These reports were written for the DBM-playing readership on the Yahoo DBM elist.
For the last round in the 2006 SW Doubles League, at Devizes, Russ King and I stuck with the Anglo-Irish who’d done pretty well at Clevedon. The Earl of Desmond, having been unreliable twice at Clevedon, was executed and replaced by his distant kinsman the Earl of Kildare.
Our army had the C-in-C (the Duke of York) with all the English troops – mounted longbowmen, billmen (Bd(I)), a couple of men-at-arms (Kn(O)) and a bombard, plus some Irish horse (LH(O)), gallowglass (Bd(O)) and bonnachts (Ax(O)) – break point 11. Of the three ally-generals, Ormond had the biggest command with 3 “spears” (Cv(O)), 12 gallowglass, some bonnachts and a mass of kerns (Ps(S) and (I)); Kildare commanded a substantial force of cavalry, bonnachts and kerns, and O’Neill had a small command mainly of bonnachts.
Richard of York, Ormond, Desmond, Kildare and O’Neill
For the first game we had an almost historical encounter with Wars of the Roses Lancastrians – including Irish troops, so mainly the same troop-types as our army but different proportions. Only three commands. They deployed very defensively in the centre and on their left, with a lot of palisades defended by Northern Border spearmen and a couple of bombards, and planned to attack on their right against York’s command. O’Neill was on our extreme left facing nothing but some bad terrain (great for him), and Kildare faced very little on our right. Ormond’s gallowglass advanced to attack the palisades but achieved little; however, O’Neill swept around the enemy flank and on the other wing Kildare swamped the renegade Irish fighting for the Lancastrians. York’s billmen and gallowglass made short work of a lot of longbowmen and we quickly broke the enemy army for a 10-0 win.
Next we faced Feudal Spanish, in strong winds and rain, with all the terrain on the wrong side of the table and O’Neill unreliable. Not a nice situation in which to face Superior Knights. However, despite the bad weather our longbowmen were able to break up a large force of knights who then charged piecemeal and were destroyed. More knights attacked Ormond’s gallowglass, who held up well (though four of them died against light horse –ouch!) and made a gap enabling them to flank and kill the enemy general, whose command then failed its PIP roll and broke. Only a couple more elements were needed to get half the Spanish army and we soon got those for another 10-0 win.
This brought us up against two very experienced players with Early Vietnamese – elephants, lots and lots of Fast Warband, lots and lots of Inferior Bow. Three commands with break points of 12.5, plus a smaller ally. Again all the terrain was on the enemy’s side of the table and we glumly expected to be run over by massed warbands. But across most of our front we were faced with masses of archers – the warbands were behind, ready to charge through spontaneously if our Blades tried to attack the archers. They attacked only on our left, with a mixed command of archers and warbands, to overwhelm Kildare’s command by weight of numbers. Their clumsy forces (warbands and bowmen moving at different speeds, of course) took a long time to get into action and Kildare was heavily reinforced by York’s troops including the two Kn(O) which charged warbands – and bounced off. Despite this failure, and some losses among Kildare’s bonnachts, our troops massacred the archers and also got some warband to break the Vietnamese C-in-C’s command. Then our billmen attacked the next command’s archers – the warbands behind were released, but too late to be useful. Doughtily assisted by the bombard, which shot four archer elements, we got 12 elements of the 12.5 needed but then ran out of time and had to settle for a 7-3 win.
The last game was an anticlimax. Two top players with Sinhalese – loads of Fast Blades, elephants and archers – who needed only a bloodless draw to win the competition. The terrain favoured us and we stuffed it with bonnachts and kerns – but of course if we advanced our infantry would be chopped up by the Sinhalese swordsmen, while if they attacked our bonnachts could probably beat the swordsmen in the rough going and woods. There was some skirmishing in the woods and our bombard shot another couple of Bw(I), bringing its total for the day to six, but the game petered out in a tame 5-5 draw.
32 points got us third place and a trophy each – very nice too.
