25mm Dark Ages & Early Feudal at Roll Call 2018
Welsh vs Abbasid Arab
The following morning dawned grey and miserable as a Welsh midsummer, a scenario only partly mitigated by the more civilized 930 start time.
Across the table sat an Abbasid army in the capable hands of Mr Hacker - and, in a rare moment of lucidity I had also remembered that I had packed a terrain cloth as well, which now was deployed to cover the otherwise darker green surface provided by the BHGS team of eager pixies.
The lists for the Welsh and Abbasid Arab 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.
With the Abbasids having an undeniable and unavoidable advantage in mounted troops they were not too keen on terrain, and all of the Welsh pieces bar one had dropped on one flank.
This left the rest of the battlefield as remarkably bald as a wargamer's pate, with only a marsh and a piece of uneven ground breaking the featureless plain.
The Welsh deployment was again exactly the same as before - Atecotttititi command on the right hugging the terrain, Vikings in the middle hoping not to be unreliable
The 2 Heavy Cavalry and their accompanying infantry were on the left, strung out over half the board looking to delay whilst the rest of the force did its worst.
Honestly now, I'm wasn't Persian, and I'm certainly not Welsh... can't you go find another GIF website?
What happens when you are sick of seeing the same terrain choices every game...
The right hand flank was a mirror image of the previous games, with a tide of fast moving clothed and unclothed infantry from the Celtic fringes of Britain racing along half in and half out of the terrain - most sweeping flanking moves are carried out by Cavalry, but in this context Medium Foot were ideally configured to undertake that role with aplomb
This time there was no island of uneven terrain for the Welsh infantry to run towards, and so only width alone (and the support of a couple of Viking swordsmen) were in their Swansean armoury as they cautiously eyed the line of Abbasid mounted archers to their front on the left side of the Welsh line.
You're not from Newport
The Atecotti and chums had a gentle hill with an ambush marker behind it, and not much else to look forward to as they charged forward recklessly anyway. Whatever was hiding there they would be keen to fight, so why not just get on with it was their theory, and they were keen to put it into practice as soon as possible. In front of the ambush, Welsh longhorn sheep clung to the slopes and looked on in concern, unsure what their fate might be later that evening.
The drizzle was incessant as some exciting skirmishing action started taking place in the well-constructed Welsh forest as the Swordsmen from Llanelli pushed their Light Foot to clear a path for them through the primeval stands of ancient trees (imported from China and bought on ebay).<
With the Vikings steaming down the middle towards a line of 6 Abbasid spearmen, or "lunch" as they were known in the Scandinavian tongue, the boyos on the left needed to keep up and put pressure on the Abbasid mounted wing to prevent it swinging into the centre and rolling up the Viking flank.
This placed then in the uneasy position of advancing as Medium Foot In The Open against the Arab cavalry.
Luckily, or perhaps because this was a plan that had been tried in 3 previous games already, the Welsh cavalry were also now appearing on the extreme left of the army. The Abbasids fancied their chances against the Welsh infantry no end, but to take them down before the Welsh horsemen then contacted their flank was an entirely different proposition. The threat of the Elite Welsh Nobles was probably enough to tip the odds back in the favour of the Welsh.
Life was much easier if you were a Viking. Secure in the knowledge that their 13-points-a-unit Elite Armoured 2HW Huscarls were more than a match for the Abbasid infantry the line of Norsemen ploughed straight forward with barely a pause for breath. Flanks were other peoples responsibility, these chaps were keen to just win the game and get to the pub for lunch.
Meanwhile, the weather outside was getting chillier by the moment..
The ambush marker turned out to be unsurprisingly not a fake, and the Arab army had actually chosen to hold its left flank with more than a wing and a prayer. A line of Dailami and Elite Spearmen appeared on the crest of the hill, from where they stared down in a mixture of shock, disgust and quiet admiration for the fast approaching public display of unfettered manhood which was making its way towards them.
The Atecottie were of course generally unfazed, and continued with their plan of advancing forward and giving support to the oncoming Viking steam train.
