Milan 2005 (December)
A snowy night in Milan saw us only just make it to Paolo's excellent (and actually rather large) DBM wargames competition in a custom-use games club (a room above a garage, but with a bar and most importantly, heating!). It was cold and snowey, and some of what we saw even made it onto my blog - read about the beer here, and the rather inappropriate Christmas decorations here
I had taken New Kingdom Egyptians on the basis that I haven't gotten my head round 3.1 yet, they are some of my best painted troops and I have only used them once in competition so far. I also felt they would be an army that would (potentially) not suffer/benefit from the Carthaginians "win big or lose real big" character flaws, as with 4 regular generals - and also with the warband being removed from the lineup - I hopefully would have the opportunity to pull out of danger - and also would need to win by maneuver, not brute force and luck! Other reasons were that I have some really nice palm trees, again which don't get out too often.
...saw me up against Arab Conquest (click for the list) - a real 3.1 choice !
Using my first, "Cavalry heavy" list seemed a good idea, as warband-blades is not ideal, I defended and put down the usual waterway (Mare Caldo!) and a scattering of orchards to both break up the Arabs and also to allow me to use some nice palm trees I have, but rarely use. The Arabs in turn also put down some areas of rough going.
As there were maps provided by the organisers, here is mine. I did the colouring in on the computer, not at the competition. That would have been very sad ! (Green is Orchard, Yellow is RGo).
I basically decided to refuse the flank nearest the waterway, and concentrate on a mounted chariot push to the open wing (The 3214 above represents the deployment order of my commands). The size of the gaps between the orchard, sea and table edge meant the Arabs went for a 2-deep deployment with 2 commands against my refused flank. So far so good!
As well as the "refuse flanks" gambit, the Egyptians also went for a "he cant have anything in - or coming through - the central orchard, so lets shove stuff forward into the gap and see what happens" approach.
This was where the odd "micro" command came in very handy, with the Arabs finding themselves outgunned in the "I can expand to the table edge" stakes quite quickly as they faced 2 commands worth of Cv (S)
The infantry in the gap had hoped to find a juicy bowman target, but soon were sucked into a rather desperate struggle against auxilia (S) holding the edge of the rough going. But all of this tricky action on both flanks was leeching pips from the warband, who were creeping forwards in an increasingly disjointed way.
With Chariotry also keeping the warband honest on both fronts, on my right some fast blades got over confident, and staged a daring dash towards the squishier targets as the mounted wing of the Arab was forced to withdraw under threat from my superior Cv(S) numbers.
Emboldened by their lack of opposition, the Egyptian axmen even found themselves with a chance to take on a lone warband, and squish the (CinC) general behind him. They agonized for seconds before taking on the 3-5 (but QK) combat.
which they of course then lost.
||But even as this happened the warband were pushing on far
into "I may be Warband (S), but even I need flank support"
The victory that saved the general was looking rather hollow, as on my right the Arabs were in 6 separate blocks - and with cavalry under severe pressure also
No graph or bar chart was likely to illuminate the required pip score to get away with this for too long !
With the Arab left crumbling, the need to cause casualties on the right was clear. With disoganised warband now flooding after my 2 screening Cv (S), the coast was clear for my dormant command to enter the fray in support of those already attacking the auxilia.
Even with the Egyptians using bow and blade against some of the warband, the 2 regular command dice against 1 irregular was proving to be an insurmountable obstacle preventing the Arabs getting out of the hole their support troops were digging them as they attempted to hold the warband's flanks. Oh, and me 6-1'ing a vital Auxilia (S) at the right time also helped.
As the final curtain fell, the Arabs were left without a single group of warband on the table - a scattering of singletons were being picked off and hunted down by the Egyptians to tip the game over to a 10-0 to me.
Post Match Analysis: The central orchard was a highly important terrain pick for me - the Arabs were always going to maneuver like an oil tanker, and the orchard split them in two. I had expected 2 commands of warband, and had guessed both would be near the sea allowing me to beat up on a theoretical mounted command on the open flank - so three was a real surprise, as was to see them deploy 2 deep.
Refusing the waterside resulted in one third of the Arab army being effectively out of the game from the off, however my main advantage was having 4 regular dice, against 3 irregular ones - and the Arabs almost total inability to wheel, especially if I coudl soak up their pips by harassing the supporting troops. With 4 commands against 2 I felt still would give me the edge - but I still needed to be absolutely committed to avoid taking on any of the warband unless I absolutely had to - this picture shows it very clearly, with the Arab warband having moving straight forwards as Egyptians melt away and harass both their flanks, and chew up their supporting troops.
Throwing a command into the face of the orchard also gave the Arabs 2 unsupportable flanks, which they struggled to deal with all game long. The other significant moment was when the Arabs attempted the "standard" tactic of expanding out to the table edge with light horse - only to find themselves facing Cv (S) - an unsustainable position.