The Devizes competition was in a new venue which was definitely a change for the better. The show was bigger than in previous years, and the competition room was much more comfortable than the old one at the Corn Exchange – there was plenty of room to move around and the temperature was just pleasantly warm, not stifling. Everyone seemed to have a good time, so put a note in your diary for July 2007 (date to be confirmed, but probably the first weekend in July).
War Cry 2006
Russ King and I took Anglo-Irish, late version, because I’d painted the army and fancied using it. It turned out to be surprisingly tough in practice games, beating Later Swiss, Later Crusaders and Medieval French. The army represented Richard of York’s campaign in Wicklow in 1449.
The C-in-C’s command had the English troops; some Bw(S), a couple of Bw(O), some Reg Bd(I) and the two Kn(O), plus some Gallowglass (Irr Bd(O)) and bonnachts (Ax(O)). Then there were three allies: the Earl of Ormond with a mass of gallowglass, some cavalry and lots of kerns (Ps(S) and Ps(I)); the Earl of Desmond with cavalry, bonnachts, kerns and light horse, and The O’Neill with a small command of bonnachts and kerns.
Our first game was defending against Timurids – contemporary, but what the hell were they doing invading Ireland?? We put down lots of terrain which all landed on the invaders’ side of the table, pleasing neither party. Desmond was unreliable and remained so throughout, scuppering our plan to attack vigorously through bad terrain on his wing, and after some preliminary manoeuvring the battle resolved itself into a slog between our gallowglass and Timurid cavalry. O’Neill had a lovely time, massacring Hd(I) peasants in a marsh and then sending odd Ax(O) elements nipping out to block cavalry recoils etc. It looked promising for a time, but eventually Ormond’s command, no doubt feeling distinctly let down by Desmond’s inactivity, broke and the game timed out at 4-6.
Next we defended against Middle Franks (Aquitainian variant). Our C-in-C’s command, deployed last, was able to confront Cv(O) with our mounted Bw(S) longbowmen; O’Neill was on the far side of an invader-placed river on our left, where he faced only four LH(O) in rough going, and elsewhere our gallowglass faced large numbers of Sp(I). A few Wb(S) and a large Burgundian ally with Wb(O) faced assorted kerns and bonnachts in rough going. There was evidently going to be a flank march which we thought would be on our right, and Desmond spent the early game preparing a reception committee rather than attacking the Burgundians.
The LH(O) used 5 PIPs to gallop around O’Neill’s flank, where they ended out of command distance from their general. O’Neill advanced rapidly into the rough going where he was safe, and started crossing the (paltry) river to threaten the Franks’ flank. The Frankish C-in-C then started spending PIPs to dismount his cavalry as Wb(S), and the LH never moved again. Our Gallowglass crashed into the spearmen and, after a lot of pushing and shoving, started to slaughter them; our longbows picked off several individual Wb elements while O’Neill took them in flank, and the Frankish C-in-C’s command broke. The flank march arrived – on our left, where it had nothing to attack and was easily contained by our light horse. It looked good for a 10-0. Unfortunately we needed another couple of bounds when time ended the game at 7-3.
The third game was against Alexandrian Macedonians. Again all the terrain landed on the invaders’ side of the table, leaving the Irish in the open, so we deployed with Duke Richard formed up defensively in the centre, Desmond and Ormond poised to attack into bad terrain on our left, nothing at all on our right and O’Neill flank-marching on the left. The Macedonians had two large commands of hoplites, one of them an ally, then the pikemen (12 S and 8 O), with a small command of LH, Kn(F) and Ax facing fresh air on our right. Both Desmond and O’Neill were unreliable, and so was the Greek ally.
I expected the pikes to rush at Richard’s line to massacre the Bw(S), but they were deterred by our mounted troops supporting the bowmen and didn’t advance at all. Richard’s and Ormond’s gallowglass advanced to attack the Macedonian hoplite command. O’Neill arrived, but of course still unreliable, and our opponents spent many PIPs rushing Ax and Ps to confront him in rough going near their camp (behind the stolidly watching Greek ally). Then Desmond became reliable but had nothing to attack except the Greek, which we didn’t want to do! The hoplites (Irr Sp(O)) slowly beat the gallowglass, but although the game was played at breakneck speed (about 25 bounds) no commands had broken when time was called. Richard’s command had lost a quarter of its strength, so the score was 4-6.
