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.