Practice games

15 January, 2019

Yesterday I caught up with Joel for some very enjoyable practice games. In the first two games Mithridates squared off against Sulla. I took the scythed chariot to assess its potential, as well as an Armenian ally of a 4Kn amd two LH: Cv (gen), SCh, four 4Bd, two 3Ax, Ps + 4Kn, two LH.

  • Mithridates v. Sulla

In the first battle, Mithridates was the defender, and went for a battlefield of two gentle hills, a hamlet and a patch of rocky ground (both RGo).

The two armies arrayed.

Mithridates.

Sulla.

This battle opened fast, with Roman psiloi advancing to face the scythed chariot. I opted to go after it with the Kappadokians, who were supposed to face the Roman cavalry. They killed it, but then were facing Roman legionaries, and the whole battleline was disordered. My combat dice were bad, but they shouldn’t have saved me from being dragged into such a disruptive effort to save the chariot. I lost.

  • Sulla v. Mithridates

The second battle saw Mithrdidates on the offence facing an impressive city in the Balkans (Diocletian’s palace).

The Roman defenders.

Mithridates.

This time the chariot got stuck into some blade, along with the cataphracts. In short order the chariot had destroyed some blades and advanced into overlap onto some psiloi that the cataphracts routed.

The Romans were limited by PiPs in their response, but they managed to destroy an Armenian LH (these had rushed forward to cover the cataphracts, and avoid being attacked by the Roman cavalry).

The Roman response on their right flank.

Mithridates decided to continue the attack with the cataphracts, and to send the chariot out to the left to attack another legionary element. The remaining light horse retired. The chariot failed this time, and the cataphracts got a draw with the legionaries — not good. Now we were 2-2, but I had only 9 elements to the Romans 10.

After combat, the chariot and cataphracts are destroyed.

There was a lull while we both reorganised (and battled low PiPs).

The armies regroup.

The Romans won this one too, as I committed the imitation legionaries at little chance of success. The psiloi on their right fled, leaving its neighbour to be overlapped. I was pressured into this, as the two Kappadokians in the woods were risking being overlapped when the Romans advanced against them. On reflection, the Kappadokians would have been better on the other flank to face the cavalry. They did little in the woods. Overall, the verdict on the chariot is that it’s not a super-weapon, but could add some interesting wrinkles to a battle.

  • Samanids v. Aztecs

After lunch it was the turn of the Samanids. First up they faced Aztecs (in the New World too, a first for the fabled Samanid navy!). The Aztecs deployed between two woods, while the invaders chose to deploy in the open.

The Aztec hordes (literally).

The Samanids

The Aztecs advanced beyond the woods. The Samanids saw an opportunity for their archers against the Aztec psiloi and moved them to their left as they advanced and methodically began to destroy hordes with their spear and cavalry.

Contact against the hordes.

In time we succeeded in killing all but one of the hordes (that one being the one that Joel had hoped would go, as it had a warband behind it, waiting to attack). We also got the two psiloi with two archers and a psiloi. In the centre one enemy blade had also been destroyed. However, one of our cavalry was destroyed, as had a bow. The enterprising enemy blade rushed through the gap he’d created and attacked our reserve, an element of archers. It survived the first round of combat, and then we surrounded it.

The blade is surrounded. The enemy general had retreated a little, and the remaining horde and warband can be seen in the background.

It survived, forcing us to recoil. The next turn it got that archer, while the general was able to attack my remaining archer that was in a wood, which broke in terror. I lost 4-3, though 8 of the Aztec elements had been broken! An excellent game.

  • Samanids v. Cortez

My last game saw the Samanids face Cortez (IV/19c) and his Tlaxcalan allies. This time they were defending. Their hills and rough going was all in one part of the battlefield, which they were defending.

Cortez.

The Samanids.

I hoped to neutralise the artillery with my spearmen, while the archers shot from the protection of the hill. Getting into position on the hill took time, and the first element of archers to make it over the crest advanced into a hail of arrows and fled. The other two did get themselves into position, but did not feel they had the numbers to advance, especially as an element of spearmen had been shot away by the artillery.

What saved the Samanids was the slow reactions of the Spanish. In desperation the Samanid cavalry moved to outflank on their right flank. The response was a series of 1 PiPs. On the first, a single archer turned and shot at the Samanid LH, who recoiled to the edge of world. They paid for this by being fallen upon by the cavalry, who double-overlapped it and routed it. Another 1 PiP by the Spanish saw Cortez advance to face the cavalry. They ignored him and destroyed another archer. This continued until all three archers on that flank had fled. The Spanish response was to advance in the centre, but it proved too late; fast blade advancing uphill against solid bow in bad going made no headway. And the Samanid spear survived a round of combat against the Spanish solid foot.

Cortez advances on the Samanid foot.In the background the dire state of the Spanish left flank can be seen.

Meanwhile, the Samanid cavalry surrounded the Spanish artillery, while one cavalry sought to delay Cortez (they’d recoiled when facing him with LH flanking; now the LH joined the fight on the artillery. Cortez could only look on as his artillery joined the rout.

Cortez is unable to save the day as his artillery is destroyed.

The Spanish notice their left flank has broken and start to flee.

The final battle of the day was my only victory, and it owed a good deal to luck, but I enjoyed all the games, and learned a lot about using these two armies. In particular, I can see mastering archers as taking a while. Also, the scythed chariot is a challenge to use so that it disrupts the enemy, and not my own army.

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Samanid spearmen

12 January, 2019

The spearmen are finished and the Samanid army is ready to take the field.

Samanid spearmen.

Another angle.

And another.

The whole army is now done, and I’ve updated the Army Page  for it.

The Samanid army.

Samanid archers

11 January, 2019

I’ve almost finished the Samanid army. It’s taken a little longer than it might have, and that is possibly because I had such high expectations of how it was going to look. I’m reminded of the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, where Calvin is anticipating a propeller-head hat. It’s a brilliant sequence of cartoons; Watterson captures the wildly exaggerated expectations perfectly:

The whole sequence can be seen here.

I had been wanting to get these figures for some 8 years or so. I had just painted the Syrians and really enjoyed how they turned out. I wanted to capture that style with these figures, but I wouldn’t be able to use LBMS transfers. The VVV transfers seemed a bit lonely on the shields, and my attempts to encircle them freehand doesn’t entirely please me. The Dailami looked good, but not exceptional. that comedown, explains why I didn’t sprint to get the next six elements done. These archers may look a bit better (and it may be the different phone’s camera that has helped). The spearmen are very close to being done; just some webbing and basing to go.

Samanid archers. I’m please with how the axemen have worked out.

Another angle.

And another.

From the rear.

Painting hasn’t been helped by the hot weather. The wet palette has helped, but it is a struggle to keep paint a working consistency, and I have to keep cleaning dried paint of the brush. When the spearmen are done, they may be the last for a while!

Samanids

7 January, 2019

My Syrians are making progress towards being able to double as Samanids (III/43c). this is an army that has been a long time in the planning. If you click on the category of Samanids on the side bar, you will discover Shamanid Goblins as their precursor! DBA 3.0 removed the option of an elephant, but I do have two to paint, so in time this can become a Ghaznavid army too.

I’ve always liked the Khurasan figures, but their cavalry is being remodelled. However, a spur to getting this army was the idea was that the Syrian Ghulams could be used for the core mounted elements, and it is the ghulams that make this army look so cool. By rights the ‘noble cavalry’ should have less armour than the ghulams, but that’s not possible to see! At a pinch I could take a Central Asian Turkish (III/11b) and use the Syrian Turkomen to avoid painting an element of Khurasanian horse archers (as well as get an extra LH). However, I have got those horse archers, as well as an element of slingers (Ps) and I’ve done the first of the core foot, an element of Dailami javelinmen (4Ax). The remainder of the army are similar to these javelinmen, being Khurasan figures, and are close behind — three elements each of spearmen (Sp) and bowmen (4Bw or Ps, but I’m only doing the 4Bw). The peasant levy is an element that would be the Syrian Adhath militia, if I chose to take it, but I see the slingers as being more useful. Therefore, the army is now halfway complete.

