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Tuesday 18 August 2009

Age of El Cid Event - plus, 'Why I suck at WAB!!!!'

Well, what a cracking day!! Mr Morris & Co certainly know how to put on a gaming day!!! Thanks to all the Newark Irregulars for their input into the day...brilliant stuff!!!!!

So, how did I do? Well, won one, lost two: had a stinking cold and cough so felt like sh*t anyway, but fortunately, had such fun that the malady was easily forgotten once the gaming began, although by game 3 I was beginning to falter a bit!!!!

In the end, I won a prize for 'best painted characters' (GB models) and for being in the winning faction (lovely Almoravid Priest-dude on a wooden display stand.) So that was nice!!

I had 3 great opponents and played all 3 scenarios.

In my first game, I played Chris Payne (I think that was his surname) with his Andalusians playing 'Cattle raid' from Age of Arthur.

He had a well-chosen army and got off to a flying start by destroying the attacking potential of my caballeros in turn 1. He killed half the unit with his mercenary X-bowmen, reducing my potential for overlapping and flanking and for destroying his light troops.

My infantry gained hatred for this scenario, which was great, as I simply advanced them up to take on the Andalusian spearmen while manoeuvering for the killer charge with the caballeros hidalgos. Where Chris lost the game was in moving his own mercenary knights along the road - he should have stayed in position flanking his foot and threatening my charge. As it was, I charged his archers, pursued into his knights, won the successive combat and forgot I had ferocious charge!!!! Tw*t!!!! Anyway, justice won out 2 turns later and I broke his knights, pursued and killed them. In the ensuing panic, virtually his entire army melted away, leaving me able to capture 2 out of 3 baggage bases and win a mighty victory. Had it not been for hatred on my peones, it would have been different, as they held on most of the game, even when flanked by 24 more spearmen... Lesson there: Learn your special rules!!!

Game 2: Lee McColl and Christian Spanish. This was where it all went wrong. he had a superior, but smaller force - 2 units of caballeros hidalgos, 2 of caballeros, 1 unit of X bow and some slingers gained in the bonus card round. I gained Sudanese spearmen in the bonus card round.

I basically attempted a mass outflank on his right and he was right to be worried, as it seemed to be working. However, he cunningly countered my audacious move with caballeros on his left flank by charging them with foot archers. I slaughtered those, but, in the pursuit, hit his general's unit in the flank. I lost the combat and the caballeros fled, leaving me in trouble! What followed was typical me: he destroyed both units of foot with his knights (despite arming them with throwing spears) - the Sudanese FBIGO'd but panicked when the peones were destroyed and the pursuit of the peones hit the running sudanese by HALF an inch!!!!! My general failed his panic test by throwing double 6 so my best unit ran - it rallied, but failed another panic in the very last turn again on double 6- can't recall why... but they panicked anyway and handed about 600VPs to Lee to give him a 1450 to 91 pt mighty victory!!! He was embarassed and I was gutted! However, I know where I went wrong! I should not have pursued those archers, but got behind his knights... Different story then, I feel!!

Game 3: Against Chris Stone and his Almoravids. Now, his was an example of a brilliantly chosen army list!! It was designed to play well and to win without being beardy. He fielded 2 stubborn units of mixed spear and bow, each with 2 drummers and a Sheik (massive close-combat monster - 3 attacks each!!) One unit had a priest so gained hatred. He fielded his ASB and a Christian captain in a unit of mercenary knights, then fielded 9 Ghuzz horse archers (basically nomad cav -BS4, parthian shite...err...shot, etc) and 3 units of foot skirmishers. No general - as he said, why throw points away? He didn't need one!!!!!! Stubborn, hatred, ld 8 on the knights anyway....

We played apilledo and I defended (with nearly all cavalry!!!). It was a predictable mess. The Ghuzz shot me to bits. I did eventually kill them in combat, but my caballeros and jinetes were all but gone, so were easily panicked by javelin fire. My caballeros hidalgos charged his and killed 1 model!!!! He killed 4 back - I threw 4 save throws on 3+ and got 4 ones-like most of my dice on the day - couldn't hit, couldn't wound, couldn't save and couldn't pass LD tests!!!!! Luckily, they were not caught in pursuit and managed to inflict a slaughter in turn a couple of turns later - Chris suffered similar saving-throw hell and I ran the unit down. But it was all academic. I held onto one booty base, but almoravid spear with a sheik will eat peones for breakfast, so the other two got captured. Close-run victory to Chris, but another 50 VPs and he'd have won a mighty victory.