The Welsh General needed just a turn of half-decent pips to hold back the naked fanatics and then the whole line could charge in together.
The Atteccotti: How well do these troops fight then?
Medium Foot Swordsmen yet again, but this time Impetuous. This makes them harder to control, as once within charge range of any enemy - even Light Foot - they need to either charge of spend 3 pips to be held back. This is no mean feat in an army with a Command value of +2.
With this Impetuosity however comes Impact and Furious Charge. When piling into anyone on foot (apart from other Swordsmen or mounted opponents) they gain an extra +1 in the first round, and also inflict an extra hit if they win that same first round. The fear of their charge is often enough to deter many enemies, and allied with the width and numbers of the Welsh swordsmen it becomes very, very dangerous to go down in the Welsh woods today...
The drizzle was incessant as, supported competently by the Welsh Horse, the Swordsmen shouted a loud Welsh "boo-gogogogogogh" at the Abbasid cavalry wing causing them to promptly turn tail and evade back towards their base edge.
At some point they would need fighting, but for now they were a long way away from the Vikings, which was what really mattered.
The door was closing fast on the Abbasid cavalry, as the Welsh continued with their relentless advance across the open field, like farmers following the plough.
The two Vikings despatched to stiffen their line were now struggling to keep pace as the Welsh danced lightfootedly across the open spaces between the mountains.
The Arabian horsemen were now trapped with their backs quite literally up against the wall, assuming that "rear edge of the table" can be counted as a wall in wargaming terms
Everyone was now ready for combat as the Vikings too got close enough to smell the armpits of the diminutive and very clearly ancient Arabian spearmen. This would be a brutal battle between Vikings and Steve's spearmen, the like of which had not been seen in almost a year since a similar 15mm matchup at the excellent Dogs of War event in Bristol last summer.
The TotiactitorittytiA were ready to charge too, and with 2 out of 3 of them being able to hit enemies who were at least partly not uphill the scene was now perfectly set for a Welsh/Arabian fusion battle mixup scenario thingy of the highest magnitude. Lush.
The Abbasid horse had run out of table to retreat on, and the aggressive Welsh had even managed to catch some of them in the rear... but great Arab dice saw that supposedly deadly combat turn against the Welsh as the Arabian Light Horse survived.
This prompted the Arabs to hurl in more Cavalry to support this unexpected opportunity - battle was now being well and truly joinied as both sides sought to reinforce success and shore up failure. Because that always works, doesn't it?
Clearly the waiting had energised the Abbasids, and the long trek had exhausted the Welsh. As the cavalry slammed home the men from the Valleys picked up more markers than they could carry sacks of coal and scattered them liberally behind their lines to indicate the fight was certainly not going their way today - overlaps were apparently somewhat overrated.
The Vikings were in - the entire Welsh army cheered as one as the heavyweight tussle started in earnest between the two lines of solidly packed infantry.
Spears poked, axes swung, dice clattered on the table and both Armour and Rear Support mitigating factors vied for supremacy against the "It's a tie so I win" magical 2HCW vs Spear skills of the Vikings.
This would be where the battle was won and lost.
Viking Huscarls: How well do these troops fight then?
The Rolls Royce of Dark Age Infantry, these chaps have everything bar the kitchen sink. Elite status goes without saying, allowing them to add +1 to any roll of 1,2 or 3 in melee and against enemy shooting which largely insulates them from any catastrophic dice rolls. These chaps have been upgraded with Armour as well giving them even more resilience against unarmoured opponents by mitigating the first point of difference on a combat dice result. In a period where most opponents may well be armoured, this helps offensively as well by preventing an Armoured enemy from claiming Armour themselves as a mitigating factor.
Finally they are armed with fearsome Dane Axes. These 2HW add +1 to any winning dice roll result allowing the Huscarls to cause serious damage when they get going. If any enemy are foolish enough to turn up with spearmen or pikemen the Huscarls benefit even more - the 2HW means they win on a tied result (and that tie is measured after adding in the +1 for Elite grading if needed).
Elsewhere, all was already and swiftly being lost for the Welsh foot and won by the Abbasid horse as several huge holes opened up in the overly-aggressive line of Medium Foot. At least the SArabians had been distracted for a while though.
The drizzle was incessant as the Vikings and Atecottiiti enjoyed a solid first round of combats, knocking a series of dents into the Abbasid infantry pretty much all along the line. The Vikings in particular were utterly unmoved by the counterstrikes from the desert-dwelling spearmen, with not a scratch breaking through their armour to harm their pale skinned Nordic hides.
Atecotti Breakthrough! A hole appears in the Abbasid llines, and the Atecotti see an opportunity to flood forward in their next turn and nail the sole Abbasid reserve unit firmly to the wall.
With waves of Welshmen llapping in behind the Atecotterati were able to fulfil that promise without compromising the integrity of the overlaps their stunning victory had created - after this opponent the baggage itself would llay at their mercy.
It was very much Disco Party Time in the Welsh camp, as they scented victory within their grasp.
It was now the perfect time to break out the Lambrusco and Twiglets and invite friends and family round to join in the celebrations!
Mercy was not however a word which figures highly in the llexicon of the Abbasid horse, who were polishing off the entirety of the Welsh infantry, and sprinkling on top some finely grated Welsh Cavalry for a garnish. The table was now a bleak and empty as a Newport nightclub bar's menu of wines that cost more than £6.50 a bottle.
As the Welsh rain continued to pour down the Vikings still were to suffer a single scratch as they hacked and sliced their way through the Abbasid spear lline with relentless efficiency. Soon clearly the whole centre of the Islamic army would be removed from the table lleaving only a motorway-wide gap down which the Nordic warriors would march to glory and the enemy baggage.
Boom - the Welsh army had attacked without mercy, but with a llot of high quality Vikings who were probably the best imaginable troops with which to take on a lline of Spearmen, and the effect had been devastating and decisive.
Wales had won, Arabia had llost and now the Welsh were in the happy position of going into the final round with 2 victories, a mutual destruction and the narrowest possible defeat under their belts placing them well for a possible podium finish.
Not bad for an army chosen because of the availability of yellow-flowered grass tufts eh?
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
It's not unusual to be mad with anyone, and it's not unusual to be sad with anyone. But if I ever find that you've changed at any time, I will hit your spearmen with a wall of Vikings and that relationship will be over I am afraid. Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-oh went the Vikings as they found their ideal opponent here in the game. A terrain setup which gave the opposition a seemingly well anchored location to deploy their Heavy Infantry with protected flanks does not work against an opponent such as the Welsh, with rough terrain troops to spare and a solid core of Vikings who see an anchored position as a static targe at which to charge.
No visible means of support and you have not seen nothing yet - everything's stuck together as I am racing up the charts with another Win Bomb (Win Bomb), it's a Win Bomb. And this time I also managed to be aggressive with the large Medium Foot command against superior numbers of Bow-armed enemy mounted - a plan which could easily have worked even better with a smidgeon more luck - or perhaps those 2 Viking foot managing to stay a bit closer to the Welsh to give them a solid anchor in the open ground.
Those Vikings, they know what I'm about, they can take what I dish out, and that's not easy, they know me through and through, and they went through the enemy too. The pacing of the game was made much easier by the defensive stance of the enemy - what needed to be attacked was clear from the off, but having the luxury of waiting with the Atecotti until the Vikings were already off and chopping was handy - and indeed my opponent saw this too and decided that fighting on the plain sooner was better than waiting uphill while the Vikings gained the upper hand.
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home and win two on the bounce. I do wonder however if this deplyment will ever change..?
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Finally a second win, against an enemy seemingly perfectly designed for your army to take on. Apart of course from the Cavalry on the wing, who with a bit more aggression could have hoped to pile into the end of your line and roll you up like a carpet.
In this theme the 2HW is King, and so you were indeed fortunate to find quite so many spearmen in this opposing force.
A list selection which is optimised to beat such a lineup is what you almost have - although with only 4 2HW men there will be more powerful opponents out there for sure.
2 wins is a risk of propelling you into nosebleed territory, and so the next game may be your come-uppance
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition