Friday, 2 December 2016

Fall of the West...

After completing the painting (finally!) on Alans Fall of the West Roman army, it seemed only right and proper that we should get a game in as soon as possible so that the remaining figures could be delivered and cash exchanged. So, to that end, here we have a report of the days fighting!

The armies were 2000pts a side, with Alan using Romans and me using Picts from the Sea Raiders list. We used the Pitched Battle scenario and terrain was laid as per the rulebook guidelines. 

My apologies for the 'stand in' Pictish army - now that the Romans are finished, the Picts will be getting the painting love they deserve.

For this battle I'd decided that it might be advantageous to have as little terrain as possible. Alan won the roll to decide who would get the first roll on the terrain table, then I declined to roll, which allowed Alan one more roll, so we had a hill and a small village, leaving plenty of open space to fight over!

The armies deployed for battle.

Alan won the roll to decide who would go first and decided that he would go first, so moved a solid battle line forward, closing down some of that open battlefield that I had hoped for. I passed all but one of my Warband tests (the light unit on my left flank just would not listen!) so almost everybody did as they were told, which pretty much meant that they all moved as close as I dare to the Roman lines.
We both knew as soon as the armies were deployed that this would very likely be a short, but brutal battle. By turn three, we were heavily into combat in the centre and Roman left flank, with both units of Roman cavalry trying to break the Pictish Generals unit whilst their own general, along with a second infantry unit, battled it out against a massive hoard of fierce Barbarians.

The Pictish light  unit on my left flank which had been so brave in the previous turn had now decided that discretion was the better part of valour, so broke into skirmish formation and withdrew towards the table edge (both of the flanking Pictish units were light troops) in order to avoid an inevitable charge from the Romans, which would more than likely break and scatter them in a single turn!
After several nail biting combat phases in which the Picts held on for dear life, the tide finally began to turn as their sheer weight of numbers started to wear the Roman units down. Normally though, it would still take a while to have the desired effect as the Romans leadership makes them very steady in the face of mounting odds. What we hadn't factored in to the equation up until this point though was the all powerful dice gods and their whimsical nature as one by one Alan rolled break tests!
One at a time the Roman units either broke from combat or fled at the sight of the utter collapse of the Roman centre. Even the General, after seeing his battle standard bearer hacked to death by heroes of the painted people, heard the call of Rome and decided to make a quick exit.

As most of their comrades turned tail and fled, a lone unit held their ground in the vain hope that they might buy some time for their friends to scurry away from the slaughter...

My brave light infantry look at the Roman army breaking from combat and decide that they might well come and 'ave a go too!

Finally, the single Roman unit left fighting in the centre of the battlefield, decided that enough was enough and broke, taking with them the only unit of the Roman army that had not yet engaged in the combat. It was all over.

Only a single Roman unit, strung out on their armies far left flank kept fighting, although their adversary, which had for two previous turns been forced to fall back, now steadied themselves and managed to hold their ground, which did not bode at all well for what was left of the Roman unit.  

A great game that did in fact last a lot longer than we'd thought; just over two hours in the end, but once the first Roman unit broke from combat the army simply drifted away bit by bit - not something you often see from any Roman army of any period, but a pretty sight nevertheless!!

Monday, 14 November 2016

The long road home.

Yesterday was a most pleasant day, full of gaming. I traveled a bit further south to the most excellent Wayland Gaming Centre in Hockley (gaming area pictured above) to meet up with fellow Warhammer Ancient Battles Facebook member, Jesse Booth, for what turned out to be an epic game of Shieldwall. Jesse used his Vikings, with a little help from some allied longboat crewmen that just happened across the battle, and I used my Saxon army. This was the first time that Jesse and I had met and the first game of WAB that he'd had in quite a while, so I didn't want to over burden the game by stopping for too many pictures and notes for a BatRep this time, although we do plan to have another game soon, so there should be plenty to show next time. The game itself was an epic struggle; tense, lighthearted and a bloodbath! After playing the full six turns, we shook hands and both agreed that so many from both armies had been slain, with captured banners, characters butchered in heroic challenges and few units left intact, that we would call the game a draw and limp what was left of our armies away, ready to fight another day.

For my Saxons though, there was no rest. I'd arranged to play a second game when I got home against Matthews (number 3 son) Norman army. So, battered and bruised from the previous battle and weary from the long march (well, drive actually!) home, my brave boys took to the field yet again to fight for the honour of the Essex Fyrd...