From left to right, slingers, Dailami javelinmen, and Khurasanian horse archers.

The slingers are from the Khurasan Arab range, the Dailami javelinmen are from their Khurasanian range, and the horse archers are Essex.

Another angle.

The Khurasan figures come in packs of 12; in order to justify getting the pack of figures with axes, I’ve sprinkled them through the other elements, as a form of officer. I’ll also be able to paint another three elements of these Dailami to use as a Dailami ally (III/58c) if I want.

The other side.

The shields have VVV transfers, which are probably designed for smaller shields. I’ve tried to compensate by painting the rims in a matching colour, but these don’t look as crisp. The photos of these and the previous post are taken with a phone, and not as good as I normally manage.

I’ve got a few more elements finished, and a number more very close to being finished. The first is the Command Wagon of my Communal Italian army (III/73a) that is taking shape. It is a morph of my Norman army, though I’m yet to paint most of it — the six elements of communal spearmen, the two elements of communal crossbowmen and the two elements of Contandini infantry (hordes). I’m actually planning to take a Medieval German ally (IV/13a), which allows more knights (3Kn/4Bd), and another element of crossbowmen. These are all started. I made the transfers for the Carroccio’s banner and the shields myself. I was following the picture in Ian Heath’s Armies of Feudal Europe (no. 94 on p. 111). I noted that some of cities (Bologna and Parma) had red banners and a cross on them. I somehow took from this a yellow cross, though when I reread the book I discovered that it should have been white.

The Communal Italian Carroccio.

Like the rest of the army, this is an Essex model. I chose to keep it to a 40 x 40 base, so I’ve not used the oxen. After I decided on this, I saw a very nice Carroccio with oxen. One advantage of the 40 x 40 base is that I can present the wagon side on.

Another angle.

The model came with a single monk (the one holding the crucifix), but I came across a few more while I was painting it, and decided to fill out the wagon a bit. These monks have picked up some dirty habits, courtesy of refreshing the ink in my wash just before doing them! They’re not just there to add moral support either; that monk in the middle is kneeling. If he stands up he’s a monster (a Museum miniature) … Beppo abandoned his questionable early life as a wrestler for a life of prayer, but should the wagon be under serious threat, he may revert to his old character, so watch out!

And another.

The wagon is guarded by a select guard of uniformed troops.

From the rear.

The occasion that led me to finding the other monks was my decision to finish off my Mithridatic army. Part of the work is to do the camp— Mithridates tent— which was guarded, I believe, by a stag, a bull and a stallion. I’ve had these figures for a long time; I even started painting them, in a desultory sort of way, so it’s good to get them done finally.

Mithridates’ tent.

Another angle.

And another.

Mithridates’ army will be joined by an Armenian ally that can add more horse archers and some cataphracts. These are under way. I also decided that I could use the Carthaginian veteran spearmen as imitation legionaries, which would be an incentive to get them finished—well, some of them. I’m also doing another element of Cappadocian infantry also by Corvus Belli. In all, this will represent eight new elements for the army (and a ninth if the camp is counted). Here’s the first of the finished spearmen/imitation legionaries.

Carthaginian veteran spearmen (or are they imitation legionaries?)

Another angle.

And another.

Once I’ve got the Armenians and Carthaginians done, it’s back to the Italian spearmen and crossbowmen (who got demoted in the painting queue last week).

Newer Normans

23 November, 2017

My first pair of DBA armies were Normans and Anglo-Danes. I didn’t entirely like either of them. I now have an Essex Norman army that has evolved out of getting some Essex dismounted knights, which I like, and getting given a bunch of Essex mounted knights years back. These knights had spaghetti spears and my interest in painting them was not high. When I replaced their spears I got a lot more interested, though progress is still slow, and there are many more elements that could be painted.

