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Historicon 2016 AARs

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Frank Gilson

Joined: 12 Apr 2006
Posts: 1379
Location: Orange County California

PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 5:09 pm    Post subject: Historicon 2016 AARs

I played in all 3 events...NCT on Thursday, did not make the cut, Theme on Friday, did just fine, and Open on Saturday, which I won.

I used the Koryo Korean list for the NCT, lots of MI LTS,B,Pa/LTS,B,Sh, some Mongols. Weakness is to...terrain Wink...can't advance past it as the army lacks troops to fight through or even hold terrain.

Got a 4 - 1 victory against Derek's Komnenan's in round 1 as he engaged my line in the table center rather than risk a low scoring draw. My dice were better.

Round two of the NCT I fought against Greg Hauser's Yuan, with all that super-artillery. We were on a table with fully 1/3rd eliminated with woods. He gets to set up 2nd, having more scouting points and winning that die roll. I know this means that my close order foot will likely get wrecked by carefully placed artillery while he skirmishes off with me elsewhere...so, I deploy behind the woods to march past as I find possible. He guards the 'passes' between the woods with artillery. He does get some shots into a spear unit of mine that passes 4 wavers (D morale)...we kill nothing of one another and take each other out of the tournament. Bad matchup and bad table for the both of us. I still feel fairly certain that throwing my foot up front and just 'taking it' from his artillery would have simply given Greg a victory. 0 - 0 score

In the Roman Civil War theme I played Spartacan, but a primarily close order version with loose supports rather than Dan Woyke's loose order version. 12 figures of Irr A HTW,Sh close foot with an up roll truly vaporize what they hit. Game 1 I rolled a bunch of initial 1s on some dice to get into trouble against Bill Low's Marian Romans in my center, but then rolled big pluses to absolutely vaporize his legions on my right. His failed wavers and another combat round sent his main command into retreat. 5 point victory for me.

Round 2 Scott Holder's LIR and I flail about against one another. My combat die rolls are consistently down. Seven situations where a single up roll, or in a couple of cases an even die roll, and I get a huge rout that causes a lot of tests. Didn't happen...2-2 for us here I believe. I did have 'too much' on my left flank against his retiring auxilia...so a mistake there.

Round 3 Jamie White's LIR come up...and my combat dice sent them back home. I sacrificed some LI on my left to draw out a few of his units and got a bit of lucky shooting and combat dice to tire/disorder a couple of his mounted units...routing them soon thereafter. He sent the LIR trick chariot into a foot unit of mine that rolled up and sent it routing back, causing wavers, a couple of which were failed. A good combat die roll later and his center was also gone. 5 points me.

Not a bad set of results for Spartacan...who do live and die by their highly variable combat dice.

Lastly, but not least, I fought using Post Conquest Inca in the Open on Saturday. This is a list I had ALWAYS maintained to Woyke, Kaeser, etc. was really good. Honest. Ask them.

Anyway, I had some assortment of MesoAmerican foot units with slings, a couple of light infantry units and then the all-stars. Two units of 8E MI Pike, Shield and three units of HK L,Sh...

Game 1 I fight against Steve Rawls with Han Chinese. I have Stone Walls guarding my flanks and favorable terrain. My pike on my right channel him into some traffic jams in the center. He has some D class crossbowmen who fail a waver for charge by mounted and rout, causing a shake with a nearby now unsupported similar unit. In the center I get a solid sling shot into his elite 2HCT,CB who disorder. One charge by my HTW,JLS,S,Sh guys into that routs it, another elite unit fails a waver. I kill another crossbow unit on my left which shakes an LTS unit and that's that. He couldn't get the matchups he wanted and got his units too compressed together in the center. 5 points for me.

Game 2 I fight against Alex Stone using LIR. He skirmishes on the flanks and attacks center. One of his legions is a little bit forward from the others and I get sling plus Handgunners shooting into it, causing 2 CPF...waver...shake! That legion routs, but wavers are generally passed. This leads to my getting one of my best units up the hill into a couple of bolt shooters...winning and thus blowing up the guns...wavers are passed there also, though. I managed to wear down skirmishes on the flanks with shooting, eventually causing enough wavers when some of his counters fail to rout a few little LI units. He has to put a legion into Orb in the center or suffer a flank attack given the lost legion so I start putting HG and Sling fire into it, he passes a couple of wavers but I eventually rout that unit...shaking the legion next door. He gets a pike unit with one legion eventually. 5 points for me.

