These reports of my games at the 2005 competitions were written for the DBM-playing readership on the Yahoo DBM elist.
Attack! 9/10 July 2005 – Sung Chinese
Russ King and I took Sung Chinese to Devizes for the last DBM 3.0 competition we’ll play in. This was the early Chao Kuang-yin version, with Reg Bd(O) and Bw(O). The two main Chinese commands had plenty of those troop-types, with some Ps to support the halberdiers; the C-in-C had all the mounted troops (2 Kn(F), 2 Cv(S)and 5 Cv(O)), and the SG had 6 artillery and a single Ps(X) fire-lancer. The Chinese ally was waterborne; the general and a Cv(O) on ships, 4 Bw(O) on galleys and 4 Bd(O) on boats. Finally there was a Hsi ally of 2 Cv(S) and 8 LH(F). Basic plan was to invade, outflank the enemy from the sea and advance steadily with the main commands while the steppe nomads skirmished on the inland flank.
First opponents were Paul Stovell and his young son James commanding Andalusians – supported Sp(I), LH, Cv, a few Kn(F) and El Cid as a Spanish ally. El Cid was on a flank march and never arrived (his arrival was signalled on the last bound played). Our marines were PIP-starved and didn’t achieve much; the Andalusian spearmen chopped through our artillery and, with an assist from the Kn(F), broke our SG’s command. At that stage it looked a sure-fire win for the Andalusians – but our halberdiers started killing spearmen in great numbers and broke a large enemy command. All our other commands took damage and our army was a single element from breaking when we got some more spearmen and the Andalusians broke. 9-1 to the Chinese and an extremely close, exciting game. If the Cid had been there we’d undoubtedly have lost.
Next we played the redoubtable Kevin Fisher and Dave Allen with the fearsome Serbian knights. We’d beaten this army previously – but with Carthaginians who had 6 elephants. No waterway, so our Chinese ally had to deploy ashore. Knowing that the Serbs had two commands of heavy infantry and plenty of LH as well as the knights, we felt really up against it – especially as both our allies were unreliable. Fortunately, both allies decided to join in on Bound 2 – yes, two 1s on the first turn, two 6s on the second.
The Serbs deployed strangely, with all the knights in columns facing a steep hill which we’d manned with Bw and Ps, so they had to try moving the knights from one flank to the other across the front of our artillery. Naturally, a recoil followed by an inconvenient 1 on the PIP dice caused a group of knights to charge (through some of their own infantry) at our artillery and bow line. The knights did some damage but all 6 of them died eventually – not enough to break the command, though. The Serbian Blades attacked our centre (losing 1 element to a well-aimed shower of crossbow bolts on the way in) but Bd(O) v Bd(O) was just a long shoving match. Skilful use of LH broke our Chinese allied command just before the game timed out at 4-6.
After the game I agreed with Kevin and Dave that they’d have done better to line up the knights in the centre and go straight for the enemy infantry so that the knights would all arrive together with LH on their flanks and behind them to cover gaps. They did just that in the next two games, against Rus and Leidang, and won both games 10-0.
The third game was against Graham Bull and Bryan Edwards with Palmyrans. A lot of Roman legionaries, not many actual Palmyrans and two allies, Armenians with Cv(S) and LH(F) and Arabs with LH and Cm(O). We invaded and placed our waterway on our left; on the other flank there was a large area of dunes. We refused the inland flank, leaving the nomad allies to skirmish there, and aimed to attack along the waterway. Both the Palmyrans’ allies were behind the dunes and took a long time to get through them; our attack on the other flank made considerable progress (good PIPs for the navy) with Bd(O) disembarking to get at Bw(I). Cataphracts moved over to counter our advance. Meanwhile, the Arabs emerged from the dunes and got awfully close to our LH(F) who were running out of retreating room. The Roman legionaries attacked our line of artillery and halberdiers and quickly (far too quickly!) broke our Chinese SG’s command. Our baggage was now threatened.
