Game Reports 2007
Forest Foray (25mm singles, 350 AP)
An account by guest star Ian Speed
Forest Foray is a 25mm competition held annually deep in the Forest of Dean. We travelled down with Mark and Dino on Saturday morning, looking forward to a weekend of sociable games and hoping for a good result in what might be my last DBM competition for the time being while we give DBMM a try. I took Picts with Saxon allies, an army that had done well for me in the past despite invariably generating close finishes ….
Game 1 – Picts – Gavin Pearson and Neil Hepworth
Some say the Picts were the first (only?) of the Celtic nations to really be a true nation, with a single King, etc, etc. Not too much sign of that in game one though …. Picts scrapping amongst themselves, some might say much like Glasgow on a Saturday night I guess. Deployment gradually revealed very similar armies, both with weighty Saxon allies deployed in the centre opposite each other, with lighter troops to the wings making use of the minimal terrain on the field. Unsurprisingly, Saxon loyalties were towards their own kind, and both allies started the game unreliable, leading to gentle and largely neutral attacks on the wings, until Gavin and Neil shook the 6 and got their own Saxons back on board and then attacked mercilessly hoping my Saxons would join their cause. A few bounds later, dead light horse and psiloi littered the field and my left flank was on the brink of collapse, my Saxons were still looking nervously over the shoulders contemplating a switch in allegiance, and the game was all but lost …. But the left flank held on for just one more bound, the Saxons then shook their own 6 and things improved from absolutely dreadful to just plain bad. The left flank still fell though, and my futile attempts to win through on the right failed, so Gavin and Neil took a well deserved 6-4 win, and to be candid, it felt like a win for me too ….
Game 2 – Andy Whitby – Samurai
Andy’s Samurai army was tuned for 25mm play and Bd(F) heavy with supporting Cv dismounting as Bw(S), which made Wb its natural predator, so my Saxons were going to have to contribute a little more this time around. The Picts attacked, refusing the right flank laden with wooded steep hills and a town, and attacking strongly in the Centre with the Saxons and on the left into woods using the Attecotti. Warrior Monks poured from the woods on the right to press back the Pictish light horse, while the Saxons slowly ground down the Samurai cavalry in the centre left and the Attecotti cleared followers from the woods on the left flank. The Saxons demoralised the Samurai cavalry quickly enough to turn their attentions to the Samurai foot in the centre right before they engaged the Pictish spearmen, but on the Pictish right things were pretty grim, with the monks closing in on the second spear line, and dismounted Samurai shooting them from the front. It was another game of brinkmanship, with the Picts finishing off the Samurai centre for a 10-0 just before the Pictish right wing would have collapsed and left the baggage available for plunder.
So …. 14 points on day 1 …. not so good, but it could easily have been a lot less! Saturday night in the pub with good food and wine (too much wine?), and a glorious England rugby result …. and onto the next day, with rumours of Libyan Egyptians being the next opponent for the Picts ….
Game 3 – Dave Hughes – Libyan Egyptians
And so the Picts attacked the Libyan Egyptians, with the Nile on the right flank, orchards in the centre and rough ground on the left, leaving the Egyptian chariots with little space to attack into. The Saxons deployed opposite the (not so?) Invincible Meshwesh, and the Attecotti on the right against a relatively weak line of Psiloi and Archers, and held the left flank with light horse and psiloi in the rough ground. An inconclusive naval skirmish ran throughout as the Attecotti seized control of the right and the Saxons ultimately ground down the Meshwesh by having the best of the ends of the line, and (by far!) the best of the combat dice. Once the Meshwesh fell the Egyptians were on the brink of rout, and ultimately the Meshwesh General died in an assault by Pictish spearmen, sweeping away archers and axemen behind him and the army fell for a 10-0, and (I suspect) Dave went to try to buy some new dice ….
Game 4 – John Graham-Leigh – Anglo Norman
So, the Picts managed to scrape onto the top table for the last game, but with 24 points to John’s 29, and fighting his knight heavy Normans, it was going to be difficult. But after winning four times in the raffle drawn at the start of the game (we stopped collecting the prizes once we’d got all of the wine!), including with ticket “666” (surely the ultimate number for a DBM player?), I thought maybe it was going to be a lucky day …. and went for a flank march on the right, supported by the C-in-C’s Attecotti attacking a relatively weakly defended hill on the right, with the Saxons holding the centre and a refused left flank. The flank march stayed away, the Attecotti were repelled from the hill and then rounded by knights, working round the Pictish right flank after driving their light horse away, and the refused left flank was coming under pressure too. So, not looking too good, and after a sloppy mistake threw away two more elements on the left the Picts were going down about as quickly as the wine from the raffle. Low PIPs rather than cunning play committed the Saxons to the fray, which turned out to be a good thing as they destroyed all before them, including a general, and suddenly the Norman centre collapsed. And with the flank march eventually arriving, and rolling over the C-in-Cs standard wagon to take down the command, the Picts were victorious 8-2 …. with just half an element to spare on the left …. and, pretty unjustly, that was just enough to steal the weekend from John with 32 points to 31 ….
Four super games against super opponents, as always in the various competitions in the South West …. thanks to Nigel for making it happen ….
John Graham-Leigh’s version
I took Anglo-Normans, later version with Kn(O) dismounting as Bd(S). Each of the three commands (led by the Earl of Gloucester, the Earl of Warwick and William the Marshal respectively) had 5 or 6 Knights, some bowmen, Sp(I) and Psiloi. The Marshal also had the 4 Pk(I) Flemish mercenaries, and Gloucester, the C-in-C, had a standard wagon.
The pikemen met lots of their compatriots in the first game, which was against Nigel Poole’s Low Countries army – early version with Pk(I). Nigel fielded 60 Pk(I) with small numbers of Kn(I), Bd(X) and Ps(O). I invaded; Nigel placed a huge gentle hill with a village and I placed three small areas of rough going – two were out of the way but one, near the centre of the table, was crucial.
Each side tried to outflank the other on my left, ending with Flemish Bd(X) and Kn(I) facing my Kn(O) and Pk(I). I won that fight, largely because the Bd(X) were single-ranked, and broke the Flemish command. In the centre my Ps seized the rough going unopposed and exerted a tremendous influence all around them as the Anglo-Norman dismounted knights got stuck into the Guildsmen. With the Psiloi giving overlaps, turning flanks, blocking recoils etc the Pk(I) died in heaps and a second command broke to give me a 10-0 win.
Next I played John Hughes who fielded Alexandrian Macedonians – a lot of hoplites plus the Hypaspists as Sp(S), the minimum 12 Pk(O), a few Companions, a lot of Thracian Ax(S) and assorted psiloi. I freely admit that I had a lot of luck in this game, though it didn’t feel like it early on: the Marshal was forced by low PIPs to advance where Macedonian light horse could hit him in the flank, and died along with two other Kn elements. His command passed the morale test, and Gloucester’s crossbowmen scored two 6-1s in their first four shots to destroy two Ax(S) elements. The surviving Kn(O) in the Marshal’s command then performed prodigies. One element slew 2 LH and then 2 Ax(S) who were trying to get at my Ps(O) in the open; the remaining Ax scuttled into a wood to hide. The knights then turned and galloped towards the skulking Macedonian general.
The main clash came in the centre, where the Macedonian pikes, Hypaspists and hoplites hit a line of Bd(S) and Sp(I). Lots of shoving to and fro, with the occasional freak dieroll causing casualties on both sides, until each of us had a command teetering. At this stage my mounted knights finally broke the small Ax/LH command, assisted by the crossbowmen who shot a Kn(F) dead. Then two 6-1s in rapid succession destroyed 4 pike elements and the Macedonian army broke for another 10-0 win to me.
The third game was against Dino Monticoli with Early Carthaginians. He refused his right flank, so the line up from my left was Gloucester’s knights facing nothing, Gloucester’s foot facing a small steep hill which Dino quickly stuffed with Auxilia and Psiloi, Warwick’s knights on horseback and the Marshal’s knights on foot facing a mass of assorted Spear (Sp(S) Sacred Band, Sp(O) hoplites and Sp(I) Libyans) plus 4 Wb(S), then the Marshal’s foot facing to the flank, which was threatened by a large force of Ax and Ps occupying steep hills.
Gloucester’s knights thundered forward, aiming to sweep at a safe distance round the steep hill and attack the rear of the Carthaginian centre. Two groups of 3 LH(O) each rode to keep them occupied – those LH absorbed most of the PIPs from two commands, so the massed Ax in particular hardly moved. The knights, split up, were eventually able to engage the light horse; one Kn died but so did all 6 of the LH, leaving the knights free to attack a single Cv(I) who was in reserve. A Carthaginian general intervened but the Cv(I) died and the Cv(O) general was then attacked and killed by two Kn(O), while Gloucester himself rode for the Carthaginian camp. The Carthaginians failed their morale test (5 needed on any of 3 PIP dice), and the large Ax command broke.
Meanwhile, the main Carthaginian heavy infantry force hit my line of Bd(S) and Sp(I) – Warwick having managed to dismount all his knights in time. The warband were ineffective for a long time (their opponents were Bd(S) with supporting Psiloi), and though a few elements on each side died all gaps were plugged – until the Marshal, initially in reserve, had to go into action, valiantly pressed forward and found his recoil blocked by a sneaky demoralised Psiloi. The Marshal went down and his command broke. But immediately after that Gloucester rode over his third baggage element and that made half the Carthaginian army for a 9-1 win.
So, into the last game on 29 points. 3 points would win the competition, 2 would guarantee second place. But my opponent was the doughty Ian Speed, who had a Pictish army with large and nasty Saxon ally. Ian scattered rough hills everywhere, refused his left flank and flank-marched on his right.
Gloucester was again on my left with his knights mounted, opposed by LH. His Bw(O) and Ps had a rough hill to defend, threatened by a few Attecotti Ax(S). The Saxons were in the centre facing Warwick’s mounted knights, and the Marshal faced a few LH on my right, while a mass of Ax(X) hid in a patch of rough going.
Gloucester rode forward after the LH, who refused to fight; his foot repelled the Attecotti attack, and a couple of split-off knights managed to get at some Ax and kill them, then caught and killed several LH elements for the loss of one Kn. The Saxons plodded forward slowly but seemed reluctant to close. The Marshal was ambushed by LH, but this time he beat them off, killing several plus an Ax(X). His archers shot an Ax(X), then two Kn attacked LH near the Pictish baseline – two 4-2 combats, lost them both. But the command opposing the Marshal was now two elements from breaking, and the Pictish C-in-C opposing Gloucester was one element off. The Picts on both flanks back-pedalled.
The Saxons finally charged, driving back Warwick’s knights and killing one Kn and a Sp. Then, as the flank march was signalled, Warwick himself was on the wrong end of a 6-1 and died – his command broke. But the Marshal destroyed another LH element and his archers shot a Ps, while Gloucester bagged a LH to break the Pictish C-in-C’s command. The second Pict command was now half an element from going, which would guarantee me the 3 points I needed.
The flank march arrived and soon lots of Ax(X) were able to attack my Wwg(I). They got it, breaking Gloucester’s command and with it my army. So Ian won 8-2. A great, extremely close game.
Ian won the competition with 32 points and I was second with 31 – I was pleased at having come so close to winning it.
There were some interesting army choices at Usk – the most notable being Post-Mongol Samurai which I’ve never seen used competitively. It scored 1 point out of 40… Then there was the Old Saxon army which was doing pretty well until, in the last round, it met Khmer with 14 elephants. Thracians and Tulunid Egyptians didn’t do very well either.
Russ King and I took Florentine Condotta with Swiss allies; C-in-C’s command with Kn(O), LH(F) and (I), and psiloi; a foot command mainly of assorted Bows; a third Condotta command with Kn(O), LH(I) and psiloi, and the Swiss with 16 Pk(S) plus psiloi.