Finally we (remarkably) invaded Ming China. A waterway on our left, with a small village on a steep hill manned by a few Bw(O) and Ps(S), then some Cv(O), a line of palisades defended by artillery and Bd(I) halberdiers, then a Mongol ally (very small command with a break point of 3), then a Chinese command of guard cavalry, crossbowmen and Art(X) handgunners.
O’Neill and some of Ormond’s troops rushed at the steep hill and stormed it, eventually killing all the crossbowmen and psiloi and capturing the village. The gallowglass bounced off the palisades but killed some cavalry, breaking the Chinese command (15.5 EE). On the other flank Desmond had a bonnacht shot dead by those infernal handguns but exacted a terrible revenge, slaughtering the gunners in heaps. The cavalry action in the plain became a swirling melee; we lost both Richard’s Kn(O) and some LH, but killed two Mongol Cv(S) and some Chinese cavalry too, breaking the second Chinese command right on time for a tough 10-0 win.
25 points earned us a pleasing 4th place, and we were quite impressed by the solidity of the Anglo-Irish army. Vast numbers (109 elements), some top-notch troops, excellent rough terrain capability, a fair mounted force and lots of tough but cheap heavy infantry.
Aquae Sulis 2006
We had Low Countries, 1452 AD (the date selected as that of the great Bruges revolt against Burgundy). One command of just pikes, another of pikes plus a few Kn(I) and Ps(S), another of pikes plus Bd(O), Bw(O) and Art(I), and an allied command of 7 Irr Kn(O).
We started against Medieval Germans, coincidentally also 1452 AD and very pike-heavy, including a large Swiss ally. I pointed out that the Swiss might not be very happy about fighting for a Hapsburg emperor, and sure enough they were unreliable. That left the Germans with an unreliable centre, a command of Pk(I) and Pk(O) on a low hill on its left, Cv(O), Ax(X) and a few Kn(I) wedges on their right (facing some of our pikes plus the Kn(O) ally), and a command of LH(F) plus a few war-wagons on their far left, facing nothing.
We attacked, as the Hungarian LH(F) were likely to get around our flank and cause havoc given time. The Kn(O) went for the Cv(O) and Ax(X) but mostly bounced off; the Pk(I) on their hill, although outnumbered, decisively beat our superior numbers of Pk(O). Then the Swiss became reliable and rushed forward – only to be blown apart by our organ guns and crossbows (shooting with overlaps at both ends). With an assist from Pk(O), who’d chased off some cavalry and then got behind the advancing Swiss, our missiles broke the Swiss command. However, our ally broke against the Ax(X) and the Pk(I) killed enough of our Pk(O) to break another of our commands. 1-9 defeat, accompanied by Imperial insistence that from now on we’d have to pay taxes.
Then we faced the other Low Countries army in the competition, dated 1382 so with larger numbers of Bd(X) instead of our few Bd(O). Both sides flank-marched, and otherwise the pikes rushed to combat. The enemy saw a tempting line of organ guns and crossbowmen with only a few Bd(O) in support and sent his Bd(X) to sort them out; we had excellent PIPs which enabled us to dismount some Kn(I) and meet the plancon-wielders with Bd(S) and Bd(O) who quickly sorted them out, slaying many and creating a substantial hole in the enemy centre.
The flank marches arrived, our 7 Kn(O) chasing on his 2 Kn(O). His boys had nowhere to go and died fighting bravely. The main pike actions were slow, just a couple of elements going down here and there, and were decided when our victorious Blades swung into a flank and hoovered up numerous elements. 10-0 win. I then informed our opponents of the morning that we had reunited the Netherlands and declared independence so they could whistle for their taxes.
