Sunday, 20 September 2020

Thermopylae 2500th Anniversary Game Day

 To commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the battle of Thermopylae, the Thailand DBMM group held a small game day. Four players, DBMM 200, round robin style. Unfortunately no-one in the group has an Achaemenid Persian army, so we had to content ourselves with four armies from the Aegean world in 480 BC, and had ourselves a spear fest.

Runners and Riders

Myself (Bob):. Early Hoplite Greek (Athens): A big command of 22 hoplites, a small command of 10 hoplites and the best light troops, and a Thessalian ally with 6 light horse (including the general).

Anthony: Lycian: A big command of spearmen, with 6 fast blades. A command with another block of spearmen and 4 CvO and a light command of AxO and Ps.

Nash: Highland Thracian. One huge command of PsS and PsI with a few AxS and two smaller commands of Ps, Ax and a few LH.

Peter: Early Hoplite Greek (Spartan). This list pretty much writes itself at 200pts. It had one large command of SpS backed by SpO and a smaller command with more Sp and a few Ps.

Round One

Game 1:. Athens vs Thrace.

The lines close. Game 2 in background

The Thracians were hoping to defend, but ended up attacking. I just picked an open field for my terrain choice, so the only terrain was one difficult hill on my left. My plan was pretty simple mask the hill, extend my line to the table edge on the right, then advance and push the Thracians off the table. The Thracians plan was to confront my hoplite line with a line of PsS backed by I, hoping to break up the line and get a few kills with overlaps and his S bonus. Meanwhile another horde of Ps would swarm over the hill and LH would come round on my extreme left.

The line of Ps and Sp quickly collided, with poor Thracian dice seeing a number of Ps being spent and the hoplite line holding firm. I moved my reserve Thessalian ally over to reinforce the left, while retreating my heavily outnumbered psiloi from the hill. The Thracians surged up onto the hill, but then the advance was stymied by several bounds of poor PIPs. The Thessalians and spears on the left polished off the Thracian light horse, while the hoplite line continued pushing forwards and spending Ps. One Thracian Ps did make a breakthrough on my extreme right, but it was too little too late and the hoplites polished off the last few opposing Ps to reach the 20 spent needed to break the command and army.

Hoplite line totally broken up

The Thracians only killed two hoplites, but did completely break up the line and most of the hoplites ending up surging forwards impetuously in isolated columns. Had there been reserves positioned to counter attack, the Athenians could have been in trouble.

Result: Athens 25 - Thrace 0.

Game 2: Sparta vs Lycia

Spartans top huddle btetween crag and baseline


The Spartans were very worried about being surrounded and formed a defensive perimeter on the base edge (even if it doesn't look that way in the photo) anchored on a craggy hill. The Lycians were eventually able to take the hill but were still unable to pierce the Spartan defenses with their swordsmen failing to make an impact. 

Result Lycians 13 : Sparta 12.



Round Two

Game 1: Athens vs Sparta

A good old fashioned local derby this one. Spartans invaded, and placed a sea on my right. I placed two difficult hills on their base edge to disrupt their deployment, and a gentle hill in the center for me to defend.


Getting the win in this game would be tricky. The superior Spartan hoplites would easily defeat mine in a frontal fight, though they'd have a hard time defending their flanks, and if I formed too deep, they might use their regular maneuverability to march round my line. If the Spartans defended they'd be hard to defeat within the time limit even though I had enough light troops to take one of the hills they'd anchor on. Therefore I'd have to lure them out by offering them something they could attack, while making sure I could hold on long enough to turn their flank.

Spartans advance

So I deployed a two deep line of hoplites between the sea and the central hill to act as bait, with a large force 3 deep on the hill to be a strong anchor and flank threat, or to advance and pin the Spartans frontally if they
defended. I sent the Thessalian on a flank march across the sea in improvised shipping. The Spartans placed their large command in a line resting on the sea, with a deep column on their right. Their smaller command was placed further back on their right with some Ps thown out on the flank.

Spartans advance in silence

The Spartan line advanced along the sea, bringing their baggage with them, while the Athenian spearmen held position as their light troops moved round to drive off their Spartan opposite numbers. These fell back while the hoplites from the small Spartan command moved behind their main line to protect their rear from the impending flank march. The Thessalians did arrive, but the Spartan second line fended them off easily. However, this left the main Spartan command facing two Athenian ones, with very stretched flank protection. 

Spartans totally surrounded

The lines clashed by the sea, with Spartans killing a fair number of Athenians. However the latter also bagged a couple of Spartiates, and turned the right of the Spartan line and started rolling it up. Meanwhile the force on the hill pivoted and overran the Spartan flank protection breaking the army.

Result: Athens 23 - Sparta 2. 




Game 2: Lycia vs Thrace

Nash's lunch in top left corner

The Lycians placed a wide river running between the two short table edges midway into the Thracian deployment area. The Thracians defended the river with two commands, and sent a third on a flank march. The Lycians stormed across the river, and eventually broke the enemy there. The Thracian flank march rolled a six to arrive at an opportune moment, but then rolled two ones in succession for PIPs and was unable to come on. Eventually it headed towards the Lycian baggage, where it appeared there would not be nearly enough booty to go round.

Result: Lycia 25 - Thrace 0.


