500-1000AD at Burton 2022
Khurasanian Samanid vs Beja
The Burton Doubles - one of the last events to sneak in under the Covid radar back in 2020, and now returning in all its beer-soaked post-industrial glory at the start of the "oh f--k it, let's just pretend it's over" 2022 Covid Season again.
The venue was as (not always) usual the Town Hall, the hotel selection was the nearest one we could find, and the weather was a little parky to say the least as and intrepid band of myself and Adam were accompanied by Madaxeman-theme-tune-composing maestro Howard in a jaunt up the M1 to the dark heart of the Midlands.
With it being half term, that trip also managed to take in the RAF Museum in Hendon on the way, at which Adam briefly considered replacing me as his doubles partner for a younger model (complete with alsatian), only to realise that I was in fact driving and supplying all of the figures for the army, so perhaps this was not a good idea.
With some traffic-jam busing equipment picked up from the Museum gift shop on the weay out we set off on the epic (as always - gotta love Friday traffic) journey to The Almost North, in which we al;so managed to discover more than we imagined possible about Chris Packham's favourite party floor filler, before arriving in the metropolis of beer.
Don't Fear The Reaper
The night was just about not-young enough for us to safely wander out without giving ourselves enough time to get so wasted that we'd ruin the first day of the competition (what adults we are eh?), but still a little too late to get into any of the town-centre non-curry restaurants (as we had one booked for Saturday already).
This meant a lot of walking around the out of town retail park that town planners have inflicted on the middle of Burton in recent years, followed by a surprising entrance to an enormous all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet restaurant for an out-of-body cultural experience where the decor was arguably more worth savouring than the food itself.
This having been safely negotiated (along with several more pubs), the actual day of gaming arrives, and with it a chance to drop on table our Khurasanian Poor Mans Ghaznavid Army
The lists for the Khurasanian Samanid and Beja from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Burton can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The theme of the event was sort of 500-1000AD, and I had strong armed/ persuaded Adam into taking an "interesting" Arab Successor list with a mix of different troop types.
The secret sauce was in the allied contingent of Dailami, which gave the army the ability to dominate rough terrain, and also take on any walls of spearmen we might face with their Elite Impact status, whilst also being a good chance to see the new (v4) rear support rules in action too.
The army also had some integral Dailami and an elephant, a block of cheap, poor quality but again largely supported spear as mobile terrain and then a mix of different types of shooting and charging cavalry in the rest of the army to give something which might not be top-drawer, but which had enough tools in the toolkit to give a decent chance, and an interesting game against most things we expected to face.
The first game saw the Arabs lurching onto the table in an invasion of the desert, against the Beja and their inevitable wall of camel warriors and impetuous infantry swordsmen.
The cameleers had slapped down enough Dunery to hide a fleet of Sandworms, and as seems traditional with these hard-to-model terrain features they were mostly max-sized round felt patches on the somewhat mucky-looking 300 point terrain mat we had brought along.
With an impassable lake mistakenly placed in the centre of the table and some other huge patches of brush our army ended up being concentrated on one side of the table with a flank march missing - somewhat wrong-footing the enemy who had stretched across the entire table frontage.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Impassable terrain pieces can really mess up a game, so in v4 of ADLG they have to be placed in a flank sector, not in the centre. This is new for v4, and so neither of us realised during terrain placement.
Camels on a Stick! This was a BIG army to fight, and with almost half of the Beja forces already struggling to get into the game by dint of our lopsided deployment it seemed like a great idea to just get forward and get stuck right into the action as soon as possible.
The sooner we started fighting the half of the army in front of us with the three quarters of our army which was on table, the less time the Beja would have to bring their other forces into the fray.
With the flank march off table, this put our doubles pairing into the unusual situation of having Adams troops taking the limelight - OK, more accurately, the unusual situation of me having time to take photos of what he was doing instead of just concentrating the camera on the chaps I was driving on my wing of the battlefield. With Ghulams pinning the Beja infantry into the terrain on the far flank, the Dailami ally and the Death Star rushed forward to try and engage whatever was in front of them as soon, and as hard as possible.
This was as brutal and fast as our first visit to the main courses bar at the previous night's Chinese Buffet, as a long line of Arab spearmen infantry sought out combat against the Arabian camelry.
The Dailami also flooded forward as if searching for the crispy pork on the same buffet table, and started hunting down the decidedly second-string cavalry who had hoped to merely be bystanders as their camel corps did the business.
Teach a man to go into a restaurant and order a la carte and he'll eat things he likes
Show a man a buffet, and he'll eat any load of old nonsense until long after he's actually full, and then go back to the buffet again to check out the desserts anyway
Get the Hump! Impetuous Camels have the ability to do very well, but supported spearmen is a long way away from their ideal choice of opponent - and in the early stages of this game the camelry had gotten stuck in a position such that attacking against the odds seemed their only option. And the odds clearly didn't like being ignored in such a cavalier fashion, as the camelry exploded and vaporised against the stubborn, rear-supported resistance of the Arabs spear line.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Impact Camels vs Spearmen ends up as 2:0 to the spearmen, as the Camels usual +1 for Impact does not apply when charging spears or pikes frontally and the Spears get an additional +1 for receiving amounted charge. These spearmen are Mediocre, so deduct 1 from any dice roll of 4,5 or 6 - but with a 2-factor head start and also the addition of a further +1 for their rear support if they are losing the combat, that possible -1 for Mediocre cannot ever be a cause for them to lose this combat. So, against most cavalry Mediocre spearmen with support are just as resilient as Ordinary ones in the first round.
By the Holy Sword of Khorasan! Suddenly the camera panned right, away from all of this exciting and dramatic combat as MY flank march arrived!
Yes, a handful of cavalry had appeared out of the gloom and dust at the back end of the Burton Town Hall and immediately began to race towards the Beja baggage train.
Unfortunately the massive tide of Bejanese camelry who had been pushing forward against a half-hearted array of skirmishers on this flank decided this was the time to realise that their commander was an absolute genius of drill and training
With a succession of high-rolling pips they managed to turn about and start making great strides to close down the arrivees - so, stick a hump on that and call it a Dromedary!
The camels now had a viable target and they were keen to make up for the previous few turns of non-involvement and were charging at a blistering pace across the tabletop towards a flank march who had really been hoping for a bit of light looting and a gentle trot towards the back edge of an already-engaged enemy line.
With some of the Beja's best cavalry facing them to their front as well this was suddenly a far more tricky situation than they could have possibly imagined.
The Beja (sort of)
Back in the real world, the Khurasani Dailami were looking to force the pace on left, and in concert with the rather under-employed anti-elephant Javelinman in that command had launched an attack on the squishier bits of the Bejan flank guards.
The cavalry on this wing stood guard, making sure the enemy swordsmen stayed in place and quietly congratulated themselves on not being the camel-sandwich-filling that their flank marching colleagues were seemingly keen to become
With Dailami and elephants pushing forward, the Khurasani army was now close to bursting out of the cluttered terrain at a point at which the entire right wing of the enemy army was pinned down by Dailami warriors.
Arabian lancers revved their engines enthusiastically, smelling an opportunity to start causing havoc as the enemy opened up before them.
As the dust parted, the Arab spearwall resting a flank on the impassable lake realised that it had done its job - the tide of unarmoured camelry had washed up, and then receded against the spearmen's stoic resistance.
Now the still-almost-intact spearmen were fresh and ready to take on another opponent- the second wave of Bejan infantry who had just about succeeded in struggling over from the Bejan left flank to witness the last gasp of their own camelry.
The Khurasani flank march was now in serious trouble, and despite looting the Bejan baggage they were now totting up their own likely losses to see if their raid on the enemy camp might end up as a net overall loss to their own army, as the camels bore down on them at some pace.
Tourism in Khorasan Province (with cool music)
Shooting from the Ghulams was now starting to erode the will to fight of the becalmed Bejan right flank, as the countless numbers of Dailami started to work the ends of the enemy line as well.
The Cameleers and their infantry buddies were suddenly starting to look nervously over their shoulders at the Abacus of Doom as time ticked on and their losses started to mount alarmingly
Meanwhile the victorious camel-conquering spear line was happily accepting orders for the next set of Bejan troops to impale themselves upon the line of spearpoints.
Having gotten cluttered and confused in their rush to redeploy, the command-lite fanatical desert-dwelling infantry were more keen to get into combat than perhaps they should have been, and rushed forward somewhat piecemeal into melee.
The flank march was by now getting severely munched, and had to resort to the sad tactic lf leaving behind a few stragglers for the enemy to overwhelm as the rest of the force tried to sneak away unnoticed.
But, even so, with their baggage gone, half of their camel corps wiped out on the anvil of the wall of spearmen, and losses mounting all over the rest of the table the Beja were now perilously close to defeat.
Finally the carpet-clad Khurasani elephant steamed into view, finding a target and eliminating it at a stroke of its mighty trunk to leave it and it's supporting Dailami marooned in the backfield of a now-broken Beja force
The Result is a huge win for the Khurasanians
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or 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 Khurasanian Samanid Commander
Hawey tha' Lads, and its good to be back in mah role as tha commander of The Al Shearer forces. This were gonna be a reet gannin oot toneet on tha back of this greet win for the lads and lasses o' ooor toon, we lashin's oh Newcastle Broon ahl roond.
But, anyway, as a BBC football pundit I also have to temper my Newcastle accent occasionally, and here I can tell you in a rather boring voice that we wrong-footed the enemy here from the off with a lopsided deplyment which the terrain probably forced us into if we are honest
This meant that we ended up fighting half of the enemy army with almost all of ours - and even though a flank march didn't do too much the capturing of the baggage and the occupying of almost half of the camels and some cavalry gave us a great advantage in the end game
Of course, were I still playing and not confined to the studio with Lineker to do my banter routine it would have been a much bigger win. But you can't have eveything, even if there is fog on the Tyne that blocks the view.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
You heretic landless barnacle! How can a fool such as you from the frozen North even pretend to know how to lead an army of high desert dwelling horsemen against the deep desert power non-worm-riding hordes of semi-bedouins? The only thing you got right in your analysis is to recognise that your plan was forced on you like a wart-encrusted harlot meeting a lonely soldier in a darkened room
If you or your opponents had worked out the new terrain rules - which lets face it have only been in play for what, 2 years, perhaps a different outcome may have happened with a wall of camelry sweeping you from the field with this enfeedbled and weak-pointed army more suited to smaller games and less terrain, you pitiful tripe-visaged worm!
Managing to lose almost the entire flank march was an act of skill which even the most hog-hearted malodorous peekgoose may have struggled to match. Your men had barely time to sift through the sand in the tentflaps of the enemy camp before they were overrun, tempting the djinn of defeat to come a-knocking on your door
A pair of omit-eating toss-pot spitoons such as you and your erstwhile partner shoudl draw little comfort from this win as it has taught us less than you knew already. Perhaps there will be a reckoning in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition