CLIMB BRITISH CAMP 2017
Fewer players than usual at Gavin Pearson’s 25mm competition in Herefordshire – we had eight lined up, but unfortunately one was taken ill and couldn’t play. To even the numbers, Duncan Thompson and Russ King teamed up, using each of their armies in alternate games.
I took Wars of the Roses English, Lancastrian, 1460 AD. The Duke of Buckingham commanded, with the Duke of Somerset and Thomas Percy, Lord Egremont, as ally-generals. Each command had some Bd(S) “stiffened bills” and Bw(S) longbowmen; Buckingham also had a bombard, Irish auxilia and psiloi and a couple of light horse, each ally had Bd(O) billmen and Sp(I) spearmen and Egremont had light horse. Historically Buckingham and Egremont were both killed at the battle of Northampton in 1460 and Somerset was executed after defeat at Hexham in 1464, so the omens weren’t good. But for DBM purposes the army looked tough, as long as the allies were reliable and the weather was good.
First I defended against an invasion by Gavin’s Aztecs, with mud and a risk of rain – the rain never started and the mud had no effect as nobody charged up any hills. I had some gentle hills to defend, but the Aztecs declined to oblige. Buckingham faced an enormous command mainly of Superior Hordes on the right, while Egremont and Somerset nervously prepared to fight the fearsome Cuachics (Superior Warband) in the centre and a large command of Inferior Blades and Inferior Bows on the left. There was evidently a flank march, but happily it never turned up. Gavin informed me afterwards that it would have been on my refused left flank, where it wouldn’t have had much effect.
Buckingham charged at the Hordes. His longbowmen shot some down and then the billmen got stuck in, chopping them down in large quantities. The target of 12 elements was soon reached and the Aztec command broke. Meanwhile the Cuachic plodded forward, but some of them had to form up four deep when threatened by Egremont and Somerset themselves (the generals were the only mounted knights in my army), and two elements were shot dead by longbowmen. When the warband charged some were only one deep and were cut down by billmen; one pair destroyed a Bd(S) and a Bw(S) but was then outflanked and destroyed. The Cuachic command broke. One element needed for half the Aztec army, and Egremont’s billmen bagged a Bd(I) for a 10-0 win.
The second game was against Medieval Germans led by Stupor Mundi, otherwise known as John Calvert (who had just beaten the redoubtable Jeremy Morgan). John, nervous of all the Bw(S), spent his early PIPs dismounting knights (German knights have to start on horseback but can dismount as Superior Blades). Somerset was unreliable, leaving my left flank unprotected, but I nevertheless attacked with the other two commands. On the right Northumberland’s light horse clashed with their Hungarian opposite numbers, with stunning success – the LH(F) horse-archers fell beneath their hooves. In the centre Buckingham advanced and was threatened on his open left flank by light horse; the Kn(O) general’s element beat off attacks and slew two LH(F), then blocked the recoil of a third while the bombard shot it.
Somerset joined in and rushed forward to get at a lot of Bw(I) archers in rough going. The hapless Heerban bowmen melted away under a rain of clothyard shafts, and the German command broke. Then on the other flank Northumberland’s light horse backed the last Hungarian into a knight and broke that command too. Another 10-0 win. My only casualty was Somerset himself, who died on the last turn.
Sunday morning promised a stiff test against David Sheppard with Italian Condotta. This was a 14th century version with a Free Company C-in-C, longbows and all, and two Italian commands with knights and assorted infantry including militia Bw(X) double elements. These last occupied some rough going opposite my left wing, and immediately became a target for Somerset whose archers shot them up before the billmen came through and attacked. Somerset’s flank was exposed, partially covered by the general plus two light horse from Buckingham’s command; again the light horse clashed with Hungarian horse-archers and this time they lost. Somerset had to retire rapidly on the approach of Condotta knights; eventually he was caught and killed, but his command survived. Meanwhile his billmen were chopping up the Bw(X) who all died, breaking that command – the stars here were one billmen element which beat off a Kn(S) general twice, buying time for his colleagues to get stuck in, and two Sp(I) who survived being flanked by a knight while engaged frontally with Bw(X).
Elsewhere there were missile exchanges – unfortunately there was a strong wind against me throughout the game, and several of Buckingham’s longbowmen went down – and Blade versus Blade slogging matches. The Italian knights were deterred by the longbowmen, and Somerset’s leaderless command couldn’t exploit their success, so the game timed out at 6-4.
