Ancients wargaming, verse 2
Guy Bowers, editor of Ancient Warfare's sister magazine Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy, was in town for a few days last week. Obviously we discussed the conundrum referred to in my previous blog and he offered to introduce me to Swordpoint. It's hard to pass up an offer like that, so we dragged out a game board, some terrain and the painted ancients figures in my collection (too few - need more!).
Two roughly 700 point armies were put together. I got one very 'L33T' army with Companion cavalry, two veteran pike phalanxes, a unit of hypaspists (that later appeared to count as phalangites instead of the light infantry as I thought...), some Scythian skirmisher cavalry and two small units of javelin-armed skirmishers. Guy wielded two hoplite phalanxes, with three units of cavalry and a unit of slingers, archers and javelin men.
Considering Guy's superiority in men, I planned to anchor the right flank of my phalangites on the hill, chase his skirmishers off it and then annoy his left flank with the (later appearing not to be) light infantry and skirmishers while attacking his phalanxes with mine. The Companion cavalry would be held in reserve to protect the left flank of the phalanxes. That last decision proved to be my undoing. Keeping a good 40% of my 'points' in reserve that way against three other units which were always going to be able to at least partially outflank me was a huge risk. It almost worked anyway thanks to the fickle dice gods. Victory to Guy!
I must admit I very much liked this first look at Swordpoint. Skirmishers are a lot less deadly than they used to be, which probably makes sense. On the other hand, two of the articles I'm editing for the next issue of Ancient Warfare make me wonder if something like hamippoi are missing and whether the Roman legionary propensity for missile combat (yes, all your questions will be answered) should be modelled. That said, I am very aware that Swordpoint is not designed as a simulation, but rather should be a fun tactical game. And that, at first sight, it definitely is. Time to build more units!