Well, thanks to holiday business, the group of players for this month slowly winnowed down, until there were two. Patch made it over yesterday, and we had a day of Commands & Colors: Ancients again.

I may be gamed out on this for a little bit. Certainly, I was feeling that way before hand, now I’m actually a bit jazzed for it again. Go figure. While I was down south, I taught my Dad, and had three games with him. As I expected, he doesn’t consider it a great game, but its shortcomings are made up by its simplicity and speed. I also taught it to Mike, I see him and Elaina every year on the way back from my parents. He keeps looking at the games I bring down for my Dad longingly, but he’s never had a chance to play a wargame. Between the explanations and some analysis paralysis it was a long night, but he had fun and was really getting into the swing of it for the second half.

After the teaching, I was a little burned out, but playing Patch has put me back in form and eager for a bit more. I also noticed that I habitually state which results are needed in an attack now….

Also, all I had down south was the original set. I ordered the first expansion on sale a week or so before, but it didn’t ship ’til the day before I left. I had Expansion 4, but there’s only one battle playable without some of the other expansions, so I didn’t take it with me. So yesterday, Patch and I broke in both sets.

We started with the battle of Marathon, and I found out that Patch’s knowledge of history more or less stops with WWI, and he didn’t know anything about one of the most famous battles of classical history (‘if there’s not tanks involved, I can’t get interested’). Things went somewhat true to life. After some initial skirmishing, I took a wounded Auxilia out of line and replaced it with a Medium, just in time for Patch’s Greek line to come into contact and break against them. The wings went much better for him, and after a protracted struggle, my last desperate attempt to keep the battle going came apart. 5-6

We swapped sides and went at it again. One of the interesting bits about the ‘play, swap sides, play again’ plan is that you can try out the things that you thing your opponent missed. Patch was much more active with the Persian cavalry, and I avoided contact with the Persian center. That didn’t go so well, with the Greek right getting destroyed and the ending fight devolving upon the center. The Persian center was no match for the Greek left and the remaining Heavy from the right, however. 6-5

After that, we looked through the Expansion 4 scenarios, and settled on Hormuz, which features a mixed force of Persians (purple Romans) against an all-cavalry Parthian army (Eastern Kingdoms). Also, both sides have the new Cataphract Cavalry units (heavy cavalry that can ignore a ‘sword’ hit, making them more durable). I had the Parthians first who are mostly Light Bow Cavalry with three units of Cataphracts. I was worried about the highly fragile nature of my army, especially when Patch started getting retreat results on the Light Cavalry that caused losses for not being able to retreat far enough. After that, I got the Cataphracts into action, and with some good cards absolutely smashed the Persian army. 6-0

I then proceeded to show that it was not a horribly unbalanced scenario, as I got the Persian Medium, Heavy and Cataphract Cavalry into action quickly, and smashed the Parthians before they could get going. I don’t think I ever moved the infantry line. 6-1

I seem to do well whenever I’m given a substantial cavalry force. Normally, I just lose my Light Cavalry to little effect. Both playings of Hormuz went very quickly.

We then went to the next scenario in Expansion 4, a fight between the Roman factions of Gordianus (purple Romans) and Capelianus (grey Romans) at Carthage in AD 238. I had Gordianus’ force first, which is almost all Auxilia. Again I had some good cards, but maneuvering my line was a challenge, and the one unit of Medium Cavalry (and leader) ended up across the battlefield, cleaning up stragglers but doing nothing to support the main line. I got lucky and eliminated one of Patch’s Mediums early, and I avoided contact with the remaining Medium and Heavy while routing the rest of the army. 5-2

I like Auxilia units, they’re the lightest of the ‘competent’ units, but they usually aren’t enough to get the job done. Against the mostly lighter troops of Capelianus, they can do well, but I was able to use the heavier units and leader to pick apart the Auxilia, and pulled out a narrow win in the second go round. 5-4.

The unprecedented 33-18 banner total for the day was mostly powered by the Hormuz set, where good card combinations (such as two Mounted Charges in a row) did Patch in quickly. Overall though, it was a fun day with some really tense moments.

I’m basically free all of next week, but it looks like I may not get in any more gaming until late January.