Dark Ages at the Burton Doubles 2018
Samurai vs Feudal English
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After a large and filling curry, and a walk back in freezing conditions the like of which only the hardiest of Mount Fiji winter climbers would ever have witnessed the second day hove into view, with the rather surprised Samurai sitting at the top of the table.
On a chilly February morning, the views across the open fields around Burton Municipal swimming pool were very similar to this. Honest.
The opposition were much the same as the day before - Feudal English, presumably another textbook Medieval army stuffed with spears and axemen and some Medioum Knights - nothing our boys had not dealt admirably with before on the previous afternoon.
The lists for the Samurai and Feudal English from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Burton_Doubles can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Most importantly, the Waterway Wall and Village both managed to sneak onto the table yet again, allowing us to sort of recreate the first game's deployment but with a much-refused centre and a bit more of a leaning to the extreme left where our cavalry waited out of shot.
The English had reciprocated with a wall of Longbowmen against the village, and plenty of knights down the middle.
Gandalf shoots a Longbow
The English bowmen were a blur of motion as they raced forward.
Thankfully the tripod restored its usual effectiveness in the next picture, as the two sides sought combat.
Our gaping empty center was a bit obvious to everyone, but a swift advance and the stoic ability of the Heavy Foot Samurai to hold up on the right, and the terrain-hugging efforts of the other command of Medium foot on the left meant this was not quite an open goal inviting the English knights to stroll up and score.
At least the Warrior Monks were taking full advantage of the village and the cover its expensively purchased model railway trees afforded them from the potentially lethal barrage of English archery, of which they had heard so much before this battle.
Dusk was falling on the other side of the table, as Samurai moved ankle-deep into a paddy field to decide if (or more likely when) to rush the English bowmen in front of them.
This would however mean the Samurai Cavalry would end up tasked with bottling the English speamen and Longbowmen into their own side-edge-hugging paddy field - not that easy given the fearsome shooting power of Longbows.
How well do these troops fight then?
Longbowmen are devastating against mounted opponents - the Longbow reduced all resistance against shooting by 1, and all infantry bowmen also get a +1 every time they shoot at mounted horsemen. That flips the Longbow/Cavalry combat into a 1 vs 0 in favour of the Longbowmen - not a great place to start for the mounted guys.
Unlike other rules however, English Longbowmen are not great in combat and count as normal bowmen - although they do often get the option to be Elite
Possibly in response to a prolonged drought that had affected both Medieval England and Feudal Era Japan in the mid 1100's, both armies had developed extensive and well maintained mobile irrigation techniques.
Even nature's troublemakers had to marvel at it's efficiency
In a moment rich in the symbolism of the fabled WW1 football match, the two sides downed weapons and collaborated to build a comprehensive field irrigation system, so that they could be confident that the Tiny Terrain battle mat they were playing on in this game would maintain its rich luxuriant green colouring to the end of the battle.
Having been mostly advancing for both of the previous games, the Heavy Foot Samurai decided that it was time that their painting was seen from the front as well, and they as-one turned about and walked back, packed tighter on their bases than tourists in a capsule hotel during Cherry Blossom season.
They were teasing the feckless English to come and follow them.
To Their Doom....
Whist this faffing around was happening next to The Wall, the other side of the table was where the really interesting stuff was going down. The bowmen in front of the Paddy field were a really tempting target for the Sword-armed Samurai, but this still needed a plan from the mounted wing of the army as to how best to bottle up the enemy in the other field.
This would require bravery, aggression, verve, elan and a good reading of the terrain rules and their effects on close formation infantry compared to mounted troops.
As the Samurai had hoped, turning their back and retreating in front of Impetuous Knights was having the desired effect, and with a rumble of hooves the English lurched forward and took up the hunt against the slower-moving Japanese pedestrians.
This did however have the effect of thinning out the number of Knights available to harass the main Samurai force facing off against the exposed English bowmen in the distance, so all in all the Samurai were not too upset at this development.
The English however were equally capable of a cowardly retreat in the face of superior quality enemy. As the Samurai looked out from the paddy field, the enemy turned about and fell back in a feigned retreat which was about as convincing as Sean Connery's Japanese disguise in You Only Live Twice
What's the first thing you do when you wake up after sleeping with a ninja?
