Saturday, 23 July 2011

Hot Lead 2011 - Battle Four

And so to the final game of the day.
Before the event I had confided to my regular opponent that what I most feared facing in the An Heroic Example scenario was a tooled up Norman Lord. On a Warhorse.
So it was inevitable that my final game would have Normans as my opponents.
Still, at least I wouldn’t have any warbands with their pesky “autobreak” to worry about.
What’s that you say? First what? Oh, First Charge. How’s that work then...?

After my more forthright adventures in Snowdonia in the previous round I reverted to the horseshoe formation with the Kamel Korps on the left and my horse on the right. Carl had massed his Mounted Scary Dudes (I think that’s how they’re listed in the Shieldwall book) on his right. Meat and drink to the Kamel Korps I shouldn’t wonder.

 Phew, at least they're not warbands!
 Slow 'em down, fellas
However before we could find that out there was the small matter of Abd Inuff getting run over by the Early Medieval equivalent of a dump truck. On a warhorse.

So with the sound of Mrs Inuff’s (Abd’s mum) lamentations ringing in our ears the battle could begin. On the left the Kamel Korps managed to get a charge off against some Milites. They counter charged and the resulting overrun saw them crash into some Berbers, but at least the dreaded First Charge was now blown.

 Crunch. Stab. Die.
Sadly they still possessed sufficient Gallic flair to be able to finish off the spearmen in short order.
To the right the Berber horse narrowly lost to some light horse, but the curse of Abd Inuff’s early demise (“Give it a rest Mrs Inuff!”) meant they promptly failed the test ran off and were cut down.

  No, I can't tell the difference between these two shots, either.

Over in the centre the Black Guard too discovered exactly how and why charging knights transformed Dark Age warfare leaving but a single unit of Berbers to be chased into a wood and slaughtered.

 Ibn Coldir v Dux. On a warhorse

 Note large Ibn Coldir shaped space in front of Dux

All in all not my best game. I threw my troops forward with a casual disregard for their worthless metallic lives and played right into Carl’s hands. I was also a bit on the back foot as soon as the initial challenge went against me, -1Ld is a big penalty on an army whose general is only Ld8. Nevertheless a thoroughly pleasant and entertaining way to pass ninety or so minutes, and Carl was a charming and jolly opponent.

With the four games over there was the usual wrap-up. Despite not winning a single game I’d not coughed up enough VP’s to challenge for Wooden Spoon.
(Did I ever tell you about the time I came last in a Viking Event? They gave me the Woden Spoon.)
And nor had I won either best general or best painted army (I can dream can't I?). I had also given five pounds to charity in exchange for five dice that behaved as expected and failed to win me a single thing from Lord S’s sack of goodies.

So four losses, no prizes and a long journey home to look forward to, and yet I’d had another splendid day out. So unlike Orwell I wasn’t going home bitter and disillusioned, I was going home positive and happy with my hobby. Oh to try and explain to my wife that yes, I really needed some more soldiers, and no they weren’t really that expensive and yes I would paint these ones and no they wouldn't just be going in a box in the loft and...

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Hot Lead 2011 - Battle Three

Game number three and I was playing James Morris, author of the El Cid list that I was using, and the Age of Arthur list that he was using. I’ve known James for a while now, but this was possibly the first time we’d actually played a game against each other. James Welsh army looked lovely. However, being an “in period purist” the slightly incongruous “time tunnel” (not to mention geographical unlikeliness) of the game was playing on James’ mind, perhaps I would be able to take advantage!

We were playing down the length of the table in the Battle in the Pass scenario. It was on the table I’d used for the previous game with two large woods that completely blocked the centre of the valley; apparently Darren hadn’t read the scenarios when setting up the tables, so deployment would be interesting. As it happened we both refused a flank meaning we inevitably swung around the woods to meet across the board in the middle. By this stage I was getting pretty bored with my defensive style of play (to be honest, maintaining it for two whole games was something of a triumph for me, despite the losses) and I knew James would favour getting stuck in, so that’s what happened. Sadly the Kamel Korps had no horse to cause fear in and so, clearly disillusioned by this turn of events they allowed themselves to be duffed up by some Welshmen in short order. The Berber horse promptly panicked and left the table, hmmm.
 What do you mean you forgot to mount up?

 The Even Thinner Than Usual White Line

Kamels in place, Skirmishers in place - right where we want 'em!
A noticably Kamel and Skirmisher free zone
In the centre my bow fire and javelining was proving ineffectual and soon enough my archers were spooked and fled abut the place getting in Ibn Coldir’s way.
Finally the battle lines clashed and James general issued a challenge. Abd Inuff bravely stepped up to the mark, but was outmatched and made his way off to paradise, followed by a significant proportion of his men. The rest were inevitably warbanded away (James felt bad about this), though they escaped, at least temporarily – allowing James to repeat the feat in subsequent turns and his warlord to amass a quite impressive flag collection.

The Saxons close in
Lots of colours, lots of sizes. They'll look lovely back in the rugby club.
Over on what was now my far right the Black Guard entered into a tense stand-off with a welsh warband wisely hugging their native arboreal protection. Sure enough they failed to fail a warband test and impatience and a desire to “hand it out” meant Ibn Coldir declared a charge. Penda stepped out to accept Ibn Coldir’s challenge and was (perhaps surprisingly) cut down. The welsh, fortified by their trees held out for a couple of turns, but finally broke as the game ended, coughing up their flag and allowing Ibn Coldir to claim a small amount of pride from the debacle.

Penda braces himself for an Ibn Coldir one liner
So, on balance a more aggressive style of play had, as expected, resulted in a rather heavier defeat. But it made for a good fun game. James army looked fab and he was a pleasure to play with.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Hot Lead 2011 Battle Two

Game two and I would be playing against Mark with his AoA early Saxons. The scenario was Hereditary Enemies so we diced for which units would have hatred. Inevitably my skirmishers were one of my units infected, but the Black Guard came good and was my second unit so blessed. Worryingly Marks Gedrith and a unit of Duguth both drew the hatred card, making already tough Warband units even harder.

Nevertheless I stuck to my plans and once again deployed well back in a horseshoe. The camels and horses were despatched to the flanks to try and march bock/distract in hopes that the archers and skirmishers would thin Mark’s ranks sufficiently that my spear blocks might at least stand a chance…

The Thin White Line

Initially things went to plan, however my shooting proved ineffective and Mark clearly wasn’t in the mood to fail any warband tests, so was able to advance on my static positions as he wished (I was hoping he’d fail some and chase my skirmishers into the woods leaving me free to gang up on his Gedrith).

Be Veeewy Qwiet, I'm hunting Saxons
In the rear some skilful shooting meant my horsemen were wiped out without really contributing and the Kamel Korps were slowly whittled down to ineffectiveness.

My bowmen were charged by Pictish cavalry, but managed to hang in for a couple of rounds of combat, blocking the Saxon advance, and leaving the horsemen vulnerable to my javelins when they finally did expire

Tougher than expected...
Finally Mark was able to unleash his charges and although the Berbers and Black Guard fought bravely I’d not managed to reduce their numbers sufficiently, so charging Saxons Warbands with added hatred had the inevitable autobreak consequences and Ibn Coldir’s men were once again defeated.

Worryingly intact warbands advance

In retrospect I should probably have used the horse and Kamels sacrificially to try and pull Mark’s battle line apart and open up some flank charges, or at the very least charged the Saxons before they charged me to draw the warband sting a bit.

Despite the result it was another great game and Mark was a splendid opponent.

Next stop Mrs Miggins Slap-Up Feed!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Hot Lead 2011 - Battle One

And so once more I set forth to Beast Towers full of joy, hope and youthful optimism, kind of like George Orwell on his way to the Spanish Civil War. Would I return as beaten, embittered and disillusioned as him? My regular readership (thank-you both) can probably guess the answer, if you’re new here – read on to find out!

The journey down was largely uneventful, although Scriv’s Sat. Nav. took objection to being asked to locate a McDonalds for breakfast and took us on an entertaining and informative tour of the less travelled environs of greater Evesham.

Fortified (if that’s quite the word) by pancake, maple syrup and processed pork produce we arrived in plenty of time to locate tables, opponents and old chums. I was drawn to play Ian, who I’d not met before and had some form of Saxon Shieldwall army (Mercian?) with some scary looking Viking allies. Martin had prepared some cunning scenarios and we would be playing Watch Your Flanks for this game. I’d given this some thought, so kept my mounted troops in reserve and placed my spear blocks in a horseshoe shape in the centre of the board at my table edge. Come and get me…

Try getting past this, Infidels!
Unfortunately although I’d given it some thought I’d apparently not given it much reading, with a result that my cavalry came on inside my defensive horseshoe, disrupting my clever plan and generally getting in the way.

Out of the way you fools!
Fortunately for me it was not all going Ian’s way either. His flank force took a while to turn up and in the meantime he charged one of my spear blocks with a cavalry unit. Some lucky javelining and some poor dice rolls later and they were fleeing and would play no further part in the battle! Meanwhile in back field my tribal skirmishers were dealing with the Saxon archers, my plan seemed to be working!

Steady, warriors of Allah!
On my comand, unleash heat seeking javelins!

Random shot of Andy v James on the adjacent table. Niiice!
However Ian’s forces were closing in, particularly his fearsome looking Vikings who eventually crashed into one of my units of Berbers. Ulp! Imagine my surprise when they proved to be armed with comedy foam swords and rubber spears and Ibn Coldir’s regulars were able to beat them and run them down!

 It's all going too well...

 Send them to Valh-Allah!

Not wanting to let this success go to my head I spent the last turn reorganising my forces to what seemed like a safe position, confident that my spear block on the right could handle the onrushing warbands.
Sadly, however, I am used to playing my games of WAB using either El Cid or AoA, the first of which doesn’t feature warbands, the second of which modifies their rules. So to my horror the Berber block succumbed to the dreaded “autobreak” rule and fled from the board, taking their Sayid, Abd Inuff with them and turning a 300 point winning position into a 40 or so point loss!

A great fun game with a good guy opponent. I felt I’d actually played pretty well and was annoyed with myself for not remembering about warbands and autobreak, though to be fair I remembered in subsequent games but was unable to find an effective counter.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Hot Lead Warm-Up Game

'Tis Hot Lead this weekend at Gripping Beast Towers
I'm taking my Almoravids. I was going to take something new in the form of my Northumbrian Saxons, but I've been in something of a gaming and painting funk for the last month or more, so in the end plumped for the Almoravids as I can easily make an army up from them with no work required.
As a result the army is somewhat "sub-optimal" which suits my similarly "sub-optimal" playing skills.
In a vague attempt to appear even vaguely competent John and myself arranged a warm-up game using the armies we'll be taking and played the An Heroic Example scenario.

I got distracted and forgot to take many pictures for long periods of the game, but here they are anyway.
(Click to Bigificate)

 A challenge (which didn't end well for Abd Inuff)

 My battle line (note important victuals to rear of deployment)

 Ibn Coldir bravely leads his Black Guard away from the enemy at top speed

 The Kamel Korps!

Stab, stab, die, die!

The battle did not go well for me. Abd Inuff died in the initial challenge, meaning I was at -1Ld for the entire game. I aso had a whinge during the game that WAB2 has had a negative impact on some of my troops (Stubborn for Black Guard, loss of light troop capabilities for Berber Cav) but that I'm still paying the points for, whilst the Andalusians have no such penalty (they keep the old light cav rules). Under WAB 1.5 I regularly beat John, under WAB2 I've squeaked one narrow win.
However I think the reality is that John has adapted and improved his tactics and I'm still trying to play the old way. By the time my chaps hit his line they'd been weakened by shooting and his cavalry were in my rear (ooer!) with inevitable consequences.
So I'm going to buy a whole bunch of mercenary crossbowmen at the weekend. That'll sort him out!

Anyway we're all off to Gripping Beast HQ in Scrivs mini:

Report on my return.