For this battle we used the Shieldwall supplement, with 2000pts a side and a 6 turn Pitched Battle scenario. Terrain was set up as per the rulebook.

Our initial setup, after both armies skirmish troops have moved for the opening shots. The Saxon army is to the right, the Normans (not surprisingly!) to the left.

Matthew won the roll to decide the turn sequence and decided to go first; no doubt to make use of his two units of Sergeants armed with crossbows!

As I'd expected, both units of Mounted Milites started their sweeping moves around the Norman right and left flanks, whilst the skirmishers readied themselves to let loose. Matthew had a couple of well placed hills in his deployment zone which he made full and quick use of by deploying missile troops on so they would get a far better field of view.

A unit of Norman skirmishers needed to move out of the way so that one of the Milites units could get in to a better fighting position. Unfortunately for the Milites, this meant that their skirmish screen disappeared and they started taking casualties from incoming sling shots.

Oncoming Milites from the Saxon slingers viewpoint. Slingers aren't overly effective in WAB, but they can still get a couple of decent rounds of shooting off to soften up formed units, given the chance.

With enemy shooting picking off much needed troops, it became quite clear that the men of Essex and the Home Counties would need to take the battle to the Normans if they were to have a chance of victory, so forward they went.

Mounted Milites threaten the Saxon right flank. This does not look good - there's a nasty looking Dux in that unit too and even the horses want to get into the fight!

Casualties from the crossbow armed Sergeants are starting to mount. The Saxon units are a mixture of Thegns and Ceorls, but both are dropping to the incoming fire despite the better armour of the Thegns in the front ranks.

The troops are finally ready to launch their attacks. The next turn or two will decide the days outcome.

Although both sides had taken casualties on the turns it took to get into position for the final assaults, the Norman skirmishers had easily won that battle and inflicted telling losses on many of the formed Saxon troops.

From this shot, you can feel the fear in the hearts of the Saxon farmers and their few remaining battle hardened Thegns.

The moment before the onslaught of the Mounted Milites.

On to the attack!

Well, it seems that we have a real battle on our hands! The Saxons in the centre of the field smashed though the Milites opposing them, routing them and scattering what was left of the unit to the far corners of the battlefield as well as capturing the enemy standard as a trophy. Unfortunately for the Saxons, the mounted Milites on the Norman right did pretty much exactly the same thing to the Saxon unit attempting to hold them.This left the entire Saxon right flank in near complete collapse and allowed the Mounted Milites, led by a very loud and aggressive Bishop, to push through behind what had been the Saxon lines.

The second unit of Saxons on the left flank drew their combat against the remaining Milites on foot, then went on to push to victory as the troops were spurred on by a rousing blast from the units musician. Luckily for the Normans, the Milites shrugged off this minor defeat and held their ground ready to go at it again.

Saxon troops with their captured enemy flag. Showing off too soon?

The Saxon victory against the Milites left a much needed unit stranded between the centre hill and small farmstead, with not enough time left to rejoin the battle.

By turn five, the Saxon right had been completely overrun, leaving free reign to Norman skirmishers, mounted and dismounted Milites units.

Where did they go? There was a Saxon unit here a minute ago, I'm sure of it!

After an heroic struggle to the right flank, the Saxon unit there, backed up by a rather brazen unit of slingers, forced the Dux and the cream of Norman mounted troops to withdraw from the combat, using their steeds to easily outdistance the Saxon  troops on foot. Still, there was much jeering and throwing of insults as the so called 'Knights' scurried away!

By the end of turn six, it was clear that the Saxons could not hope to hold back the enemy and were forced to withdraw from a second battle in a single day. With their honour intact, but what remained of the army in tatters. It will take a good while to recover their numbers enough to take to the field again - well, a couple of days at least!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Leinster stands against the Danes.

With Dan home from Uni, we thought it only right and proper that we should take the opportunity to get a game of WAB in before his return to, erm, studies...

The battle was fought between a Hibernian army from Leinster, led by the local King (Ri Ruirech) who had mustered to defend their homes against a Danish Viking army, set on pillage, plunder and some good conversation with the locals!

Both armies were 2000pts. We used the Pitched Battle scenario and set up scenery as per the rulebook, with each of us rolling for random terrain and placing in our own table halves. Dan did get a plain hill, which he was allowed to place straddling both of our table halves, so he placed it on his right flank as you can see in the picture. There was also a steep hill on my right flank next to an area of very difficult rocky terrain as well as a wood. A second wood was placed near to the hill on the Hibernian left.

We rolled for deployment, which I won, so Dan began placing his army...

Once we'd finished placing terrain, we started deploying the troops one unit at a time.

Both armies deployed ready for the coming battle.

In a pitched battle, troops that are deployed in skirmish formation are able to make a free 4" move to gain more ground.

The large unit of Fianna prepare to move off to battle accompanied by the Ri Ruirech, a unit champion (Curadh) and a priest (Sacardd). The priest turns what is already a fiercesome unit into a bunch of lunatics! 

Along with the usual cart loads of skirmishing Kerns, they even brought the dogs out to play!

We rolled for who would get the first turn and as I had finished deploying my army first, I got a plus 1 to the dice roll - which of course I needed as the first roll turned out to be a draw, by the good grace of my extra 1! Luckily, the second roll, although still close, was a win for me, so I decided to go first.

Having decided to take the first turn, I thought it best to try to get my Bondi archers into a good position to shoot up as many of the Irish troops as possible before they could start throwing their javelins, firing their slings and throwing just about anything else they could find at my rather small units.

Happily, the dogs took quite a few hits, including one of their handlers, so they turned tail (see what I did there!) and fled in the first turn. They must have smelt their dinner, because they never stopped running!

As expected, the Danish missile fire was less than devastating, so on came the Irish skirmishers...

Follwed closely by their formed units.
Dan threw what really did seem like bucket loads of dice during his shooting phase, but only managed to cause a few casualties. One of the Danish javelin armed skirmish units was forced to take a Panic test, but they passed this comfortably!

What I'd forgotten was that the Hibernians can also Ambush with one unit if the terrain permits - That would explain why Dan was so chuffed when he rolled two woods then...

As the armies got closer, the Viking Berserkers launched themselves out of their units. Frothing at the mouth, they did an upstanding job of butchering or scaring most of the Hibernian skirmishers, at which point most of them dropped down dead from too much mushroom ale!

This did not end well for the skirmish troops!

With their skirmishers either dead or running away, the Irish decided it was time to have a go. The Fianna, all fired up by their Priest no doubt, failed their Warband test and charged the large unit of Bondi in front of them.

It was at this point that I realised just how much I had underestimated the cream of the Irish troops. I knew the Bondi would be hard pushed to win the combat, but with the Fianna armed with throwing spears and a front rank backed up by three characters, they were devastating! They casued so many casualties on the poor Bondi that even the nearby Konnungr couldn't persuade them to hold their ground so that the two supporting units of Hirdmen could dive in to help.

They were so determined to get away from the Hibernian butchers in fact, that they ran a full 12" away! At least they couldn't be caught, even though the Fianna gave it a good try with a roll of 11!

This is Dan remaining calm and collected after the Fianna performed sort of OK... Smug git!

After the disastrous battle with the Fianna during the previous turn, it was my chance for revenge as one of my Hirdmen unit made a successful charge on an isolated Bonnacht unit on the Irish left flank. They easily won this fight and were poised ready for the pursuit into their fleeing foes, who had to pass a break test on a 3! They happily failed the roll, but were lucky enough that the battle standard bearer was within range to boost their confidence enough for a second roll. The picture isn't very clear, but of course, it's clear enough to see the 1 and 2 on the dice - a success, beyond all hope and they stand their ground - curses!
By the end of turn five the battlefield is looking rather sparse, but either side could still have grabbed victory from the other (I was rather less likely to win it has to be said!).

Those pesky Fianna just would not let it go! What remained of the poor Bondi unit (There were 40 of them at the start of the battle) were chased all the way back to their ships.

The last hope for the Danes was this final combat. even though he Hibernians would get the charge in, so fight first, there was still a glimmer of hope...

YES! The Danish Hirdmen inflicted a crushing defeat on the Bonnachts! But wait, that's right... Fall Back in Good Order - Aaaaaaaarrrrrgggghhhh!!!

And so the battle ended. The cream of the Danish army left butchered on the battlefield (well, on the chair next to the battlefield at least). With the final victory score being 958pts to 1841pts in the Hibernians favour, I'd say it was a close run thing, wouldn't you?!! :-)