The final round of the Doubles League took place in Frome on 13/14 October. The theme was Early Medieval, so all the armies were from the same era. Russ King and I again used Charlemagne’s army with Saxon allies – one of three Frankish armies.
Our first opponents were our Middle Frankish ancestors, commanded by Duncan Thompson. Duncan dismounted all his knights as Wb(S) front ranks for two large blocks of warband, with a big Spear command on the left centre and a cavalry command on the right. We deployed second, with the Saxons opposite the spears and our knights facing everything else. Excellent PIPs allowed Duncan to wheel a mass of warband to intercept the Saxons, bringing on a massive warband fight which started with one of our Kn(F) riding down a pair of Sp(I). This opened up a flank and we trapped an enemy general, who died after surviving several combats. His command soon broke, and then we killed the enemy C-in-C. Four elements gone from that command, but its next PIP roll was 6 so the command survived. The game timed out at 6-4 to us.
Then Khurasanians led by David Sheppard and John Calvert. Lots of Superior Cavalry and light horse, a pair of elephants and a Dailami allied command with supported Superior Auxilia. There was a large area of rough going in our left centre; we reckoned that the Dailami would be deployed there and put the Saxons to face them. The Saxons rushed through into the open and fell on the Dailami, who were unreliable – after several indecisive turns they killed the Dailami general and broke the command. On the left and in the centre it was our Kn(F) against Khurasanian Cv(S) and light horse. With some lucky combat dice we slew numerous cavalry and the command on our left broke. Three more elements needed for half the army, and our knights soon got them for a rousing 10-0 win.
At this point John Vaughan and Kevin Everard were in the lead after two 10-0 wins with their Nikephorian Byzantines. We played them on Sunday morning. The important terrain was a large area of rough going in their centre, which they held with a few psiloi. On both sides of this they had Bw(X/O) double elements – deadly to our knights – interspersed with cavalry. Unfortunately we defended and had to deploy first, so the Saxons faced only cavalry and made slow progress. Practically nothing happened on the right, where the Bw(X) deterred our knights and the Byzantines were content to sit back, and on the left our weakest command was faced by superior numbers of troops it couldn’t beat. We dismounted some of our knights as Sp(O) on this flank – but they were still shot dead despite a strong wind! The Saxons eventually killed some Cv(S) but other cavalry trapped some of our Sp(I) and our small command broke. The high spot for us was the performance of that command’s Kn(F) general, who was soon surrounded by eager enemies; he cut his way out by slaying two light horse elements and escaped. The game timed out at 4-6.
We relished the final match up against Pete Connew and John Mee with West Franks – Charles the Great against his great-great-grandson Charles the Simple. They had two substantial command of Irr Kn(F), one of them with three Inferior Light Horse, an infantry command of spearmen and archers, and a Viking ally with mounted Blades. The Vikings were opposite our right flank, then knights, infantry in the centre and more knights facing the Saxons and our Aquitainian command (with the six LH(O)) on our left. Each army was shaped to envelop the opposing right, but our Regular generals meant that we were more likely to succeed.
On our left the West Frankish knights advanced, then were compelled by low PIPs to charge without being able to hold back their second line. The Saxons fought back manfully and soon the knights were dying two at a time; the attacking command broke, pursued by the Aquitainians. On the other flank the Vikings made slow progress but the three LH(I) got right around our flank where they were faced only by four Ps(O). We managed to kill all three for the loss of two psiloi. This weakened the enemy knight command on this flank, which charged into our knights with heavy casualties on both sides. Once again the West Franks’ lack of discipline proved decisive, as their second line rushed up and the knights started dying two at a time. This command also broke, giving us a 10-0 win.
We finished in second place with 30 points, one behind John and Kevin with their Byzantines.
The doubles competition on the Norfolk Broads was well attended, with 21 players in 12 teams. Russ and I took Charlemagne’s Carolingian army, relying on Regular Fast Knights supported by Inferior Spears, Inferior Bows, a few light troops and a large Saxon allied warband command. Rather fragile troops, but a decent size with strike potential. We invaded in all four games.
Our first game was against Richard Gill and Paul Farbon with Late Imperial Romans. The match up suited our army, and the game was decided by our knights riding down a light horse command and the Saxons crashing through supported legionaries. A swift 10-0 win.