Jeremy had recovered from his first-round defeat and his Early Imperial Romans faced me in the last round. I defended and decided to place steep hills, which all landed in my deployment area. I had to defend the hills, and did so with the Irish on the left and Blades and Bows in the centre. Northumberland and the bulk of Somerset’s command were in open ground on the right. Jeremy had three Roman commands and a small Armenian ally (two cataphracts and two horse-archers). He approached the right flank with legionaries, cavalry and the Armenians, the latter hanging back for fear of the longbows, sent some cavalry around the left where they dismounted as Ax(S) to attack the Irish, and made a determined attack on the steep hills in the centre with legionaries and auxilia.
The battle on the central hills was something of an epic; my billmen and archers repulsed most of the attackers and slew some, with small loss. The Irish initially repelled the dismounted cavalry and killed a couple of elements, but also took losses, while the bombard was overrun by a Roman Bd(O) general. This general followed up onto a hill, where he was outflanked and destroyed – the command held. In the plain on the right my billmen were getting the better of the legionaries, but slowly.
As the time limit approached, losses were about equal but no Roman command was in danger while my C-in-C’s command was close to its break point, having lost the bombard, a couple of Irish Auxilia, two psiloi and two longbowmen. Jeremy, knowing this would be his last attack, remarked “I’ll just have to 6-1 that one”, referring to a Bd(S), and promptly did so. Buckingham’s command broke. On my last turn I calculated that there was a chance of breaking the Armenians by attacking the two cataphracts with Northumberland’s Sp(I) – if all four spear died the command would survive and my army would be short of its break point. Northumberland himself drove back Roman cavalry to give the spearmen an overlap, then I rolled badly and all the spearmen were destroyed. The game ended at 2-8.
I finished second to Jeremy, after a series of excellent games.
Jeremy’s account of the weekend
I have had some success with EIR at 15mm, and with Marians at 25mm, but my two previous outings with EIR in 25mm were generally unsuccessful. I decided to try again, tweaking the configuration in two ways, dropping the Kn(F) (too fragile) and splitting the Ax(S) into two groups, using the points from the Kn(F) forgone to suppply extra Ax(S) and Bd(O).
This resulted in a command of CinC, Cv(O), Bd(O), Ps(O) and Art(F) (and LHF and I)
Command of Bd(O) and Ax(S)
Command of Bd(O), Ax(S) and Cv(O), and Art(F)
Micro Armenian Ally, 2 Kn(X), 2 LH(F)
Four commands in a regular army at 350AP is a bit risky, but then I had to do it because it is my leitmotif. Also less chancy when the ally is so small and relatively cheap. Generally my plan would be to advance rapidly and get everything into everything else (perhaps “plan” overstates the case) the Armenians to be deployed centrally as linebreakers.
Game one was against the lovely Mr Calvert, he was using Medieval Germans, with 8 Hungarian LH, which looked very much like targets to me. I pushed up to pin the Hungarians in place and for three hours the plan went swimmingly, the Hungarians died, I had Ax(S) now into the Bw(I). At this point the knight reserve came up (might as well, the command is one from breaking). What can I say? My CinC was in the line, John’s CinC charged him, with an overlap, 5-3 and killed him, my first casualty. Only a 1/6 chance of losing the command, but as we all know 1/6 chances come off nine times out of ten – and this wasn’t the tenth time. 3-7 John won.
Ah well, we have to take our lumps with such dignity as we can muster.
Next game was against the duumvirate of Duncan and Russ using Early Imperial Roman (they played as a pair using each army in turns). I had the good fortune to invade, which meant that Russ and Duncan had to deploy two-deep blades, and I could cheerfully deploy one deep opposite. The only negative was that Russ and Duncan successfully deployed Kn(F) where my Armenians would be. Otherwise I had one deep blade against two deep, and elsewhere things that were better than what they were facing. The game then came down to me trying to close as fast as possible before the duo could get their second rank blades into a useful position. I won this race on my right, but on my left it was looking sterile, until a fortunate 6-1 resulted in one of the Kn(F) exiting the field, allowing an Armenian knight to engage Ax(S). Both flanks fell in short order and I won 10-0.
Due to the vagaries of previous matchups I then played Gavin’s Aztecs. A courageous choice in 25mm one would have to say. I attacked, and here the limitations of the Aztec terrain became apparent, no rough going… at all. A wood on my right was obviously full of… something and a missing command was either flank marching, or in the wood. The rest of the table was Hd(S), Wb(S) and Bd(I). Realistically all I had to do was face off the Wb with Cv and then blade though the weak spots (i.e. everything else). A Toltec ally ambushed from the woods, and did serious damage to Ax(S) and Cv(O), and might have done more but for Armenian LH absorbing shooting. Meanwhile the blade carved through the Hd(S) in double quick time, exposed the flank of the warband and these were then topped also. 10-0
This left me in second place, needing to defeat Mr Graham-Leigh to win. John’s tough but static army stood mainly on two enormous steep hills; my initial plan to defeat him on the open flank soon faltered on the realisation that his troops were tougher than mine, which left me having to assault the steep hill for success. The early highlight for me was racing up to the hills with Cv(O), prompting John to say “are these some sort of special cavalry that like hills?”. I was able to reply, “they are indeed”, and dismount them as Ax(S). It didn’t seem to help very much as (might be expected, him being uphill) John was killing more than he was losing, however my losses were off two commands and a draw was no use to me anyway.
As John has already written the stage was set for highlight two ” last bound, well, I’ll just have to 6-1 that element”…… Oooh, well done me :). 8-2 as that was the CinC, which was enough for the win – just.
Three of the games turned on luck, two in my favour so I can’t complain. An excellent competition in a lovely part of the World, to be commended and worth borrowing an army to attend if you don’t have one. If you do I’d consider EIR, previously I often felt the enemy army was just plain better than mine, but in this configuration I think it is competitive against most (and better than that against Aztec…).
The Frome doubles competition, excellently organised by Steve Aspinall and Pete Connew, was for Book 4 armies only. Russ and I followed Henry VIII’s army with that of his brother-in-law, James IV of Scotland. The Scottish army had three commands of pikemen, mainly Reg Pk(O) with some Pk(S) in the C-in-C’s command, under the King, Errol and Bothwell. Errol’s command also had two Art(O) field guns. The fourth command, under Argyle, consisted of Highland Bw(O) archers and Bd(O) axemen plus a couple of Ps(O) skirmishers. A big army with 103 elements, but narrow as the pikemen needed to form up deep, and with no mounted troops and not much bad terrain capability. Historically this was the biggest army ever raised by a King of Scots and was catastrophically defeated with the deaths of almost all its leaders.
In the first round we played a Later Swiss army led by Martin Golay. It was really a Lorrainer army with minimal genuine Swiss; the C-in-C’s command consisted of Pk(I) and Bd(I), flanked by two small Swiss commands (each with 8 Pk(S), 2 Bd(X) halberdiers and some psiloi), plus another Lorrainer command of double-based knights, held in reserve. We defended, but were able to send two pike commands into the Lorrainer foot and one Swiss command. Argyle was unreliable, leaving our left flank open, but the Scots pikemen decisively beat the Lorrainers and broke the largest enemy command. Two Swiss halberdiers also went down, and soon a Swiss command broke too. 10-0 win.
Our second round opponents were Jeremy Morgan and Richard Perry with Yuan Chinese. They had plenty of cavalry and light horse, with various Chinese infantry including Bw(X). Each army refused its right. Bothwell’s command formed up mainly facing the left flank in anticipation of a flank march, but the fourth enemy command turned out to be a Javanese ally with Superior Warband! Fortunately this was on the opposite flank, a very long way from any of our troops. The Javanese were unreliable, but were still able to move forward and eventually came on line. King James’s command charged forward to get at the enemy infantry, while Argyle protected his flank, Errol formed up to face the Javanese and Chinese troops approaching from the right, and Bothwell regrouped and forced-marched towards the centre. There was a strong wind and intermittent rain; three times our opponents started the rain with excellent PIPs (four sixes on one turn), and each time we stopped it with our rotten PIPs. The Chinese artillery killed several pike elements whose recoil was blocked by sneaky light horse, and we inflicted minor losses with our own artillery and archers, but we couldn’t get into any solid targets. All the manoeuvring and skirmishing took a long time, and before the Javanese got into charge reach the game timed out for a 5-5 draw.
