Although we typically play Warmachine on Saturday nights, Chris H. had just finished painting his first 300-point Palmyran force. For those who aren’t aware (and I’m sure most are), Palmyra was a Roman province in Syria that had a very short lifespan. As a gamer, it’s a very interesting army to collect and play because it combines Roman units and middle-eastern units to form an eclectic army.
The Palmyran Army
Chris’s first batch of painted units consisted of some Roman infantry and cavalry combined with both regular and skirmishing archers. Specifically, he took an expert general (average CS) leading Legion x 3, Auxilia x 2, Equites Alares x 1, Regular Archers x 3, and Skirmishers x 4.
I fielded many units that readers will have seen before, but for the first time, I took my Scorpians to the field. I was trying make my army differ from Chris’s somewhat, but I didn’t want to frustrate him with light cavalry during what was ultimately supposed to be a learning game.
I fielded an expert general (good CS) leading Legion x 4, Auxilia x 2, Equites Alares x 1, Carroballistae x 2, and Balearic Slingers x 2.
The photo below shows the armies after the first turn or so. There were some terrain pieces on the flanks, but the battlefield was more or less open ground. I laid out the table before Chris arrived. I figured that following the terrain-deployment rules would be pointless, as he didn’t yet really understand how any of the terrain affected his units.
I had no great battle plan during this match. My ultimate goal was to teach Chris the fundamental rules of the game. I was somewhat at a loss as to how to deal with an army that was, in many ways, a mirror image of my own. Remember, that up to this point, I have only played against the fast-moving and manouverable Parthian army.
I spent the first couple of turns moving ahead as a line.
I sent my slingers and cavalry out as an advance force, hoping to cause some confusion and disorder in the Palmyran lines. Chris had spent the first couple of turns spreading his force out (after I explained how much more damaging the Scorpians were to groups in column.)
In fact, the cavalry spent one move getting within 1 cm of the slingers, and then, even though the slingers could evade during the next cavalry move, their 8cm move wasn’t enough to escape. In Impetus, when skirmishers are contacted by enemy units, they are immediately dispersed.
The engagement did not go as planned. In Impetus, if medium cavalry lose to infantry, the unit flees 5+D6 cm. in disorder. As you can see, the Auxilia took the cavalry unit from 5 to 2 VBU. They were essentially useless now, so I continued to retire them behind my lines as the game went on.
I decided that it was time to deal with the advancing threat on the left flank. An engagement between my Legion and Chris’s cavalry ended in a draw. The other Legion unit I sent to help out spent pretty much the rest of the game in disorder. Don’t even ask…
Chris’s centre was advancing fairly slowly. I was concentrating on trying to get those Scorpians in range. When I did, I originally spent my time shooting a skirmishers, as they were screening the rest of the Palmyran force. I was actually lucky enough to cause some damage and disorder on the enemy skirmishers.
Chris had managed to erode some of my middle, and it was becoming inevitable that my general would have to enter the fight, or flee the field like a dog. (If you look to the top of the photo, in the distance, you’ll see some more of the damage and mayhem caused by the Roman field artillery.
We were both doing very similar in terms of unit value destroyed at this point. I realized that I had to cause a certain amount of damage quickly if I wanted to route the Palmyran force. With a lot of my heavy hitters worn or driven from the field, I had little choice but to send my general and his unit charging into combat.
My Legion was all but annihilated in the end in the first round of combat, and in the following turn, the units was finished off, the general captured, and the Roman army driven from the field in shame.
The battle was really fun. It was nice to play against a new army, and an army with such a different composition than the Parthians. There was a lot of interplay, and Chris rapidly grasped the core rules and the tactical implications of them.
I felt that the Ballistae were a good unit. I will certainly field them again, but against the Parthian light horse and skirmishers, it just isn’t feasible. Next time we play, Chris will have his units of light horse and cataphracts finished, and with extra commanders, he will have a 500-point army ready to take to the table.
On another note Chris E. ordered some Wargames Factory Romans. This was the first time I’d ever seen WF models in the flesh (…in the plastic?) As the first sprues ever released by WF, they are certainly a little on the rough side, but $30.00 for 48 models? I would make due.
Thanks for reading,