Our attack on our left continued to make progress and a lot of Bw(I) died; in one glorious combat a halberdier swung into the flank of 2 Ps(O) and chased them and 2 others behind them off the table. Finally we bagged a cataphract and then killed the flanked Palmyran general to break that command. However, our nomad LH had been reduced to leaving sacrificial elements to delay the Arab camels and a command with a break point of only 4 couldn’t do that for long. Just as our Kn(F) neared the enemy baggage, the nomad ally went down and that made exactly half our army lost. A thrilling and most enjoyable 1-9. Well, enjoyable for me as I had the attacking wing – not sure that Russ liked it quite as much.
Finally we faced Later Carthaginians led by Colin Evans and Dave Hughes. We invaded and placed the waterway. The Carthaginians were nervous of the fleet and our evident intention to attack on that flank, so they decided to attack all-out in the centre in the hope of a quick breakthrough. They had two commands each with 12 Wb(F) supported by Sp(O); their 5 elephants were all at the back, frightened of our artillery. The Gallic and Celtiberian warbands rushed forward; we charged them with supported Bd(O) and our two Kn(F) and two Cv(S). The Wb killed a couple of halberdiers and an unlucky Cv(S), but went down in heaps (evidently unnerved by the fireworks wielded by the Kn(F)) and after about three bounds of fighting both Carthaginian commands broke. 10-0 to us.
24 points got us 10th place out of 34 teams. An excellent weekend.
Aquae Sulis, 25/26 June 2005: Later Carthaginians
Probably the last outing for our Hannibalic army at Bath this weekend: we’d used it at Usk (20 points) and Clevedon (30 points). The army has a large spear, Art and Ax command, a smaller Carthaginian command with 2 elephants, Ax, LH and Ps, the C-in-C with 4 elephants, Cv, LH and Ps, and a small allied Numidian command of LH and Ps.
First we faced a wild Gallic army under the wild Andy Dallman and John Glanvill. Warband as far as the eye could see. Our elephants rushed towards some Wb(F); the Wb(S) command rushed towards our spear line. There was a lot of messing about with Ps coming through the Wb(F) and being countered by our double-ranked Ps and some LH; the elephants got into the Wb and trampled them flat – one Gallic command broke. The Wb(S) Gaesati reached our spearmen, overlapped at both ends of their line, and failed to break through. Our Sp(S) counter-attacked with a double overlap and killed some warband, then our Cv and LH got into the flank and killed some more. The Gaesati broke, and with them the Gallic army for a 10-0 win to us.
Next we invaded Manchuria which was defended by Khitan-Liao led by Keith Westwood and Phil Reeves (South-West Doubles League champions for the past two years). Nothing but LH(F) and Hd(I) up front, with the Kn and Cv, plus some Chinese infantry, at the back ready to redeploy wherever our elephants weren’t. Keith brought off the sort of rapid redeployment which 3.1 won’t allow any more… and got all the right matchups against our C-in-C’s LH and elephants. Some LH(F) went down but our command broke. The Khitan C-in-C’s command had lost 7 elements but its break point was 9 and we couldn’t get at the rest. Some more excellent PIPs saw lots of Khitan Kn and Cv riding across the front of our stolidly advancing spearmen (delayed by a single LH) to fall on our other Carthaginian command. Heavy losses on both sides, but eventually our last two elephants died and a second command broke. We’d actually killed 20 elements and lost only 14 (other than demoralised routers) but lost the game 0-10. Smart play by Keith and Phil.
Sunday morning saw us invading against Patrician Romans (Irreg version) commanded by Andy Whitby and Dave Allen (not the Central London one). Their smug smiles when deploying their Wb(S) facing our spearmen changed to dismay when our C-in-C’s 4 elephants were deployed opposite their Kn(F). The elephants caught 2 Kn and killed them, but were then attacked by supported Ax and one elephant died. The rest of the Kn(F) went for our LH(O), got a couple but were broken up and picked off – Hannibal himself led his bodyguard to victory there (two overlaps against a Kn(F) with another one behind it – 4-2 with no recoil). One Roman command broke. The Wb(S) got to the spear line, somewhat broken up by our artillery and with their flank now threatened by our victorious LH. After two bounds of fighting honours were even with 2 Sp(O) and 2 Wb(S) dead – the Wb were only 2 deep so gaps started to appear. LH assisted in killing 2 more Wb. On the far flank Russ was in trouble as Dave’s Kn(F) were riding down our Spanish Ax and LH and it looked as though Russ’s command was about to break. Then two crucial combats: overlapped Wb against Sp(S) got 6-1, making the next combat 4-3 with an overlap each way – I threw 5, Andy threw 1, 2 more Wb dead and a 10-0 win for us. Each of Andy and Dave’s games at the weekend were over within two hours.
