In this day of the competition I took my Komnenan Byzantines, whom I didn’t expect to do too well, but who actually surprised me. I suspect if I was more observant of my opponents, I’d have picked up that they were nervous of their potential mobility.

  • Tim’s Italian Condotta

This was a fun game, where Tim insisted on having a littoral landing. His knights arrived in a block in the middle of the field. We surmised this was at the Doge’s insistence, as they had no plan after this. They looked splendid, however, and the Doge perhaps enjoyed the spectacle from his galley.

Nevertheless, the knights, aided by two light horse, put up a good fight and my attempt to encircle them did not succeed in eliminating them. One of their light horse went down, and I chased the other to the far corner of the board with a cavalry and a light horse. One of the knights was also destroyed, but I had lost three too, and had to fall back on my archers, who destroyed another knight. In the last turn, Tim attacked the cavalry facing his light horse with a psiloi overlap. The odds were 2-1 to me, but a win to him would give him the game. The dice gods smiled, and I doubled the light horse.

Attempting to stop the knights from getting away from the waterway almost lost me the game. It became a slog where overlaps to me only gave even odds against the knights. Still, letting them get out to deploy would not necessarily done me much good either.

  • Adrian’s Samanid Persians

My next game was against an army I’d considered taking myself (if I’d decided to buy and paint it!). I like the Samanids; they remind me quite a lot of the Later Carthaginians. I was the attacker and deployed with my archers in some rough in the middle of my line. Adrian’s forces came out between two small steep hills with the centre of an elephant flanked my auxilia on the open side and psiloi-supported spear in the centre with two bow next to them, then the general. On his right flank, he had two cavalry and a light horse.

I attempted to go after his right flank with the knight, a cavalry and a light horse. He then reinforced it with his general, and I pulled a light horse across to help, deciding also to retire. Unfortunately, the speed of the knight meant I was still in range. He attacked and I lost the cavalry; I was lucky not to lose the others. I had three PIPs, I could not retreat them out of danger and if I lost them I lost the game. It looked grim, so they decided to go out fighting. The light horse facing the general stayed put and gained a bow support. The other two charged into combat. The knight stuck, but the light horse rolled a 6. Adrian rolled a cocked 5; it wasn’t badly cocked, but it saved my life, as his reroll was a 2. The next turn my knight destroyed the opposing cavalry and his general beat a hasty retreat. I must have got the other cavalry on that wing, as I was three up. I decided to charge his elephant with my general and the rest of the cavalry. This was to get a 3-1 attack on his flanked auxilia. The first time this didn’t succeed, but my line held and I got it on the second try to give me a lucky win.

  • Jason’s Anglo-Normans

The third game was a disappointment, as I attempted to redeploy my mounted from one wing in column. I’d made it too, it seemed, but when I went to check they were not ZOCed by his advancing knights (they weren’t), Jason said he had the move to make this happen. I had no way of knowing if he did, but it wasn’t really a question of proof; he had moved the knights, taken his hands off, gone on to another move. If he wanted to redo his move, he had to ask my permission, which I was perfectly entitled to deny (p. 8:  ‘a legal tactical move cannot be taken back once the element has been placed’). I shouldn’t have let him turn it into an issue of whether he was telling the truth. Caught in the ZOC I went down 0-4G, ending my run and tarnishing the morning, indeed the whole event!

  • Stan’s War of the Roses English

Stan deployed on a low hill with a blade centre and two flanks of three 3Bw. On his right flank was a large wood. I advanced two 2Ps into it on the first turn, and then advanced the auxilia and blade after them. However, with little movement from Stan (he finally advanced just off the hill) and 6 PIPs, I advanced my cavalry only this left flank. It was anchored by a light horse in the centre to avoid a bad overlap, and it had an overlap on the left flank. However, I had no success. I was thrown back along the line, losing two 3Cv, though the light horse only recoiled.

On Stan’s turn he advanced on the light horse, hoping to flee it and set up good odds on an overlapped cavalry with psiloi-supported blades. The light horse didn’t flee, but recoiled to provide an overlap and keep the odds at 3-2 in his favour. A 6-1 in my favour brought me back into the game, and even though I only had a single PIP, I was able to take out an unsupported blade to set myself up for an unlikely win. Unfortunately, my General rolled a 1 when shot at by supported archers, going down on a 1-4 roll. Stan got another element and took the game. I felt my initial attack was unlucky, though its odds weren’t stunning, but my comeback more than made up for this!

  • Stephen’s Later Crusaders

Stephen deployed his camp in a corner and spent most of the game advancing his bow in column up through a wood on the flank onto a road. They saw no action. Nor did his knights. However, with five spear and a cavalry he nearly beat me, owing to my overconfidence that combined with lacklustre early combat dice saw my general back into his cavalry with no room to spare.

The cavalry and a spear on a gentle hill looked an easy prize and would open up the left flank. I had all my cavalry against it and a light horse. That seemed more than I needed and I had the PIPs, and the poor judgement, to pull off two cavalry to advance on the main body behind this attack. Sure enough I was driven down the hill and lost two cavalry to blocked recoils. I feel Stephen was a gentleman not to push how much room my general had on his second recoil, as it had no room to spare. At this point I hung on, eventually killing the cavalry and one of the spear, but my knight twice could not destroy an unsupported spear even with an overlap to help. There was some desperate fighting, and my general survived the risk of friction kills. In my last turn, with one PIP and the crusader knights and bow finally getting in range, I charged this spear again; this time it had rear support and finally we swept them away to take the game 4-3.

The winning moment from Stephen's side. The knights, supported by light horse, have just destroyed two spear.

If I’d taken my time with the troops on the hill, it could have been an easy win, though the melee that developed consumed all Stephen’s PIPs as he fed his spear into the fight. Had it developed differently, his knights and bow might have got into the action and changed things.

  • Rhys’s Early Burgundians

(Going down in a flurry of 1’s)

While my early battle results had gone against me in the previous battle, any hope they would come right in this battle were soon disappointed. Artillery shot a knight to death (1-4 dice). Low PIPs stopped quick closing for action and I lost on both flanks fast. A light horse destroyed by knights made it two (another 1 for combat, think); mutual shooting destroyed a bow (low again) and an attempt to salvage some dignity in what was likely to be my last turn was not aided by PIPs. A light horse charged bow, only to be doubled, while a flanked light horse did survive an attack by cavalry for some pride. Overall, though, this was a battle I never even got a chance in, as it was over so fast.

  • Review

Overall this was a really enjoyable day that capped a really enjoyable event. However, the incident in the third round really has left a bad memory, as that player went on to win the competition and his trouncing of me gave him the points to do it. I feel I let down others by allowing such unsporting behaviour to prosper. It shows, perhaps, my inexperience, and the fact that in DBA I’ve not previously run into players that would try something like this. I can’t believe that he didn’t check for himself when moving them that he ZOCed me if it was that important. It’s the sort of thing I’d have  measured carefully; I’d certainly not dream of asking to extend a move that couldn’t be measured—but he wasn’t even asking, rather assuming I was seeking to question his right to do it, and challenging his integrity in so doing, very shabby!

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