Reading - Arab's in Berkshire
I always do
badly at Warfare. It's ever since I started
trying to use "clever" armies a few years ago. I almost made
the same mistake again, and set off with the intention of using the Arab
Conquest , but at the last moment I saw sense, and swapped to the
This switch filled me with optimism - It was now written in the stars that it would be a great weekend - namely the inevitability that even though I have absolutely bucket-loads of Arabs, I still needed to paint up a few more the evening before!
So, First game for the Burpers was against Martin Naylor and his Fatimid Egyptians. Martin basically had a 3 command army, with 2 largish Bw (X)-based commands, and one featuring some Bw (O) and Cavalry. Interestingly as we were playing 3.0, he had brought the max of the previously little-seen Wb(F) Ghazis, and also Bd (X), hoping/expecting to fight walls of spears. And he was right!
Martin chucked the Bw (O) block down in the center of the table, in a patch of RGo, and deployed Bw (X) to the flanks, as they would be pretty poor against my spear wall. With two bits of rough narrowing the frontage considerably, the cavalry looked on in bemusement as 42 spearmen deployed across the open space - Lamantuna Reg Sp (O) making up the center, and Sp(I) the rest. I sent the Christians on a flank march, figuring I didn't have room to fit them on table, and that they would be useless against the Bw(X) anyway. the scarey bit was on my right, where the Ghazis and Bd (X) lined up against my weaker Sp wing.
Moving first, I chucked the left and center commands forwards, and chucked the LH & Ps on the right forwards as well, hoping to buy some time for the spearwall. The Christians decided not to arrive....
The game from then on in was somewhat bizzarre - a story of failed plans, and desperate chances. Over on my left, the supported spearwall were wading into the Fatimid cavalry, gradually fleeing them backwards, and pushing past the 4 Pk (I) who linked the mounted wing to the B (X) line - who themselves were afraid to advance into yet more spears. This at least was going according to plan.
In the center, my theory was to attack the Bw (O) line in the rough with the Lamantuna boys, figuring that even with me going into the rough, 2 vs 2 was reasonable odds given the bowmen would be losing 2 elements per go, and me one - and I had extra ranks of spears AND Ps to chuck in afterwards to exploit any gaps. however after a desperate charge under fairly heavy fire, I discovered that Bw now get rear support against spears - so I was 3-2 down! 4 Lamantuna lads went straight back in the box at first contact, and my plan was quickly revised - yeuch!
To my right, the Ps (S) got bogged down fairly quickly in RGo, retreating under bowfire from the redeployed Bw (X), but the onrushing Ghazis exposed their flanks as they and the Lamantuna "crossed very fast, like ships in the night, or cars in a contraflow sysss-teh-eh- he-hemmmm" . Eager Berper LH flooded in to the gap, and managed to turn a couple of Ghazis - knocking a big dent in the end of their line. However they rolled on unperturbed to wards the quailing Sp (I).
Gradually I was wearing down the left flank with my spear wall, but the Lamantuna in the center were by now close to breaking - and with Bd (I) boiling out from behind the bow, their days were clearly numbered. Time for balls-in-hands moment! And time for the Christians to arrive!
The remaining Ghazis charged into the Sp (I), who had thrown out a disruptive Ps (O) to prevent them hitting in a solid line. 6 (I) vs 3 & 4 (F) - scarey! The dice rolled......and I won! A few more charges into overlapped ghazis, and the command was virtually in retreat - all it needed was for the Christians to roll over a few Ps (O) in the open....... which of course they failed comprehensively to do!
Fast knights and LH were mucking about for ages - and then they lost control of their motions, and it was even worse - and even more embarrassing as the final few elements evaded us time and time again. Then the Lamantuna fell, and my center was exposed - OK, not to much, but still exposed.
Frantic moments ensued, as I threw things forward desperately (well, desperately slowly actually they were mostly Irr Sp (I) after all) in an attempt to deliver the coup-de-grace (Lots of Arabic countries speak French you know...). Finally, with the clock running out, a lone Christian landed in the baggage - and amazingly beat it (how many times have you failed to kill baggage with Kn when you have to do it!)
After a couple of years of having the whammy on Terry, he now appears to have turned the tables on me following his victory in the World Team Championships. In similar vein, I managed to deploy lots of my troops against nothing of his (he was using Konstantinian Byzantine - lots of LH, and a mobile reserve of Kn (O) and (F) behind them.), and totally screw up terrain - allowing his Kn (O) to charge down from a gentle hill in the central sector into my LH & Kn (F). The dice weren't over-kind to me i the centre, and I nearly managed to get into his Kn(F0 on the lower slopes of a rough hill with my supported Sp (I) on the open, but they extracted themselves just i time by a clever extra-distance-interpenetration. But, if you have a huge command with a LH general, and get him killed, you deserve to lose.
Saturday Evening - an early (7-30pm) Curry, followed by large amounts of lager & Vodka-Red-Bull. No change there then.....
What can you say - this was my game plan for the weekend play Abbasids, deploy a river, fill the table with Spears and run over their Bw(X), whilst laughing at their cavalry. It almost worked a treat - even the Christians, who had in all honesty performed dismally the day before, had a good run.
The real surprise was finding out how difficult it was to kill Bw (X) with Sp (I) - I only lost one element on the way in, but the combat was interminable, weeks dragged on, the earth turned, Ice Ages wept back and forth across the frozen wastes of Southern Spain and North Africa, insects and vegetable matter fell to earth, decayed, and turned into oil, creating additional wealth for my army, and combat carried on and on as we gradually pushed them back across the table, without making any real impact.
However the Christians had been advancing (and probably evolving as well in the time frame considered) along the other side of a difficult river - one quick KMDT maneuver later, and they were in full impetuous flood across it - slamming into a solid line of Cv (S). The newly-painted general element rolled a 6-1, and slammed a hole clean thought the Abbasid line - Both Gods were on my side !!!!
Gradually the Sp (I) were making inroads - and on my right I was conceding elements gradually to a concerted cavalry attack, but not at a dangerous rate. Ps (O) were harassing LH in the center, adding more casualties to the Abbasid pile.
The cavalry re-grouped back from the waterline, and the Christian Knights charged in again - and again the Christian General got a 6-1 - SPLAT !!! It was enough.. 10-0.
Same game, same story - except that we had a strong wind, which further incommoded the Bw (X) - and the cavalry wing on the Abbasid left was squished in front of a wood, so couldn't get away when they started fleeing from a more comprehensive Sp advance - and the Christians were hitting the Cv (S) in the open, with overlaps to start with. There were some Ghazis, but they got bogged down in a patch of RGo, and faced off by Ps (S). 10-0
What did we learn about 3.0......well...
- Kn (F) are lots better than Cv (S)
- Inferior troops with high basic factors are much better than they used to be
- You can fill the table with Sp (I) - and there is bugger all anyone can do about it
- You are fighting almost immediately
- Being attacker is great - but the right terrain can be set up to help the defender as well - if it falls in the center especially
- It could end up being a tedious game if we all learn these lessons!