Finally we faced old enemies, Andy Claxton and Steve Taylor, with Skythians and Indian allies. Masses of LH(F), some Kn(F), Bw(O), Ax(O). They had a line of rough going to defend – we went for them. A lot of confused and messy fighting saw four elephants do great execution against LH(F) but then all die; our C-in-C’s command broke, then so did the Numidian allies. Not half our army yet, though. Meanwhile our spear command had been chasing LH through a gap between two rough areas, and was then able to get some Ax into the flank of Skythian bowmen and kill many. Our Ax(S) attacked Bw(O) and Ax(O) and killed some more. Our two surviving commands were almost intact (only two Ax(O) lost) and two Skythian commands were close to going. On the penultimate bound our Sp(S) were able to charge and kill a Kn(F) general, breaking a Skythian command; on the last bound we needed to kill 4 Bw to break the Skythian army, got the first 3 (backed into each other by Sp and Ax) but then failed to kill the last one though the factors were 4-1. Our army was 4 elements from breaking when the game timed out at 3-7.
So Hannibal got 23 points which is not bad, especially as we’d faced some quality players. Strangely, Jeremy Morgan’s Picts won the competition with only 29 points. Jer was dressed in Tam o’Shanter cap, ginger wig and kilt for the occasion, and it was best not to ask what he wore under the kilt.
Shieldwall, 16/17 April 2005
Here’s a report of the weekend’s SW Doubles tournament at Slimbridge, Glos (this has replaced Berkeley as a regular venue). Like all this year’s SW Doubles tournaments, it was DBM 3.0.
Attendance was slightly down on last year with 20 teams. Some of the army choices were predictable – two Early Samurai, Lydian, Patrician Roman, Sicilian, Welsh (dated 1405 AD, of course), Portuguese – but also some less well-worn options such as Ch’u Chinese, Italian Ostrogothic, Timurid and Wars of the Roses Tudor. 8 of the armies were from Book 4 and only 3 from Book 1.
Russ King and I, having won the previous competition with Later Carthaginians, went for something completely different and took Post-Mongol Russians – Alexander Nevsky’s army, with allied contingents from Lithuania and the Golden Horde overlords. C-in-C’s command with Cv(S) and (O) supported by the Gulay Gorod of 6 Wwg(O), 25 EE; sub-general’s command with more Cv and the poor-quality infantry, 25.5 EE; Lithuanian command of 13 LH(O); Golden Horde command of assorted Cv and LH, 13 EE.
With Aggression 1 we expected to defend most of the time, and the only terrain an invader could place would be a river as the Russian terrain does not include hills or RGo – as most invaders would pick summer any river was likely to be paltry. We could therefore expect wide open steppes for our 22 LH and 32 cavalry to roam free. Our defenders’ terrain would be a smallish village and an area of marsh which could probably be shoved unobtrusively into a corner of the table. Standard tactic would be for the two allied commands to deploy in the centre to skirmish against enemy heavy troops while the Russians on the wings did the attacking.
What we didn’t want to face was an army with lots of bowmen. So of course all our opponents had plenty of foot archers…
Game 1 – v Medieval Portuguese
We started against two high-ranked players with Medieval Portuguese. Besides the English allies, they also had huge numbers of Bw(I) as well as the knights. They invaded down a river, and our marsh had to go away from the table edge by the river. Although our C-in-C’s command was deployed last, the Portuguese were able to match Bd(S) against the Gulay Gorod and bowmen against our cavalry – curses! They plodded forward, and the great Nevsky massed his cavalry, in three lines with the front line all (S), for a great charge against the Bw(I). The cavalry went in with no losses from shooting and killed a pair of bowmen; next combat 3-3 so a draw on the dice would kill two more Bw(I). We lost, and lost all the other combats too (there were 10 Bw(I) and the Portuguese command would break on 8 losses). The cavalry charged twice more, killed no more bowmen and lost large numbers of heroic nobles. The Portuguese dismounted knights started chopping up the Wwg and our C-in-C’s command broke.
Meanwhile the Golden Horde (initially unreliable but soon coming into line) was doing some damage in the centre, killing several Bw elements including English Bw(S). They were one English element short of the command when our accumulated losses broke our army. Lost 0-10, but quite a gritty performance from the Russians against a difficult enemy.
Game 2 – v Sicilians
Next, Sicilians (the Charles of Anjou period). Lots of knights, lots of bows, Regular generals, some LH. We defended the steppes again, but this time got the deployment right so our Wwg were facing an allied command of Irr Kn(O) with masses of Hd(O) behind. Excellent! The Wwg trundled forward and started shooting with great effect – in 3 bounds they’d practically wiped out the knights and broken the Sicilian command. In the centre, the Lithuanians and Tartars launched an attack which included the Lithuanian general attacking a Kn(O). He drew the combat and next bound threw a 1 and died (the only casualty from that command). Of course, the command’s next PIP dice was another 1 so it broke, leaving a large gap in our centre.
The Sp(I) in our second Russian command now came forward and got into Bw(I), killing them in large numbers. The Sicilian C-in-C charged to the rescue and went down to a 6-1 dice split against Sp(I). His command held, but it was now only a question of time… the Khan of the Golden Horde struck the final blow against Bw(I). 9-1 win, and a very exciting game.
Game 3 – v Welsh
Third, Welsh with French allies. Two North Welsh commands with Ax(X), Kn(F), Ps and a few Bw(O), a South Welsh command with Wb(F), Ps and Bw(O), French allies with Kn(S) and various foot. This time we invaded the mountains and trackless woods of Wales… not good, but the terrain fell fairly kindly for us with large open areas.
The French were delayed by Lithuanian LH on our left, while the Golden Horde faced the South Welsh on our right. The South Welsh unwisely came out of their marshes and attacked; the Tartars swarmed all round the Wb and quickly wiped them out, breaking the command for no loss. In the centre our Wwg beat off massed Ax(X), even shooting some of them dead, and also decimated some Kn(F) who couldn’t get out of the way.
On the left, though, the French looked very threatening and, brushing aside the Lithuanians, attacked our Russian SG’s cavalry. Our general was in severe trouble for a time in personal combat with a Kn(S); four successive 1s on the PIP dice meant he couldn’t break off and he survived by the skin of his teeth. Eventually he was able to escape, but his immobilised command had lost several cavalry elements.
However, the collapse of the South Welsh had exposed the Welsh centre to flanking attacks by the Tartars while the Wwg engaged them frontally. The Welsh army was clearly going down when time ran out… 6-4, and another exciting game.
Game 4 – v Wars of the Roses English
Finally we faced the inimitable Keith McGlynn with Wars of the Roses English (Tudor variant). More ruddy bows, but a strong wind and risk of rain (which never materialised). We defended. Keith massed two fearsome-looking commands (Henry VII and Oxford) against our right plus an ally (Stanley) in the centre; our C-in-C’s command faced nothing at all on our left. We opposed the English advance with LH who were soon fleeing in all directions from shooting, and on our far right the Golden Horde LH(S) and Cv confronted the Royal Household Kn(S) supported by Cv(O) currours. The LH went down like a row of ninepins and the Tartar command broke. Our Bw(I), quaking inside the village (well back from the edge), faced a huge mass of Bw(S) heading for them.
On our left, despite initial bad PIPs Nevsky and his massed cavalry rode around Stanley’s flank and eventually defeated his infantry, then the Lithuanians picked off a couple of Kn(I) to break Stanley’s command. The game was clearly heading for a decisive result, the question being whether the English could get into the village, despatch its puny defenders and loot our baggage before Nevsky’s cavalry and the Lithuanians rolled up their centre. Unfortunately time ran out so the game ended at 5-5.
So, 20 points for the Russians which we thought wasn’t bad for an army depending mainly on Cv. I think we’ll go for something different for the other two competitions, though.
The Portuguese who beat us in the first round went on to win the competition.
War Cry, 19/20 March 2005: Later Carthaginians
The usual excellent weekend at Clevedon for Round 2 of the SW Doubles League. Russ King and I took Later Carthaginians – Hannibal in Africa: a large command with Sp(S), Sp(O), Ax(O) and 2 Art(O), a smaller command with 2 El(I), Ax(S) and (O), LH and Ps, the C-in-C’s command with 4 El(I), Cv(O), LH and Ps, and a small Numidian allied command with LH(O) and Ps(S).
Game 1 – v Later Carthaginians
The first game was a Carthaginian civil war against Mike Baldwin and Dave Lowrie. They had fewer elephants than we did, but a lot more spear (Greek mercenaries). We defended, which was a big disadvantage as they could pick their matchups; our spear block was mostly skirmished by LH while they got some hoplites into our Ax and elephants. Our ally was unreliable for the first few turns, which didn’t help, but fortunately joined in before our small command broke. Our opponents were unable to exploit their success as the Numidians harried them, and the game timed out at 4-6. Disappointing, but a pretty good game.
Game 2 – v Serbian Empire
Next came Kevin Fisher and Kevin Jackson with Serbian Empire. Not many knights, and two infantry commands (one a Bosnian ally) which were set up in and around a village and played virtually no part in the game, being screened by our Numidians. The Serb PIPs were terrible throughout, once being four ones. The two knight commands attacked mainly with Bw and LH, but lack of PIPs led to lack of co-ordination; we were able to pick off lots of LH and eventually got enough to break their C-in-C’s command. Some Kn(S) got into our spearmen and killed a few but also took losses. Timed out at 7-3.
Game 3 – v Feudal French
Then Jerry Hendy with Feudal French, the Peter of Aragon version with LH and supported Sp as well as the usual Kn(S), Bw(O) and Ax(X). Jerry invaded, but as he had only three (meaty) commands our C-in-C’s command went down after his whole army was deployed. A large French command on our left was screened by 4 LH and played no part in the battle; Jerry saw our 2 El(I) over there and assumed that was all we had, so put his ally-general and knights on the other flank in the front line where they found themselves facing our C-in-C’s 4 El(I). The ally was reliable but immobile, with 2 PIPs, then got 1 PIP and had to advance. The elephants trundled to within charge reach. The French general hastily retreated out of reach, but this left a Kn as a single element which could be pulled across in front of the general. Trample, trample. The command held, but was almost immobile and was gradually picked apart.
In the centre our Ax(S) stormed a patch of Rgo and slaughtered various Ps and Bw there, then fell on the flank of the French C-in-C’s infantry while our spearmen hit them frontally. The C-in-C’s command broke. Then we got the last element needed to break the allied command, for a 10-0 win. We lost only one element.
At this stage Richard Perry and Jason Scott were in the lead with Medieval Portuguese on 25 points, then five teams on 21. The draw paired Ottomans against Later Hungarians and another Carthaginian against Hoplite Greeks, leaving us against the Portuguese.
Game 4 – v Medieval Portuguese
The Portuguese invaded down a river on our left, with only 2 LH on the short side who spent the game fleeing from our Numidians (who caught and killed them eventually). Most of their knights were dismounted, except for the generals and their C-in-C’s reserve of French Kn(S), and they attacked with a line of Bd(S) supported by various Bw and Ax. They aimed to beat our spears with Bd(S) and use a mixed command of Ax(O) and LH(O), supported by the English allies, to envelop the weak Carthaginian command on our right. They had excellent PIPs throughout, and the early combat dice favoured them as we lost 2 LH and an elephant at the first clash.
We managed to plug the holes (our C-in-C’s Cv reserve galloping to the rescue) and killed a row of LH and Ax(O). The Portuguese Kn(S) general on that flank charged in, killed an Ax element and pursued, only to be attacked by our LH sub-general with two overlaps for a 3-3 combat. He survived – and again… and again… for a total of 7 combats with QKs. However, the other Portuguese command on that flank (mainly Ax) was chewed up by our Ax(S) and LH and broke. The Portuguese committed their French Kn(S); one was trampled by an elephant, one rode down 2 Sp(S). The English shot down the victorious elephant to break our small command, but the French knights were scattered and in danger. The Portuguese Kn(O) C-in-C charged in to help and was killed by Sp(O) with a 5-1 dice split. His command went, and with it the army for a 9-1 win to us.
The games on the next two tables finished 5-5 and 6-4, so we won the competition with only 30 points! Our first doubles win in seven years of trying.