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  #1  
Old 07-31-2007, 08:37 PM
David Kuijt
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Default Deployment Problem: Facing the Ming

John Meunier drooled at me, asking for an expansion of something I said in another thread regarding forcing (well, encouraging) your opponent to deploy in the way you desire. Here is a case study.

We were facing a triple Marian army played by clever fellows, Doug Mudd and Stephen Baier, in the finals of Big Battle DBA at Historicon.

We put out terrain -- a maximum-size steep hill, with about 3.5 base widths gap, then a small marsh on both sides. Simple vertical road on one end.

This wasn't our "clever" terrain -- the steep hill was to give the best advantage to the Burmese Auxilia, but the rest hadn't had as much thought as usual because we misunderstood the enemy army -- we thought they had double Marian with Numidian ally. Our fault, not theirs -- when we found our error they let us modify our terrain (what we had set out already) but we wanted to get in to the play, so we just shifted the marshes a bit to bring them to the center line (they had been a bit S-curved before) rather than rethinking the whole terrain issue.

We put our camp centrally (actually two camps -- one Ming and one Burmese; to save work I've only shown the location).

They put their camp wide on the non-road side.

We deployed as shown below:




The Ming formation was in two pieces, but all one command. The Ming Grand Battery was in a refuse-the-left position. Then the Burmese occupy the left side of center, and all the Ming Cavalry on the right side. The Ming C-in-C (General Tso) was outside the Ming Camp so as to keep both parts of the Ming C-in-C command within his 12" command radius.

(The Burmese Cav isn't shown on the diagram above -- I forgot it when making the pic just now).


The Romans now had to deploy their troops -- a huge wad of Blades, six Psiloi, and six Cav, I believe.
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  #2  
Old 07-31-2007, 10:04 PM
El' Jocko
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Here's my first thought. The Ming don't have anything that can scare blade, especially blade with psiloi support. So what happens if they went with a simple deployment: the Romans line up their 24 elements of blade across the center of the battlefield, with psiloi support in all the places where they face mounted? Depending on how their commands were broken down, they could either split their cavalry between the two flanks, or put them all on their camp side to screen the camp from light horse attack.

The Romans are then in position to grind forward, fighting you even up in some places (blade vs. aux in bad going); with a small advantage in some places (psiloi supported blade vs. cav); and with a big advantage in some places (blade vs. bow).

Ok, so I probably missed some subtle (or not so subtle) aspect of the deployment--what would happen if the Romans deployed as I suggested?

- Jack
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  #3  
Old 07-31-2007, 11:01 PM
David Kuijt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El' Jocko
Ok, so I probably missed some subtle (or not so subtle) aspect of the deployment--what would happen if the Romans deployed as I suggested?
Where is the Roman lowpip command? Where is the Roman C-in-C?

With some refinement based upon the answers to the above (which are always clear on the map once the Roman deploys), the basic answer is this:

If the Romans go wide and try to fight everywhere, we place the Ming Blade Wall behind the wall of Cav on the right side if the Roman highpip command is on the right; if the Roman highpip command is on the left, we place the Ming Blade Wall so it is close to the baseline, a few inches separated from the left corner of the Grand Bamboo Battery.

The first couple of bounds look like this:
  1. The Burmese take the steep hill with Auxilia. They also take the marsh if they are facing the Roman lowpip command there; otherwise they are more cautious and merely force the Romans to use lots and lots of pips walking wide through the marsh.
  2. The Artillery Wall wheels outward until it is as angled as possible, closing the door on the left side. It will take approximately a million bounds for the enemy Romans to assault them with a lowpip command. If the Romans have a highpip command there they will be unable to crush the Artillery Wall while the Blade Wall is in front of them, and they will be very averse to advancing against the Blade Wall with the Grand Bamboo Battery firing enfilade down their lines and soon getting rear shots. Going both directions at the same time, especially with the pips they'll need to spend to secure their flank by taking the marsh from the Burmese Auxilia, will be too much to ask of a single command's pips even if they are the highpip of a triple army.
  3. All the mounted of our Highpip command zoom around the right flank and crush end of the slow Roman line. If they are facing the lowpip command this will be easy; if they face the highpip command they wait until the Romans are invested in the marsh and only a few bounds from assaulting the Ming Blade Wall (which is placed in front of the open gap between the Steep Hill and the Marsh if the Roman highpip is on the right side).
With our huge speed advantage our mounted will be able to catch and kill the trailing end of the wide Roman formation, and we will easily get concentration of force there where the Romans (at 200p move) cannot.

