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The DBM South-West Doubles League

Game Reports 2013

Climb British Camp, 2/3 November 2013

 The second UK 25mm competition of the year was organised by Gavin Pearson at Colwall, nestling in the depths of the Herefordshire hills, and was very successful.  Eight players took part.

I took Late Imperial Romans, another army I’d never used before.  The C-in-C (Theodosius the Great) had a legion (6 Bd(O) with supporting psiloi), a couple of bolt-shooters and some light horse; one sub-general had another legion and auxilia; the second sub-general had the mounted wing with two cataphracts, two Kn(F) lancers, some LH and auxilia.  A small army at 48 element equivalents, but flexible.

Game one pitted me against my pal Russ King with Feudal French – 15 Kn(S) with large numbers of supporting foot including very useful Bw(O) and Bd(I).  The terrain was fairly helpful, with a wood on my right which nicely anchored a flank and some patches of rough going for my auxilia.  The French foot command faced my centre, with King Philip’s knights opposite my refused (delayed by skirmishing Huns) and an ally-general with the rest of the knights against my C-in-C’s legion on my left.

The French plan was to hold back the knights while pushing their superior numbers of infantry into rough going next to the wood, relying on crossbowmen to shoot up my auxilia with Blades behind them to come through if the auxilia attacked.  This process took a long time, and the French ally, stung by artillery shooting, hurled his knights into the charge.  The legionaries, with overlaps at both ends of their line, fought valiantly and beat off the knights with loss.  Eventually all the knights went down, breaking the ally command. King Philip’s knights finally got into action against my mounted force on the right, but the game timed out at 6-4.

The second game was against Jeremy Morgan with Later Swiss, nearly all pikes with a few Bd(X) halberdiers, psiloi and a couple of light horse.  I needed lots of terrain and didn’t get it… despite much skirmishing and artillery shooting, Theodosius’s legion eventually had to face up to a pike charge in the centre.  On the left my cavalry wing tried to envelop the Swiss but the pikemen just extended into a two- or one-deep line and my lancers and cataphracts charged – disastrously, as they all died on impact and my command broke.  The Swiss general on this flank was attacked by auxilia and pursued into rough going where he fought at 0-3 down – we both threw 3 so the general was saved by his Superior status.  On the right there was stalemate, although my light horse did beat up some LH and psiloi.  In the centre the phalanx slowly got the better of my legion, but Theodosius just held on and the game ended at a fortunate 4-6.

There was nothing fortunate about the next game, against Neil Hepworth’s Later Sargonid Assyrians.  Neil out-deployed me so that most of Theodosius’s command was neutralised by psiloi-packed rough going on the right while his mounted forces – Kn(S) chariots, Cv(S) and LH(F) – faced my mounted wing on the open left flank.  A strong wind handicapped my artillery, one of which was destroyed by impudent psiloi after twice failing to chase the psiloi away.  In the cavalry battle I charged before the Assyrians were fully deployed, hoping to beat their small (break point 4) cavalry and light horse command before the chariots could rumble in.  This was a disastrous failure, as my Huns and cataphracts died rapidly and my cavalry command broke.  The chariots and cavalry were now free to attack the flank of my sub-general’s legion, which was attacking the Assyrian infantry in the centre with some success.  The legion was enveloped and broken for a 0-10 defeat.

The final game was against Gavin Pearson’s magnificent-looking Aztecs.  For the first time I defended, and placed gentle hills; Gavin chose a maximum-sized area of rough going but it wouldn’t fit, so the battlefield was completely open.  On my right the mounted command faced 30 elements of Hd(S), in the centre a legion faced large numbers of Bd(I) swordsmen and some archers, and on the left Theodosius opposed the fearsome Wb(S) Cuachics plus a Toltec allied command with many archers.

The game started in mist, with the Toltec general unreliable.  Nothing much happened for several turns as I was waiting for the mist to clear and Gavin waited for the Toltecs to come on line – if the Cuachic attacked while the Toltecs just watched, Theodosius’s light horse could envelop the warband’s flank.  The mist cleared first and the Roman artillery opened up – with complete lack of success.  12 shots against Wb(S), with no kills.  Meanwhile my cavalry attacked the Hd(S) clan warriors; the cataphracts, lancers and Huns slew them in huge numbers and broke the Aztec command for the loss of one auxilia element.  However, the Toltecs came into action and the Cuachic were released – once they got into action they smashed Theodosius’s legion very quickly.  In the centre my other legion was slowly grinding down another large Aztec command, and my cavalry came to its assistance while lancers and Huns looted the Aztec camp.  When the last baggage element disappeared the Aztec army broke for a 7-3 win.

17 points was my least successful performance for some time, but the games were fun (especially the last one) and I’ll look forward to next year’s event.

 

 

Vexillum, 19/20 October 2013

 The final round of the 2013 Doubles League was a themed competition, with all armies dated after 1071 AD.  Russ King and I took Early Crusaders; I’d previously used the wild Irregular version in a couple of competitions, but this time we tried the Antioch to Jerusalem Regular version.  Bohemond was in command, with most of the few mounted knights (KnO)) plus some dismounted knights (Bd(S)), crossbowmen (Bw(O)), spearmen (Sp(I))  and archers (Ps(O)).  Godfrey and Robert were sub-generals, with no mounted knights but strong forces of Bd(S) supported by other infantry.  Finally Raymond was an ally-general with the rest of the mounted knights and small numbers of infantry.

Our first opponent was Duncan Thompson with East Franks, lots of Fast Knights and infantry similar to ours, but Irregular so the knights were all impetuous.  Duncan struggled to keep his knights under control but crossbow shooting broke them up and in they came… disastrously, as Godfrey’s foot knights and spearmen slew many.  On the other flank the Frankish knights got a breakthrough against Bohemond’s spearmen but it didn’t last, and here too our infantry defeated the Frankish chivalry.  A quick 10-0 win.

The second opponents were Komnenan Byzantines led by Martin Golay and Tony Green.  This was a much tougher proposition as the Byzantines could neutralise our left wing with light horse while concentrating on Raymond’s weak command on the right.  They also flank-marched on the right, and this was signalled with a 6 on the first turn.  A smallish command of Kn(F) and LH arrived on Raymond’s flank.

The situation was now: Bohemond’s command on our left was chasing LH and a few knights, with some success; Robert and Godfrey in the centre were pushing towards a traitorous Crusader allied command in front of the Byzantine camp, Godfrey using crossbowmen to guard his right flank; Raymond on the right was putting up a stirring fight against overwhelming odds.  This couldn’t last long and Raymond went down, after which the Byzantines looted our baggage.  At this stage, despite being a command down we’d inflicted more casualties than we’d lost, but that soon changed as Godfrey’s Bw(O) were outshot by Byzantine Bw(I) and – remarkably – a Kn(O) element rode down a pair of our Bd(S) plus supporting psiloi.  Godfrey’s command broke, and with it our army for a 0-10 defeat.

The next game was a civil war against Steve Etheridge and Mat Beasley with Early Crusaders, Irregular version, with Saracen allies.  We were naturally outnumbered in knights – vastly so – and we set up defensively.  Surprisingly, the enemy tried to manoeuvre a large force of knights around our left flank, where Bohemond’s command was angled back to the base line.  Bohemond promptly advanced; his crossbowmen shot a couple of Kn(F) elements and his dismounted knights got into some archers and chewed them up.  The enemy knights finally charged and were destroyed by our crossbowmen, spearmen and a few knights.  In the centre Robert’s infantry beat off another knightly charge (lost 6 Sp(I), though) and flanked the enemy general.  10-0 win.

Finally we faced an enormous Japanese army under John Mee and Jerry Hendy.  We knew they liked flank-marching, so deployed defensively with Raymond and Robert on the flanks, ready to face to the flank if necessary.  However, the Japanese were all on the table; a large force of Ax(X) spearmen in rough going in the centre, with a few Bw(S) archers, a mass of Hd(S) behind them, a Reg Bd(F) command and Irr Bd(O) in the left centre and more Ax(X) and Cv(O) on the left.  A steep hill blocked off our right flank and nothing happened there.

In the centre our crossbowmen, backed by Blades, shot several Ax(X) elements and the rest held back out of range – we didn’t dare advance into the rough going.  On the left the Japanese attacked in force; there was much manoeuvring as we tried to get our mounted knights into their Bd(F) who spent many PIPs falling back.  The main clash was Ax(X) against our Bd(S) and Sp(I); we took a few losses but slew many Japanese.  The game timed out with no commands broken, but one Japanese command had lost a quarter so the score was 6-4 to us.

We finished in joint second place, four points behind Martin and Tony.  Congratulations to them, and to Jeremy Morgan and Richard Perry who won the Doubles League this year.

 

Iceni, 14/15 September 2013

 The third Iceni competition, staged by the Coltishall Cowards at Hoveton, near Norwich, was a great success.  At the inaugural competition in 2011 there were 12 players; the number rose to 17 in 2012 and last weekend 24 played – a testament to the enthusiasm of the local organisers.  One attraction is first-rate catering, with excellent and lavish meals provided at low cost.

Russ King and I took another army which we’d never used before, Hittite Empire, and prepared for the competition with one practice game which the Hittites lost.  The army was big but had few strike troops; we used the earlier version led by Suppiliumas so didn’t have the heavy chariots which rate as Kn(O).  The army included two big Hittite commands and one slightly smaller, each with Cv(S) chariots and Ax(X) spearmen.  One command included the only mildly frightening troops – 12 Gasgan Fast Warband and 4 Lukkan Fast Blades, which would be our strike force against infantry.  The line-up was completed by a small Anatolian vassal command with Cv(O) chariots and a few infantry.  Generally we wanted to defend with plenty of rough going, and we wanted bad weather as we had no missile troops.

The first game was a near-historical one against Later Hebrews (Israel) commanded by Martin and Esther Mitchell (former DBM players making a comeback).  The Israelites had more Cv(S) chariots than we did, and added a Phoenician ally with some Kn(O) heavy chariots.  Their main infantry force was Ax(O) spearmen who were not as good as most of our infantry, and they had a large number of Bw(I) archers.  The preparatory phase went well for us, as we defended and placed lots of rough going.  A strong wind and risk of rain was a bonus.

The Lukkans and Gasgans, with accompanying Hittite spearmen, occupied a large area of rough going on our left, facing an Israelite command of chariots and Ax(O).  The Phoenicians faced our centre, and were initially unreliable which tempted the Gasgans etc to attack.  Unfortunately the Phoenicians joined in on the second turn – but the warband and swordsmen got among Israelite infantry and chopped them up.  On our right Hittite spearmen went for the Israelite archers who were handicapped by the wind, and in a brief shower of rain many archers fell.  In the centre our chariots lost badly against Israelite and Phoenician chariots, but on both flanks our infantry killed enough enemy for the Israelites to collapse.  Won 10-0.

Next we played Paul and Harri Apreda with Later Hoplite Greeks, Tarentines with Lucanian allies.  Large numbers of Sp(O) with a few Sp(I) hoplites, and quite a lot of cavalry and light horse.  The Lucanians were mainly Ax(S).  We again defended, and again got large areas of rough going in useful places.  Paul placed a gentle hill which we could defend, and a wood facing our left.  The wood proved to contain an ambush of light horse, who were deterred from emerging by the presence of Hittite chariots and then discovered by Hittite Ax(X).  We had the entertaining experience of Auxilia hunting light horse through the wood.  In the centre our warband and blades, the only Hittite infantry which could frighten hoplites, advanced into a large empty space as the Tarentines were deployed well back.  The decisive fighting came on our right, where the Lucanians clashed with Hittite spearmen and eventually lost.  A game of much manoeuvre was decided on the last turn as the Lucanian casualties were enough to give us a 6-4 win.

The third game was against yet another family team, Derek and Stuart Bruce with Nikephorian Byzantines.  We outnumbered the Byzantines about 3:2 in elements, but they had really tough troops – Cv(S) to match ours and supported by double-based Kn(I), Bw(X/O) skutatoi, Bd(O) Varangians, LH(S).  Again we defended and placed useful rough going.  Our allied command flank-marched on our left and never arrived.  The Byzantines concentrated against our C-in-C’s command on our right, leaving about half the field disputed only by light horse.

The game developed into a race, as our Gasgans and Lukkans rushed towards assorted Byzantine infantry protecting their camp and three Byzantine commands converged on our C-in-C.  The Varangians were diverted to intercept our central attack, but only managed to engage a few Ax(X) spearmen while our main force got into action and cut down various Bw(X) and Auxilia.  On the right it was a different story; Byzantine Cv(S) easily defeated our Cv(S) chariots and Bw(X) shot down numerous Ax(X) spearmen, but when the spearmen got to grips they started killing the skutatoi.  The Kn(I) drove into our chariot line but a fortunate 6-1 destroyed one double element.

After much mayhem our C-in-C’s command broke but so did the central Byzantine command.  Our warband command had taken serious losses and was one element from breaking, as was the Byzantine command they were fighting.  Finally the warband destroyed another auxilia element and the Byzantine army broke for an 8-2 win.  An excellent and very exciting game.

We were now on 24 points and the next highest score was 18, so a 5-5 draw would guarantee winning the competition.  With many apologies to our last opponent, Chris Smith, we decided to play defensively.  We invaded Syria against Dynastic Bedouins; Chris placed dunes and rough going and we added some more rough going.  Our position was pretty much impregnable on the left and centre (against the troops Chris had, anyway) and we refused the right with the warband command angled back to the baseline.  The Bedouin took a long time to get an attack going; on our left the only action was from their archers shooting at our light horse and eventually killing a couple of chariots.  The attack against our right comprised Dailami Ax(S) supported by Cv(S) against our assorted infantry, and was indecisive with light casualties on both sides.  On the last bound Chris needed to destroy 3 elements for a 6-4 win and didn’t get them, so the game timed out at 5-5.

The games on the next two tables were also draws, so we won the competition by a six-point margin.

Attack!  20/21 July 2013

The DBM competition at Devizes this year involved 18 players, organised into 12 “teams” as some opted to play solo and Russ and I also played separately to even up the numbers.  I used the army of Ivan the Great – Post-Mongol Russian, 1490 AD.  There were two commands each with some Superior Cavalry and Ordinary Cavalry boyars, Superior Light Horse Cossacks, and Cossack infantry as Superior Psiloi.  The third command contained the oddments: as well as some more cavalry, there were 6 war-wagons (the Gulay Gorod), four bases of handgunners classed as Exception Artillery and some militia spearmen.

