Author Topic: Greeks vs Persia: Ticking Clock  (Read 879 times)

Hannibal

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Greeks vs Persia: Ticking Clock
« on: September 30, 2013, 12:09:54 PM »
Killing two birds with one stone, we tested out the new Lock Shields ability with the Greeks and tested out how they'd do against the Persians.  I will apologize up front that this report is going to be the Battle of White Proxies.  I'll try to explain a little more what's going on, but you'll just have to pay a little extra attention (or just skip it all and read the end).

The mission was Ticking Clock with the Familiar Foe special situation (all Command Cards are face up).

Persia:  2 Kardakes, 2 Merc. Hoplites, 1 Thanvabara, 2 Scythed Chariots, 2 Immortals, 1 Royal Guard.

Persian units for reference:
Kardakes - Core - 170 pts
O:(6*)5*/5*  D:2/1  Rge:-  Cge: 12  Mv: 3.5"  4G/3Y/2R
O:(-1)-0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.

Mercenary Hoplites - Core - 304 pts
O:(7*)5*/5*  D:3/2  Rge:-  Cge: 13  Mv: 3.5"  6G/2Y/3R
Phalanx.  O:(-1)-0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.  No "King's Favor" box.

Thanvabara - Standard - 68 pts
O:(3)5*/5*  D:1*/0  Rge: 10.5"  Cge: 10  Mv: 3.5"  2G/2Y/2R
Skirmisher. D:+2/+0 vs. ranged attacks. O:(-0) -2/-2 when engaged. Ranged attack is Line of Sight.

Scythed Chariots - Elite - 134 pts
O:(3)5/5*  D:2*/1  Rge:-  Cge: 11  Mv: 5"  2G/2Y/2R
Cavalry, Wheeled.  O:(+0)+0/+2 and D:+1/+0 when charging.  +2 Impact Hits (3 total) if attacked enemy currently has a lower MC or is engaged.   May not be directly controlled or given a Standing Order Modifier.   No "King's Favor" box.

Immortals - Elite - 252 pts
O:(4*)6*/5*  D:2*/1  Rge: 10.5"  Cge: 13  Mv: 3.5"  4G/4Y/2R
O:(-1)-0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.  Ranged attack is LOS.  D:+1/+0 vs ranged attacks.

Royal Guard - Elite - 188 pts
O:(5*)5*/5*  D:3*/1  Rge:-  Cge: 13  Mv: 3.5"  3G/2Y/3R
O:(-1)-0/-0 when charging. O:(+0) +1/+0 vs. cavalry or large units. O:(+0) +0/+2 when holding vs. charging cavalry or large.  D:+1/+0 vs ranged attacks.   If during the Combat Phase this unit is backing up a friendly unit engaged with an enemy unit in the Yellow or Red, mark the King's favor box on this unit (if not marked).


Greek City-States:  4 Helots, 1 Corinthian Hoplites, 2 Perioikoi, 1 Bithynian Peltast, 1 Rhodian Slingers, 2 Spartiates

Helots – Core- 81 pts
O:(5)4/4  D:1/1  Rge:-  Cge: 9*  Mv: 3.5"  3G/3Y/3R
Armies with Helots must include include at least one Spartiate unit.   +4 Cge if a center point is within 5" of a center point of a Spartiate unit.

Corinthean Hoplites - Core – 296 pts
O:(7*)5*/5*  D:2/3  Rge:-  Cge: 12  Mv: 3.5"  6G/2Y/2R
Phalanx.

Perioikoi - Core - 276 pts
O:(7*)5*/5*  D:2/2  Rge:-  Cge: 13  Mv: 3.5"  6G/2Y/3R
Phalanx: Ignores Rule #1. Armies with Perioikoi must include include at least one Spartiate unit.

Bithnyian Peltasts – Standard - 80 pts
O:(3)5/4  D:1*/0  Rge:5”  Cge: 11  Mv: 5"  3G/1Y/2R
Skirmisher, Javelins, Impulsive (At the start of any turn Bithnyian Peltasts are within 7" of an enemy unit's center point, its orders change to Close).  No Lock Shields box.  D: +2/+0 vs ranged attacks.

Rhodian Slingers – Elite - 77 pts
O:(3)5*/6*  D:1*/0  Rge: 7”  Cge: 11  Mv: 5"  2G/2Y/2R
Skirmisher.  No Lock Shields box.  D: +2/+0 vs ranged attacks.  O:(-0)-2/-3 if engaged.

Spartiates  - Elite - 339 pts
O:(7*)6*/5*  D:2/2  Rge:-  Cge: 14  Mv: 3.5"  6G/3Y/2R
Phalanx: Ignores Rule #1.

My whole plan here was to take a "Sparta" army:  the oft-overlooked Perioikoi and lots of Helots to fill out my Core.  I wanted to see the impact of 81 pt Core units as well as whether the Perioikoi were worth the 276 pts.