Two important notes:
  • Marsh is no protection for Blades against Cavalry. Blades also fight at -2, and our Highpip command can take a lot of casualties, so it can risk going in to fight in the marsh as long as the Roman Psiloi are not too involved. In the scenario where we sweep the flank and the Roman blades try to hide in the marsh, their formation will be a dog's breakfast and they are never going to get into a good anti-cavalry formation.
  • While the Romans can hide which is the highpip and lowpip during our deployment, they cannot do so effectively. If we assume the command with 16 elements is the highpip and the 8-element command without many mounted is the lowpip and the Romans do it the other way, it is even easier to destroy a 16-element lowpip command and it does a lot more good for the Ming. So if we base our assessment of which commands are the high/mid/lowpip upon the best command design, the only way we can be caught off-guard is if the Romans cleverly chop their own foot off before we can do it for them.
In sum: going wide and just trying to fight everywhere will not work. We can block the two gateways (one with elephants and one with the blade wall), fight and delay the Romans on the steep hill with Bow and Aux, and make it very slow for them to get to grips with the Bamboo Battery. While all this is happening, our mobile forces will sweep around their flank and start playing Pac-Man with the end of their foot line.
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  #4  
Old 08-01-2007, 12:00 PM
Pthomas
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Default My Deployment

If the Roman commands were:

1) x8 Bd, x2 Ps
2) x8 bd, x2 Ps
3) x8 Bd, x2 Ps, x6 Cv (CinC)

If the Roman's choose a more flexible deployment of say commands 1 and 2 opposite each marsh in a 3 wide block and the #3 command with Bd/Ps in two columns near each end of the hill with the cavalry in 2 columns in the center of the board opposite the hill, what would you do?
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  #5  
Old 08-01-2007, 02:42 PM
El' Jocko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Kuijt
Where is the Roman lowpip command? Where is the Roman C-in-C?
Here's how I'd do it:
  • Roman high pip command with C-in-C is in the center.
  • Low pip command is on the Ming right, with a flank refused.
  • Middle pip command is on the Ming left. This command includes the cav.

The goal is to press in the center, with the assistance of the other two commands. The Burmese won't be able to stand for long--they just don't have enough elements to cover their front without using crossbows.

And the Ming cavalry can't hold on for long against blade with psiloi support in bad going. It's 2-1 to start, and 2-0 with an overlap. Losing cavalry flee, making it very expense (PIP-wise) to come back.

It's not a cakewalk for the Romans, but I think that they have a decent chance. Especially for players who are good at the kind of dense, crowded fighting that will occur in the middle (which I've always had trouble with).

- Jack
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  #6  
Old 08-01-2007, 03:54 PM
David Kuijt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El' Jocko
Here's how I'd do it:
  • Roman high pip command with C-in-C is in the center.
  • Low pip command is on the Ming right, with a flank refused.
  • Middle pip command is on the Ming left. This command includes the cav.
The goal is to press in the center, with the assistance of the other two commands. The Burmese won't be able to stand for long--they just don't have enough elements to cover their front without using crossbows.
I like that plan -- it is a pretty good one. But won't be as easy as that.
In the discussion below I'm assuming the Roman Highpip is more-or-less centered on the hill, with enough frontage to press through the gap on their left (the Eastern Gap).

Ming Lowpip command deploys in front of the steep hill, with a bit of coverage (two frontages) on the Eastern Gap. It deploys wide, using the Psiloi to increase its frontage (as it won't need them for back-rank support). Two blades are in front of the hill; two in front of the gap.

Ming C-in-C takes most of the Cav (leaving one or two) and runs across-map to the left, combining his forces against the Ming midpip command.

The Burmese Auxilia hold the left marsh; they only contest the center hill enough to make sure the Romans are fully involved, and then pull out after having taken maybe 1 or 2 casualties.

Now the situation looks like this.
  • On the left flank (Ming-side view) the Ming Lowpip LHGen and his LH buddy are more than adequate to delay the advancing lowpip command for about a fortnight. If they go through the bad going, it is even worse.
  • On the hill, the Roman highpip command will push the Ming/Burmese off after a bit of skirmishing and fighting, spend a huge amount of pips moving through BGo, and then stall at the edge of the hill. Their Blade in BGo cannot fight past a troop mix that includes several frontages of Ming Bd in GOOD going as well as Aux and El and Cv. If any of the Bd manage to push their way out into GGo (with overlaps against them) a Cav thrown against them should be enough to force them back or kill them. This will occupy a lot of time, especially since much of the fighting will be beyond command-control range of the Roman C-in-C unless he climbs the hill himself.
  • On the right gap the Romans have a chance of pushing through, but careful placement of two frontages of Ming Bd and some leftover Cav from the highpip command in a static role will make that difficult for some time. If it becomes too threatening, the Ming LH Gen can come over and help. This is the place that the Ming line will eventually break, not the far right (against the Lowpip) or at the hill. But it should still take a lot of time, as it won't happen until the hill is fully controlled by Rome.
  • On the left gap the Romans will stall. They've got nothing that dares advance against the El Gen until they win the hill, and they'll never win the Marsh without pip superiority they'll be spending on the hill.
  • The left marsh will be a tossup if the Burmese get fighting early; if they wait until the Ming Cav start pressing (and sucking pips out of) the Roman Midpip command on that side, they should be able to get advantage. Note that the Ming Grand Battery will be very helpful in recoiling Blade in the marsh and breaking up formations, although it won't kill anyone.
  • And the first command to break will be... the Roman Midpip. Once the Ming Cav from the Highpip command get over onto that side they will be overmatched in numbers (which means in casualty absorbption), they will be outmaneuvered in speed, and they will be badly overmatched in pips -- fighting our two highest dies with their midpip.
  • The Roman Midpip is in front of the Roman camp. Slaughtering them (as would happen, since they are all heavy foot and couldn't get away) and sacking the camp is sufficient for victory.
Critical to the Ming success would be the ability of their forces to delay and hold long enough for their Highpip to redeploy to the left flank and get into the fighting. If they don't get over there fast enough, the Burmese will be overtaxed with their responsibilities on the left half of the hill and the left marsh, and will break. On the other hand, they can get there in a column in six bounds, and their LH can arrive much earlier. My guess is they can do it as long as the Roman Midpip command isn't deployed too wide. And if the Roman Midpip command does deploy wide right? That's another game entirely -- that pulls all the Roman deployments over about four frontages (half the hill). If the Romans deploy assymmetrically wide to their right (Ming left), the Mighty Ming have another plan.
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  #7  
Old 08-01-2007, 04:07 PM
David Kuijt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pthomas
If the Roman commands were:

1) x8 Bd, x2 Ps
2) x8 bd, x2 Ps
3) x8 Bd, x2 Ps, x6 Cv (CinC)

If the Roman's choose a more flexible deployment of say commands 1 and 2 opposite each marsh in a 3 wide block and the #3 command with Bd/Ps in two columns near each end of the hill with the cavalry in 2 columns in the center of the board opposite the hill, what would you do?
Flexible doesn't cut it when you've got an army that maneuvers like molasses. We would punish Rome for its temerity in matching maneuver against an army honed in fighting the Mongols.

In other words: deploy the Ming heavy foot to block the Eastern Gap. The Western Gap is already blocked by the Burmese Elephants. Now all the mobile elements of the Ming army (leaving the Burmese) hook around the Eastern Marsh and fall on the Romans in the open. This includes the command elements of the Lowpip command (LH Gen and LH). The Burmese will be able to take and hold the hill -- only the C-in-C Roman command can contest it, and they are not going to have the pips to fight while frantically redeploying to meet the Cavalry threat.

