on the slingers.

Spearmen vs slingers. What could possibly go wrong?

Attack after attack came up empty against the stubborn rock throwers!

What by the god's fickle blessings had happened? Despite having an unopposed charge into the slingers, the spearmen had come up empty! Malchus sighed, once again, any chance of salvaging victory would fall on his own shoulders. So be it!

Setting his sights on the unit of hoplites before him, he knew that he would have to break them in order to win the battle. Though they outnumbered him seven to one, they were fatigued, while he was still fresh. 

With a deafening roar of defiance, he allowed the bloodlust to fall upon him and he charged!

Malchus charges the hoplites with an all-out attack...

And rolls double sixes - scoring FOUR hits!

The hoplites, weary as they were, could not match Malchus' fury. Several fell, and the rest fled before him, aware that they were facing not a man, but the incarnation of war!

Malchus stands alone after decimating the hoplites. 

But alas, as it was in Messana, Malchu singular effort was to no avail. The losses his company had suffered were too much to overcome. Fatigued and despondent, Malchus ordered his remaining troops to withdraw.

There was no meat simmering on the cooking fires this night, just more tubers. Malchus sat with his men. They were beginning to lose faith in him. Yes, his fighting prowess had yet to be matched, but none of the combats had gone their way. And the issue with the slain augur weighed on them as well. He could hear their muttering, though they tried to hide it when he was nearby. They were beginning to believe the gods had abandoned him, and them.

He would have to remedy that, he thought. First he needed to find a new priest. And then, he had to find that gorgeous Greek again, and kill him. Nothing less would do.

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As the first campaign turn comes to an end, it is time to evaluate Malchus's warband. With three battles and three losses, Malchus is not getting off on the right foot. The losses mean he is at a huge disadvantage in terms of renown, but more importantly in terms of assets, which will determine what type of force he is able to field for turn two.

In that turn, he can add 100 more points of troops, and I am leaning towards Numidian cavalry. And I am discarding the Punic spearmen. Perhaps in larger engagements they may serve a purpose, or perhaps in time I will learn to command them effectively. But for now, they are a waste of points and they need to go.

In the next post, you'll see Malchus's boys, version 2.0, and hopefully I will have a better result to share.

'Til next time!







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