On Sunday morning we faced Ed Gilhead’s Armagnac army. This had lots of knights, mostly dismounted as Bd(S), English longbowmen and a French command of Superior Knights and Ax(X) brigans. Ed invaded and placed steep hills which gave him a nearly unassailable position, and tried to outflank us on both sides with a few mounted archers on the right and light infantry on the left. The archers were a nuisance, actually destroying one of our field guns, but the guns eventually shot three of the four elements; the brigans and psiloi on the left didn’t get far for lack of PIPs.
King James rushed forward to attack an angled line of infantry between two hills; Errol and Bothwell on the right had no opposition in the open and couldn’t assault the hills. Argyle protected the King’s left flank and had to face the French knights. One Kn(S) charged impetuously into the pikemen and died; the others attacked Argyle’s infantry piecemeal and were destroyed. One Ax(X) was shot by our archers, leaving the French command one element from breaking. Meanwhile the King’s pikemen and some of Errol’s charged the main enemy infantry line and an epic struggle followed; we lost a few pikemen but destroyed nearly all the Bd(S) with a string of excellent combat dice. The King followed up into the archers and finished off one command – after some hairy moments when he was flanked. We were on course for a big win but the game timed out at 6-4.
Our final opponents were David Sheppard and John Calvert with Italian Condotta (old DBM list). There was a Free Company C-in-C with a large command of Blades and Bows facing our left centre, a smaller Condotta command facing our left, a command based on three Kn(I) wedges in the centre with light horse screening our right, and a flank march. Argyle defended a steep hill on our left (archers and axemen facing leftwards with others ready to advance in the open), Errol attacked in the centre and the King and Bothwell could only chase light horse. The enemy flank march was declared on the first turn and was a small Condotta command on our left.
Errol, with his pikemen five deep, attacked the Kn(I) wedges and failed disastrously; initially the knights were pushed back but then won a string of combats when 3-6 down – our combat dice were terrible, more than balancing our luck in the morning’s game. At the same time Argyle was distracted by the flank march and knights arriving from the enemy right-wing command, leaving Errol’s flank open; Errol’s pikemen were badly shot up by archers and bombards. We did bag one of the knight wedges, and Argyle’s archers shot a Kn(I), but Errol’s command collapsed in another flurry of low dice. As “last bound” was called the enemy needed to destroy six elements to break Argyle’s command; they got three but bounced off the Earl himself. 4-6, and would have been 3-7 after another bound or two.
Our 25 points secured second place behind Jeremy and Richard, who also clinched the 2017 Doubles League. Congratulations to them.
The usual excellent autumn weekend in the Norfolk Broads for the Coltishall Cowards’ annual doubles competition. The organisers had decided to allow armies dated up to 1515 AD, rather than 1500 as usual, so Russ and I took advantage by fielding Tudor English, the Henry VIII 1513 version. Three commands, each with some archers and billmen; the King’s command had the Royal Household knights, a few light horse and a field gun, one sub-general had a mass of 16 landsknecht Pk(O) and the other had knights and more light horse. Chunky commands with break points of 9, 9 and 8, but one weakness was the entire absence of light infantry.
We started with a near-historical encounter against Peter Hockaday with Medieval Germans under the Emperor Maximilian. Two blocks of landsknecht pikemen, a few knights including two formidable Kn(S/I) wedges, some archers and crossbowmen, cavalry, hordes and six war wagons. We defended and placed rough going which we filled with archers.
The Germans tried to get around both flanks. On the left a large cavalry force was deterred by King Hal and his knights, while psiloi and Hordes attacked archers in rough going. Our archers destroyed these after a tough fight. On the right a couple of Burgundian mounted archers caused much PIP expenditure but were eventually defeated by our less mobile archers. The main fight came in the centre where landsknechts clashed; ours, assisted by dismounted knights and billmen, drove back their opponents while our artillery destroyed two war wagons. When time ran out two enemy commands had each lost a quarter of their strength, so the score was 6-4 to us.
There followed a non-event against Jeremy Morgan and John Calvert with Norse Irish and Viking allies. Again we defended and the Irish placed many wooded hills; we responded with gentle hills, one of which landed handily in our deployment area. With our lack of light infantry we couldn’t contest the woods, so formed up defensively in the open ground in the centre where the enemy had two large commands consisting mostly of Blades. To our surprise neither of these commands moved at all, and as we weren’t going to advance where we’d be outflanked by huge numbers of auxilia issuing from the woods there wasn’t going to be a battle. Agreed a 5-5 draw. King Hal reported to the Council that the enemy hadn’t dared to face his mighty army…
Next we had a cracking game against John Vaughan and Bob Billing. Their Gallic host was based on the old DBM army list, so had a Gaesati command of all Wb(S). Their other two on-table commands had Wb(O), but there were two strong cavalry forces, one on each flank. We defended and placed rough hills, one of which crucially anchored our left flank where we expected the enemy flank-march.
The Gauls rushed forward in traditional style, the Gaesati aiming for our landsknechts in the centre and the cavalry hanging back for fear of our numerous longbowmen. On the right our archers shot effectively and thinned the warband ranks, while knights with supporting archers went for the cavalry. After a tough struggle the command on this flank broke. On the left the warband stormed up our hill, broken up by archery and losing two elements to our artillery, and were repelled with heavy loss. But in the centre the Gaesati hit the landsknechts and chewed them up for the loss of only two elements. Our centre command broke, leaving our camp vulnerable to pursuing warband. Then the flank march (all warband) turned up on our left, where Henry faced it with his knights and light horse. But we needed only two more warband to break the command fighting our left, and arranged a series of favourable combats all of which failed until we came to the last one, which was 3-1 against a pair of Wb(O). I threw 1… then so did Bob. 9-1 win to us.
The final game was against John Brooker and Mark Allison with Alexandrian Macedonians. We defended as usual, and all the terrain landed on the enemy side of the table giving them lots of hills. Each side refused its left flank – for some reason I thought the Macedonians had a light horse command so we put a line of shire levy longbowmen facing the left flank. In fact that was a delusion; all four commands were on the table and comprised three large pike blocks with supporting light troops and knights, plus a small cavalry command which stayed behind the hills for fear of our archers. The pikemen debouched from the hills into a hail of arrows and cannonballs, failing to make contact with our infantry while the landsknechts manoeuvred to attack one weakened pike block, slaughtering some auxilia on the way. We were in a fair way to win in the centre.
On the right, however, a confused action between light horse and Fast Knights on both sides went the Macedonians’ way. We destroyed two Companions elements and a couple of light horse, but lost heavily ourselves and failed in several long-odds attacks on the enemy C-in-C (who defied the DBM law that whenever Alexander goes into action he dies). Then the pikemen on this flank reached our Bw(S) and Bd(O), killing enough to break our command. We’d killed a lot of the enemy but not enough to break any command, so the game timed out at 4-6.
24 points surprisingly got us second place, only two points behind the winners. Thanks as usual to the Cowards club and especially the volunteer chef who excelled himself with the catering.
A good turnout at Devizes, with 19 players forming 12 teams. Russ King and I took a Golden Horde army: three commands each with plenty of light horse plus cavalry, archers and psiloi. What we hoped might come as a nasty surprise to opponents was a block of 8 Fast Warband (Siberian tribesmen). A Russian allied command of 10 cavalry made up the numbers.
Our first game saw us invading Mexico to take on Tony Bell’s Aztecs. Tony had large numbers of Fast Blades, even larger numbers of Fast Hordes and a few psiloi. A huge army which we would have to grind down. Facing our right flank was a command almost entirely of Hd(F), mostly in rough going and a wood but some in the open; two commands of Blades and Hordes occupied the centre and left, and a fourth command was flank-marching. We sent the Russians on a flank march on our right, reasoning that if they were chased on they could put up a good fight against any Aztec pursuers, and held some rough going on our left with the warband. Cavalry and light horse attacked along the rest of the line, with our archers and crossbowmen shooting with great success at the Hordes command.
The cavalry slew many Aztecs, but the enemy flank march arrived early on our left and the warband were soon attacked from two directions. They fought well and killed some of their attackers, but eventually all the warband died; fortunately that wasn’t enough to break the command. In the centre our cavalry got enough kills to break the Aztec C-in-C’s command, while the Russians arrived on our right and rode (very slowly for lack of PIPs) to get at the Aztecs on the opposite flank. The Aztec flank-marchers were skirmished out of the game by light horse. Finally we had light horse within reach of the Aztec baggage, but the game timed out before we could attack it. 7-3 win, and we’d lost nothing apart from the warband.
Our second game was against David Sheppard and John Calvert with Later Hungarians. Lots of knights, including several Kn(S/I) wedges, supported by various heavy foot and plenty of light horse including a Szekeler command on the left accompanied by war wagons. Our warband were in ambush in a wood on our right, where no suitable targets presented themselves. The main action saw a large force of knights attacking our centre which consisted mainly of LH(S). Luck swung wildly; some knights died but they took plenty of light horse with them and the double-based wedges appeared to be unstoppable. The knights’ flank was guarded by four Bw(I), and our cavalry managed to get into these and kill them all; this broke the Hungarian C-in-C’s command. However, we’d lost too many light horse for comfort and our right-flank command (the largest) broke. On the left our C-in-C attacked the Szekelers with his Cv(S) and LH(S) – after some initial success a string of low dice saw four elements destroyed which brought our losses to half our army. 2-8 defeat in a hard-fought and enjoyable game.
On Sunday morning we faced Dave Madigan’s Ottomans. Again our warband were hidden in a wood on our right, which was screened by Ottoman light forces; a Serbian allied command faced our right-centre. The Janissaries were in reserve opposite our right wing. The Ottoman right was refused, held by cavalry, a couple of bombards and light horse with some Bw(I) in reserve.
The Serbs piled in and quickly killed several of our light horse plus some cavalry. Then, as so often happens, the luck changed and we destroyed three Kn(S) elements. One to go for the Serb command, which we eventually broke by killing the double-overlapped Serbian general. One of our psiloi sneaked out of the wood and destroyed two Cv(S). This relieved the pressure on our right, but unfortunately we lost control of the warband who had been broken up by scouting psiloi. The fools rushed out into the open to be cut down by light horse, and that was enough to break our largest command.
On the left the Russians attacked and destroyed both bombards but couldn’t get at the Ottoman cavalry. In the centre a dribble of casualties in light horse combats eventually broke a second Tartar command and our army collapsed. 1-9 defeat, and another close and fast-moving game.
Our final opponents were Derek and Stuart Bruce with Burgundian Ordonnance. Wall-to-wall Bw(S) and Bw(X) along most of the front, including an allied English command, with mounted knights in reserve on their left. Their right flank was refused, consisting of two-deep Pk(I) interspersed with four Art(I) organ guns – a perfect warband target if we could get there. There was a screen of 3 LH(I). The warband were hiding in a wood on our left, and rushed out to get at the vulnerable pikemen while our light horse galloped at the mounted crossbowmen. The LH(I) were eventually all trapped and killed, but not before they broke up the warband who rushed piecemeal at the infantry line. Two warband elements were destroyed by artillery. The Burgundian Kn(O) general came out and rode down two warband, but was then slain by more warband assisted by light horse. Five elements gone from that command, but they scored a 6 and survived. Not for long, though, as the remaining warband killed a pair of Pk(I) and broke the Burgundian command. Immediately afterwards the reserve knights arrived and, together with more pikemen, slew enough light horse to break our command.
On the right and in the centre the enemy archers plodded forward and were soon chasing our light horse away. On the far right, our archers held a patch of rough going and were attacked by a couple of Bd(S) dismounted knights and a single Ps(S) handgunner. They performed heroically, shooting the handgunners dead and then killing a Bd(S) in combat. However, the enemy longbowmen started shooting cavalry and this goaded us into attacking. The Russian cavalry did extremely well, killing several bow elements, but the Russian general fell in combat. His command held, and when Charles the Bold, the Burgundian C-in-C, joined the fray he was soon surrounded and killed by the Russians. Again 5 elements gone from the command and this time it didn’t survive the “loss of general” test. This broke the Burgundian army for a 9-1 win. One of the most exciting games we’ve had, and the Bruces are always a pleasure to play.
David Sheppard and John Calvert won the competition with the Hungarians.
WESTBURY WARS, MAY 2017
Ten players took part in the annual 25mm DBM competition in my house (one of them for the Saturday only). I used a Feudal French army, St Louis with Crusader allies. The King led a large command of Superior Knights and assorted second-rate infantry (Inferior Blades and Bows, Ordinary Psiloi and Hordes); the Count of Artois had more knights and infantry including Ordinary Bows crossbowmen, Inferior Spears, Auxilia and Bows and various Psiloi; the Grand Master of the Temple’s allied command was much the smallest, with knights and a few decent infantry.
The first game was against Russ King with Early Crusaders – the Bohemond version with Regular Knights and Regular Superior Blades as well as the usual crossbowmen and spearmen. Terrain played little part and the game boiled down to furious struggles between my knights and the very tough Crusader foot. My Templars managed to lose all their knights and that command broke, but King Louis eventually destroyed numerous infantry and broke an enemy command. My infantry did nothing… the game timed out at 5-5.
Next I played John Calvert with a Middle Imperial Roman army. This was a very quick game, as my knights thundered into a line of legionaries with psiloi support and Praetorians – and rode them down! The Praetorians lost six elements in the first combat round, thanks to John throwing a string of ones, and that command broke. Then Artois’s knights did the same to legionaries and the Roman army collapsed. 10-0 win.
Unfortunately that success set up a meeting with an army I’d hoped to avoid: Later Swiss fielded by Jeremy Morgan. A frontal charge against the pikemen promised only a repetition of Courtrai, so I had to rely on terrain and my rather indifferent infantry. To make matters worse, a strong wind blew in my face and there was a risk of rain. The terrain was crowded, with woods occupying much of my left and centre, and I occupied the woods with my bowmen and light infantry. The King’s knights were behind a steep hill on the far left, and the Templars were in the open on the right.
The Swiss sent a wave of handgunners (Superior Psiloi) supported by Bd(O) halberdiers to clear the woods, but they didn’t make much progress. A pike block, including Pk(I) mercenaries as well as the genuine Swiss article, advanced towards the Templars who charged. The Grand Master rode down a couple of pike elements, but his other knights failed and the small Templar command soon broke. Meanwhile King Louis and his knights rode around the big hill in an attempt to take the handgunners and halberdiers in the flank – one knight element succeeded, destroying a couple of elements, but then had to pursue into the woods and died. Louis himself charged a small pike block, with overlaps, and killed two pike elements. That was as good as it got, and the King was eventually flanked and killed. His command broke, ending the game in a 0-10 defeat. I’d actually lost only nine elements and killed six, but mine were nearly all knights including two generals.
The final game turned out to be an epic clash against Pete Howland’s Normans – the William the Conqueror version with numerous dismounted milites (Ordinary Blades) as well as the Fast Knight mounted version. This time the weather favoured me, with a strong wind blowing from behind me. The Normans advanced rapidly, aiming to attack the Templars on my left before they could deploy; the Templars were unreliable and couldn’t react. The Norman knights crashed into the Templars and outflanked them on the right, but their rapid advance had left their infantry behind so King Louis’s knights were able to attack their other flank. The Normans rode down the Templar crossbowmen and killed a couple of knight elements, breaking the Templar command. But they’d taken losses as well, and the French knights in turn broke the Norman command on my right. On the other flank the French crossbowmen shot with deadly effect, destroying several Kn(F) elements and then luckily potting the Norman C-in-C. His command broke and the Norman army with it, for a 9-1 win to St Louis.
Jeremy’s Swiss unsurprisingly won the competition, having demonstrated in their last game how to push a light horse army off the field by beating Gavin Pearson’s Seljuks.
WARS OF ST LOUIS, FEBRUARY 2017
The fifteenth in my series of themed competitions had 17 players (two of them playing as a team) using armies dating from the reign of Louis IX (1226-1270) and from Mediterranean countries plus Germany and England. As usual, army choices were restricted with the most successful players from previous years having the fewest to choose from. The dominant troop-types were knights and archers; the new DBMM lists allowing English armies to have Superior Bows gave an advantage to two of the players!
The English fleet cruises off the French coast
The competition got off to a rousing start with a splendid “mutual destruction” draw between St Louis’s French crusaders and the Emir of Tunis (Islamic Berbers) – with the 15-0 scoring system we use this was a 10-10 scoreline. Romanian Franks rode over hapless Epirote Byzantines, and there was a bloody English civil war full of knightly clashes amid storms of arrows. Paul Apreda’s Communal Italians featured a carroccio with hammer and sickle banner: Paul explained some confusion between “Communal” and “Communist”.
The “Communist Italian” standard wagon
In later rounds one English army crashed to a surprising defeat against Later Crusaders, while King Manfred’s Sicilians scored crushing victories against French and Tunisians. The Pope in his ceremonial litter (Inferior War Wagon) found himself in the front rank against French knights and was slain – no doubt there would be severe ecclesiastical penalties for St Louis.
The Pope in his wagon is dangerously near the front line
A good time was had by all as Richard Lockwood’s Sicilians came out on top. Next year’s theme will be The Fall of Assyria.
