The World at war!!!
Welcome to "Glamorous Derby",
the Las Vegas of , erm, well, Derby & the immediate environs...?
Using a Khmer army that had stayed in the tin for nearly 8 months (since the qualifiers) I made my way with some trepidation to Derby.
Their path through the qualifiers had gone swimmingly, stomping a Pre-feudal Scots army - 80+ mounted Pk (I) - and then a Hussite (ooooh! - Sorry Roger!).
But since then the Lithuanians had risen to favouritism within my tin box collection, and having lost my 2 practice games (against Hungarian and Feudal Spanish...) the idea of a slow moving, table filler seemed to be a bit of a mare in waiting.......add to this that the Hutchby Meister has ranked me as our best player, and all looks set to be a weekend to forget!
However, my first game turned out to be a dream start - a 4 command mongol army, attacking on a table that was designed to favour me (well, I did get to chose terrain...).
The massive advantages I had (ie there is nothing in a Mongol army that can kill me, good terrian etc) were compounded by crap pip dice for the Mongols in their attacking first bound. This essentially meant I had the chance to form a complete line between the two hills, (which of course I also occupied with ambushers...) before they could outflank me.
Faced with certain defeat, the ming-os decided to go down fighting, and charged all the Cv at a single point in the line, hoping to get some good results against the Bd (F), and then exploit any gaps. Unfortunately my dice hadn't been informed of this plan, and I managed to fail to lose a single element. 32-0. yip-stinger!!!!
Our terrible success in the first game gave us the joy of a plum tie versus what alledgedly is Reigates Second Team - Terry Shaw, Simon Hall and Graham Briggs.
I played the shaw-meister, who was not exactly overjoyed with the thought of another encounter with me following the major pasting we had handed out to the Tang at Leeds. With little interesting terrain - with the exception of one excitingly tempting hill, the game comenced - Khmer vs Abbasid Arab
The Abbasids were 2 foot-heavy commands (Bw (X), Supported spears etc) with one mounted outfit. They pushed down the right side, and were magically joined by an ambush of spearmen who were lurking behind the ever more excitable hill. This quickly became the source of great amusement, as one of my commands ducked and dived, shuffled and sidestepped, attempting to divert attention away from the fact that they were heavily outnumbered and liable to cave in at a moments notice....
In the canter, there was a weak spot - a block of Sp(I), supported on their flanks by Bw(X) - ideal for my Bd(F) and Ax (X) to have a pop at ... or so I thought!! I make a bee-line for them, and throw the blades in - only to find out that they are in fact Sp(O), not (I)!!!!!!! Yoiks!!!
Luckily, no-one had appeared to tell either mine or Terrys dice that this was the case, and all 6 spearmen were dispatched in double-quick time by the blades..and their dice rolling skills!!!
With the center caving in, troops are being fed in to protect the remains of the CinC's command - and the reserve column sent over to help out on Exciting Hill has to go into reverse - and then also deal with a small problem of 3 Burmese elephants.....maybe they aren't going to be helpful to anyone this time...?
As the game ends, the CinC's Abbasid command is gone, and the one to its left is starting to feel the pressure - but I'm also in fairly bad shape at the bottom of Exciting Hill. The ref blows the final whistle, and it's 8-2 to the Boy Porter!
Well, what a great result. Possibly the only imaginable circumstance that I managed to benefit from from being ranked No1 in our team was that Eric Doman had also - bizarrely- been ranked No3 for his team. Eric lives dead close to me, I give him a lift to and from various competitions, and whenever we have a friendly game he racks and stacks me pronto - but, its a learning experience, isn't it....?
So, of course, when we end up drawing Eric's team (reigning champions of course) in round 3, its almost a bonus not to have to play him.......except that instead I get the dead easy, my gawd, I might almost be playing a blind illiterate monkey (NOT!!!!) Dave Handley. Just to make life easier, Dave is using Patricians - more supported Auxilia than me (phew!) and supported blades, and all sorts of other nasties.....whaddya do...?
It's at this point the "sod it, it's only a game" POV kicks in. I can play an Auxilia & Blade vs Auxilia & Blade game all the way across the table - and lose, because Dave has more than me - or I can take my testicles in my hand (not literally - honest!!) and really go for "poo" or bust.
So, battle is joined. I adopt the classic tactic of deciding the weak link in the Roman army is the supported Superior Auxilia - and the thing to take them out with is My Elephants. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Dave is caught on the hop by this stroke of tactical and strategic brilliance and the game starts swinging back and forth like a yo-yo on heat in a tropical cyclone on a boat directly over the equator.......
The terrain is largely irrelevant, but on my right a couple of commands get stuck into the Roman foot - trying to use the Bd(F) to create overlaps which the El can exploit - in the center the Burmese find themselves forced to engage supported blades - with Kn (F) filtering through the gaps to pick off isolated Khmeric Auxilia. On my left the weak Khmer command (only one elephant) faces off against the Roman CinC - with not enough pips, and no fast blades, its a case of "wait until the others win before you commit".
Sweat builds on both sides - my right is winning, but not fast enough for my liking - my center is collapsing, but the command structure means that they can still survive - unless the Ax(I) reserve gets nailed - but they might be, as they have been thrown forwards to plug holes - and the left flank has been drawn into combat against Kn(F)...there are overlaps, but maybe not enough!!!!!
My army starts to cave in from right to left - the right flank goes just before killing off its opposite number - the Burmese in the center die, after 3 Ax(I) take on a Kn(F) - the only element needed to kill a command - but they lose, and the Burmese general is left on his own fighting more Bd than he has ever seen - but on the right some ballsy (even if I say so myself!!) aggressive play puts the Roman CinC within an inch of his life....and then beyond - YES!!!
The game is finely poised - half an element on either side wins it - and a zillion vital combats this turn to play for - and then the dice roll in my favour - the Romans cave in - 8-2 to me (I think - and so does Dave). Sweat pours across the table, the crowd goes wild, there is tickertape, Des Lyneham rushes in to get the first post-match comments from the two managers - it's like VE day and an Oasis concert all rolled into one - and the "Young McNeil" comes across, desperate for the score - we tell him, and there is a throwaway comment from the Reigate boy "wow, you won even with all those dead...". Dave H, ever the true professional, decides to count up again - and is vindicated - I have calculated wrongly - my army collapsed last bound - the score is 7-3 to Dave - a shame, but who cares, a true classic game.....