The Normans arrayed.

Currently I can field plenty of knights, mounted and dismounted, as well as archers and some very ragged horde. Spear, more archers and some pilgrims wait to be painted. These would allow them to morph into other armies around this time, such as Communal Italians and Early Crusaders.

The Norman camp.

I have quite an assortment of Essex camp followers and horde figures, so this camp was spoilt for choice for figures.

The mounted knights.

Another angle.

And another.

If you look closely at the banner in the last photo, you can see it’s unfinished. It should be a cross, but I used one off a round shield transfer, and forgot to paint in the centre. I’ve now done this.

The archers.

Another angle.

And another.

I somewhat regret giving the archers uniforms, of sorts. It was lazy. I almost mixed them up at the last minute, but didn’t. I didn’t take any pictures of the dismounted knights. I painted them ages ago. I’ll do that some time. The rest of this army, and heroes to allow it to morph as a HoTT army, are down the priority list at the moment; Mitanni come first, and then maybe Armenians and others to allow me to field a BBDBA Mithridatic army.

Conquest 2017

14 November, 2017

A few months back I decided to go to Conquest 2017. I’d not had much chance to play DBA this year and I was keen to get along, as I’d enjoyed the year before a lot. It also seemed a good motivation to get some painting done. Very kindly Keith, the organiser invited me to stay at his place for the event, something I really appreciated.

As I said in my last post, I’d chosen both my armies as a motivation to get more figures that I already had painted. However, I was rather slow getting them finished, and didn’t get much practice before the event. Fortunately, I was able to get a couple of games with Mike the Sunday before. this allowed me to try out the Normans in DBA, where they got a lucky victory against Mike’s Ottoman Turks. And it allowed my to try Pyrrhus’s army against them in BBDBA. This was invaluable, as I’d organised the army in such a way that it wouls have struggled, I’m sure, but with the suggestions of Mike, it did very well.

I’d organised the army as follows:

  • Command Wing (medium PIPs): 3 x3Kn (C-inC), 3 x LH, 4 x 4Pk, 2 x Sp, 1 x Ps
  • Centre (high PIPs): 8 x 4Pk (cmd), 3 x El, 2 x Ps
  • Holding Wing (low PIPs): 3 x Cv (cmd), 4 x Sp, 3 x 3Ax

The theory was that the elephants would help the pikes create a breakthrough in the centre (hence the high PIPs); Pyrrhus would have the next best PIPs with much of the cavalry and the Oscans with the best BGo troops would hold one wing.

Against the Ottomans the Oscans were defeated as they had no BGo to anchor on, the centre did not make much progress, and the elephants were destroyed by LH, nor did Pyrrhus. With Mike’s suggestion I rearranged them as follows:

  • Command Wing (High PIPs): 3 x3Kn (C-inC), 3 x El, 3 x LH, 2 x Sp, 2 x Ps
  • Centre (Low PIPs): 12 x 4Pk (cmd), 1 x Ps
  • Holding Wing (Medium PIPs): 3 x Cv (cmd), 4 x Sp, 3 x 3Ax

The centre was intended to be solid and just trundle forward, while I sought to win on the wings. Pyrrhus, in particular, had a potent mix of elephants, knights and light horse.

  • Friday games

On the evening I arrived I had a couple of games with Keith. I used my Normans and he used his Samurai. In the first game Keith experimented with 6Cv. My archery destroyed them with exceptional dice. As a result of this Keith changed to a CP instead, and in the second game it was his turn to see his single archer do wonders. We finished a game a piece.

  • Saturday Morning (Ancients DBA)

Pyrrhus had a dreadful morning; he died against Jim’s New Kingdom Egyptians and again against Gordon’s Seleucids. However, both of these were close games, and with a bit more care I might have won. The last game, against Keith’s Carthaginians, was more humiliating. Clearly concussed from his two earlier battles, Pyrrhus failed to roll more than 2 PIPs for the entire game. As a result he sat facing the Carthaginians until in desperation, after his camp was sacked and his cavalry wing was disintegrating that he sent his pikes in an attack against the Carthaginian foot. This failed, and the Carthaginians won a victory without any of their army breaking.

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Pyrrhus attempts to break the Carthaginian foot to no avail (though he doesn’t die this time — photo taken by Keith).

  •  Saturday Afternoon (Medievals DBA)

For the afternoon competition my Normans had Viking allies and were:

4 x 3Kn (cmd), 2 x 4Bd, 3 x 3Bw; 2 x 4Bd and 1 x 4Bw (allies).

The afternoon saw the Normans facing Brian’s Rajputs. I made the mistake of having the Rajput fort, and the BGo terrain on my baseline. I abandoned the idea of trying to take the fort, and was cramped as a result. In the end I killed the elephant C-in-C with mine, but that was on the turn that my army broke.

The second battle was against Ben’s Yi Koreans. The Koreans occupied a wood on my left flank and proceeded to chip away at my knights that milled around in range. Meanwhile on my left flank my archers advanced out of a hamlet into firing range of the Korean cavalry. Their response was to charge, which largely failed, and saw them take casualties. They came back, this time with their general, and were again defeated, giving the Normans a lucky victory. If they’d waited a turn and attacked with their general, they may have had more success (then again they’d have been shot at). Credit should go to the Viking archers, who shrugged off an extended rocket barrage by the Korean artillery.

The final battle was against Jim again. His Free Company were not too different from the Egyptians, having fast blades and archers, but knights instead of chariots. The fast blades proved deadly, getting stuck into the Vikings, who had occupied a hamlet. They destroyed them, with the support of some knights, before my archers could break up his main line of battle. After that, they were able to roll up my right flank.

Overall, I won only one game that day, and finished very near the bottom of the table. However, the points system favoured results over a draw, which is a system I think is good: 8 points for a win, 1 for a loss and 0 for a draw. Losses and draws got points for enemy destroyed too.

  • Sunday (Ancients BBDBA)

After such a bad showing on the Saturday, I didn’t approach the BBDBA with much confidence, especially as I was yet to win a game of BBDBA. My first game was against Keith’s Early Asiatic Successor army (Demetrius). I’d faced it last year with my Carthaginians. This time, however, I was the attacker, which meant I got to react to the entire deployment of Demetrius. This proved very useful, as the Oscans had the chance to avoid Demetrius’ xystophoroi and to contest a hill on the right flank.

In the centre my pike general deployed to the right of the opposing general, and on the left Pyrrhus deployed in reserve to meet the bulk of Demetrius’ elephants and knights. The advantage of deployment was complemented by favourable dice, and in the centre the pike to the right of Demetrius’ central commander was destroyed; he was soon flanked, but never flinched, and the centre remained otherwise static.

On the right, the Oscans hoplites withstood elephants and elephants successfully, and the auxilia were able to overcome opposing peltasts in order to start to threaten the cavalry general of that wing.

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The Oscans approaching Demetrius’ left flank. Their hoplites face pike and elephants thoroughly undaunted.

However, it was on the left wing that the battle was decided. Demetrius had tried to change elements to avoid his knights facing elephants, but this left a hole in his line, and Demetrius himself had had to leave the reserve to join the battleline.

In the initial clash elephants faced off; one each fled, which gave the opportunity for one of Pyrrhus’ to attack Demetrius himself. This was the decisive combat, and the elephants finished off the commander giving Pyrrhus the advantage. He continued to exploit this by eventually overcoming pikemen facing his hoplites, as well as other casualties that I don’t remember now.

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The crucial point on the left flank; elephants have fled in both directions, but one of Pyrrhus’ is able to turn on Demetrius himself.

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The same point from a different angle. The pikes facing hoplites can be seen.

Meanwhile, some of Pyrrhus’ pikemen, dressed as Persian levy pike, had been defamed by Demetrius before the battle. Proving him wrong they eventually defeated the opposing pike (with cavalry support), breaking Demetrius’ second command and giving me my first BBDBA victory.

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The beleaguered Demetrian pike general remains steadfast, but to his right his command collapses as Tarantine cavalry move up to overlap another pike block.

In the second battle I faced Brian’s Classical Indians. In this battle his fort was less dominant. However, when I looked at the terrain I considered trying to fight for the woods on my left with the Oscans. However, they would then face HCh, while the elephants of Pyrrhus’ command would be closer to his psiloi. I had the wings the other way around, which left me with only two psiloi to try to control the woods.

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Pyrrhus faces Classical Indians.

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Pyrrhus’ deployment from another angle.

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And another angle.

As the battle unfolded, the Indians attempted to redeploy radically to face my deployment, and I tried to get across the board rapidly to trap his chariots behind his elephants and his line in disarray.

The plan met a hitch when the two psiloi were quickly destroyed by opposing archers. The elephants now risked being shot at and Pyrrhus and his knights were a cautious distance to their rear. In this unfavourable situation, the elephants decided to advance. They were met by opposing elephants, including the C-in-C. The odds were not good, but the dice gods favoured them, and I 6-1ed the C-in-C, doubling him. If Brian used his +1 the damage was worse, as he still died, fleeing into a HCh. He chose to die on the spot. All but one of my elephants was quickly destroyed, but the last one hatched a devilish scheme; attacking an elephant that had fled to the baseline. The hope was to lose, as he’d flee into a sub-general! He succeeded in this low devise, and in true Pyrrhic fashion succeeded in demoralising the command!

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Just before contact. The elephants are almost in contact, while the Oscans are still a turn or two off. The game mat is one that I got on eBay from Poland. I’m pretty happy with it. The picture is another of Keith’s

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Another picture by Keith of the same point. The psiloi can still be seen in the marsh on the left flank. The central command has a couple of elements of pike in reserve to replenish the back rank of the pike block; they are struggling to keep up.

My two remaining commands were now facing two headless chicken commands and the low PIP one. We ran out of time, but it was still closely balanced, although the Oscans were starting to look dangerous. All in all a great battle with its chaotic elephant battles!

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The end of the battle with the Oscan auxilia looking dangerous. Even the camp was on the move!

For my last battle I faced Andrew’s Akkadians. I was the defender, for the first time in the competition. I deployed anchored on two patches of boggy ground. It was an interesting matchup against fast pike, and the Akkadians swept in very fast. However, the Epiriots proved too good, beating them at every point. In particular, the Akkadian horde on the hill facing the Oscans proved absolutely cowardly, and in the centre the Akkadian general, facing hoplites, was flanked and when the dice came up equal, the solid foot had the advantage and won.

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Pyrrhus facing off against the Akkadians.

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The Akkadian deployment.

However, it was Pyrrhus, in the only battle of the day he saw combat, that destroyed multiple elements. He came up into the battle line as it extended while his elephants tried to avoid facing psiloi. His inspirational leadership routed the enemy before him, and he took his second victory of the day.

This was my first victory against Andrew in a series of encounters that would have gone back to 2009, so I was pretty pleased. I suspect the unfinished bases of his troops may have demoralised them.

  • Summary

The competition was a lot of fun. All the games were played in good spirits. I learned a lot about how hamlets work and came away considering a number of projects. Perhaps one day my Norse Irish will have a Brian Boru CP, or I’ll make a CWg for some Communal Italians. Also I will have to make a hamlet.

I’d like to thank Keith for organising the competition and for having me stay. The venue, the Woolston Club, was also really pleasant. I miss anything similar, to my knowledge, up in Auckland. Finally Comics Compulsion deserve thanks for running the overall competition.