Wake up?! Mwahahahaha!
The Monks were getting agitated as they weighed the odds of taking on English javelinmen on the suburbs of the village. At the moment they were well positioned to impede the advance of the main English bowline into shooting distance, and surely the enemy would simply skirmish away anyway if they advanced out of the village? But then again, they were Warrior Monks...
These Samurai were painted by Lurkio painting service. Most of them are Old Glory, with some Baueda added in too. You can see many more photos in the 15mm Gallery, and a walk-through of how the Wall and Village were built elsewhere on this website.
The centre of the table was now a Knight-only zone, into which they were opting to advance rather gingerly, unsure if the Samurai in the Paddy field to their right were really a threat or not.
Either way, the next few turns would surely see a Knight vs HI Samurai warrior bout of brutal combat.
For an army usually used to simply advancing to combat this to-ing and fro-ing was proving rather a challenge - the Samurai were starting to wonder if their battle plan was even more complicated than operating a Japanese toilet.
The leftmost extremity of the table was an intriguing mix of unusual matchups - horse choosing to face bow in rough terrain, and Medium Foot warriors closing in on Heavy Foot opponents. The English were anchored in the rough ground, but the Samurai were more numerous and were starting to stare at a multitude of flanks.
Samurai at War - Today!
The two sides close to shooting distances and start to exchange volleys of arrows. Both sides knew they had advantages but forcing a position where they could take them also meant opening their kimono's to the possibility of defeat.
The time for sliced raw fish was over, and this battle would however be the main course. Knights vs HI Samurai - in combat capability the two opponents were about as different as the moon and a soft-shell turtle, but even so the conclusion was very much in the balance as the resilience of the infantry matched up against the strike power and impetus of the knights. Other Samurai dregs and bits looked on from all sides, anxious to see how it would pan out.
The Samurai general was working hard to maintain the morale of his Heavy Infantry, but the legendary "refused centre" tactic did clearly have it's weaknesses, and one of them was exposed as the other infantry in his command were now out of Command Range.
A flurry of low pips meant they continued to quail in the open as the enemy knights milled around preparing an attack.
The monks were now committed, and quicker than you can heat up a pot of noodles the two sides were fighting at close quarters in the environs of the village - the English using their better command and control to throw ever-so-useful LI into flank support positions.
Mad Japanese Sh-t
With more knights flooding forward in a tsunami of roast-beef-eating Englishness, the Samurai decided it was time to counter this meat based attack with some of their own finest Kobe Scythed Chariot Stampeding Cattle Herd.
The Knights were deeply bothered to find themselves facing such bizarre rubbish, but it still kept them away from engagement with Samurai infantry for a while longer.
The left wing was starting to fracture - the bravery of Samurai cavalry in closing to exchange shots with the English infantry bowmen was beginning to pay off as the English picked up markers as the Samurai archery struck home. This was a bold play, and if they survived as victors the Samurai horsemen knew that Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" would be dominating the karaoke playlist later that evening..
The refused centre was still refusing to become an engaged centre, as the English knights became bogged down, paralyzed by the multitude of targets available to them, any one of which would see them overwhelmed by Ninja-tastic Samurai sweeping in from other directions.
The English were not the most manoeuvrable troops in the world, and the complexities of their situation taxed their command and control to the limit.
A flurry of arrows saw the English bowmen turn tail and flee the terrain on the Samurai left - the longbowmen had tried to go toe to toe with Japan's finest archers but had ended up being battered to the point of turning into Tempura, and now the rest of the English infantry on this wing had managed to end up exposed and in incipient danger of being surrounded. If these rules had an option for a command to surrender, this would have been the time to take that option.
With the bowmen gone and horsemen about to flood the flanks, this was now the signal for the chopstick-tastic 2HCW-armed Samurai to charge home with unfailing politeness against the "ideal target for 2HCW" English foot spearmen
More Mad Japanese Sh-t
The English knights were used to riding down their enemies in short order and then roistering and carousing and getting drunk on local ales for the rest of the evening, and so the resilience of the Samurai foot was a real surprise to them. If they had thought that Sake gave the worst hangover, they were soon to find out that a well-aimed 2HCW to the exposed organs was even more devastating, especially when delivered by an opponent with 4 hits to each unit.
The cattle were still chewing the cud, and chewing their way through the waves of chivalry to boot - as the English line became increasingly fragmented even the Ashigaru moved up to engage an outnumbered enemy in a battle with 2 flanks offsetting their poor quality.
Cow vs Man Warfare
Galloping Godzillas! The right flank of the English army was now submerged in a tsunami of Japanese warriors as the hodge-podge lineup left behind as the bowmen fled was engulfed in cavalry and swordsmen. This was only going one way, and would rack up a bundle of casualties for the already embattled English army.
Travelling faster than a bullet train, the Samurai warriors bust through the English lines.
Back in the once-refused centre and the cattle and the creeping things that were Ashigaru had done their worst to the English on-shot knights. The Samurai had taken a battering, but they had no time to pause with a tempting target of decidedly second-strong bowmen arrayed in front of them. The soft underbelly of the English army was now exposed, helpless as a carp on a cutting board before the master sushi chefs of the Samurai infantry force.
With the left flank already as good as won, the Samurai army wheeled inwards onto the flanks of the English centre. Suddenly the boot was very much on the other foot as Japanese warriors flooded forward in a coherent line whilst the English had to cobble together (another boot reference in case you didn't notice it - I don't just throw this sh-t together you know) an ad-hoc rag-tag collection of whatever was available to try and hold up the advancing Japanese forces.
Having despatched the knights, the Samurai were in no mood to waste valuable noodle-eating time in fighting the English bowmen - they cut through them in short order and carried on their rapid advance.
Yet More Mad Japanese Sh-t
The English rearguard on their right was having a moment as the Samurai attack faltered, but even so it was not enough. As dark storm clouds gathered for the English in the land of the Rising Sun, with the centre having lost out in its disjointed charge, and with both flanks coming off worst as well the English army slid to defeat!.
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 Samurai Commander
That appeared to work much more effectively than we had feared - although once we actually flicked through the rulebook to check what was in the English list (rather than just assuming it would be like the Anglo-Irish list with less Leprechauns) it did start to be a lot easier, as their reliance on Spearmen for solidity was certainly a weak link against our 2HCW men
The enemy bowmen - and even longbows - were also not that succesful, as our Bow/Sword boys could outshoot them confidently and then close and beat them in combat - so as long as we didn't lose to the Knights in too short a time we did look set to win attritionally elsewhere. In this respect the Heavy Foot stood up very well, only losing 2 units against the main thrust of the knightly charge - a satisfactory trade.
Now we've conquered their country I'm not entirely sure what these English chaps will make of the diet of sushi we will be quickly imposing - although certainly parts of the country appear wet enough to sustain paddy fields for growing rice.
This winning run seems destined in the stars, so only one game to go for a clean sweep of victories !
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
A third game in which you fail to fall to a well deserved defeat is a strange place in which to place me, your greatest critic. This was a triumph in the face of potential disaster at all times, with you and your men riding their luck with the same sort of control, poise and stability as if they were on a bucking bronco - which, in some ways they were.
If you are building a strategy on the assumption that a 1-hit unit of uncontrollable cows is the best thing you can push t the front and construct a plan around I cannot see that your mental stability differs much from that of the mad cows themselves.
The battle also cruelly exposed your lack of command and control, with Competent Generals being tasked with managing multiple, disparate groups of troops - a challenge which sadly but not unexpectedly proved way beyond them as you smeared your forces across far too much of the tabletop for common sense to prevail. This did leave men hanging, buttocks exposed to the ministrations of the enemy Knights and it was only the luck of the Japanese which saved you from despair and a good lance-tipped rogering to boot.
I must admit also to being surprised by the success of your horsemen against the English foot - perhaps the concept of any terrain as an anathema to anything on horseback is incorrect and there is a way to force an attack through the ankle deep water of the rice fields of Kyoto? Either way I am sure that you run of good luck cannot last and that soon normal service will be resumed in the next game
See this game again on Youtube with commentary from the players
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition