For the second day of the competition I fielded my Komnenan Byzantines; they are probably the most competitive of my Book III/IV armies, and quite a change from the plodding armies I normally field. I used them at the Worlds, so I’ve had a fair bit of practice with them now.

  • Andrew Taylor (IV/82a French Ordonnance)

First up I faced Andrew; I’ve played him a few times now and am yet to win, but I fancied my chances with the match-up here. He didn’t lay down masses of terrain, and I felt my cavalry would be able to handle his archers, being able to concentrate on one wing before he could react.

Initial deployment against the French.

After the two swaps; the bow move sideways.

I set out to win on the right wing; unfortunately this involved the commander facing a round of shooting before I closed for combat. At 4-4, I figured the risk was OK, but once his archers moved into range it was 2-4 and more nerve wracking. Well, I rolled a 1 and it was game over, 1G-0, with first bit of shooting. Something of an anticlimax!

  • Jared (IV/66 Later Polish)

My second encounter was against a Polish army that was extremely mobile: knights, cavalry, light horse, a war wagon and some crossbowmen. Jared had only had a couple of games the day before, when he and his friend expressed an interest in playing as they were browsing the competitions.

Initial deployment, after the swaps aimed to get the archers facing his knights

I got off to a very lucky start on my right flank where my light cavalry, fired up by the sight of the camp, chased off both the Polish light horse and even managed to get rid of a cavalry. The game seemed assured, but the crossbowmen swung the balance, shooting up an element of cavalry and then an archer (on it rear rank, I think). Meanwhile, I’d lost two light horse against the Polish cavalry to give Jared a 4-3 win.

The final scene, as the massed crossbowmen break the Byzantine archers

  • Kees (IV/59a Post-Mongolian Samurai)

My last game before lunch was against a Japanese army. I was apprehensive about winning when he lay down a lot of terrain and deployed in it.

Initial deployment to get clear of the hills.

However, Kees chose to come out into the open and fight. I was still unpacking from column when we contacted, but in a reversal of my first game, I took out his general with my knights when he rolled a 1. Game over. A bit of an anticlimax in some ways, but more time for lunch!

The knights advance after breaking the Samurai commander (note the general's more conservative deployment!).

  • Andrew McGregor (III/77 Scots Isles & Highlands)

After lunch I faced an army I didn’t expect to be much trouble—massed blades without psiloi support against mounted should be a doddle! However, it’s never wise to underestimate one’s opponent, and I advanced too fast, trying to get my light horse away from his archers. He made contact and fled some of my light horse leaving my commander exposed. He closed the door on him and it was a 3G-0 defeat! I did help Andrew to the extent that I pointed out his options (as like Jared he was new to DBA), but my mistakes were all my own doing!

The Varangians and Normans never saw combat before it was all over on the right flank! What was the point of gaining control of the wood if I didn't sue it to anchor a flank?

  • Arne (III/74 Fanatic Berber)

In my last game of the day I faced Arne, making some nice symmetry, facing the same opponent for my first and last games. I was the defender against some insanely aggressive Berbers. It was an open board and the two armies were well matched.

Initial deployments.

Arne advanced two psiloi into the wood behind my horse, forcing one of my cavalry to shield them and prevent them from going after the camp. Meanwhile, I soon lost my knights and got my light horse into quite a jam ahead of the army (the general was still with the bow thankfully). However, I had the PIPs, and Arne didn’t have many for a while, to retire my light horse out of the mess they’d got themselves into. Arne sent his knight against the cavalry guarding the woods. I was very lucky to survive being overlapped by them, but with light horse support I destroyed the knight. Meanwhile my archers started to shoot up his light horse. I’m a bit hazy how it ended now. I think I retreated one of his elements into the rear of one of mine making it 4-4, but I managed to get one of his to win a very close game.

Finishing on a win was a good way to end, but given that I’d had two very quick games that were over almost before they had begun, it was good to finish with a really close and interesting game.

I need to be a little more cautious with the Komnenans; the Varangians never saw combat, which is suggestive of my not really working out how to use all 12 elements; the archers did see action in a couple of games, but in others I rushed into action without them. I’m better at not getting the LH into a fix with wild moves (though it was only luck against the Poles that saw them survive), but getting them to work with the archers is something I’ve not really sorted out.

All in all, it was a great two days. I enjoyed playing all my opponents. It reminds me why I like DBA; whereas other competitions at Conquest had awards for good sportsmanship, such an award for the DBA one would be redundant, as there was not a backdrop, whether only implied or not, of dodgy players to make such an award meaningful! A big thanks to Keith for organizing the competition and soldiering on through it despite being under the weather.

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Going post AD 450

28 July, 2010

Well, now that the first half of the CWC DBA competition is behind me it’s time to look at what I’ll field in the second half. I’m still going around in circles on what army to use, but I think I’m getting closer to a way forward. I like the idea of the Early Muslim North Africa and Sicily (III/33), and I’ve now learnt a lot more about them since I started looking at them. They remain a little light for a competition army and perhaps the Fanatic Berbers (III/74) would be better. They are similar geographically and temporally to the North Africans, and I can imagine creating an army that could morph into both of them and into the Andalusian army (III/34). However, I remain reluctant to buy more figures until I’ve painted some of the stack I’ve got.

Therefore, I reckon I’ll set to on the early feudal figures I’ve got from Essex. I’ve done a few and a relaxing way into this army might be to rebase these on MDF in the style I’m using now. I painted the Essex Normans that I’ve done in no time, so I may be able to do the same with the stuff remaining. Whether I use these figures as the Early Crusader (IV/7) army as I was thinking earlier or not, or as some other army that it can easily morph into, I can definitely use it as an opponent for whatever army I look to get next.

So that settles, hopefully, my next painting project. I’m coming back to going with the Komnenan Byzantines (IV/1a) as an army for the competition. I’ve got the figures already, from Outpost. However, my efforts to paint them hit a brick wall when my heart was really in painting some of the Corvus Belli figures I’d just got. On top of this I’d made a hash of replacing the spears of some of the cavalry. Anyway, I figure I could finish this army quite quickly and use it for practice and then look to sell it. As it is, it’s in limbo, some elements are done (six of the possible seventeen) and most of the rest are started. This would make it hard to sell as an unpainted army. It’d be better to paint it with a view to selling it than to leave it in this state.

The plan, then, is to finish the Komnenans after the feudals. Once I’ve done those two I can start seeing how the Komnenans fare as an army. I can consider buying one from Khurasan Miniatures and look to sell the Outpost one. The feudals would be useful as opponents for the Komnenans and should have the flexibility to model quite a few potential opponents from Books III and IV. This delays buying anything else until I’ve done some painting, which has to be a good thing, as I can see myself getting overwhelmed by unpainted lead and doing nothing!

Also, another reason for not buying yet is that I’ve yet to paint any of the Khurasan figures that I have, and before I buy more I plan to paint at least one element of their Normans. They’d be used initially for the Komnenans, but I can see myself getting an army of Khurasan feudals at some stage. Patience!

I’ve made use of my visit to Britain to get some figures without paying for postage. So far I’ve been pretty modest, and only got some Goblins (though quite a few!). These are from Magister Militum and will allow me to use my Goblins as just about any DBA army.

Inspired by Craig’s comment that he liked my ‘Classical Goblins’, I decided to get them some real chariots. The ‘Platform Carts’ of  the Chariot range aren’t that good, but I’ve managed to get them to provide solid wheels from their Sumerian range, which will make them look cruder.

I’ve also got some rhinosauruses that should be able to be used as knights, and more goblins that can be based as 4Sp/4Pk. To make the ‘elephants’ (behemoths in HOTT) more regular, I got some more of their ogres (armoured ones for variety). I’ll mix these in and make one of them a command element with a goblin standard bearer and drummer. Then I’ll have three ‘elephants’ with a clear commander for them. I can also create pike armies with the spearmen (stand-in successor armies until I paint one!). In time, I should have some endlessly morphable Goblins for practice fights.

I’ve also bought a second-hand boardgame for nostalgia value. It’s WRG’s Decline and Fall. I had a lot of fun playing this years ago, not that it’s terribly well balanced, but it was going cheaply enough and again I could save on postage.

Otherwise, I’m considering making my post AD 450 Early Muslim North Africa and Sicily (III/33). It occurred to me that these were a loose form of Carthaginians: same geographical place and some similarities in the army; they don’t have elephants or warbands, but they have similar amounts of cavalry (one more 2LH than the Carthos), spear and psiloi. they have the option of ditching the spear and going for lots of auxilia, which would make them very mobile, and potentially a headache for elephant armies.

I’ll need to research the history of this army a little more. Are there any colourful personalities that led it? But it has the potential to satisfy my requirements for an army. It has an interesting mix of troops and they’d fight in a similar fashion to the Carthaginians (not that I’ve mastered them with the Carthaginians). It has potential to hold my interest, especially as I’m thinking of getting some of their enemies for a campaign: Andalusians (III/34b), Fanatic Berbers (III/74), Feudal Spanish (III35b) and Sicilians (IV/5a). The figures for these have a degree of internal morphability, so wouldn’t need to be done all at once. They’ve also got a lot of psiloi, which would make them cheaper and quicker to paint.