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!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gepids progress

I've finished building my Gepid army.  Now I just have to paint them.  Shouldn't take longer than, say, THE REST OF MY LIFE!!!

4 x 2 Psiloi
4 x 4 Warband
4 x 3 Knights
No idea what I'm going to do for a camp.  Any suggestions?

Late Imperial Romans v Later Visigoths

For this game, I chose to play Late Imperial Romans West  II/78a:
CvG, Cv, 2xLH, 3xBd, 3xAx, 2xPs

My opponent chose to play Later Visigoths II/82:
KnG, 3xCv, 4xWb, 2xPs, 2xBw

I laid out the terrain, choosing this time to place only some roads, a wood and two gentle hills.  I wanted space to spread my line out like good old fashioned Romans!  My opponent put a block of Cv on the hill and his block of Wb on the flat with Bw on the right and Ps on the left.

After the first bounds

Naturally, I got a 1 for pips first up.  The Visigoths grabbed the woods on my right with their Ps and angled everybody else to go around the woods.  Even though I had my Ps and Ax on that side I decided pretty early on that I wasn't going to distract myself by contesting the woods unless I had an easy kill on the cards.

After a few more bounds my much longer line was starting to envelop the Visigoths:

Come to papa!

My real fear was that his Kn would punch through my Ax or Bd with the quick kill, but since it was his general he probably decided that it was too risky.  I sent a single Ax through the woods to turn the block of Wb away from my Bd, ignoring the enemy Ps in my rear which were now out of command distance.  My LH went wide left atop the hill, so the Visigoths bent their line of Cv back to protect their flanks, but it did cause them to have quite a fragmented line.

Romans 1 - Visigoths 0

The Wb split up to try to kill my Ax in the woods but the Ax recoiled.  My LH charged the lone straggling Cv with one overlap and killed them in an even fight with a lucky roll.  My Cv also charged the Goth Cv with an overlap but got a stick.  The enemy Cv then withdrew from combat back to the top of the hill.  The Goth Bw started to shoot my Ax but nothing came of it.

Romans 2 - Visigoths 0

My CG then attacked the next Visigoth Cv in the line, with the flank from my other Cv unit.  I got the recoil easily on a 4-2 combat and the enemy Cv was cut down.  The Visigoths were suffering a severe pip drought at this time so it was not easy for them to respond as I rolled up their line.

Romans 3G - Visigoths 0
TheVisigoth KnG decided to stop the rot himself and turned and charged my Cv even though this put him in a position to be flanked by my CvG.  His remaining Cv came off the hill to give an overlap, making it a 3-2 fight in his favour, but if he recoiled he'd be destroyed and the game would be mine.  That's what happened, giving the Romans a long-awaited victory!

Post-game thoughts:
  1. My plan this game was to keep it simple.  No elaborate back-field runs, no attempts at pushing big columns through bad going, just rely on a solid wall of Bd and mounted.  And it worked!
  2. It certainly helped that the bad guys had Kn + 3xCv rather than 4xKn.  It allowed me to be much more assertive in enveloping him.
  3. We used a system of drawing playing cards ranging from Ace to 6 to determine pips.  No different really to rolling for pips except that if you draw some low cards early you know you're due for higher cards later on, which is a nice psychological and statistical addition to the game.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Civil war

Educational theory says that now that I've been playing DBA for a while I should be improving from a state of unconscious incompetence to a state of conscious incompetence.  Well, today's game certainly seemed to provide support for that theory.  I feel like I'm getting worse at DBA, but at least now I'm quicker to figure out what I'm doing wrong!

We played a Middle Imperial Roman civil war, I took East versus my opponent's West.  The board was as below, with a steep hill in my deployment zone, a gentle hill opposite, a wood on my right and a waterway on my left.  Our armies were the same, except he had chosen Bw where I chose Ps.