Game 3 I face Sean Scott's Italian Condotta with 7 SHK units. Ugh. There is a hill and some sand dunes. I'm outscouted but force march my pike in order to take the hilltop, which they do. I also force march a LI unit on my left, Irr C JLS,Sh, to give me the ability to do a little marching. I surprise Sean with an impetuous charge from the LI unit into his LC and we lock up. His LC is going to lose the following round combat so he sends in a knight unit, the LI shake and are blown up but this leaves the knights forward. They fail the counter (high morale regulars) to move away. I sling them to death, but get enough plus rolls so they don't cause much in the way of waver tests. I set up my units such that Sean can get a clean charge with no prep fire and cause me to waver, but with Reg B supported troops. I don't fail that waver and have one element overlapping fire so get 18 slings coming in on that knight unit...which wins, but doesn't cause me a CPF...I blow that knight unit up the following bound. On the hill I get a pike unit forward enough to trap his line of knights that were trying to skirt around and attack my loose foot (supporting his other not-yet-dead knights) so he pins the pike with a flank charge against it on its left. I have 12 figures of sling shooting in support with a +3! Knights do nothing but stick to the pike flank and I rout that unit with a charge the next bound. Sean did dismount and walk into the pike, disordering it and eventually breaking it...but on his left he also fails most of his counters and I shoot some LC to death...5 point victory for me.

The stone walls, plus terrain and pike really restrict the frontage the enemy can engage on and concentrated sling fire plus a little handgun can make things happen. Still, opponents also got caught short in traffic jams and other small mistakes as they tried to attack me. Had someone made a more clean advance or Sean's dice been better (and/or mine worse) a different result would have occurred.
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Mark Stone

Joined: 12 Apr 2006
Posts: 2087
Location: Buckley, WA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:12 pm    Post subject:

Thanks for the write-ups, Frank. Can you post at least your Korean list here for when Ewan and I get around to our usual analysis?
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Mark Stone

Joined: 12 Apr 2006
Posts: 2087
Location: Buckley, WA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:30 pm    Post subject:

Photos from Historicon 2016; detailed write-ups to follow soon:
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Frank Gilson

Joined: 12 Apr 2006
Posts: 1379
Location: Orange County California

PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 4:02 am    Post subject:

I actually expect Scott to give the NICT lists he has to Todd who will post them in the NICT list topic...but...you did ask, so:

Koryo Korean

Sub similar

2 units of 2E Reg B HC/MC L,B,Sh/L,B Mongols

2 units of 6E Reg C LC B Mongols

2 units of 2E Reg B LC B Mongols

6E Reg D LI B

5E Reg D LI B (weird, I know, but I needed 4 points)

6E Reg D(1E C) LMI B (here are the 4 points, in playtesting I needed to be able to prompt these guys to charge enemy LI in terrain, literally no other way to clear them out)

6 units of 6E Reg D(1E C) MI LTS,B,Pa/LTS,B,Sh - the attraction and main reason to use the list


Ability to exchange the 30 points LI unit for two Ditch or a 6E LC unit for four Ditched Palisade if TFs are necessary.

Lots of durable shooting, with the ability to shoot while being shot at give Pavise, plus Mongols for solid scouting and a little 1.5 rank fighting LC action. There are combats against tough enemy foot that the Koryo spear/bow units start out with an advantage, and then just don't follow up...rather shoot at and fresh charge about to be ruined enemy.

No ability to really prosecute any kind of terrain action...except charging off enemy LI with the bow LMI unit. Cant advance past the often found terrain on our battlefields, so frequently forced into a defensive arc, reacting to the opponent's attack.

Each of the Asian spear/bow armies has its strengths and weaknesses. I happen to like this one, but the terrain issues probably kill it off.
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Mark Stone

Joined: 12 Apr 2006
Posts: 2087
Location: Buckley, WA

PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:11 pm    Post subject:

Historicon AAR for Shang Chinese

This will depart from the usual battle by battle recounting, and instead provide a more impressionistic view of what worked and what didn't as I played through the weekend.