The first game offered a horrible matchup – Later Muslim Indians commanded by top player Jeremy Morgan.  The last things a mainly cavalry army wants to face are massed archers and elephants, and the Indians had excellent cavalry and hard-hitting infantry swordsmen (Fast Blades) as well.  I invaded India… Jeremy had forgotten his terrain, so the jungle was represented by snow-covered Russian pine trees.  At least invading enabled me to avoid the worst matchups, so the war-wagons faced mostly cavalry, but I couldn’t avoid opposing elephants with my cavalry.  The handgunners lurked behind the Gulay Gorod.  The prospects brightened when the Indians’ Hindu ally, commanding several of the menacing elephants, proved to be unreliable.

Undeterred by this setback, Jeremy sent a force of swordsmen rapidly towards the Gulay Gorod, whose crews shot very effectively and destroyed several elements.  The Muslim elephants attacked my massed cavalry, but handgunners nipped through the wagon line and shot one elephant dead.  The cavalry held up well – the elephants were heavily outnumbered – but eventually a gap appeared and an elephant was able to trample a war-wagon.  The handgunners despatched a second elephant, though, and a wagon crew killed a third whose recoil was blocked by Russian cavalry.  Soon one Indian command was close to breaking, which would decide the battle as the Hindus would change sides.  However, one Russian command was also in trouble through losses of wagons, cavalry and handgunners (one of the latter ridden down by the Indian C-in-C who then prudently retired), and broke when some archers started shooting down cavalry.  The game ended shortly after that, at 6-4 to Jeremy.

After that bruising (though exciting) experience I was less than delighted to invade South America against Richard Hardy and Tony Bell’s Tupi army – masses of Superior Bow archers backed by Fast Blade clubmen.  A real nightmare for my army, but happily extremely clumsy to manoeuvre.  Deploying second, I got the best matchups I could but the war-wagons were decisively outshot by the Tupi archers and my light horse couldn’t delay the massed infantry indefinitely.  The militia spearmen proved their worth by threatening some archers which induced the Tupi commanders to send their clubmen through to the front where my light horse and cavalry could get at them – shortage of PIPs meant they had to send the whole line or lose control of the clubmen.

The Cossacks and boyars did brilliantly, riding down numerous clubmen and in one case taking two elements of archers too.  The spearmen charged in effectively, and after much mayhem the Tupi C-in-C’s command broke, despite its huge break point of 12.  My infantry command had been badly damaged too, though, and also broke just before the time limit.  6-4 to the Russians, to their great relief.

The third game was against Ken (“Mighty One”) Cooper and Graham Bull, using Lydians.  They had large numbers of hoplites (Ordinary Spears), light infantry (Auxilia plus a few Psiloi) and lancers (Fast Knights).  I was keen to defend as there’s no rough going in Muscovy, only woods and swamps, but unfortunately invaded Lydia.  The terrain comprised a mass of steep hills on my left flank and a large area of rough going in my right centre.  I planned to skirmish on the left and centre and launch a strong attack on the right with the cavalry and light horse from two commands while my Cossack foot contested the rough going.

The plan was scuppered by extremely poor PIP dice for the first two bounds (my flank command scored 1, 1 while the Lydian mounted command facing it scored 6, 6), so the Lydians were ready for my attack and the rough going was dominated by their auxilia.  My cavalry charged in, against LH(O) and Kn(F), with disastrous results… LH(O) beat LH(S) and even Cv(S).  The failure of this attack put me completely on the defensive as I tried to delay the advancing wall of spears in the centre and auxilia coming through the mountains on the left.  My smallest command broke, but elsewhere the delaying action succeeded and the game timed out, after many bounds, at 4-6.

For the final game I faced Steve Aspinall with Marian Romans.  I defended and placed woods and marsh; the woods closed off my left flank but the terrain gave Steve secure flanks and he set up very defensively: a patch of marsh in the centre was full of Auxilia, then a long line of legionaries (32 elements!) with an Arab allied command (archers and swordsmen) behind them guarding the fortified camp, then more Auxiia in woods opposite my right wing.  No cavalry, so there was evidently going to be a flank march.  I placed the war-wagons in line ahead on the right flank and advanced lots of cavalry threateningly against the legionaries.

The flank march soon arrived – a smallish command of cavalry and light horse which desperately tried to avoid the war-wagons.   Fortunately I got some excellent PIPs with that command, enabling the war-wagons to move within range and put in some very effective shooting – several light horse fled off the table – while my cavalry closed with the Roman cavalry.  The flank-marching command quickly broke and was eventually exterminated.

Then my main attack went in – Cv(S) or two-deep Cv(O), with supporting lines and Cossacks guarding the flanks, against Bd(O) legionaries.  The first attack was decisive as Steve rolled a string of ones, gaps appeared in the legionary line and my cavalry exploited the overlaps.  The dice luck evened out and I lost half a dozen cavalry elements, but the legionary losses mounted and the Roman C-in-C’s command broke.  With a couple of elements lost from the Arab command that made half the Roman army so the Russians won 10-0 with time to spare.

