Visigoths in Usk - day 2

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Visigoths in Usk - day 2

Post by hammy » Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:03 pm

Continuing the story of the first Art of War 'tournament'.

Our army comprised of :
1 Field commander
2 Troop commanders
1 BG Nobles: Cavalry, Superior, Undrilled, Protected, -, Lancers, Swordsmen
5 BG's Warriors: Heavy foot, Average, Undrilled, Protected, -, Impact foot, Swordsmen
3 BG's Archers: Light foot, Average, Undrilled, Unprotected, Bow, -, -
1 BG Javelinmen: Light foot, Average, Undrilled, Unprotected, Javelins, Light spear, -
1 BG Huns: Cavalry, Superior, Undrilled, Protected, Bow, -, Swordsmen

With an allied contingent of Carpi (Dacians)
1 Carpi allied general: TC
1 Cavalry: Light horse, Average, Undrilled, Unprotected, Javelins, Light spear, -
1 Falxmen: Medium foot, Superior, Undrilled, Unprotected, -, Heavy weapon, Heavy

weapon
1 Javelinmen: Medium foot, Average, Undrilled, Protected, -, Impact foot, Swordsmen
1 Archers: Light foot, Average, Undrilled, Unprotected, Bow, -, -

Game 3 - Abbasid arab

This time I was set to find out if barbarian foot can deal with high quality cavalry supported

by some acceptable infantry. The battlefield was hardly condusive to an infantry vs

cavalry fight. Most of it was good going with what little terrain there was on our right flank.

There was a very large yawning open space on the left of the field and that felt a touch

ominous. The intial deployments were unsurtprising, the Visigoth foot archers and

javelinmen setup forward, two BG's on the left and two on the right. The first Abbasid

troops to apear were several BG's of ligh horse on their left looking like they were

intending screening what terrain there was.

Following our order of march we next deployed the Carpi ally with his foot on the right and

the light horse at the right hand edge of the open space. The second phase of Abbasid

deployment saw several BG's of ghilmen (cavalry, drilled, armoured, bow, -, swordsmen)

these deployed just to the left of the Abbasid centre.

Next came the Visigoth nobles and some of the foot warriors. We deployed our warriors in

a long solid line ready to advance past the terrain on the right and hopefully deal death to

whatever faced them. The ghilmen to their front while good quality troops were less

numerous and with a bit of cunning we rather hoped that we could get the drop on them.

The third part of the Abbasid army was a number of BG's of heavy foot spearmen, while

not as good as the Visigoths in the impact phase they have an advantage over our

swordsmen in melee as long as they retain their formation. To the right flank of these BG's

of spearmen was a BG of high quality Dailami foot. The Dailami are in effect a drilled and

armoured version of our warriors, this gives them several advantages over us and the

only easy way we have to deal with them in the open is to use heavy mounted against

them.

The final part of the Visigoth army deployed on our left extending the foot line and the lone

BG of Huns was on our far left aiming to slow the advance of the ghilmen we expected to

face there. Unfortunatley our plans were slighlty upset when the last part of the Abbasid

army deployed and we found our selves looking at three BG's of armoured lancers....
While our foot warriors are OK in the impact phase against ghilmen we are disadvantaged

against lancers. Loosing the impact phase could easily break our formation and then our

numbers will be unlikely to counter the fact that the lancers have heavier armour than us.

This was not looking good.

Still nothing ventured, nothing gained. We surged forwards on the right flank as fast as we

could manage with generals leading key groups of troops to get the most out of them. The

Huns on the left advanced rapidly to slow the Abbasid lancers and the left most BG's of

foot warriors stood and considered writing letters to their loved ones (OK, composed

poems and sagas to be passed down the generations).

The early stages of the game saw a slow advance by the Abbasid right, the Huns doing

their work well. On the Visigoth right the light horse after an initial advance fell back

exchanging missiles with various light foot. The Visigoth centre continued forwards trying

to get to the potentially vulnerable Abbasid spearmen or to mob the ghilmen.

With the Abbasid left flank caving in if anything quicker than the Abbasid general wanted

one BG of ghilmen was ordered to charge to scare off some pesky foot skirmishers. This

however opened the possibility of a flank charge on the ghilmen by the Carpi javelinemen.

The Abbasid expectation was that the ghilmen when charged would evade and get away.

