vs Some Arabs
Isn't the M1 a great motorway...? We liked it so much we spent nearly 3 hours on it between 3pm and 6pm on Friday night. Leaving London at 3pm clearly wasn't quite good enough. But, fortunately a new high tech sophisticated system was in place for the draw (sticky labels and a blank piece of paper) and Martin, Geoff and myself got started with our games almost immediately (after the obligatory "get soaked whilst getting to your room, and see the rain clear up as you get into the games hall" session).
Well, to be more precise, it was "vs Some Arabs, and Their Not Very Helpful Friends". The friends in question were a Cicilian Armenian Allied command, consisting of Kn (F) and some auxiliary padding. The board basically had a wood right in the middle - strangely reminiscent of my first game last year in fact - down the left of which the Armenians launched themselves with huge eagerness and great glee (or "eegl", which is probably Armenian for "glee", I guess....?). They were supported ably by the usual Cv(S) mob to their right, and straight away I was starting to be pinned back.
However, this situation had arisen before also - at Roll Call this year. Working on the basis of "I've already had 3 pints in an hour and a half, so why try anything original when I might just f@@k it up?" I launched a sole LH into the Armenian generals path. He promptly took the bait (well, he rolled a 1, so he had to!), exploded my LH and followed up into the wilderness.
My LH took this as a good sign, and promptly dragged him across in front of the rest of the command, and exploded him in a veritable shower of small brightly colored pieces - whilst in the wood my auxilia were also busy mugging their counterparts. The Armenians rolled a 1 next turn, and promptly fled away, leaving the path open for me.
Basically it all got a bit blurry after then - I remember losing the CinC's command , but I'm not quite sure how I did it, nut won 8-2 nonetheless.
Ideal. An 8:15am start, getting soaked waiting for breakfast, trudge across the trackless wastes of the Loughboro University Student Village, and find yourself opposite a 4' wide line of supported spearmen on a table 3' 6" wide. A Waterway helped considerably (I didn't put it down.....) and then a wood on the other flank (my compulsory one) made the game complete.
The North Africans were all set to roll me off the table, so I decided to concentrate my attack on the easy weak flank...where one command of 42.5 EE (making up less than half of the army) was positioned. Despite needing only 14.5 to break it, there were a handy 10 auxilia and Bw(I) (I think - or maybe just Auxilia...?) defending the wood edge, and a few Cv double ranked after that.
With the Tatars skirmishing manfully against the rest of the army by the river, my 2 major Lithuanian commands piled on the pressure, and the Muslim Auxilia started to fall like autumn leaves... i.e. very slowly, and in almost random places. My tiddly flank march came on to distract the Muslim generals attention, as he was forced to keep them at bay, but eventually (and I do mean EVENTUALLY!!!) all the auxilia keeled over (under the assault of 4 knights, and 15 of my own auxilia!). This only left another 4.5 elements to kill .... to take the command! The last to fall was the general - as cunningly I had waited until the last possible moment to kill him off, thus ensuring my men were not denied the chance to practice fighting by something as silly as the general taking the command with him prematurely when he fell.
By this stage, the main part of the Spear line was........completely untouched! Hoorah! Only a block 2 feet wide entirely made up from double ranked supported spear to wade through (factor 6, down to a paltry 4 when fighting demoralized against most of my army...!!) before the flank of the other 2 commands would lie legs-akimbo and at my mercy! How pleased I was!!
I rallied the some what surprised Tatars to return from their flight from 2 bowmen (who had been handing them a real pasting) and sent them back to fight unsupported Auxilia - and , of course, they failed dismally. It was slow going with the spears, and the fleeing cavalry were keeping my flank commands from marching into any sort of useful position. Eventually, bored of the incompetence of their colleagues, the General from my flank marching command decided to loot the Muslim baggage... and delivered the coup de grace! 10-0!!
The Power and grace of two veritable lords of the game, meshed in deadly combat! The almost balletic qualities of two evenly matched armies, circling each other like rapacious wolves, teeth snapping, fur flying. Beads of sweat pouring from the brows of the two players, as massive intellects clash in cerebral majesty.
Well, that was the game on the next table. Meanwhile, me and Andy Wilcox were bogged down beating each other almost to our respective knees in a bizarre festival of incompetence and incomprehensibility, almost ruined as a contest by bonkers dice and surreal freak weather effects!
The wind changing direction all game - probably 2 turns out of 3 - but only once veering outside of its initial direction + 45 degrees....behind the urgundians1
MY Army being disadvantaged more by the wind than the Burgundians.
The killer move was as my Cv(O) dismounted as Irr Bw (O) (they are kind of like particularly poor quality X-Men Superheroes - a mild mannered group of accountant blessed with the power to transform themselves into a.......bunch of carrots)
This was all done to shoot at the hitherto entirely useless Pk (I) .........that the Burgundians had deployed as front-line troops, as they were more effective against my army than their mainstream Kn (O) would be...
My perfectly timed Kn (O) & (S) charge being blown away without losses by an equal sized line of Kn (O)...
A Psiloi and Auxilia (O) flank march attempting to charge down a battery of Art (I) and Pk (I)...whilst their LH(O) colleagues looked offering vocal, but not really that practical support.
Despite the fact that it was still before 12 noon, and we had both had a skinfull the night before, the game was summed up by the moment when Andy asked me if I fancied a drink - we looked at each other, and in a moment of pure telepathy, both said "sod it, lets have a pint".
In equally classic fashion, the game came to a conclusion with the last 2 dice rolls deciding the outcome. With one command down (bizarrely, the Tatars, who should have been almost invulnerable vs the Burgundians....) I needed to take down one more Knight to kill off the CinC's command, whereas Andy needed to ride a general over a Ax(O) to take out my flank marchers.
Both combats were won, I had lost 2 commands, Andy 1, but a 6-4 to me as it was the Burgundian CinC's command !!!
Game 4 - vs Sassanids (& TWMIB)
Another easy match up for the boy Porter - not! Clearly this was a sentiment that was shared by my opponent also, as he was almost jumping with glee as he put file after file of supported Cv(S) down against my LH, and Ax(S) facing a hill in reach of his first move, and his Elephant against my Knights!
Somewhat surprisingly (ahem), things didn't quite work out as he had planned......
Firstly, a lone LH sent to investigate a hill on my left got mugged by my LH & Auxilia, lurking behind the crest. On my right, a similar fate befell someone investigating a wood - a long Lithuanian arm snaked out and grabbed them by the throat, there was a rustle of branches, and then they were gone!
But, clearly things were going so swimmingly that it wasn't going to be a problem. The sausages ploughed on, shedding a few elements here and there on my right as they wheeled past the wood...and all of a sudden they had a gaping flank !!! (now, where did that come from....?).
The elephant successfully exploded a knight, but unperturbed, his 3 colleagues ploughed on into the supporting Cv (S) & (O) ... the Auxilia were tempted down from their hill, to be engaged by the Tatar LH, supported by the odd Knight.... the emboldened Psiloi lurked out of the wood ad mugged more Sassanids - this time in the open!
All of a sudden, the game was swinging my way - with 4 commands, the Sassanids were starting to reach their break points, and the CinC was trapped next to an impetuously following-up Polish Knight! The Sassanid left collapsed in a cloud of dust (OK, in a cloud of LH (S) and Cv (O) to be more precise!), and the now isolated elephant found himself (or herself, not wishing to be sexist about it..) standing alone. Sensing the opportunity to throw it all away (and having totted up the casualties and worked out that the game was almost over!) The Lithuanian CinC charged the elephant (with 2 flank supports) and rolled a .......1! The elephant then rolled a 3 - not quite enough!
Next turn, beset by assailants from all sides, the Sassanids started to panic - and my opponent forgot to move his CinC from behind the elephant yet again!!! The LH (O) general charged again, and this time was successful - Nelly goes POW - and so does the General behind, and with him, the army!!
It was not in enough time to save my CinC's command, but 8-2 against Sassanids is not to be sniffed at - and an opponent who couldn't work out what went wrong! What a result!!!
Game 4.5 - vs the NMS Kebabs
Saturday night ended with the traditional visit to my old Student haunts - the Mugal-e-Shahi Curry House. Suitably off the beaten track to be outside a non-local wargamers field of fire, the "Mugal" is a classic institution - even down to the fish tank and furry wallpaper.
Initially our setup was ideal - the enemy poppadoms were pinned in a pincer movement from both sides of the table, and even the spicy ones didn't put up much resistance. The surprise of the evening however came with the arrival of the Mugal vanguard - keeping with a long held tradition, we had ordered something from the menu that none of us had ever seen before - a NMS Kebab.
Having not faced much initial resistance due to a lack of lime pickle in the spinny bits, we dived straight in. In much the same way as an orchard has lots leaves, the NMS Kebab came with a pile of onions - and we went for them impetuously. But, in much the same was as an Orchard has Kn (X) hidden in it to munch incautious auxilia, the Onions were laced with napalm - hands grasped any available beer to stem the vicious counterattack! The NMS then followed this up with the unexpected arrival of even more meat to add to the onion bhaji and funny bright red meat pattie we had originally seen - Lamb followed Chicken Tikka followed a long dog-poo shaped bit of bright red meat... battering us into submission, and all before the main course!
We fought back manfully, calling in reserves from another table, and focusing on the weak links in the enemy. The Onions were screened off by a lager dousing, and the meat succumbed after a long fight.
The main force of the Mugal army arrived - shining in a heavily armoured balti dish. After a tough struggle, all the meat was finally beaten - and it was all over bar the mopping up. Our Peshwari allies obliged, and the march back up the hill to base camp was on.....
Sunday Morning - amazingly no hangover, but a head-to-head vs Mr. Pants himself, and his happy Samurai. Another great matchup - Bw(S)!!!!!
A dirty great hill landed in his deployment area - home for the Bd (F)... The rest of the army faced off to the left of the hill - Bw(S), Cv (O) - - who dismount at will and a core of Bw (I). Things started fairly well - the Emeshi were unreliable, allowing my tiny command to attempt to fling themselves round his now-open left flank.
In the center my X-men-like Cv (O) again dismounted, this time to engage in a "game of skill" vs the Bw (I) acting as padding in the samurai command - and the LH (S) attempted to engage Samurai Cv before they could get off. On the hill, the Tatars (after an initial flirt with unreliability) decided that they could take on Bd(F) and Ax(I) uphill - and started to succeed!
However, the Emeshi returned - and my tiddler was in reverse gear faster than you could say tavo metodas atsiduoda sugėbejimu. In the center, the Bw battle was going OK, but the LH were being broken up and coming under pressure - so a few knights waded in to help out, vaporizing some of the cavalry before they could dismount ! However, with the tiddler out of the way, more Bw (S) turned their firepower on the Bw (O) and the central command crumbled (well, it was doing all the fighting....). The initial success of the Tatars had also been an illusion, as they decided to refrain from killing any of the samurai blades, and instead attempted to push them back onto the hill at every opportunity, just in case they were feeling ill at ease on level, open ground vs Cv (S) with two flanks exposed....
It got very hairy - but the remaining Lithuanians were eventually able to fade away, and the Samurai were unable to catch them in time. The hill command stood firm against the uphill Tatars, and it was a (probably could have easily been worse) 4-6 defeat.
Some kind of horrible Central American forest Indian Tupi army. Brilliantly created, with every element hidden in undergrowth, by a very nice man from Belgium, who i had played the year before.... when he had a sensible army!!!.
I thought they might be Bw (I), but on reading the lists discovered that they were Bw (S). As a consequence, I got absolutely mullahed.
I was lucky to take out a small 15.5 EE command using both a flank march and my biggest (CinC's) command. The rest of the game was painful as I got fled everywhere by the 2 remaining 36EE+ commands, who basically maintained a solid line and marched across the table at me - all my troops were close to fleeing off table by the end of it..... I made a couple of concerted attacks, one using Ax(O) and the Knights (S), the other using 2 deep Bw (O) to hopefully break up the line and create an opportunity for the 3 Cv (S) Tatars to break through into the Wb (F) behinf. Both failed miserably....
Well, you try playing 56 Bw (S) in a single element deep line covering the entire table with an army whose cutting edge is LH (O) ......
So, overall I had won 4, lost 2 (one win and one defeat both by a fairly narrow margin), and played the people who finished 2nd (Burgundians), 3rd (Pants samurai) and 4th (Tupi). 4 of the matchups had been about as bad as I could have wished for, and I had not seen an Abbasid or a Portuguese all weekend.
But, nice curry though!!