24 points got me joint third place, three points behind the winners Jeremy Morgan and John Calvert.  All the games were exciting and sporting, and made for an excellent weekend’s gaming.

 

Westbury Wars, 18/19 May 2013

Westbury Wars, the annual 25mm singles competition, attracted ten players – despite the sad deaths of two of last year’s participants.  With the closure of Triple Helix Wargaming Centre we reverted to my house in Westbury, which now has two permanent boards on a 12-foot table in the cellar.  It all went very well.

I used Wars of the Roses English; the generals were those of the Yorkist army at St Albans in 1461, Warwick (C-in-C), Arundel (sub-general) and Norfolk (ally).  The men-at-arms and billmen were combined as Superior Blades elements; each command had some of these, with Superior Bow longbowmen and shire levy troops (Ordinary Bow and Inferior Blades).  Arundel’s command included a block of Welsh spearmen (Exception Auxilia), while Warwick’s had a bombard and some Superior Psiloi handgunners.  A fairly small army but with very tough troops against anything but massed warbands.

The first game saw Warwick invading contemporary Japan against John Calvert’s spectacular Post-Mongol Samurai army.  The Japanese cavalry kept well away from all the bows, relying on the Bd(O) foot samurai, Bw(S) archers and Ax(X) ashigaru.  Norfolk was unreliable and this tempted the Japanese forward from a vast wooded hill (a whole-command ambush) to fall upon his small command.  Norfolk’s surprised men fought back gallantly, despite the difficulty of deploying while unreliable, and inflicted losses on the large mass of ashigaru.

Elsewhere the missile exchanges went the Yorkists’ way, the bombard being especially effective in killing several ashigaru elements, and the Welsh drove into the samurai archers and destroyed them while the English Bd(S) defeated the samurai Bd(O).  Japanese losses mounted rapidly and their army soon broke for a 10-0 win to the Yorkists.

The other 10-0 winner in the first round was Nigel Poole, whose Old Saxons had rampaged over Gavin Pearson’s Picts.  Massed warbands, with Superior front ranks, constituted the Yorkists’ worst nightmare… I defended, and placed a large marsh which protected my right flank.  Some rough going in the centre anchored my refused left flank.  Norfolk flank-marched on the right.

The Saxons rushed forward with excellent PIPs – all three commands advanced 400 paces on their first move.  Handgunners popped up out of the marsh to distract them, but they killed one Ps(S) element and pushed on.  The bombard and longbows broke them up nicely and destroyed several elements, so they charged into the men-at-arms with overlaps against them and mostly bounced off or died.  Plenty more coming up behind, though!  Then the Saxon leader on their left impetuously advanced into the marsh, where he was set upon by a combination of Bw(O) and Ps(S) and killed.  Six elements gone from that command, so it broke.  Norfolk’s flank march turned up, but all it could do was shoot down fleeing demoralised warbands.  In the centre the Saxons pressed on, led by their king fighting in the front rank and taking heavy losses from the Welsh spearmen in rough going.  The Saxon king was overlapped and died, breaking that command too.  A glorious 10-0 win for Warwick.

On Sunday morning I faced Neil Hepworth with Early Achaemenid Persians – a very pretty army commanded by a canny player.  I placed a village on the Yorkist right, manned by the handgunners and some longbowmen, with the rest of Warwick’s command and Norfolk’s in the centre and Arundel’s men angled back as a refused left flank.  The Persians formed up with large numbers of light troops (Ax(O) and various psiloi) facing the village, the sparabara archers/spearmen well back in the centre, and lots of cavalry and light horse on their right.  It looked as though they planned to storm the village on one flank and envelop Arundel’s command on the other, while avoiding action in the centre.

The Persian light infantry did indeed attack the village in force, but PIP shortages meant that the auxilia and psiloi didn’t co-ordinate the assault.  A mixed Yorkist force of handgunners, longbowmen and men-at-arms drove the auxilia out with loss – 4 Ax(O) elements and one psiloi down.  The survivors fell back and the attack was not renewed.  The mounted troops facing Arundel did no more than screen his command.  I advanced in the centre to attack the sparabara foot; the first exchange of arrows was disastrous, with four of my Bow elements destroyed for no loss to the Persians, so the men-at-arms and billmen advanced through the archers and, after much recoiling from shooting, got stuck in.  The Persians proved no match for the armoured Yorkists and went down in numbers, assisted by successful shooting from the bombard.  The Persian C-in-C’s command broke, and while Norfolk’s command took serious losses (one element from breaking) a trickle of Persian casualties broke their army.  Yet another 10-0 victory for Warwick.

