Game Reports 2023

Westbury Wars 2023

I fielded a newly-painted Carolingian Frankish army for the 25mm competition in my house: two Regular generals with Fast Knights and various infantry (Inferior Bows, Inferior Spears and psiloi), plus two allies, one a small Frankish command with just Irregular Fast Knights and a few Spears, the other a larger Saxon command of Warband (front rank Superior, the rest Ordinary). We had twelve players signed up but one dropped out due to ill-health; Marc Priest and Paul Holmes sportingly agreed to team up and even the numbers.

Charlemagne’s army – Saxons at the rear

In the first game I faced Gavin Pearson’s Palmyrans. I sent the Frankish ally on a flank march on the left, where the Saxons would advance, while the two Regular commands were in the centre and right. Gavin expertly skirmished against the Saxons with his Arab allies while taking on my Kn(F) with cataphracts, archers and light horse. The light horse were the keys, slaying many Frankish knights including a general with excellent combat dice, and soon both of my commands were close to breaking. First one and then the other broke, but the flank-marchers had eventually appeared and rode down various Arab allied troops (LH and Blades). Simultaneously the Arabs and my army broke, ending the game as a 1-9 defeat.

The next game against Duncan Thompson’s Carthaginians was a cliff-hanger. I was wary of the Carthaginians’ three elephants and their mass of Gallic warbands; my deployment was much the same as against Gavin except that the Frankish ally was hidden in a small wood on the left instead of flank-marching. The Saxons were unreliable and stubbornly remained so while a massive melee began in the centre. I lost several Kn(F) elements but rode down many Gallic warband, and managed to back an elephant into a pair of Spear elements. The Frankish ally burst out of the wood and attacked Auxilia who had hoped to occupy the wood. They had some success but two knights including the ally-general died against light horse. The command held – otherwise the watching Saxons would have changed sides. Then a third knight died to break the allied command, but at the same time the centre Carthaginian command broke, so the Saxons joined in on my side. Only a couple more elements were needed to get the Carthaginian army for a 9-1 win.

Duncan Thompson with his Carthaginians

On Sunday morning Charlemagne’s lads were invaded by Libyan Egyptians under the command of Paul Apreda. Paul put down lots of steep wooded hills, which broke the field up into sectors. The “Invincible Meshwesh”, Superior Warband, were aimed at a valley on my right but liable to be outflanked by my small allied command which was on a gentle hill on my extreme right flank; a wooded hill in the centre was seized by Egyptian psiloi and a couple of auxilia. The Saxons advanced past the end of this wood while Charlemagne had a line of knights facing the left flank where I expected a flank march by a Libyan allied command of Fast Warband. On the central hill I attacked with psiloi; heavy casualties on both sides but eventually my psiloi gained the advantage, assisted by some Saxons. The other Saxons advanced and, aided by a couple of Charlemagne’s knights, beat up various Libyan delaying units. Then the flank march was declared, on the right. My small allied command was defeated by some charioteers, but before that happened the Egyptian command facing my left finally collapsed against the Saxons. Charlemagne led his knights at the gallop to get at the Libyan warband and the Meshwesh finally started to advance, but before either could get into action the game timed out at 5-5.

The battle on the central hill; Meshwesh on right, Saxons on left.

This set up an encounter with Russ King’s Romanian Franks. Both sides depended on knights; I had more but the Romanians were better quality, though less controllable. My small command was again hidden in a wood on the left and burst out to get at the enemy flank, while the Saxons dashed forward alongside them and two long lines of knights clashed in the centre. On the right a Catalan allied command tried to advance out of a large wood but was deterred by a few of my knights. The knightly joust was bloody; I lost several knights and a couple of Spear elements, but had overlaps and used them to flank the enemy (Russ suffered from very poor PIPs at crucial moments). Gradually the line of Superior Knights was rolled up and finally a general was enveloped and slain. The Saxons struck a decisive blow by reaching and butchering some Inferior Bows, and the Romanian army collapsed for a 10-0 win.

Russ King’s Romanian Franks face John Calvert’s Romans.

25 points got me joint third place, which I was happy with. Another great weekend.

Venta Silurum, May 2023

For the first doubles competition of the year Russ and I took Libyan Egyptians – a variation on the more usual New Kingdom army which features only two Regular generals and a large force of “Invincible Meshwesh” (Superior Warband). With two allied commands it’s risky, but over the weekend’s games neither of the allies was ever unreliable. The three Egyptian commands each had Superior Cavalry chariots backed by various run-of-the-mill infantry; one had a small fleet of three Superior Boats, and the fourth command comprised 20 warband elements.

Our first opponents were Martin Golay and Tony Green with Neo-Babylonians – old DBM list, so having Superior Knight chariots and Superior Cavalry as well as the double-based Bw(X/O) archers, the latter being deadly to our chariots but easy meat for the Meshwesh. We took casualties mainly against the Kn(S) chariots and lost our smallest command, but on the other flank our chariots heroically rode down Bw(X) and the Meshwesh managed to bag some more, breaking a large Babylonian command. Then the Babylonian C-in-C charged into the flank of the Meshwesh. He destroyed two elements, but was then mobbed and dragged from his chariot. Five elements gone from that command, which failed its break test and gave us a 9-1 win.

Next up was John Mee with Scythians (Massagetae) – numerous horse-archers and cavalry plus some decent archers and light infantry. We defended and our fleet dominated the waterway, while the terrain allowed us to extend across the table. Light horse and cavalry clashed with our chariots and came off worst; in a prolonged struggle we lost very little but failed to break any commands until right on time, when a large Scythian command finally broke. The game timed out at 6-4.

On Sunday morning we faced Dave Madigan and Chris Smith, who had Dave’s well-practised New Kingdom Egyptians. This was a game in which everything went wrong for us. Our opponents got all the PIPs they needed to arrange the most favourable matchups, the Meshwesh were skirmished out of the game by psiloi, our three boats on the waterway were defeated by the enemy’s one boat, a strong wind blew in our faces for much of the game and our combat dice were poor. On the open flank our smaller Egyptian command was enveloped and broken by enemy chariots, archers and swordsmen, and on the other flank we had a few successes but were eventually worn down. 0-10 defeat.

This set up what turned out to be the best and closest game of the weekend. John Vaughan and Kevin Everard’s Early Achaemenid Persians had numerous Bw(X/O) double bases, plenty of cavalry, some Babylonian Kn(O) heavy chariots, a command of hoplites and a Skythian ally with just horse-archers. They set up with the hoplites on the waterway flank, then the Skythians, archers in the centre and massed cavalry and knights on the open flank (our right). They looked set to envelop our right-flank command. The Meshwesh faced the Skythians, who turned out to be unreliable; this (and excellent PIPs) allowed us to send some Meshwesh against hoplites and archers. It would be a race as to whether we could break through the centre, causing the Skythians to change sides, before the Persians crushed our right-flank command. The Persians narrowly won that race; our command broke just before the central Persian command did. On the left we faced hoplites with auxilia but disembarked two Wb(S) from the boats to help out, and as the hoplites pushed forward their general tried to ride down a single Meshwesh element which had our general behind it. He failed, and our chariots were then able to flank him and push him into the side of some hoplites. The Persian general died and this broke their army. Hard-fought 9-1 win.

24 points got us a pleasing joint third place; Dave and Chris won the competition.

Indians v Alexander

This was a one-off 25mm DBM game with 350 AP armies – Alexandrian Imperial v Classical Indian. The Indians had 8 Superior Elephants with Ordinary Bows backed by Inferior Blades, Superior Cavalry chariots and an unusually large number of Inferior Cavalry; a few psiloi occupied jungle on their left flank and numerous Hordes formed a rear line. A sacred standard (Inferior War Wagon) with the baggage boosted morale. The three commands had break points of 6, 5.5 and 5.5.

The sacred standard

Alexander also had three smallish commands, with break points of 7.5, 6.5 and 4.5. His main strength comprised 28 Pike elements, some in each command, with good mounted troops (Fast Knights) and light infantry. Two Ordinary Artillery bolt-shooters threatened to be a game-winner.

The threatened Macedonian left flank

Unsurprisingly the Macedonians invaded and were able to place their artillery opposite elephants. Jungle opposite their right wing was threatened by their light infantry, but on the open left flank a small force of Kn(F) Companions and light horse was faced with the powerful Indian mounted wing – elephants, chariots and cavalry. On the first turn Alexander sent his Companions and more light horse across to that flank, hoping to form a coherent line before the Indians got there. Meanwhile the phalanx advanced slowly while the bolt-shooters were dragged forward to get into range of the elephants.

The Indians advanced rapidly all along the line. Their two elephants on their right were held up by a couple of psiloi; one of the latter was trampled but the other fortunately bagged an elephant! However, the chariots and cavalry bore down on the Macedonian mounted troops, now reinforced from Alexander’s command.

The artillery is about to pay for its inaccurate shooting

In the centre the bolt-shooters each had two shots at elephants and unluckily failed to kill any. The elephants closed and destroyed both artillery, while archery killed two pike elements. Psiloi behind the artillery closed with the elephants, without immediate success. Much pushing ensued with casualties on both sides, first two pikes being trampled and then an elephant succumbing to a flank attack.

The cavalry battle

Over on the open flank the Kn(F) Companions drove back the chariots and then hit a purple patch, destroying several and also some cavalry, for the loss of two light horse elements. The Indian command on this flank broke. On the other side of the field the Macedonian light troops stormed into the jungle, bagging several psiloi, while Thracian Ax(S) attacked and destroyed two Bow elements. Losses on both sides mounted, bringing most commands close to their break points. The decisive blow was struck by Alexander’s Hypaspists (Superior Pikes), which had suffered against the elephants but finally managed to flank and kill an Indian general. The Indian command broke and their army collapsed.

The Indian collapse

The result was 10-0 to Alexander but the battle was nevertheless very close. Losses from their three commands were 4 elements (break point 7.5), 4 (break point 4.5) and 6 (break point 6.5). An excellent game.

Rise of Islam

The 21st in my series of themed DBM competitions was played on 4/5 February 2023. The theme was The Rise of Islam, and featured 18 armies dated 632 to 750 AD – six Arab armies, Byzantines, Khazars, Sassanid Persians and various others who historically fought the Arabs.

Gavin Pearson’s Moors take on Pete Connew’s Visigoths

Nick Coles won the competition with Central Asian Turks, narrowly ahead of Jeremy Morgan’s Arab Conquest army. There were some tremendous close games – Carolingian Franks beating Spaniards by the smallest possible margin, Maurikian Byzantines barely holding off Arab Conquest then losing against Khazars, Turks defeating Chinese and clinching the competition win against Arabs. As usual, the games were played in a great spirit.

Umayyad Arabs versus Maurikian Byzantines

Of the 19 players, four had appeared in the first competitions in 2003 but only one, Russ King, has played in all 21. Russ was presented with a special trophy “ for perseverance”. We also remember Phil Claxton, Martyn Rogers, Stephen Welford and Nigel Poole, regular players who have died since 2003.

A splendid Byzantine target for the Arabs

The full results are at Themed Competitions | JGL Wargames.  Next year’s theme will be The Hundred Years War, featuring Western European armies from 1337 to 1396.

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