Forest Foray, October 2010
The annual 25mm competition in the Forest of Dean was poorly attended with only seven players, an eighth having had to drop out. However, there was a good mix of armies and some excellent games, with the bonus of a new recruit to the DBM ranks.
I took Suevi, using the new (DBMM) army list. Having handicapped warbands with the SW house rules, I felt I ought to use a warband army this year. There were three blocks of warband, front rank Superior backed by three ranks of Ordinary; the C-in-C had eight cavalry elements and some Ps(S) javelinmen, and another command had some Ps(O) light archers.
The first game was a warband-fest against the two Nigels’ Gallic hordes – masses of Wb(F) plus cavalry and a few psiloi. This game turned on three terrain pieces: a steep ridge in the centre which I occupied with Ps(S), neutralising the enemy C-in-C’s warbands, a wood on my right flank and a large gentle hill occupying the Gauls’ right flank. Wb(F) marching through the wood were attacked by my Ps(O) and died in large numbers – eventually, enough to break a Gallic command. The gentle hill was held by massed Wb(F) and attacked (perforce, following three ones on the PIP dice) by my Wb(S) while cavalry skirmished on the far flank. I took losses but also killed many Gauls, some of whom pursued onto the flat, and we reached a position where both opposing commands were two elements from breaking. I killed two more Wb(F) to break the enemy army, but later in the combat round two more of my warbands went down and I lost that command too. 9-1 win. Later in the competition the Gauls fought a thrilling 5-5 mutual break draw against Carthaginians.
My next opponent was Alexander the Great in the person of Neil Hepworth. My plan of advancing as fast as possible and smashing his Pk(O) phalanx worked up to a point – my cavalry killed two Kn(F) Companions and the Wb(S) attacked the pikemen with overlaps at both ends. Then it all went wrong, as the warbands failed to kill any pikemen and lost six warband elements. Now I had Wb(O) in the front rank and they also died in droves, breaking one command and damaging another, which was also losing a psiloi v auxilia fight. Before long that command too broke, for a 0-10 defeat.
On Sunday morning I faced my regular opponent and doubles partner Russ King, who had Anglo-Danish; massed Blades and Spears made good targets for my warbands. Russ had no luck with the dice to upset the odds, and the Suevic warriors smashed through his lines – King Harold, Bd(S), went down (a 6-1 dice split was the only thing which could kill him, and duly happened). The Anglo-Danes broke in short order for a 10-0 win.
This brought on a clash with Gavin Pearson, who’d beaten me several times in recent years. Gavin fielded Uighurs (Central Asian Turkish), relying mainly on Superior Cavalry and assorted light horse, with a block of Inferior Spears plus psiloi support. I wanted to defend to get plenty of terrain, but invaded the boundless steppes. I did get two patches of rough going on the Uighurs’ right flank, and Gavin placed his baggage there with the Sp(I) in front of it. I deployed defensively, with the C-in-C’s warband on the left, cavalry in the centre and in reserve, and the largest warband command in the centre, angled back to the baseline. The third command (17 warband and 10 psiloi) flank-marched.
My first PIP dice were two ones and a six which heralded the flank march. Gavin had excellent PIPs and rushed forces over to his right, but couldn’t get the spearmen out of the way. My on-table commands advanced rapidly to squeeze the Uighurs, and the flank-marchers soon got at the Uighur baggage while their general hit the end of the spear line and crushed it. As the warband formations broke up both sides had outflanking opportunities and I lost half a dozen warband elements but also killed some cavalry. Eventually I broke an enemy command and, with the baggage, that made half the Uighur army gone. 10-0 win.
The house rules made the last game more exciting; under DBM 3.1 the Uighurs would have stood little chance as the warband would have been 5-3 up with three supporting ranks, whereas now it’s a 3-3 combat and I also had to worry about the third and fourth ranks rushing off impetuously. I think the new rule is a success.
Vexillum, October 2010
Vexillum, the new DBM doubles competition held at Frome, Somerset, got off to a good start last weekend with 12 teams – a fine turnout for these days. Thanks to Steve Aspinall, Pete Connew and the other Frome lads for organising it. Results, and those of this year’s South-West Doubles League, are on my web page at www.jglwargames.com.
Russ King and I took the Middle Imperial Romans we’d used at Usk. The new (DBMM) army list has the attractions of Superior Blade Praetorians, some Superior Auxilia and no compulsory Fast Blade Lanciarii, and the disadvantages of less artillery (the number being tied to the number of legionaries and Praetorians taken) and fewer light horse. We had 3 Roman commands each with 8 Blades and supporting troops, plus an Arab mini-command of 4 light horse.
Interestingly, several armies included large numbers of Fast Warband. We started off against one of these – Abyssinians, in what turned out to be a bloodbath. We defended and placed steep hills to break up the enemy, but unfortunately these all landed on the table edges. Our opponents placed three small pieces of rough going which landed in a line right across the middle of the table – not what we wanted. However, the Abyssinians didn’t try to occupy the rough going and on our left the Praetorians and supports were able to forced-march through it and attack the warbands on the other side – with great success, killing 6 elements in the first three combats and losing nothing themselves. It was a different story elsewhere, though – the common legionaries, even with psiloi supports, were blown away in numbers. The Praetorians cracked the Abyssinian C-in-C’s command but the two legionary commands both broke, right on time, for a 2-8 defeat. An excellent game against two strong opponents.
Next we played Ancient British – lots more Wb(F), organised as a huge C-in-C’s command (break point 20), another warband command (break 10) and a third mainly of chariots and light horse (break 10). We invaded and placed a road and steep hills which nicely impeded the enemy advance; the British placed gentle hills, one of which on our right flank was occupied by psiloi-supported legionaries. The British C-in-C tried to get at this legion but was seriously delayed by a steep hill occupied by a few auxilia and psiloi. On our left the Praetorians took on Cv(O) chariots and convincingly beat them, while our cavalry defeated light horse – the British command on this flank broke. In the centre the warbands took heavy losses against legionaries but broke through the line; the Wb(F) general burst through and headed for our 6 Bw(O) in reserve – who promptly shot him dead. Game over, 10-0 win.
Our third opponents were Later Carthaginians – no warband, but from left to right a command mainly of LH and Ax(S), one of Irr Bd(F) interspersed with elephants, a block of Sp(O) and a large Spanish allied command of Ax(S) and Ps(S). We refused our right facing the Spaniards, who had a wood and steep hill to negotiate, and (deploying second) lined up our artillery against three of the elephants. All three elephants died from the first salvo. A good start, but the Bd(F) Gauls rushed at our line and hacked down some Ax(S) and even a couple of legionary elements. They took losses, though, and that command was soon close to breaking. The Libyan spearmen closed with the Praetorians and legionaries and indulged in a long bloodless shoving match. More legionaries eventually engaged the Spaniards in another casualty-free melee. On our far left, Numidian light horse and psiloi attacked our auxilia and bowmen, killing some, but several psiloi were shot dead and once our cavalry arrived the LH started dying too. That Carthaginian command broke, and we also got some more Bd(F) to break the central command. The single Spanish psiloi we’d managed to kill made exactly half the Carthaginian army for another 10-0 win.
Finally we faced an Alexandrian Imperial army with Indian allies, in crowded terrain. Alexander out-deployed us, refusing his left flank leaving one legion and the Arabs facing very little, with a large pike block and ample mounted supports threatening to overwhelm the Praetorians on our left. The Indians and some Thracian Ax(O) were in the centre, where our artillery shot a couple of Bw(S) elements and Ax(S) then attacked the Indians and soon got enough to break the small allied command. Alexander timed his main attack well, with the pikes and Companions going in together against the Praetorians and Roman cavalry. The Praetorians held up well against the pikemen, but two elements were ridden down by Companions (3-3 combat, 6-1 dice). Alexander himself attacked two-deep Cv(O), with an overlap, at 5-2 and only recoiled them; the next Companion element drew and Alexander pursued unsupported. On our turn Alexander’s combat was 3-3 and the dice were 4-1 to us – 7-4, plus 1 for Fast made 8-4 and Alexander fell, mortally wounded. His command broke, leaving his army 3 elements short of breaking. The Macedonian pikemen put up stiff resistance (and the demoralised Indian general trampled some Auxilia) but we got there eventually to win 10-0.
32 points won the competition by one point, from Jeremy Morgan and Chris Smith on 31 and Mike Bennett and Colin Sharpe on 30. Mike and Colin won the South-West Doubles League trophy, with Russ and me as runners-up.
An excellent weekend and I’m glad to say that Vexillum will be held again next year.
Attack! July 2010
12 teams played DBM at the Attack! 2010 show at Devizes – two fewer than last year. There was a distinct Biblical theme, with five Book 1 armies.
Russ King and I took Han Chinese, perhaps the ultimate “vanilla” army with Bd(O), Bw(O), Art(O), Cv(O), Ps(O), plus light horse and a Hsiung-Nu ally with 2 Cv(O) and 8 LH(S). Our first game was against Late Imperial Romans, and my memory of it is hazy, apart from our Bw(O) destroying both the Roman cataphract elements but failing dismally against Kn(F). There was a stand-off in the centre as enemy Ax(S) and our Bd(O) glared at each other across a gully, but plenty of hard fighting elsewhere. The game ended 5-5, with one command broken on each side.
The second round was dominated by a remarkable game between Scots (four commands all with Pk(I)) and Welsh (mostly Bw(O), with a French ally). Both the French and a Welsh ally-general were unreliable, allowing a schiltrom to march up to the archers without receiving an arrow and charge in, rapidly breaking the allied command. The French then invoked the Auld Alliance and changed sides, whereupon the Welsh surrendered.
Our game was against Ugarites – a classic “competition army” with Cv(S) and Kn(O) chariots, a lot of Blades and plenty of filler to make the commands nearly unbreakable. We would have fancied our chances with our bows and artillery against all the mounted troops – except that the terrain heavily favoured the enemy and most of the battle was fought in mist, which handicapped our shooting and control. The chariots rode into our bows with very little loss from shooting and quickly broke our C-in-C’s command – we then fought a desperate rearguard action and hung on for a 3-7 defeat.
Sunday morning brought a Carolingian Frankish army, the Charlemagne version with 16 Reg Kn(F). No Saxon ally, fortunately; two commands each with 8 knights and a large block of spear(I) and bow(I), plus a Breton ally (Cv(O) and a few LH) and an unseen command which was presumably flank-marching on our left. Not much significant terrain.
The Bretons were unreliable. Despite this, and to our surprise, the Frankish chivalry galloped forward. Our shooting this time was excellent – very few knights got to contact, and those who did were despatched by our infantry. All 8 elements from one command were destroyed, leaving that command one element from breaking; the survivors of the other command hastily retreated. We dragged our artillery forward to try finishing off the damaged command, failing despite repeated shots at Bw(I). Meanwhile Chinese crossbowmen had halted just out of range of the Breton cavalry and the Hsiung-nu were poised to charge the Bretons’ flank.
The flank march arrived – a general with 4 Irr Kn(F). We’d had time to arrange a reception committee in the form of a line of LH and cavalry, plus some psiloi in a handy patch of rough going. The psiloi hit one knight, and despite losing the first combat killed him at the second attempt. The LH enveloped the rest and broke that command, causing the Bretons to turn their coats and ending the game in a 10-0 win.
Our final opponents were Neo-Babylonians – three commands all with Bw(X/O) and assorted mounted troops including Kn(S) chariots, Cv(S) and Cv(O), a few spears and a total of 50 Horde elements who sheltered behind a large area of difficult going. They also had an allied mini-command. Our left flank and part of the centre were held by light horse, both Chinese and Hsiung-nu, while our massed infantry and artillery held the right and more LH galloped around the DGo to get at the Hordes. This last was a fiasco – in five combats the horse-archers destroyed one Horde element but fled three times.
Our shooting was generally good; our Bw(O) outshot Bw(X) and inflicted serious casualties, while our artillery also scored. Before long the command facing our right was close to breaking and was retreating to get out of range. On our left, enemy cavalry rode eagerly forward, outpacing their archer supports, and attacked a line of LH. They failed to kill any, and were then enveloped and cut down to a man. However, the archers eventually got a shot at the Hsiung-nu general and killed him; the command held.
Heavy fighting in the centre cost us an artillery and some crossbowmen, destroyed by Kn(S) with Sp(O) in support, but we repelled the attack and on our right our artillery finally bagged the last element needed to break the C-in-C’s command. The game timed out at 7-3.
25 points saw us in joint third place, which was satisfying, and we’d enjoyed four excellent games. Competition at the top was close and exciting; the overnight leader was Nigel Poole after two 10-0 wins, but on Sunday morning his Scots were clobbered by Pharaoh Ramettupem (aka Dave Madigan) who went into the last game with a five-point lead. A nice historical matchup in the last game saw the Pharaoh overthrown by the Philistines, commanded by Mike Bennett and Colin Sharpe, who won the competition by one point. Interestingly, the top three armies were all from the same historical era and area – Philistines, Libyan Egyptians and New Kingdom Egyptians.
After three rounds of the SW Doubles League, Richard Perry and Jason Scott are in the lead, followed closely by Russ King and me then Tony Green. The final round will be at Frome in October. Full details are on my website at www.jglwargames.com.
Forest Foray 15mm, April 2010
I’ve always liked the look of the Mitanni army, with all those Superior Cavalry chariots. It has appeal as the army of “the first superpower” (DBM army list notes), and as Mike Tittensor put it in Slingshot 248 you just “stick a bow, a spear and an armoured thug in the back of the cab and sweep across the Middle East”. The new DBMM army list has improved the army by allowing a second sub-general, though this is offset by a reduced number of useful skirmishers. Russ King and I took a Mitanni army to the DBM doubles competition in Lydney, Glos, after a single practice game which the Mitanni lost to Palmyrans. The army consisted of King Tushratta’s command of Cv(S) chariots supported by some archers (Bw(I) and a few Bw(O)) and poor-quality skirmishers (Ps(I)), a sub-general with chariots, a few good infantry (Ax(O)) and a mass of Hd(O) levies, a second sub-general with chariots and a strong force of infantry and archers, plus a Syro-Canaanite ally with a balanced force of chariots and infantry. The Mitanni infantry were mostly Regular which proved to be important as they could rapidly march to good positions to shoot or seize terrain.
The initial draw pitched us against New Kingdom Egyptians – an excellent historical match up. However, as we prepared to deploy the organiser revised the draw and put us against Akkadians – not so good! The Akkadians were almost all Pk(I) spearmen, pretty much invulnerable to our chariots. We tried to break up the terrain with areas of rough going, with limited success, and prepared to skirmish and look for openings. Unfortunately our ally-general was unreliable, and an enemy flank-march was declared on the second turn. Before long the skilfully-played Akkadians had penned us into a corner from which we couldn’t break out… although we scored some successes, notably one maryannu hero who destroyed four Bw(I) elements, we went down to a sad 0-10 defeat. We’d actually destroyed about the same number of elements as we lost, but the Akkadians could afford the losses.
Our second opponent was a Scots Common army, again almost entirely of Pk(I). That meant we faced a total of 188 Pike elements in the two games. We defended and placed much rough going. The enemy deployed all their light troops, some psiloi and half a dozed Bow elements, in rough going opposite our left wing, their few knights with some pikemen in the centre, and two large schiltrons facing our right. We attacked the light troops with a large force of Auxilia and archers; initially disastrously as the enemy psiloi and bowmen destroyed many of them. Eventually, though, our superior numbers told and the Scots skirmishers started to die. Adjacent to this bitter fight the Scots knights came into action against chariots – with overlaps and the personal intervention of a maryannu general, the knights crashed to ruin. When our sub-general killed the Scottish general, the Scots command broke and one of the schiltrons fled. Meanwhile the main force of pikemen advanced against chariots who refused to close and eventually found opportunities to turn flanks and break up the schiltrons. This involved taking risks and we lost some chariots – our smallest command took one chance too many and broke. However, the pikemen suffered a steady drain of casualties, many from our archers shooting into their flanks, which brought the Scottish losses to half their army. A 9-1 win for the Mitanni.
Interesting that our first two opponents were dated 4,000 years apart but were very similar.
Next we defended against Nikephorian Byzantines – lots of nasty high-quality archers supported by Superior Cavalry, some Viking axemen and a Rus ally with spearmen. We again placed rough going, and flank-marched our weakest command (the one with the Hordes) on the open right flank. The area opposite our left was mainly rough going and the Byzantines refused that flank, leaving a few psiloi to block our advance. Our massed infantry cleared the psiloi away and got into more rough going in the enemy centre, where they attacked some Blades and threatened the flank of a line of bowmen who were advancing to shoot at our chariots. On our right the struggle was for a small area of rough going, while most of the enemy cavalry prepared to meet our flank march. The flank march arrived and a drawn-out cavalry v chariots fight ensued, tipped in our favour by the Hordes arriving and causing some enemy cavalry to flee. On the left the enemy archers finally got within range of our chariots and started to shoot them up – the chariots charged but unsuccessfully, and our C-in-C’s command was close to demoralisation. However, our archers shot two Kn(I) elements while the chariots and infantry killed some Blades, breaking a Byzantine command and allowing our infantry to race for the baggage. Before they reached it time ran out leaving the score at 6-4 to the Mitanni.
Finally we invaded Medieval France. Yet again the enemy refused their right flank which was full of rough going, but everywhere else attacked vigorously with their Superior Knights while a large allied command of Scots pikemen plodded forward in the centre. We left our right flank nearly empty, with a few of the C-in-C’s chariots to delay the enemy while we waited for a flank march to arrive on that side. King Charles and his knights galloped furiously around that flank, supported by some levy archers, while in the centre the Dauphin attacked our chariots. The chariots were driven back but eventually the Dauphin pursued too far, was outflanked and (after surviving several combats) went down. His command broke. Similarly, on our left, the French knights charged with initial success but were shot up, outflanked and destroyed – their general was the only one to get away but was pursued by Mitanni charioteers. Then our archers shot some Brigans (Ax(X)) on this flank and a second French command broke. Three elements needed to get half the French army. Our flank march arrived and the chariots attacked some Hordes – initially without success, but eventually the Hordes went down and the French army broke. 10-0 to the Mitanni.
25 points got us joint third place – very pleasing for a manoeuvrable but light-weight army in a competition dominated by Pikes.
Westbury Wars, March 2010
My small 25mm DBM competition, held in my house, went well as usual. Eight players with a good variety of armies had, I think, an enjoyable weekend all round.
I fielded Ottomans – not because I think they’re much good in 25mm games on 6′ x 4′ tables, but because I’d had most of the figures for nearly forty years and never used them in a competition. They comprised two commands each with assorted cavalry, Janissaries and a bombard, plus a small infantry command with a few Auxilia, some psiloi and another bombard.
In the first round I faced the redoubtable Don McHugh with Medieval Portuguese. He had four commands; a centre of knights dismounted as Bd(S) and supported by psiloi, a command on each flank with mounted knights held well back, and a small English allied command, Kn(O) general and 6 Bw(S), on his far left. The knights were very nervous of the Janissaries and bombards, and many PIPs were spent manoeuvring them to face opponents more to their liking such as cavalry and light horse.
On my right flank the English swept all before them, driving off a LH screen and then shooting a couple of Cv(S) dead. Elsewhere it was a different story, as my LH managed to disrupt the dismounted knights’ attack and even pick off some elements while a hail of arrows and shot broke them up. Eventually the dismounted Portuguese could take no more and fled. A second Portuguese command also took serious casualties, losing their LH and some knights against my mounted forces. However, the English and the French Kn(S) with them broke my right-flank cavalry command, levelling the score at 5-5 where it remained when time ran out. A good game in which I had the overall edge but couldn’t quite force the win.
My next opponent was John Calvert with Macedonian Early Successors – pikes, warband(S), cavalry(O), elephants, Auxilia(S) and psiloi. This one went according to plan – the Janissaries held back in the centre while light horse disrupted the Galatian warbands and pikemen trying to get to grips and superior numbers of mounted troops crushed the cavalry wing facing my right flank. 10-0 win and a frustrating game for my opponent – sorry, John.
Then Richard Jeffrey-Cook with an interesting Seleucid army; four very small Regular commands with break points of 4.5, 4, 3.5 and 2. I anchored my left flank on a steep hill occupied by all my Ps(O), with cavalry, Janissaries and bombards as the rest of the front line and light horse behind. The Seleucids deployed two commands mainly of pikemen and one mainly of cataphracts, all well back, with a force of Ps(S) to assault my hill. The fourth command, including the scythed chariots I knew they had, was missing.
I sent a large force of cavalry and light horse around the enemy left flank, held by some Ax(S) in and around a small patch of rough going. The Auxilia started to retreat to the safety of the broken ground, but a couple were attacked in the open by light horse and destroyed – a great piece of luck there. The Seleucids used many PIPs to ensure that the bombards got as few shots as possible at pikemen – wisely as it turned out, because the first two shots destroyed two pike elements. The Ps(S) attacked uphill and were soundly beaten by my superior numbers of Ps(O); this was the crucial action as the loss of the hill would have unhinged my position. Then the flank march arrived, on my left – a mini-command of 3 scythed chariots, 2 Kn(F) and 2 LH(O). The expendables were opposed by a line of LH(F), all of which they destroyed. Shaken, I used two Cv(S) generals to destroy two of the chariots; the third pursued into my baggage where the camp-followers surprisingly defeated it.
Meanwhile my cavalry continued to erode the Auxilia, even in rough going, and some Janissaries advanced and shot a psiloi element, breaking the command. In a desperate final move the Seleucid cataphracts rode across to attack my Janissaries; en route they were fired at by bombards and lost an element which broke that command too. 10-0 win in an unusual and exciting game; I had a lot of luck!
Finally I faced Gavin Pearson’s villainous Picts with Saxon allies. I was outnumbered nearly 2:1 in elements, and the enemy army was so wide that I had no chance of getting round its flanks; in fact the Picts had more and better light horse than I had. I’d have to rely on missiles… oh dear, a strong wind was blowing up the table. The wind shifted several times but for most of the game it disadvantaged my archers and artillery, who destroyed only two elements in total.
Once again my psiloi held a steep hill on my left, but this time they were attacked by Auxilia and decisively beaten. The Saxons bore down unstoppably on my centre, beating off Cv(S) and eventually destroying some Janissaries, while masses of Ax(X) drove back more cavalry and bagged more Janissaries. My chance of success was on my right flank where I threw in Cv(S) and LH against the enemy LH – disastrously. I’d obviously used up all my dice luck against Richard. 0-10 defeat, and a miserable performance by the Ottomans.
Despite the final crushing defeat, the Ottomans generally fought well and finished third with 25 points – not bad at all. Congratulations to Gavin for winning (his third successive win in 25mm competitions), and to the runner-up Don McHugh. I’m pretty sure all the players will want to come again next time.
This was the third competition in which my house rules have been used, and there have been no complaints. The rules mainly affected Gavin’s army, in that the Saxons were less effective against mounted opponents, and Pete Howland’s Polybian Romans who could afford 26 AP more troops because of the points changes. As Gavin won the competition and Pete was rather less successful, I don’t think the house rules have distorted things.
Godendag, January 2010
There were 14 teams playing DBM, the same number as last year, with about 36 teams in the two FoG competitions.
Russ King and I took Middle Imperial Romans, to try a Roman army benefiting from the SW House Rules points reductions. The new rules saved 32 points, so in effect the army could afford 4 more cavalry elements – not a great deal in a 500 AP army, but it helped. The army was organised as the Praetorian Guard plus two legions – three commands each with Blades, Auxilia, psiloi and artillery, with a few Bows, cavalry and light horse. Plus an Arab mini-ally with four light horse.
The first game was against Jer Morgan and John Calvert who fielded Early Imperial Romans – a very similar army to ours, but without the Bd(S) Praetorians. Caracalla against Trajan. I commanded the Praetorians on our left and a legion in the centre, while Russ “dickered about” (his phrase) with the weakest legion (only 6 Bd(O) but a strong force of cavalry and light horse) plus the Arabs on our right. Much manoeuvring for advantage followed, resolved eventually into straight blade-on-blade fights along much of the line. The Praetorians pressed their opponents back, but the decisive clash was in the centre; Trajan was behind a legionary element which was destroyed by a 5-1 dice split and the Emperor was thrown from his horse. His legion fled in dismay, leaving a huge hole in the enemy centre. Our legionaries rushed to help the Praetorians, but unfortunately dusk saved the enemy from complete rout. 7-3 to us.
Next we faced Nigel Poole’s Scots Common Army – over a hundred Pk(I) elements in four commands, supported by some Bw(O) and Hd(F) Highlanders and a fair number of psiloi. We defended and placed much rough going, most of it on our left and a small but important patch on our right. The Arabs were in the centre, with nothing but the baggage behind them, the Praetorians to their left, a legion on the far left and the other legion on our right. All well back except the Arabs. The Scots C-in-C had a small pike block and all the Bw, Hd and Ps who were mainly in the rough going opposite our left; two massive pike blocks faced our centre and another, with two war wagons, faced our right. The latter was handicapped by the small area of rough going which we occupied with Auxilia and archers, while our artillery quickly picked off both war wagons. The Scots achieved nothing on this flank.
In the centre the pikes rushed forward towards the Praetorians and the Arabs – our faithful ally was unreliable but the Scots had to attack him or go nowhere. They actually trapped and killed one LH element but the others safely withdrew. Then came an epic Pk(I) v Bd(S) fight in which the Scots quickly gained the upper hand as several Praetorian elements went down (speech bubble above the legionaries – “Overpaid nancy-boys!”). On our left, though, our Auxilia made short work of psiloi and a couple of Hd(S) in the rough going, and a few legionaries chopped up some Bw(O). The main force of legionaries from our left-flank legion hit the Scots C-in-C’s pikemen in the flank and the Scots command broke. Legionaries were now killing pikemen on both flanks of the main struggle, while the Praetorians desperately held on. A few more bounds would probably have seen our C-in-C’s command routing but the Scots army also broken. As it was, we ran out of time for a 7-3 win.
On Sunday morning our opponents were Richard Perry and Jason Scott with Ottomans, including a mighty Serbian ally. Unfortunately we invaded, so were able to place only three small patches of rough going. The Ottoman terrain comprised a large steep hill plus a small village, against their baseline facing our left. We deployed with the Arabs in the centre, well forward, with two legions back on the right and centre and the Praetorians on the left. The Serbs were in the centre supported by two Ottoman commands (cavalry, light horse and Janissaries) with lots of riff-raff cowering at the back. The steep hill was garrisoned by a few Bw(I) and Hordes, with only a small mounted force facing the Praetorians.
The Arabs were unreliable again, but the Serbian knights had to hit them and did so – one Arab element was destroyed but the others safely fell back. On our right there was much skirmishing but the rough going there impeded any Ottoman attack. A different story in the centre, where the Serbs crashed into our cavalry, light horse and legionaries. We killed a few Serbs, our artillery getting one element, but the Serbs destroyed many cavalry and light horse, breaking the Arab mini-command. On our left a large force of Ax(S) rushed at the steep hill, catching and killing a cavalry element, then stormed up the hill and despatched its Hd(O) defenders – the Bw(I) up there had hastily withdrawn. The Ottoman cavalry here suffered severely from shooting, our artillery and archers bagging three Cv(S) elements. Our cavalry on this flank went in, but before the Praetorians could arrive to support them two of our Cv(O) went down and the rest fell back to wait for the Praetorians. Then the Serbs finally broke our right-flank legion. When time ran out we were 3-7 down, and another couple of bounds would probably have seen our complete defeat.
The last game was against Steve Littlefield and Geoff Hanney with Classical Indians (Guptas). Two commands each with 5 Superior Elephants supported by Bw(X/O), one with Cv(S) and a few light horse as well, and one with just Bw(X/O) and Hordes. We invaded, in mist which handicapped our PIPs and artillery but also the Indian archers. The terrain was mainly gentle hills plus our few bits of rough going. The Indians deployed only two commands – the elephant-less one facing our left and the C-in-C’s command with the elephants facing our centre and the infantry defending a hill near their baseline. Nothing facing our right.
The Arabs were unreliable again – three times in a row! The Praetorians, on our left, advanced to attack the Bw(X) whose shooting was completely ineffective at 1 v 3(S), and hit the Indian infantry in a cohesive line. Our centre legion nervously watched the Indian elephants, while the right-flank legion advanced to attack the refused flank while sending its light horse to confront the expected flank march on our left. The flank march arrived – with 1 PIP so only the mounted troops actually appeared. The elephants advanced towards our baggage, delayed by our light horse including the now-reliable Arabs. Our baggage, which consisted of mule-carts, moved away… the only time I’ve ever actually moved baggage. Meanwhile the Praetorians destroyed the infantry command facing them, but the elephants in the centre attacked and severely damaged our centre legion. Eventually, though, our artillery and archers killed four of the five elephants (the mist having cleared).
Our right-flank legion finally reached the hill in the Indian centre and attacked. We lost one legionary element but destroyed some bowmen and pushed the rest over the crest – with overlaps, now 6(O) v 3(I) and only 2 elements to get to break the Indian army. We failed, and before the legionaries could charge again time ran out so the game ended 6-4.
Four excellent, tense games and the first time all our games have gone the distance. With unlimited time we’d have won three and lost the other.
The SW House Rules seemed to work well. The two Roman armies benefited from reduced AP costs for Blades and Regular Auxilia, and from a compulsory road counting as 0 feature equivalents. There was one warband army (Middle Frankish) which didn’t appear to suffer too badly from the warband changes.
Many thanks to Richard Bodley Scott for continuing to support DBM.