Richard Lockwood, Nick Coles, John Vaughan and Duncan Thompson with their trophies (original artwork by Terri Julians)
The competition started twenty years ago by Richard Bodley Scott moved from its traditional venue in Usk to the Firestorm Games wargaming centre in Cardiff, and included a hundred or so players with five different rules sets (four Ancients, one Renaissance). The DBM contingent numbered fifteen, making up eight teams.
Russ King and I fielded Middle Imperial Romans. Three Roman commands each had 8 Blades (Praetorian Bd(S) in the C-in-C’s command, Bd(O) legionaries with supporting psiloi in the others), 6 Auxilia and one bolt-shooter. Cavalry, light horse of varying quality, a few bowmen and a pair of Kn(F) lancers made up the numbers. The fourth command consisted of an Arab ally with just 4 light horse. A flexible army of reasonable size at 83 elements.
Our first opponents were Eddie Glew and Ashley Bye with Patrician Romans, Regular version. They had a line of supported legionaries and auxilia opposite our right and centre, with a smallish command of Fast Knights and light horse facing our left. Some of the legionaries were second-rate Bd(I). Their fourth command was an Arab ally with lots of camels. We concentrated on smashing their mounted command and our legionaries made short work of it, opening up the flank of the Patrician legionaries. Our Praetorians engaged the legionaries frontally and inflicted heavy losses, but slowly. On our last turn we needed one element to break the Patrician army; numerous combats at good odds failed to get kills, and the final one was between two Ax(S) and a Bd(I), both overlapped – we could kill only on a 6-1. That’s what the dice were, so we won 10-0.
Next we played Duncan Thompson with Classical Indians. Lots of Superior Elephants, Bw(O) archers, Bd(I) javelinmen, Cv(S) chariots, Cv(I) cavalry and Hordes. The elephants were nervous of our artillery and screened them with chariots on the left and cavalry on the right. The bolt-shooters shot up the chariots, destroying one and preventing the others from charging in a coherent line, while our legionaries and auxilia got into a mass of bowmen and butchered them. The Indian command on the left broke. On the other flank the Cv(I) were driven back and charged by legionaries who pushed them into a line of elephants: three elephants including a general died and the Indian army collapsed. Another 10-0 win.
Sunday morning brought the formidable Jeremy Morgan and Richard Perry with an enormous Ancient British army – 20 chariots, 16 light horse, 60 warband and vast numbers of psiloi. A strong wind handicapped our artillery. The terrain included a large wood on our right flank; we hid some auxilia there and formed a long line of legionaries and Praetorians to face massed warband in the centre. Our left flank was held by the two Kn(F) and some light horse, reinforced by cavalry.
On the right some British light horse rode around the wood and were faced off by our Arab ally (initially unreliable, but soon joining in) and a few horse-archers. A large force of psiloi advanced into the wood but stopped on finding the auxilia. The warband were held back and the main British attack was with chariots against our mounted command on the left. There we were comprehensively defeated, inflicting no loss and losing several cavalry, light horse and a knight. We back-pedalled there as fast as possible, anchoring the flank on two dromedarii in a patch of rough going. The warband finally came forward, stung by bolt-shooters despite wind and rain, and crashed into our main line; the legionaries, auxilia and Praetorians beat them off without loss, destroying 8 elements in two combat rounds.
When time was called no commands had broken but one of ours had lost a quarter of its strength, so the score was 4-6.
Our final opponent was Paul Apreda with an Early Sumerian army: massed Pk(X) and Pk(I) spearmen, large numbers of psiloi, some Bd(F) swordsmen and a few mounted troops including Kn(I) battle-cars. We knew he had a Guti ally with Fast Warband and archers.
The terrain included many steep or rough hills, forming an excellent defensive position for each side! Again there was a strong wind blowing. The Sumerians defended theirs and waited for the Guti, who were flank-marching; without knowing which flank was threatened we were reluctant to commit to the attack. A dust storm then intervened for several bounds, slowing everyone except the Arabs, who were able to reinforce our left flank. Then the Guti turned up there. The warband were delayed by a few heroic psiloi on a rough hill, and would be attacked by our cavalry when they descended; we sent some Praetorians and auxilia to attack their archers. Then time ran out for a 5-5 draw. We’d lost no casualties at all and killed only four or five of the enemy.
We finished second with 29 points, two behind Jeremy and Richard.