Monday, October 18, 2010

Marian Romans v Early Germans

It's been a little while since I've written up a battle report, so let's skip the intervening games and travel back ... back ... back to 50 B.C. where the Marian Roman Legions face off the Early German hordes in the forests of, err, early Germany.

I was the attacker.  The defending Germans put down two forests, a marsh, and two gentle hills.  I ended up with the opposite board edge to that which I wanted, which was fine, as it gave me a nice open space to advance my long line of Bd.  The central marsh would be a problem, so I put an element of Ps into it to prevent too many shenanigans as well as my surplus Bd and LH to try to draw a few more enemy Wb to that side of the board.

 The Germans broke into 6 groups quite early so I thought I might get lucky if he ran into bad pips.

I was fearing the double move of the Wb allowing him to move to my flank through the marsh, so I started to turn my line of Bd to the left.  I mirrored this to the left of the marsh.  My CvG began to move to the far right flank to deal with the Cv threat there.

The Germans got 6 pips and sent his Wb crashing into my Bd with a double move, while also sending a unit against my Ps in the marsh.  He was hoping to make the Ps flee and then be free to flank me, but my Ps are made of stern stuff.  My Bd recoiled all of his Wb except for the WbG which got a stick.  The following turn I left my unit where they were, hoping to pick off his WbG and win the game, but I only got a recoil.

His Wb continued to chase my Ps out of the marsh.  My Bd to the right of the marsh killed two elements of Wb with that roll of a 6 you can see on the red dice.  I was rolling incredibly well today - lots of 6's, but my opponent was rolling just well enough to avoid being doubled.  On the hill to the right my Bd chased off his Ps but couldn't make progress against the Cv due to the hill.

He again double moved a unit of Wb into the marsh and turned my Bd to face them but the Wb recoiled.  My Ps also turned the tables in the centre and recoiled that Wb that had chased them out of the marsh.  I was reluctant to send my Bd into the marsh, so in my turn, when I only had one pip, I just moved two Bd and their supporting Ps against the Wb line.  The Wb were now only single ranked so my chances were good, but the combat rolls were bad and I lost all three elements, blowing a huge hole in the middle of my line.  Uh oh.

My spirits were briefly lifted when he only got 1 pip in the next turn.  He couldn't get an overlap against my lone Bd to the right of the marsh due to the bad going so I had a chance.  He chose to attack me again from the marsh and I rolled a 1.  Dead Bd, end of game.

Post-game thoughts:
  • Fun game.  I think my approach was right but I failed to kill the Germans when I had a chance.  If only that 6-3 combat against the enemy General had worked out!
  • I didn't use my LH or my CvG well.  Both ended up right out on the flanks and being essentially unused.  They would have been more useful if I had had them as a reserve.  They could have moved through that gap in my kinked line and caused all sorts of problems for the Germans.
  • Still, my current DBA philosophy is to keep it simple, so I wanted to avoid getting my units tangled up in each other like I have in the past.
  • But on the third hand, having my CvG way out on the flank meant that I was unable to move my LH when I had low pips because it was out of command range.  Note to self: keep general in the centre.  If I'd been able to use my LH more actively, either drawing back to flank that Wb that kept attacking my Ps, or going wide to threaten the left flank, I think the Germans would have had more difficult problems to solve than a simple long line of Bd.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gepids warband progress

Oh, and since I have the pictures here, this is where my Gepid Wb are up to:

Frothing loons

The things I need to finish up on them are:
  • do the faces and beards/hair properly
  • put silver rims on the shields
  • wash some brown/black into the rims of the shields
  • paint the backs of the shields
  • put some more stripes/checks on the clothes.  (The leftmost guy has stripy dacks on - I like it!)
The shield decorations are probably grossly ahistorical but I just wanted something colourful and easy to paint.  Now on to the Knights!

Alans in progress

Yoicks*!  Almost two weeks since my last post.  I've played a decent number of games in the last few weeks but this post is about the modelling aspect of the hobby.  Seeing as I had a pack of Wargames Factory's German Cavalry I thought I'd put them together.  I've assembled them as LH, so the pack of 12 turns into 6 elements of 2LH. 

My evil plan is to use them as the LH elements in an Alans army.  I'll re-use 3 of the Kn from my Gepids (even though they aren't particularly suitable) and use the two Bd and one Ps options.  Later on I might get more LH and also get something more suitable for Kn.  I gave all the LH the conical/rounded helmets from the two cavalry sets I bought - you get 6 in each.  I think they are suitably generic for steppe armies so may I can use them as Huns or Avars too.