Next we faced canny opponents using Ugaritic. Again both sides flank- marched, and most of our pikes had no solid opposition to get their teeth into. The flank marches were signalled early, and this time our 7 elements were chased on by their 30 – but then they threw 1 PIP to arrive and chose to bring on only their foot, leaving the Kn(O) chariots to straggle. Our Irr Kn(O), having also thrown 1 PIP to arrive, fled and then (of course) turned and charged at the arriving infantry which was assorted Bd(O), Ax and Ps. Greatly outnumbered but assisted by two Kn(I) generals, our knights fought like heroes and slew numerous enemy foot. They were poised to finish off the command when the stragglers arrived and chased them away again.
Elsewhere, nothing much happened in the centre where we couldn’t get to grips with the enemy, and we fought a delaying action on our left against Blades, Ax and illimitable Psiloi trying to get round our flank. We were losing there, but slowly.
Our heroic knights rallied, charged back at the flank-marchers and (surviving the loss of their general) killed a couple of Kn(O) chariots to break the enemy command. At the same time our left flank command finally broke – but time was up so the game ended 5-5.
Our final opponents were Mu-Jung Hsien-Pi. We defended (as usual, with Aggression 0) and got the terrain we wanted with marshes protecting both flanks leaving just enough space for our army to deploy comfortably. A very historical Low Countries deployment. The Hsien-Pi’s numerous LH(F) were pretty useless, and one of their players wanted to settle for a draw but was overruled by his bolder colleague who ordered a straightforward charge with their DBE Kn(I) chained cataphracts. Their left flank was Chinese infantry, Sp(I) and Bw(I), which we eagerly attacked with pikes.
At first all went well. Our organ guns blew lots of Kn(I) apart, their outflanking Chiang ally took forever to get through the central marsh where our crossbowmen delayed them and even inflicted losses, and our flank-marching Kn(O) turned up early to take the Chinese Bw(I) in the flank. Then it all went wrong!
The Hsien-Pi C-in-C, bravely leading his cataphracts, slaughtered 4 pike elements and burst through our formation. His companions also killed some pikemen but then died to a man, leaving the C-in-C unsupported except for some ineffective LH who were constantly fleeing and returning. The C-in-C found himself double overlapped and flanked, surviving 4 combats like that (two at 4-4 and two at 4-2), but Chinese spearmen killed a couple more pike from the command fighting him and our command broke. On our right flank the Kn(O) failed dismally against Bw(I), killing a couple but then breaking, and although our pikemen killed lots of Sp(I) [10 elements died from the Chinese command, whose breakpoint was 12] they also failed against Bw(I). Finally we got the last cataphract needed to break a Hsien-Pi command, but more Chinese Bw(I) then shot a Bd(O) and that made exactly half our army. The enemy were themselves only 2 elements from breaking. Lost 1-9 in a thrilling game.
17 points overall – our lowest score for years, but four excellent games nonetheless.
Russ King and I took Early Imperial Romans, Trajan in Parthia; two big Roman commands, each breaking on 8.5 EE lost, a smaller Roman command of 13 EE most of which would garrison the fortified camp, and an Arab mini-ally of 4 LH.
Round 1 matched us against Richard and Thomas Bodley Scott with Hsiung-Nu – LH(S), cataphracts and lots of softish infantry (Ax and Hordes). There was plenty of rough going on the table, and we were startled to find that the steppe nomads outnumbered us in Auxilia. Only two Hsiung-Nu commands were on the table, so there was at least one flank march – we attacked as fast as possible in the hope of breaking a command before the flank attack arrived.
The battle had three main features. In the left-centre cataphracts supported by horse-archers advanced against a legion and took heavy losses from our artillery. The legionaries then attacked and destroyed the two cataphract elements which had survived within reach, and the rest of the enemy fell back. In the right-centre large forces of Auxilia, plus some legionaries on our side, clashed in the rough going; both sides took losses but the nomads got the breakthrough and were able to start flanking our line. On the far right our cavalry attacked enemy LH and killed several, but were then taken in flank by the 38-element flank-marching command. Our C-in-C’s command broke. Our Arab ally, who had been carefully avoiding getting involved, charged some LH(S) and bagged the last element needed to break the Hsiung-Nu C-in-C. Shortly after that, our accumulated losses broke our army. 3-7, and an excellent, tense game.
Richard condemned Russ’s despicable tactic of setting up a “buttocks of death” position with a demoralised legionary. Not the sort of thing he would ever do, of course.
Next we faced Gavin Pearson and Neil Hepworth with Khmer and Burmese allies. 14 elephants (I think), some Blades and lots of Auxilia on a table crowded with jungle. Our artillery got five shots at elephants without killing any… but most of the battle was hard fighting between our legionaries and Auxilia and the Khmer elephants and infantry. Our smallest Roman command went down and both the big Roman commands had taken losses, so that if either of them broke our army would collapse – but the Khmer losses mounted with Ax dying two at a time and eventually two of their (fairly small) commands broke almost simultaneously. 9-1 to us in a very tough game.
Then Sassanids under regular opponents Brian O’Dea and Andy Whitby. A very interesting Sassanid army: all the cavalry was O rather than S, there was a Sabirian Hun ally with 12 Wb(O) plus some LH, and the 6 elephants were all in the C-in-C’s command with the Hordes and just a few cavalry.
The Sassanids had two cavalry commands up front with the warbands in the centre, then the elephants in column at the back, ready to march to their most promising position. The latter was on our right flank, where our Arabs and some other LH and Cv occupied a gentle hill. Excellent PIPs enabled the elephants to get there and attack; they killed one Arab LH (causing the others to retreat precipitately), another LH and a couple of cavalry. But we’d got some artillery into position and, after several frustrating misses, shot one elephant dead, whereupon the others hid behind the hill and played no further part.
In the centre the warbands rushed towards our two Kn(F) and some legionaries. The knights killed a couple before dying, then the legionaries took losses but killed some more Wb, eventually cutting down the Wb(O) general to break that command. The gap in the Sassanids’ centre was decisive, allowing our legionaries to flank their cavalry and break a second command for a hard-fought 10-0 win. The score was tough on Brian and Andy, who’d played well and deserved to get something out of the game.
Finally we faced Ian Speed and Craig Allen with Carthaginians – Hannibal at Zama. We were comprehensively out-deployed; two of our Roman commands were expertly skirmished out of the game by a large Numidian allied command, while our third Roman command was attacked by a mass of Ax(S) and Spears frontally and outflanked by more Ax(S) and LH. A strong wind hampered our artillery, which did very little.
On our threatened right flank, our two Dromedarii LH(I) elements and the single Arab LH(I) came into their own, catching enemy LH in rough going and killing several. However, two Arab LH(O) were sandwiched by Auxilia and destroyed, breaking the Arab command. The veteran African spearmen, with assists from flanking Auxilia, were beating our legionaries. Enemy Ax, trying to work round our flank, took heavy loses from our LH (the dromedarii starring again) and eventually the demoralised Arab general was able to get behind an Ax while artillery shot at it – that broke one Carthaginian command. Despite this success, the spearmen and traitorous Bruttians killed enough infantry to break a Roman command and we lost 1-9.
Four excellent games and a splendid weekend all round.
Russ King and I decided to try a Wb(O) army, as these now look to be viable under DBM 3.1, and fielded Early Visigothic – two large warband commands (break points 14.5 and 12.5), plus the C-in-C’s command with Kn(F) and lots of psiloi (break point 5.5) and an Ostrogothic ally with Kn(F) and Bw(I), break point 6.
The draw at Godendag is done by date, so in the first game we faced historical opponents in the form of Middle Imperial Romans. The Romans defended a large area of rough going, opposite one warband command, with Auxilia and some bowmen (the latter angled to delay contact), with legionaries in the centre and the mounted troops mainly on the other flank or in reserve. Light horse and psiloi attempted to delay our warbands but our boys “pressed forward” several times and quickly chased them off, managing to deliver a co-ordinated charge against the legionaries. The Ostrogothic knights charged at the same time.
