Author Topic: Greeks vs Alexander: Breaking Point  (Read 829 times)


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Greeks vs Alexander: Breaking Point
« on: October 03, 2013, 11:24:19 AM »
This week we went for another unreleased vs unreleased matchup:  Alexander vs the Greek City States.  We settled on Breaking Point on map 6B (the map with offset deployment zones).

Alexander:  3 Foot Companions, 2 Companion Cavalry, 1 Sarissaphoroi, 1 Cretan Archer, 1 Hypaspistes.

Alexander units for reference:

Foot Companions - Core - 294 pts
O:(8*)5*/5*  D:3/1  Rge:-  Cge: 12*  Mv: 3.5"  8G/3Y/3R
Phalanx:  double effects of rule #2 & #3.   Ponderous.  To play a Red Command Card on this unit, you must first discard a Command Card.  Does not apply when erasing Inspiration box to gain O:(+2)+0/+0.

+1 Cge  if a side center-point is within 1.25" of the side center-point of a Foot Companion unit that is not routing, not in MC-penalizing terrain, and not engaged on the side/rear.

May final rush into any space that would be big enough for a normal unit.  If there is insufficient room to fit both cards, slide the front card under the enemy unit.  If more room becomes available later, slide the card back out.

Companion Cavalry - Core - 279 pts
O:(6)6/6  D: 1*/2  Rge: -  Cge: 13  Mv: 6”  3G/2Y/2R
Cavalry.  D:+1/+0 when charging.

Sarissaphoroi - Core - 159 pts
O:(4)5/6  D: 1*/1  Rge: -  Cge: 12  Mv: 7”  3G/2Y/1R
Cavalry.  D:+1/+0 when charging.

Cretan Archers - Elite - 81 pts
O:(3)5*/5*  D: 1*/0  Rge: 10.5”  Cge: 11  Mv: 3.5”  3G/2Y/1R
Skirmisher.  Ranged attack is LOS.  O:(-0) -1/-2 when engaged.  D:  +2/+0 vs ranged attacks. 

Hypaspistes - Elite - 332 pts
O:(7*)6*/5*  D: 3/1  Rge: -  Cge: 13  Mv: 3.5”

Greek City-States:  3 Corinthian Hoplites, 1 Theban Hoplites, 1 Illyrian Spearmen, 2 Theban Sacred Band

Greek units for reference:
Corinthean Hoplites - Core – 295 pts
O:(7*)5*/5*  D:2/3  Rge:-  Cge: 12  Mv: 3.5"  6G/2Y/2R
Phalanx, Ponderous.

Theban Hoplites - Core - 254 pts
O:(7*)5*/5*  D:2/2  Rge:-  Cge: 12  Mv: 3.5"  6G/3Y/2R
Phalanx, Ponderous.

Illyrian Spearmen– Standard - 207 pts
O:(4*)5*/5*  D:2/1  Rge: 3.5"  Cge: 12  Mv: 3.5"  4G/2Y/3R
Javelins.  O:(+2)+0/+0 when engaged.  (-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.

Theban Sacred Band - Elite - 321 pts
O:(7*)5*/5*  D:3/2  Rge:-  Cge: 13  Mv: 3.5"  6G/2Y/3R
Phalanx, Ponderous.  If this unit marks a Green box for Deep Ranks, choose one Core unit with a marked Rank box.  That unit gains D:+1/+0 until it erases a Rank box.

Without really trying, I sorta recreated the battle of Chaeronea, except I had a heavy contingent of Corinthians instead of Athenians.


Greeks (L->R):  Thebans (in front of sideways facing Illyrians), Corinthians, Corinthians, Corinthians, Sacred Band, Sacred Band.

Alexander (L->R):  Sarissphoroi, Companion Cavalry (in front of Companion Cavalry), Cretan Archers, Foot Companions, Foot Companions, Foot Companions, Hypaspistes.

All the yellow dice are his objectives, all the d10s (and the lone d12, which cries itself to sleep at night) were my objectives.  I was wider than him on the right but my left (the Illyrians) were a soft target.  Plus I knew his Hypaspistes would never let me have his flank and I simply wouldn't be able to roll up his flank in time.  So I gave orders to shift my line to the left.  I figured I'd meet his strength with mine: contain the cavalry with my phalanxes and set up a grind everywhere else.

His orders were simple: angle his line to protect the right flank and the the Cretans to delay while the cavalry came crashing around the flank.  A simple and very Alexandrian strategy.

Opening Moves

My line has completed its shift and begun advancing, while his flanking maneuver is in progress.  I'm actually feeling pretty good, because even though my Corinthians have to go through the forest, they're ready to exploit the smaller army he has.  If the Companion Cavalry break through, I can turn the Corinthians left to contain.  If he doesn't I flank his Foot Companions and that all she wrote for this game.

The Mighty Illyrians

On the left, Scott uses spends CAs to pull back his Companion Cavalry from the Thebans (and the Corinthians threatening a pinch), while sliding the other Companion Cavalry out sideways.  He sends the Sarissaphoroi into the Illyrian Warriors and now I see his plan:  the weakness Alexander has is that if he takes cavalry against Greeks, they're going to be fighting spearmen.  No escaping it.  But, if he does it in waves, he can break my line. 

The Sarrissphoroi are going to die when they charge, but if they do some damage to soften up the Illyrians, then the Companion Cavalry can charge in and finish them off.  Even if the Companions end up in the Yellow or Red, that's still 4-5 dice at 6/6 on my flank.  Its actually a good plan.  I feel I can contain with the Corinthians if I have to, but it'll be much closer.

So in go the Sarissaphoroi. 

Die horribly?  Check.

Damage the Illyrians?  Uh, well, they'll have to get back to you on that one...   :-\

Seriously, he rolls 6 dice needing 3s to hit.  1 hit (plus impact).  Rolls 2 dice needing 5s to wound.  1 wound.

The Illyrians respond by doing 5 damage and wiping the Sarissaphoroi out.  Oh boy...we've seen this story before with Scott's dice...

Macedonian Beat Down

On my turn, my phalanx units on the right all go in.  In the forest, the Corinthians charge the Cretans.  I ditch a card to force a check and the Cretans blow up.  I maneuver the Thebans and Illyrians forward to threaten the Companions.  I actually made a mistake as was too passive.  I should have changed the orders of the Thebans to Close and had the Illyrians move up as well to put pressure on both units of Companions.  But at the time I felt very confident that he was in a devil's choice of having to charge Holding spear or my Corinthians in the forest would start rolling up his line.

On the far right, my Sacred Band (needing 2s to hit) did 5 wounds on the Hypaspistes.  At this point, Scott had swapped his dice for some dice that were historically cursed.  He rolled to hit and did 5 wounds back to the Sacred Band!  Worse, the Foot Companions to the left also did 5 wounds to the Sacred Band (needing 2s to hit).  Now I'm starting to sweat.


On his turn, Scott sends the Companion Cavalry crashing into the mighty Illyrians.  8 dice plus an impact, needing 3s and 4s (I played a Command Card):  1 damage.  The Illyrians respond with 3 damage of their own, forcing a Yellow check.  At this point, Scott is ready to concede.  His breakthrough has failed and I have more units than him.

We decide to play one or two more turns as he could get lucky on the far right.  His Hypaspistes and his Foot Companions force checks on both units of Sacred Band there.  (He does this in part because, "surprise! Alexander is actually leading the Foot Companions").  I force a check on his Hypaspistes as well.  He rolls a Cge 13 yellow check:  12.

Me?  I roll a 13 and then a 17.  Both my Theban Sacred Band flee! Then in free strikes, I blow both Red checks.  Yep, I go 0 for 4 on Cge 13 units.  The flank (and middle) where we thought would be just a giant grind-fest has blown wide open in a serious of spectacularly swingy die rolls.

At this point, I know the game is over.  Each Sacred Band unit is worth just over 300 pts.  Each Corinthian unit is worth just under 300 pts.  My unit in the forest is 3 turns away from flanking the Foot Companions.  He'll roll up my line in the center before I can get there.  300 * 4 units = 1200 pts.  This is Breaking Point.  Barring some just terrible dice, I've lost.  My goal now is to play for the draw!

Beginning of the End

This picture was taken after Scott's next turn.  On my turn, the Thebans pinched the Companion Cavalry, who fail their pre-combat pinch check and are destroyed.  I had a chance to get a draw by forcing a Yellow check on the Foot Companions in the center, but they passed their check (and even if they didn't, Scott had a reroll).