Deployment


Greeks (L->R):  Rhodian Slingers  (in front of Bithynian Peltasts), Perioikoi & Spartiates (in front of 2 Helots), Helots (in front of Helots), Corinthian Hoplites, Spartiates, Perioikoi.

Persia (L->R)
Front line:  Merc Hoplites, Merc Hoplites, Immortals, Kardakes (w/Thanvabara in front), Kardakes, Immortals.
Back line:  Scythed Chariots, Royal Guard, Scythed Chariots.

I had a huge (and unfair) advantage in that each of the terrain pieces on my right was worth 200 pts.  I could have used the Helots or the Skirmishers to grab them, but with the Scythed Chariots, Scott actually had a longer line than me.  And Scythed Chariots love charging into ranks of infantry.  So I was forced to advance with my line and put my skirmishers on the left so they could slow down the Scythed Chariot.  Since this was only 8 turns, I felt confident I could do that.

By contrast, the Persians were doing this weird stand & shoot with only 11 dice of shootyness.  I guess the plan was to roll out on the left and put two units on my Perioikoi.  The Royal Guard went behind the Immortals & Merc Hoplites on the left, hoping to grab a free King's Favor.  In esscen, Scott's plan was to win on the left faster than he lost on the right.


Greeks Advance


My line closes in while he sends his Thanvabara forward to try and break up my line.  Unfortunately, my Helots were on Hold (objective) while the Spartiates only took 1 CA to DC if I had to.  On the left, the Rhodians race forward while the Bithynians just creep up.  I wanted separation between the so the Rhodians didn't flee through the Bithynians.  Also, with the Bithynians being Impulsive, I had to keep them way back.

Over the course of the game, I would Lock Shields on most of my units, just to see the effect.


Scythed Chariots Roll Out


On the left, the Chariots come out to face the Rhodians.  In the center you can see the minor disruption caused by the Thanvabara (who blew up when they were charged).  The Immortals shoot at the Helots, forcing a check (which the Helots pass).

Scott's dice were truly atrocious in the first half of the game.  He'd needs like 4s and 4s and get like 1 wound with 4 dice, turn after turn.  he'd whiff with like 6 or 7 dice at a time.  It was just no good for him until the very end.


Greeks Charge


Finally, the Greeks hit.  But first, the fight on the left:  My Rhodians had shot (I even played an Accuracy!) and then been charged.  Then my Bithyians had moved forward and thrown their javelins, doing 2 more points.  The Scythed Chariots ended up in the Red and were Disrupted. 

Had Scott been able to do so, he would have DC'd the chariots or given them an objective to ignore the skirmishers and flank my line.  But he couldn't (without paying an exorbitant 3 CAs), and so the Scythed Chariots ended up getting sucked away by my skirmishers.  Seeing that the chariots wouldn't do much more, Scott didn't lift their Disrupted.

All along the line elsewhere, the Greeks hit and started grinding away.  On the Persian turn, the Immortals charged the Helots and would destroy them, but there was a quadruple stack(!) of Helots between them and daylight.


The Grind Begins


On the next turn, there wasn't any maneuvering, just a bunch of dice rolling.  Knowing that he was likely to take a check somewhere, Scott played A Thousand Nations to get +3 Cge to every one of his units.  It turned out that every engaged unit (except for the Immortals fighting the Helots) would take a check this turn.

And every except the most important one (the Kardakes in the center), passed their check.  The Kardakes failed and blew up.  This was terrible because it was my turn next and my Corinthians could charge the Scythed Chariots on Hold.

The reason the Scythed Chariots were on Hold is because Scott didn't want them to automatically back up the Kardakes if they were destroyed.  However, in putting them on Hold, he left them vulnerable to just this sort of situation where I could charge them on my turn.  In retrospect, he should have deployed them 3.6" back from his line to prevent this (and actually make me expose my flank by pinching the Immortals).  As much as anything else, this game was a clinic on how hard it is to use the Scythed Chariots.

Persia's return attacks were just pathetic across the line.  Scott's poor rolling made it so that I didn't take a single check (the Helots died, but they're a D:1/1 unit, so that's expected).


Breakthrough


Things are now looking grim for Persia.  On the left, the Bithynians rout the Scythed Chariots with javelins shots while in the center, the Corinthians charge and destroy the other Scythed Chariots.  To the right, the Spartiates beat up the Kardakes (with the black die on them) but the Kardakes pass their rout check.

On the left, my dice go cold and despite needing to do only 2 boxes, neither the Spartiates nor the Perioikoi cause a check.  The Spartans are put into the yellow.  They pass their check, but the Royal Guard behind them get their King's Favor box marked.


To the Bitter End


On the left, the Merc. Hoplites put the Perioikoi in the Yellow and the Perioikoi rout!  The Merc Hoplites flub the free attacks, though.  It could be disaster but it's my turn next.

Moving left, the Spartiates & Merc. Hoplites gum at each other to no effect.  The Immortals kill another unit of Helots...only 2 more to go!

Behind the lines, the Royal Guard reform and move to face the Corinthians who have busted through the center of the line.