The first game was against Wars of the Roses Lancastrians. Strong winds, which actually inconvenienced us more than the English, who had more Blades than Bows. The terrain was all on the Lancastrians’ side of the table. We refused our right flank, screening with LH backed by the C-in-C’s knights, and on the other flank deployed some of our knights dismounted in the expectation that they’d face Bw(S). But there were no bows at all in the command opposite, just single-ranked Blades, Welsh Ax(X) and Irish riff-raff holding a gentle hill. Many PIPs were expended in remounting our knights, but PIPs were in short supply and it was a long time before they were in the saddle and ready to advance.
In the centre the Swiss rushed forward and crashed into a line of billmen and men-at-arms. There was a tough struggle in which the Swiss prevailed, breaking a small allied command. Meanwhile the Lancastrians’ mounted wing (a couple of Kn(S), some Kn(I), a few LH and cavalry), clashed with our C-in-C’s mounted forces and defeated them. Our C-in-C’s command broke. On our left, though, our knights charged up the hill and rode down several Blade elements, while our LH(I) caught Ax(X) in the flank and destroyed them. The Swiss, having broken through the centre, were regrouping and looking for fresh targets. Sadly, our bow command was outshot and reached its break point of 7 so we lost 1-9. An excellent game which could have gone either way.
Next we played Alexandrian Imperial with Indian allies. Strong wind again, which severely handicapped our crossbowmen. Again we refused our right flank and attacked in the centre with the Swiss. The Swiss beat the Indian ally, but the main enemy force (two commands of pikes and various mounted troops) were gradually overwhelming our C-in-C’s command. The Swiss were heading for the enemy baggage to seal a victory when time ran out, leaving the score at 6-4.
The third game was against Serbian Empire. The Serbs had few knights but lots of light horse, Blades and archers, plus a large Bosnian allied command. The terrain favoured the enemy, with lots of rough going for their foot on their side of the table. Once again we refused the right while the Swiss charged forward in the centre.
The Swiss closed with a line of Bd(O) and punched through, pressing the hapless Serbs back against their own archers. The Swiss general killed a Blade element, taking a Bw with it, then another Bw. The general then swung into the flank of two more Bw and killed them too. He was then attacked in the flank by three Hd(O) elements for a 2-2 combat; he drove the Hd back and then fell back to wait for his supports to catch up. The Hd attacked again for another 2-2 and he killed one of them. So the general destroyed 6 elements, 3 of them while he had no supporting ranks. These heroics broke a large Serb command.
On our left a command of knights screened by LH(O) approached the LH and attacked our LH(I) plus one Kn(O). The Serb LH were overlapped at both ends and lost two elements in the first clash; we then turned the flanks and killed two more, leaving one who was pushed back and then killed in front of his own knights, destroying two of them as well. That broke the Serb command. 10-0 to us.
The last game was very frustrating, against Wallachians with Hungarian allies. The Wallachians defended steep hills and rough going on our right, and manoeuvred their numerous LH and knights to get round our left flank. The Swiss advanced into a valley in the hope of catching some Ax(O) in the open, but no luck; they killed only one Ax and lost 2 pike elements to shooting plus one in combat.
The Wallachian attack was delayed by the Hungarians being unreliable for the first few bounds, and when they came in the Hungarians quickly lost 2 Kn(I) and 2 LH(F), leaving that command one element from breaking. The rest hastily withdrew, but our knights and LH were now broken up and gradually picked off by LH(S). We’d lost 5 elements when our Kn(S) sub-general, 4-1 up against a LH, was 6-1d so his command broke. Our crossbowmen, who’d been marching around in small groups to get shots at knights, were whittled down by LH attacks (narrowly failing to bag the last LH(F) we needed to break the Hungarians), and when time ran out we were glad to survive for 4-6.
21 points, and the usual excellent weekend.
The winners were Ian Speed and Craig Allen using Buyids, with 35 points; as they also scored 35 at Godendag they now have a commanding lead in the SW Doubles League (which they won last year). Muslim armies finished first and second, a brave and beautifully painted HYW English army finished bottom, and the barbarian hordes of Red Ti swept all before them on Saturday before coming down with a crash on Sunday.
Russ King and I took Late Judeans, led by Herod the Great in person. His command had 12 Ax(S) and 7 LH(O) plus lots of psiloi; the second big Judean command had 12 Bw(I) with Ax(O) and lots more psiloi; the smaller command had the 2 Kn(F), 3 Cv(O), some LH and 6 Ax(S); the Roman ally had 3 Cv(O), 10 Bd(O) and 6 Ax(S). A fairly large army, but not comparable to some of the barbarian monsters. With two compulsory terrain pieces and Regular PIP dice we thought we had a chance of strangling some opponents.
First we faced Gauls, led by two competent players whom we’d beaten in several recent encounters. They turned out to have only three commands, all with plenty of cavalry/chariots and two with big warband blocks. The terrain fell reasonably well and we prepared to hold a rough hill on our left with the Bw and Ax, use the Ax(S) against the warband masses and flank-march on our right to cause mayhem with the Kn, Cv and LH. Unfortunately the Gauls were wise to that… they also flank-marched but with 46 elements to our 16. Our boys were chased onto the table, put up a stirring fight but eventually went down.
Meanwhile our archers on the far flank, heartened by the lack of warband in the vicinity, rushed forward to get at the enemy cavalry. At first the Gallic command opposite had plenty of PIPs and was able to avoid being shot at while threatening the archers’ flanks, but once the PIPs dried up they were doomed… the arrows flew like rain and a total of 8 Cv(O) elements died. The Romans were advancing to put further pressure on that command; some warband came across to help out but were jumped by auxilia. Finally, as time ran out, the archers shot a Hd(O) near the enemy baseline to break that command and equalise for a tough 5-5 draw.
Our next opponents were speedy Paul Apreda and Nick Coles with New Kingdom Egyptians – early version, with no Irreg infantry and lots of Reg Bd(F). Again the terrain was fairly kind, with plenty of rough hills handily placed for our weaker troops. A strong wind blew up the table, but the Egyptians’ brilliant PIP dice soon switched it to blowing from behind us – excellent! The wind saved 3 legionary elements from death.
The key actions were legionaries against Bd(F) in our centre, which the Romans won easily, and Cv(S) chariots against our assorted mounted troops, where quality told again. A large Egyptian command broke in the centre, and so did our smallest Judean command on our right wing. The latter collapse put our C-in-C’s command in trouble and we lost nearly enough Ax(S) and LH to break it – nearly, but not quite. In the centre the Romans got into Bw(O) and killed some; on the last bound a legionary swung onto the flank of 2 Bw(O) for a 5-3 with no recoil – and failed. Another 5-5, in which either army could easily have collapsed. It would have been 9-1 one way or the other in another bound or two.
The third game was against our old foe John Patrick’s Timurids. Most of the terrain was on our left so our archers were stationed there; the Timurids screened them with pairs of Hd(I) while a block of cavalry and LH threatened our line of LH(O). The main Timurid attack was against our right, where masses of cavalry crashed into the Romans and Judean Ax(S), but John was also tempted by our weak-looking line of LH(O) on our left, even though it was flanked by rough terrain stuffed with archers and light troops. Our LH held up well and the 12 Bw(I) shot numerous Timurid cavalry; the remains of that command hastily retreated, which was excellent as it took the highest PIP dice each bound leaving the two attacking commands PIP-starved.
The main battle on our right swayed back and forth but eventually our smallest command broke. John couldn’t quite get enough Romans, and we couldn’t quite finish off the damaged command on our left, so the game timed out at 4-6.
Finally we faced Akkadians – two huge blocks of Pk(I) (no Pk(X)), one of Ax(X) and a PIP-dump mini-command. Our Bw command held rough hills on our left again, and the C-in-C’s Ax and Ps held rough going on our right, with the Romans, LH and Cv in the centre. The Ax(X) attacked the Ax(S) and were beaten off with loss, but they had huge numbers and eventually worked around our flank with psiloi and a single LH(I). The central pike block powered into the Romans who fought back gamely but soon took worrying losses. On our left, however, our Bw(I) were able to shoot unmolested into the flank of the other pike block, scoring many hits. That command’s break point was 12.5, which was reached entirely from shooting – the massed Auxilia attack against psiloi holding a rough hill, though successful, turned out to be unnecessary.