 Round 3

Game 1 Athens vs Lycia

The Athenians invaded, and the terrain ended up with two gentle hills in the Lykian deployment area, one on their extreme right, and one nearer the center, with a difficult hill on their baseline protecting their left. They deployed with a large command on the central hill with a two deep wall of spears fronted by their six fast blades. Another command extended the spear line out towards their right, with their cavalry at the end of the line. Another command of auxillia was placed to the rear.

The two threats posed by the Lycians were their blades chopping their way through my spear line, and their superior mounted and light troops sweeping round a flank. The first threat could be countered by forming 3 deep, which would exacerbate the second one. However the Lycian line was a bit thin towards their right, so I formed up a big block of hoplites three deep opposite their blades on the hill, with the rest of the hoplites extending the line towards the left table edge with a view towards pushing the Lycian cavalry off the hill on the edge and overwhelming the force between the hills. Ps and the Thessalian ally would I hoped be enough to protect my right given that the Lycian heavy horse were on the other side.

Blades crash into spears

Initially the game played out as expected with the Athenians extending their spear line towards the left table edge while moving up to mask the force on the hill. The Lycian reserve Ax came out to line up opposite my light troops on my right. The Lycians would eventually triumph in this area as I moved a couple of Thessalian LH over to support my left.

It was soon "game on" for real though when the Lycian force on the central hill came down, and their six blades crashed into my hoplite line killing five spears in the first hit. This was bad, but as the spear line remained two deep, I hoped that any just dice gods would allow some severe retaliation against the fragile blades in my turn. Sadly the dice gods are not always just, and I killed just one blade in retaliation, and worse still it was the only one I managed to kill all game.

Athenian line broken up and depleted

The Athenians did have some success on their left killing some Cv with lucky die rolls and pushing back the parts of the Lycian line held by light troops to get some nice overlaps on their spears. However, in the center the Lycian swordsmen kept chopping down spears, breaking the small hoplite command and disheartening the large one. As the time limit approached they needed only one kill on their last turn to defeat the Athenians, but our luck held and when the bell arrived we were severely battered but unbroken.

Result: Lycia 15 - Athens 10

Game 2 Sparta vs Thrace

Spartans form semicircle

Once again the Spartans formed a tight defensive perimeter on their baseline, and the Thracians swarmed around them. However, Peter hadn't flown 300 miles just to sit the corner and started pushing out after the Thracian Ps. He didn't catch many, but they did manage to kill a few Spartans, and by the time the bell intervened the Spartan position was looking a bit dodgy. 


Ps bag a Spartiate

Result Thrace 13 - Sparta 12. 

Final Results

Bob (Athenians) 58

Anthony (Lycian) 53

Peter (Sparta) 26

Nash (Thracian) 13

All in all a great day's gaming with three of the four contestants enjoying it, and the fourth swearing never to play DBMM again. There was some concern before the event that it might be a series of dull grindy spear clashes, but in the event this wasn't the case as all the armies had a different character. The Athenians were big but unruly, the Spartans most dangerous, and the Lycians the best supported. The Thracians of course were something completely different.

Personally I was happy that my new Athenian army was able to get a couple of wins. I had originally planned on using them in a COVID cancelled event where they would probably have struggled, but glad that they fare ok within a historical setting. 

Thanks to Anthony for noticing the anniversary and organizing, and to Chris's Pie Shop (aka Battlefield Bangkok) for hosting us.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Chester Watts Testimonial Conqueror's Report

The army

You have got to have some knights. Only two hours to kill your opponent, so you have got to do it quick, and nothing does it quicker than knights.

But wait, only 200 points! Those fancy regulars are starting to look overly expensive. Irregular KnF kill just as well and leave some army points for a bit of foot. Maybe they are hard to control, but at 200 points, one only gets five or six, and that’s much easier to keep together than a dozen at 400, especially when one is getting just as many PiPs.

So iKnF are in. What do they fear? Spears. (Fast knights don’t like being shot at by bows either.) So something that will do for both spears and bows makes an ideal compliment. Step forward the blades. Now, can I find an army list with both iKnF and Bd?

There are a few, but not many. Romans have them, but not really enough of the knights and those legionnaries are a tad expensive, plus one has to fit in all the compulsory auxilia and stuff as well. Paying for knights and starting some dismounted is another option, but then it would be better to save on army points and go Roman. What else?

When one’s choice is essentially restricted to Books 2 and 3, that means not really much else at all. In Book 3 in particular, it’s either lots of blades or a spear-knight mix. At least that’s what I thought until I started working through some sub-lists and Duke William put his head above the parapet at the end of the Norman list.

A core of milites (iKnF) but with more than half starting dismounted as iBdO, and more importantly, costing only the iBdO price rather than full knight price. Plus the Duke thoughtfully brought along a Breton sub-general with some cavalry (to which some bow were added) rounding out the army with a flank guard. What joy.

The battles

First up, Wayne with his Navarrese Company. Regular knights, spear, bows and auxiliary S all mixed up along the line. What a pain. But then Wayne’s central command decided not to participate, so at least I didn’t have to worry about them charging forward. His other ally ran away behind a wood leaving me to either charge his C-in-C and activate the central command, or come up with a plan B. Bah humbug. I went for plan B and sent the Bretons around the BUA anchoring the Navarrese line. This forced Wayne to use PiPs to put troops out so as to stop the Bretons marching into his rear, but he still got plenty to burn on the unreliable ally. When the other ally completed their tour des bois, the KnF engaged them with mixed results. The Bretons, though, dispatched the flank guards and got two ready to attack the enemy’s rear, but not before the unreliable ally had decided to join the fray. Bah humbug. Then time was called. 13-12 to the Duke. Bah humbug.