After the first bounds
I dithered a lot with my set-up.  I certainly didn't feel like I had any sort of plan and it probably shows.  I started to run my LH around to the left hoping to outflank the Art on the hill.  My own Art moved up the road facing his Cv.  He moved his Ax into the woods and generally advanced the rest of his army but left behind an Ax and Bd near the road.

Having this many groups is painful when you roll a 2 for pips
I kept rolling low for pips and my LH movement was gobbling them up so I didn't get much further forward.  His Cv and LH came down the road and veered to hug the edge of the woods. His CvG backed up his Bd block.  And his rearmost Bd went towards the waterway to intercept my LH. 

My Cv moved towards my right flank when I saw his Cv and LH coming.  I left room for my Ax to recoil - I've been caught like that before!  My Ps moved to the left to broaden the line, thinking I might be able to skirt around him.  My Ax on the steep hill moved forward to throw a ZOC out in front of my Ps and Bd.  I would have liked to charge the Art on the flank with my LH but he had the hill so I would probably have to recoil, and then in my turn the Art would blast me.  I needed to get those Ax up fast to help out!

East 0 - West 1
Then I got a shock - his lone Bw stepped up and shot my Ax to death with a 6-1 roll!  His own Ax came off the hill and suddenly my left flank looked flimsy.  I juggled my Bd and Ps around to get the Ps behind the Bd before they got chased off by the enemy Bd - I wanted the combat advantage when our lines collided.  His Ax continued to advance through the woods so I brought up my Cv to oppose them.  My Art was shooting at his LH but failed to achieve anything real.

Take a bow.  East 1 - West 1

In my turn, my Ax came off the steep hill and killed his Bw by recoiling it into the flank of his Bd.  My Bd also managed to recoil both of his Bd units.  Then my Art managed to recoil his Cv and LH back onto the road.  My CvG moved to behind the Bd to the right of my Art, with the thought that I might be able to pounce on his Cv in the future.

Jostling for position

In the next few bounds, my Ax retreated to form a line with my Bd block, but his Ax formed up opposite it and his Bd moved to overlap me on the steep hill.  I moved my rightside Bd out of the way and charged my CvG into his Cv but only managed to recoil it.  However, both his Cv and LH now had a toe in the forest so if they recoiled again they'd be dead.  I then succumbed to temptation and ran my LH right behind his Ax in the hope of recoiling his Ax into it.  Of course, I was right in the sights of the Western Roman artillery and we rolled even on the dice so my LH was left swinging in the breeze with nothing to show for it...

Click click, BOOM!  East 1 - West 3
So in his turn, his Art destroyed my LH.  And then he flanked my Ax and killed it too.  And now he had the flank on my Bd line.  I think I only rolled a 1 for pips, so I stupidly attacked with my Bd where I couldn't actually kill anything.  Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of the final setup but here's what happened:

East 1 - West 5
His units flanked my Ps-backed Bd and recoiled them, killing both because they'd been flanked by his Bd.  Game over.

Post-game thoughts:
  1. It was really interesting playing against essentially the same army (only 1 unit difference).  Much trickier as there weren't any strong mismatches.  A much more tactical game that I think I lost because I got rash and did risky things whereas my opponent held his nerve.
  2. It was funny playing with no Wb on the board!  I'm so used to their adorable impetuous advances.
  3. I'm still pretty bad at using Art.  I still prefer LH.
  4. My initial setup was bad.  If I could play this game again I would start with my Bd in column on the steep hill.  I would advance them against his Art.  My Art and Cav would creep up on the flat, guarding the right flank of my Bd.  No idea what I would have done with my Ax though!
  5. I should have left my Ax on the steep hill rather than pouncing on his Bw to kill it.  I was so keen to avenge the unlikely shooting of my other Ax that I didn't foresee how fast my flank could collapse.  If I'd stayed on the edge of the hill I would have had the uphill in the bad ground and my ZOC would have put his Bd line in disarray for a while.
Again, it was a fun game, and I feel like I'm still on a learning curve for DBA.  Soon hopefully I'll have some Kn, Wb and Ps painted and then I'll be able to play the Patrician Romans.  Thanks for reading.