It’s easy to find flaws with a plan after it has failed, so I’ll try not to restate anything obvious. Instead I’ll describe my reaction to what JM planned and did.
JM anticipated my command structure correctly, except for expecting all the pike in one command. I decided I wanted to field my pike in three blocks of four, with psiloi linking them. This worked well to improve maneuverability and provide flank support and anti-psiloi support.
9x Cav, 3x LH, 3x Sp, 1x Ps (= 1x Sp quad)
The mounted will run forward towards the pike and hope to get overlaps
using the light horse.
In the planning stages, I feared JM’s LH would quick kill my pike, but a little calculation told me that it wasn’t a big concern. I wasn’t worried about a head to head match with his Cavalry (partially because I forgot the Pike didn’t get rear support against Cav). The big danger for me was if JM could turn my pike’s flank.
The thing I’ll have to watch out for is contacting him too soon, or making it too obvious what this command’s mission is. If I contact him too soon, I’ll be unsupported and he’ll probably still be in more or less a nice line.
In gameplay, I wheeled my pike in separate blocks. I wonder if my disorganized line encouraged JM to contact me sooner? He hit me in good order before I had a well-formed line, but my pikes survived anyway.
When I deploy, I’ll put the high command favoring a far flank, but not out of reach of the center. If he chooses to deploy opposite me, so be it: I’ll be able to go after him without him having the benefit of support on either side. If he puts the pike in the expected middle, fine, I can catch him before he can get out of trouble.
I deployed in reaction to JM’s setup, so it’s best for me not to deploy myself into trouble to begin with. If you want to cause trouble as the defender, your best bet is your final command placement.
At the time, I regretted putting my camp to the right. I wanted to deploy my pike in a long line with their left flank right next to the waterway and my mounted command next to it. I would deny JM’s slow heavy foot on the opposite flank. But he had a bit of light horse over there: just enough to take my camps if I left them unprotected.
Instead, my pike command deployed to delay contact with JM’s mounted wing, allowing me to wheel and protect the pike’s flanks. I considered advancing in echelon instead, but in retrospect I think my wheel was the better move.
The mid command:
3x Lh, 3x Aux, 4x Ps
This was a reasonable command, but assuming I could move my Kn/El into first contact, I wasn’t very afraid of it: the Knights would crush the auxilia most of the time, providing overlaps for the elephants. If he contacted first he could combat the elephants and hopefully kill one, leaving my knights exposed. Instead, he wheeled parts of his line to protect his flank, and I wasn’t about to move my elephants into overlaps.
What, a waterway, are you crazy?
The waterway ended up being irrelevant. The pike are so narrow, you’d have to cut the board in half with a river to give them much advantage. I expected JM to use the waterway to anchor one of his flanks by deploying directly next to the waterway instead of 3″ away from the board edge. With the bad going on the other end of the board, he could’ve fought entirely in the open.
Remember when I said I wanted the bad going to tempt Alan? Well that’s why there’s a road in there! Let’s hope it’s too much for him to resist.
This was, in fact, too much to resist. There was at least a 50% chance that I’d have enough PIPs on the first bound to send my Auxilia all the way to JM’s deployment zone. I like those odds and I’d bet on them again. I probably would’ve gone into the bad going even without a road, if he deployed the same way he did this time.
JM deployed his mid-PIP command in front of his spears. That hampered their ability to move and contribute to the battle, and disrupted his plan for that command. I wonder if it would have worked better to put the light foot in the center to harass the flanks of both my mounted and pike commands.
… I hope he sees my reserved deployment as a sign that he can get to the bad going.
I didn’t notice that the spears had space in front of them until he deployed the light foot there. Watching my Elephants’ enemy transform from Spears to Auxilia was an unwelcome surprise.
I’ll conveniently put down as little bad going as possible.
Unfortunately, that terrain placement was a perfect highway for the auxilia. The road made it way too fast. It may have been better to place two tiny woods in the corners opposite the waterway, and do away with the gentle hill he ended up having to use in the center.
The heavier Alex block will be the one to avoid. Either Alan is afraid that I’m going to chose to ignore his pike, or he’s being sneaky in his pre-game e-mails and actually wants me to think that’s a good idea…
I don’t remember what I was thinking in pre-game e-mail. My basic opinion of pike is that they’re very tough, but their lack of maneuverability makes it hard to choose where (or if) you meet your enemy.
One strategy against pike is to take advantage of their lack of maneuverability. A few small groups of psiloi can delay a pike block for “a long time” (in pike years). That’s another reason I included some light foot along with my pikes.
I think the mere fact that I’ve bothered to think through this all will help my chances.
I read a quote by Randy Pausch erecently that I like a lot: “You can always change your plan, but only if you have one.”
I think having a plan can also accelerate learning from your mistakes. It’s easier to learn which of your decisions turned out to be bad if you know what your decisions were. Or: “You can make your plan better next time, but only if you have one this time.”