Summary of the army composition:

Shang has about as many bowmen as you can get on any list, and as many chariots as you can get on any list. Nobody knows what armor is, and only the spearmen have discovered shields. The notion that you could ride horses has not yet occurred to them, and in 1500 BC the horses were probably more like ponies than what we think of as horses. The bowmen can range from LI to LMI to MI, and can be anything from Irr D to Reg B. The chariots can be 2 horse or 4 horse in any combination, and can be light or heavy in any combination. 2 horse heavy chariots, by list rule, can skirmish. All the chariots are Irr B.

    Combat troops -
      3 units of heavy chariots (4 horse in the front), crew of LTS,B and JLS,B
      3 units of Reg B LMI 2HCT, 1/2 shielded

    Missile troops -
      2 units of Irr D MI B, 12 stands in each unit
      2 units of Reg B LMI B, 4 stands in each unit
      2 units of 2 horse heavy chariots with LI B mounted on the base

    Light troops -
      5 units of Reg C LI B, ranging from 2 to 6 stands

    Dual purpose combat/light troops -
      3 units of light chariots (4 horse in the front)

General setup intention (subject to terrain constraints):
    Wing: 2 big light chariot units, one 2 horse heavy chariot unit, a small LI unit.
    Wing: 2 MI B units, one small light chariot unit, a small LI unit.
    Center: 3 LI units.
    Reserve: remaining heavy chariot units, the LMI 2HCT units, the LMI B units.

General thinking: one wing or the other should be able to drive the opponent back. Sheer firepower from 96 MI bowmen is often enough. On the other wing there really isn't a light troop that can stand up to the big light chariot units, and just in case you stiffen them with some dense shooting from a skirmishing heavy chariot unit. Even loose order foot has to be extremely careful around light chariots, because they can charge any troop type, they beat a fair number of things outright, and they are an automatic cause of unease. Once it becomes clear which wing will be the aggressor, support that wing with some of the reserve troops, and push the rest of the reserve troops along the seam between that wing and the center.

Game 1 - Knights of Saint John, Todd Kaiser

Todd is a very solid player, but I'm feeling confident. Nothing in my army is particularly afraid of anything in his army. My troops are either willing to challenge him or able to evade from him. He has what would normally be considered a lot of shooting between his LHI 2HCT guys and some straight up crossbow and bow LMI types, but I have probably double the shooters he has, and my army is generally impervious to shooting. I also cover the full table frontage with something dangerous end to end.

I get both the shooting opportunities I need and the charge opportunities I need. No big mistakes on Todd's part, just a lot of tough matchups for him.

Fun fact: flank marching 48 MI B can really surprise your opponent. It gives you the opportunity to casually announce that all your scouting points are on table at deployment, and it gives him a difficult puzzle to solve when it shows up.

This is my first game since Historicon last year, and I'm out of practice and it shows. When you run chariots in depth, as I do, they really take up a lot of space. 2 ranks of chariots is 160 paces; 3 ranks of chariots is 240 paces. I definitely have some traffic mangaement issues trying to get the right units to the right places.

Still, everything works out well enough. 5-1 win for me, and assurance that I'll make the cut to play on Saturday.

Game 2 - Later Carthaginian, Rob Richardson.

Rob doesn't hold nearly as much frontage as I do, but he gets favorable terrain. He can set up in a corner with a brush at either end of his line and push forward from there. I'm feeling the pain of chariots not being able to go into the brush.

He has a problem in that his elephants can't really play aggressively in the face of 200+ bows. I have a problem in that nothing in my army can take on his African spearmen frontally. At one point I do get to concentrate fire on the spear unit that is the hinge in his line, but I fail to roll up and so don't disorder it. He has a couple of legionary units that I would love to get my chariots into, but the attack is slow to develop, Rob is careful, and in the end I run out of time. He takes his Spanish as all regulars (which is smart), but I'm not especially afraid of them. My LMI can go toe to toe with them for a round or so, my chariots will mow them down, and there's just more of me.

So after a lot of maneuvering and probing, neither of us finds the opening we want. He kills some of my light troops. I kill a lot more of his. 2-1 for me, and on to Saturday.

Game 3 - Mithridatic, Bill Low.

Ah, memories. My very first NICT, probably 25 years ago, I played against Bill Low running Mithridatic. I was running Nikephoran Byzantine, and he clobbered me with end to end pikemen and scythed chariots. This time the scythed chariots are still prominent, but no pikemen, just a whole lot of peltasts.