Second, Chris and his Islamic Berber. Lots of spear, so a day out for the blades, and they really enjoyed themselves. Most irritating part of the battle was a wood in my deployment zone that prevented the Bretons getting swiftly around the Berbers’ flank. The covering Berber light horse may not have actually engaged but their sheer presence meant the Breton general had to take care and surely saved the Berbers’ bacon (or perhaps that should be lamb chops). Most entertaining part of the engagement: Chris getting confused over what kind of ‘i' the spear in his second command were – irregular or inferior – when it really didn’t matter against the blades. Result: 15-10, Chris saved by the bell. Bah humbug.

Third game was against Brian and his Khazars with a matching iKnF command, but the rest were all cavalry and light horse. Thus, the Duke knew he wanted some rough terrain for his foot to combat the enemy’s maneuverability, but as invader, the only such terrain available was boggy flats and one came out on the centre line a short distance from one flank. Brian, needless to say, just took a BUA to stick his baggage in and nothing else. Time of day had a major impact, the Duke rolling 6 to Brian’s 2, so the Normans deployed first. In the mud. And the mud made the boggy flats difficult going. What a pain. The Normans hunkered down with the blade one side of the flat, the Bretons on the other and the knights well to the rear. The Khazars sent one lot of cavalry around the flat with their knights a bit back in support while the rest of their cavalry and light horse zigzagged just out of reach of the blade line. The Khazars charged the Bretons; the Bretons counter-charged to greater effect. The Khazars charged with with two rCvS generals. The Bretons survived then wiped out the Khazar generals. The Khazar knights were dumb struck then fled after losing one of their number to the marauding Bretons. (Lots of bah humbug from the Khazar side of the table.) 25-0 to the Duke.

Finally, Nash and his Southern Dynasties Chinese, and for the first time on the day, the Duke did not invade. Bah humbug. The Norman deployment centred on a BUA, blade mostly along the edge, Bretons to the side, knights to the rear and baggage in the middle. The Chinese had six warband, and deploying second, were able to get them lined up to attack the blade. As they advanced, they held the blade like deer caught in headlamps then just chopped their way through. (In retrospect, the blade would have done better deploying further back inside the BUA, able to charge out. They did everything wrong. Bah humbug.) But it was not all bad news. The trusty Bretons got overlaps on advancing Chinese knights and dispatched two to the ‘F’ factor, demoralising that command. And before fleeing, the blade did enough to demoralise the warband command, leaving both sides perilously close to defeat when the bell rang. 11-14 down on this battle, but 64 overall and enough to win the competition. Ya hay! Duke William is indeed William the Conqueror!

Conclusion: knights are not necessary for a 200-point army, except perhaps as a threat. What one really needs are Bretons. Or at least, some cav to cover the flanks of one’s blade. Now where have I seen that combination?

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

DBMM 200 - Recent Events Thailand

Below are two (2) reports for single day four game DBMM informal competitions that we have run.

Afraid there are no pictures in this edition.  Hopefully they will be in a following updated edition.

After Action Report (ARR)

Feb 19 2019 – Bucha Beachhead Game Day – Jontiem Beach)

#78/III - Scots Islesmen & Highlanders
4x 2hr games, 200AP + 10AP Stratagem, 15mm on 120x90cm

The Islesmen are a solid heavy foot army, almost entirely iBdO, big enough to cover the whole width of the table, mostly two deep, across the central deployment area.  They have with them a few Highland iBwO although the army specifications then require them to take matching numbers of iHdF rabble.  My army has a third ally command, Orkney Vikings, the commander of which counts as a sub-general.

With any common enemy that quick kill the BdO/I we get a rear rank support bonus in the enemy bound and with a combat factor of +4 we can grind wins in most frontal battles.  The bow group can move in the initial bounds to block one flank’s outer and non-deployment areas to prevent outflanking while the other flank, if terrain is favourable, is blocked by a compulsory (in defence) Sea.

The disadvantages of the army is that it’s all irregular heavy foot which cost 2PiPs for any move not straight ahead which makes the Islesmen very unmanoeuvrable in general, in danger of being surrounded and also quite defenceless against flank marches, another reason to use the S(ea) as much as possible.  There is a sole count of 2 Ps for engaging in terrain actions, effectively the Islesmen have no terrain capacity.  And our real fear is warband!!

The tactics are to line-up and push the opponents off the rear of the table.  We don’t fear KnF because we can take initial damage from them but our retaliation on their subsequent overlapped positions and the F effect is usually enough to double them and destroy them soon enough.

The army has only ever had three outings previously, all in 400AP formation, and their results have been poor to date, although arguably the battles were much closer than the scores indicate.  Time to prove their worth.  I was hoping to fight Gary’s Tibetans that were rumoured to be ready to deploy.

Game One – Anthony with #6/IV – Syrians
Nothing to fear here providing they didn’t get into my rear and/or flanks especially with a flank march.  On the other hand if Anthony avoided combat I’d find it almost impossible to catch him and thus have no way to force a victory.

The S was on my left, a GH more in the centre but to the Syrian side and on the sea edge a BuA was place back into the Syrian deployment area.

I shortened my line to give it more depth at deployment and to allow me to pass the BuA as I pressed forward all across the table.  Anthony deployed with part of his army clearly missing but I decided I had no choice but to press ahead hoping it was a late arriving flank march or a delayed command that would still be stuck behind his lines.

In my first bound my two Ps approached the BuA as my battle line’s flank protection.  Here they discovered Anthony’s very clever ploy of using a Concealed Command from within a BuA and I had a problem as he would immediately be able to advance around my left flank into my rear and I had almost no way to stop him.  Well done, that man, I was caught out.

In my centre I continued forward to push his units off the hill while expanding to the right to prevent Lh from getting around my right.  As expected I was winning the centre fights and with the Syrians using LhS against my Bw it was a tougher fight on the far right but we traded casualties and my line held.

The Viking command on my left, now out flanked, then had two bounds with a single PiP in each bound which compounded their problems and prevented them from covering the flank of the central command.  The Syrians exploited the gaps and the Islesmen had no response other than dice their way out of trouble in the combats but with factors almost even most of the time, this couldn’t be sustained and two commands were broken and the battle lost.  Deserved defeat of 0-25.  Ouch!!

Game Two – Chris with #75/III – Islamic Berber
The Islesmen were probably the worst opponent for the Berbers as my Bd quick kill the opposing Sp line which is the mainstay of the Berber army and as mentioned I don’t fear their iKnF, plus we’d happily engage any of their other troops.

Chris took, I suspect, some good advice on choosing the terrain layout and troop deployment.  Certainly he made the best of the situation and I couldn’t see an easy path to victory.  The Sea was on my left again but then there were two DH on the centre line with the axis parallel to the flank edges, spaced apart to create 3 corridors between the opposing armies.  The Berbers deployed well back with massed Ps defending the DH.  So if I wanted a victory I was going to have to get through the corridors while having Ps attack my flanks.  In the circumstances, Chris did an excellent job of frustrating the enemy with sound terrain and deployment options.

The Vikings pushed through the left corridor beside the sea but once passed the DH were effectively held in place by massed LhO they weren’t prepared to be surrounded by.  The right hand corridor was too far to travel around so wasn’t pursued while the centre corridor required the hills to be secured first.  So the lone two Highland Ps when up the left hand hill with very PiP intensive Bd support while the impetuous HdF rabble were released to clear the right had hill of a line of Berber Ps. 

Due to being out-numbered, neither hill was cleared.  In the meantime the Berber KnF had impetuously charged down the central corridor into the much longer and reinforced Islemen line where there were all martyred in a single bound (maybe quicker than the rules said due to some bound confusion – which I shouldn’t have missed but did). 

So at that point with no further progress coming any time soon, the time expired.  A draw at 14-11 with all credit to Chris for making the best of this very poor match-up for him.

So at half way I had only 14VP out of 50, not a happy place to be.  L

Game Three – Brian with #16/III – Khazar
As a high contender in my J19 army choice I know this army well having experimented with it at 400AP.  If it had the KnF included then it could be a tough fight but I was confident that my size would help out, and their other troops weren’t such a worry although as mounted, like against the Syrians, if they didn’t want to fight I’d have trouble catching them.

But I didn’t need to worry, Brian’s plan was to use his knights to punch through my line so he lined up to charge en-mass after I’d deployed a double ranked line right across the table.  Being so much wider than the Khazars, if I had PiPs I was going around and into his flank.  It was going to be a short game whatever the outcome.

The Khazars charged, the lines hit, but few casualties.  My retaliation came up empty, the Khazars re-charged, again with limited effect, likewise my return strike.  Third charge and my damage was mounting and I wasn’t sure my “receive charge then counter” plan was going to work as I expected it to.  BUT then it did, a bound of strong combat dice plus the F effect, destroyed the enemy’s Kn command and in subsequent bounds I exploited gaps to increase the damage.

With my right wing having successfully turned inward, chasing off the Khazar Lh protection the end was nigh, and despite the Vikings having been disheartened, a resounding victory 22-3 was achieved.  Great, fun, simple battle but with moments of despair for both of us as our plans failed to materialise, albeit mine came through in the end.

Game Four – Peter with #32/II – Later Carthaginians
Late gathered intelligent (Peter commented on it) that the Cathies had warband – damn – this was going to be a tough game then.

Despite invading, I rolled “time of day” at double so had to deploy first, so I had no idea where the feared warband were going to be.  The sea was on the right this time and only one Wd in my left deployment zone added to the terrain.  I deployed “lines apart” in several groups, well back from the centre hoping to be able to respond to the expected warband onslaught.  The shape of the sea gave me a small outflanking option if the Cathies rushed forward so I used it for my Ps with a number of Bd.

Cathies deployed with AxS to the left (mine), plus Cv and Sp in a sub general led command with the CnC on the right with a large group of Wb and then some Cv & Lh up against the sea.

Initially the Cathies sent the AxS forward to my left to try and out flank me around the Wd.  To counter this I had to use the HdF rabble on auto-pilot to run interference, which were caught in column, provided n funny but one-way casualty stream for the rest of the game, but they did their job as they steadily, but not continuously, died.

The Cv advanced in support of the AxS but the Sp stayed back, in fear I assume of my Bd’s quick killing skills.  The Cv general got into range of my Bw, and was bounced back.  However, he also stayed put in support of his troops flank still within range and the next bound of bowshots saw his death.  That was to severely limit that wing’s effectiveness even though they had the high PiP allocation.

On my right I’d pushed the Bd & Ps along the beach to engage the Lh & Cv and cause a danger of outflanking to the Wb if they advanced.  The low PiPs for the Cathie CnC were mostly spent on controlling the Wb so my manoeuvres were not challenged much and I had got the best possible formation I could think of to receive the Wb when they finally came at me.  But I wasn’t comfortable.

Eventually Peter, with continued low PiPs, let the Wb go impetuously so he could defend the beach area threat.  This allowed me to get the first hit on the Wb and to limit their return charge possibilities.  With QKs both ways in alternative bounds, the casualties mounted, although my combat dice were stronger than Peter’s and my engineered position a little better with the possibilities of hard flanks present.  Having locked up the rest of the Cathies line to prevent them supporting the advancing Wb, the Wb got into more dangerous positions and the Islemen started to surround them.  I risked two general Bd in the combat area, not to fight but to make hard flanks with only 1PiP as otherwise there was not enough PiPs ever to maximise damage on the Wb.

The risk paid off, they both survived, my combat dice, mostly 1 factor up on the Cathies by now remained strong so the victory was obtained,  23-2.  I was very lucky that the random death of the Cathie sub-general had such a negative effect on them and that my back-side clenching engagement of Wb with Bd came out in my favour, nothing was certain until it was all over.

So, two afternoon victories boosted my dismal morning’s efforts to a respectable finish.

I had forgotten to use my Exaggerated Size stratagem in 3 of the 4 games and I don’t think Anthony noticed it anyway when I did. 

Of course I must say thanks to all my opponents, all played in excellent spirit and it was fun even when I wasn’t doing well.  And a special note to Nash & Gary for organising and hosting, nothing would done without you guys – thanks to you all.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the 200AP format.  I had approached the day as simply a method of testing the location as a suitable venue for J19 without expecting much from the games themselves.  But it proved that the format was so much more fun than I’d ever imagined – I hope we do it again in the future.
Thanks all, Wayne.

After Action Report (ARR)
May 05 2019 – Chester Watts Testimonial Game Day – Bangkok

#39/IV – Navarrese Company (in Greece)
4x 2hr games, 200AP + 10AP Stratagem, 15mm on 120x90cm

After 16 months of ‘engaging’ (polite words, I must be nice) with the NZ government regarding my wife’s visa status, suddenly, after a complaint or two well up the chain of command, a burst of action at a most un-bureaucratic speed, saw the whole long ‘discussion’ (still being polite), where we missed a parent’s funeral & another’s 80th, was wrapped up in less than four days!!  Add in a few other family items including the 11 year absence, and the decision was made to head back in short order for an indeterminate number of months. 

Nash, supported by the rest of the ‘BKK’ gang, most kindly stepped up and organised a “going away” gaming day based on our previous February 200AP fun day with Brian generously offering to host the event at his home where there is available dedicated gaming space and as it turned out, spectacular catering as well!!

The Chester Watts Testimonial game day was named after my embarrassing habit of finishing tournaments with no wins and no losses, or in Nash’s 2016 words – “a chest of draws!!”

In honour of the event name I eventually decided to take the origin ‘chester’ army, the Navarrese Company in Greece, which, as I wanted the Condottieri regular knights and the Gascon BdS dismounted knights meant I’d need 3 commands including 2 allies.  That would make it small and prone to unreliability.  The positives were some highly manoeuvrable Kn, which at 200AP I saw as a very good option and overall the rest would be very tough defensively, again a good point as the enemy would need to be aggressive to win in the shorter time frame.  Fairly classic tactics, use a difficult terrain piece to anchor a defensive line, while the other flank uses manoeuvre to create advantageous and winning positions and matchups, with a late battle general press forward to soak up enemy PiPs.  Well, that’s the general idea anyway.

I like this army a lot at 400AP because it’s generally strong and flexible in most areas although it can suffer the difficulties of an irregular command structure and, as its results show, it annoys the combat dice gods often as its biggest failing is rolling low combat numbers too regularly!!


Game One – Anthony with #52/III – West Frankish – William the bastard AD1066
Interesting outlier choice (again) from Anthony who often gets away from the common options and finds strong alternatives.  I should have quickly checked the list before deploying as I’d have seen the possibility of both Cv & BdO and would have deployed differently.

A ½ DH was on my left, a road attached BuA in the right-ish centre with other small terrain pieces irrelevant on the enemy rear edge.  I deployed in line, with the Kn mounted and light troops holding the DGo on the flanks.  I intended to charge through the enemy using the damage of their F rating to make headway while the Condottieri when around the left DH and came at the enemy flank.

All ruined by the Gascon command being unreliable.  So I had to wait for them to be bribed or the enemy closing up on them (they’d need to for a victory) and spent time getting the Condottieri into position.  Anthony had Breton Cv which tried to run around the BuA, the long way around, to get into my rear (I only had a single Bg) so I was forced to counter them with AxS which was a PiP waste.   

Eventually the Norman irregular Kn got enough out of control that they had to advance and engage or go spono in full.  But by now time was running down, and while a few casualties occurred on both sides, the bell rang without any command breaking although one of mine, they are small, had disheartened.

So 13-12 to Anthony.  A game of jockeying for position rather than a combat ridden encounter, and no clear advantage had appeared by the time limit.

Game Two – Nash with #79/II – Northern & Southern Dynasties Chinese
The BuA secured my left, the DH on the far outside on the right, other terrain irrelevant.  I deployed from the DH leftward, the light troops to advance over the hill and into flanks if possible and the Condottieri on the left flank where they had room to manoeuvre.

Disaster – both Gascons & Condottieri were unreliable!!  The CnC command on the right had next to nothing to fight, Nash having deployed towards my left, with two WWgO covering his flank on my right.

Nash spent the game trying to get some Ps & AxS(?) around the unreliable Condottieri while I spent all the time trying to get enough “entirely away from enemy” moves for my regular Kn to prevent him getting into the rear and to be able to respond when he finally closed to strike.  No combats occurred on the left flank but I won the game of manoeuvre with an unreliable command!!

In the centre, I tried several times to get the Gascons back in the action, finally achieving it the same bound that a Chinese element recoiled off a flank contact into activation range anyway.  Mostly my light troops battled with no headway against a Chinese WWgO and his Ps friends while the 2nd WWg tried to move across the centre blocking my Kn and BdS combo from closing up with favourable matchups.

I did initiate a few combats eventually and Nash returned the effort but it was too small a frontage and too late to get a result.  When time expired we’d lost a Kn & a Ps each, with no prospect of a result even on the horizon.  Result recorded as Nash 13-12 Wayne, in an interesting game with limited combats.

Game Three – Bob with #62/III – Sung Chinese
We know Bob’s Sung army for its massed artillery power so there had to be a change in tactics here, as surely that wouldn’t work in a 2 hour 200AP game.  So sure enough, his composition had just one ArtS and plenty of Bd, both O & I, some mounted mixture of CvS & KnF and some Bw.

WW on my left, extended by a March (where I put an illegally placed invader’s ambush) and on my right was also a useful Marsh while Bob got the benefit of a GH behind one of the Marshes to place his ArtS.  As I was okay with the match ups I effective lined up with Kn dismounted as BdS to oppose the enemy BdI although they did have support from some BgS drummers in the centre.

Pressed forward to force a fight, immediately attracting Art shots on my few still mounted Kn including the CnC so I had to re arrange that side a bit to keep him alive.  In the centre the +1 from the drummers made the fights tougher than expected but the BdS eventually did the job against Bob’s lower graded Bd. 

In an effort to speed up the grind into a victory I took a risk and pushed the Gascon KnO general through my line into a gap in Bob’s to challenge a CvS that was looking to fill the gap next bound.  Although I was giving up first strike I hoped to use my QK the following bound as it would potentially be a game changer because Bob’s flank wouldn’t last much longer with such a hole in it so I took the risk.  Bob, I suspect, seeing his weakness on that flank took his own risk and charged my general.  Of course I rolled a 1, and the S effect then caused my general’s destruction, disheartening the command.  Another bound, another loss and the Gascons broke.

Luckily I had enough subsequent PiPs to hold enough elements to maintain my line until the danger passed while further to my left, using Kn & AxS with overlaps we broke a Chinese command also.

As the clock ran down I still had a way to go to victory but was happy with my position, the score was in my favour 14-11.

Game Four – Brian with #16/III – Khazar
I had encountered Brian’s Khazars in our February game day, it’s CvS generals, plus a mix of KnF, CvS & CvO.  If I dismounted, he basically couldn’t touch me but I couldn’t win either as I’d never be able to catch him and even if I did, it would then require a grinding series of combats to get anywhere.

So the plan was to stay mounted, use Kn QFs on the Cv & trust the F effect worked to my advantage and that the regular Kn could work a flank well plus I’d use the terrain to close the table down.  The terrain plan work out perfectly with the table width halved and a DH anchor provided for my AxS to operate from, in fact it worked so well I only just had enough deployment space left.

Brian decided his best option was to meet the charge but with a staggered line, keeping as far left (mine) as possible into the wider deployment zone allowed to CvO thereby being outside my Condottieri Kn who’d need to realign, but it also left my two right hand Kn overlapping his line although these were countered by a few deeper deployed Lh.

Two of Brian’s Lh did go far wide on my right looking to cross DH & BuA to annoying get into my rear but these encountered a (legally) deployed ambush, recoiled off it and returned to the main fight.

In the main clash I worked out that the Condottieri could just match the enemy line’s length on the left by realigning and with a couple of generals joining the line so I advanced as fast as possible to contact.  Because Brian’s line had a stagger in it and my realignment had slowed down part of my line, we didn’t hit neatly but it was enough for my QK to take casualties off the Khazars, including a general, with a 2nd general thereafter almost permanently locked in combat.  We fought on another bound until the S effect from the Khazar CvS hit me big time and I had 3 gaps in my line.

And the Condottieri then had only 1 PiP!!  With careful use of generals and another free Kn I was just able to cover all the break-through dangers, although lost several options of QK combats in the process, except I couldn’t prevent the very outside enemy CvO hardflanking the last on the left condottieri Kn next bound.  We exchanged casualties.

In the Khazar bound casualties hurt both armies – but – the outside condottieri won his combat and remained in place along with a Gascon Kn who had pushed so far through the line he’d been rear attacked, also surviving!!  So it was now the NavCo’s turn to hit back.  I took a few risks, leaving some element rears potentially open to future attack, but I need not have worried, the flanks engineered and QKs devastated the Khazars and they only lasted another bound before fleeing the table. 

However my own casualties were high too, leaving only a 17-8 victory.  A really fun, stand up fight type game that went back and forth until the very end.