But wait! - I hear you say.  The WF cavalry don't have any bows.  That's right, so I built half with spears/lances, and half with bows that I cannibalized from a set of Games Workshop Goblins.  Clipping off each side of the bow and glueing them either side of the rider's fist seemed to work out okay.  The bows are a little bit chunky but I'm not going to die in a ditch agonising over it.  I also had to chop the riders in half at the waist to get some shoulder rotation, as well as carve off the left arm that is modelled flush with the body and glue on a new left arm, and cut and bend the right arms to make them more angled.  It should all look okay with a bit of green stuff to smooth over it.

The other thing I did was to chop up the heads and necks of the WF horses.  I like the horses, they are fat little ponies rather than strapping thoroughbreds, but the heads have a tendency to look like donkey heads.  And they are all staring straight ahead which makes them look very stiff.  Once I'd seen the pictures of Conquest Games' Norman Knights I realized that by curling the head and neck a bit the horses could be made to look much more dynamic.  By cutting each head off from the base of the jaw up to behind the ears a good pivot point can be made to articulate the head.  The neck is much easier to reposition, you just have to remember that the spine is in the back of the neck and it doesn't lengthen, so the very back of the neck is always the pivot point.

Here's some blurry mobile phone pictures of the blu-tac mockups of the horses.  Once I've got the green-stuff on them and they are looking better I'll post a pic with better light and focus.

Headless-horse men!
Even though the pose changes on the horses are mostly quite small I think overall they make them look much more dynamic.  The only one in this picture which looks a bit bogus to me is the leftmost one in the top row.  Looks like some kind of sauropod.  Shortening the neck should fix it though.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Gepids v Early Byzantines

It's been a little while since I posted a game.  The last time I played we got through two games of Gepids v Early Byzantines in two hours which is about normal for us time-wise though not army-wise.  The first game ended suddenly when the Byzantine General found himself double-overlapped and then dead when fighting against the Gepid knights, leading to a Gepid win with a 1G-0 score.  This is the game report for the second game.

I can't remember who laid out the terrain, but it ended up like this:

Early bounds
 Two gentle hills and a wood on the right of the board.  I set up my Kn in a line, my Wb in two ranks to be beside the woods, and two Ps on each flank.  My plan was to hit his Cv with my Kn, using the Ps for support or to turn his flank on my left, and to hit his infantry with my ranked Wb, using the Ps on the right to stop him from putting his infantry into the woods and denying me my rank bonus.  Having said that, I probably would have been better off with my Wb in the woods against his Bd, but I doubt he would have sent his Bd into the woods to fight me!

If you go down to the woods today
 I got my Ps into an overlap against his Ps and chased them out of the woods.  I then used a double move with my Wb to get them into a fight with his Ax and his double ranked Bd before they could spread out and get an overlap against me.  The Ax got a stick and the Bd recoiled my Wb.

Gepids 2 - Byzantines 0
 An element of Byzantine Cv flanked my Wb.  This could be disastrous.  If I lost two Wb here, the two next to them would fall soon enough.  Then the Byzantine commander got a series of really terrible rolls.  His Ax was killed despite having the overlap and the flank against me.  Then my other Wb block recoiled and killed the Bd in front of them.  Suddenly I had gone from thinking that I was going to lose the game on the right to thinking that I could just stall with my Kn on the left and win on the right!

Gepids 3 - Byzantines 0
 My Wb on the right recoiled and killed the remaining Bd in front of them, while the Wb on their left and a unit of Ps turned and faced the Cv on their flank.

Come back KnG, all is forgiven
 Over on the left side of the board, my Kn and KnG charged the Cv on the hill before the Ps could get run down by them.  Each side got a recoil.  Oh no, I thought, here goes my KnG again, chasing the bad guys across the board.

Before combat
 Then the Byzantine commander tried to assassinate the Gepid general and took a big risk.  His CvG moved to flank my KnG while his Cv charged my waiting Kn because they had to make space for the CvG to get behind them.  Unfortunately it meant that if my KnG recoiled his opponents, the CvG would die because of colliding elements.

