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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Dux Bellorum Romano-British for Salute

Ok, so at long last, I can post something related to 'the other Dux B', or Osprey's 'Dux Bellorum'. Yes, I have agreed to join the supremos of Arthurian Wargaming (James Morris & Steve Jones, of course), plus a number of the other 'usual suspects, in demoing Dan Mersey's Dux Bellorum at Salute this year.

And, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing about the hows, whys and wherefores, here are the new bases for the job!! For those of you who don't know, Dux Bellorum is an element-based game that relies heavily on the base size as a key measure for deployment and movement. We have agreed that we will use 120mm wide bases as they 'look about right' for 28mm (according to sir Steve of Jones on his blog and I have to agree that he is bang on the money there!)  However, as 120mm is a pain in the arse for movement purposes, we are using the good old traditional 4" as our equivalent of 'base-width' when moving troops.

You may recall me buying a load of sabot bases from Warbases ages ago for this purpose and that is largely what I have here. The only difference is that I decided once I'd got them that 4 models on a 120mm wide base looked absolutely crap for noble and companion cavalry. Accordingly, I fashioned '5 men per base' sabots for said cavalry using GW movement trays with balsa inserts, gaps filled with Green Stuff. These look great and are only a tiny bit over 120mm...not enough to worry about!

Here are the empty sabot bases I'll be using...

Home-made Companion/Noble Rider cavalry element base

WarbasesShieldwall infantry base - Close order foot

Warbases Bow base- I opted for a looser formation for this base to simulate medium infantry in slightly more open order

Originally planned as a Rider base, I opted to use this Warbases cavalry base for the skirmishing cavalry

Light troops - Romano-British Bow and Skirmishing Cavalry

Shieldwall Infantry

The 'main event' - Arthur's Companions (front) and Noble Riders behind

With regard to the army, I have been asked to supply 'Arthur's army' for a straightforward 32pts per side (standard army size) 'Arfur vs the Saxons' game while the others do some kind of mega game. This suits me down to the ground, so I have designed the following army. Clearly it is not one iota historical, but it is, nonetheless, what most people will expect to see from any game involving Arthur!!!

We have:
1 x unit of mounted Companions (kick-ass heavily armoured cavalry) led by the Man Himself (5pts)
2 x units of Noble Riders (armoured noble cavalry) @ 5pts each (10pts)
3 x units of ordinary Shieldwall infantry @ 3pts each (9pts)
1 x unit of Romano-British Bow (3pts)
1 x unit of Skirmishing Light cavalry with javelins (2pts)

This comes to 29pts, allowing me to add the strategem 'Imposing Horsemen' to make my Companions and Noble Riders even harder in combat for the additional 3pts.

When choosing models for the units, I opted to include my classic Romano-British 'Mounted Arthur' model to denote the unit of Companions (even though it's not 'necessary' - it just can't be Arthur's army without him!) and the Noble units are denoted by banners. This makes it easier to remember in the heat of battle which units are which should I ever opt to mix noble and non-noble units of the same type within an army.

So, there you have it...the 'Dux Bellorum' Army of Arthur as you might see it in Rosemary Sutcliff's books: Shedloads of rock-hard cavalry backed up by spearmen and a few light troops...Classic Arthur!!

All I have to do is learn to play the game and learn how to use the army now... all in about 2 months...less, actually as my first game is on 4th March!!! Yikes!!! I hope Dan is on hand on the day for the first run-through!!!!!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

More Middle Earth Stuff...HILL TROLL!!!!

This is a such a bloody great model!! Despite GW's issues, they do make some lovely stuff and this troll just OOZES character! It'll be a centrepiece of my Fantasy Dux  Evil army. I even painted it just like the GW scheme, simply cos I love the combo of browns....

The painting table currently contains a Saxon standard bearer and a bunch of GW LOTR Orcs... Progress hopefully on all these by next weekend, all being well, although I do have to get my Dux Bellorum bases done, as Salute ain't far away and I haven't even played a game yet!!!!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Annals of Linnius Chapter 6: Disaster On The Road

It is now mid Summer in the 473rd year after the birth of our Lord and Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ. I, Publicus Librarius, scribe to his Royal Majesty King Mascuidius of Linnius do chronicle the days of kingdom and the coming of the dread Saex.

"Disaster! Calamity! The day of reckoning is at hand! The Praefectus's army is slaughtered...His majesty the king is beside himself with anger and despair! Doom beckons for our fair kingdom!

The Praefectus Andrucius is a man of honesty and integrity. He doth not spin webs of lies and falsehood where truth is required. While the official records published by our king may tell tales of minor defeat and setback, the Praefectus' words to me, and hence the words recorded here in the annals of our time, doth speak of disaster - 'the Great Defeat' he calls it. For, much as we beat the Saex in months past in the Great Victory, now they have repaid us in kind.

The Saex did catch the Praefectus' men unawares on the road to a small fortification not far from Stalling-by-Humbre, scene of a previous encounter. The Praefectus' force was escorting a waggon train filled with munitions of war when it was assailed by the Saex in mighty fashion. Strung out along the road, caught unawares and outnumbered, the Praefectus attempted to organise a defence, but it was swept away by the swiftness and ferocity of the Saex assault. The Praefectus himself sustained a wound while leading a desperate and valiant counter-attack that left the Saex Lord's Hearthguard decimated. However, this was the only success on that sorry day. The milites were slaughtered while attempting to form a coherent defence and the waggons were lost, abandoned by the Praefectus as he valiantly attempted to extricate the remaining men of his army from what was fast becoming a massacre. 

