Vexillum, the DBM doubles competition held at Frome, Somerset, again had 12 teams – though several were singletons. Thanks to Steve Aspinall, Pete Connew and the other Frome lads for organising it.
Russ King and I took Medieval Germans again, going forward a century to field Rudolf of Hapsburg’s army. This featured three commands with knights, psiloi and bows, one having 6 Hungarian horse-archers as well and two having standard wagons. There was also a Hungarian ally; LH(S) general, 6 LH(S), 5 LH(F) and a single Irr Kn(O). The armies were mostly medieval, with only a couple of Classical ones and nothing dated between 332 BC and 1099 AD. We defended in all four games.
Our first opponent was Stephen Welford with Seljuk Turks. We placed some steep hills to get in the way of the Seljuk light horse, and Stephen added some rough going. We deployed our C-in-C’s knights in the centre; Stephen faced them with a large force of Bw(I), and had a few Bw(I) plus 6 Dailami Ax(S) facing some rough going behind which we had Bw(I), Bw(O) and Bd(I). The Seljuk C-in-C was opposite our right, with a large force of Cv(S) screened by LH(S). On the left two German commands, including 6 LH(F), faced more Cv(S) and LH(S).
The Seljuk Bw(I) confidently advanced to shoot our Kn(O), but excellent PIPs enabled the latter to dismount as Bd(S). Undaunted, the Seljuks pushed their Ax(S) into the rough going, where crossbowmen promptly shot one dead. Our dismounted knights approached the Bw(I) with barely a recoil from shooting and proceeded to carve them up, while the Dailami were badly shot up and their accompanying Bw(I) attacked by Bd(I). The central Seljuk command soon broke, while on the left our knights drove back their opponents with some loss on both sides. The Seljuk C-in-C rode to the rescue in the centre but found himself behind a Cv(S) which was attacked by two Bd(S) and died. The command failed its “general loss” PIP roll, so the Seljuk army would collapse at the end of the bound; Stephen had one bound for his undemoralised command to kill the three elements needed to break our left-flank command. He not only failed but lost enough to break his own command too. 10-0 win.
This was followed by a repeat of our Iceni game against John Vaughan’s Alexandrian Macedonians (John’s doubles partner was unfortunately unable to come because of family illness). Our strategy was to screen the phalanx with light horse in the centre, to allow time for knights to dismount, and attack on our left with two commands against assorted cavalry and light horse. On the right one German command faced Alexander’s Companions, light horse and Ax(S) Hypaspists.
The right-flank action included a wild Kn v Kn melee which the Macedonians won, against the odds, and Companions riding down Bw(I). Our command broke – but Alexander’s command was badly damaged (including the loss of a Hypaspist ridden down by the single Hungarian knight). The Hungarians attacked the broken-up and largely impetuous victors, failing in multiple excellent chances to finish them off.
In the centre the phalanx attacked our dismounted knights and drove them back, while our crossbowmen shot up cavalry on the left. The Bd(S) gradually gained the advantage, turning a flank and killing four pike elements, but it was slow going. Then two Hypaspists attacked a single Hungarian LH(S), at 2-1 factors; 6-1 to the Hungarians killed an Ax(S) and broke the Macedonian C-in-C’s command. There wasn’t time to exploit this so the game ended at 6-4 to us.
The third game was against Derek and Stuart Bruce, with French Ordonnance – a powerful Swiss allied command, plus Kn(S) and large numbers of archers. The Swiss, mostly two elements deep, advanced in the centre and were delayed by light horse while our knights dismounted to face them. Most of the action was on our left flank; much manoeuvring for possession of a steep hill, then a dramatic cavalry battle between French Kn(S) and German Kn(O) supported by light horse. This swayed back and forth; both generals were committed and both pursued into trouble. The French general went down first – three elements lost from that command and the next French PIPs were 2, 3, 4, so the command just survived. The Hungarian LH(S) general attacked a French knight at 3-3 and died to a 1-6 dice split (the only thing which could have killed him); no other Hungarians lost, and that command survived too. But the German Emperor pursued ever onward and was eventually surrounded and cut down, and his command broke. In the centre the Swiss clashed with dismounted knights, but 3-deep Pk(S) versus Bd(S) made for an inconclusive fight. The main danger now was that Hungarians, handicapped by the loss of their general, would be caught by Kn(S) or chased off the table by Swiss pikes, but we managed to avoid this and the game timed out at 3-7.
The last game was against Richard Hardy and Tony Bell; Medieval Portuguese with English allies. They knew that a 5-5 draw would give them little chance of winning the competition but – crucially – would guarantee their winning the Doubles League whereas 4-6 or worse would not. So, when the terrain fell kindly to give them a hill-and-rough going fortress, they deployed very defensively and announced that they weren’t going to attack. We agreed a 5-5 draw, handed in the results slips and then played the game anyway.
It turned out to be an excellent game, with most of the action featuring the English command in the centre. The Hungarians screened the right, where steep hills handicapped any Portuguese advance, and the Portuguese Irregular knights on the left didn’t want to leave the protection of their infantry and risk being split up and overwhelmed by the German combination of Regular knights and light horse. So the attack was in the centre with the English supported by a few knights and light horse. In strong winds and occasional rain, the English soon got into trouble with Bw(S) attacked by Bd(S) and Bd(I) and Kn(I) by Kn(O) and the Hungarian LH(S) general. The latter had appalling luck again: 3-2 up against Kn(I), he stuck in combat. Next bound, after one of his supports had pursued away and the other had been driven back, he fought again at 3-4 down and died. Obviously the opposite of Napoleon’s “lucky general”.
The English remarkably survived multiple combats at unattractive odds, and even inflicted casualties on their German opponents (including a Bd(S) ridden down by the English Kn(I) general and several crossbowmen shot dead in the rain). One German command broke, and this allowed the Portuguese light horse to come forward and pick off PIP-starved Hungarian elements. The English finally broke and were almost exterminated before the game timed out at 4-6.
Four good games, all played against good-humoured and congenial opponents, made for a first-rate weekend.
I’ve long fancied using Frederick Barbarossa’s army, but the old Medieval German army list made it unappealing – the knights, on which the army must depend, were either Reg Kn(I), single-based, or Irr Kn(O), and were not allowed to dismount. The new army list changes all the knights to Reg Kn(O), and while they must start the game on horseback they are allowed to dismount as Bd(S). A big improvement. Russ King and I therefore took the army to Iceni, the doubles competition organised by the Coltishall Cowards club in the heart of the Norfolk Broads. In this second year of the competition attendance was up from 12 to 17 players, mostly local and forming eight teams of which two were threesomes. All the eight armies were based on the new (DBMM) army lists.
Our army relied mainly on 19 Reg Kn(O), with four commands (one an internal ally) all with some knights plus assorted mediocre infantry. There were also two groups each of 4 Hungarian horse-archers which were very useful for skirmishing. Limited difficult terrain capability, with only a few psiloi and no auxilia, but mostly Regular and should be flexible.
Our first game was against last year’s competition winners, Jer Morgan and John Calvert, who fielded Ottomans. Both armies concentrated their main forces on our left, which was mainly open ground with some rough going. We deployed our best RGo troops in the latter – Bw(O) mercenary crossbowmen backed by Bd(I) as a last-ditch reserve. The right flank saw lots of indecisive skirmishing and fencing, but on the left the Ottomans struck hard and fast with light horse attacking Heerban Bw(I), a Serbian command of 7 Kn(S) going for our Kn(O) and Heerban, and the Janissaries supported by two war wagons heading for our crossbowmen. The Serbs suffered from low PIPs and went out of control, attacking piecemeal while our Bw(I) beat off the LH(F) Akinjis. The Heerban archers first killed an overlapped Kn(S), then turned a flank and backed another into the Serbian general, breaking the Serb command. We now tried to get our Kn(O) and supporting archers into the Ottoman cavalry, but without much success, while the Janissaries and a war wagon badly shot up our crossbowmen and even a couple of Bd(I). These infantry losses broke one of our commands just before time ran out. The game ended in a fairly bloody 5-5 draw.
Our next opponents were three new players with Early Imperial Romans – a big command mostly of legionaries, a second large Roman command with cavalry and auxilia, a small auxilia command and a Nabatean ally with light horse, bows and a few cavalry. We placed a road and steep hills to channel the Romans; I advised them to add some rough going for their auxilia, but they didn’t. The Nabateans skirmished against our left flank, the legionaries advanced to attack in the centre where we met them with dismounted knights, a few Flemish Pk(I) and Bd(I) mercenary foot, and the Roman cavalry faced mounted knights and crossbowmen on our right. The Roman cavalry melted away very quickly, while the mercenary swordsmen held up well against the legionaries until some of our victorious knights could intervene and outflank the legion. The small auxilia command was caught in the open by knights and broken, which brought the Roman losses to half their army for a 10-0 win.