So, why was it all so bad? Well, more than my usual BIG share of ill luck - 2 failed panic tests on LD9 with throws of 12 against Lee ... Unbelievably bad save throws against both Lee and Chris S with my caballeros hidalgos, but more than anything, bad army choice. I only had 1 decent combat unit. I should have fielded 2 units of caballeros hidalgos and not taken the 3rd character. The foot were useless in 2 out of 3 games. The archers and slingers killed nowt in any of my games really and it was only 'hatred' that made the peones useful in game 1.

However, despite taking a tw*tting, I enjoyed the day immensely as it was such great relaxed gaming fun. I maintained my current average of about 30% victories in WAB. I am beginning to realise that the only wins I get these days is against those with less experience of the game - and even then I often lose. Against good players, I usually get utterly mauled because I never maintain a decent battle-line, I don't manage to support my units properly, I'm reactive rather than proactive and I don't think ahead enough. I also play with armies I like rather than with armies I might use effectively (assuming one of those actually exists!!) Also, I hadn't played with this army for about 5 years and then I only used it about twice in its unpainted state, so I didn't really know what I was doing!! Still, events like this need players like me...every event needs its 'cannon fodder' players.

I certainly won't stop gaming with WAB. I'd be just as crap with any ruleset. However, I will think more about my army lists in future!!! I got it about right at Hot Lead with a really good AoA Welsh army that was mis-matched against Shieldwall opponents in 2 games - against other AoA armies, I am convinced it would work well (assuming I used it well, of course!!) so at least I am beginning to think better about it!!

And here is a call to those folk who are good at organising gaming days...we want more El Cid!!!! It's a great period, especially if you don't allow the later lists with lances and sh*t... Now, who else around here can I persuade to buy a load of Almoravid or Andalusian models so that I'm not always forced to fight Carl's Christian knights when playing this period???

Saturday 15 August 2009

El Cid Army Update

Tomorrow, I go to Newark for a 'Morris and Jones' event set in the Age of El Cid. Consequently, I have been painting like a maniac to finish 1600pts of Spanish!!

Here are some pics of the Andalusian allied cavalry and some foot archers...

The Peones are currently on the varnishing table, with gloss varnish drying and awaiting Dullcote... If I have time I'll add them later. If not, it'll be next week!

Bretwalda: The finale

Well, Bretwalda is now over... Round 7 was the usual disaster I've experienced through most of the campaign. I played 'Mt Agned' against Pete's Romano-British and managed to lose a mighty defeat, largely through severe ill-luck, as Pete had several rounds of unfathomably good shooting that destroyed my skirmishers and reduced my Teulu to an ineffective mob...

So the campaign was effectively over. Phil and his Picts won it (no surprise there - he very rarely loses a wargame of any sort, especially WAB) The following week was the prize-giving accompanised by a final fun game. Here is the text I sent to the players before this final game:

Camlann - The Aftermath

“The battle of Camlann is over…Arthur and Medraut are slain, their warbands shattered, the survivors scattered.

Now, in the aftermath a few battle-shocked heroes and the pitiful remnants of their warbands scour the land, for, with such slaughter comes the chance for loot. Many famed artefacts are rumoured to lie in the countryside around the battle site. The right hero, with the right artefacts might even gain all that the great Arthur lost…”

This, then, is the scenario for Monday evening’s battle. Each player must provide a warband that meets the following criteria:

1 fully equipped major hero (Tribune, Tiern, Atheling, Mormaer, Curadh)
1 fully equipped minor hero (Decurio, Uchelwyr, Thegn, Champion, Toiseach)
Up to 72pts of comitatus warriors, (commanipulares, Teulu, Gedriht, Nobles, Fianna) equipped as you would normally field them please (so basically, that’s about 4 warriors…)
Up to 70pts of ordinary warriors (milites [NOT sagitarri], combrogi, Geoguth/Duguth, Pictish warriors, Ceithern) equipped as you normally field them, please. Romano-British players may swap up to 2 milites for sagitarri. Pictish players may swap up to 3 warriors for hunters. Irish players may swap one Fianna for a packmaster and may then swap up to 2 Ceithern for hounds. This gives an average of 9-10 ‘ordinary’ models for each player.
ALL warriors fight on foot.
Characters are newly-created for this game, so have no special attributes or items – this keeps the playing field totally level for all players in the campaign.

The game will use the basic movement, shooting and hand-to-hand combat mechanisms of WAB. However, ALL models move, shoot and fight as individual skirmish models. There are no ‘units’ as such.

When models lose their last wound to either shooting or hand-to-hand combat (most only have 1 wound , but heroes will have 2 each…) they are not necessarily dead, but a d6 is rolled and the following table consulted:

The force of the blow knocks the warrior to his knees. Place the model face up to show that it is knocked down. Knocked down models may crawl 2” in their movement phase if able to actually move at all (i.e. not in combat). Knocked down models in combat may not strike back, so stand a VERY good chance of being killed in the subsequent round, unless the opponent is fighting other models at the same time!! They may stand up at the start of their next turn, but may only move at ½ speed and may not charge or run (assuming they can move at all). They may fight and shoot as normal. From the next turn, they may do everything as normal, assuming they haven’t been hurt again, of course!.
The force of the blow knocks the warrior to the ground. He is barely conscious and can do nothing…nothing at all! Place him face down to show that he is stunned. If the model is still alive at the start of its next turn, the player may turn him face up to show that he is now ‘knocked down’ with all the problems that go with that! If he survives, that model can recover as explained above in subsequent turns.
If a model is a hero or a comitatus model, he is assumed to wear a helmet and therefore has a 4+ save against being stunned. If he makes the save, he is assumed to be merely ‘knocked down’ (see above)
5-6: DEAD!
The force of the blow hits a vital spot and the warrior is slain! Remove him from the game!

This potentially keeps models alive a wee bit longer and reflects the very ‘individual skirmish’ nature of the game!

The object of the game will be to collect ‘loot’ counters which will be placed on the board by the umpire prior to the game commencing. Each ‘loot’ counter will be numbered and the umpire will declare what it is and how much it is worth as a player claims it.

To claim a counter, a player only has to move a model into contact with it in its movement phase. (Any model that happens to be fleeing may not claim a counter!!!) The number is then revealed, with the umpire informing the player what he has gained. Of course, some counters actually are not ‘loot’ at all, but something a weeny bit more interesting/sinister!!! All will be revealed as the game progresses!!

If a model is slain (i.e. is actually ‘dead’), it drops any ‘loot’ counters it is carrying. Any enemy model in base-to-base contact may immediately pick it up in their next turn assuming that they have not been charged by another model in the interim. In that event, the counter is simply placed back on the table.

Any model may, for sake of ease of game-play only carry one loot counter. Loot counters do not impede the model from moving, shooting or fighting!

Andy will umpire – depending on the number of players, we may run 2 games concurrently, as too many players on one table in this sort of game doesn’t work!!!

Game Turn:

1. Initiative dice: Play will proceed in order of dice scores, high to low.
2. Compulsory movement phase (for all non-player stuff).
3. Each player now goes through the following in the order of the initiative dice:
a. Recovery phase of ‘knocked down’ and ‘stunned’ models (i.e. turn them over/stand ‘em up...)
b. Usual WAB movement phase
c. Usual WAB shooting phase
d. Usual WAB HtH phase


- There will be NO warband tests!! All models move and fight as the players wish!
- It is a fight to the death! There will be no leadership tests for losing models! Play continues until the umpire deems it a good time to stop, as he has no idea how long it will take to play each turn!!! Players may concede at any point if things are going awry for them!!Umpire’s decision on all things is final!!

There were only 6 players available for this game and I umpired. basically, we used an 8x6 table and placed thre small villages and church enclosure, various woods, a river, difficult groun, yada, yada and players diced for deployment, deploying 6" in. The table was coverd in 24 loot counters, face down. As a player moved in to contact, I revealed what he had 'found'. There were lots of cool loot, including Excalibur, the Cauldron of Herne, The Holy Grail, the Dragon-Sword of Hengest, plus treasure, etc, as well as ravening wolves, a bear, various peasants and skulking warriors. At the start of each game turn I rolled a D6. On a 4+, a random event occurred (of my choosing on the spot, actually) which included more wolves, peasants with waggons, wild boar, etc...

It was a fun game and the only changes I'd make would be to make the wolves and bears tougher, as they died too easily... As the game progressed, it sped up, as we simply allowed everyone to move in intitative order, then do their shooting and combat, otherwise it took too long to play a turn.

So...what did I learn from leading Bretwalda?
1. You can't please everybody all the time - lots of folk loved the campaign, but to others it was all wrong. I shouldn't get stressed by future, I won't get so up tight!!!
2. It's a lot of work!!! A LOT of work...
3. It WAS worth it for the vast majority of players who did enjoy it.

If anyone wants a copy of the full 'Bardic Chronicles' poetry booklet, request it in the comment section, with your email address added and I'll send it, but be warned, it is a 5 Megabyte monster as I put some photos in it. Same goes for the final game notes and loot counter list (much smaller files those!!)

Next project: Writing a 'Raiding Season' style campaign (see Age of Arthur for Raiding Season campaign) based on the heroic poem Y-Gododdin (using Rosemary Sutcliff's amazing 'The Shining Company' as inspiration...)