On the right, the Spartiates kill the Kardakes but are put into the Yellow (they pass).  The Perioikoi beat up on the Immortals, putting them in the red with only 1 box left (the Immortals pass their rout check).


Closing it Out


Its turn 8 for me, so I don't bother rallying the Perioikoi.  Instead, I DC the Bithynians to move right to stand in front of the Merc Hoplites.  This will protect the Spartiates on the last turn of the game.

The Spartiates and Merc. Hoplites claw at each.  Both force rout checks and both pass.  To the right, the Immortals force a check on the Helots, but they pass.

Behind the lines the Corinthians charge the Royal Guard, forcing a rout check.  The Royal Guard pass and, thanks to the Royal Favor, do 3 points in return. 

On the right, the Spartiates pinch the Immortals and kill them spectacularly (note the hash marks:  those are wounds caused over and above enough to kill the unit, caused by the two phalanxes).  Scott plays Gaze of the King on the Immortals, guaranteeing 1 damage to the Spartiates.  This puts them into the Yellow, earning Persia an extra 133 pts for the scenario.


Endgame, or the (Persian) Empire Strikes Back


Since its the last turn, Scott doesn't send the Merc Hoplites into the skirmishers in front of them, opting to draw a card instead.

The Merc. Hoplites do enough damage to destroy the Spartiates.  The Merc Hoplites are put into the red as well, but it doesn't matter. 

The death of the Spartiates has a cascading effect, because they die in the combat phase.  The Helots took enough damage to take a rout check.  In the post-combat Courage phase, the Spartiates aren't there so the Helots are testing on a Cge 9 instead of Cge 13.  They predictably fail and are blown up in free strikes.

Behind the line, the Royal Guard rolls well and with Pile it On, does a 3 pts, enough for a red check.  That's a 50/50 chance to pass.  I don't.  The Corinthians are cut down from Free Strikes.

We tally up the scores and the ratio is 1.22 to 1 casualties in favor of the Greeks:  a Draw!  Amazingly, Persia managed to pull out a Draw (albeit just barely) despite a couple of horrible early turns.  Everyone at the table was in shock at the result.

Had I put one of my units to grab the terrain, I would have had an easy win.  But as it was, I was hard pressed with those scythed chariots on the flank.  I got lucky with some of my shots and were it not for that, could very easily have lost that flank.  If I had put a unit elsewhere to grab the objective, I might have lost the game by trying to win the scenario.

Again, this is a mission where a player who hangs back can give away up to 400 pts (because the enemy can grab at least 1 objective and then get a unit in your deployment zone).  I really like the way Ticking Clock was designed.


Greek Analysis:

--I don't have a ton to say on the units.  I took Spartans to try and see if their (relative) nimbleness was worth it, but I ended up going straight at the enemy.  One thing I will say is that having Helots does make it easy to fill Core, but you're committing yourself to taking some Spartans.

Now some people will say "oh geez, you mean I have to take a Skill 6, Cge 14 phalanx unit? ::)"  But there is in fact a couple of downsides to that.  First and foremost, at 333 pts, they're not terribly cheap and that does eat into your points.  I mean, you can take 4 Helots to fill out your Core, but once you add in the cost of the Spartiates, that's 657 pts spent to fill 3 spots on the line (I'm assuming you double-stack the Helots).  You could take 4 Athenians for only 151 pts more, and have 4 spots on your line filled.  And those Helots are very fragile with their D:1/1 whereas the Athenians are D:2/2.

And those Spartans are also surprising fragile.  Being only a D:2/2, they're really vulnerable to shooting on the way in.  Suddenly those 6 Green boxes can be down to 4 pretty easily.  Contrast that with the far sturdier Sacred Band or Corinthians.

In the end, I think using Helots to fulfill your Core choice is the type of thing you'd only do if you were going to take Spartans anyway, which suits me fine.  I don't think it breaks the Core requirements system because of the cost of those Spartiates that you have tot take.

--The other thing I noticed is that if you love grindy armies, you will love the Greeks.  They have a ton of dice, but those dice can be trumped by stats and command cards pretty easily.  The counter to that is they have lots of Green boxes to absorb the hits.  The result is that most games we play have more rounds where we're sitting their rolling dice.  This is not a problem in my mind, because it feels right.  Its what the Greeks do.

--Lock Shields:  I left this one for last.  The short answer is that the jury's still out.  It felt a little weird how the mechanic worked at first, but its the first game.  We'll see if that feeling continues.

As for effectiveness, I didn't notice a huge swing.  It felt to me that Scott was making all of his rerolls (which he did make a lot of them), so that skews it.  It could be that the effect of Lock Shields is simply very, very subtle and so its hard to notice its impact.  I can't say if its broken or not, but it didn't feel broken on the first try (again, when it seems like he made a lot of rerolls, the mechanic won't feel broken).

One thing we can say is that from the other side of the table, Scott liked the mechanic much better.  It was easier for him to remember and less frustrating when we forgot (and we did once or twice, but we could walk it back because only 1 roll had transpired).

Okay, more to come next week!