Had Mark over yesterday. We had planned this to be a play through of the 3rd Crusade in Onward Christian Soldiers (which I haven’t played yet, so I’d like to try it), but he had an urge to play Commands & Colors: Ancients instead, so we went with that instead.

The original box for C&C:A is massive, and he has all three expansions, each of which is just as big (they keep providing new blocks…), which turns into a really impressive pile.

Since I’ve been reading a fair amount of Ancient Greek history lately, we went with the Battle of Plataea from the first expansion (Greece & Eastern Kingdoms), and played it through once as each side. The first time, I had the Persians. The Greeks of course, have heavier infantry, but are broken up in two different lines with a gap between them (the Spartans and the Athenians, with the Spartans getting the true heavies). The Persians have two lines as well, with a central reserve in the back. Their troops include a fair amount of archers, stiffened by auxiliaries (which is to say, medium/light infantry) and cavalry detachments. I don’t think I ever got quite into the swing of how the army was supposed to work. I spent a fair amount of effort trying to use the archers, and not getting much for my efforts. At any rate, the action opened on my left, and a couple of powerful cards allowed me to more-or-less disrupt the Athenian contingent. However, I had lost all my offensive troops as well, and archers are less than handy for finishing off a foe. Over on my right, things went much better for the Spartans, and I lost 3 banners to 5.

I don’t recall nearly as much about the second play through where I was the Greeks. However, the Spartans pretty much carried the day again, with the Persians just not being able to counter two units of heavy infantry. (And if you’re following along at home, you’re asking “Two units? I thought there were three?” One of them starts back in a corner, and neither Mark nor I ever got a chance to move them up.) So, I won a very close contest 5 banners to 4. (Which is an overall loss of 8-9 for me.)

Then we went to Expansion 3 (Roman Civil Wars), and played a scenario on The Battle of the Baetis River. Having some affinity for Sertorius after nearly winning with him in another game, I took his side for our initial (and so far, only) play.

Almost winning with Sertorius may become a habit with me.

He has an interesting force. A couple of heavy units in reserve, an amazing amount of auxilia, with slingers and archers on the flanks, and a little light and medium cavalry. The river flows through the battlefield, separating a bit of the right flank. The Republican commander, Fulfidas, has a line consisting mostly of medium infantry. The Marian Legion rule is in effect for both sides, which means that nearly everyone has some missile capability.

I brought forward the heavies immediately. That may have been a mistake, as having them available at the end would probably be wonderful for demolishing a weakened Roman line. However, they’re slow moving, and I find it’s hard to use them later as getting them to catch up to where the action is takes too long. Mark got some very good luck during the game, wiping out fresh units with one attack on a couple occasions.

In fact, at first I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to put in a decent showing. But I went about the job of disrupting his main line of medium infantry and put in very good performance, taking half of it out of the battle. At this point it was looking like I should win, as I was eroding a bit, but his center was smashed, and he’d had to pull a couple wrecked units out entirely. However, I just wasn’t able to follow up this success, or hit his flanks effectively.

Mark’s remaining line of mediums hit part of the line of light troops that were still negotiating the river fairly hard. I pulled back, and he entered the river, which hampered his troops far more than mine. However, this was pushing me back to the edge of the board, and I wasn’t able to stop him. In the end, he smashed another unit, and forced one of my leaders off the board for the win, 4 banners to 6.