Field of Glory Renaissance in Oxford in 2011
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The chance for redemption beckons as the mists of autumn roll in across the Oxfordshire countryside. Will it be a success on which we will end this weekend of savage combat and erratic dicemanship, or will defeat yet again nip at our coat-tails and send us scurrying for cover, our heads hung deep in shame?
The last game saw us matched against some Ming Chinese, with banners fluttering resplendantly in the breeze, and an artillery park Napoleon himself would have been proud of. The lists from this and all the other games at Oxford can be seen here.
The terrain on which the enthusiastic Europeans would take on the innumerable legions of China was a cluttered mess of fields, shady groves and hamlets - there was no obvious way forward, no clear axis of attack - and likewise, no single field of fire for the expert Chinese gunners.
Here is a highly scientific preview of the battle...
The Chinese deployed a massive mix of Medium, Light and Heavy guns - even from a long way away the astonished Austrians had no difficulty in telling which was which!
As has always been the case throughout Wargaming history, the cunning Chinese were harking back to the era of WRG 5th and 6th Edition Army Lists, where there used to be just one "Chinese" list. This saw an Essex Sung Dynasty generic eastern Cavalry General leading the forces of Ming...
The Chinese were an archaic army, with little in the way of firearms. They deployed deep, and initiated some archaic tactics involving throwing out a skirmish screen of Light Foot (no "e" in China) to delay the advancing Austrians and allow their generous gathering of guns to do their deadly work
The proud Poles and hopeless Austrian Harquebusiers were rocketing down the right flank, where their only opponents were a lone unit of courageous Chinese cavalry. Sweep them away and the whole Ming Army might be unhinged before their guns can turn and rake the advancing Poles and Carabiniers
Unsurprisingly, Dragoons from Austrian immediately dived deep into a dragoon-friendly field and found a position from which to hurl defiant abuse at the rather dragoon-free Chinese army.
The Austrians, seeing some of the Chinese guns on their left, and having stacked all of their cavalry on the right were now committing themselves to an advance in deep formation right up the middle of the park. It would be cluttered, but once they got through and into the Chinese, it should be carnage
The Chinese responded by wheeling their line gently to the left, ready to piur fire and scorn on the slowly advancing European infantry regiments...
The same sophisticated maneuver had now put the Austro-Polish cavalry firmly in the sights of another battery of big guns - this was good news for the Dragoons, but not for the horsemen, or indeed the rest of the army and it's plan for victory
As the Austrian foote struggled to redeploy and force itself through the gap, the Chinese started to fire up the rockets and a veritable firework display filled the air between the opposing lines
The rocketeers were a force to be reckoned with...
The emboldened Dragoons moved up, hoping to record a lucky shot and kill on the massed ranks of Ming artillery as their attention was distracted by jucier targets...
The rest of the inapproriately deployed and decidedly 'average' Austrian horse gingerly maneuvered itself in a thin strip of land out of range of the Ming firepower - units of Average horse being especially vulnerable to even a couple of base losses !
The Austrians and Poles had managed to - almost - maneuver themselves out of the arc of the Chinese guns, with the heavier batteries now obscured by lighter ones to their front - this gave the Austrians an opportunity to initiate a general CHARGE on the Ming foot to their front. Everything was teed up for Poles to crash into unprotected foot - the only risk was to the 4 Harquebusiers, who had drawn the short straw and were tasked with fielding someartillery balls to protect the Poles from damage in the charge home...
The Austrians attempted to push forward, but between the delaying tactics of the surprisingly resilient to shooting Chinese skirmishers, and the lack of generals as the Austrians sought to attack on the flank, push through the middle and simultaneously redeploy a big chunk of Horse from flank to flank, things were getting somewhat bogged down. The Austrian general was starting to consider whether starting a land war in Asia was indeed the right thing to be doing...
Faces with the sound and fury of the onrushing Polish juggernaut, the Chinese army was in dissarray. The Chinese cavalry had been bottled up at the side of a town by the Pancerni, leaving the way open for the Hussary to charge in against a line of cowardly foote - who were little more than an ablative screen to delay the Poles. Meanwhile, more Chinese foot scurried into the outskirts of the village, either to escape the Hussaria charge or to try and flank the Pancerni, only the Chinese Gods knew.
