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-Defeating the AI (part I) -by Paul Bruffell-


The map below shows the initial set up and I am playing the Republican Romans (Purple). Facing me the computer controls a typical Carthaginian army strong in cavalry and spear-armed infantry.

Each army has 3000 points. The Carthaginian cavalry are veteran quality and the spearmen are in units of 200 men. Covering the main body front on both sides are skirmishers. We both have the same number of skirmishers but in my case I split the light infantry (LI) in to small packets of 20 men. This gave me a cover screen to protect my Legionaries from missile fire but also to entice the Carthaginian Heavy Cavalry (HC) to attack.

Setting your army up in the right way to fight a certain type of enemy can win the battle before it begins. In this case, I have placed out in the front cannon fodder for the enemy. I am trying to entice his left wing HC to strike at my apparently weak and defenceless LI. What he cannot see is my Veteran Triarii to the rear waiting to pounce once his HC are entangled in a fight with my LI.

On my left wing I have assembled all my HC and again grouped them in small units of only 30 men each. Each line or wave is only 4 units totalling 120 men, each with a commander for full control during the game. Finding your mobile cavalry fixed due to lack of orders half way through the game can be a serious handicap. The objective on the left is to quickly destroy the enemy cavalry and swing in to the flank and rear of his infantry centre body.

Starting Positions
Defeating the AI #1

OK, here we go – turn 1 below shows my left wing HC charging in to contact.

You will notice the Computer AI is also aggressive and responds in kind, charging his cavalry units in. The Carthaginian cavalry are 60 men strong units so would normally role over my units but my units are Heavy Cavalry against his Medium Cavalry and I will be reinforcing my front line with the next wave at the critical moment.

As can be seen, the Computer also fired in his left wing cavalry, my LI were in skirmish mode and dashed for cover behind the Triarii. The Roman soldiers stood fast, held their spears steady and the Carthaginian cavalry crashed in to a wall of spears. Losses of their HC would be high as cavalry can not win against a steady line of spears.

Turn 1 -
Defeating the AI #2

Interestingly, one of my HC units charged straight past the enemy cavalry and appeared at the rear of the Carthaginian infantry. I would take advantage of this opportunity in the following turns.

By turn 3 the Carthaginian cavalry on both wings were in disarray and suffering heavy losses. Some of their units can already be seen to be routing off the battlefield. At this point, my objective is to win on the wings and keep their infantry centre pinned down by the presence of my Legionaries. You will notice the usually aggressive computer AI is hesitant to commit its centre. Meanwhile my skirmishers are in a missile battle with their opposing LI.

Turn 3-
Defeating the AI #3

Turn 4 – The Carthaginian cavalry have collapsed on both wings leaving their centre looking seriously exposed. Now is the time to drive on the wings and clear the way for envelopment. The Legionaries now need to move up in the centre and keep the enemy centre pinned down.

Turn 4-
Defeating the AI #4

On Turn 6 the envelopment begins on the flanks –
Defeating the AI #5

By turn 7 my Legionaries are attacking in the centre and the Triarii are coming in from the right wing. The cavalry on my left are waiting for their chance to hit the enemy in the rear. The Carthaginians are shaken and may well rout at any moment. Effectively by the end of turn 7 the battle is won and all that is left is the coup de gras.

In the next After Action Report I will describe how to win playing the same Carthaginian force that has been so thoroughly defeated here.

More to come...