Here's a fun fact about light chariots fighting peltasts: Let's suppose that one of my 4 horse light chariot units charges one of his peltast units, slightly offset. We're each 4 element units, but only fight on one element's frontage at contact. Not that difficult to set up since my mounted moves after his foot, and I move farther than he does (160p to 120p). What happens? First, he takes an uneasy waver test for being charged in the open by mounted. Even if he passes, let's look at the result. He fights LTS vs. LCh is a 3, +1 (JLS), -1 (facing chariot LTS) for 6@3=15. Not a CPF, even if he rolls up 1, because I'm 20 figures. I fight 4@2 (horses), +1 (charging), -2 (facing LTS), and 1 @2 (crew versus LMI). So 4@1 = 6 + 1@2 = 2 for a total of 8. Not a CPF. Since neither of us recoiled or broke off the other, and since he is loose formation, I break through him because that's a thing chariots can do. He's now rallying disordered (can't counter), and I'm rallying neither tired nor disordered.

Sadly, Bill is a wily, veteran Warriors player and he never presents this opportunity to me. Instead I spend the early stages working to defuse his scythed chariots, and am mostly successful. I kill 4 of them, 1 of them survives barely but does no harm, and in one place I fail my waver with eager Bs and he routs me. I spend the middle part of the game trying to now bring my chariots to bear, to no avail. Bill kills a light unit or two, and the LMI unit his chariot killed, and I kill a light unit or two.

I continue to stand by my belief that with 3 1/2 hour games, scythed chariots are not worth buying. They slow the game down significantly while the opponent of the chariots works to deal with them, and that leaves little time in the wake of the chariots to bring the battle to conclusion. They seldom create game changing opportunities, so they are best left at home.

Having said that, I will say that at setup our table was a glorious visual spectacle: 28 chariots in total on the table; I doubt we'll ever see that again in an NICT game.

End result is either a 1-2 or 1-3 for Bill, effectively taking both of us out of the running for the NICT championship.

Game 4 - Patrician Roman, Chris Richardson.

Lots of fully equipped legionaries (HTW,JLS,D,Sh with a back rank of B), a respectable number of auxilia, and a couple of barbarian foot units lingering in the back. There's a fair amount of irony in this match up, as you'll see.

It's difficult on both sides. Thanks to his back rank of archers, there's a good chance my heavy chariots take a CPF in support shooting coming in, and take enough total casualties to be disordered. That's enough to keep me from just casually teeing off on him with my heavy chariots. At the same time I have enough light troops and skirmishing power to keep him at bay most places that I don't want to fight. He works an auxilia unit towards one of my big 48 figure MI bow blocks; auxilia are one of the few troop types that can actually survive the bowfire to get close enough to hurt them. So I have to syphon off a chariot unit to deal with that.

But the light chariots are a huge threat to him, especially his loose order troops. If he passes his waver I likely bounce off, no real risk to me. If he fails his waver I likely rout him, and then -- this is key -- his attempts to counter attack against my pursuing light chariots will be useless, because as pursuing lights who were originally not impetuous, I'll simply exercise my option to evade.

We have a tense game of maneuver, and no lack of effort on either side to engage. But neither of us will engage at disadvantage, and at the end we have very little to show for it.

One aspect of playing a chariot army is lack of familiarity by the opponents. People don't generally know all the chariot rules, and don't know all the factors, and it makes them hesitant. As it turns out even I don't know all the rules and factors as well as I should. It turns out that HTW is only a 2 against light chariots, as opposed to a 3 against heavy chariots. I also run my light chariots in bigger units. So I could have set up from the beginning to run my light chariots right at his legionaries with follow up from my heavy chariots, and that would likely have been a winning attack.

As it is the fight ends inconclusively: 1-1.

Game 5 - 100 Year's War English, Matt Kolmer.

The terrain setup was everything the English would want: an open table except for two woods that separated the table into left, center, and right. Matt played a solid game, but could have used the woods to push his longbowmen forward (I have literally nothing that can face them in the woods, since 2HCT can't be used in the woods). He had a longbow unit that didn't get stakes down fast enough in the center, giving me an opportunity to charge it with a light chariot unit, have it fail its waver, then rout and have two other units nearby shake. Things went downhill for the English from there.

One interaction late in the game is worth calling out in detail, because it's illustrative of just how pesky chariots can be. Normally chariots need one factor in their favor to beat SHK: a prep shot CPF causing the SHK to hit tired, a support shot CPF causing the SHK to be down 1, a second cause of unease (chariots being the first) preventing the SHK from being impetuous. These circumstances are often readily achievable, particularly in an army with over 200 bows (yes, we have twice as much shooting as 100 Years War English) and that covers so much frontage.

