The last Levies in base contact try to finish the fight, but both sides rout. My second line of Levies fire arrows at their enemy counterparts, causing the opposition to retire and take another hit. This puts them just out of reach of my Skirmishers at the edge of the woods, so they drop back into cover and await a new ambush opportunity.
Xiang Gua's reformed Horse Archers body moves into firing range of my last front line Levies unit. The lead enemy Levies unit fires, routing its target. Xiang Gua's Skirmishers reposition themselves, trying to become useful again.
|The end of Turn 5 from my side's perspective.|
I gave the BIG command - I ordered my reserve line of horsemen to advance far enough to put our Chariots in firing range of the Skirmishers. (I, the commander, am in the last Chariot on the eastern side.) My battered front line Levies unit fire at the enemy Horse Archers, routing a unit! My covert Skirmishers pop out of the woods, confronting the remaining enemy Horse Archers unit.
Xiang Gua's Horse Archers fire at my ambushing Skirmishers who then fire back and rout them! The enemy Levies reform into a single body, holding the center, while the enemy Skirmishers score a hit on one of my Levies units.
|The end of Turn 6 from my side's perspective.|
The next three turns saw the inevitable advance of Xiang Gua's formidable line of Cavalry and Chariots. After my Levies broke the center, Xiang Gua's horsemen came barreling through, crushing what remained of my armored foot soldiers. My own line of horsemen pressed on to meet them, but with one significant difference: my own two Chariot units broke off to pursue Xiang Gua's Skirmishers in an effort to get behind his Chariots. When I lost control of my own cavalry and they turned tail, I worried that I had made a terrible mistake...
|The end of Turn 9 from my side's perspective.|
At this point, I knew my side was in trouble, but I had to see the battle through, especially because history told me that Xiang Gua's reliance on the chariot should have been strategically ill-advised. By Turn 11, I could see why. My Horse Archers harassed the enemy vehicles from the wide flanks and my weakened Cavalry forged ahead to taunt them. My smaller body of two Chariots made quick work of the enemy Skirmishers, about-faced, then targeted the Cavalry-ends of the more unwieldy body of enemy horsemen. Soon, Xiang Gua's Chariots began to disengage at various angles, and one Chariot unit even crashed into another (oh, those crazy reaction tests)! I imagined the battlefield littered with broken wheels and pieces everywhere! Look at how chaotic the scene was by the end of Turn 12, with Xiang Gua's forces facing in multiple directions while mine are focused on mid-battlefield:
|Xiang Gua is green, and I am blue.|
The chaos was my only edge. My Chariots wheeled to charge, retiring an enemy Chariot and leaving me facing and in firing range of the flank of General Xiang Gua's own Command Chariot! General faced general, and Xiang Gua knew with his vulnerable position that he could do nothing to stop my arrows next turn, unless he fled. Only a straight, full-speed flight would keep him safe, but it would also put him dangerously close to the edge of the battlefield and my inevitable closing. Even worse, none of his battered and disordered units could have done anything to stop my Chariots (They were now strewn about in 7 different bodies with several hits each, thus reducing their Rep badly.). Xiang Gua was a warmonger, but he wasn't insane. There was nothing left to do. He retreated.
I won and scored 2 points.
Xiang Gua 9
Thus ends the local campaign, but I could certainly continue the saga of my Warring States. I may have won the Center State for now, but the Eastern and Western States will eventually make a move against me.
Whatever I do in the future, the games that can now be called "The Battle of Ghost Forest" will stand as one of the best solo experiences I've ever had. Again, I give all the credit to Ed and David for the fine product that is Rally Round the King, and I sincerely thank everyone who pointed me in that direction when I first proposed the desire for this period play back in January.