Then a formidable challenge in the shape of John Brooker’s French Ordonnance army. Superior Knights, plenty of bows, bombards and a powerful Swiss command would be difficult to beat. The decisive action came in the centre, where French knights tried to ride down the Saxon warband but came to grief; the Saxons killed two Kn(S) generals in one turn, breaking one command. The Swiss then attacked the warband and broke the Saxons. On the right flank our Gascon Ps(S) assaulted a steep hill held by assorted French psiloi and failed dismally. The French and Swiss psiloi followed the survivors down to the plain and were then ridden down by light horse, while Charlemagne’s paladins outmanoeuvred and beat a small force of Ordonnance gendarmes. A second French command broke for a 9-1 win.
Jeremy Morgan and John Calvert faced us with Later Achaemenid Persians, including numerous cavalry, a large force of Greek hoplites, an elephant and – significantly – four scythed chariots. After much manoeuvring the chariots attacked the Saxons and destroyed that command, then went on to kill half our Gascon light horse. The chariots were eventually destroyed, but only after doing inordinate damage. However, Persian Ax(O) who attacked Bw(I) in rough going were damaged by shooting and beaten in close combat – this broke the Persian C-in-C’s command. Elsewhere another group of Bw(I) shot unsuccessfully at Persian cavalry who then charged; the bowmen, with overlaps, slew five cavalry elements including a general. Failure to score a 6 among the next Persian PIP dice would end the game in a 9-1 win for us, but John duly got two sixes so the Persians survived. As the time limit approached there was much indecisive action between Greek hoplites and our spearmen; some casualties on both sides including most of our victorious Bw(I). The last combat of all featured a pair of hoplites against two Sp(I), at 5-5; the inevitable 6-1 against us broke a Frankish command and the game ended at 2-8.
We were still joint leaders going into the last round, against John Vaughan and Ken Warren with Later Carthaginians. Besides the usual spearmen, auxilia and Numidian skirmishers, they had lots of cavalry and six elephants, two in each of three commands, plus a Numidian ally. We were severely out-pipped, our left flank being virtually stationary for most of the game. The main action came on the right, where our knights rode down several light horse but lost a couple of knights including a general, and in the centre where the Carthaginians were able to get a couple of elephants plus Libyan spearmen into our Saxon warband. On the right our archers shot an elephant and brought the Carthaginian command to one element from breaking, but then another knight went down to light horse and our command broke instead. The Saxons had no success at all against the spearmen and were trampled by the elephants, breaking and taking our army with them. Two Carthaginian commands were close to going, but we lost 0-10.
Disappointing results on Sunday, but overall our army did well against some strong opponents. The weekend was a great success for the enthusiastic Cowards club.
Climb British Camp, 2018
Eight players at the second 25mm competition of the year (one more player than last year), with a good range of armies and some excellent games. I took a Pyrrhic army – two commands each with 12 pikes plus psiloi, and another with the mounted troops, more light infantry and a pair of elephants. The idea was to invade, place steep hills which my psiloi could dominate, and attack through the valleys, and this happened in all four games. There was no significant weather in any game.
My first opponent was Gavin Pearson with Mithridatics. The steep hills all landed on my side of the table, so I promptly occupied them with psiloi and placed pikemen in the valleys. On the more open right flank one of my small phalanxes faced nothing and the mounted wing faced only light horse. A large pike phalanx, mainly Pk(I) with some Pk(O) Brazen Shields, opposed Pyrrhus’s smaller Pk(O) phalanx, in the centre, and four scythed chariots formed up opposite my mounted troops on the left. The scythed chariots tried to manoeuvre to get at my pikemen, but were intercepted and forced to fight the elephants and Ps(S). All four were destroyed without loss to my lads.
On the right my LH(O) chased down Gavin’s LH(F) and destroyed them, eventually breaking a small command. On the left, although my PIPs throughout the game were much lower than Gavin’s, I managed to shift the elephants to support Pyrrhus’s pikemen and send my Kn(F) lancers against light horse. The decisive action came in the centre, where my Pk(O) and elephants defeated the Pk(I), breaking the largest enemy command for a 10-0 win.
Then against my own Patrician Roman figures, commanded by David Sheppard. Again my pikemen had valleys to defend, and David sent six Wb(S) against each small phalanx. On the left my Kn(F) general rode down two warband, but the others crashed through the six-deep Pk(I), even when overlapped, and rapidly broke my command. However, Pyrrhus’s Pk(O) and an elephant in the centre slaughtered the other warband and broke the Roman C-in-C’s command. They then killed a Bd(O) legionary, but a Hun LH(S) destroyed one of my elephants. My only other success was killing a Kn(F) which came too close to rough terrain and was mugged by psiloi. Roman auxilia and a couple of demoralised warband sacked my camp and my army broke for a 2-8 defeat.
Next I played my pal Russ King with a Medieval German army – knights, crossbowmen, spearmen and Bd(X) goedendag-wielders. Both of us had rotten PIPs in this game, and my combat dice were generally better than Russ’s. The steep hills, and the narrowness of both armies, ensured that the action would be on one flank; on the left both my pike commands faced a line of Kn(O) with some supporting bowmen, and on the right my mainly mounted command faced nothing at all. This command’s only useful contribution was to control the central hills with its numerous psiloi.
On the extreme left Pyrrhus and his Macedonian pikemen attacked a line of knights who had hastily dismounted as Superior Blades. One of these went down immediately, and the enemy general charged Pyrrhus himself. The two generals pushed each other back and forth and eventually Pyrrhus, with help from light horse from the centre command, killed his opponent and the German command broke. In the centre-left the Tarentine Pk(I) had less luck against dismounted knights; they were driven back, then outflanked and broken. It was now a race between the victorious German Bd(S) who were trying to outflank my Macedonian pikemen and Pyrrhus who was heading for the German baggage. Pyrrhus won, looting three baggage elements to break the enemy army. Won 9-1.
This brought me up against the formidable Jeremy Morgan with Xerxes’s Persian army. All the sparabara archers were on the right, with a small command of Immortals and cavalry in the centre, one of Indians on the extreme right and a large hoplite Greek ally on the left. My mounted command faced the Greeks, with its light infantry anchoring the flank on a steep hill, and all the pikes attacked the sparabara – who were in front of the Persian baggage with the small intervening space cluttered with Indian chariots, an Inferior War Wagon and assorted light infantry. The Persian shooting was ineffective, killing a few psiloi but no pikemen, and the pikes drove back and eventually destroyed the sparabara command and then the Immortals command. Some mounted troops were forced to flee with no room to do so and were thus destroyed. Meanwhile the Greeks chased off cavalry and light horse and killed an elephant, but couldn’t do any serious damage. The game timed out with two Persian commands broken but less than half their army gone, so it finished 8-2.
29 points won the competition for me, with Jeremy in second place.
For the third round of the doubles, at the Attack! show in Devizes, Russ and I took the army of Andrei Bogolubski, Prince of Suzdal, when he sacked Kiev in 1169 – Early Russian. Three commands had cavalry and light horse, the C-in-C also commanding four elements of German mercenary knights, and the fourth command had a large block of spearmen plus a few auxilia and psiloi.
Our opening game was defending against Ken Cooper and Andy Down with contemporary Georgians. This was a very similar army to ours, the only extras being a few bowmen and a pair of Fast Knights. The terrain favoured us, with woods guarding our right flank and centre; our foot command set up in the gap between the woods, with our massed cavalry on the left. The Germans failed against Inferior Spears, but the key action was with the cavalry on the left where our superior numbers of horsemen decisively beat the Georgians. Two commands rapidly broke for a 10-0 win.
Our first round game. Russ and I face Ken Cooper.
Then we faced an invasion by a Chanca army led by Pete Connew and John Mee. This was a gigantic army with two huge commands of Ax(X) spearmen, another of Fast Warband, and a smaller Warband one. All plus lots of psiloi. Again we had some woods to make things difficult for the enemy, but the South Americans rushed forwards and the auxilia started chasing our cavalry and light horse away. However, the smaller warband command fought our auxilia and psiloi in a wood, at a disadvantage, and soon broke. The other warband slew some of our spearmen but the German knights proved their worth; initially out of position, the knights eventually got into the warband and slaughtered eight elements. Meanwhile our cavalry killed some more warband and got enough to break that command too. Not half the army yet, but we managed to pick off some Ax(X) and reached the Chanca’s break point right on time for another 10-0 win. Our infantry command was very close to breaking but we suffered only light losses elsewhere.