The struggle in the rough going was prolonged, some warband dying against auxilia but also inflicting losses. Not so the clash in the open – the warband and knights crashed through the legionaries and broke a Roman command. The coup de grace came when warband finally massacred the Roman archers and broke their army for a 10-0 win.
Next we faced Palmyrans with a Roman contingent and Arab and Armenian allies. Again our warbands faced lots of auxilia in rough going, this time mostly with psiloi support, while the knights were irritated by skirmishing light horse. The warband failed dismally, losing 14 elements to none, and our smaller warband command broke. Meanwhile Arab light horse had galloped around the warbands’ flank and reached our camp.
Our cavalry finally got among the light horse and some cataphracts, killing quite a few but unfortunately from different commands. Then an appalling combat round saw three Ostrogothic knights die to LH(F), breaking the Ostrogoth command for a 0-10 defeat. The Palmyrans had a bit of luck but were played very skilfully, and I was pleased that they went on to finish second.
The third game brought us more Middle Imperial Romans – only three commands, and including the maximum knights (8 Kn(F) including 6 Goths, and 3 Kn(X) cataphracts). They set up right across the table, from an auxilia-stuffed built-up area on one flank to an auxilia-stuffed area of rough going on the other, with unsupported legionaries, in single rank, in the centre. The only reserves were the Gothic Kn(F) and cataphracts.
Our two knightly commands rushed at the legionaries and broke through in short order with minimal loss, breaking the Roman C-in-C’s command. The renegade Goths attacked deep warband formations and were slaughtered. Light horse pestered the flank of our warband and inflicted some loss, but our victorious knights despatched the cataphracts and some Bd(F) to break a second Roman command for a 10-0 win.
Finally we faced Later Swiss. Neither side relished this matchup! The Swiss had three Pike commands and a small Lorrainer command of 6 Kn(I) and 2 LH(I). Our warbands, 6 deep, faced the pikes who were mostly 8 deep, while our C-in-C’s knights targeted the Lorrainers on one flank and the Ostrogoths flank-marched on the other side.
The Ostrogoths turned up early, but then threw 1 PIP so only part of the command could arrive. We chose to bring on some bowmen, who promptly shot a psiloi dead and then sat around congratulating themselves. The Swiss pikes and our warbands rushed at each other, and after two combat rounds we’d lost 8 warband elements for only 2 pikes. However, the Swiss ranks were thinning as reserve elements were rushed towards the flank where the Ostrogothic knights were expected. The Lorrainers retreated to hide behind a wood, but were threatened there by infiltrating psiloi and decided they had to fight our knights.
Events then moved rapidly and dramatically. First, the Ostrogothic knights arrived, rode down some psiloi and attacked some two-deep pikemen – initially without success, but with good prospects for attacking again with overlaps and even rear attacks. Next our smaller warband command collapsed, having killed 6 pike elements but lost 16 Wb. Then the two Lorrainer LH were slaughtered by our Kn(F); the Kn(I) counter-attacked and killed two Kn(F) but were swarmed by the others and the Lorrainer command broke. Finally the other warbands killed another pair of pikes, the Ostrogoths got two more and the Swiss C-in-C’s command broke. The Swiss army was now half an element from breaking, but we ran out of time and settled for 7-3. A great game, and 7-3 was a very fair result.
The Visigoths performed much as we expected; where the enemy were kind enough to present a solid line for them to attack they won, albeit sometimes with heavy loss, but a well-played Regular army could make it very difficult for them to get to grips. It was fun using them, but the games were fairly predictable and I doubt if we’ll use them again.
Jer Morgan and Neil Hammond were the stars of the weekend. Not only did they score 30 points with Marian Romans, but they were dressed in Roman costume. Jer had a toga, scarlet cloak and (very unconvincing) bald wig signifying that he was Julius Caesar.
As ever, a great weekend. Next year’s Godendag will be on 27/28 January 2007 – get your entries in early to RBS.