Unfortunatley the combination of dice rolls for charges and evades resulted in them being

hit in the flank by the javelinemen. Still as I mentioned earlier mounted fighting steady foot

will break off at the end of the round so the ghilmen still looked in reasonable shape. The

Carpi light horse however had a different idea, they advanced partly behind the ghilmen

and prevented a full break off, this left the now fragmented ghilmen in a difficult possition

and when a volley of arrows and javelins the next turn forced another test they broke and

headed for the hills.

The Visigoth jubilation was short lived. In the centre anothr BG of ghilmen charged the

visigoth warriors to it's front. On paper this is a fight where the single ranked ghilmen are

likely to receive a sound kicking from the extra numbers of the Visigoths. This time

however the gods of war saw fit for the Visigoth foot warriors to become disrupted from

the charge and then over a couple of melee rounds they slipped first to fragmented then

turned and ran. The next BG in the line (to the right of the broken BG) was less than happy

at this and they became disrupted in turn. This encouraged a third BG of ghilmen to

charge the no longer steady warriors hoping to repeat the feat of their colleagues. The

dice gods saw things differently and the warriors held their ground then began to cut

down ghilmen.

The Visigoth left was now in fairly serious danger, a hole had been smashed in the center

of the 5 BG line of foot leaving 2 BG's badly isolated while the Huns did their best to cover

the flank. Sensing this problem approaching one of the Visigoth generals joined the

Visigoth nobles and force marched them to try to stave off the problem.

On the right we were continued to push forwards trying to catch come of the elusive light

horse but this was not to be. In the centre the victorious ghilmen wheeled round behind

our line of warriors but were contained and eventually shot to death by four BG's of light

troops.

The left was where things were going rapidly wrong. The Dailami charged one of out

groups of warriors and got the better of the impact phase causing our warriors to become

disrupted. Our nobles were lined up for a charge on the Dailami but one of the Abbasid

lancer BG's came forward and managed to get to a possition where if we charged the

Dailami our charge would be intercepted by the heavier Abbasid lancers. We were left

with no choice but to charge both the lancers and Dailami and hope that we would be able

to quickly break the Dailami and then get lucky against the lancers. Neither came true and

over the next couple of rounds both our warriors and the nobles broke. One of the other

lancer BG's hurled itself into the only remaining BG of warriors on our left and madse

short work of them and the Huns who managed to disrupt the other BG of lancers with

shooting were really forced to charge them and hope that they could break them quickly

before the victorious lancers returned. This was not to be and the Hun's were broken with

out the assistance of the other lancers.

At this point we had broken three BG's of ghilmen (two were wiped out, the other routed)

but lost thre BG's of warriors plus our nobles and the Huns. Our army was a bit larger than

the Abbasids but we were not in a great possition.

The last few rounds of the game saw us still trying to catch light horse and to get to the

Abbasid camp and the only real fight was between our leftmost remaining BG of warriors

and one of the Abbasid spear BG's. The fight started well but when a second spear BG

maneuvered to our now unprotected flank and charged into the melee our warriors turned

tail and ran.

As time was called we had suffered 12 attrition points of the 15 needed for our army to

break and the Abbasids 6 out of I think 14 needed. This meant we have suffered a

moderate defeat and as a result we slipped back to the middle of the table.

The three BG's of lancers that were deployed last by the Abbasids rather put us off

ballance but there were several combats where I felt that we were a bit hard done by on

the dice. My fears of foot armies against mounted may have been not entirely well

founded.

Game 4 - Ghaznavid

For various peculiar reasons the last game saw us drawn against the leader for the last round. Something to do with him having already played most of the other top players and the only team above us in the comp who hadn't played him being the other team from his club. Add the fact that there had already been two runs of the game between these two and this was after all a playtest comp we ended up being drawn against the mighty dancing Ghaznavid army of Bruce Brown. There had been some dicussion about the effectivenes of this army at the previous nights debrief which all told left us feeling just a bit concerned (well terrified really)

For a change there was loads of terrain on the field this time. We had a field to hide some of our warriors behind and some more difficult terrain either side to allow us to push our right forwards again and cover our left.

We deployed with the Carpi on the right aimed at some broken ground, a long line of warriors half behind a field and half in the gap between the field and the broken ground, the Huns on the left , the nobles in reserve in the centre, the light javelinemen in some rough ground covering the left of the warriors and two blocks each of two BG's of foot archers one on the right and one in the field.