The third game was against Alexandrian Macedonians led by a very experienced player and a fairly new one. The Macedonians invaded and placed steep hills which landed mostly on our side of the field; we added gentle hills of which one, a nice ridge, was in our centre and gave an excellent defensive position. The terrain pretty much mandated that the Macedonian phalanx would be there. We garrisoned the ridge with knights and Bd(I), put psiloi on a steep hill to the left and held the gap with more knights. Opposite our right was open ground and the Macedonians refused that flank; we had two commands with knights and light horse. Our plan was to attack strongly on the right while holding the central ridge.
Sure enough, the Macedonian phalanx faced our centre with the Companions to its right, aimed at the gap between the hills. The Companions struck first, charging into our Kn(O) two of whom died at the first clash. It looked briefly as if the Companions would break through, unhinging our entire position. But our knights fought back, assisted by psiloi on the steep hill, and destroyed three Kn(F) elements (half of them). Alexander paused, reluctant to commit the rest of his cherished comrades. Meanwhile on our right our mounted knights and light horse rushed forward to get at the Macedonian refused flank which consisted mostly of cavalry. The mercenary crossbowmen went with them, inspired by the sight of Cv(I) cowering in the distance. A massive stone-thrower destroyed a couple of crossbow elements, but eventually the crossbows started shooting up the cavalry and the knights charged and drove back the rest.
By the time the Macedonian phalanx was ready to attack, our knights on the ridge had all dismounted. The Macedonians had 24 Pk(O) in one command, led by a general, and a separate command of 4 Pk(O) with another general plus 4 Sp(I). Fortunately the pikes all faced Bd(S) dismounted knights, with the Bd(I) mercenaries facing only Sp(I). The pikemen powered up the ridge and were mostly thrown back; our Bd(I) charged down at the Sp(I) and, assisted by LH diverted from our attacking wing, killed three of them to break the small Macedonian command. Simultaneously the other Macedonian general pursued into double overlap and died. Four elements down from that command; the Macedonians’ next PIP dice were 1, 2, 3, 3 so that command broke too. Half an element needed to break the Macedonian army, and our knights on the right bagged a Cv(O) for a 10-0 win.
The final game was against Classical Indians, Regular version, somewhere in the Himalayas – steep and rough hills everywhere. Most of our early PIPs were spent frantically dismounting knights; we planned to meet the Indian attack with a solid line of Bd(S) and then attack wherever we could get Bd(S) against Bw(O). Much fencing on both flanks; on the left a Mountain Indian ally galloped light horse to get around our flank, then withdrew when our crossbowmen shot two Ax(X) elements (the allies’ break point was only 4). On the right we held a steep ridge with mercenary Bd(I) and a single Ps(O); the Indians advanced, shot one Bd(I) dead and threatened to overrun the hill with Ps(O) but ran out of PIPs on this flank. The main fighting was in the centre, where we eventually attacked with Bd(S) and our 8 Pk(I). Some Cv(S) chariots tried to outflank our line but were beaten off with loss by Bd(S) and a Kn(O) general. Superior Elephants seemed pretty much invincible but our archers managed to drive some back and keep them out of the fight. Our dismounted knights got stuck into Indian archers but, despite a succession of 5-2 combats, failed to kill any.
The game lasted for about 15 bounds with no decisive advantage to either side when it ended in a 5-5 draw.
30 points saw us tying for first place and we pipped Jer and John Calvert on a tiebreak (sum of opponents’ scores). Barbarossa’s army proved to be tough and flexible, despite having no Superior troops other than dismounted knights, and he may see further action in the future. In the meantime he’ll slumber in a box-file until his country needs him!
The competition was very well organised, with special plaudits for the magnificent Sunday lunch provided by the Coltishall club. Another high spot was the prize of a splendid reproduction Roman gladius and scabbard, donated by a visiting player (who wishes to remain anonymous) and presented to the highest-scoring team from the home club (Kevin Everard and Robin “Swampy” Honey-Frazer). Roll on Iceni 2013.
Ten teams played DBM at Devizes, down on last year but still an excellent competition. Continuing our sequence of “armies we’ve never used before”, Russ King and I used Later Hungarians: lots of assorted light horse and knights, the only infantry being 22 psiloi. We had the maximum of 6 Kn(S)/Kn(I) double-based wedges, three in each of two commands , with the C-in-C and Royal Banderium as single-based Kn(S). Three regular commands, plus a small Szekeler command of sub-general and 6 other LH(S).
First we played Richard Hardy and Tony Bell with Bavarians – the Old Saxon list with added oomph. Two big warband commands, a smallish Slav ally with Ax(O), psiloi and a couple of cavalry, and an Avar ally with 13 Superior Cavalry. The enemy foot sat in rough going and stayed there, while the Avars flank-marched. We guessed the likelier side and lined up all the knight wedges plus light horse to face it, while doing a bit of skirmishing against warband to pull them out of position. The Avars arrived on turn 8 and had no real option but to charge; they killed a few LH but the knights massacred them and the Avar command soon broke. We couldn’t do much against the infantry (the warband commands refused to throw ones and come charging out) and the game ended at 6-4. Richard and Tony won their other three games convincingly for a well-deserved competition win.
On Saturday afternoon our opponents were Steve Littlefield and Geoff Hanney with Early Imperial Romans. Steep hills all over the place, including two in our deployment area which we occupied with numerous psiloi. One huge Roman command stretched across their front from hill to hill – single-ranked legionaries, with some auxilia facing the central hills, and minimal mounted troops behind. Then two small Roman commands, one with artillery and more auxilia, and a miniscule one with more artillery. In front of the legionary line appeared an enormous Nabataean Arab ally with 30 bows plus a few light horse and auxilia.
We thought of hanging back, but decided to send the knight wedges with supporting light horse to attack the Roman right flank while putting what pressure we could on the other flank. The Romans sent two columns of auxilia up the central hills and, after a long struggle, defeated our psiloi – but with our C-in-C and his Kn(S) in front of them they daren’t go any further. Our attack was blunted by the Roman artillery – four Art(F) which, after chasing some light horse away, shot with deadly accuracy at our knight wedges. In about six shots they killed three Kn(S). Worse, a piece of carelessness on my part allowed an auxilia element, after another had cut a pin, to back a LH into a general and kill him. The command held, but the knights made little headway against the now double-ranked legionaries, just destroying one Art(F). We got a few bow on the other flank, but one of our knight commands broke and the game timed out at 4-6. A tough game against canny opponents.
The third game was against Kevin Everard and John Vaughan with all-mounted Han Chinese. We put down some more steep hills for our psiloi; they added gentle hills. Their right flank consisted of a large force of Cv(O) massed two-deep on a gentle hill and flanked by LH(O) and LH(F); the centre, opposite steep hills full of our psiloi, was largely empty; their right flank had a small Chinese command mainly of LH(F) and a Hsiung-Nu ally with LH(S). Their fourth command, which we knew was more Chinese cavalry and LH, was flank-marching. Our knight wedges were aimed at the gentle hill opposite our left, while the C-in-C and Szekelers prepared to attack the Hsiung-Nu and Chinese horse-archers.
Our knights, with a few LH(S), charged up the hill and drove the Chinese cavalry back over the crest; we also killed many LH on this flank. Before long the Chinese C-in-C’s command was broken. Meanwhile the flank march was announced on our right flank, just as we prepared to attack; some of the Szekelers fled and others were trapped so the Szekeler command quickly broke. However, despite losing both Royal Banderium Kn(S) elements the Hungarians beat the small Chinese command and, with a few losses inflicted on the Hsiung-Nu, that made half the Chinese army for a 9-1 win.
Deciding the draw for the fourth round was a nightmare. With only ten teams it was very difficult to get five pairs who hadn’t already played one another, but after several iterations and with the assistance of several onlookers I managed it, with the top two teams properly paired. We were up against Duncan Thompson with Italian Ostrogoths. He had a large Frankish allied command, Warband(O) with a Warband(S) front rank, facing our right wing and a substantial block of Spears with supporting psiloi facing our left. The centre, an open plain, was occupied by seemingly limitless numbers of Fast Knight lancers. The Ostrogoths wanted to wait until their infantry plodded forward to support the lancers, but the PIP dice ruled that the lancers should also advance and they outran the infantry. We tried an attack with LH(O) against one end of their line but failed, losing one LH. Then our main line charged with devastating effect. Our Kn(S) drove back the Kn(F) without killing them, but our light horse were deadly – 9 lancer elements destroyed for no loss, even to the LH(F) horse-archers. The Ostrogothic lancers did get a couple of breakthroughs against LH(F), but not enough and our knight wedges started to kill overlapped lancers. Before long first one and then the second lancer command broke for a 10-0 win, mainly due to Duncan’s terrible combat dice.
