CLIMB BRITISH CAMP, 28/29 NOVEMBER 2015
The 25mm competition organised by Gavin Pearson in Colwall, Herefordshire attracted ten players, two more than last year. For the third successive year I took a Roman army, Marians led by Lucullus so all the legionaries were Superior Blades. There were two legions each with 8 Bd(S) and supporting Auxilia or Psiloi, plus a cavalry wing with a few Cv(O), LH(O) and Psiloi. The C-in-C’s legion had an Art(O) bolt-shooter. Break points were 6, 5 and 4.5 – a small army, but tough.
First I faced Dave Morrison with Seleucids – lots of pikes, some cataphracts and elephants, Galatian warband and supporting light infantry. I invaded and placed a road and steep hills, which helpfully obstructed the flanks. Dave added a large area of rough going which even more helpfully landed in the middle of my centre sector. I manned this with auxilia and psiloi, with more skirmishers on steep hills on the flanks, and deployed the legions on each side of the rough going. Dave’s pikemen had little chance of getting at the legions, and my cavalry wing was riding round his left flank to take his centre in the rear; he tried to block this with his few light horse but they were caught and killed, breaking a small Seleucid command. Dave sent auxilia and warband to attack a hill occupied by Ps(S) javelinmen, without success and taking serious losses; then more warband were flanked and destroyed by legionaries. A combination of psiloi and legionaries destroyed the cataphracts and the Seleucid army broke. 10-0 win.
The terrain was less helpful against Jeremy Morgan’s invading Armagnacs, who had numerous Kn(O), Bd(S), Bw(S) and Ax(X). All my steep hills landed on Jeremy’s side of the table, and although some on the left were temptingly vacant, inviting occupation by my numerous psiloi, excellent PIPs enabled him to get there first with Ax(X) Brigans. My psiloi attacked these without success. The decisive action was on the right, where my cavalry command was destroyed by a combination of knights and bows, while two lines of Bd(S) slugged it out in the centre. The collapse of my right-flank command enabled the knights to envelop and break the C-in-C’s legion for a 0-10 defeat. I did destroy quite a few knight elements; one Ps(S), in open ground, killed two of them and beat off a third.
At this stage Jeremy was on 20 points, well in the lead, and on Sunday morning he would face Gavin Pearson’s Nubians whose massed Bw(O) should be easy meat for his Bd(S) dismounted knights.
On Sunday morning I invaded Macedonia, defended by Russ King’s Early Macedonian Successors. I placed steep hills again, which channelled the action into the centre where I had a legion and cavalry. The other legion was on the right, faced by knights, elephants and Ax(O) peltasts. The Macedonian mounted troops, Fast Knights and cavalry, shaped to attack the left-flank legion with the pike phalanx coming up behind them, delayed by harassing attacks by my light horse. The elephants did nothing but move to avoid being shot at by my artillery. On the right I sent a column of Ax(S) over a steep hill to attack numerous peltasts, which they did with great success especially after some legionaries were able to join in. my LH destroyed some Kn(F) and the Macedonian C-in-C’s command broke. I attacked the Macedonian mounted troops with legionaries and cavalry, slaying a Kn(F) general; Russ needed to score at least a 5 with any one of three PIP dice, and failed so his army broke. 10-0 win.
On the top table Gavin’s Nubians had surprisingly defeated Jeremy 6-4, so in the last round I played Gavin while Jeremy faced David Sheppard’s Patrician Romans. Jeremy, on 24 points, was still favourite to win the competition.
The Nubians had to defend wide open spaces with enormous numbers of Bw(O) and an Egyptian ally with some Bd(F) axemen. Lots of marsh and bog all landed on the right flank, and there was a transverse river along my baseline. A fourth Nubian command flank-marched; I knew from observing previous games that this consisted mostly of psiloi so I formed up my cavalry facing the open flank while a long line of legionaries charged forward at the bowmen. The legionaries got there without loss, though they were broken up and the bowmen did shoot two Ax(S) elements. My bolt-shooter did better, killing four Bw(O) elements in five shots. The legionaries got stuck in with great gusto, cutting down bowmen in huge numbers (the two big Nubian commands both had break points of 9.5) and also some Egyptian axemen. The Nubian C-in-C’s command broke, and my cavalry and auxilia charged in on the other flank to strike the final blow. 10-0 win.
Jeremy’s off-day continued as he lost 2-8 to David Sheppard, so my 30 points were enough to win the competition. For the second year running, Roman armies finished first and second.
Guest star Jeremy Morgan reports
Like John, I also attended Gavin’s competition in Malvern. It would be rude not to really as my brother actually lives in the small village in which it is held.
I took Armagnac (Free Company list) as below:
CinC Irr Kn(O), 6 Kn(O), 1 Reg Kn(I),6 Bw(S), 1 Mtd Bw(S), 1 Hd(O)
Sub Reg Kn(I), 3 reg Kn(I) (in two wedges), 2 Kn(I), 9 Ax(X), 1 Hd(O)
Sub Irr Kn(O), 1 Mtd Bw (S), 3 Ax(X), 2 Hd(O), 1 Ps(S)
Sub Irr Kn(O), 3 Kn(O), 1 Kn(I), 1 Art(S), 1 Ps(S)
I hadn’t really thought about tactics. Generally I expected to deploy the Ax(X) command first where the terrain was, the small Ax(X) command on the flank and the other two applying wellie to the front.