Sunday morning brought a depressing experience as Russia was invaded by a huge Early Libyan army commanded by Jeremy Morgan and Tony Bell. The Libyans had 50 (!) Bow elements to threaten our cavalry and lots of Warband to attack our spearmen, and with Aggression 4 to our 0 they could arrange the matchups. Despite the efforts of our screening light horse, the too-numerous archers shot down large numbers of cavalry and knights. We did get into and kill some Bw(I), but nowhere near enough and our army soon collapsed for a 0-10 defeat.
We rounded off the weekend with an epic encounter against Dave Madigan and Chris Smith with Ottomans. Three commands with cavalry and light horse, two of them also with Janissaries and war wagons, and a Serbian command of 7 Superior Knights. Once again we defended, with a large wood protecting our right flank – our Auxilia were hidden there. The spearmen, mostly with supporting psiloi, were immediately to the left of the wood, then the cavalry and knights screened by light horse. The most notable thing about this game was the excellence of our opponents’ PIP dice; twice they started the rain (once with four sixes), and managed to switch the wind, initially in their favour, until it was right in their faces. By contrast we were PIP-starved, stopping the rain twice and once switching the wind back. We planned to advance against the Serbs with our spearmen, defend the centre only with light horse and attack on the left with massed cavalry.
The bad weather helped us by saving several cavalry elements from destruction by the Janissaries’ shooting, but we still took some losses from shooting. Our cavalry attack went in and scored some successes over enemy cavalry, but we also lost some. On the right our spearmen attacked a couple of Serbian knights; supported Sp(O) against an overlapped knight, 5-2 up with a 1-6 dice score the only possibility of defeat – so that’s what happened. However, the spearmen did kill one knight and after several attempts light horse bagged another, leaving the Serbs one element from breaking. We just couldn’t get that last element, and more of our spearmen went down. In the centre the Janissaries and war wagons advanced steadily, driving our light horse before them and getting the occasional kill, but we managed to destroy one of the wagons with a cavalry attack. When time was called no commands had broken but two of our commands had lost at least a quarter, against one Ottoman command (the Serbs), so the game ended at 4-6. Easily the hardest-fought and most exciting game of the weekend.
Westbury Wars 2018
For the first 25mm competition of the year I dusted off some veteran hoplites and fielded a Later Hoplite Greek army – Spartans, early 4th century BC so with Reg Ps(S) peltasts. Two commands each had 8 Sp(S) and 6 Sp(O), and the third had only 6 Spear plus 3 Cv(O) and 3 LH(O). Each command had 9 Psiloi of varying quality. I named the C-in-C Lysander.
The first opponent was Gavin Pearson’s spectacularly-painted Later Mycenean army – lots of Cv(O) “heroic charioteers”, each element labelled with the name of a Homeric hero, Sp(I) followers, Nestor’s Kn(F) chariots and Pk(X), numerous psiloi (many of them Inferior), and Achilles’ Wb(S) Myrmidons. I defended and placed steep hills, all of which landed on the far side of the table; Gavin attempted to place some more which wouldn’t fit. So, in the open against a more mobile enemy and nowhere for my psiloi to hide. My small mounted arm was overwhelmed by Nestor’s chariots (they and their supporting psiloi did kill a couple of the Kn(F), though), and when the Myrmidons finally charged against my hoplites they swept all before them. 0-10 defeat in a quick game.
The Spartans face their Mycenean ancestors
Against Pete Howland’s Early Carthaginians I had much better luck. Steep hills gave me a good defensive position with attacking possibilities too, and I was able to secure the heights with Ps(S) peltasts. The main clash came between Spartan Sp(S), with Sp(O) in reserve to plug any holes, and assorted Carthaginian spear with their few Kn(O) chariots. The Sp(S) Sacred Band held up against the Spartans but the chariots failed dismally and died, while peltasts made short work of Ps(I) javelinmen and more hoplites slew Sp(I) for a 10-0 win.
Then I faced John Mee’s Seleucids – again with plenty of steep hills. I set up the hoplites in defiles and awaited attack which duly came – the fearsome Pk(S) Argyraspids and their accompanying Pk(O) phalangites crashed into my spear line. On one flank the two Seleucid elephants strayed too close to a steep hill and were attacked by my psiloi; one died and the other hastily retreated. My peltasts defeated enemy psiloi and a few auxilia, breaking the flank command. In the centre the pikes drove my hoplites back but failed to kill any, then I managed to work the flanks and pikemen started dying. The phalanx gradually crumbled for a 10-0 win.
The Seleucid phalanx in action against Jeremy’s Armagnacs
This brought me up against Jeremy Morgan’s Armagnacs – lots of knights, almost all dismounted as Superior Blades, a few longbowmen, Ax(X) brigans and a handful of psiloi. The knights who remained mounted were two wedges of double-based Kn(I). I defended with the usual steep hills, and refused my left which was held by psiloi and a few hoplites. Nothing much happened on the right, where psiloi on steep hills negated each other. On the left Jeremy expended many PIPs on marching Bd(S) around my flank, where they eventually attacked hoplites with little success, and attacked the hinge of my position with brigans and a few longbowmen. My peltasts fought back valiantly and inflicted casualties, but were eventually overwhelmed leaving the flank of my hoplite phalanx exposed. The hoplites were heavily engaged against Bd(S), with light casualties, but the exposed flank was decisive and my left-flank command broke. The other commands were in little danger, but Jeremy saw an opportunity when Lysander slew a Bd(S) element and broke through the line. A double-based Kn(I) general attacked Lysander and bounced off, then charged again and died! I had an opportunity to break that command but failed, so the game ended at 4-6.
Gavin won the competition with 31 points, from Tim Myall’s Middle Imperial Romans in second place, and I finished fourth. Russ King won the coveted “Dead Hero” prize.
Venta Silurum 2018
Into Wales for Paul Apreda’s doubles competition, in glorious summery weather, with 18 players (three more than last year) making up 12 “teams” with some playing solo. Paul had stipulated that all armies must be dated BC, and Russ and I went for Early Imperial Romans – Drusus Germanicus the elder in Germany. Three Roman commands with their usual troops (no Fast Artillery at this date, unfortunately, but we had a stone-thrower and a couple of bolt-shooters), plus a German ally with 16 warband (front rank Superior, others Ordinary), two cavalry and a few Inferior Psiloi.
First up was David Sheppard with a Magnesia-type Seleucid army bristling with formidable troops. The Seleucids refused their right, where we couldn’t get to grips effectively, and attacked our right and centre. The action was short and sharp; our German allies (who were reliable in every game) went for the pikes in the centre and slew four elements while losing two themselves. Then the German Cv(O) general had a nasty accident against a Fast Knight and died… 4 or better needed on the next German PIP die and we didn’t get it, so the allies fled. Our C-in-C’s command on the right came under heavy pressure from two enemy commands, three Superior Elephants making their presence felt, and a trickle of casualties broke that command and our army. 0-10 defeat.
Pharaoh Martin Golay was next, with a Rameses III Egyptian army. Lots of Bw(I) archers and Bd(O) swordsmen, two lots of Cv(S) chariots, and a command with Libyan Fast Warbands plus a few Sherden Fast Blades. We invaded, and deployed our Germans against the Nile on our right facing the irregular infantry. The Germans made short work of the Libyans and Sherden, then captured the Egyptian village and started looting the baggage. Elsewhere legionaries fought indecisively against Egyptian heavy infantry, but Roman cavalry on the far left gloriously defeated chariots. Egyptian losses eventually mounted to half their army for a 10-0 win.
