23 October, 2009
Yesterday, prompted by a comment by Steve. I decided to get my head properly around the combat odds in DBA. I used a calculator that I found on the Fanaticus website here:
With this I made a table of the combat odds set out in rows by the difference, even odds, the +1 to the attacker and so on. Here’s the result:
You can also get a copy of it in PDF here:
What surprised me was what a difference even +1 made to the odds. The chart also show how steep the odds are against knights facing psiloi supported spear. Certainly in all the recent battles I’ve played the knights have lost in a match-up, but I’m sure that before I read on the Fanaticus forum how to deal with knights, I used to win all the time in these situations, even charging uphill! So I wonder if knowing the odds spoils your luck.
18 October, 2009
After defeating Madog and his Vikings, Bridei continued on his way, which was as far as he could tell westward. The process of island-hoping continued, and on the way they met a group of wise men (clearly monks!), who suggested that such bold warriors should make for a place called Konkwest, where they could match their skills against many other warriors. These sages were vague as to where this place was to be found, but suggested it might be in a southerly direction. Bridei altered his course accordingly and noticed that the weather became warmer.
Eventually they put in at an island that was noticeably tropical. Upon this island they encountered an army of hideous monsters. No diplomacy was attempted and both armies drew up for battle. Bridei finally was the aggressor. The goblins, for that’s what they were, put out the minimum of terrain, a small wood, two small marshes and a road. Bridei rolled 1 for his edge, but it made little difference.
The goblins were led by a monstrous giant. He flanked himself with trolls and ogres (El) and these in turn by giant spiders (HCh!). On each flank of these were archers (3Bw) and wolf riders (3Cv) and an element of close-fighting goblins (3Bd). the cynical observer might remark that they were attempting to impersonate Classical Indians.
Bridei met this deployment by putting his skirmishers to meet the giant and his companions and the LH to meet the spiders. On each flank of these were the spearmen, while he deployed behind the LH on the left flank.
The goblins decide to move the spiders to face the skirmishers and the ogres and trolls to face the LH. In the first two turns Bridei manages to swap LH and Ps to meet this change, though as a consequence the right flank falls behind. However, with 6 PIPs the goblins swap back again!
Bridei, in a panic, rolls one PIP. Unable to do anything to improve matters in the centre, he decides to move the right flank up to give overlap support if the goblins attack quickly.
The goblins, with 3 PIPs, finish their redeployment.
Bridei continues to lose his nerve (1 PIP), and decides that the best he can do is extend his right flank. The goblins decide that it’s best to attack before the Picts can sort themselves out. They destroy a skirmisher with the spiders on their left flank and a LH with the ogres.
Bridei has still not recovered from the shock of such a hideous array (1 PIP). He orders the skirmishers that fled from the giant to attack the ogres. However, despite the overlap support, they cannot beat the ogres. The LH facing the trolls fight bravely and are pushed back. The goblins also suffer PIP drought (2 PIPs) and this time the trolls destroy the LH, while the ogres push back the skirmishers again.
Still Bridei dithers, with his fourth consecutive turn of 1 PIP! He advances two spear against the isolated wolfriders on the right flank. These push the riders back, while the skirmishers flee from the ogres. Luckily, the goblins lose momentum too, and have only one PIP. The spiders attack the skirmishers but are repelled.
Finally in the eleventh hour Bridei galvanizes himself and orders a proper response (6 PIPs). The skirmishers return to attack the ogres, while he flanks them. The spear on the left flank shift to the right to contact the spiders, while the skirmishers support from behind. The spear on the right flank continue their attack on the wolfriders. And showing contempt for the spiders, a lone spear attacks them on the right flank. Out of this, the skirmishers fail yet again against the ogres. On the both flanks the spiders are driven back and the wolfriders are destroyed; at last they’ve drawn blood! Bridei is fortunate that the goblins can organize no serious response (2 PIPs). They draw the wolfriders and some archers into line with the spiders. The ogres are in a stalemate with the skirmishers.
Bridei is now buoyed on by desperate hope (6 PIPs), and advances on the left almost to within contact. He attacks the ogres yet again, and masses the spear on the right against the spiders. The ogres are resilient and push the skirmishers back again. The goblins remain bereft of idea (2 PIPs), though they finally decide that the ogres have nothing to gain from fighting the skirmishers and retreat them (I suppose it took so long because retreat’s just not in their nature!).
Bridei has 3 PIPs, enough to attack on both flanks. On the left he destroys the other wolfriders and drives back the bow and spiders. On the right he destroys the spiders, and suddenly the battle is in the balance! Finally, sensing things are slipping away from them, the goblins get 6 PIPs. They reorganize on the left to bring the goblin blades and archers into line with the spiders and they send the trolls to sack the camp.
Bridei has 3 PIPs again and attacks the ogre yet again, as well as sending the spear into the left flank again. On the left flank the archers are destroyed, there is a stalemate against the spiders and the blades are forced back. And against the ogres the skirmishers finally figure out how to destroy them. Bridei wins a remarkable victory, 5-3, after all appeared lost!
The PIPs in the middle game almost defeated Bridei, but the decision to bring up the right flank proved crucial. Whereas much of the goblin army was out of range of the battle, what survived of the Pictish one was ready to get stuck in when Bridei recovered his nerve (actually it was on turn 7 that I realized I’d been abbreviating him as ‘M’ instead of ‘B’, when I corrected this he came to life! Such is fortune!).
This is the first time that I’ve faced ‘elephants’, and the decision to advance fast to prevent them redeploying was fairly sound, as it lead to them outdistancing their infantry. Once they start pursuing different base depths they have real trouble sorting themselves out. They’re also very deep-based, so it’s not easy for them to turn sideways. One option was for the trolls to attack the spear to their side, except that if they had to recoil, they’d have done so into their commander—messy!
The battle was an object lesson in not assuming things are hopeless until the game is actually lost. After four straight turns of 1 PIP I was sure the Picts were doomed. I was really only hoping that they could go out with a bit of respect. I had no idea they’d make such a come-back! However, it’s possible that, as with the ‘Marian Romans’ last time that their victory owed as much to my inexperience in handling the elephants as anything else.
18 October, 2009
I took some photos of the Outpost Byzantines that I painted last week. I’m not sure I’ve got things quite right with them. In particular I’m not sure I like the bright quivers and bowcases I painted for some of them (not that you can see in these pictures!). It’s my first time painting figures that might have uniforms. Also, I think these figures are likely to have brighter and more patterned fabrics than what I’ve been painting to date.
I got some more paint this weekend. It was off TradeMe, which is always a bit pot-luck, but I decided to risk it, as there were a lot of the little paint-pots from the GW LoTR range. Whether the paint was any good or not I’d be able to use the pots for mixing my own colours. I think I got a reasonable deal. I certainly have a lot of the little pots now!
11 October, 2009
I didn’t play any game this weekend. I spent quite a lot of time planning my next figure purchase, sigh! So much for plans to finish what I had. I’m intending to get a number of armies from around the period of the First Crusade. I already have all I need for a Crusader army, using Normans and other feudal figures, but I don’t have any cavalry armies, so I’m going to get a Komnenan Byzantine army, a Seljuk army and a Syrian army. I’m getting them from Outpost Wargames Services. I’ll also get a Ghaznavid elephant from them, and at some stage expand the Seljuks and Syrians to be Ghaznavids.
I can justify this to some degree as I’m intending to use these armies for my Hesperia campaign, so it is all part of the grand plan. I got some Outpost figures back in April as samples for this army, and in order to be at least a little bit disciplined about this purchase, I decided I better paint them to see how they look. I’ve completed 5 elements of the Byzantines already:
1x2LH (Skythikon Pechenegs)
I also completed an element of spear-armed Centaurs, and I have 2 elements of Outpost knights almost complete, along with an element of Turkomans and in addition I’ve got some Irish over half done.
I was quite worried about how I was going to do the shields on the Outpost figures, as they’re quite small and have no bosses. Last night I tried the VVV transfers on them and found they fitted perfectly, although there’s no rim to the shields. I’ve decided to make bosses with Green Stuff, which I’m now waiting to dry before I can say they’re totally complete, but the horses are complete and the bases are flocked.
I’m going to be putting in a big order of VVV transfers soon. I’ll be getting some for the Seljuks and the Syrians and I’ll also get a few Hellentistic and 10mm ones for small shields. I’ll be using the Hellenistic ones for the Varangians and the Centaurs. I’ve become totally reliant on transfers now. I could now consider painting a 13th century army with all those barded horse and heraldry using transfers—best not to start thinking about that!
3 October, 2009
The story goes that Prince Madog set out from Gwynedd in 1170 and sailed to America. It now seems likely that he actually sailed through a temporal vortex to an unusual archipelago that was made famous in the account of St. Brendan. Madog planned to reach Vinland, which he’d heard about through family connections with the Dublin Vikings. It was also through these connections that he’d developed his proficiency at seafaring and his knowledge of Norse, both skills that would stand him in good stead on his voyage.
The first island Madog came to was one occupied by some very forlorn Vikings, who confessed, shamefacedly, to being leaderless and lost. Madog, clearly a plausible chap, declared with great confidence that he knew how to get to Vinland. He was so persuasive that he was made leader of this new combined expedition, even though the Vikings were contributing twice as many troops.
They sailed until they came to large and fruitful island, which Madog confidently asserted was Vinland. However, they soon found they were not alone on this island; others had sailed there before them. When Madog’s scouts reported back that the others on the island said they were Picts, Madog was deeply skeptical, “There’s not been Picts for hundreds of years. What are they playing at?”. When he saw the ‘Picts’, his suspicions only increased, “These don’t look like Picts! What’s their game? Those are Scots!”. The ‘Picts’, of course, were none other than Bridei mac Máelchú and his army that had encountered Patricius to their detriment the week before. They were enjoying some R&R after that encounter, and when word of this got back to Bridei, he was deeply offended; after all, Scots were those pesky invaders from Ireland! He refused to extend any hospitality to these visitors and demanded an immediate apology.
No apology was forthcoming; Madog addressed his troops, “There’s something shifty about these so-called ‘Picts’. I say we teach them to go around pretending to be what they’re not”. The Vikings needed little persuading. With that, they rushed out to do battle with Bridei’s men. Speaking of being what they’re not, Madog’s army consisted of 8x4Bd (Vikings), 2x3Cv (Madog and some more horsemen) and 2x2Ps (skirmishing Welsh). A skeptic might suggest that they were trying to replicate a Marian Roman army.
Madog narrowly beat Bridei in his decision to attack (he rolled 6 to Bridei’s 5; both had an aggression of 3). However, he did not get the edge that he wanted, and Bridei, cautious after his last choice of terrain, had gone for two small woods in opposite corners of the board, and a low hill to one side near the middle.
Bridei deployed with his spear in the centre flanked by light horse and skirmishers, while he stayed in reserve. Madog met this deployment by placing his Vikings in the centre, with himself in reserve, and a skirmisher in the woods on the left flank and his other cavalry and a skirmisher on the right flank.
Bridei felt no need to alter his deployment and the battle got under way. Both rolled 6 PIPs for their first turn, and Bridei attempted to contest the hill with some of his light troops.
Bridei then remembered that those weren’t 2LH, but 3Cv he was up against, and his skirmishers suddenly felt very vulnerable, but he decided to push on with the attack. If he could ZOC the 3Cv, it wouldn’t be able to attack the 2Ps.
Bridei with only 1 PIP decides to attack the hill to make the most of his slender advantage of an overlap. He does well to force the Welsh cavalry back, almost destroying them (2+6 v. 3+2).
Meanwhile, Madog, with continued good PIPs has rushed Vikings to support his men on the hill, and Bridei abandons his assault.
Madog continues to advance, and commits himself to trying to overpower the Picts on his left flank. Bridei responds by ordering his spearmen to fall back.
Madog with only 2 PIPs moves to the left flank and orders the skirmishers out of the woods to support him. Bridei, by contrast, gets 6 PIPs, and continues the retreat of his spear, while his right flank light horse race between the battle lines directing rude gestures and taunts at the Vikings.
Madog recovers his composure (5 PIPs), but he’s now out of command range of his right flank. He orders a general advance. Bridei, with another 6 PIPs, organizes his forces on the left flank, and brings his skirmishers in behind the spear on the right flank to support them against Madog and his retinue.
Madog continues to plough forward, trusting to speed to overcome the enemy before they can do too much damage on the right flank. Bridei is let down by the PIP dice (1 PIP), but decides to strike at the weakest point in the line, personally riding down the Welsh skirmishers that are the link between the cavalry and the Vikings. He succeeds. First blood to the Picts.
However, the Vikings have finally made contact with the Pictish spear with an overlap on their left flank. They anticipate a rout, but the Pictish spear prove surprisingly doughty. The second element along from the left is held to a stalemate, while the others only manage to push the Picts back, scarcely what they’d hoped for. Madog orders his cavalry on the right to retire to the hill, while he moves across to try to repair the damage.
Meanwhile, Bridei decides that the Viking line looks most inviting. He orders the spear that had fought the Vikings to a standstill to retire to the Pictish line, while he and his light cavalry attacked the left flank of the Viking line. In a savage encounter (both rolled 6), he destroyed the Vikings, giving heart to his spear.
Madog redoubled the attack on the Pictish spear, while he drew alongside the other cavalry in preparation for driving out Bridei’s cavalry. However the second attack was even less successful. That second element along, although still overlapped, actually pushed back the Vikings this time and at the end of the attack battle honours were shared, with one stalemate and each having two push-backs, a truly dismal outcome for the Vikings.
Bridei attempted to repeat the flank attack of the previous turn, but was this time repulsed with his light horse recoiling towards Madog. Meanwhile, the Vikings continued to underperform, with those in the stalemate conflict now being recoiled.
Madog continues to issue orders (5 PIPs), attacking the exposed light horse with his cavalry. This succeeded, but the attacks of the Vikings were woeful, two being repulsed and the other a stalemate.
Bridei’s attempted to strengthen his right flank, while launching another flank attack, this time supported by spearmen. However, this attack was a stalemate and two other attacks by spear on Vikings resulted in one being driven back and the other element throwing back its attackers, despite being overlapped on both flanks.
Madog now had a chance to defeat Bridei by flanking him against the Vikings. The odds were still in Bridei’s favour, but defeat would destroy him. Bridei triumphed in a cautious encounter (both rolled 1s!) and his spear on the right flank remained composed, despite being flanked, fighting the Vikings to a stalemate.
Bridei decides to attack the Welsh cavalry while leaving his spear to flank an element of Vikings. His attack is indecisive and he’s forced back. The spear, however, destroy the Vikings that they flank. At this point, despite finally destroying the left flank of the Pictish spear, the Vikings have had enough and break. Bridei’s troops hail their leader’s inspirational victory.
Bridei won the only way he could in a spear vs. blade match-up — on the flank. He made good use of the opportunity Madog provided when he committed himself to his left flank. This gave Bridei his first two victories, against the skirmishers and the Viking’s right flank. By contrast, Madog, perhaps, overestimated how long it would take for his advantage to tell in the close-order infantry contest. Having said that, the Pictish spear proved unexpectedly tough. By being drawn forward by the Picts, he also lost any terrain help he might have got from the hill and the woods. He believed that if they could only close with the spear, the Vikings would soon overpower them.
The terrain placement by Bridei was much better, in that there was no edge that would severely disadvantage him.
Bridei was possibly stung by comments at the end of the last battle that his command element was ineffectual, as he personally put to flight three of the Viking elements. His element was the most effective one the Picts had against blades, and he used it to good effect!