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Monday, January 7, 2019

Assyrians and Kushites Take to the Field

Assyrian King leads his army into battle
Finally!  After watching a seemingly, non-ending stream of Assyrian units march off the painting desk, the Assyrian Army took to the field of battle.  Pitted against the Assyrian Army was the flower of the Kushite Egyptian kingdom fielded in a similar endless parade of units off my opponent's painting desk.

With a newly marked grid and Army Lists in hand, To the Strongest! (TtS!) was chosen as the rules of engagement for this first contest.  Since TtS! suggests a battle of 130 points as a good evening-sized battle, we drafted two army lists to fit these criteria.  The lists produced yielded about a dozen units per side.  The Rule of Twelve at work!  With labels affixed, the two armies were deployed for battle.
Armies arrayed for battle
With this being only my third game of TtS! and Jakes' first, we kept the battle situation and rules simple while we came to grips with the rules.  The battlefield was laid out devoid of terrain.  Ammo limitation and resupply were not considered and no Stratagems were in play.  Each army was divided into roughly three, equal commands.

Playing cards flew fast as the two armies maneuvered to close on their opponent.  Notice that spearmen and warriors were often supported by a unit of bowmen in the same box.  Having the Assyrian bowmen in tandem with a unit of heavy spear would add punch to a clash as the bowmen could fire at a target before the spear engaged.  A sound tactic, I thought.  The Kushites ascribed to the same tactic but a number of skirmishing bow were also included in the Kushite OB.  These skirmishers caused a number of harassing hits on the Assyrian army before it could close.    
Battlelines close
Coming to grips did not take long and soon casualties were mounting on both sides.  With most units only capable of sustaining two hits before elimination, the battle was bloody.  The Assyrian King, in his heavy chariot, drove deep into the enemy line.  Unfortunately, many of his supporting troops were repulsed by counterattacks.
Melee in the center of the battlefield as Assyrians attack
Having Victory Medals of eight each, the conclusion to the battle was reached quickly.  Kushite attacks were fierce.  Elements of the Assyrian Army began streaming from the field as first the Assyrian right and then left collapsed and scattered.  In less than one hour of play, the battle was over.  Victory to the Kushites!       
Assyrian Army in deep trouble
With a quick decision in Game 1, the contestants were brought back to their starting lines and a second battle began.  Unfortunately for the Assyrian King, the lessons in the first battle proved elusive to grasp.
Kushites on the attack
As in Game 1, the Kushites delivered a series of potent attacks and fended off repeated Assyrian counter punches.  Quickly, the Assyrians lost their eight Victory Medals.  Could the Assyrian Army regain enough momentum if the Victory Medal count was increased to ten?  No, the Assyrian Army quickly lost two more units to the deadly combination of missile fire followed by melee.  Another quick end to Assyrian aspirations.
Kushites dominate Game 2
Both games were bloody quick.  That is, bloody and quick!

While rules' mistakes were made during the game and I missed several of the Saving Throw modifiers.  Nothing likely to tip the balance of the final outcomes except one.  The Kushite light chariots deployed on both flanks should have had only one hit vs the two we allowed.  That may have brought the sweeping flanking maneuvers to a halt and saved both Assyrian flanks from completed destruction.  But then, maybe not.  Without doubt, my Assyrians were manhandled by their Kushite foe.

Having most units capable of sustaining only two hits, actions were decisive.  Only the Kushite warriors maintained the ability to absorb three hits before scattering.  The difference between taking two or three hits can be decisive.  To allow more unit resiliency, I may recommend increasing the Army Point total for the next games.

The games were a lot of fun even in defeat and played quickly even though the rules were questioned and consulted frequently.  That frequent consultation is expected when learning a new game.  TtS! helps in this learning process with a well laid-out rulebook and superb Index.  Questions were answered with a quick thumb through the book.  Note that both armies were originally built and created under Impetvs Army guidelines.  We found creating a TtS! army based upon Impetvs did not always translate into one-for-one matches.  We may need to tweak the TtS! lists to conform more precisely to our existing organizations.  

I look forward to a rematch! 

