After three or so years, Alan and myself played a game of Armati again. It actually was Armati 2, but as we used to play Advanced Armati as well, there were no major differences or changes to the rules we used to play (I think :) ).
The game featured Alan’s Picts (the army of ants, as one exasperated opponent at a DBM competition in the UK is reported to call them) versus my stalwart Early Imperial Romans. My deployment was fairly conventional, with some Light Infantry Bows, an Auxilia unit (Light Heavy Infantry) and a Moorish light cavalry unit on one flank, the heavy cavalry and cohorts in the center of the battle line and two units of auxilia and some skirmishers on the other flank. Alan deployed with his foot and warband in the middle, light cavalry and chariots against one flank (the one with the Moors) and light cavalry and skirmishers against the other flank.
The game did not start well for me, with a charge of my heavy cavalry into his warbands beaten off (I had hoped to break the warband with my impetus before he could do the same to my legionaries) and the only cohort of veteran legionaries swept away by his warbands. On the left flank, my defenses crumbled in the face of the onslaught of cavalry and chariots.
Things picked up after that, however. I managed to use the superior initiative of the Roman army to get into the flank of a big block of Pictish foot (high initiative in Armati means, among other things, that you are generally more maneuvrable, due to the division splitting mechanism), and the cavalry, after retreating and attempting to rally charged in again (with two fatigue points and 2/3rds of their break points gone - brave horsemen) and this time swept over the warband, thereby exposing the other flank of the Pictish foot. After that, it was easy going.
This game highlighted a few things we like about Armati, and had almost forgotten after years of DBM. Unlike DBM, which has a tenuous if any connection to history, despite what Phil Barker will say, Armati is firmly grounded in history. What this means is, for example, that your battles are won or lost by your important units. In the Roman case, I had lost most of my support troops, which in DBM would have broken my army, but in Armati it’s the star troops that count: the cohorts of legionaries. They broke through the center of the enemy army, breaking the core troops of the Picts and winning the game.
Another thing that Alan (if not his troops) specifically liked, was the ability of my cavalry to break off of combat, fall back and attempt to rally (they failed, but that’s beside the point), and go in to the fight again.
I think we will be playing Armati a bit more in the future :). I have already ordered my copy of Armati II.