Facing us we had from our right: a small BG of light horse archers, a larger than normal BG of ghilmen (most other people seem to use BG's of 4 bases, Bruce was using 6's) then the main attack in the form of a huge BG of elephants (4 bases) then a BG of superior/ armoured Dailami (remember them from the last game), then another huge BG of elephants! and finally a smaller BG of Ghazi foot similar to the Dailami but not drilled and only protected.

The far right of the Ghanavid army was held by another BG of light horse and another sizeable BG of ghilmen. Only 8 BG's so we only had to break 4 to win but that was not going to be easy...

the main Ghaznavid line ground forwards and we arranged both our right flank BG's of archers to concentrate their fire on the elephants. On the left our archers concentrated on the Ghazi's. Our Huns went forwards to delay the Ghaznavid right and the Carpi pushed through the broken ground to thereaten the flanks of any attack on our main battle line.

The elephants started to suffer fairly rapidly in the face of our light archers. Over a series of moves we advanced and shot then the elephants charged and we evaded. Eventually the elephants became fragmented and then another volley of arrows finished them off. The Ghazi's meanwhile had also been disrupted by the other archers. The Huns were rather out on a limb but it was taking time for the Ghaznavids to get them and with one elephant BG broken we were a quarter of the way there.

The Ghaznavid attack pushed on and the elephants stomped through the field (which doesn't bother them at all :( ). We contracted our line of warriors (which is a non trivial task with undrilled foot and requires a relatively high maneuver test) to allow a chance for our nobles to charge the loose formation Dailami. The Ghaznavids responded by wheeleing their remaining elephants and contracting the exposed files of Dailami as they advanced (something that is much easier for drilled troops like Dailami). There was nothing we could do now in that area, the Dailami were going to hit our warriors. The nobles concluded that standing behind the warriors was a bad plan and moved to one side in preparation for a charge on the flank of any breakthrough.

On the right the Carpi javelinemen pushed on and ended up facing off the ghilmen from the relative safety of the broken ground. The foot archers fresh from their victory over the elephants moved up and started to pour missiles into the end of the line of ghilmen. The Carpi light horse faced off the light horse archers and began forcing them back. On the left an attenpted charge by the Huns was intercepted by a flank charge from the ghilmen (ouch) and the Huns quickly broke but in the confused melee the Ghaznavid general on the left flank was killed. The ghilmen took this badly and became disrupted. This combined shooting from the left flank archers also broke the Ghazi's (half way there...)

Some rapid redeployment of generals by the Ghaznavids steadied the situation on the right and the Ghazi were eventually rallied (but still fragmented so essentially half dead). This however stripped a general from the Ghaznavid left and when the ghilmen broke to the fire of the light archers things were looking good (we how had five of the eight attrition points needed)

In the centre our warriors broke and were pursued a short distance by the Dailami. Unfortunatley a failed maneuver test by the nobles meant they were now not in the right possition to charge the Dailami. On our left the horse archers charged one of our light foot archer BGs', it tried to evade and had it not been for the other troops in the are awoudl have escaped. The resulting fight took a little longer than expected but still ended with a broken light foot BG. Our left flank warriors had turned to face the now reforemed ghilmen so couldn't intervene. When the light foot broke they routed through another BG of light foot who because of the mass of troops in a small space were also unable to evade and quickly routed.

The elephant BG charged one of our warrior BG and the cnetre was looking very ropey. Then our guys worked out how to fight. over the next couple of turns the warriors managed to break the elephants (this took some rather impressive dice rolling indeed) but the Ghaznavids also managed to rally the broken ghilmen to fragmented (6 our of the 8 AP needed.

With the elephants breaking the Dailami were isolated and also failed a test on seeing the elephants break which resulted in them becomming disrupted, to make things worse our nobles had managed to get to a possition from where they could charge and the Carpi falxmen were very nearly in charge range too. In the next Ghanavid turn the critical roll was the maneuver test for the Dailami. had they passed they would have been able to turn the column they were now in (they contracted to a column the previous round to get outside charge range of the nobles) into a line and march away from the threat. They failed the test (which is harder when disrupted) and were left with some limited options, the best of which was to turn to face the nobles. Our noble cavalry hurled themselves in lead by our commander in chief fighting in the front rank to make sure and the Dailami scattered to the four winds on impact. This meant we had accumulated the 8 AP's required and won the game but at a cost to us of the Huns, one BG of warriors and two BG's of light foot so a somewhat bloody victory.

We had proved that with a bit of luck and what I would like to think were sound tactics that an undiciplined infantry army can beat an elite cavalry army so it would appear that even as things stand Art of War is reasonably ballanced.

We ended up in joint 5th place out of 12 teams but were fairly close to the leaders with what I thought at the outset would be an uncompetitive army.

Many thanks to the Slitherine team for their exelent organisation and special thanks to Richard for letting us piggy back on his competition but I suppose being a co designer he had a good reason to let us :)

There is another playtest comp in about a month, I will endeavour to report on my games there and hope that some of the other players from the Usk weekend will find the time to post the tale of their weekends too.

Yours

James "Hammy" Hamilton

acl
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Post by acl » Sat Feb 10, 2007 3:47 pm

Thank you for a clear and interesting report. It is good to see how rapidly people are adapting to the new rules and how quickly the games seem to be moving.

I wonder, tho, what sense you had of the scale of the battles? Eg does a BG of legionaries represent a cohort or a legion, or something indeterminate?

One of the great things about DBM is that it feels like a large battle, and can very easily be related to the sort of battles you read about in history books.

From your, and others', descriptions of games at Usk I got the sense that AoW gives a more skirmishy feel.

I worry in particular about people concentrating archery. This was sometimes possible, both in reality and in DBM, eg when archers got around a flank. But it woudl be worrying if AoW allowed BG's to shoot at other than what is most directly to their front?

Some years ago there was a fascinating article in the UK magazine, Slingshot which compared what archers could achieve in reality with what they could do under a variety of wargame rules. If memory serves, only DB rules gave plausible ranges and angles of fire. Some of the other sets allowed archers not just to ignore what was to their front but to shoot across the front of a neighbouring unit into a target in front of a third unit - at a range over a mile once you allowed for the scale of the battlefield. I hope AoW manages avoids this sort of thing.

Generally, tho, it looks very encouraging.

With thanks,

Alan

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Post by rbodleyscott » Sat Feb 10, 2007 4:12 pm

acl wrote:I worry in particular about people concentrating archery. This was sometimes possible, both in reality and in DBM, eg when archers got around a flank. But it woudl be worrying if AoW allowed BG's to shoot at other than what is most directly to their front?
It doesn't. Hammy is just good at surrounding enemy cavalry with his infantry. :lol:
Some years ago there was a fascinating article in the UK magazine, Slingshot which compared what archers could achieve in reality with what they could do under a variety of wargame rules. If memory serves, only DB rules gave plausible ranges and angles of fire. Some of the other sets allowed archers not just to ignore what was to their front but to shoot across the front of a neighbouring unit into a target in front of a third unit - at a range over a mile once you allowed for the scale of the battlefield. I hope AoW manages avoids this sort of thing.
We have based all our ranges on the Karl Heinz Ranitzsch Slingshot article you refer to.
Last edited by rbodleyscott on Sat Feb 10, 2007 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by plewis66 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 4:20 pm

acl wrote:I hope AoW manages avoids this sort of thing.
IMHO, yes, it does. I'm not familiar enough with DBM to compare the range and targetting mechanisms, but, in general at least, archers must target their nearest enemy to the front, and have a reasonable range (i.e. not too large).

It's certainly not like Warhammer, where some archery weapons can fire straight into the opponents deployment zone without having to even shuffle forwards, and have a shooting arc of 45 degrees. This means that, for example, two units of crossbow weilding dwarves, placed at thids along your deployment line can cover almost the entire enemy deployment area. Now that's a skirmish game!

For me coming from warhammer, and being absolutely honest, my feeling is that AoW battled give the impresion of being way bigger than WHFB battles, but not quite as big as DBM battles.

Although, I have to say, when it comes to scale, my biggest gripe with historical wargaming has always been scenery scale.

<RANT MODE='ON'>
AoW doesn't state an explicit ground scale, which is a pretty neat sidestep. But other rules I've read do. Let's take DBx.

DBx states that 1 inch is fifty paces; a pace is 2.5 feet, so an inch is 125 feet, and 1mm is 5 feet (well, 4' 11").

