Well, despite the almighty deluge that descended on Evesham at the weekend, and police warnings that no-one should attempt to visit said town, myself, Carl and Grahame made the bold decision to ignore all of that, brave the steadily advancing flood waters and head off to Hot Lead.
'Twas a decision both boldly executed and extremely well made, as:
a) the flood water was nowhere near the venue
b) although it was VERY close to the A46, it never actually blocked it (despite a supposed tidal surge at 2pm Sunday afternoon...squelch!)
c) it was a bloody STONKIN' day!!!!
Yes, following on from the excellence that was the 'Struggle for the North' day in Newark, this Hot Lead bash was magnificence personified. A hearty "HUZZAH!!!" to the chaps at 'The Beast' for organising the day and a further several "HUZZAHs" to my opponents, Ed, Karl, Guy and Bob (especially Bob...) for four of the best games of WAB I've ever had!!!!
The event also gave me the opportunity to meet the mighty Bill from Musketeer minis (Hi Bill...great meeting you at last!) as well as seeing once again a few faces from the Newark bash and other events I've been to in the past (Hi Warren, Jim, Andy, Steve, James, etc...) The other undoubted highlight of the day was being able to hob-nob with The Beast's Royal Family, Lord S even being so kind as to allow me a sneak preview of some of Soapy's new Saxons. Now, listen up folks, cos this is massive....we all know that the Soapster can sculpt a bloody good mini, but he's really gone and excelled himself this time....Rumour has it that he's been chatting to Guy 'I know everything there is possibly to know about the early Dark Ages...EVER' Halsall and as a result, he has produced THE most historically accurate, not to mention vibrantly posed little barbarian buggers EVER!!!! What with Musketeer Bill's models and these upcoming Beastie ones, Saxon players are going to be in little toy soldier heaven. Even I , notorious Saxon-hater that I am, will be hard pushed to resist buying several packs of these little beauties when they eventually see the light of day...Superb. Mr Soaps, we salute you, sir!!!
Anyway, enough of this...what you all want to know is, 'did Andy get his ass kicked again?' And the answer is a resounding 'NO HE DID NOT!' Out of my 4 games, I lost the first to Mr Ed 'quiet man' Mc Donald...we played the river crossing scenario. He had a Vortigern Romano British Civitates army and I decided that, despite being the 'defender', I was going to attack!! Not the smartest decision I ever made, as the river had clearly been swollen by the overnight rain over Evesham (It was several inches wider than any wargame river I normally use!) and my attack stalled!!!! Despite this, it was a great fun game. You can't have anything else when playing Ed...a gentleman and jolly nice chap all round...even reminded me that I could FBIGO when I forgot to do so.... Anyway, I lost by around 600pts, so a 'close run defeat' in Age of Arthur terms, but as Martin 'The Organiser' was running some bizarre (but very clever) scoring system, none of us had a clue what such a result actually meant!!!
Onto game 2! The 'Ambush (Roman Rd)' scenario. This is one I've talked about before on this 'ere blog and luckily, I drew the long straw and was the attacker. This is the game where you have to start in march column and get everyone off-table.. My opponent was a chap called Karl, quite new to WAB and using an Armies of Antiquity 'Cataphract' army. So, opposing me were two COLOSSAL units of horse archers (BS4, Parthian shot, fire & flee...groan) and the biggest unit of cataphracts (16 of the buggers!) that I've ever seen!!! Still, thanks to a dodgy 'fire and flee decision' ( the 15 man unit of horse archers fired and then fled off the table!!) that army was reduced to just 2 units in turn 2 and I strolled off table with everyone except the mounted combrogi who died under a hail of arrows. Result: a 1500pt victory to me...massive victory, but, again, with the 'secret scoring system', who knows what that signified??!!
Game 3: 'Surprise Return'. This is the 'loot the village' scenario and I was attacking with 1000pts. Now, I've changed my army considerably since first trying this and decided to go cavalry heavy, so a Teulu and 2 mtd combrogi units, 2 lots of skirmishy foot and 1 heavy infantry unit. I was playing this against Guy Bowers and his Fatimid Arab army. What saved me in this battle was that Guy didn't bring his army on until turn 4, so I got 4 turns of looting in virtually unopposed (ok, the bloody peasant defenders held out for a turn...) Having gained over 600pts by looting alone, my strategy when the Fatimid hordes approached was simple. Don't fight and don't die!! To that end, I used one mtd combrogi unit to tie up 2 units of Arab horse and 1 unit of Arab foot while the rest of my army danced away.. To be fair, Guy did destroy my skirmishers (with bloody nafatun...ugh...'orrible little blighters, them!!) but the overall result was an almost 600pt victory for me..a minor victory, but a win's a win!!!
