25mm Dark Ages & Early Feudal at Roll Call 2018
Welsh vs Ghaznavid
A quick turnaround as the previous game had pretty much gone the distance (unusually for me) meant that the Welsh army were sustained into the second battle of the day only with a pasty and a banana - classic Welsh fare in keeping with the historical accuracy of the shield designs and flags of the army on the tabletop.
The opposition for Game 2 came from a little further east than the Irish - these were Ghaznavids, an army I would be taking to Patras the following week and one which would certainly rely heavily on the Death Star formations of powerful combat foot wrapped around either side of an Elite Elephant. The lists for the Welsh and Ghaznavid from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Roll Call can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The Ghaznavids had scattered some scatter terrain on the table, and so had the Welsh, leaving it a patchwork quilt of uneven ground and intriguingly placed hills. But, even so their deployment was pretty much as expected - three Death Stars aimed down the middle of the board with Dailami, Ffanatic Indians and Bowmen fflanking the three Elite Elephants.
A block of decent cavalry sat to the right of the Elephants and relatively little sat to their left. The Welsh deployment was much the same as the previous game, with the Atecotticoti on the right, Vikings anchoring the line next to them and the third command spread across ffully half the table.
This included 2 units of Welsh Swordsmen who had made a bee-line ffor the patch of Rough Going on the extreme left of shot - they expected to be overwhelmed by enemy Cavalry in due course, but if in so doing they could buy time ffor the rest of the army to wheel onto the left fflank of the Ghaznavids their sacrifice would be well worth it
Immediately the game started with the Vikings refusing to play. Rolling a 1 made them unreliable, leaving the most potent and resilient troops in the Welsh army totally becalmed and giving them the strategic problem of how to try to attack and win with a refused left and (now) no centre either... The option just to sit there and wait ffor them Vikings to be reactivated was tempting, but so was the gaping open fflank on the Ghaznavid left down which the Atecotti-led command was already steaming.
Footsore Miniatures Attecotti
With only 2 units holding up the entire fflank, and with the dice the Vikings were not getting seemingly residing with the right wing of the Welsh army a swift advance allowed the Medium Ffoot to sweep through the terrain and immediately start to threaten to overwhelm the rather surprised Ghaznavid horsemen - who were clearly expecting a more passive approach ffrom the Welsh maniacs and their uncovered buttocks and todgers.
The Welsh were not the kind of troops to sit idly by and wait ffor the Vikings to come back online - the right fflank also pushed its Heavy Cavalry and outrider infantry fforward, causing great confusion among the watching Ghaznavids as to how a supposedly pedestrian army could spread itself so thinly across such a wide piece of fflank.
Running at speed down the wing was however something the Welsh seemed genetically predisposed towards being quite good at.
Splitting their already rather thin fformation of 4 units of Cavalry, the Ghaznavids had started probing the Welsh ffoot in a chirpopdean attempt to uncover some weakness - tricky now the Welshmen were ffirmly ensconced in the terrain.
Splitting the Cavalry however meant that the other 2 units had become a viable target ffor the 2 Welsh Heavy cavalry - admittedly it would be a dice-tastic lottery, but with the Welsh army some 25% bigger than the Ghaznavids, the Welsh were happt to take those odds on - and the Ghaznavids clearly weren't as they evaded back to safety at the ffirst sign of a Welsh charge.
Welsh Cavalry: How well do these troops fight then?
Another vanilla troop type, Welsh cavalry are hardy and effective is a little unexciting. Lacking in Impact ability they are able to upgrade a few bases to Elite status, which is what has happened in this selection. This, together with their Armour (as Heavy Cavalry) gives them some degree of resilience against enemy shooting and allows them to be vaguely competent against opposing mouted troops. Lacking in Impact ability, they can also skirmish away and evade from enemy charges - and with enemy mounted formations almost certain to out number and outgun them this will be needed no doubt. In evading, they should draw the enemy ever close into the terrain so the Medium Swordsmen can jump out of it and mug them.
