Is it possible to play better and lose the game? Yes. In Ancients, it is possible. This is what happened to Mark in the first game of the 2020 finals. He managed to move his Elephants in the right place for a mounted charge but the dice betrayed him and he collected a scarce bounty. The same thing happened in the last two turns. Despite leading the game for most of the time, Mark failed to eliminate a surrounded light unit with 7 dice (5 from a heavy infantry and 2 from a light cavalry). Conversely, in my turn, I had the banner I desperately needed with just four dice. On my defense, I can say that only the dice could have saved me, as my cards were rather bad all the game (no mounted charge, no double time, no darken the sky, no I'm Spartacus, no move fire move,...)
Final Game 2
Macedonian (Mark McG) 8
Roman (Giulio) 5
With little to lose, the Macedonians came out hard in this one, and the dice were good to me in melee.
After some initial hand management on both side, the Macedonians had both Mounted charge cards in hand, and took that as a sign. The Medium cavalry around the Roman left flank, and the Heavy cavalry straight up the guts, withe the Light Cavalry fiddling about. After both charges I was 5-1 up, and the Heavy cavalry was unscathed deep in the Roman rear. The problem was that both my leaders were with the cavalry, which left the foot in a bit of a edgy situation.
A bit of good fortune with the counterattack of the Roman Medium cavalry rolling 2 flags, allowing the Heavy cavalry to retreat back to the mass. Scipio lived several lives with near misses, but even after the loss of all the cavalry bar the light, the Macedonians could get in close enough to finish the job.