Field of Glory Competition - Devizes 2008 Attack!
After a surprise return from the desert wastes, I found myself with a free part-weekend and decided to take a trip to Devizes, mainly to do a bit of mooching about and some shopping. However an email from a club mate alerted me to the fact that "Plastic" Dave Allen was short of a doubles partner (as opposed to his more usual "his troops were 5mm short of being 25mm") and so I invited myself to get up at 7am and be there to surprise him as he checked in, making up a proper Central London Old Boys team for the day.
Dave had known he was likely to be "solo player" and so had picked an appropriate army for such a "solo player". By this he meant one with few units so it would be easy to control and move, but actually it turned out to be the rather more double-entendre version of "solo", in that it was really pretty w-nk.
The army was some sort of Successor thingy. It was made up of troops bought from eBay, but unfortunately Dave had used the specially filtered eBay 15mm Ancients listings on this website, which only features successful troops that roll good dice (ahem)
Our first game was a traditional matchup vs Romans. Mid Republican Romans, with Hastati and Triarii and stuff. Their list is available here
Our opponents were making a bold and deeply complex statement on the debilitating nature of the ongoing debate between DBM & FoG (other rulesets are available) for the Ancients hobby with their "DBM is for Girls" t-shirts. Apparently they appeared in them the next day as well, thus making an even more unmistakable statement on the tenuous links between personal hygiene and competition wargaming in towns with their own brewery.
Their army was like a solid pewter Heroclix figurine based on Danny De Vito's character in Twins - small and hard. A Solid core of legionaries were supported by surprising amounts of cavalry and a few rough terrain troops, including an ambush.
We immediately attempted "Plan A" - get the pikes in the middle and advance to contact anything they happen to meet. Dave's "solo-tastic" army design meant that "Plan A, Subsection 1.4 - Your Right Flank" was not really required reading - mainly because we simply didn't have enough troops to do anything about them, hence my rather vague elephant movement (don't stand behind one if you expect a vague movement....) to at least put a bit of distance between the flank of the pike phalanx and our actual flank troops so when the smellies came to an unseemly end (as they surely would) it might take a couple more bounds for the enemy to roll up the phalanx line.
As the owner of the army Dave exercised his prerogative (still in that solo player mindset....) and fully put into place "Plan A, Subsection 1.4 - Your Left Flank" in full and proper form, ie he stole all the rough terrain troops - which included some pretty pokey sharp-stick armoured Thoraxkitai - and shoved them hopefully at the only bit of real difficult terrain on the entire table.
Almost instantly Dave was not surprised by an ambush of 4 Roman auxilia types, and his Reg C LHI LTS piled in, hoping for a quick win before the Spanish impact foot (utjecaj pjeice in Croatian) arrived. Unfortunately the Romulans and the rules writers both had different ideas, as the Romans hung on like grim death through superior dice and Slitherine sneakily inserted a bit into Dave's rule book that meant the LTS armed foot were actually rubbish in difficult terrain - like a village - like the one Dave had put them into. How sneaky!
Meanwhile, in the middle, "Plan A, Subsection 1.1 - Your Center" was being executed to near perfection, as the Phalanx advanced. The only fly in the ointment came from the cheating Roman dogs, who had unsportingly brought some skirmishers along. This caused the Phalanx to charge repeatedly, as Dave's normal response to skirmishers ("erm, in 25mm people don;t bring as many skirmishers so it doesn't matter as much") proved surprisingly ineffective in this, the 15mm version of the game.
Despite his best efforts, the Roman auxilia were proving hard to shift, and Dave's Thoraxcritters were forced to remove them one by one. But by now the Spaniards had arrived and charged into the second Thoraxite unit, again catching them in that sneaky thing called "difficult terrain" ("moeilijk begaanbaar terrein" in Dutch). Things were now looking very dicey, and the Romans were the ones rolling more. And needing less to hit. And getting more re-rolls too. The real sucker punch was in the way the Thorahirdistss has conformed to the house-squatting Romans and Spaniards, which had dragged them sideways leaving the 6 Thracians sat squarely behind the unit facing (erm, losing to...) the Spaniards. If and when they broke, there was now no way to squeeze round the Thracians!
Soon it was all kicking off in the middle as well, as the by-now thoroughly "not in formation" (that's "ikke i formasjon" in Norwegian) phalanx were suckered into hitting the Roman legions piecemeal, as explained with helpful diagrams in the Successors "Plan A - Section 6, You know you are probably going to lose when this sort of sh*t starts to happen."
The rest of the line gradually caught up, although a series of countercharges by the wily Romans managed to keep the Successor lines in a degree of disarray.
Dave had just about managed to hang on with his 80% advantage in numbers and (theoretically ) better quality troops on our left, and as the Spanish routed and destroyed our Theurphiles, badly damaging the burst-through Thracians in the process ("Vi er best i verden! Vi er best i verden! Vi har slått England 2-1 i fotball!! Det er aldeles utrolig! Vi har slått England! England, kjempers fødeland. Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana--vi har slått dem alle sammen. Vi har slått dem alle sammen. Maggie Thatcher can you hear me? "Maggie Thatcher, jeg har et budskap til deg midt under valgkampen. Jeg har et budskap til deg: Vi har slått England ut av Verdensmesterskapet i fotball. Maggie Thatcher, som de sier på ditt språk i boksebarene rundt Madison Square Garden i New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!" in Norwegian). However, with both sides almost exhausted, our other Thermotites looked to be in a good position - as did the Roman cavalry...
The middle was now turning into one big slogging match. The sort where you flick through your big illustrated book of "Plan A" and the page accidentally falls open on a bit you have never read before "Section 12, Things Pike are not quite as good as in a protracted Slogging Match - Part 2, Superior Roman Legions"
As the Theropod spearmen lumbered round to try and charge the shattered Spanish, the Roman cavalry swept away the shaken Thracians.
Things were gradually slipping away from us in the middle, and like all great Generals, we were forced to resort to "very lucky dice" ("lyckliga tärningar" in Swedish) to hang on in there for a little longer
But even this was only a temporary respite, and finally our army collapsed as its flanks were stove in before it had time to punch through the middle of the resolute Romanians.
Things wot we learnt:
- Don't play 15mm without skirmishers. They keep the opposition skirmishers
messing up your battle lines. They can catch opposition skirmishers and steal APs, and they pad out your own APs.
- 6's are too small for Medium Foot, they become vulnerable to shooting as well as HtH
- Rear support units should usually be in a single column, as then routers can always get past them by sliding up to 1 base.
- You can only go down 2 cohesion levels in a combat if you lose it by 2 hits.
- 12s may be too big for "a lot of" Pike - the idea was that they would be joined by generals for combat but the generals all too often were needed elsewhere when the Pikes started fighting. 8s might have mitigated the effects of bad dice - more BGs and less of a gap in the line when a phalanx bolts!
- Armoured Superior Legionaries are better than Ordinary pikes. The combat factors look fairly equal, but Legionaries fight to (nearly) the last man whereas Pike blocks lose POAs and dice rapidly after one bad event, and struggle to recover too.
- We had 2 units of pikes who were really never in the game, so swapping them for more skirmishers might also have allowed us to concentrate more (generals) on making sure the pikes actually won, as we would have had a clearer game plan in the non-pike parts of the board.
- Roll better dice (this one is worth repeating)
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