What command breaks first? The Roman Lowpip, wherever it is. If it is the Eastern one, it will be caught paralyzed and still be blocking the Roman C-in-C at the time the Ming start hitting them. If it is the Western one, it will not have the pips or the elements or the flanking assistance from the overmatched Roman C-in-C to be able to halt the advance of the Burmese.

This whole battle would be very interesting -- good pips for a couple of bounds for Rome, combined with a smart enough general to spot the danger two or three bounds ahead of average, could allow them to put together a good defensive line in time. Then the result would depend on the ability of the Ming lowpip foot to put some pressure on the corner of the Roman bent line, or on the Ming ability to take more casualties and apply more pips to the tactical situation. Could be close.

On the other hand, good pips for the Ming Lowpip early will cripple Rome -- the two Lowpip LH will be ZOCing them and making it impossible for them to get into the formation they need. And if Rome deploys the lowpip command on the Eastern Marsh, they are doomed.
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  #8  
Old 08-01-2007, 05:48 PM
El' Jocko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Kuijt
This will occupy a lot of time, especially since much of the fighting will be beyond command-control range of the Roman C-in-C unless he climbs the hill himself.
You know where the C-in-C would be if I was running the Romans. Right in the front line, baby!

Quote:
Critical to the Ming success would be the ability of their forces to delay and hold long enough for their Highpip to redeploy to the left flank and get into the fighting. If they don't get over there fast enough, the Burmese will be overtaxed with their responsibilities on the left half of the hill and the left marsh, and will break. On the other hand, they can get there in a column in six bounds, and their LH can arrive much earlier. My guess is they can do it as long as the Roman Midpip command isn't deployed too wide. And if the Roman Midpip command does deploy wide right? That's another game entirely -- that pulls all the Roman deployments over about four frontages (half the hill). If the Romans deploy assymmetrically wide to their right (Ming left), the Mighty Ming have another plan.
Ming PIPs would be key. Since it's the high PIP command that needs to move, you've got some help there. But it's only the high PIP of two commands, not three. And you're moving three distinct groups: the light horse, the cavalry, and the general. It's a risky redeployment.

Deploying the Roman mid PIP command out wide wouldn't work anyway. The mid PIP command is a critical part of the attack on the Burmese--two commands against one, as I was taught by the master.

- Jack
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  #9  
Old 08-01-2007, 06:32 PM
David Kuijt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El' Jocko
Ming PIPs would be key. Since it's the high PIP command that needs to move, you've got some help there. But it's only the high PIP of two commands, not three. And you're moving three distinct groups: the light horse, the cavalry, and the general. It's a risky redeployment.
One column only; it'll pick up the General as they pass him by. At 400p every turn, they'll be out on the wide side before you know it. And the LH can tag on the column on low-pip turns, and climb the side of the column any bound they get more pips. By the fourth turn of the redeploy they'll be at the front and the Cav column will be passing behind the Artillery; by the sixth turn they'll be rounding the end of the Roman line.
Quote:
Originally Posted by El' Jocko
Deploying the Roman mid PIP command out wide wouldn't work anyway. The mid PIP command is a critical part of the attack on the Burmese--two commands against one, as I was taught by the master.
Hah! Fair enough. But note that this is a race in more than one way. The Romans are trying to break the Burmese before the Ming can break the Roman Midpip command. If the Roman Midpip (which is also fighting two commands) breaks first, the Romans are probably never going to break the Burmese.

But even if they break at the same time, Rome loses. The Romans will not be able to fight through to the Ming camp without breaking the Ming lowpip command as well, whereas if the Ming break the Roman Midpip command there is nothing between them and the Roman camp save air, and their movement is 400p or 500p with highpips. The LH will hit the Roman camp on the second bound, and the Cav probably one bound after that.
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  #10  
Old 08-03-2007, 02:39 PM
John Meunier
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My thoughts are probably already covered in the stuff below, but here is where I start when thinking through this:

What of the Ming army can I kill? How many do I need to kill to break a command? How many to break the army?

The most tempting target for my blade is the grand battery - in terms of stuff I can kill - although I might not be able to get to it.

If I overload on the Ming left to control the left marsh and move against the battery, I need to somehow occupy the Ming right or slow it down.

How many tactical absurdities and blunders have I expressed so far?
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