55 comments:

  1. A nice looking game with two beautiful armies...

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  2. Wonderful looking game Jonathan and better luck next time with your Assyrians!

    Christopher

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    1. Thank you, Christopher! Getting these armies out onto the table was good fun. Next time, perhaps, the Assyrians will offer more resistance?

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  3. Nice to see such beautiful armies on the table! Would using ammo limits help to get those pesky Kushites under your wheels, where they belong?

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    1. Thanks, Aaron. Yes, limiting ammo would take some sting out of the Kushite archers as would remembering all of the Saving Throw modifiers. The archers would have a reduced chance to score against the Assyrian heavy infantry had I added in the shieldwall modifier.

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  4. Great to see all those chariots in action.

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  5. Nice to see these get to the table after so much hard work.

    It will be interesting after a few games as to whether you prefer Impetvs or To the Strongest with these two armies.

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    1. Finally getting these troops onto the table was a big goal accomplished.

      It will be interesting, for sure. I really enjoy the mechanisms and gaming engine provided by Impetvs. To the Strongest! has much to offer too. We plan to fight a few Biblical battles using Impetvs and TtS! and make that assessment.

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  6. Nice to see your Assyrians on the table, the Egyptians look great too!
    Pity about the result!
    Best Iain

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  7. Great to see your Ancients in battle, Jonathan!

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    1. Dean, with luck, these armies will be back onto to the table soon.

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  8. I would love to follow a campaign with these two armies using either TtS! or Impetus. Thank you for the entertainment!

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    1. A campaign game is a good idea! I wonder I there are existing boardgames that could be used as a campaign engine?

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  9. A very entertaining game indeed. I would be interested in trying the same armies in Impetus and see if the results are at all similar. I still think the rules did not do enough to reflect the difference in Infantry types. (Light versus Heavy in Impetus) That said, it plays fast.

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    1. Yes, we should line them up and have another go using Impetvs. More tries with TsS! are in order too, I think. It all may make more sense regarding unit distinctions in a second round of games. Thanks for bringing up your Egyptians!

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  10. Hurray for troops on the table and trying out some new rules. It does though seems that y’all missed something by ignoring the ammo rules which are there to limit the effectiveness of missle troops. But I’ve only read the rules and never played so I’m not an expert. Just seems that something was off for 1 side to get steamrolled so throughly twice in a row. Might require more play time on the game table. I’ll need to try these rules out someday. Nice post! 😀

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    1. You are right. Leaving out the ammo rules likely provided an advantage to the skirmishing Egyptians but I wanted to keep it simple in the first outing by reducing the amount of bookkeeping.

      The Egyptians took casualties in Game 2 at about the same rate as the Assyrians but the Assyrians broke first and drew some unlucky cards. Actually, we both were unlucky on the draw more than once!

      Losing twice has little bearing on rules...I can be very unlucky as a general. Napoleon would not have me!

      Give the rules a try and report back.

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    2. It was far from a steamroller. I just found that the Assyrian side 'culminated' first. I.e. stress built up on both sides, but the game changed rapidly as one side finally suffered catastrophic collapse.

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  11. Where we close to playing it right when I hosted? I hope so! I'm glad Jake enjoyed the rules too. It may be the set for me.

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    1. That is hard to say. It seemed the Greeks and Macedonians could take a lot more punishment than the Assyrians and Kushites did. We probably were not making many saves in this Biblical match up.

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  12. Great to see your Assyrians on the table. How long do you think the game may have lasted with the ammo and saving throws, given that some of the Assyrians may not have then dissipated so quickly?

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    1. Yes! It was very good to finally see these armies out on the gaming table. I bet a game of this size would not exceed two hours under the toughest back and forth contest.

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  13. Fantastic looking game. Love all the units cleverly based and characterful.

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    1. Glad you like the look of the game! This was really just a test run out so not much of a battle report this time.

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  14. Very nice - more experimentation is in order!

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    1. Experimentation and rules study, that is what is next!