First game was against John Calvert’s Tupi. Against an army with no mounted troops, irregular foot and most of them Bw(S) I had to do things, restrict terrain and remember to dismount (everyone). I placed narrow steep hills, which in practice did nothing, but John’s terrain all fell on one side, leaving 2/3 of the table mostly nude (very much like his army). John didn’t flank march, which may have been an error as now all I had to do was advance to contact. IIRC one of John’s commands was unreliable, and an ally went impetuous on turn two. Every so often a Bd(F) would pop and with each one the situation became more desperate. In a triumph of mathematical probability the Bd(S) line ground the enemy to dust, 10 -0.
Second game was against John, and he has described it. Defending an open table was never in the gift of his army as configured and I knew at deployment that I could ride down his mounted command, and then roll his line, so my knights against his foot (most of them) deployed dismounted. 10 -0
Coming out I noticed that I had failed to set the flaps over my car windows, and so the car was now hosting a small lake. With much swearing I ran back inside to get a towel and mopped up what I could. Finally driving off when I reasoned I could soak up the remainder with my buttocks. On arrival back at my brother’s I realised I had forgotten to pack the dollies, and when I returned they were gone.
The following day I was reunited with them by Rus, who had seen me drive off without them, thanks Rus.
I now found myself playing Gavin’s Nubians, mostly Bw(O), some Bd(F) in the Egyptian ally but not many. So, an army that I had simply to advance into to beat. The dice were generally not kind, though when you can’t be killed even on a 6-1 it does help… Soon three of Gavin’s commands were all an element or two from breaking, but somehow clung on until last bound. Just Gavin’s bound, he broke off where he could and so was safe, and threw a Ps(O) into an Ax(X) on the off chance – which he then promptly 6-1’d to take the small command. 6-4 to Gavin.
Not sure I would do anything differently were I playing this game again, though may redesign the army as I never got full mileage from the Bw(S).
Last game, and I was still in the lead, against David Sheppard’s Patsy Romans. A large area of rough in the centre with Ax(S) and Wb(O), arab ally and Roman cav on one side, a few LH and some Kn(F) on the other.
I had the bulk of the knights against the LH, Bw(S) and Ax(X) opposite the rough, flanked by the regular knights and the Artillery command. I foresaw this going the same way as the game against John, knights sweep though the flank, and turn the line. It started well, the knights were charged by David’s micro LH(S) command and a few LH from the flank command, two LH were killed and the micro LH command demoralised. Then it went a bit poozle shaped.
The Roman LH(S) sub general who was fighting a Kn(O) slew him, helped by a flanking demoralised LH who had stood at 4 to -1. Then in Dave’s turn he moved the sub general to fight my CinC, a bound later he killed him too and the command missed the save. This exposed the small flank command, whose Ax(X) were then hit by Kn(F). Meanwhile I killed the Arabs, but it counted for nothing other than guaranteeing that no-one could match John’s score of 30, except me, and I couldn’t moments later when the Ax(X) died taking the army. 2-8 loss.
As I say, I don’t think I quite hit the army’s sweet spot, the mounted Bw(S) were never the quasi skirmishers I hoped and the Ax(X) were too small a group to act offensively against Dave. The Bw(S) were more often spectators than participants. I think there is a good army in there, certainly in 25mm – and probably in 15mm too, though it may be more elusive in that scale.
And organiser Gavin Pearson tells his side
Hi Folks, Following on from JGL & Jer – here is my account.
I selected my Nubians as they had not been out to play for years since coming last in a competition, and as I wanted to try them using the DBMM list (where the required minimum of archers is only 60 elements as opposed to the 80 for DBM) with the Early Egyptian ally.
I had two equal commands with Gen Bw(O), 22 Bw(O), 6 Ps(O), 3 Ps(I); a micro command on Gen Bw(O), 12 Ps(O), 2 Ps(I); and Egyptian ally with Gen WWg(I) (Nome commander in litter), 7 reg Bd(F), 4 reg Bw(I), some Hd/Ps. Only problem with DBMM list is the compulsory River…
Game 1: Nubia is invaded by Alexander (Imperial)
Alex fortunately chose to invade down the river which was on my right – there was a decent scatter of rough and marsh in the middle of the table. So I decided to place the two main commands in line; the Egyptians behind in reserve (so the Bd(F) could advance through the archers) and flank march on my right with the small Nubian command.
Alex had two level areas for the phalanx (to left or right of central scatter) – he chose to place them on his right (my left) – with a small Thracian command in the centre and a small LH and Elephant command on his left (my right).
The phalanx advanced on my archers on my left who valiantly shot down a few phalangites before the Egyptian strong-arm boys came through to hold the phalanx – i.e. I was losing but reasonably slowly. Meanwhile my right wing shot down some Thracians and Elephants. My flank march arrived promptly and took up position facing the Macedonian light horse (each side defending the river bank).
My centre and Egyptians held on against the phalanx, while my shooting broke the small Thracian command – so I threw the Ps(O) across the river as getting a couple of LH would break a second Macedonian command and possibly the army – but they died in droves and so my small command broke.
Result 5 -5
2nd game: Nubia invaded by the Burmese.
This was an ironic encounter as I’d lent the Burmese to my opponent – and now I had to face the horde of NINE El(S), 3 with generals on board, plus supporting troops.
My compulsory river was fortunately along my baseline – and there was a scattering of rough and marshy ground across the table.
Again I placed the two main commands in line, with the Egyptians in reserve, while the small command flank marched on my left (as that was the side closest to the Burmese baggage).
The main Burmese attack was lined up against the left (2 commands of Elephants) with less on my right. So I again held back on my left while pushing forward on my right. Unfortunately my Egyptian ally was unreliable (and remained stubbornly unreliable)! The small flank marching command turned up early…and I began to inflict a steady scatter of losses on the Burmese with archery.
Then the Burmese closed with the Nubian archers and soon my CinC had routed and the victorious Burmese began to attack the still unresponsive Egyptian ally. But fortune smiled on Nubia as I managed to break the Burmese left wing and that with losses from the other command and part of the baggage camp broke the Burmese.
So a very lucky 8-2 win (which could easily have been much worse).
Third Game: Nubia was invaded by Jer’s Armagnacs: Jer had a perfect score of 20 at this point!
The Armagnac invaded along the Nile (on my right flank) and the various bogs and marshes were in my left centre and scattered down the left wing. So as expected the Armagnac’s placed a solid line of Bd(S), drawn from their two large commands, facing my right wing archers (we both had a few troops on the far side of the Nile); while my left wing archers faced the two tiny Armagnac commands. And my micro command flank marched on my left.
Thus I pushed forward on my left, with my flank march coming on early, but could not make much impression on the Bd(S) and few Ax(X) facing me – though I got the odd element (surprisingly more from shooting than when I attacked Bd(S) in rough from front and flank; or single ranked Ax(X) in marsh with overlaps). Fortunately the massed longbowmen stayed out of things.
Meanwhile the massed Bd(S) advanced towards my archers on the right; the Egyptian strong-arm boys put up a good fight but were losing. My right started to teeter on the edge of breaking (both my Nubian and Egyptian command were close to routing) but they held on…and I finally got the 3rd element I needed to break one of the Armagnac micro-commands. So I got a very surprising 6-4 win.
Fourth Game: Nubia was invaded by Lucullus with his veteran Marian Romans – massed Bd(S) again!
The Nile was along the Romans baseline; and the only other significant terrain was on my far left flank. So I deployed much as usual (Nubians to the fore and Egyptians in reserve) and sent the small command off on the right.
I faced a long line of veteran legions and on the Roman left the wing of mounted and auxilia – so clearly I needed to attack on my right. But the Roman legions moved quickly to close the distance, while my right wing only advanced slowly – so soon Roman Bd(S) were attacking Bw(O) or Bd(F); and I was taking significant losses – particularly from the Roman bolt shooter. My flank march arrived early but declined to enter with more than a token force as it was facing a solid line of Roman cavalry.
Rapidly I lost first one then the other of my two main Nubian commands and the game was over. Result a 10-0 loss.
Overall I was pleased with how resilient the Nubians had been. They never really scared anyone. But ending up in the middle of the pack means they have redeemed their honour and can retire honourably into storage.
VEXILLUM, 17/18 OCTOBER 2015
Russ and I took Alexios Komnenos’s army to the Frome competition, which was for Book 4 armies only so ours was the earliest army in the field. Our army structure was unusual: the C-in-C as a single-element command, to stand at the back giving orders, the Varangians (8 Superior Blades as mounted infantry) as a self-contained command, and two large equal-sized commands each with Fast Knights (the Normans), light horse and assorted generally poor infantry. One command also had some Cv(O) cavalry. Rather lightweight overall, but very flexible and manoeuvrable with four Regular PIP dice and a ready-made PIP dump. The idea was that the light horse would screen and delay the enemy while the Varangians and knights forced-marched to attack a suitable weak point; we had plenty of Auxilia and some psiloi to hold or contest rough or difficult terrain.
The first game was against League leaders Jeremy Morgan and Richard Perry with Jurchen-Chin, a difficult matchup as we didn’t have a lot to face large numbers of Superior Cavalry. The Jurchen attacked our strongest command on the left while our Varangians tried to get at archers in the centre; much toing and froing saw fairly heavy casualties on both sides but ours were concentrated in one command while the wily Jurchen’s losses were spread among three commands. They made much use of a couple of war wagons, to which we had no answer with our mainly mounted forces. We were losing slowly until the last bound when suddenly our big command collapsed and at the same time the Varangians broke for a 0-10 defeat.
Next up was Duncan Thompson with a Mongol Conquest army. He had only two Mongol commands, each with numerous cavalry and light horse, and an ally with a Cv(S) general and a lot of Fast Light Horse. All the Mongol Cv(O) dismounted as Auxilia, presumably to contest some rough going on our left, but we countered these with our Norman Kn(F) and they didn’t dare advance. We concentrated on the ally facing our right while the Varangians faced off the elite Mongol cavalry in the centre, and after slaying many horse-archers we trapped and killed the ally general. After that it didn’t take long to get to half the Mongol army for a 10-0 win.