I was now in a strong position for winning the competition, and needed 5 points to better my previous best score (34 points at Godendag 2009).  My final opponent was Russ King with the Order of St John (an army inherited from the late Martyn Rogers, as were Pete Howland’s Macedonians and some of my Yorkists).  We both set up defensively and it was obvious that whichever side attacked would be at a severe disadvantage; so we agreed a 5-5 draw and then played the game just for fun.  I attacked and proved how right I had been to stand on the defensive.  Although Russ hurled in his generals with reckless abandon they survived and inflicted heavy casualties, then Warwick charged some inferior spearmen (4-5, no overlaps) and died to a 1-5 dice split.  The first combat any of my generals had been in all weekend.  I conceded the game.

35 points made a most satisfactory score, and the first time I’ve won one of my own DBM trophies.

 

Venta Silurum 2013

19 players (12 teams, some singletons) were at Venta Silurum, organised by Paul Apreda at Corntown, near Bridgend.  Russ and I used Russ’s Graeco-Bactrians, who’d last fought competitively at Godendag 1998.  I missed the two Saturday games as I was at my niece’s wedding in Kent – some people have no consideration in fixing dates.  So the accounts of all four games are mainly by Russ with additions for the last two by me.

The Bactrians had a 16-element pike block, some Kn(X) cataphracts, cavalry, a couple of elephants, a decent force of Ax(X) mountain spearmen, some rubbishy bowmen, psiloi, quite a few light horse and a Saka ally with more light horse.  A fairly flexible army which depended heavily on getting the right matchups.

 

Game 1 The Graeco-Bactrian Generations civil war (Martin Golay/Tony Green)

As the upstart whipper-snapper grandson I had decided it was time Granddad and his bunch of old boys stepped aside and let the new army take over. However they steal a march and I end up fighting on a quiet day for weather (none).

I formed up with the Ax(X)/Bw(I) command on the left (facing their Saka Ally, the C-in-C’s Pike and Kn(X) beside them and the LH/Cv(O) command on the right with my Saka (all LH) pushed forward on the extreme right to try and ensure they will play. Their deployment has a bunch of LH facing the Saka, Kn(F) and more LH hiding at the back centre with manned RGo between us and finally their Pk facing mine but supported by 3 El facing my Kn(X)! I spend huge Pips getting the Kn(X) out of the front line and replace them by LH and then Ps(O) who kill 2 El close to game end. On my left a bit of fencing with  LH designed to slow down my Pk results in 3 dead LH thanks to Ax(X) tempting them with an open flank and then killing them.

All this time there is lots of action on the right where the game will be won and lost. Kn(F) push forward supported by LH and Bw (from the RGo). I slow them down with the Saka, 2-deep Cv(O) and 1 El. After doing sterling work in delaying the enemy the Saka suddenly go down just as the CinC rides up with Kn(X) to form a new line behind the Cv(O). I pull the Cv(O) out and game timed out at 4-6 only 1EE needed to break the Cavalry command for a 10-0. As usual their 6-1s are where they can kill (witness the elephant v.LH(F)) whereas mine are generally recoils only. I don’t think my knights actually got into battle, probably wisely. Despite not having the rub of the green it was great fun played in good spirit (at least I think I did!).  4-6.

 

Game 2 Seleucids (even older and decrepit) (Graham Bull/Bryan Edwards – SELWG)

Youth wins out and I invade and put the wind up them – strong wind all game. I deploy with the Bw/Ax(X) on the right ready to rush into a large area of RGo, Saka are pushed out front and centre (see above), CinC in the left centre with Kn(X) in column next to the Pk block and the Cv/Kn(F)/LH(O) covering the left. From their left they deploy a thin line of Ps/Ax(S) opposite the RGo and next to them is a massive Pk Block in 2 commands ( generals front-rank) separated by Wb, a few more Ax in an orchard in the centre supporting the flank of their CinC with Kn(X) {I think (X)} and on the right a small command of 3 Expendable scythed chariots, 2 LH(I), a General and 1 Ax hiding in a small area of rough.

Using the Saka to slow the Pk down (they don’t remember they can advance to 50p as I’m all skirmishers – unless it doesn’t work as they are 2 commands so 2 frontages?), I rush into the Rough and wheel the Bw to shoot at the Pk as they slowly reach the edge. I attack the Ps/Ax line and fail!!! On the left the Pk +Kn(X) with Cv command go forward, pushing Ps through to face the Exp who just  sit and watch me come on and form up. Eventually they come into me but unwisely they use the LH(I) to cover the flank; naturally I jump on them with LH and butcher them to break the command which naturally makes the  Exp fight all the harder. The Pk push on towards the enemy CinC but the supporting Kn(X) are slowed right down by flank threats from the Ax in the orchard. Eventually I get in but only push the knights back although I think I killed a flanking LH with a Kn(X). Over on the right things are really hot with my being totally surprised as single rank pike are pushed into the rough to beat up my shaky Bw/Ax command already half-way to breaking due to a couple of freaky die results – 2 deep Ax(S) killed by 1 deep Ax(S), how is that allowed! Having remembered  an old 25mm game versus Phil Jelly and his Spartans I manage to spend lots of Pips setting up a 3*Bw shot onto his general and kill him despite the weather. The command survives but is even more disadvantaged now so I can stabilise my forces and kill the couple of pike still stood in the rough. In the centre the 2 pike blocks have split and the flanks of the warband tempt the Saka to have a go and break them up but the game is timed out at 6-4.