This means that when using 15mm figures, the figures are standing 375 feet tall in refrence to the tabletop scale.

This is fine, as the figures are just tokens, and each represents at least scores of actual people.

But, it means that scenery pieces like walls, roads and especially buildings are generally MASSIVELY overscale. A road that is 1 base width is a road that is 600 feet wide. I know the romans built good roads, but did they really have 50 lane superhighways?

Manufacturers that build '15mm scale scenery' are building churches that are nearly half a mile high, and two miles in length.

THAT's the problem I have with scale. I want 15mm scenery that has churches 4mm tall, walls 1mm tall and roads 5mm wide. Then you'd get the impression of the scale of the battle.

</RANT MODE='OFF>

Ahem. Sorry.

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Post by acl » Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:51 pm

rbodleyscott wrote:
acl wrote:I worry in particular about people concentrating archery. This was sometimes possible, both in reality and in DBM, eg when archers got around a flank. But it woudl be worrying if AoW allowed BG's to shoot at other than what is most directly to their front?
It doesn't. Hammy is just good at surrounding enemy cavalry with his infantry. :lol:
Some years ago there was a fascinating article in the UK magazine, Slingshot which compared what archers could achieve in reality with what they could do under a variety of wargame rules. If memory serves, only DB rules gave plausible ranges and angles of fire. Some of the other sets allowed archers not just to ignore what was to their front but to shoot across the front of a neighbouring unit into a target in front of a third unit - at a range over a mile once you allowed for the scale of the battlefield. I hope AoW manages avoids this sort of thing.
We have based all our ranges on the Karl Heinz Ranitzch Slingshot article you refer to.

Highly reassuring.

Thanks,

Alan

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Post by acl » Sat Feb 10, 2007 7:16 pm

It was this Warhammer-style shooting that I was worried about. From Richard's message it looks like AoW is sound on this.

You make an interesting point about the terrain. In theory in DBM games what matters is not the model buildings and trees themselves, but the scrap of cloth they sit on, which is meant to represent in scale the extent of the town or forest.

But, as you say, the wildly over-scale models used can give a false impression. Even once you take a built-up area as representing not just the town itself but the home fields, allotments etc on its fringes, what appears from the couple of cottages placed down to be a hamlet, might occupy the space of a substantial town.

Some players at my do use much smaller-scale buildings. Which do look odd at first, but in a way present a better image of the battlefield.

Alan

It
plewis66 wrote:
acl wrote:I hope AoW manages avoids this sort of thing.
IMHO, yes, it does. I'm not familiar enough with DBM to compare the range and targetting mechanisms, but, in general at least, archers must target their nearest enemy to the front, and have a reasonable range (i.e. not too large).

It's certainly not like Warhammer, where some archery weapons can fire straight into the opponents deployment zone without having to even shuffle forwards, and have a shooting arc of 45 degrees. This means that, for example, two units of crossbow weilding dwarves, placed at thids along your deployment line can cover almost the entire enemy deployment area. Now that's a skirmish game!

For me coming from warhammer, and being absolutely honest, my feeling is that AoW battled give the impresion of being way bigger than WHFB battles, but not quite as big as DBM battles.

Although, I have to say, when it comes to scale, my biggest gripe with historical wargaming has always been scenery scale.

<RANT MODE='ON'>
AoW doesn't state an explicit ground scale, which is a pretty neat sidestep. But other rules I've read do. Let's take DBx.

DBx states that 1 inch is fifty paces; a pace is 2.5 feet, so an inch is 125 feet, and 1mm is 5 feet (well, 4' 11").

This means that when using 15mm figures, the figures are standing 375 feet tall in refrence to the tabletop scale.

This is fine, as the figures are just tokens, and each represents at least scores of actual people.

But, it means that scenery pieces like walls, roads and especially buildings are generally MASSIVELY overscale. A road that is 1 base width is a road that is 600 feet wide. I know the romans built good roads, but did they really have 50 lane superhighways?

Manufacturers that build '15mm scale scenery' are building churches that are nearly half a mile high, and two miles in length.

THAT's the problem I have with scale. I want 15mm scenery that has churches 4mm tall, walls 1mm tall and roads 5mm wide. Then you'd get the impression of the scale of the battle.

</RANT MODE='OFF>

Ahem. Sorry.

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