So a final placing at 3rd, only a single point above Nash at 4th and also a single point behind Brian in 2nd.
The day’s bragging rights go to Anthony with a well handled unexpected style of army.  Well done.

Thanks one & all for a great day.
Especially Brian for the location and truly outstanding self prepared catering – amazingly good.
And for Nash of course, for organising.

Four excellent games, all in different styles, but most importantly the NavCo’s chester voodoo was finally broken!!
Thanks again, Wayne.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Smelly Yak Cheese

Buoyed by his army's improved performance against the Indian catering crew, Bobroes once more turned his thoughts towards securing control of the Kush, the wealth of the silk road, and of course the cute goatsies. However, on the march, word arrived that another Indian army had emerged from the sub-continent to challenge Ganasha and his Huns, so it seemed prudent to let them fight it out, then crush the victor. In the mean time, there was some unfinished business with the Tibetans, so waiting for the spring thaw, Bobroes pushed into Tibet to avenge their invasion of Persia.

His army caught up with the Tibetans who were encamped on a plain beyond a narrow pass. Two craggy hills narrowed the battlefield in the center, and between them a gentle rise offered a perfect spot for Bobroes to conceal his elephants.

As they crested the rise, the Persian scouts expected to see the Tibetan army arrayed in all its (modest) glory on the plain below, but while its camp was there, it was guarded by a scant half a dozen companies of troops. This meant one of two things*, the most likely of which was that the Tibetans were trying something clever, and that the rest of their army was held off the battlefield, and would be arriving from an unexpected direction.

Tibetan armies are usually small, but not this small.
However, King Bobroes was possessed of deductive skills to rival Sherlock Holmes himself,  and quickly deduced that there must be at least two Tibetan forces to arrive, and that since the left flank offered only a narrow pass onto the battlefield, one force would be arriving on the right, and that another was delayed in the center. Accordingly, he send his largest force forward and to the left to outflank the Tibetan delayed command when it arrived, while keeping another force in reserve near the central hill to lure the Tibetans towards the elephants concealed behind it**.

Flank march and reception commitee
He also prepared a warm reception committee for the Tibetans arriving on the right, blocking their way with a line of levy infantry, lining the craggy hills with light infantry to fall on their flanks, and sending his small reserve command, together with some heavy horse from the center to counter attack. A Tibetan command did eventually arrive as predicted, but not liking the look of the welcome, declined to advance, and the battle was over before the Persians could catch them.

A huge force of Tibetan cataphracts arrive.
Meanwhile the a huge Tibetan force arrived in the center, consisting of cataphracts and some light infantry. The Persian force on the left attacked their flank attempting to kill off the light infantry who might pose a danger to the elephants. Losses were exchanged before the Persians were forced to fall back to avoid a potentially disastrous head on fight with the Tibetan cataphracts.

The Tibetans had advanced some way towards the central hill,  but with the imminent arrival of the Tibetan flank march, Bobroes felt it was time unleash the elephants, who stormed out of ambush and down the center of the battlefield with astonishing speed (spent 6 pips to move them four times). However, while surprised, the Tibetans were confident in their ability to evade the clumsy beasts, and continued pursuing the Persians on the left.

Main Moves
The elephants continued their advance, supported by Persian cavalry from the center, while the small original Tibetan force moved to threaten their flank. The Persians on the left had worked back towards the center, and formed up for a final confrontation. The elephants in the center finally moved within range of the Tibetans, and Persian light horse rode fearlessly into the gap between the two Tibetan commands to threaten their rear. Finally the left wing charged ferociously into the cataphracts, killing one and pushing back the other.

Tibetans stand helpless after the feigned flight.
And at this point King Bobroes deployed his smelly yak cheese, declaring a feigned flight with the left hand command. This left the bewildered Tibetans rooted to the spot, unable to move away from the elephants, or to react to the light horse in their rear. On their next bound, the elephants stomped all over the Tibetan cataphracts, a Tibetan general fell to a rear attack, and the heavy cavalry fell on the disoreded pursing cataphracts. Unsurpsisingly, the Tibetans broke and fled under such a fierce assault.

This battle yielded another 23BP to be used for another attempt against the Huns. Unfortunately, a crushing Hun victory over the Indians had left king Ganasha in an unassailable position, and all the warring parties were forced to recognize him as King of the Kush and Keeper of the Goats***.

* The other possibility was a really bad spreadsheet error in Wayne's list.
** This was the same trick I'd used in the previous battle, but I thought that Wayne would think that I would think that he wouldn't fall for it again, and that therefore I wouldn't try it again.
*** Under the campaign rules, if the reigning king of the table defeats all the other players in succession, he wins the campaign.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Goat Jalfrezi, Home Delivery

Things hadn't been going so well since king Bobroes II inherited the throne after a disastrous battle against the Huns in the Kush. His expedition to India had yielded a military victory, but failed to produce the culinary delights needed to revive his army's flagging morale, and on returning to Persia he'd found an annoying Tibetan shopkeeper and his entourage (too small for an army, too large for a delivery service) hawking his Himalayan cuisine. Bobroes had a plan to defeat him so cunning, that you could pin a tail on it and call it a goat, but due to an unfortunate turn of events, and some tactical errors, was defeated, and forced to buy copious quantities of Tibetan delicacies such as lamb kebabs slow roasted over an open fire of camel dung, and fermented yaks milk lassies. Feeding this fare to his army had clearly done nothing for them, since on the next expedition to the Kush, they had broken and fled just as victory over the Huns seemed certain.