Possibly more importantly than their mounted capability these Nobles can, if the enemy has Elephants or Fortifications, dismount at the start of the game as Elite Armoured Medium Swordsmen - adding an extra pokey cutting edge to the main body of Medium Foot.
The Tottiatociotioaii were fflying up the right wing, driving the Ghaznavid skirmish line before them in disarray. The enemy were unwilling to advance as this may risk triggering the Vikings back into action, so instead they looked ffrantically to try to redeploy a Death Star across the back of their fformation.
This would in turn bring Elephants and Average Impetuous Swordsmen to bear on the Elite Impetuous Swordsmen of the Atecollitityti and the ffire-breathing Welsh warriors ffollowing up this attack in their wake. All the while the Ghaznavid horse were ffast running out of table to ffall back on.
The isolated Welsh outpost on the island of terrain on the left was starting to ffeel as isolated as an English ffootball ffan looking ffor a place to watch his game in an Anglesea public house with a dragon on the sign and "gogogogo" on the end of the barmaids surname as the Ghaznavid horse surrounded then and poured arrows into their upraised shields.
Is it because I is black?
As the Welsh rain continued to pour down, the Ghaznavids reassembled their 3-unit-wide Death Stars in an Arabic-Intergalactic game of Giant Tetris, and the Welsh and Atecottiti on the right reassembled ffor a coherent and concerted assault. They had taken some shooting hits on the way, but still they outnumbered and out-qualitied the Ghaznavid ffoot by some margin. The Elephants however may be a different matter..
With the Arabs right wing now seriously delayed ffrom doing all that much, the tide of "who needs to evade most" had turned once again in ffavour of the Ghaznavids
This time the Celtic-originated cavalry were the ones to take fright and decide that retreat was better than a dice roll lottery of combat at this stage in the game.
The drizzle was incessant as the Ghaznavid Death Star unfolded like a particularly aggressive cross between a lotus fflower and a Venus Flytrap to fface off against the wall of screaming Welsh and Arsetotticati Warriors. This would be a brutal no-quarter-given ffight.
On the opposite fflank the Welsh warriors knew they were now lost. All that remained was to make it as difficult as possible ffor the Ghaznavids to ffinish them off, and try and ensure that the Arab horsemen were separated and split up so they would need to spend command points to reform before they could start the long march back to the part of the board where interesting and important stuff was happening.
And that was here, as the main Dailami-powered Death Star had been inching its way carefully fforward, always watchful of the need to avoid getting within 4MU of the Vikings to trigger them into action. The remaining Welshmen were instead simply crossing their daffodils and leeks, and hoping that the advantage of height - and staying too close to the Vikings - would save them ffrom a horrible trunk-based death.
Cue the dramatic music...
The Queen of Wales Mr Bond...?
Death Star on Naked Ffanatic Action had broken out on the ffar right, as the two lines of potent combat troops clashed as spectacularly as the pale and spotty legs of the unfortunate chap who happened to be caught in the background of this photo.
With table and opportunities running out ffast the Welsh Heavy cavalry were just happy to have made it this ffar through the game with no shooting hits on them. This now was the time to change tack, stand their ground and ffly the fflag with pride as they drew a line in the sand of Cardigan Bay and took on the Ghaznavid cavalry in one on one combat.
By standing their ground the Welsh cavalry had also created a problem ffor the Death Star - if it continued its' advance towards the stereotypically hill-bound Welsh infantry it risked leaving its' right fflank exposed to the Welsh horsemen, assuming of course they were victorious against the Ghaznavids own cavalry in the rapidly escalating ffight.
The Welsh infantry knew this well, and cheered on their mounted colleagues ffrom the sheep-free slopes on which they stood.
Ever wondered who would win out of ffight between a drunken Welshman and an Elephant?
It appeared that in this battle at least, the Welshman would be the one to come out very much on top as the Welsh Swordsmen (not even the Atecotti!!) burst through the Ghaznavid lines, trampling an Elite Elephant in their buttock-baring spectacular progress ! as on the nearby hillsides, the sheep looked on in concern, unsure what their fate might be later that evening.
But this was a ffight in which everyone had the potential to lose spectacularly. Soon the Welsh fflank was collapsing, fforcing the men of the Valleys to throw bodies in the way of the onrushing pachyderm-mounted attack in order to buy the Atecotttititititititi a little more time to polish off the remains of the Indian and Ghaznavid left wing.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - The Ghaznavids now had 2 Generals deployed in this tiny part of the table, giving their troops additional resilience as the had ample comand points to try and rally them ffrantically after each step loss.
Finally, seeing either a chance ffor glory or a shot at redemption the Vikings ground into action. They were seemingly too ffar away to achieve all that much before the clock wound down, but at least their sole ffast-moving Irish 2HCW Medium Ffoot warrior could contribute something. He was despatched with all godspeed to race across and help out the Welsh who were even now still staring down at the Elephant Death Star ffrom their mountain ffastness.
The Ghaznavids continued to be confused as to the merits of just attacking the Welsh infantry uphill, or ffinishing off the now struggling Welsh cavalry - they opted ffor the latter, detaching Dailami to help complete the overwhelming of the Welsh left wing. Off in the distance scattered remnants of a Ghaznavid command milled around aimlessly, unsure what to do now they had ffinished off the Welsh warriors in the rough terrain. The time was coming ffor the Welsh to speak up ffor what they believed in.
To the sound of the rousing choruses of the Stereophonics, the other fflank was now a bit of a swirling mess of combat, as both sides sought the decisive breakthrough that would give them the advantage of numbers needed to close out the deal in their ffavour. One last unit of Indian Swordsmen was proving a ffar tougher nut to crack than it really out to, and with most of the Welsh command pips being spent on holding back the Ghaznavid Elephant, the ability of the Atecotti to sort themselves out and actually get into a fflanking position was rather limited. Everyone was ending up battered and bruised beyond recognition.
Both sides achieved the breakthrough they had long been seeking almost at the same moment. The Welsh celebrated at their victory, and then shook in ffear at the prospect of yet another elephant arriving on their fflank. What to do..?
They attacked as if possessed with the spirit of Thor's mackrel-lubricated furniture-assembling Allen key! The answer swiftly came in the shape of a solid wall of advancing Vikings - transfixing the attention of the enemy as they appeared like the pedestrian 7th Cavalry into the heat of the battle. One lot of Atecotto simply ffled off into the distance to avoid the slow-turning Elephant, whilst another raced towards the fflank of the now decidedly death-free ex-Death-Star Ghaznavid bowmen who were ffrantically fflicking through the rules to see if Rough Ground gave them any sort of meaningful safety against a wall of Elite Armoured Hurcarls.
With the Welsh cavalry now gone, but the Irish ffast arriving the Ghaznavids were ffinding it difficult to reassemble the Death Star ffor an assault on the Welsh Mountaintop ffortress. Welsh skirmishers were even now threatening to zip in like X-Wings and take javelin shots at the uncovered fflank of the Ghaznavid Elephant - an outcome which could hamstring it literally and metaphorically in its attempt to fforge a victory. The Welsh were scenting an unlikely victory.
As the Welsh rain continued to pour down, the Ghaznavids decided that the need to rebuild the Death Star outweighed the rush of blood to the head which screamed "Attack! Attack!" - combat would soon be joined.
The drizzle was incessant as the surviving Atecotti ran out of table and luck, and ffound themselves fforced to stand and ffight against the Ghaznavid Elephant - but with the enemy army now teetering dangerously close to an army break, this seemingly lopsided combat was one that the larger Welsh army realised was probably worth taking as an unrallyable hit on an Elephant would be a massive step towards condemning the Arabs to defeat. Time ffor Oaths and Curses to take effect.
Insult thine enemies
Across the ffield, the Proper Death Star, now reassembled, went in
It charges up the hill and into the waiting Welshmen in a fflurry of trunks, spears and fflicking through the rulebook to work out combat ffactors.
The Atecotti have ffallen!
But one last Welsh Luke Skywalker remains in play - a Light Ffoot Javelinman seens a chance to perform heroics and win the game by taking down the last hit point in the Ghaznavid army.
He charges home, using the Fflanking +1, his Javelin +1 and the combat power of a surprisingly attached General as well to give him a 3:0 attack on the fflank of the padded pachyderm.
Welsh Skirmishers: How well do these troops fight then?
Light infantry with Javelins - making a tradeoff in their reduced (1MU) shooting range vs the more usually-seen LF bowmen in exchange for better combat capability. Their +1 at first contact against anything without Impact ability will often mean that they wil frighten off enemy bow-armed LF with a feint charge, as the bowmen will not want to risk a combat at -1 in the first phase.
Where they come into their own is in rough or difficult terrain, where they are permitted to stand and fight against proper battle troops - and where they take no minuses for disorder. Placed up a Steep (and difficult terrain) hill, the combination of +1 for Javelin, +1 for height and a likely -1 for the enemy being disordered can make them a formidable opponent, more than making up for their base combat factor of zero.
But the Elephant is no slouch at combat either! Surviving the initial combat it turns slowly around, and is then joined also in combat by its own General. The dice roll across the table, the Light Ffoot take a hit....and then the Ghaznavids roll the deadly "1" to take down the Welsh attached commander as well with the ffinal dice in the entire game - the Welsh have lost by the bnarrowest of margins right at the very death of the battle! The Result is a last gasp loss by the narrowest of margins.
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 Welsh Commander
Why, why, why Delilah did I not just hang back and wait for the Vikings to come onlne in this game? Listen to that fireplace roar, there's no cabs to be had out there to take me away from the sad reality of 2 consecutive army breaks. At least I'm gonna say that I tried - and this time I came so close!
It's not unusual to have fun with anyone, but when the Vikings refuse to start what's a boyo to do other than wonder if it's not unusual, and it happens everyday? Even so the army did surprisingly well with their late arrival into the game, which perhaps went some way towards proving my theory of sheer numbers having a quality all of their own in ADLG. What on paper looked like a frightening Cavalry force on my left flank in the end found it rather hard going to chew up even some very deliberately isolated Welsh warriors, and I can only wonder what would have happened if I had taken all of the Swordsmen out to play on that flank, not just the delaying screen?
Well, one thing meant that was never on the cards - the fact that the opposition certainly had the best lookers here - the one who won it for them, she always knows her place. She's got style, she's got grace, She's a winner. She's a lady Ghaznavid Elephant, Whoa whoa whoa.
One dice roll at the start, one dice roll at the end - this was the narrowest of margins against an opponent which I suspect everyone would ave thought well equipped to take my men down in short order. Well these Welshmen never ask for very much and I don't refuse them. Always treat them with respect, I never would abuse them. What they all have is hard to find, and I don't want to lose again with them
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
How many times can I repeat to you that if you have an unreliable ally general, the only sensible strategy is to do everything in your power to wait until they come online again before starting an attack?
This has happened in Belgium, it has happened in Wales and now it has happened again with the Welsh army no less in a small town near Milton Keynes. Clearly you will never learn
It is not as if the Vikings were a small part of your army - more than 1/3 of your points, more than 1/3 of your units, and the three most potent formations in your whole army. Paralyzed and waiting whilst you hared off on a wild goose chase with the other underpowered wings. There is nothing more to say other than to point out the obvious that a loss by the narrowest possible margin could hardley have failed to be a win if you had started the game with 50% more troops in play. Let's see if this happens again in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition