Me at the Individual World Championships
The Morning after the Night before the Night before That Morning;
As I drove down to Epsom, in the rain, far too early one April Saturday morning, I was reminded of a quote by someone (probably Wordsworth or some other dead English poet bloke).
"April is the cruellest month - it promises so much,
but delivers so little"
The week had been an epic one. Unsurprisingly, this had been deemed worthy of some degree of celebration, and Thursday evening had seen my entire team out at The Roadhouse in Covent Garden......until 4am.
This rather threw askew my Friday - rolling into the office by about midday, I was delighted to find a truck load of work that had to be done.....7:30pm by the time I made my escape!
So, all in all ideal preparation for another day with the Lithuanians never the easiest army to use, and this time with the added complexity of two variants to choose from.
Game One fortunately (for me) proved not an ideal matchup - early Imperial Romans, with Bd & Ax across the table. The Polish variant - with all 10 Knights - came out of the box, engaged first gear, and "lave pronto" ensured for the Imperial legions in fairly short order - second table to finish! My addled brain was encouraged by this seeming act of military genius, and after a rather poor pasta dish for lunch, the second game of the day awaited me. Simon Hall from Reigate. With Abbasids. Great!
Game Two saw me reason that Abbasids have loads of Cv(S), that would neutralise the Poles in fairly short order, and also bearing in mind that I had just about beaten one in the Nationals with the Tatar Ally army composition we decided to go for a repeat performance. Sadly, it was not to be. My first inkling that the Gods of Sleep had cut a deal with Lady Luck to get from me my rightful debts to them in some way or other, the Tartars rolled a "1". For the first time ever. Right in the middle of my line. Poo.
Oh well, rather than doing the sensible thing, and hanging back trying to use my superior LH numbers to envelop the flanks of Simons much narrower army, whilst waiting for the Tartars to pull their collective fingers out and join in, I decided that the best bet was to chance my arm, roll the bones, pile on the pressure and take some chances. It wasn't an altogether barmy idea - but it did rely somewhat on he ability of my two Teutonic Knights to drive over the top of a supported Sp(I) block.....however without the active involvement of a big chunk of the army until well into the game, it was going to be tough.
All in all it almost seemed to be working ... for a while. Over on my right, Simon was frantically redeploying the Dailami to extend his line, as some beleaguered Cavalry stragglers hung on against a wave of LH. In the center the Teutons got stuck in fairly early, and hung around like the smell of a room full of wargamers does on a heavy-metal t-shirt. The Tartars even joined in, and put some pressure on the Abbasid cavalry. But, essentially I was relying on getting a bit of luck and then exploiting it, whereas Simon was relying on having better troops, list composition, deployment and tactics than me. Life is like that sometimes....
Basically it was the sort of game that would have been really great to have down the club. But not in the second round of a major competition. "1-31". At least I got an hours sleep afterwards....and I should have taken the Poles.
Game Three saw a return to winning tactics - i.e. ensure you have a complete mismatch to your opponents army, and then charge at it in a big long line. Playing against a Parthian army, with over 60LH(F) and the rest made up with Kn (X) was fairly close to ideal. With lots of 2-2 combats across the line there was a degree of risk that things could go badly, but with the Polish option chosen, and getting itself well placed against a big block of Kn (X) with the Parthian CinC in their sights was a big help. 8Cv (O) also goes a long way across a table in such circumstances - and even the Ax (O) can be useful. One hour 15 minutes later and it was "waiting for the Curry time".
(Note - a big thanks here to Dave Hutchby, who offered us the useful advice that "town" was only about 5 minutes away. It wasn't - we'll take a cab next time!).
Game Four and I was almost back to full mental alertness....not that it was to matter that much as it transpired. Another Abbasid, another unreliable outing for the Tartars, another chance to get my come-uppance from the Gods of Dice. It all seemed to be going so well as well.
Over on my right I had tempted a group of Abbasid LH to charge me uphill - a few fell over fairly swiftly in response, and I was starting to put the pressure on on that flank. In the wood I was surprised indeed to discover 6 Dailami (amazing!!) ...fortunately I had brought 9 Ax(O) with me on my picnic outing, with the aim of contesting the wood and stopping any other picnic-ers from lurking out into the center of the table to harass my 4 Knights who were trying to push 4 Cv back over the hill. In the centre Sp() were thinning themselves out to deal with waves of LH, and over to the left, the threat of a flank march had pinned back the Abbasids onto the defensive, and once the Tartars had got started we were really rocking, with a 4 wide 2 deep Cv block steaming into a one-deep row of Cv(S). What could possibly go wrong?
Well, after 2 files of Cv were back in the tin box for no losses, and the Abbasids had pulled back and brought round some Cv to help out on their left, and the Dailami had reformed in the wood, and the Knights were well and truly on the open plains before the hilltop still fighting Cv(S), most things that could have gone wrong had well and truly done so. Luckily in such circumstances, the ability of the Lithuanians to run away before they break is fairly good, and it was implemented here. A 16-16 draw ensued. Looking forwards to the AFTERNOON!!!
Game Five I'm not sure |I really want to talk about. Lets try this on you then, as a little quiz. In the following circumstances, who will win, and how quickly?
Lithuanians & Poles vs Bactrian Greeks?
3 LH (O) vs 2 LH (F) + 1 LH (O)...?
or...............8 Cv (O) in two ranks vs 4 LH (S) ...?
or even............................7 Kn (O) + 2 Kn (S) + 1 Kn (S) General vs 6 Kn (X) + some LH (S) ...?
or 6 LH (S) + 7 LH (O) vs 5 LH (S).......?
Basically my army choice was right, the composition was a mismatch in my favour, deployment worked out almost perfectly, but I took a few unnecessary risks....thinking I was going to win anyway, I frittered away elements here and there, whilst failing to win quickly enough in combats that should have been over almost immediately. Within sight of the enemy baggage, within 2 elements of a 10-0, I ran out of steam, dice, pips, the whole damn lot!!! A 1-9 defeat.
After a string of successes, mid-table mediocrity was again within my grasp! Normal service is resumed.
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