After combat.  Gepids 4G - Byzantines 0

And lo and behold, that's just what happened:

Gepids 5G - Byzantines 0
Meanwhile on the right side, my Wb and Ps teamed up on the Byzantine Cv that had tried to spoil the party.  It was pretty likely to get a recoil on a 2-1 combat.  The Cv was killed and the Gepids secured a resounding victory!
Post-game thoughts:
  1. This was a game that looked even until two key die rolls went against the Byzantine player.  Obviously I can't take credit for that, but I do think I took advantage of my luck when it happened.
  2. On the other hand, I was stupid to let his Cv flank me like that.  What should have happened is that all four Wb units should have died.  Once again I let my enthusiasm get the better of me and rushed to combat without considering how my opponent would respond.  It would have been better for me to a have a Ps bodyguard on each side of the Wb to stop that kind of thing happening.
  3. I really need to get these Gepids finished and based.  They're a decent looking army and deserve better.  Just shields and trimmings on the clothes to go really.  I'll try to get it done and get some pics up soon.
  4. The main thing I think I am making progress on in my game is that I am not breaking up my line too soon.  By presenting a solid battle line I am not only able to prevent the enemy from exploiting vulnerable units, I can also semi-disguise my intentions for longer.
  5. However, I'm still not using my Ps effectively.  They are good fun units but the different ways to use them vary so widely depending on what the terrain is like, what your opponent is doing, and what your troops are doing.  Obviously this is true for all DBA troop types to some extent, but with Ps it seems to be their very nature - something I am slowly coming to grips with.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Late Imperial Romans v Early Franks

We played a really enjoyable game today that, although it was a decisive result, really came to the wire in terms of what was going to happen.

My opponent took a Frankish list with:
WbG, 7xWb, 2xBw, Ps

I took a Late Imperial Roman West army so that I could use my newly painted Foederati knights and skirmishers along with my Romans.  My list was:
CvG, Cv, 2xLH, Kn, 2xBd, 3xAx, 2xPs

As I got to be the defender I set up a largely open board with just the one lot of bad going - a woods bisected by a road and some gentle hills.  The Franks chose to have the edge with the woods in their deployment zone and put their camp behind it.  I set up in a single long line.  The Franks set up in three groups with their archers on my left facing my Cv and Kn, so I swapped my Cv and Kn to my right side in exchange for 2xBd.

(Click pictures to embiggen)

Kamikaze Psiloi: Romans 0 - Franks 1
Rather stupidly, when I got lots of pips on my first turn, I did the Psiloi Dash all the way up the Wb in the woods and charged them.  Now this was plainly idiotic, but my thinking was that Wb can't kill Ps so I'll be able to annoy him and draw him out of the woods.  Which is all well and good until his turn when he does a double move to flank my Ps and kill it on the recoil.  Sigh... I'm sure that I'd be a much better DBA player if I didn't keep trying to be so clever.

Romans being Romans, barbarians being barbarians
Feeling chastened by the senseless loss of my Ps, I was much more sensible for the rest of the game.  I keep pacing my army forward.  On my left the Bw and Wb came out to meet me but their shooting failed to do anything useful.  On the right I sent my LH for an end-run around to threaten his camp, hoping to disrupt his lines a bit.

We have strategery on tap
The Franks sent their Ps back to intercept my LH, keeping their toes in the woods.  My LH moved to block his ZOC so that the rear of the two units would have some options next turn.  My Cv and Kn moved right, hoping to be able to get the Kn into the Wb which had come out of the woods.  My three Ax attacked the Frankish Bw but only managed to recoil them both.  On the left I got myself into a tangle, wheeling my Bd so far that it was hard to extricate them from the ZOC of the leftmost Wb unit and forming a potential obstacle to my Ax if it had to recoil.

The next few turns saw lots of combat but no results.  My Ax traded recoils back and forth with his Bw.  In the centre his WbG began driving my Ax back despite being double overlapped by my other Ax and my CvG.  On the right my Kn charged his Wb in the open with a flank from my LH but they must have packed their rubber lances today.

One chance in 36.  Romans 0 - Franks 2
In an act of lunacy, the Frankish Wb on the right charged my Kn and to my surprise killed it with a 6-1 roll!  Oh dear.  The back and forth between my Ax and Bw continued on the left with the Romans being unable to make anything of repeated 3-2 and 3-1 combats.  In the centre the WbG continued to push back my Ax while my CvG beside him got stuck against the Wb.

Romans 1 - Franks 2
Still my Ax on the left were unable to buy a win.  In the centre my Cv lined up beside my CvG to give the overlap on the Frankish Wb who were finally killed.

A rush of blood to the head
The bad guy got 6 pips and after a moment of thought put into place a risky yet fiendish plan.  His Bw moved back from my Ax and the adjacent Wb unit made a double move to attack the Ax.  The Wb behind his WbG also made a double move and retreated, turned and flanked my CvG which was also attacked by the Wb in front of it.  The situation before we rolled any dice was as above.  His General has no room to recoil and is in a 4-3 combat in his favour.  My General has been flanked and is in a 1-3 combat to my favour.  Here's what happened:

A rush of blood to the neck.  Romans 2G - Franks 3G
Against the odds, both Generals were recoiled and killed.  On the left my Ax again recoiled his Bw and the Wb vs Ax fight was a tie.  The Romans were demoralized by seeing their General trapped and killed and fled the battlefield with head hung low.

Post-game thoughts:
  1. My kamikaze Psiloi move lost me the game.  If I hadn't been 1 unit down already, the game would have been tied up at 2G-2G each and we would have continued.  Plus I would have had some Ps backup for my Ax, leading them to kill those pesky Bw.  I really don't what I was thinking...
  2. Speaking of Ps, what was I thinking??  My other Ps just sat there all game, forgotten and lonely.  I could have moved through the Bd and given support to my Ax.
  3. I should have been more aggressive with my Bd.  I've had some bad experiences in the past with my Bd being killed by Wb but the odds are with the Bd especially when I would have had the overlap on the left if I'd cared to take it.
  4. Finally a game where I didn't recklessly waste my LH. I was very unlucky with them and my Kn, first to recoil from a flanking 3-1 combat, then to lose my Kn to a 3-2 combat.  Dem's da breaks!
  5. It was a really fun game with both sides fighting in what I think were historically appropriate ways.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Patrician Romans v Early Lombards

This time my opponent decided to play Lombards so I took the Patrician Romans West.  My army was:
KnG, 2xKn, LH, Bd, 6xAx, Ps
I went with Ax instead of Wb because I wanted the faster units.
The Lombard army was scary:
KnG, 6xKn, 3xBw, 2xWb

The Lombards were the defenders and they put down a road, gentle hills and some woods.  I wanted the woods to advance through so I chose that side and got it.

After the first few bounds
The Lombards spread their Kn out in a line, with Bw and Wb on each side.  I put my Kn and LH on the left, hoping to be able to break through to his camp before his Kn could catch me, but then he switched an extra unit of Bw to the left making it harder for me.  I advanced my Ax in column through the woods.  My plan was to use the central block of Ax to trap a good part of his Kn in my ZOC, and the right hand block of Ax, fronted by the Bd, to try to go around the side of his Kn and kill his Wb and Bw on the hill.

Romans 0 - Lombards 1
He angled his bows slightly to cover his flanks with their arc of fire.  This allowed me to attack them with my Ps, with the LH behind for any follow-up opportunities that might be available, and with two units of Kn on the right of the Ps to give an overlap to compensate for the overlap of the Bw on my left.  This meant it was a 1 to 1 combat so anything could happen.  Sadly my Ps was doubled and killed.

Roman knights behaving rashly
Now my LH was a sitting duck for his Bw so they ran back far enough to be out of range next turn.  My Kn were also going to be in danger from his Bw so they took the plunge and hit the opposing line of Lombard Kn.  One Kn stuck in place, the other got a recoil and followed up, now surrounded by the Lombards.  Trouble is coming my way!  On the right, my Ax stepped forward to limit the movement of the last unit of Lombard Kn so that the Bd+Ax column could make a dash for the Bw and Wb on the hill.  Although the Bd was slower than the Ax I kept them in front as they would be better in combat if the Kn caught me in the open, though not by much.

Roman LH behaving judiciously
The Lombards closed the door on both my units of Kn, using Bw on the left and Kn on the right.  My Kn were surely doomed now, but surprisingly they held on.  The Lombards sent a unit of Kn to my right to guard their flank.

Romans 0 - Lombards 4
Finally my 2 units of Kn succumbed to the flank attacks and were cut down.  On the right, my Bd charged the Lombard Kn with an overlap from the Ax.  If I could just get a recoil, next turn I could get my Ax onto the hill and into the enemy Bw.  But the Kn rode down my Bd, ending the game quickly and brutally.