By that time, though, the Romans were in serious trouble and broke, with 6 legionaries and a cavalry dead. The untouched pike command was powering through and threatening to chase our LH off the table – one LH element actually did flee off. As the time limit approached our C-in-C’s command was half an element from breaking and their Ax(X) command was one off – on our last bound we bagged a pair of Ax(X) and broke their army for a 9-1 win.
The Judean army has no killer troops and relies on rough terrain, but turned out to be surprisingly tough. The stars of the weekend were undoubtedly the Bw(I), who shot huge numbers of enemies without losing a single element themselves.
Russ King and I planned to take Late Imperial Romans to Devizes but due to a late drop-out we had to play separately to even up the numbers. So I played solo with a Later Swiss army – 2 LH(I), 13 Ps(S) including a general, and all the rest Pk(S).
The first game was a dream. Wars of the Roses English, with all the terrain landing on my side of the table, mostly far enough back for me to deploy in front of it, and mist handicapping the English shooting. The pikemen charged, hit the enemy billmen and longbowmen and slaughtered them. I lost 6 elements, two of them Pk(S) killed by a demoralised bombard. Won 10-0.
Next I played Swedish Leidang. The terrain included a waterway and village on my left, a large wood in the centre and a steep hill obstructing my deployment on my right. The enemy deployed with one command of huscarls inside a fortified camp plus some more Bd(O) and Ax (O) on the baseline and in the wood, and another mainly of Ax(O) well back on their left. Plus a 48-element flank march which was declared on the first bound. Not good. I needed time to march past the hill and deploy, and I didn’t get it. Auxilia got round my left flank and started picking the pikes apart, but one pike command got into the huscarls and started killing them – too slowly, though.
Flank-marching Ax(O) faced the steep hill held by my Ps(S), but didn’t attack; largely because they needed all their PIPs for the 10 Kn(F). Two of the Kn(F) attacked my baggage – one bounced and was mugged by my LH(I), the other hoovered up the back line of baggage elements, turned to attack the front ones, lost and recoiled off the table. Sweet. The other Kn(F) went out of control, attacked pikes and died to a man. 12 elements gone from that command – but its break point was 16, and meanwhile infiltrating Ax(O) had picked off enough pike elements to break my smallest command. Then my pike general leading the charge by the enemy fort, having repeatedly pushed back but failed to kill the opposing huscarls, was outflanked and killed. Lost 0-10, but a cracking game.
Next up were John Patrick’s infamous Timurids. John is pretty expert at using this army and got the terrain he wanted, so I didn’t relish the matchup. I deployed two commands, mostly 2-deep Pk(S), angled back to my baseline with the Ps(S) holding an orchard at the apex of my triangular formation. The third command flank-marched on my right. John shaped to attack my right flank in strength, and when an elephant killed two pike elements with a 6-1 I thought he was going to break through. Then the flank march arrived on the fifth attempt, its march delayed by a couple of cavalry but bearing down on the Bw(O) guarding the Timurid camp. This diverted a considerable number of Timurid cavalry to attack the flank-marchers’ flank, I managed to kill one of the two elephants and the main Timurid attack stalled. The bowmen by the Timurid camp shot a couple of Pk(S) but the rest got into them, killed them all and looted the baggage – this meant that if a Timurid command broke the army would too, so John had to be very cautious with his cavalry. I did kill a couple of cavalry elements but the rest ran away faster than I could follow. Timurid auxilia came out of ambush and attacked my Ps(S) in the orchard, but to no effect. The game timed out with one of John’s commands having lost a quarter, so 6-4 to me.
One team dropped out after the third game due to illness, so I awarded myself a bye (average of the 3 games scores = 5 points) and didn’t play in the afternoon. Coincidentally, the Timurids played my Late Roman army, commanded by Russ, and lost 10-0 – so not a good day for them.