Afterwards Bryan says he remembers he should put his Pk generals in the 3rd rank not the front but repeats it again next morning! They attacked into the rough 1 deep as they were unable to fight in deeper formations but all of us forget they are 2 down in combat until well into the game. Fortunately my Bw had survived as I would have been really sick to have lost the command due to my own stupidity in forgetting their combat disadvantage.

Again a good game played in great humour; they reminded me of us – more verbal attacks on each other than the enemy.

 

Game 3 Classical Indian (Steve Littlefield/Geoff Hanney, SELWG)

The Indian army was Irregular but quite small, with lots of Superior Elephants gobbling up the points.  It included a small Mountain Indian allied command (break point 3.5).  To narrow the frontage the defending Indians placed a waterway on our left, with an area of rough going next to it where we guessed their ally would be.  Their centre consisted of one-deep Bw(O) with Bd(I) swordsmen behind; a command of mainly Cv(S) chariots was further back.  Facing our right wing was a formidable line of elephants with more Cv(S).  We deployed with the Bw/Ax(X) command facing the Mountain Indian ally in the rough, Pk/Kn(X) facing the centre, and the Cv/Kn(F) command facing the elephants, flanked by the Saka starting in the rough and facing more Bw with Cv behind. As their ally was unreliable we rushed forward to beat this small command and get an early point before the elephants could overwhelm us. Similarly the Pk/Kn(X) attacked the thin Bow line to break through whilst the Ax(S) threaten the elephants on the Bow’s right-flank.

The plan seemed good, as with average combat dice we ought to beat the ally and break through the fragile centre with pikes and cataphracts.  Unfortunately the dice were far from average… our 8 Bw(I) were decisively out-shot by their 6 Bw(I), 5 of ours dying to none of theirs, and their one-deep bowmen killed two pike elements and even a cataphracts.  Our 12 Ax(X) killed three of their 4, but the last one refused to die even when 5-1 down and counting as Inferior – so we didn’t get the allied command (the rest of them ran away).  The Indian Bd(I) defeated our pikes, finishing off our C-in-C’s command with a 6-1 at 4-4 to kill two pike elements.  On the other flank the elephants trampled our elephants, auxilia and psiloi without trouble; eventually a flank attack by psiloi destroyed two El(S) but this success came too late and we crashed to a 0-10 defeat.

They say no plan survives first contact with the enemy and we proved it in spades.  Of course Steve hexed us before we even started – “We’ve had some wins but we’ve never beaten you 10-0”.   Burn the witch!

 

Game 4 Palmyrans (3rd SELWG – Ken Cooper/Andy Down)

Areas of rough on both flanks with some more to shelter their baggage but otherwise a bare field for horse on horse action. We defended with the Saka facing rough going on our left, the cataphracts and pike command supported by the cavalry in the centre and the bows and auxilia pushed forward on the right to seize the rough going. In the same order they deployed an allied command with light horse, Bd(I) swordsmen and camels in the camel-unfriendly rough (we’d specified that it was rocky ground) their CinC’s Roman auxilia, legionaries and cavalry, then cataphracts with Psiloi and light horse, and finally more cataphracts with bowmen and  psiloi facing the rough-going with a couple of LH behind.

I dickered about with the Saka and got a lucky break when I turned their flank attack on them and kill 2 LH opening up a threat on the LH who have moved forward to slow the Kn(X) down. We got the cataphracts in and forced him to cover flanks with Ax – we were glorious in chopping them down to break the command. With the CinC gone we charged in all along the line with the Bw/Ax command seizing the rough as the Cv command took out their Kn(X) and supporting LH. For the only time all week-end our elephants actually survived a combat and then killed something.  Their army collapsed for a quick 10-0 win.

After the morning I think the dice tried to make amends as we certainly had the better luck, even the Saka had just enough Pips to run away before they could get 4 elements for a point.

 

 

Godendag, January 2013

To start off the wargaming year at snowy Usk, Russ King and I took Nikephorian Byzantines – we’d previously used Early, Thematic, Konstantinian and Komnenan Byzantines but not Basil’s boys.  The Emperor himself was a single-element command, directing three sub-generals who all had some Superior Cavalry and Bw(X)/Bw(O) archer combinations, with various light horse, psiloi, a couple of artillery, a couple of Ax(S) and some Rus mercenary infantry distributed around.  The piece de resistance was of course the pair of klibanophoroi wedges – each Kn(X) double-based with supporting Kn(I).  A small army, but very flexible and with some tough troops.

