Last Modified 01/20/07
WAB Alex Demo
On Saturday the day was mostly filled by running a demo game pitting Alexander vs. Porus using the new rules and stats from the Alexander the Great supplement due to be released August 2003. We had been planning this event for a number of months and being that I'm from Southern California, Don Effinger and Vince Salvato are from New York, and Rob Broom is from England, I knew form the start that getting everything that we needed together for this event would have to be planned well and streamlined. First we decided that only Vince's, Don's and my miniature collections would be used, this would help ensure that we could control what was brought to the table. This resulted in Vince, and Don and I having to build more units of Indians to fill out the scenario list.
The scenario listed in the back of the Alex supplement was way to big, but as intended we pared it down in scale to allow us to put on a large game, but not a monster sized one. In fact that is the intent of all the OOB's in the upcoming book, to show ways to recreate armies and give guidelines to players, I hope they find them useful tools.
Luckily the Hydaspes battle was fought on a level plain with little terrain involvement, this fit our multi-national organizer's needs as well as the only 'special terrain feature' needed was a river strip that I fashioned out of vinyl material and painted, this allowed it to be rolled up and stored easily in the suitcase. Not quite the Helm's Deep display in the Hotel lobby, but functional and cheap!
By Saturday Don and
Vince and I were not 'morning people' and yet the PEL had listed our start mistakenly at
By the time we hauled everything to the assigned table we were met by a number of players eagerly waiting to get started. A bit of fore planning paid off here as I was able to pass out the scenario guides to everybody as Don and Vince sorted out the players, too bad their were too many to handle because of the PEL miscues. I apologize to anybody we had to turn away, and thank those that stood by and watched anyway. We quickly set up the table and figures(based on the deployment map). This got us going by 8:30 exactly as planned. Rob Broom brought copies of the new supplement in draft form and this was passed around numerous times throughout the day... I even noticed some folks "Bogarting" it.. that felt good as at least it held their attention! Rob fielded questions pertaining to WHW and supplements while the rest played.
The scenario background is described in the Hydaspes Demo pack as a .pdf download, this is the handout that was given to the players as a player's aid. The first vision that I got was of six eager players leaning over a fairly nice big 10 x 6 foot table. Don coached his Macedonians and Vince helped the Indians form a plan and we started.
The first game allowed me to meet and chat with John Carroll (a.k.a. the OldFartMeister) and his son as they took over command of the Indian left wing. Everybody was impressed that the game looked big and fun, I was just happy that folks showed up so early, and that it was all going smoothly. The Indians gained the first turn. Initially the Indian firepower was chewing up the Macedonians left and right, I determined that was because of a miscommunication between myself and Vince, he thought that every bow on chariots and elephants was composite, but really they should have all been counted for this game as longbows. Once this was corrected the game began to settle down and both sides were eagerly trying to thwart each other's plans. I was already impressed how Vince and Don were channeling their teams and keeping things moving.
On the Macedonian
right wing Alexander pushed hard and eventually destroyed the Indian heavy chariots, and
their supports. Both sides were somewhat static in the center. The Indian right wing
cavalry pushed forward and punished the Macedonians hard. The key factor in this
game was that the Indians were not able to bring their elephants into important combats,
and when they hit enemy units they would do so singularly, in some cases they would win to
see a phalanx fall back in good order, in others the elephants stampeded. A number of the
new rules immediately came into play here, the Indians began to learn how useful their
elephant escorts worked, and when wedges slammed into solid units they flattened out as
they lost momentum. The Indian archers were happy to shoot over their spearmen.
Because of the desultory start the game came to a close with a slight edge going to the Macedonians, but they had lost far more figures, they had just managed to eliminate some high point units, and elephants counted as half victory points if stampeding. The players seemed pleased, and I was happy that the game had gone smoothly without incident, again that's because Don and Vince really kept things going and entertaining.
The second game allowed us to reset the troops and tweak a few mistakes before we started. I was happy that the balance was fairly even in the first game, as my worst fear was that one side would thump the other and exploit some gaff or loophole that I had not seen in the scenario. Again the players were sorted out and the game began, this time the Macedonians started first and quickly rolled around the Indian left wing chariots. But the Macedonians were careless with their horse archers and got them pinned at the river bank. This left the Companion wedges on their own to deal with Porus' large multi-crewed chariots. Alexander could not sort out a decisive charge, with his own light cavalry routing past and elephants blocking his path, the chariots hung on.
On the right flank the Indians danced with Coenus' cavalry trying to pepper them with shots, but neither side was able to get a decisive blow here. Amazingly in the center Porus on his elephant charged through a hail of fire right into the midst of the Macedonian skirmish screens and rolled over them into the center of the phalanx. But without help his elephant wounded retreated, trumpeting defiantly at the Macedonians. To the right the Indian elephants faired much better as they coordinated two elephants onto one phalanx.. This combined charge broke the phalanx and the Macedonian line was thrown into complete disorder. The Indian foot followed up and shot as phalanxes dissolved and the rallied.
With Alexander stymied and the phalanx in disarray, the game drew to a close, this time with an Indian win! A great hoot went up from the Indian freedom fighters as the invader was hurled back. This was a very entertaining game to witness as Don was much more animated with his Macedonian crew, and Vince was extra devious and conniving in response. I think everybody enjoyed this game much more than the morning's version. Some more of the new supplement rules affected the game, and I was really pleased to see Porus backing away slowly in a stately fashion (as per the special scenario rules) and inspiring his army by example!
Again much praise needs to be given to Don and Vince for making this even remotely possible and giving up their Saturday to run this so well. Players were thrilled to play with their excellently painted toys- without them and everybody else who worked on the supplement this event would not have happened. Thanks to Rob for the official shirts, and meal ;) and keeping everybody happy with obviously the right answers (and correcting me when I was wrong about a few game bits). I was just thrilled to see people playing a game that I devised, with the lists from the new book and having fun with it. That's a really good payback for all the efforts of a lot of people.
Later as we took a break to freshen up and eat, some "power gamers" set up and played the scenario. This cast of Tony Edwards, Tom Opalka, and Steve Schifani on the Indian side took on "Mr. WAB" Adam Hughes as Alexander, Mike Reardon, and Jim Lennon. We expected this game to be still raging when we showed up an hour or so later, but the Indians had blown out the Macedonians routing Alex in the process. Tony later confided that it all came down to some especially important pursuit rolls... that's WAB!
This photo of the modern Jhelum river is a little further north in modern kashmir, but gives an impression of the terrain along the river bank.
Thanks to all that ran, helped, played, or watched the scenario being played, including Rob Broom who answered questions, and Mike Bruck who helped guard our miniatures when we we distracted by the gaming!
I hope the Alexander supplement inspires many games like this wherever folks like to play "what-if" with history.. what would have happened if Alexander had been killed in India? What would have happened if he had gone onward to Magadha and conquered the Ganges?
I hope you enjoy these photos. Good
luck with your games!
Created by Jeff Jonas 08/03