For Reading this year I tried a new theory...
Having got totally bored with taking the same Rolls Royce Super-competitive army (OK - Lithuanian) to every competition I could this year, I had started to lose my appetite.
It just wasn't fun anymore, pushing round the same bits of lead, knowing exactly what to do in virtually all situations - and my last couple of games at Derby had virtually finished me off. Two consecutive games of seeing if a wall of bowmen would be able to roll enough dice and get lucky enough to shoot down a line of Blades, Auxilia, Kn(S) and War Wagons before I got into contact - not only was this a plan I felt I could execute on autopilot, but the outcome was dependant on statistics, not tactics. The fun was ebbing away.........
So, for Warfare I decided to try and enter with a different ethos. Back to basics in what I actually liked about the Lithuanians in the first place. There were three main elements:
- Try to use some rarely deployed figures,
- Try to get close, interesting games with lots of combat, where both sides have a chance of winning, irrespective of who I would be playing
- Recapture those early days of the Lithuanians, and the joy of looking across the table at opponents who have no idea precisely what will be coming out of your tin box even when they know what the army is, and who have no real experience of how to deal with it - but who think that it looks like a load of rubbish so it surely can't be that hard to kill, can it....?
I chose the Roman period as I felt that there had the greatest potential for my option 3/ - everyone entered will be using Romans or Sassanids or Byzantines, and would probably have practiced only against the other two. If only I could conjure up a half decent, yet still rubbish, army with a reasonable chance against them all I would have found what I was looking for...
After flirting with the Gepids too conventional (www.uk.Altavista.com throws up one of my previous lists as its first link for "Gepids", so on the basis that a total stranger knowing nothing about wargaming could find my likely choice of list.....) and some of the Moorish stuff (not varied enough) I finally selected the Sub Human British. It had:
- Lots of spears, so opponents will expect a static and boring game, which would allow me to surprise them by doing the opposite - and they were all (I), just to make them vulnerable.
- Supporting Ps - not enough to cover every file of spear, but enough to make them just a bit (and hopefully sufficiently) less vulnerable to Kn (F).
- Auxilia to contest rough ground - but they were (I), and regular, so purely defensive.
- Knights - regular ones - but only 4, and then you have to waste points upgrading the CinC to Regular when he has no regular sub generals.
- A choice of allies - the element of surprise ! I went for Alans...but not the traditional 7 LH (S), but instead with the unexpected element of 4 Irr Kn (F), and some foot to make it a meaty 15.5 EE.
- Some cavalry and light horse to harass enemy LH - but not quite enough, and they have to be split between the allied generals commands.
...............Oh - all the generals are allied generals, no subs. But, it did have King Arthur, so I could use fully plated Medieval knights to go for the Romantic interpretation, rather than the historical - another neat touch! Taking the Amorican version allowed the Alans, and meant I had "Arthur et les Cent Nuits du Table Circulaire".......
I figured that anyone looking at the list would expect a wall of spears across the table, 4 Regular knights coming out to play, Arthur to hide at the back and 7 Alan LH (S) on a flank, and that they would have plenty of time to hold me up with a LH screen whilst they redeployed at their leisure to counter my slow advance.
My basic plan was different to this - ho ho ho - and it was to dish out the spears on the flanks and use them to support a speedy drive by the 2 blocks of knights together 8 or 9 wide into, over and through pretty much anything in their path before the enemy had time to redeploy.
The Alan LH were there to fill in behind their knights, as were Arthur's. Both Kn commands could afford to lose all their knights plus one other element and still be OK, but to be honest I was not expecting to survive any games without losing at least 1 command. Even losing both Kn commands would be 7 elements away from losing the army, and with 4 generals, even the loss of the CinC wasn't really catastrophic in points terms. The Cv and LH in the foot commands were expendable, and could be used to delay on a flank, or support the Kn charge, meaning I would have close on all 4 generals pips to support and move 9 Kn.
Game 1 - vs Blemye
Bit of a mixed bag here - 12 Cm (S) and lots of bowmen meant my Kn strike plan was close on useless, but would the Cm let themselves be impaled on my spears - probably not - and closing with Bw (I) is not easy with Sp (I). The terrain fell to clutter the table, leaving one flank open, and a narrower gap down the other side. I dithered about whether to send one of my spear commands on a flank march on the open side of the table, but finally chose to send the Alans, on the basis that they were pretty useless on table, they could cause trouble if they got behind the enemy, and if they got pushed back on by a bigger flank march they could hopefully get away faster than 16 Sp (I) would !!
The Blemmye deployed refusing the gap with a few LH, pushing Auxilia and some Bw (I0 through and alongside a central wood, and then filling the rest of the table with a command of Bw (I), Cm (S) lurking behind to try and sneak down my flank, and obviously a very big flank march off table.
One of my spear commands was useless, facing LH, so they spent the entire game spending pips chasing 3 Lh with 2 Cv (O) and 2 Lh (O) - not scary, but it did keep the Blemmye generals pips occupied and slowed the Auxilia in their progress through the wood. Arthur charged in a deep column of Kn next to the wood (yep) with his 6 spears and then the full 16 other spearmen playing "race to the bowmen before the flank march arrives" under a hail of largely ineffectual arrows.
The Alans triggered the arrival of a massive Blemmye flank march fairly early on in the game, but by so doing bought me time (I rolled the first 6, so the Alans returned in my NEXT turn, so I had 2 turns to plan for the flank march). I however elected not to use it and just charged forwards with my spearwall, figuring that my troops would turn when the Cm (S) hit them anyway, so why waste pips doing it myself.?
The Blemmye pursued my Alans onto the table, Bw (I) facing the nobles, and Cm (S) facing the axemen. Ooops! Meanwhile the other Cm (S) were falling like wolves in poorly fitting sheep's clothing onto the flank of my spear line, and I was closing rapidly onto the bowmen - and the Cent Nuits du Table Circulaire were already getting well stuck in to some Bw (I).
Of course, after my spearwall survived the shooting unscathed, they proved rubbish in combat, and we bounced off the line of Bw (I) ineffectually. Arthur's men got over confident after an initial victory, and had a flank turned resulting in a mess among the Table Circulaire that would need more than a french polisher to fix.
As Arthur fled off however the main body of spearmen were making a meal of the flanking camels as they turned, and the Alan axemen proved heroic against their opponents, resulting in the demise of all 6 camels in the flank march to 4 Bd (I) and a couple of LH & knights.
The main Blemmye command finally collapsed under the weight of the spear assault, leaving just one confused camel who had broken through the flank of the spears looking lost and forlorn. The SHB cavalry general was inspired and fought and dispatched him in a personal bid for promotion for the next game.
The match was balanced on a knife edge - Arthur + heavy losses from the spearmen plus 5 dead in the Alans was close to the edge - like, half an element off the edge actually. The flank marching Bw (I) had a shot at the remaining Alan knight, but missed - and he charged into their flank, killing 4, and taking with it the command, and the army! 8-2 to me - but damn close - exactly what the doctor ordered!!!