On his turn, he charged the Companion Cavalry (on the left) into the Corinthians.  He did this because my Corinthians were on Close (no Hold bonuses) and were in the forest (-1 die and no impact hit).  The Companion Cavalry do 7 wounds and, with a judicious use of a Blue card, take only 1 damage in return.  The Corinthians pass their rout check (Huzzah!  1 for 5 today!)

In the center, the Foot Companions flank my Corinthians.  They blow their pinch check and that's it for them.  (1 for 6 on rout checks today...).  Small bright spot is that my other unit of Corinthians pass their rout check (2 for 7!) and fight on, or the game would actually be over right there.

Companion Cavalry Destroyed

I realize that, due to angles, my Thebans can actually see the corner of the Companion Cavalry, so of course they pinch.  If I kill them and then get lucky and kill the Foot Companions to the right of the forest, I can actually force a draw.     

The Companion Cavalry pass their pre-combat check, going down fighting.  Before being destroyed they force a Red check on the Corinthians, who pass (3 for 8).

The Foot Companions are put into the Yellow, but they also pass their check. 


The Foot Companions flank the Corinthians and I blow the pre-combat check (3 for 9 on the day).  Don't even get the long shot of killing the wounded Foot Companions on the front.  In the free strikes, with the 16 dice (plus an impact) Scott is rolling, he very handily wipes out the Corinthians.

That's 1200 pts, and that's the game.  He's got 1170 on the board, which is a 4-2 win for him.

Post-Game Thoughts:  Okay, so basically, besides the Mighty Illyrians, I just got no love this game.  I mean, when you blow two Cge 13 checks, it's gonna be a rough day.

But this actually is good data.  We designed the Greeks to be tough-but-brittle.  Since they have zero Courage cards, they're always one bad roll away from being in serious trouble.  Now in this case, to have that happen as it did, we had not one but four series of bad rolls:  Scott did 5 wounds on the charge turn twice and then I blew both rout checks. 

This makes the game a big outlier, but it does show what can happen on a more minor scale.  If you blow 1 rout check in the game, your phalanxes could end up flanked, something they hate more than most units.  This is intended to balance the fact that they're an army full of affordable units with D:2/2 and 6 Green boxes.  If they got a reroll or some other Courage boost on top of it, they'd border on broken.

By contrast, compare with Alexander (who does get a ton of Courage boosts, including a reroll).  He has very good units, but his phalanxes are either 1) expensive or 2) not Core.  If Alexander didn't have that Courage reroll, I'd say it borders on a weak faction because you're usually going to have a shorter line than your opponent.

As far as game play, I could have deployed better in the center phalanx fights.  I set up my Corinthians against his Foot Companions, when I should have matched my Corinthians against the Hypaspistes and the Sacred Band against the Foot Companions.  That way everywhere along the line he's needing 2s in the to-hit or to-wound roll.  In the end it doesn't matter because if he's going to roll the way he did and I'm going to counter by throwing a fistful of fives on the rout we say around here "tactics don't matter with dice like that."

When I lost both units, I did something I normally wouldn't do:  I opted not to draw any cards but mark the Lock Shields box for all of my units.  The point here was to test that and so we did. 

Since Lock Shields is a dice reroll, it's kinda swingy, which is to be expected.  At one point, Scott rolled 16 dice between two units and didn't get a single 3 on the hit roll.  Everything was either 1, 2, or a miss.  The three other iterations I remember were:

--He rolled four hits, two of which were a 3 and 4.  He promptly rerolled both and got a hit.

--He rolled 3 hits, one of which had to be rerolled.  It hit again.

--He rolled 4 hits, two of which had to be rerolled and he missed with both.

Overall, I didn't get the feeling it was overpowered.  But I did get the feeling that it "breaks the flow."  There was once where get rolled like 4 out of 6 hits and I made him reroll 2 of them.  Looking back, I probably should have made him reroll the whole set.  Sometimes it can be tough doing the math real quick to decide whether your should force a complete reroll or just the hits.  (I do know though, that had I marked the Lock Shields on the two units of Sacred Band, I would have definitely forced a reroll right there.)

So I'm still trying to work out whether or not this is the right mechanic.  It may not be, but its definitely a step in the right direction.