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  15. The Egyptian Light Chariots only taking 1 hit is a big deal - a single hit, and poof, they're gone! Plus, in melee, they only hit on an 8+ This means they must skirmish and look for flank attacks/shots, rather than attacking the Assyrian Heavy chariots and cavalry head on, except when the later are already disordered.
    The ammo limits are important (This may get changed in V2 to simply a penalty to shooting when ammo is "low"). The Assyrians should generally be one save number better than the Egyptians, reflecting their better armor 2 better for spears being shot at due to "Shield Wall" rule. Their Heavy Chariots and the Royal Guard should both be especially tough. Still, if you play 1's, 2's, and 3's for all your save attempts, it won't help much! :-)

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    1. Yeah, I believe we gave the light chariots one too many hits. As for the ammo rule, it is important but for a first trial, I wanted to avoid the bookkeeping. The Kushites won't be given those benefits next time!

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    2. I understand dispensing with the ammunition rules the first time out; a reasonable compromise.

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  16. Beautiful figures and a great game report Jonathan - you will be aware my "group" often use TtS for ancient and medieval games - not the most accurate and "realistic" (whatever that means in terms of playing with toy soldiers! - but they do give a quick and decisive game - yes, you do need to remember light troops need higher scores to hit and generally disappear after only one "casualty" is inflicted!

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    1. Thank you, Keith, for your thoughts on TtS! While I have only a very few games under my belt, I agree with your assessment. TtS! seems a game first and battle simulation second. Quick and decisive is good for a quick afternoon or evening game. I look forward to more games to see how my impressions of Tts! mature and how my tactics evolve. We made a few mistakes in this first Biblical outing but these errors can be easily corrected.

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  17. What a fantastic game! Thank You for report sir!

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  18. Great to see your beautifully painted armies on the table. I'm toying with the idea of TtS! myself but somehow those playing cards trailing the units put me off. Other candidates are Impetvs and Civitates Bellantes but it's not an easy choice......

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    1. Thank you, Mike. The playing cards are not on the table that long, really. After each player concludes all activations, the cards are gathered up.

      Impetvs is a favorite of mine. We will see how TtS! compares with Impetvs once more games are in played. Version 2.0 Impetvs is coming out any day now. I am not familiar with Civitates Bellantes.

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    2. I have pre ordered Impevs 2 so I have to wait a few more days unfortunately. Civitates is apparently another name for Legio VI, downloadable for free on their site.

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  19. What a great reward to all that brushwork to see your armies assembled on the table, even if ignominious defeat was your fate! Hopefully you will Make Assyria Great Again. Not sure exactly who the Kushites were but I am sure they are a bad lot and will get their comeuppance in due course!

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    1. Hi Michael! The Kushites were bad enough to take control of Egypt, proper, from the Egyptians.

      "MAGA" I like that!

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  20. Great to see the army out in battle 🙂

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    1. Yes, it is! This is only a small part of the Great Assyrian Army.

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  21. Looks great Jonathan! Not a fan of the cards either, but understand the system has good reviews :)

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    1. Thanks, Mark. I understand your reluctance to cluttering the table with an inundation of playing cards.

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    2. The cards really do speed up play (it's amazing how much time some guys can waste with dice rituals... the next card you turn won't change no matter what you do, LOL!), but of course chits can be used, or even D10's.

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    3. With the cards, activation and combat resolution is blindingly fast. I like that!

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  22. Iyou must have found it hugely satisfying to have all those figures on the table Jonathan.

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    1. Yes, it was very satisfying to see the armies deployed for a battle.

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  23. A most engaging report of two rapid-fire games, great stuff.
    Could the cards be played to the side so as not to detract from the visual effect of the game?

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    1. Hi James. The activation cards correspond to each unit so it is important to be able to associate cards to unit. If the cards could be played to the side in an unambiguous manner, I don't see why it could not be done that way. Having the cards close to the owning unit makes play very fast.

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  24. Hi Jon, I'd missed this- great looking games! I'm very jealous as I have conspicuously failed to complete my own Assyrian army.

    James, a lot of people use numbered chits next to the units, instead of cards; less visually intrusive.

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    1. Thanks, Simon!

      We find no problem with the playing cards if picked up after each brigade failure.

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