So far, it was all going too well...a close-run defeat, a major win and a minor win...surely it would all go pear shaped in game 4??? Not so, my pretties...not so!!!!!
Game 4: Against a chap called Bob. Now, Bob is new to WAB and was playing with a rather nice little army of El Cid Spanish. This was the 'Hereditary Enemies' scenario where 2 random units hate the enemy. I ended up with 2 units of foot combrogi hating him and his king's knights (oh dear!!) and a unit of guard infantry (oh dear again!) hating me.
Now, I have to say this at this point. I've been playing WAB since it started, but this was without any doubt at all the most fun game I've ever had when wargaming! The battle was opened by Bob's jinetes charging my mtd combrogi, who fled and then failed a rally test, exposing my flank. Luckily, the Teulu stepped in and sent the Jinetes packing, chasing them down and slaughtering them when they opted to fire and flee. Luckily, my mtd combrogi rallied and returned to the fray to tie up his guard infantry rather nicely for the rest of the game. In the centre, Bob advanced into a veritable hail of sling stones that finally knocked over three of the king's knights, meaning that once the massed cavalry assault hit my combrogi, the king's unit was short on numbers and I could FBIGO from the ferocious charge. In the next rounds of combat, the Spanish king found himself in a tit-for-tat hatred contest that lasted the rest of the game, the rest of the caballeros villanos on either flank wilting under the hail of combrogi attacks and defeated by the rank bonuses. The game was decided when my Rex and his Teulu, having broken into skirmish formation, slammed into the King's Caballeros Hidalgos' rear and the Rex challenged the Spanish king to single combat. It was a tense moment...the Rex slammed home two wounding attacks, to be wounded once in reply...the very air crackling with the whirl of their sword blades...(err...sorry..got carried away there for a mo!!) Anyway, in the next turn (the Hidalgos survived the devastating Teulu attack due to 'hatred'...well actually that's a fib..the battle standard bearer was the only one still alive supporting his king at that point) the Rex slammed home with three 6s on his 'to hit' dice and caused two wounds...the Rey's armour deflected the first, but he died under the second. The surviving Spaniards (with the exception of the guard infantry) all failed their panic test, the army standard bearer was slaughtered by the British Teulu and it was all over. What a game! Bob and I had a blast throughout, as there were several cases of either dodgy or magnificent dice rolling for both of us, several combats swung hither and thither... In the end I won by a massive 1300pts, but that wasn't a true reflection on how close it had come. Without 'hatred' I'd have been stuffed, as the Spanish would have overwhelmed my centre... Bob, I hope you get to read this mate. I'd happily play WAB with you anytime...buy yourself an army from Age of Arthur...you know you want to!!!!
So, that was the gaming over. Three wins (two real big ones too!) out of four games and all great fun to play. After the charity dice-off, I was delighted to win a large ornamental boar as the prize for 'best painted army' (James Morris also won this category...esteemed company I'm in there...James' vignettes and overall army painting skills are second-to-none!) and overall, I came in around half-way up the table..a real result, as I was expecting to be around the bottom at the start of the day, so expectations exceeded there!!! I also came in better than both Grahame and Carl, so that was nice!!!!
Having said that, such a day is NOT about winning...it's about having great day. I certainly had that and would have enjoyed it even had I lost every game!
So a HUGE "thank you" to Martin and the Beastie Boys for organising the day and to everyone else who braved the possible rising flood waters to attend. I'll DEFINITELY be booking back for 'Cold Steel 08' if they run it next year!!!
On another and entirely different note, this will be my last blog post for a wee while, as I'm off to get married on Friday, so I'll see you all when I get back! Watch out in coming months for pics of Caesarian Romans that I'm painting to use with the Crusader rules, as well as some of Bill's luvverly Saxons and my foot Teulu for WAB...
See you all anon......