The third game was against Duncan Thompson with Late Carthaginians, including maximum cavalry, a large mass of Gallic Ordinary Warband and a Numidian ally. The main action was in the centre, where our Germans were attacked by Carthaginian cavalry and the Gauls charged into an area of rough going held by our Superior Auxilia. The first combat round was disastrous – we lost six warband elements against the cavalry, leaving the Germans half an element from breaking and the remaining warband in a precarious position. The Libyan spearmen, who’d been hanging back for fear of the warband, doubled forward to help exploit the expected gap once the Germans broke. But the Germans rallied, took no further losses and drove the cavalry back, killing them and taking out some spears at the same time. A Roman bow element struck the decisive blow, charging into the flank of a Numidian LH and backing it into the Carthaginian general. The Carthaginian cavalry/spear command broke. Meanwhile the Roman auxilia defeated the Gallic Wb(O) in rough going, eventually breaking that command too. 10-0 win.
Then another Egyptian army commanded by Andy and John Brooker – almost the same as Martin’s Egyptians but with Fast instead of Ordinary Blades. This was a very hard fight. We again put our Germans against the Nile, this time on our left, where they faced an all-arms command. The Egyptians moved chariots to protect their infantry and defeated the Germans, though with heavy losses (including a chariot, an auxilia and a psiloi shot by the few Roman bowmen). The Egyptian command on that flank was close to going but we couldn’t get in position to finish it off. In the centre our legionaries and auxilia beat the Fast Warband with small loss, breaking a command. On the right legionaries and auxilia (some of them, facing massed bowmen, were dismounted cavalry) fought a gruelling battle against chariots and swordsmen, inflicting losses but suffering a trickle of casualties. In the last combat of the last bound an overlapped chariot scored a 6-1 as the only result which would kill the last element they needed to break our command. Despite two commands having gone, our losses were just less than half our army so the game timed out at 4-6.
The Brookers’ 6 points were just enough for them to win the competition – congratulations to them. All our games were hard-fought and enjoyable, and surprisingly our 24 points earned us third place.
Fall of Assyria, February 2018
The sixteenth of my themed competitions attracted a record 20 players and there was a real buzz in the hall at Frome.
Heavy concentration on Sunday morning!
Despite the handicapping army-choosing system, the top three were the same players as last year, though in a different order. With most armies featuring colourful four-horse chariots the games made a fine sight, but the leading armies all relied on large numbers of spearmen. Nick Coles’s Ionian Greek hoplites proved the superiority of the latest military style by beating all comers after an opening draw against their Lydian neighbours.
Babylonian chariots, on the right, broken up by Phoenician archery
For a change I played a couple of games rather than just watching and umpiring. Paul Apreda had an important business appointment for the Saturday night, so I stood in for him for the second and third games, using his Kyrenean Greek army with plenty of hoplites and a large Libyan ally mainly of Superior Horde spearmen. Against Andy Down’s Lydians the hoplites decisively beat the Fast Knight lancers, after a shaky start, and defeated the Lydian Inferior Spears. Then the Libyans came into their own against Pete Connew’s Phoenicians: the Hordes absorbed a small force of Kn(O) chariots, shrugging off their losses, while hoplites defeated Auxilia and Inferior Spears. An enjoyable couple of wins!
Ken Cooper manoeuvres his troops against Jeremy Morgan
Vast numbers of horse-archers as the Skythians take on their Kimmerian cousins
Assyria definitely fell: both Later Sargonid armies scored zero points on the Sunday and finished 13th and 20th out of 20.
For the first round of the 2018 doubles Russ and I took Middle Imperial Romans again, with a rather different mix from last year – no Praetorians. Two large Roman commands each had legionaries, auxilia, supporting psiloi, artillery and a few mounted, a smaller command had cavalry, cataphracts, light horse and psiloi, and an Arab ally had 5 light horse and 5 camels. We defended in all four games.
We started against Duncan Thompson’s T’ang Chinese: lots of Superior Cavalry and various light horse in two commands, a large infantry command mainly of Inferior Spears, and a Hsi ally with a couple of cavalry and lots of LH(F) horse-archers. The Chinese deployed with the spears as a refused right flank and cavalry on their centre and left, while the Hsi flank-marched on our right. Our legionaries were in the centre, with the mounted command on the left and the Arabs on the right. Our plan of launching the camels at the light horse and cavalry facing them was frustrated by our first PIP dice – the Arabs were unreliable, and remained so until the Hsi turned up and attacked them in the flank. The Arabs made short work of the horse-archers and the Hsi command soon broke. Our legionaries found the going hard against the Cv(S), with losses on both sides, but the victorious Arabs and some Roman cavalry caught and killed enough light horse to break a Chinese command for a 10-0 win.
Next we played Nick Coles and Paul Apreda with Nick’s favourite Spartan army – a good choice in a competition which turned out to have no warband. They placed a waterway with a couple of galleys, which were a great nuisance to the mounted command on our left, and advanced determinedly against our legionaries with four blocks of hoplites, two of them Sp(S), one of Reg Sp(O) and one of Irr Sp(O) in a Thessalian allied command. Again the Arabs were unreliable, and again they came on line only when attacked, by the Thessalian hoplites who pursued into contact after recoiling legionaries. By the waterway our mounted delayed the Spartans and the cataphracts charged, riding down two Sp(S) and having a good crack at the Spartan C-in-C. Unfortunately this failed and the hoplites managed to kill enough to break our small command. Elsewhere the Sp(O) proved much less formidable and our legionaries came close to breaking a command, but the game timed out at 4-6.
Dave Madigan and Chris Smith’s Burmese looked formidable, with 10 Superior Elephants and good supporting troops including Regular Blades swordsmen and archers, plus a Yuan Chinese ally whose Cv(S) proved tough opponents. We played on a bare plain, all the terrain landing in a far corner. Our mounted command on the far left faced a row of elephants and spent the game retreating, while the Arabs on the right tried to get at the Chinese cavalry but were badly shot up by a few Chinese archers – two camels died with the first two shots. However, our artillery destroyed three elephants and a Bd(F), taking the sting out of the main Burmese attack in the centre. The Arabs were quickly driven back and a series of combats between Chinese cavalry and psiloi-supported legionaries and auxilia was indecisive. A fourth elephant died, but the game timed out at 4-6 (no commands broken, but the Arabs had lost a quarter of their strength).
Going into the last round, any of six teams could win the competition. Dave and Chris led with 20 points, we and John Vaughan had 18 each, Nick and Paul had 17 and Jeremy and Richard were on 15 as was David Sheppard. We played John Vaughan’s Alexandrian Macedonians in a classic game of ebb and flow. The terrain favoured us, with a useful steep hill on our left and a large area of rough going in the centre. We manned the hill with legionaries and the rough going with all our auxilia. There was more rough going on our right, perfect for the Arabs’ camels; our mounted command was on the far left.
Again the mounted command was faced with unpalatable opponents in the form of a massive two-command pike phalanx which it could only delay. By the end of the game the pikemen had started forcing cavalry to flee and was about to chase light horse off the table. The main action was on our right and in the centre. On the right the Arabs faced Ps(S), cavalry and light horse; they killed some psiloi but lost two light horse against the cavalry. Our C-in-C rode over to help and, owing to carelessness on my part, John was able to back a LH into him. The combat was 2 v 2 and John won the dice… the Roman C-in-C died, but his command held. Then, after similar carelessness on John’s part, his Cv(O) general was attacked by our LH(O) Arab general with an overlap and no recoil – this time he won the dice 6-1 and the Arab general died. The Arab command broke. A demoralised camel managed to sandwich and destroy a Cv(I) which had rashly pursued into rough going, but it looked to be only a question of time before the Macedonian cavalry nibbled away the nearly-immobile legionaries of our C-in-C’s command.
Pictures courtesy of John Vaughan. The Macedonian psiloi and cavalry face the Arabs.
The Macedonian phalanx advances against the Roman mounted command.
The clash of auxilia is about to start.
This Macedonian command included a force of Thracian auxilia which attacked into the central rough going, together with the Ax(S) Hypaspists. Our auxilia beat them in a prolonged series of combats, aided by some psiloi who beat off and then destroyed a LH(S) element. Four Thracian elements died, breaking that command and relieving the pressure on our legionaries. Then the Hypaspists started dying too and a second Macedonian command went down – to our surprise that made half the Macedonian army so we won 9-1.
The Arab general makes his doomed attack on the apparently trapped Macedonian general.
The auxilia fight is decided in favour of the Romans.
The Macedonians try to roll up the Roman C-in-C’s legion before their centre collapses.
The other results went our way so our 27 points were just enough to win the competition. A good start to the wargaming year, and a series of excellent and sporting games.