Pete Haines reminisces about the first SW Doubles League season, 1995
Thinking back to 1995 is getting to be quite a struggle but I remember a little about the doubles league.
Teaming up with Neil Parsons was a natural really, I was good at using infantry, he was a cavalry specialist. There was therefore, no contention about who had which command. In addition we were able to quickly agree a reasonable plan and knew instinctively how the pips needed to be allocated to achieve it. I have played with a few doubles partners but the team-up with Neil was by far the most effective.
I remember we used several armies during the season, it was a matter of pride to us that we avoided any repetition. If I remember correctly we started off with Late Roman/Hun, moved into Konstantinian Byzantine and finished off with Ottoman/Serb.
The Late Romans went well except for one nightmare against Richard Bodley Scott and son when the young Bodley Scott went for a mass of archers and cataphracts with a line of Huns and promptly 6-1’d us to death along the line. The acting adage about children and animals was never truer. We recovered pluckily – nothing encourages concentration like a bit of humiliation – and managed a placing I think.
The Konstantinian Byzantine was at the time an unfancied army by many, but one that I had used a lot. My strongest memory is of going into the second day in the lead and overhearing some of the other contenders discussing our progress – ‘the army doesn’t have anything special but they just keep winning’. It’s gratifying when the opposition have missed the point! We went into the last game (against an Alexandrian Imperial I think) well ahead, our final opponents knew they had to go for it, but when Alexander led his companions towards our Skoutatoi and a turn later only Alexander’s element came back (closely accompanied by a burning wheel) they switched to damage limitation, effectively ceding the tournament and allowing me & Neil to sit back, relax and engage happy mode.
As we knew we were in with a shout at the title we used Ottomans & Serbs for the last event. We did feel a twang of guilt about using one of the more obvious combinations but we were running short of alternatives having done some other doubles events that year. Also, Neil was (& remains) an excellent painter, and had just got his Ottomans done so they simply had to be used. I remember trying to press for a result in the last game against a pair (the names escape me) who had brought their families along only for the wives to swan off somewhere leaving their babies with the husbands at the gaming table. Having to wait for a bottle feed to finish before getting a turn tested the courtesy circuits to the max; especially when the frequency of infant tending increased as the likely result became more evident. I think we managed to conceal our despairing glances pretty well though and duly delivered a decisive Serbian charge that got us the points and sealed the championship with nary a baby discomfited.
Circumstances dictated that Neil and I rarely got the chance to team up again after that season but we had our trophy plus a lot of good memories of fun games in interesting locations.
Pete Haines 22.7.08