Post-game thoughts:
  1. I lost this game because I got intimidated.  I think my strategy of using my Ax in the woods to lock down the enemy Kn was a good one.  But on the left my mounted wing was too afraid of the enemy Bw.  If I'd had more Ax on the left I could have used them for Bw hunting and used my Kn and LH for overlaps.  I would have had to advance more slowly to give myself more time to get the Ax over to that side though.
  2. When I did send the Bd and Ax to the right I should have sent them much wider and had a unit of Kn available to screen his Kn.
  3. Both of the above points tell me that my setup was not flexible enough.  I should have set-up something like this: [LH] [Kn] [KnG] [Ax] [Ax] [Ax] [Ax] [Ax] [Ax] [Kn] [Kn] [Ps] with all of the Ax behind the woods.  This would have allowed me to advance the Ax in column into the woods if necessary but also have the Ax wide enough to get them to the flanks if necessary.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

LIR v Visigoths again

This is our repeat of the previous game of Late Imperial Romans v Later Visigoths.  Again, the pictures are taken from a pretty low angle so although they look nice and pretty it's sometimes a bit hard to see what's actually going on.  Sorry for so long between posts.  I actually did most of this one a week or so ago but ran into some glitches with blogger and didn't get back to it until tonight.

Anyway, here's the board and the early setup - crossroads through a woods and two gentle hills. 

Tally ho!
 I put a column of Ax on the road and sent them scooting into the woods.  I sent a Cv and LH to the right around the woods.  My Bd and Ps started to plod around the left of the woods towards the enemy camp, with the CvG and LH on their far left.  My plan was to distract the Visigoths on the right on the board with the Cv and LH, block them in the woods with the Ax, and put pressure on their camp with the Bd.

The Visigoth setup looked odd to me at first but here's my analysis of it:
- 2xCv and 2xPs on my right to oppose my mounted.
- 2xWb on the road to oppose my Ax, with the KnG in a nice central position.
- 2xBw,2xWb,Cv on the right to defend the camp and harass my mounted with shooting.
The only thing I would do differently is to keep the two Bw units together and not put them near the wood where they can't shoot.

Romans 0 - Visigoths 1
I left the right flank quite static as I was spending most of my pips on the left to advance my Bd and in the middle to reorganize my Ax into a line.  Once again I had pushed my Ax too far forward and into a vulnerable position for no benefit.  The rightmost was killed by a lowly Ps when overlapped by his Cv.  The others recoiled the enemy and bought some time to withdraw.  The gap in front of the enemy camp continued to tempt me.

Romans 1 - Visigoths 1

Realizing that my Ax were about to get overwhelmed by a bunch of thugs with sticks and rocks, I sent them some Ps backup.  This enabled them to kill an enemy Bw which had attacked them in the woods.  The enemy Ps moved to a flanking position but I rolled well and recoiled the enemy again.

On the right, my Cv and LH moved to threaten the flank of the enemy Cv.  On the left, my Bd marched onwards.  My LH scooted around behind the Visigoths Bw which turned to face them.

Here's what happened next:

Romans 1 - Visigoths 2

My LH kept turning the Bw around because I was too scared to charge them and didn't want to be forced to flee off the table and I figured that if I could get far enough around I'd be able to bypass them entirely and charge another unit.  In the woods the Visigoth Ps flanked my Ax which was killed by his Wb.  His other Wb recoiled my 2 remaining Ax.  On the left flank my line of Bd started to curl around to line up to his angled block of Wb.

Romans 2 - Visigoths 2

Right about now I realized that my General was way too far out on the left flank where not only was there nothing for him to do, he was also so far from the woods that I was paying extra pips to try to save my Ax.  So I turned him and moved him full speed back behind my lines.  My Ax retreated also at top speed to escape the Wb.  My LH charged the rear unit of his Wb on my left flank, thus evading the shooting of his Bw as well as robbing the Wb in front of my blades of a rear support factor.  That unit of Wb was duly despatched.

Romans 3 - Visigoths 2

His Wb pursued me out of the woods but was driven back by my Ax with some lucky rolls.  On the right flank our mounted units finally clashed but all that happened was that my LH was recoiled.  My CvG continued to close in on the woods and my LH ran down the Wb that they had rear charged earlier.

Romans 4 - Visigoths 2

In a final bid to win the game, his Wb near the woods charged my Ax again and also flanked me with his other unit of Wb but again I rolled luckily and he recoiled, straight into the path of my CvG.  My Ax followed up in my turn and my CvG flanked his Wb and it was killed and the game was mine.

Post-game thoughts:
  1. Again, I tried to concentrate on keeping it simple and again it worked.
  2. Again, I was the beneficiary of lucky die rolls when it counted.
  3. Again, I was too aggressive with my Ax simply because I like them.  Realistically, they should have been killed three or four times by the enemy Wb and it was only luck that saved me.
  4. Moving my Cv and LH to the right of the woods was a waste.  Perhaps if I had kept my CvG more centrally located the whole game it would have allowed me to use them more.
  5. DBA is fun!