Big Abona - The Roman World at Bristol 2019
Vikings vs Keith's Airfix MIR
The end of the Big Abona was now in sight, after a series of pummelling and tough battles for the Viking army. They had marched to Britain, been invaded by nomadic horsemen and had time-travelling Roman legionaries batter them to a bloody stalemate. After such hardships what other challenges could be waiting for them over the next hill?
The answer was drenched deep in history and horror - a fearsome sight which was at once classic in its execution and fearsome in its countenance. And they were not far away, they were just small.
Small... Far Away...
Yes, Keith McGlynn's classic Airfix Roman army, lovingly and painstakingly updated to modern times with a handful of usurper contemporary 1/72nd scale plastics to pad the first box of Ancients figures many of us ever owned into a proper army.
The lists for the Vikings and Keith's Airfix MIR from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Bristol can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The Romans had deployed reasonably conservatively in a corner, and terrain had fallen unhelpfully across the battlefield with a particularly irritating patch of greenery right in the middle of the table.
The Vikings had been expecting a more traditional Roman deployment of centres and wings and had spread across the battlefield only to find a tiny army across from them in every sense of the word.
Off in the near distance the bendy homunculi of the Italian Empire cowered in fear and loathing of the brutish and heavyweight Old Glory almost-Viking warriors.
The Scandianvians started a cautious and painstaking advance towards what appeared to be a far distant enemy.
Airfix Romans Unboxed - in Russian
Not all of those Vikings rushed forth
Some were cautious, these men of the North
When the Scots rolled a one
The advance it was gone
They were halting - for all they were worth!
Men were falling and being taken to Valhallah accompanied by the heavenly chimes of Johannes the Papaphobic's salty Longship! The rest of the Viking clans didn't really care, and chundered forward regardless.
It was already becoming obvious that the Romans had little interest in spreading their army out into a long wide line and allowing themselves to be defeated piecemeal by the much larger Scandic force and instead were going to hunker down and wait on a narrow frontage where their better armour, quality and Impact capability would be most advantageous.
Keiths Romans were a fine sight, with the same historically accurate red gloss enamel and non-drybrushed silver armour that we had all probably painted these exact figures with at some point in our dim and distant childhoods, set off with some rather nice and jolly winter basing - the like of which must have chilled the skinny-legged plastic figures to their toes given the rather open-slatted sandals they were cast (extruded?) with.
The Scots roared themselves back to life
And advanced, by the drum, and the fife
There was nowt dead ahead
So they were most easily led
By their Laird, helped by waving his huge knife!
The Romans had begun to properly turtle up in the corner by now, and the Vikings slowly realised that they had most of the afternoon to rearrange their army for the optimum possible assault formation onto the waiting Roman battle line.
Viking Gods looked down on the battlefield from the very summit of Sven the Omphalophobic's hammer-tossed serpent-tongue
A bit of head scratching soon worked out that their current formation was far from ideal, and some serious deployment surgery might well be needed before launching a brave but possibly foolhardy attack against the flexible foes arrayed before them
Boldly showing off the near imperceptible differences between Little Big Man and hand-painted shield transfers, the stand alone Saga-playing figures denoting Elite Huscarl units led the way as the Scandic army began the slow and cumbersome process of teeing itself up for a decisive clash at some later stage in the afternoon.
With shopping at B.I.G's retail emporium already completed there was little incentive to do ought but prepare well and then go in as the day drew to a close.
Huge hairy men issued orders at the bark in guttural Nordic languages, horns sounded and clear and unambiguous gestures herded the great unwashed lines of Viking swordsmen in all directions, although many of them were basically told to advance as at this tail end of their lengthy campaign that was still as much as they had the wit to undertake.
The Scottish contingent, experts in moving through rough terrain to a breechless man, were in utterly the wrong place.
Turning about in a move reminiscent of the Red Arrows Synchro Pair the shot mere inches (or MU's) behind the wall of heavier and more resilient Vikings and headed off to the other flank of the table with as much speed as their tired legs and swinging sporrans could muster.
Once the Vikings had got round that wood,
Seeing Romans, for the first time they could,
't was a glorious sight,
In the late afternoon's light,
And both knew they'd be spilling much blood.
The Romans had astonishingly conducted something akin to a positive move with a lone unit of Numidian-esque light horse out on their left wing.
Squeezing itself toothpaste-like out of the locked-down Roman encampment the north African horsemen were happily soaking up pips otherwise unused by the by-now static main body of their army.
Spying a chance to steal a point of two of what was a fairly small force the Vikings allocated some units who stood no chance of getting into combat against the Legions to go horseman hunting.
Native auxiliary slingers, some from the equally legendary Ancient Britons Airfix range suddenly rushed forward from between the serried ranks of stern-faced miniature legionaries to begin the slow process of hurling stones and plastic pebbles at the unimpressed heavy metal Vikings.
In a blur of motion and poor camerawork the perhaps he's not actually a Numidian but he is certainly a light horse unit Roman mounted detachment found itself surrounded.
Scots warriors bore down on it with alacrity, keen to get into combat against something in the Roman lines they were actually better than.
Men were falling and being taken to Valhallah accompanied by the heavenly chimes of Asmund the Coulrophobic's twin-headed armpits! The local Bristolian microclimate was stretched to its limits as the snow-covered bases of the plastic Romano-skirmishers got up close and personal with Stockholm's finest summer-grass-treading Viking Huscarls.
