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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...


Dalauppror said...

Greate AAR Andy !

Love the Cronicle and you game comments are very interesting !

Looking forward to the AAR of the big battle:)

Best regards Michael

Mike Whitaker said...

Mmm. Think you're right.

Once you a) deployed and b) decided to fight, most of what you did was essentially reactive.

The fact that I didn't spot it at the time suggests that I wouldn't have done any better, mind! :D

Lt.Hazel said...

Andy, I love your reports! Can you please tell me were the waggons are from?

GuitarheroAndy said...

Thanks Jan! Glad you are enjoying the story of our campaign. The waggons: One (the small one) is from Perry AWI range. I think the other two are by Dixon from their ACW range... The horses on the larger waggons are GB Weslh/Pict ponies and Foundry Arthurian cavalry horses...

Phil said...

Great looking pictures and minis, I do like your waggons!