But sometimes the SHK get a more favorable matchup. So we had a unit of his SHK charging impetuously against a unit of my heavy chariots, also charging impetuously, with even die rolls at contact: SHK are 5@4, +1 (charging), +2 (impetuous), -1 (facing chariot LTS) for 5@6 = 25. Chariots horses 4@3, +1 (charging), +2 (impetuous), and crew 2@0, for 4@5=16 + 2@0 = 2 totaling 18. Chariots recoil tired, and SHK follow up tired and disordered.

However, he dare not expand in follow up because I have LMI with 2HCT lurking in the background that will hit an exposed overlapping element with excellent chances of routing him. So he follows up without expanding.

Now in follow up, he's 3@2, +1 (following up), -1 (facing chariot LTS), -1 (tired), -1 (disordered) for 3@0 = 3. He may have rolled up 2 if I remember correctly, but it didn't matter. Chariot horses don't fight since I'm not moving forward, so my crew is 2@-1=1. Neither side causes the other to recoil or break off, and -- because he's loose order and I'm chariots -- I therefore break through him. Second cause of disorder, which he must test as uneasy, because chariots are a cause of unease and since I've made him tired he can't be eager. He rolls a 2 and fails.

What's interesting to note is that this isn't a particularly unusual matchup. This exact sequence could play out many times in knights versus heavy chariots. Other cavalry generally fare worse because they are more vulnerable to shooting. SHC do a little better at contact because they'll be 6@6 instead of 5@6, but without an up roll at contact and a failure to roll up by the chariots, the outcome will be the same.

Moral of the story: chariots with LTS or 2HCT rule other mounted.

Our game concluded with a 5-1 win for the Shang.

Some general observations:
* Chariots don't rout many things at contact, but have greater follow up impact than most troop types, meaning they can sustain a winning attack bound after bound.
* Chariots are slow to move, and need multiple bounds for combat success, so they play slower than other armies. This can be a challenge with our time limits, and when you throw in another factor like scythed chariots that slows the game down, it can be very difficult to get to decisive results.
* Chariots are incredibly durable, both in the face of missile fire and in hand to hand combat. Even when they don't win outright, they can often fearlessly plow ahead knowing they are safely holding space to let other units create other opportunities.
* Terrain can be a problem, but not as much as we think. Scott clogs the tables with a lot of terrain on Saturdays, but I never felt like I lacked an area in which I could operate and try and make something happen. I definitely have to take terrain into consideration, whereas our old feature-choosing system allowed me most of the time to simply eliminate terrain as a factor. So this is better, and still quite managable, even with an army like mine.
* 96 figures of MI B are a cheap and deadly way to hold a lot of frontage. I lost one of those units (to Todd's Knights of Saint John) over the course of 5 games, but even then it was a slow-developing rout and I had ample time to get nearby units out of the way.
* Projecting unease everywhere is great. It especially makes light chariots operating on the wings more dominant against enemy light cav, who never really have an opportunity to charge impetuously as a result. To be successful as light cav against the light chariots you'd have to be JLS armed, Irr B, and fight in a rank and a half. I'm sure there are a few lists that have that combination, but not many and not any that I've seen in NICT play.
* Nobody got even a 4 point win against me, and I felt like no one came close. Despite a majority of low scoring games, I felt confident every game that I had places on the table where I could be aggressive, and no game of the low scoring ones reflecting timidity by either player. It was just hard fought maneuvering from two quality armies.

It has been 10 years since I first conceived of playing Shang Chinese, and I have mis-configured it and mis-played it on many occasions over those 10 years. But I've never given up on it. This year I felt like I've finally found my diamond in the rough. This was the most satisfying NICT I've had since taking 10 Independent States to 2nd place.
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Ewan McNay

Joined: 12 Apr 2006
Posts: 2750
Location: Albany, NY, US

PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 4:38 am    Post subject:

Very nice writeups, folks - thanks very much. I missed seeing y'all.
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Ed Kollmer

Joined: 12 Apr 2006
Posts: 1020

PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:53 am    Post subject:

Thanks Mark.
Really interested in your comments.
I run Trojans on occasion. Nice to hear about chariots.
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