On Sunday morning John Mee deployed his Tudor English army – Henry VIII with longbows, billmen, Landsknecht pikemen and light horse, and only one element of knights apart from the generals. Frontally we’d be shot to pieces so we tried to work around the enemy flank on our right while delaying elsewhere. The plan worked, but both sides spent a lot of time redeploying. Eventually we were able to get stuck in, killing some light horse and then the enemy general. His command broke, but we ran out of time before we could exploit the advantage. Timed out at 6-4.
Lastly we faced another sixteenth century army, French Ordonnance commanded by Steve Aspinall. Massed pikemen supported by archers held a range of low hills opposite our left and centre, with a formidable force of Superior Knights and Ordinary Cavalry on the right. Our Auxilia dashed forward to occupy some rough going on the left, largely stopping the pikemen getting into the game, the Varangians moved to threaten some archers in the centre and assist against the French knights, and our main mounted forces with archer support prepared to receive the charge of the French chivalry. When the knights charged one of our Cv(O) and one Kn(F) were bowled over, but then the luck changed and we made a couple of holes which our cavalry and light horse could exploit. The Varangians held off some knights and killed a couple of Bow elements, and on the far right we were able to roll up the enemy line. The enemy C-in-C’s command broke, the general himself being killed in the rout. We couldn’t do much against the enemy infantry, but our light horse raced for the baggage and Steve conceded. 10-0 win, and third place.
Derek and Stuart Bruce won the competition, and runners-up Jeremy Morgan and Richard Perry won the Doubles League for 2015. I crowned an excellent weekend by buying a nearly-complete Khmer army in the bring-and-buy.
ICENI, 19/20 SEPTEMBER 2015
For the fourth round of the 2015 doubles Russ and I fielded Later Swiss: two large pike blocks, one accompanied by some Bd(X) halberdiers and a couple of cavalry and the other supported by Ps(S) handgunners, and a smaller command of halberdiers and handgunners. The plan was generally to place as many steep hills as possible and attack down the valleys with the pikes. The Swiss army is powerful frontally but very narrow, needing difficult terrain to restrict the battlefield.
Our first opponents were Bob Billing and Mark Allison with French Ordonnance. They had a command with all the knights, light horse and cavalry, a very large command with all the French infantry and artillery, and a powerful Swiss pike command which looked just like one of ours. We invaded and the terrain helpfully constricted the battlefield so that both our pike commands could get at the French infantry while the halberdiers fended off the French mounted troops. Our pikemen slogged through a hail of crossbow bolts, arrows and cannon balls and set about breaking the French infantry, which they eventually did after a hard struggle. The French cavalry and light horse engaged and broke up our halberdiers, putting our smallest command in danger, but a light horse element was trapped and that made half the French army. 10-0 win.
Drew Jarman’s Khurasanians looked to be a difficult opponent, with lots of Cv(S) and light horse which we couldn’t kill and large numbers of Daylami Ax(S) who could expect to storm our hills. The terrain didn’t allow attacking opportunities, leaving an open flank on our right which we held with a pike command, spread thinly to cover all the space. We expected to attack on the left where the terrain should allow our halberdiers and psiloi to get at the enemy – until Drew deployed his Daylami ally there, firmly closing that opportunity. The Daylami (two commands’ worth) shaped to attack but then halted, while cavalry and light horse demonstrated against our thin line of pikes. With neither side able to attack with any real prospect of success, Drew offered a draw and we accepted. 5-5.
On Sunday morning we faced Jeremy Morgan and John Calvert with Later Muslim Indians. The terrain formed a chain of steep hills right down the middle of the table, with other hills dotted about to form two broad valleys. We aimed our two pike commands at the Indian baggage in the right-hand valley and contested the central hills with handgunners and halberdiers. The Indians defended that valley with cavalry, their three Superior Elephants, psiloi and auxilia on the central hills and archers on a rough hill on the far right. A command of light horse, cavalry and assorted infantry occupied the left-hand valley, which wedidn’t contest. Our pikemen charged through the valley and soon engaged cavalry and elephants; the elephants drove some back but before long we’d killed two of the three; the cavalry were driven back and would soon run out of room. We attacked the rough hill with halberdiers and psiloi; the defending Bw(I) put up a tough fight, losing some elements but shooting several of our attackers. This messy fighting took up a lot of time and the game timed out with no commands broken, for another 5-5 draw.
Our final opponent was Gareth Evans with Medieval Portuguese. Again there were two broad valleys and unfortunately we concentrated in the wrong one; our pikemen were all to the left with nothing to attack, while our halberdiers guarding the right were threatened by numerous Superior Knights supported by auxilia and psiloi. The halberdiers rushed for the shelter of the hills, four elements isolated on the far right and the rest in the centre where they had plenty of handgunners to help. The pikemen advanced and swung towards the centre, but far too slowly to have any chance of decisive action; while Portuguese light horse galloped through the now undefended right-hand valley and looted our baggage. The four isolated halberdier elements were overwhelmed by numerous enemy infantry, an over-bold LH element was despatched by the Swiss cavalry (the cavalry’s only action of the weekend), and Portuguese knights dismounted to assault the central steep hill. It was a long shot, but with the last combat of the game they luckily destroyed a Bd(X) element which made a quarter of our smallest command to end the game at 4-6. An excellent game, played in a great spirit; I wasn’t surprised that Gareth won the “Sportsman” award for the weekend.