The meal we imagined
Still Bobroes believed that a really good meal or two would restore the elan of his fighting force. Word came to him that renowned eatery in India was now offering a delivery service, so  Bobroes at once dispatched an envoy, asking that they let bygones be bygones, and asking them to send a camel train of their finest goat jalfrezi, a hundred thousand poppadoms, and a few barrels of mango chutney. He and his men laid in the ale, booked the dancing girls, and eagerly awaited the feast.

Now while the Indians were to be congratulated on the forward looking ideas in the F & B business, since they'd neglected to invent high speed transport or refrigeration, their food hadn't traveled well. The Indians claimed that the maggots added both texture and flavor, but the Persian were having none of it, and refused to pay. A furious argument ensued that soon got of hand, and the Indian delivery people transformed into a rather large army (apparently they had previous experience with disgruntled customers). Anna-Toni Gupta appeared from nowhere to lead them.

Now while Bobroes had hoped for the best, he had planned for the worst, and had another cunning plan should the Indians prove troublesome. He had observed in previous battles that the Indian elephants gave his heavy cavalry a great deal of trouble, but that Indians tended to disperse them to protect their infantry against the Persian horse. Bobroes thus saw that if he had his own force of elephants, they would be able to charge through the Indian's center, trampling their foot and overwhelming any local elephant reserves. The Persian cavalry could pin the Indian wings without becoming too heavily engaged, while the elephants won the battle in the center. The key was to make sure that no word of the Persian elephant core reached the Indians, or they'd concentrate their more numerous elephants and win by weight of numbers.

The battlefield was open on the left, with the main feature being a gentle hill on the Persian side, and on the right were a scattering of orchards and enclosed fields. The Indians drew up in three commands. Their center consisted of a line of fast swordsmen (IBdF) backed by 3 elephants and a  general on another elephant. Their flank was supported by some bows and light infantry in the orchard. The Indian left was held by an allied force of well drilled spearmen (RSpI) and many light troops hiding in the terrain. Anna-Toni Gupta herself commanded the reserve command, consisting of archers and cavalry.

The Persian forces consisted of a large command of heavy cavalry in the center, with a few supporting light infantry, and a smaller force of cavalry on the right. However, to keep the elephant corps concealed, Bobroes and the largest command delayed their arrival on the battlefield.

Not the starting PIPs Anthony was looking for
As in previous battles, Indians were initially over-awed by the splendid sight of the Persians. The allied command refused to fight at all (although they did go on a long march around the battlefield) and rest of the army was less than enthusiastic. Anna-Toni needed all her wiles to keep her own forces motivated, and no time to persuade her allies to join the fray.

Nevertheless, the Indians advanced steadily forwards in the center. The Persians held station for a while to lure them on, before the central command turned and moved off to the left (carefully passing behind the hill to give the impression that there might be an ambush behind it), and the small command on the right was able to ignore the unreliable Indian ally, and move towards the center.

In the nick of time, a hero arrives
The Indians continued to advance, and then with impeccable timing, Bobroes and main force of elephants and cavalry arrived. Most of the later moved towards the hill on the left, while the elephants and other cavalry moved directly against the the Indian swordsmen in the center. The Persians who had started on the battlefield moved further around the left flank, while Anna-Toni herself, together with her corps of archers moved to counter them. The large Indian cavalry reserve moved to support the right of their sword line and face off the Persians on the hill.

As the battle line closed, things opened brightly for the Indians, with their archers shooting down an element of Persian Asavaran, and their swordsmen killing an elephant in the first charge. Thereafter, things went less well, with the surviving Indian elephants tearing a huge hole in the swordsmens line, and Persian cavalry applying heavy pressure on the rest of their line.

The lines face off

Don't stand behind the elephants silly
The Indian elephants charged into their opposite numbers to fill the breach, but they were overlapped on their right. Their commander moved across behind the line to fill the gap, but the overlapped elephant on the end of the line was pushed back, leaving the commander right behind it. In the next bound, the Persians turned the unguarded flank, stampeding the elephants there, who in turn carried away the Indian commander. This series of misfortunes broke the Indian center.

On the left, the Persian cavalry had been slowly moving around the flank, slowed down by Indian light troops, and the need to form a line against the Indian cavalry reserve. Indian archers from the the rear came up to oppose them, supported by the CinC on an elephant. The Persians charged into the Indian bows, but to no avail. Then Anna-Toni herself charged into the fray, crashing into the end of the Persian line. Now an Indian queen* on an elephant is a fine sight to see, and this could have been very dangerous, but on home soil, the Persian heavy cavalry found some of the fighting spirit that had been lacking in previous battles.

An Indian queen goes down!\
Though slowly forced back, the Persian cavalry resisted the elephant borne assault for several bounds, even when attacked in flank by archers, keeping the Indian commander locked in combat, until eventually she advanced far enough to be surrounded and cut down herself. At the same time the victorious elephants from the Persian center crashed into the rear of the Indian cavalry, breaking their army.

So all in all the Persian plan worked brilliantly, but luck was certainly on their side. The Indian ally being unreliable was their first misfortune, and their pip dice were poor throughout the game, whereas the Persian ones were excellent, and the delayed command arrived at exactly the right time. The Indian combat dice weren't bad per se, but again, all the important combats went against them. Still all wins count, and the Persians bagged another 23 BP for later use in the campaign.

* And don't think we're talking about royalty here.