A good weekend as always, and we hope for a better turnout next year (and in the meantime at Iceni in Norfolk and Vexillum in Frome).
Westbury Wars 2012
The first UK 25mm DBM competition of the year was held on a scorching weekend at the Triple Helix Wargaming Centre at Westbury – together with a Warhammer competition, so it was almost a convention. Eleven players were there for the DBM, after a couple of late dropouts, with a good range of armies including some new ones. Gavin Pearson’s Seljuks and John Calvert’s late Samurai looked spectacular, especially the latter with its profusion of beautifully-painted banners. My army was a collection of old Minifigs, Garrison and Lamming figures – Early Burgundians, relying on sub-standard knights dismounting as Superior Blades, all grades of bowmen, some Flemish pikes and plenty of artillery (three organ guns and a bombard).
To start with the Burgundians faced the contemporary Samurai, who heavily outnumbered them. At first all went well as the bombard, archers and crossbowmen shot down Japanese retainers (Ax(X)) and the heavily-armoured men-at-arms defeated some samurai swordsmen (Bd(O)); one Samurai command broke. But then a large force of retainers braved the arrow-storm and closed with the archers, defeating them after a long struggle and breaking a Burgundian command. The Flemish Pk(I) were initially successful against Bd(O) swordsmen but pursued into trouble and died in large numbers. With the Japanese army also close to breaking, the smaller Burgundian army reached its break point for a 1-9 defeat – but a tense, enjoyable game.
Next came a Polybian Roman army with only two commands, one much larger than the other. Perhaps unwisely, the Romans had brought along a lot of unwilling Ax(I) levies who were initially in reserve but marched to reinforce a threatened flank. The Burgundians got off to a good start as some PIP-starved Roman cavalry failed to get out of crossbow range and were shot down, then the serious business followed with dismounted knights chopping up various grades of auxilia. There were a couple of tricky moments when the Duke of Burgundy, leading his mounted bodyguard to ride down Roman foot, was engaged by light horse, but he survived and the smaller Roman command broke quickly, with hardly a legionary engaged. A few more casualties on the other command soon broke the Roman army for a 10-0 win.
Sunday morning brought Carthaginians, mainly spearmen with some Ligurian Ax(S), Numidian light horse and a block of Gallic warband. The terrain was important in this game; the Carthaginians held a row of gentle hills while the Burgundian right flank was anchored on a rough hill manned by Bw(S) longbowmen, Bw(O) crossbowmen and a few Ps(S) handgunners. The Burgundians dragged their artillery into range and bombarded the Carthaginian centre, inducing the hoplites and Libyan spearmen to advance and engage the Flemings and Burgundian men-at-arms. The Carthaginians got the worst of this fight and gaps soon appeared in their ranks. So they decide to send their Gauls and Ligurians to storm the rough hill on my right flank – disastrously, as the bowmen repulsed them with ease and broke the warband command. Then some more spearmen died and the Carthaginian army broke for another 10-0 win to the Burgundians.
My final opponents were Seljuk Turks – some cavalry, lots of LH(S) Turkomans and a fair chunk of infantry, Ax(S), Ax(O) and psiloi. All the terrain landed on the Seljuk side of the table, which was bad news for me. Expecting a flank march, I formed up with archers facing both flanks in the hope that arriving horse-archers would be forced to flee off the table; there was indeed a flank march, by a small LH command on my left, but it never arrived. The Seljuks prepared to attack my smallest command on the right flank with all their infantry supported by cavalry and light horse, so I advanced in the centre and then swung to the right, leaving pairs of pikemen to guard the open flank. This nearly worked – Bd(S) men-at-arms chewed up some auxilia and others went down to archery, but isolated elements were picked on by agile Turkomans and I took losses too. Meanwhile, on the left Turkomans boldly attacked crossbowmen and organ guns, inflicting heavy losses and also losing men; soon both my command and the Seljuk one were two elements from breaking. Then I lost another crossbow element and an organ gun in return for only one LH element, so my command broke. In the centre the men-at-arms continued to kill auxilia and another Seljuk command was one element from breaking, but both my remaining commands were damaged and my army broke on total losses. 0-10 defeat, but closer than the score suggests and a very exciting game.
Venta Silurum 2012
Paul Apreda’s competition in Corntown, near Bridgend, attracted 12 teams and was a great weekend in glorious spring weather. Russ and I fielded Early Byzantines – lots of Superior light horse and some Superior cavalry, backed by Skutatoi (degenerate legionaries as Inferior Blades), a few archers, some auxilia and psiloi. Striking power, we hoped, would be provided by a command with 6 Kn(F) Gothic lancers plus a few LH(S). A small army, with command break points of 6.5, 6.5, 6.5, 4, but very manoeuvrable.
Our first game was against the same Early Armenian army we’d played at Godendag. We invaded, and set up to crush a large Armenian allied command on the right while containing the Hun allied command on the left with a Cv(S) v Cv(S) slog in the centre. It started well when both the enemy allied commands were unreliable; the Huns joined in on the second turn, though, and galloped round a steep hill to threaten our left flank. We blocked them off with a few LH(S) plus psiloi on the hill, and this tied up the left wing for the rest of the game. In the centre our Cv(S) slowly beat theirs, but the fireworks were on the right as we teed up the Armenian ally (still unreliable) for a devastating attack with skutatoi against Ax(O) and Kn(F) against LH(F). It sort of worked… the ally broke, but not before their LH(F) had killed enough Gothic lancers to break our smallest command. We were now able to hit the enemy centre in front and flank, and were one element from breaking the Armenian C-in-C when time was called. 5-5.
Next we faced Late Imperial Romans – another army we’d fought at Godendag. The terrain enabled us to avoid fighting the legionaries and concentrate against auxilia – some of whom, being Superior with psiloi support, proved hard to kill while others, unsupported and Ordinary, fell in large numbers to our cavalry, light horse and skutatoi. One large Roman command broke but we didn’t have time to exploit the advantage fully. Timed out at 6-4.
Our Sunday morning opponents were Seleucids, with plenty of terrain on the table which concentrated the action on the open left flank. Two commands on our right flank were unopposed, and we could do nothing there but make ineffectual manoeuvres with light horse, while in the centre our auxilia descended from a steep hill to beat up some psiloi. On the left our light horse skirmished the phalanx out of the game, and on the far left our lancers confidently attacked Seleucid cataphracts and light horse – with initial success as two cataphracts elements went down. Only three more needed to break that command, then the lancers supported by bows and plentiful light horse could get round behind the pikes and cause havoc. Unfortunately the lancers then self-destructed in a flurry of ones, and that plan was kyboshed. We were in no danger of defeat as the terrain protected us from the phalanx, but we couldn’t hurt the enemy either. 4-6.
The last game was against an interesting Malacca Malay army, a big block of Wb(S), a command with elephants and numerous Bw(I), a light infantry command with a few light horse, and a Ming Chinese ally with many different troop types. Again there was plenty of terrain, mainly steep hills, and the Malay baggage was deployed well to the left. We decided to flank-march the Goths on the right, as the left looked the more obvious side. The Malays left their baggage unprotected except for a light horse screen, and concentrated heavily against our right where we had LH and a steep hill manned by psiloi. The Chinese deployed in column on the far right – smack in front of our eagerly-anticipated flank march. The warband rapidly advanced and started to storm up the steep hill on our right, covered by the Chinese cavalry who left their infantry and artillery behind. Our psiloi put up a stout resistance and this Little Round Top battle lasted all game without decisive results. The outnumbered Malay light horse on the left fought gallantly against overwhelming numbers, killing several of our LH who still managed to loot half the baggage. The elephants made a long trek to get at our centre, delayed by a LH screen. Then the flank march turned up, on the fifth turn, and went for a collection of dream targets for Kn(F) – Bd(I), Art(X) fighting as Ax(I), Cv(I)… For the loss of one Kn(F) the Goths broke the Chinese command. We needed the rest of the baggage and another half-dozen elements, but had no realistic chance of getting them in the time, so the game ended at 6-4.
The Byzantines were fun to use but really a bit too lightweight. They were hard to beat, with all the LH(S), but lacked the troops to turn an advantage into a decisive win so all the games were unfinished. We’ll look for something with a bit more punch for the next competition.
Twelve DBM teams at Richard Bodley Scott’s Godendag event this year – two fewer than last year. An interesting mix of armies, with a trend to massed infantry – huge numbers of pikes and warband in some armies. But the winners were French Ordonnance who relied on manoeuvrability plus hitting power, rather than a steamroller.
There were four teams from SELWG and, coincidentally, Russ King and I played them all. All four games were interesting, exciting and very sporting.
Russ and I decided to try something different and used Palmyrans with a large fortress, The idea was to garrison the fortress strongly with Bd(I), Bw, Ps and artillery, deploy only a few LH (including a 4-element Arab allied command), and flank-march with the two strike commands. These had Kn(X) cataphracts, plenty of light horse and lots of bows.
We put the plan into effect against Middle Imperial Romans in the first game. The invaders placed a road and steep hills, which covered much of their right flank, but we continued with our plan which nearly worked. The Romans held the hills with auxilia, kept their strong force of legionaries stationary in the centre, and prepared to meet our flank march on their left with their mounted command plus artillery. They evidently had no intention of attacking our fortress, or even chasing the light horse. The first flank march arrived on the Roman right. The infantry faced off the Roman auxilia, who stayed on their hills, while the cataphracts and light horse galloped across the front of the immobile legion towards the other flank. Two turns later the other flank march arrived with devastating effect; archers took some loss from artillery but soon closed and destroyed two Art(F) elements. Light horse pinned the Roman mounted troops and cataphracts, some from the opposite flank, beat cavalry – assisted by a shower of arrows. One large Roman command broke, but the Romans scored a late equaliser by killing two Arab LH and breaking our allied command. Ended 5-5, with the Palmyrans on the front foot.
The second game was against Early Imperial Romans. This was similar except that the Romans also had a flank march – Arabo-Aramaean allies with huge numbers of Bw(I). These chased one of our flank-marches on, and the Palmyran force was at a hopeless disadvantage, destroyed to a man in return for fairly light casualties on the Aramaeans. Our other flank march inflicted damage on the Roman cavalry, and there was now a battle-line across the width of the table, facing to our left. At the start of the last bound it appeared that no commands were in danger and the game looked to be timing out at 4-6 – but a disastrous run of low dice resulted in 5 bow elements dying against single-ranked auxilia, breaking a Palmyran command so we crashed to a 0-10 defeat.
More Romans on Sunday morning, this time Late Imperials, and we invaded so the fortress and artillery didn’t appear. Without its walls our C-in-C’s command looked very weak, but in the event its Bd(I) and Bw(O) performed well. The Romans had a block of Wb(O) which faced cataphracts in our left-centre, with the legionaries to the left of the warband and a large mounted force plus auxilia on the Roman right. The auxilia, Ax(O), were aimed at a patch of rough going but we deployed our Bd(I) there and promptly advanced out to fight in the open. The main action was on our left, where the Bd(I) defeated the Ax(O) and our LH supported by archers beat the enemy mounted troops. That Roman command broke, but our C-in-C’s command was left one element from breaking and needed to stay out of trouble. The warband defeated our cataphracts, whose survivors retreated, and advanced against a mass of Bw(I). Our archers shot well and destroyed 5 of the 12 warband elements, whose flanks were threatened by LH when the game ended at 6-4.
Finally we defended against Early Armenians – Cv(S), Kn(F) and Kn(I) plus lots of Ax(O), Bows and LH(F), with a Hun allied command of 10 LH(S). We decided not to flank-march and deployed defensively with our right anchored on the fortress. The Armenians manoeuvred to attack our main line with their knights while swinging round our left flank with cavalry supported by light horse, with a force of Ax(O) aimed at a handy patch of rough going on our baseline where we had 10 Bw(I). The cavalry met a line of cataphracts who handily defeated them, assisted by arrows from our Bw(I). The Armenian general, rashly in the front line, was hit in the flank by Bw(I) and killed. That command broke and the flight of the numerous light horse left the Ax(O), from a different command, unsupported. The hapless infantry were cut down by cataphracts and light horse. In the centre the Armenian main attack went in and our cataphracts and Bw(O) decisively defeated Kn(F) and Kn(I), then destroyed numerous Ax(O) to break another command. Won 10-0.
One of the best weekends’ gaming I can remember.