ATTACK, 18/19 JULY 2015
For the Devizes doubles Russ King and I took Numidians, an army I’d last used in competition in 2003. Three Numidian commands each with light horse and Ps(S) javelinmen; two had some Bd(I) “imitation legionaries” and the third had a pair of elephants. A formidable Roman allied command completed the line-up. The army ought to be difficult to beat, depending on the terrain, but had very little killing power and would rely on position to put any enemy at a disadvantage.
We started against Seleucids commanded by David Sheppard and John Calvert. Massed pikemen, cataphracts, Galatian warbands and plenty of light troops would be hard for us to beat, but we placed some woods and steep hills, one of the latter crucially landing in our centre. One Numidian command flank-marched and failed to arrive. Many PIPs on both sides were spent in manoeuvring our elephants to face enemy cataphracts and in shuffling the cataphracts to get out of the way. After much skirmishing the Galatians tried to get at the Roman legionaries, but some of them became impetuous and charged up the central steep hill where they were despatched by our javelinmen. This seemed to dishearten the enemy, and the game timed out with more ineffectual skirmishing and no further casualties. 5-5 draw.
Paul Apreda’s Italian Condotta (Neapolitans with Albanian allies) also looked formidable with a great deal of missile power as well as the knights and numerous light horse. We had plenty of terrain to hide in and behind, and flank-marched on our right. The Italians deployed only two commands, one with knights, crossbowmen and other infantry stretching across their right and centre, and the Albanians whose light infantry held fortifications facing their left flank with light horse skirmishing in front. The third command was flank-marching on our left. The Italian knights shaped to charge the Roman legionaries but didn’t do so, eventually splitting up and riding away to avoid the single Roman bolt-shooter. The Albanian psiloi came out of their fortifications to infiltrate woods and hills on our right; then our flank march arrived and they scampered back, some being caught in the open and killed. The Albanian light horse retreated, waiting for support from the Italian knights. Then the Italian flank-march arrived on the other side, but we had plenty of light horse there to delay them and there wasn’t time for much action. Another 5-5 draw with only light casualties (we lost nothing at all).
Yuan Chinese led by Dave Madigan and Chris Smith looked to be our toughest opponent yet – Superior Cavalry supported by Superior Light Horse and plenty of infantry with lots of crossbowmen ought to be more than a match for our troops. We hid in the hills, with the Romans solidly holding the open flank on our left, and sent two commands on flank marches. The Chinese moved two commands to face their right flank, hoping to trap our flank-marchers there; we naturally hoped that the other command would arrive first, giving us the chance to take the main Chinese forces in the rear. Unfortunately our left-flank command arrived and was duly squelched by the Chinese cavalry and crossbowmen, inflicting only light casualties. The Chinese then redeployed towards the other flank, where our flank-marchers arrived too late for it to matter. The game ended 4-6.
Not much blood in any of the first three games, then. This was about to be changed in the last game, against Duncan Thompson’s Huns: two commands of LH(S), one with a few Cv(O) as well, a third Hun general commanding a large force of German warbands, and an Ostrogothic ally with Kn(F) lancers and Bw(I) archers. We placed steep hills and woods, all of which landed on the right-hand side of the table, deployed the Romans on the open left wing and flank-marched on our left. Javelinmen were placed in ambush on the hills. The Ostrogothic archers occupied a large hill in the centre, their knights to their right, then the warband facing the Romans and a Hun command in the open area where our flank march would arrive. The other Hun command was surprisingly deployed in and beside the steep hills on our right.
A column of Hunnic LH(S) tried to get around our right flank but others from that command were ambushed by psiloi and destroyed on the hills. A mass of javelinmen rushed at the Ostrogothic Bw(I), whose shooting was initially ineffective, and destroyed four elements; after that, though, the archers shot down several Ps(S) elements and the fighting up there petered out for lack of PIPs. The Ostrogothic lancers charged and rode down some of our light horse, but the elephants intervened and trampled a couple of Kn(F) and some detached warband. The main force of warband reached the Roman line and were engaged by Ax(S) auxilia who were pushed back slowly, while legionaries fell on their flank and destroyed some warband elements.
Our flank-march arrived and inflicted losses on the Huns but our LH(O) were outfought by the LH(S) and our general died. His command held, but was badly split up and likely to be defeated in detail. Only lack of Hun PIPs (that command also trying to help the warband against the Romans) saved them. Going into the last turn, two of our commands, the Ostrogoths and the warband were all close to breaking so the game could have ended 9-1 either way or as a “mutual destruction” 5-5 draw. An elephant trampled the Ostrogothic general, breaking that command, and the Romans destroyed four more warband to break that one too. Our light horse survived their combats so we won 9-1 in an extremely close and exciting game.
The Numidians could generally frustrate the enemy but were hard to win with, for lack of striking power. Historical, but not the most entertaining army.
WESTBURY WARS, 23/24 MAY 2015
For the 25mm competition held in my house, I decided on an unusual army: Syrian, 1260 AD. This comprised the C-in-C’s command with Turkoman LH(S), a few cavalry, some Ax(O) javelinmen, a couple of Bw(O) archers and some psiloi including a Ps(X) Naffatun (naptha-pot throwers); an ally with more Turkomans, cavalry and psiloi plus a few Sp(I) spearmen; a much smaller allied command of Turkomans and cavalry. All three Syrian commands had some Hd(O) cowering at the back. The fourth command was Later Crusader – knights, spearmen and crossbowmen led by the Grand Master of the Temple. Three allied commands with no solid infantry made it a very risky army, but it should be fun – and at least none of the allies could change sides.
Game one was against David Sheppard’s Wars of the Roses Lancastrians, whom I’d faced before. I defended and chose several orchards, all but one of which landed in the far left corner leaving all my vulnerable light infantry in the open. I decided to set up the Syrians well back behind a light horse screen, and flank-march the Crusaders on my right. David’s ally, in the centre, was unreliable and his army didn’t advance; all my allies were reliable and the flank march was declared on the first bound. The Templars arrived and swept all before them; their crossbowmen shot down numerous Ps(I) Irish kerns, and their knights slew some Bw(O) Welsh archers. The Lancastrian command on that flank broke. However, the ally came on line and the other two Lancastrian commands put heavy pressure on my C-in-C’s command with the Royal Household Kn(S) leading the way. Eventually my C-in-C’s command broke. As time approached I needed two more elements to break the Lancastrian army, but various attempts against Bw(S) failed and the game ended at 4-6. A very tense, exciting game.
This brought me up against William the Conqueror in the shape of Duncan Thompson with 1066 Normans. My orchards were more useful this time, guarding my right flank, and I decided not to flank march. The Crusaders were on the right facing numerous Kn(F), while my Turkomans skirmished in the centre and the Syrian cavalry attacked on the left. One ally was unreliable, but eventually an impetuous Norman knight charged and brought him into the battle. The Crusaders were the stars, crushing the knights facing them – the Kn(S) Grand Master destroyed two Kn(F) elements and pursued on into trouble. He was flanked and attacked by a Norman general; the factors were even at 4-4, the dice were 5-1 to me and the Kn(F) general died. His command broke and accumulated losses elsewhere broke the Norman army. 10-0 to the Syrians.
In the third game I faced Russell King’s Graeco-Bactrians: a pike phalanx, cataphracts, elephants, various light horse and light infantry. I deployed the small allied command on my right with the Crusaders behind, skirmished with the Turkomans and attacked with the Crusaders. The enemy elephants, fortunately, were on the other flank. In this game my PIPs were generally good and Russ’s were very bad; his best PIP dice went to counter the Crusaders’ attack so his own attack on the other flank took a long time to get going. The Crusaders crashed in and killed some Cv(O) and Bw(O), but the Grand Master’s pursuit meant that he could be outflanked by a Bow element. That didn’t worry me too much, as even if he died that would be the only element lost and the knights would continue on auto-pilot. He did die, and unfortunately the next PIP roll for that command was a one so his command immediately broke. However, the Bactrian command on that flank was severely damaged and a demoralised Kn(O) helped my cavalry to finish it off. A Cv(S) and a couple of LH(S) headed for the Bactrian baggage.
The cataphracts and elephants hit my line of cavalry, light horse and spearmen on my left, causing casualties – but the Ps(X) Naffatun, after a long redeployment from the centre, attacked and killed an elephant – hurrah! The Naffatun were then ridden down by a Kn(F) general, but avenged by Turkoman LH(S) who luckily slew the general. My cavalry and Sp(I) held up well, and a couple of baggage elements brought the Bactrian losses to half their army. 9-1 to the Syrians.
I was now in second place on 23 points and faced Paul Apreda who led the field with 25 points. He had Later Carthaginians with two large commands and one very small one of Numidians. His army included a large 24-element block of Gallic warband and numerous Bd(F) Spanish infantry, with the usual spearmen, cavalry, light infantry and a couple of elephants. I defended and again placed orchards, one of which occupied most of my centre. I filled it with auxilia and psiloi; the smallest allied command flank-marched on the left and the Crusaders did so on the right. Both flank marches were declared on the first bound! The Crusaders were faced by some Cv(O), psiloi and a few spearmen; they caught and killed a cavalry element and their crossbowmen shot some Ps(O) slingers, but after that they couldn’t catch much. The small Syrian command faced the Numidian command of LH(O) and two elephants which were in the same command as the massed warband. Syrian cavalry flanked and killed an elephant, but were then destroyed by the other elephant. However, Numidian light horse went down, and when their LH(O) general was killed the Numidian command broke. It was rapidly followed by the equally small Syrian command, but a demoralised LH(S) reached the Carthaginian baggage and managed to loot some of it.
On the other flank the Libyan spearmen steadily drove back my light horse and cavalry, and in the centre the Spanish swordsmen charged into the orchard for a bloody struggle against my Ax(O) with heavy losses on both sides. The warband advanced and were broken up by flank attacks from Turkoman LH; one Turkoman element was driven back into an orchard and destroyed, but four Gallic elements were also picked off. The game timed out at a 5-5 draw, giving Paul the competition win.
Using the Syrian army was quite nerve-racking, and I was lucky in having only one unreliable ally in the four games, but it was fun and I might use it again.
VENTA SILURUM, 18/19 April 2015
Into wild Wales for Paul Apreda’s doubles competition at Ewenny, near Bridgend. This was loosely themed, all armies being dated between 1000 and 1 BC. Russ and I took Han Chinese, with three Regular commands and nearly all Ordinary troops. One command was entirely infantry, archers, halberdiers (Blades) and artillery; the C-in-C’s command had cavalry, light horse and more artillery as well as infantry, and the third command was similar but with psiloi instead of the artillery. There were also a few Hordes to make up the numbers. Each command had 28 elements, with break points of 9.5, 9 and 8.5.
The first game was against Skythians (Massagetae) commanded by Ken Cooper and Andy Down. We defended and placed a village on our left flank, and placed a steep hill in front of the village and effectively obstructing that flank. The rest of the terrain landed on the enemy’s side of the table. We deployed defensively, with psiloi in the village and halberdiers on the steep hill, a solid infantry centre with the mounted troops in reserve behind, and the right wing angled back to our baseline. The Skythians evidently had a flank march which we expected on the open right, but it rapidly turned up on the left instead – 22 horse-archer elements.
Relieved of worry about the right flank, we attacked there with cavalry and light horse supported by archers, while artillery engaged enemy bowmen and caused some losses. Surprisingly, the flank-marching light horse attacked the steep hill and village, killed a couple of our psiloi but lost six elements and fell back. Elsewhere we tried to press an attack but couldn’t penetrate the clouds of skirmishers supported by a few Superior Cavalry. The game eventually timed out at 6-4 to us, the flank-marching command having lost a quarter of its strength.
Our second opponent was Nick Coles with a Spartan army. The important terrain here was a waterway on the left and a large gentle hill on our right flank, which we garrisoned with a large force of halberdiers and archers. Between there and the waterway we had a line of halberdiers for about half the distance, then cavalry and light horse which could only hope to delay the enemy. A strong wind blew up the table from our left, causing a danger of shipwreck to the Spartans’ two galleys, but soon backed to blow from behind us which was a relief.
The Spartans attacked our hill with a line of Sp(O), their flank covered by some Bw(I) archers. Down in the plain our C-in-C’s command was attacked by Sp(S) Spartiates plus six Wb(S) Gauls, and more Sp(O) tried to get to grips with our cavalry and light horse. On the hill our halberdiers used the slope to full advantage, slaying many hoplites, while our crossbowmen with the wind behind them killed all the Greek archers. The Spartan command on this flank broke. In the centre, however, the Gauls initially swept all before them before eventually dying, and the Spartiates finished off our C-in-C’s command. Our left-wing forces were back-pedalling when time ran out with the score at 3-7.
Next we invaded Duncan Thompson’s Classical India. The Indians had two groups of Superior Elephants, a few Superior Cavalry chariots, some Inferior Cavalry, and a large force of Ordinary Bow archers and Inferior Blades javelinmen. Duncan placed several areas of rough going, which protected much of his front line. As we deployed second we were able to place artillery opposite one group of elephants on our right centre; seeing this, Duncan placed the other elephants well back facing our left flank. Fortunately for us Duncan’s PIP dice were consistently bad, and we were able to drag our artillery forward and kill several elephants; as the others in that group hastily got out of the way there was now a large gap in the Indian centre. Our archers advanced and outshot the Indian archers to the left of this gap, as well as some cavalry, and one Indian command broke.
On our right we were faced with massed Indian infantry in rough going and we had few archers there, so not much happened on that flank. On our left Duncan’s attack finally got going with elephants, chariots and infantry; our artillery here was ineffective and the elephants eventually caught and destroyed several light horse elements. Our C-in-C’s command was soon close to breaking. However, Indian casualties also mounted and reached half their army, so we won 10-0.
Finally we invaded again against Derek and Stuart Bruce with Later Sargonid Assyrians – Superior Knight chariots, lots of Superior Cavalry, some light horse, assorted spearmen and numerous auxilia and cavalry. With our very ordinary troops and limited terrain capability we didn’t fancy the matchup, and the terrain didn’t favour us; small gentle hill in our right centre and a larger one on our left were good, but in front of the small hill was a mass of woods which we couldn’t really contest. We manned both hills in strength, placed an ambush of psiloi in the woods and kept all the mounted troops in reserve.
The Assyrians sent two strong commands around our refused right flank and lots of Auxilia (mostly Ordinary) into the woods, while screening our left and centre with light horse. Their PIPs were reasonably good but ours were very poor (6 total in each of the first two turns, and only 3 in a subsequent turn), so it was hard to react to the threatening moves. The auxilia sprang our ambush and we caught them at a disadvantage but lost decisively and the surviving psiloi fled. The crucial action came when chariots and Cv(S) stormed up the small hill against halberdiers, crossbowmen and light horse (our shooting having been ineffective). The attackers won every combat, including a chariot destroying two bow elements when 2-5 down, and our right-flank command rapidly collapsed. We did bag a couple of the heavy chariots, one with a long-range artillery shot, but in general our combat dice were very bad.
The pattern continued when our attack on the left finally got going. Despite some success against cavalry, our infantry died in large numbers and we were reduced to avoiding combat wherever possible. The game timed out at 4-6.
Despite this hard-luck story, all the games were exciting and we always enjoy playing against Derek and Stuart. An excellent weekend.
12 players constituted 8 “teams” in the DBM section of Richard Bodley Scott’s regular competition at Usk; this was the twentieth Godendag and the eighteenth which I’ve attended. Russ and I used New Kingdom Egyptians, an army which we’d last used in 2002. This version was based on the DBMM army list, and had the advantage of four Regular generals balanced by the apparent disadvantage that each command had to include chariots, archers and swordsmen to make four all-arms corps. Actually it proved quite useful to have a few of each troop-type in each command.
Our first opponent was David Sheppard with a formidable Seleucid army. We defended and placed our compulsory waterway (the mighty Nile), with a small village and some palm groves to shelter our numerous psiloi. The Seleucids had a small force of Companion cavalry (Fast Knights) with auxilia, elephants and light horse on their right, by the Nile, a pike phalanx in the centre, more auxilia on their left facing palm groves, and a strong force of Galatian mercenaries (12 Superior Warband) in front of the pikes. We manoeuvred to face the Galatians with chariots, as they’d probably beat any of our infantry, while the Companions attacked our left wing. The Companions destroyed a chariot and pursued, only to be taken in the flank by archers: two elements were killed, including a general. The command held, but was now difficult to manoeuvre. Another flank attack backed a light horse element into an elephant, breaking that command. Then the Galatians attacked a line of chariots and the combat dice favoured us. Four Wb(S) were destroyed. The command wasn’t demoralised but the player was, and David conceded the game. 10-0 to the Egyptians.
Next we invaded Italy, which was defended by Duncan Thompson’s Italian Ostrogoths. We scattered some areas of rough going, one of which on our right flank proved to be important. The Goths’ centre comprised a very large mass of allied Burgundian warbands (32 elements) plus some Gothic spearmen; on their right was a force of archers with a column of cavalry (Fast Knights) behind them, and on their left were more knights backed by archers. The latter force of knights attacked our right-flank command, without success – our archers shot well to break up the charging cavalry and then destroyed them in melee. Some knights rode into rough going where our light infantry (auxilia and psiloi) set on them. Our swordsmen dashed at the Gothic archers and killed some, breaking the Ostrogothic C-in-C’s command. We now set about taking the Burgundian masses in the flank, but unfortunately the combat luck changed dramatically and we took heavy losses while killing only a few Burgundians. The game timed out at 7-3.
On Sunday morning we faced Jeremy Morgan and Richard Perry with a Central Asian City-States army – huge numbers of Superior Cavalry and light horse, bulked out by Inferior Bows and some Hordes. Unfortunately we invaded into open terrain; we placed some palm groves which helped to anchor our left flank, and deployed defensively on the left-hand side of the table. The enemy cavalry, with excellent PIPs, rode to attack our refused right flank while more cavalry contained our left. Our early shooting was ineffective and when the cavalry charged they swept all before them, destroying numerous archers and swordsmen. Soon our small right-flank command was broken. Our attack on the left started to make headway with archers shooting down some cavalry and our chariots fighting manfully, but our outflanked C-in-C’s command in the centre was squeezed from two directions and broken. 0-10 defeat.
Finally we invaded medieval Hungary against Dave Madigan and Chris Smith. Their army looked extremely formidable, with strong forces of knights and assorted light horse plus some heavy infantry and six war wagons and a Serbian allied command. The terrain was pretty open, which didn’t suit us at all. We concentrated on our right flank, intending to send two commands to attack whatever was opposite before the Hungarians could use their superior mobility. It turned out to be the Serbs there, well back, the Hungarians being concentrated on the other flank.
The Serbs were unreliable (for the third time in the weekend, our exasperated opponents informed us). Taking a chance, we wheeled our right-flank command across the Serbs’ front to attack the Hungarian centre, while the enemy rushed reserved across from the left. A complicated battle ensued; we managed to destroy a couple of war wagons but lost some of our swordsmen and archers against knights. Hungarian heavy infantry, including Bd(S) dismounted knights, attacked our centre but didn’t get much luck. Eventually some of our swordsmen caught and destroyed Bw(I) to break the Hungarian central command – unfortunately, the Serbs had just become reliable. Serbian knights thundered forward to ride down our Bd(F) swordsmen; they caught a couple, but were then hit in the flank and lost two elements including their general. The command held, but another knight was trapped leaving the Serbian command one element from breaking. Then Hungarian knights in the centre finished off our C-in-C’s command, just before time was called. 4-6, and easily the best game of the weekend. Given unlimited time, we’d probably have broken the Serbs but lost our army to make it 2-8.
Jeremy and Richard won the competition by a large margin and we finished joint third. Special congratulations to Duncan Thompson, whose unfancied army gave him the runner-up spot.