Pinging a hit or two off armoured elite heavy infantry was quite a big ask for the Roman slingers and javelinmen, and was one they failed singularly to achieve.
As the evening drew closer and the colour balance of the cheap camera used by the Viking saga-writers started to struggle with the white balance in changing lighting conditions the two walls of solid (well, for the Romans, not quite so solid) infantry started their preparations for combat.
Runes were incanted, hexes were cast, gizzards and entrails curled with fear and small but fragrant wisps of herring and pasts-infused flatulence crept to the ground between hairy legs and out from short plastic tunics as the decisive time approached.
There's a series of photos to wade through,
You want similar shots? Here's a few!
It's all Vikings Advance!,
Rome sits sharpening a lance,
Heck, just scroll to the end why don't you?
Finally, eventually, things started to get interesting.
The massive Viking and Scots redeployment had put the Impetuous Elite Beserkers atop the hill on the Viking left and they were now poised to swoop down onto, into and hopefully right through the Roman Auxilia on the table's edge
Even if their attack was blunted the Attecotti were mere steps behind ready to act as a second wave to blitzkrieg the attack with successive Furious Charges. Meanwhile the lines of proper infantry inched ever closer together.
Viking vs Roman
The Beserkers charged down the hill, falling over one another in their eagerness to wade into decisive and spectacular combat.
Clutching pockets of jangling Saga Dice they steeled themselves to roll well and sweep away the plastic Roman Auxiliaries and their feeble bendy spears in a wave of ferocity and fury!
The main body of Vikings had now frightened off the Roman skirmish screen as well, and they too were close to launching a charge.
The first round would be tough, with the Romans benefitting from pilum-fuelled Impact advantages, but the Vikings had all of their best armoured and Elite Huiscarls in play and a second line of hirdsmen to infill any gaps as well.
Well.. The Beserkers had gone utterly beserk, or more accurately, had turned out to be berks of the highest order as they exploded on contact with the Roman Auxilia to a man and were removed instantly from play!
The Vikings had hoped for a little more va va voom from their drug-crazed psychopathic lunatics but at least some buttock-baring Scots-Irish maniacs were poised, oiled and ready to give this failed plan another go with exactly the same approach as had just failed so badly.
This was it!
The moment all of the Vikings and all of the Romans, and all of the flock watching on the nearby hillsides had been waiting for!
The two lines slammed into one another, axes whirling and swords stabbing as shields clashed with shields and the full weight of Danish metal poured down in an unmolten state onto the wibbly-wobbly antique grade Airfix Roman army.
Well, that fight we'd been waiting to see for an age?
It's happening right now, right here, on the page
For Old Rome, not a scratch
Vikings now fear a mismatch
Use all their hit markers in moments, not days..
The Vikings wilted like tundra in a globally warming region of northern Lapland, turning from a firm-footed stable platform into a spongy mess surrounded by the whiff of rotting vegetation as the Romans simply shredded the long-marched Scandinavian army in unbelievably quick measure.
Barely a hit was landed on the Italians as the Norsemens axes and swords proved to be the implements which were made out of soft malleable plastic and the Romans showed only steel and iron in their defence and attack.
The only moments of respite came when the Roman camp was attacked by Viking infantry - but even then it looked to be touch and go as to whether it would fall before the Danemens axes before their comrades in longship-rowing arms evaporated under the telling blows of Romes finest legions.
The Vikings were smashed and battered, and lying in pieces on the floor.
Despite being able to tee up their attack perfectly, uninterrupted by any sort of enemy action they had still come up woefully short against a proper defensive Roman display of restraint and tactics which took full advantage of their innate competences.
A crushing defeat for the Vikings
Read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from the Vikings Commander
Meh. What a silly little game this is, merely used to divert ourselves from more serious pursuits such as buying cars and going on exitic foreign holidays in order to get into the papers and keep ones public profile alive. The whole winning and losing malarkey is suuuuch a bore.
Quite how such a small army of small people can do such damage is quite beyond me. My hearty and hale warriors were ready to lean on their opponents with their weird shields-fastened-to-forearms and squish they squishy McSquish-face flat..but nothing happened, and then we were done.
This is of course only a minor bump in the road, and next week I will be off and running at a wide variety of social events across the Scandinavian midsummer ..but this does seem to sting right now.
The next competition may well be some months away, but that at least will give me ample time to recruit some little plastic men to fight for me in my army.
Hannibal's Post Match AnalysisYou hapless idiot. This was not so much a battle as a parade towards the edge of a cliff, a which point you hurled yourself off it piecemeal in an incompetent fashion which even a bus full of drugged up inbred lemmings would have struggled to match.
In reality what happened here was that you totally failed to mention the fact that the hill on your left was Steep, and so gave a huge combat disadvantage to your beserk warriors against what was already a better quaity foe in frontal combat. You can try and hide it by omitting it from the narrarive, but in the end you know that these things don't escape me and therefore I will not let them escape your readers.
Against a wall of better quaiity troops your Viking warriors were brave, but ultimately foolhardy in trying to initiate a combat which needed luck on their part in no small measure even to manage to make it into the second round of combat. The end result was as statistics would expect but I suppose the only saving grace was that we did see some quite good pictures along the way.
This was a whole world of pain for your men, and ultimately you again fell foul to taking an army to a competition based on your wish to field certain figures you owned rather than as part of a plan to actually pick an army capable of winning it. And at the end of the day, failing to plan to win ends in defeat. What a surprise.
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