We started against Ed Gilhead and Dave Sheppard (welcome back to DBM, Dave!) who commanded Islamic Berbers (Murabits).  Three spear blocks with supporting psiloi, a myriad LH(O) and a small command including some Christian Kn(F).  It would be difficult for us to beat the spears so we concentrated on the knights, breaking them up with shooting then mowing them and their supporting LH down with our cavalry and LH(S).  The small enemy command soon broke.  On the other flank it was a different story as our mounted troops, though better quality, were seriously outnumbered by LH(O) and soon got into trouble; one of our commands was also broken.  However, our Rus Sp(O) and Bd(O) fought well against Murabit spearmen and were assisted by Byzantine cavalry from the now open flank; a second Berber command went.  Less than half their army, though, and a second of our commands was teetering when we were saved by the time limit.  6-4 to us.

Saturday afternoon’s game against Jer Morgan and Rich Perry was rather a non-event.  Hannibal’s Carthaginians, with no fewer than eight expendables (badly-trained elephants), lots of light horse, a big block of warband and a solid block of Superior Spears made a formidable opponent and we expected an all-out attack on our centre with the expendables followed by the spears and warband.  However, all but one of the expendables were deployed behind the spearmen who advanced very cautiously and soon stopped.  Numidian LH tried to get round our flank but were blocked and retreated.  We were paralysed by the threat of the expendables – who would have been released to charge through the spearmen if we’d presented suitable targets such as the klibanophoroi – and the terrain stopped us getting round the flanks.  With an hour to play Jer and Rich offered a draw, which we accepted as the game was going nowhere.  5-5, with only one casualty – the lone expendable.

After that disappointment we had a rip-roaring game against Classical Indians led by Paul Apreda and Nick Coles.  The Indians were Regular, with a small Mountain Indian allied command – the army was nearly as small as ours.  They defended and placed rough hills and brush; we put down some woods which didn’t end up anywhere useful.  There was evidently going to be a flank march on our right; the Rus formed up facing that flank, with artillery and a a couple of psiloi in some rough going.

The allied command faced our left, where we attacked and caught a couple of light horse, then a psiloi as it scurried for shelter.  The Mountain Indians were now one element from breaking; their light horse fled and the infantry reached a rough hill in column.  We were able to arrange a couple of shots at Ax(X) with their recoil blocked, but failed and then the targets hid behind a crest line.  Our cavalry, having chased away the light horse, headed for the unprotected Indian baggage.

In the centre our Bw(X) exchanged shots with massed Bw(O), with casualties on both sides.  Then the flank march arrived – loads of bows into the rough going (where they quickly shot our psiloi), a couple of Bd(I) to contain the Rus and a wall of elephants approaching the flank of our main line.  The Russ rushed at the puny swordsmen – then had to flee as a couple of Hd(O) stragglers arrived.  Indian Cv(S) chariots attacked our Cv(S) to hold them in place as the elephants advanced, but our combat dice were excellent and several chariots were destroyed.  Our artillery did well, killing some Hordes, a war-wagon and several bow elements, while our archers shot an elephant..

The elephants eventually piled into our right flank, mowing down an artillery and some Bw(X) – but after several failures our archers destroyed a psiloi which was enough to break the Indian C-in-C’s command.  Our cavalry finally reached the Indian camp, and four baggage elements in two combat rounds made half the Indian army, for a 10-0 win right on time.

We were now top of the table with 21 points.  Three teams were on 18; we’d already played two of them and faced the other, Richard Hardy with Ottomans.  The Janissaries faced an area of rough going in the centre, with cavalry behind and light horse facing our left flank; opposite our right was an Albanian allied command with lots of LH(O).  A Serb command of 10 Kn(S) was deployed in the centre, angled towards our right.

We started with an attack by our light troops (2 Ax(S) and 3 Ps(S)) against the Janissaries. Disastrously, the Janissaries shot effectively and killed both Ax(S) with their opening volleys.  Our attack stalled, but some of our Bw(X) shot down several Janissary elements.  Meanwhile, the Albanians got around our right flank as the Serbs prepared to charge.  The Serbian attack, impelled by successive low PIP dice, went in prematurely and disastrously; they destroyed a couple of Cv(S) but then lost two elements to a flank attack.  With help from the Albanians, who swamped inferior numbers of LH(S) and Cv(S), they broke our right-flank command – but then our klibanophoroi backed a Kn(S) into the Serbian general and the Serbs broke too.

At this point the Janissary command was being shot at by Bw(X) and artillery and was two elements from breaking, as was our centre command; the Albanians and the other Ottoman command had taken casualties too.  Unfortunately for us, some Ottoman cavalry rode down two of our Bw elements to break our army.  1-9 defeat, and all the players agreed it had been a great game.

Richard finished the competition level on points with Jer and Rich Perry, but missed out on countback; we finished fourth.

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