The Ming artillery park opened up - an immediately a base of Harquebusiers were removed. Problematic, but not yet terminal.... although the sound of smug sniggering from the nearby Austrian Dragoons was not helping the harquebusiers mood in any way.
It was hard to imagine that the Austrian army had ever set itself up with such a robust center - but unfortunately the Ming were doing anything but advancing against the Austrian Guns and Foote regiments
The Ming Light Guns furiously tried to reload as the Polish and Austrian horse inched into charge range...
You remember the comment a couple of pictures ago about the Austrian center? Well, a chance now to enjoy it from a different angle...
The chinese artillery opened up
OOps! 2 Ming shots, 2 dead Austrian harquebusiers.... and on a 4-strong average unit, that's terminal. the gamble of the Austrian general to protect his Polish allies had come spectacularly and instantly unstuck...
Bereft of their flank cover, the Poles charged onwards - leaving the tast of mopping up the light artillery to the no not quite som smug Austrian Dragoons - who's morale had been badly affected by the destruction of the Harquebusiers. A general might be needed to urge them onto the front line and to make a charge... The only good point of the situation now playing out was that the Pancerni had decided that the Ming cavalry were no longer a threat, especially with the Ming gunners now stuck in the village almost unable to move, and had move back to their proper role of supporting the Poles...
Finally the Austrian middle got itself into some sort of good order and commenced a general advance, chasing away a lone skirmisher unit in the process
Under a classic Chinese skyline, the Austrian Dragoons found themselves in the firing line of a large number of large calibre and large bore artillery. A far cry from a field of sugar beet somehwere in rural Ruland..
The Dragoons were still DISR, so might well refuse to charge... so the Poles were forced to divert their onward rush to clip the artillery - but encouraged by this the Dragoons did indeeed decide to attack
The tiny unit of Chinese artillery felt the full force of combined arms warfare as both units piled in complete with Generals. The job of the Poles was to win, whilst the Dragoons were there just to capture and quickly learn how to operate the rocket-firing wheelbarrows (Hopefully the instructions were in multiple languages...)
The Austrians had by now decided to let the Poles win on the right, and were forming up to knock chunks out of the Chinese center - the initial waves of musketry were already removing bases from the Dare to Die troopers
Skulking out of arc of the Ming guns, the unit defending the Austrian flank were quietly confident that the battle would be long over before anyone noticed theyy were there..
Once again, this time despite the fashions they adopted being separated by three continents and an ocean or two, the Austrians took quiet pride in having cooler regimental gun markers than their Chinese counterparts
Something was going strangely wrong, as the crappy Chinese guns were now Austrian guns, and so the Chinese artillery behind them could shoot at the flanks of the Austrian dragoons with impunity (as the Dragoons were now no longer "in combat" - this sent the Dragoons FRAGGED in short order!!
The Chinese, unencumbered by the requirement to maintain normal sized formations, contractd into deeper columns and stormed into the bamboo grove, much to the surprise both of the Polish foote lurking in it and of the Austrian regiments to their left who were just about to launch a determined attempt to envelop the Chinese infantry's exposed flank!
At last the guns were captured and the Poles rushed on into a unit of malnourished peasant infantry armed only with chop-sticks and an unwavering belief in the restorative powers of monosodium glutomate. This would be short and very, very messy indeed.
The Austrians slowly closed the stable door ...
The Pancerni returned to normal cavalry-bottling-up duties .... but somehow the Hussars were yet to break through? A clock started ticking loudly as the Chinese handgunners emerged slowly from the village, astounded at the siht of a flank of hussars arrayed before them
Peppered with arrows from a tiny unit of skirmishers, the Dragoons took their toys and ran off home... would the guns be recaptured ?
As the two sides stumbled toward each other in the bamboo forest, both sides lost bases and cohesion. This could be a battle both armies could regret initiating
The Hussars poked the peasants with long sticks from horseback,but to no avail. Each time they managed to win, the Chinese passed the cohesion test - and weight of numbers was now starting to mean the Poles were losing every now and then as well
The Chinese piled into the Bamboo Forest (an actual forest, not a restaurant in California
The Polish Pancerni were starting to win against the Chinese cavalry - maybe they would have time to run round the village and charge the Chinese peasantry in the rear before the game was done ?
The Bamboo Forest battle was so important (well, the Austrians were staring defeat in the face and had no other units engaged) that a General was added to the Polish Foote in an attempt to win the combat and throw the Chinese out of the Bamboo Forest as soon as possible.
As the Austrians pushed forward out of the gap between the terrain, they came under a hail of arrows and cannonballs - the lead unit starts to lose bases and cohesion, but anyway as soon as they hit home it will all be alright.... surely?
Unbvelievably, the 6-rolling Chinese Foote are still alive - as their comrades emerge from the village to threaten the Polish Hussars rear
Austrians most unimpressive Cuirassiers provide rear support to a host of units. Well, average Horse in a unit of 4 - they have no other real function do they?
The Hussars are in a world of pain ....
The Hussars are removed from play....
But it's not all bad news, as the Chinese middle evaporates in a cloud of musketry. There is now even room for the Crap Cuirassiers to join in the general rout... only one unit of Cavalry to go now and the Chinese artillery park lies open and undefended...
But the Cavalry have other ideas - as Chinese bowmen re-capture the wheelbarrow artillery the Chinese Nobles charge home - and now the Austrian Foote are fragmented by the massed shooting
They rout, causing the Crap Cuirassiers to drop cohesion... the Austrian foote then rout through their own Cuirassiers, sending them immediately Fragged !!!
The Chinese cavalry charge into the Cuirassiers, routing them at impact. Ooops!
The Chinese cavalry pursue relentlessly through the Austrian army
Next up, the Artillery Park maybe...?
The Austrians in the middle are left somewhat isolated as the rest of their line has now turned tail and fled...
The Pancerni gain some small revenge - but a little too late methinks....
The game is dissolving into several unconnected fierce skirmishes - the Bamboo Forest chucks out its most unruly customers, leaving it in possession of the Poles....
Here, Austrians take a chance to attack where they think they have a small advantage - which rapidly evaporates in a puff of rocketry...
Here two light horse units enter a diceroll lottery...
It's a confusing mess really
As is the final score.... a 13-7 defeat !
Post Match Summary
I have always deeply abhorred Chinese food for its inefficient use of chopsticks instead of well engineered Teutonic cutlery and it's over reliance on monosodium glutomate,which comes so close to being a proper Germanic word but is sadly let down in it;s attempt by the unambitious gap between the words "monosodium" and "glutomate" , and now I have additional reasons to dislike it
This was a deeply unsatisfying battle, as the enemy refused to fight fairly and line up opposite my superior troops and poke sticks at us, as do all my relatives armies in civilized Europe.
Having said that, capturing artillery was a thrill, and now I know what it feels like to be one of my regular opponents
Given the enemy practically cheated, and I had no idea how to fight them, I will mark this down as narrow win
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Sit there, thy lyingest knave in Christendom, whilst I regale you with an explanation of your deep incompetence
Lets start with the terrain. The enemy has artilley in bucket-loads, so what soft and dull eyed fool leaves him naught by one or two obvious routes down which to aim it?A big open field allows your men to avoid the murderous fall of shotte - but a corridor between terrain is naught but a back passage to doom
And your Poles - the best troops performed as if they were wenches, peevish, sullun, forward, proud, disobedient, stubborn and lacking in duty - however if your only plan was to throw them at anything they saw, and do so in such a cack-handed way that the enemy maximised their shooting opportunities, I dare blame them not for their recalcitrance in the martial arts
Methink thou art not a General, but a general offence, and every man should beat thee. I think thou wast created for men to breathe themselves upon you - e'en if it ends up with breath smelling of Thai ginger and prawn crackers. Go to, you're a dry fool, I'll no more of you
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