His majesty King Mascuidius doth speak openly in question of the Praefectus' courage, but the surviving men of his army treat this with the contempt it truly deserves. No commander should fight on when all is lost, only risking further destruction and death.

Worse was to come in the retreat, however, as many of the levy, hastening from the fort to rescue the main force, were cut down by Saex patrols as they fled. Even worse, some local populace, seeing in the rout an opportunity for loot, slew the wounded as they struggled away from the carnage. It is only by the grace of God that the Saex Lord allowed our men to leave the field without full pursuit.

Now, we await the day of reckoning. The Saex have raided unopposed this past month while we rebuild our forces. We expect the summons to full-scale battle any day. The omens are not good. It is clear that the Saex are in the ascendancy, for they have now bested our forces in 4 out the 6 main encounters.

We pray to God that, come the day of full battle, our men may be granted victory and the province saved..."

Blimey...this was a tough one!!! This scenario is very tough for the British. Your force is divided, the waggons come on dead centre of the short table edge with no idea where the Saxons will enter. The fact that formations can't be deployed in column means that ensuring a good defence is difficult and you have a LONG way to go to reach safety!!

This was compounded in my case by the Saxons arriving in the best place for them and the worst for me - the only part of the table where they could attack unencumbered by terrain.

I made a huge error in deployment. Mike and I talked for ages about this afterwards and, at the time, couldn't see how I could have played it differently, but I can now see. 

I deployed my 2 formations at the head of the train, advancing down the table. 
British deployment...Andy's first error...
My destination...a bloody long way away!!!

When the Saxons came on, in effect to the rear/flank of my nearest formation (warriors and levy nearest camera above) it meant that I had to do a load of juggling to effect a battle line. It also meant that the troops were perilously close to the Saxons arriving - luckily only one group arrived in the vanguard. I should have deployed the groups separately, each in column alongside the waggons. I could then have been further away from the Saxon attack wherever they came on to the table and could have formed up in the first turn.

However, I didn't, so was stuck with the deployment above. So, what did I do? Turn the nearest formation to face and try to bring the Lord and his elite/warrior formation across the front of the train to form a defence. 

My rather pointless and very flimsy shieldwall...
Here comes trouble...

What a bloody idiotic thing to do! It slowed the waggon train down, thereby rendering it more open to attack. Not only that, but I would never really have had a cat in hell's chance of getting the troops over in time, as the rest of the Saxons would arrive on turn 2. Which they did...

What happened was that the Saxon vanguard ignored my shieldwall and charged through the gap beside them to capture the nearest waggon, then turned and in turn two, activating ahead of the shieldwall, charged it in the flank, DECIMATING it. 

(Adopts best guttural Saxon accent) "Oooohhh we got us a waggon, boss"... 
"RUN AWAY!!!!!!!!!"

(Adopts best Saxon accent again) "WAHAAAAYYYY!!! A British shieldwall showing us its flank, lads...CHARGE"

Ok, so we played that wrong as it turned out (see LENGTHY discussion on the Lardie Yahoo group!) but the result was nearly the same. It meant that the enemy vanguard were in range of my elites, who launched a catastrophic 'strong arm' volley (4 shock caused on the Saxon elites) before wading in and kicking serious arse in the combat. Of course, I lost a man and of course I rolled a 1 and of course I forgot to replace the dead warrior once I'd transferred the casualty to my Lord...DOH!

A moment of small comfort...Saxon Hearthguard, amphorae lost, running like b*ggery!!
Wagons excaping (Hurrah!) What you can't see, out of shot to the left, is my entire army about to twatticated (and yes, that is a least, it is now!!!) by a HUGE formation of hairy-bottomed Germanic types...sigh...
I then found myself facing off a huge mass formation of 3 groups (2 Saxon warriors and 1 elite) who trashed my remaining warriors and tried to trash my Elites - thank goodness for an 'evade' card!! At this point, although the waggon train was getting away, I was being picked off piecemeal, my elites were heavily shocked with only a status 2 lord leading them and I was already down 14 men, so liable to lose by 3pts (I'd killed 6 Saxons). So I quit... Mike let me go, but by withdrawing on  neutral or enemy table edges, I lost 4 more men!!!! So  a 4pt defeat!! Bloody hell!!

Time to call it a day, lads!!!!

I clearly should not have fought. I should have withdrawn my units facing the enemy, keeping the waggons going full speed. I should have given myself time to do what I do best - fight in bloody great shieldwalls from the front, or not fight at all. BY electing to fight, I allowed Mike to play his game perfectly (which he did, it must be noted...) and destroy me piecemeal. It wasn't pretty!!!! I was forced to dance to Mike';s tune throughout...and I am a shite dancer!! :-) If I had withdrawn, much of his force would have either had to circumnavigate a HUGE wood or be slowed down going through it...I may have been able to do it...just maybe!!

So, Mike is now 4 - 2 up in wins, with each of us having one big win apiece. I have no cash left and he will have enough to challenge for battle on Monday. I'll be down on morale after a defeat...he'll be able to hire mercenaries as well as field 2 extra warriors, so I'll be outgunned as well. I fear the Northern province may well be lost!!! I will have to seriously think about my tactics come the big battle...