This page last modified: August 29, 2000
I had gone up to Wellington to visit Rhys again, so like last year (see my report on Valley Con) I borrowed one of his armies. He was using medievals this time round, so I took his Late Muslim Indians for an outing. I'd never used elephants before, so thought they would be an interesting choice. Besides, I loved his 'Rhys Mahal' - the beautiful built-up area his army comes with, and wanted to play with it, as it were...
The army was therefore designed around the premise I would be putting down a BUA plus enclosed fields, and that I would heavily defend this with 'filler'. The attack force would consist of some jumbo elephants, the elite horse graded as Cv (S), Indian swordsmen riding nags - mounted Bd (F), and some Kn (F) Rathor Rajputs (because I like 4 commands - DBM is all about PiPs, and the more PiPs you have the better).
The Rajputs were organised a small 4 element-strong command of Kn (F) including the general. This would be either a suicide command to break impetuous enemy up (in the event, I never really faced any such armies), or a reserve mobile strike force. Experience in playing Early Burgundians with a 4 strong French Kn ally showed them to be surprising mobile and effective, and while they are irregular, being so small means their unreliability isn't a crippling problem. The command was primarily used however to assist the Cv attack, and proved very useful. They wouldn't be so useful if New Zealand used the rule-book's 10 VP scoring system rather than Win/Draw/Loss.
The CinC led the three jumbos (graded (S), so very tough), the grenadiers (Ps (X), two of them) and the Abyssinian guards (Reg Bd (F), two of them again, regular is handy when moving to the right places to support the elephants). This little block is very tough, and being with the CinC, surprisingly manoeuverable, despite the elephants, due to its initial narrow width. It was designed as a blocking force, a hinge between the Rhys Mahal, and the more mobile strike commands. The town was the blocking point around which the attacks hinged - since most of my forces (in terms of numbers) weren't 'in the game', but rather stuck inside the town, my line was short, so I needed to turn the battle 90 degrees and fight down the table rather than across it.
The idea was too lead any attack with the Cv command under one of the sub-generals, safe in the knowledge that so long as I kept the Maharahjah safe, I could afford to lose every last Cv (assuming their supporting infantry were safe in the town). This meant I could be quite rash with them - 6 Cv (S) can take on a lot of stuff if you can afford to lose them all.
The other sub-general's command with the mounted Bd was specifically designed to flank march - the total design philosopy was basically to crush one enemy flank with 3 comamnd while the El and infantry-infested BUA held up the rest of the enemy army. This command also included some more Cv (S), some LH and some archers so it would be able to stand up to enemy horse.
The town was to be defended by the foot of the CinC's and Cv commands - lots of Hd, Bw (I) and Art (I). This could be stormed by decent Ax, so enclosed fields were positioned around it (meaning any attacks would have to be launched against it as single elemnts, burning up enemy PiPs), and armies that have good Ax tend to be vulnerable to El and Cv (S), so were unlikely to make it there in any case...
It all seemed to work pretty well, as I won all five games. It was a pity I never played Phil, who also won all his games, but my army would have been a bit of a handfull for his, containing as it did, lots of Wb (S), so it may have not been so interesting on reflection...
The Saturday morning saw me pitted against Kim (the Duck of Death) Duckworth. Kim was also my first round opponent in last year's Valley Con. Then he was using Ottomans; this time he had brought along Graeco-Bactrians, using the later option with Kn (X). Graeco-Bactrians have always been a bit of an odd list - their infantry block is too small to be effective in my opinion, while large enough to cause the army real grief if it gets into trouble. Many people field the all-mounted option: Kim wasn't one of them. He invaded India in clear weather, putting a wide river down my right flank. I placed the Rhys Mahal on my left flank, and diced for a large gentle hill, which went on the far side of the table, completely 'blocking' off that flank, and a small scrubby hill that fell on my baseline centre between the town and the river.
With the large river closing down the right side of the board, this was an ideal battlefield to flank march on the left with my mixed Bd/Cv command. To add a bit of spice I ambushed the Rajputs behind the large hill over the other side of the river, hoping they might get a shot at some Bg, or some dangling flanks. Alas they were unreliable all game, and didn't get to do anything - they were watched by a couple of LH just in case the did decide to commit (since Rathors are a non-indented ally, they won't desert you unless fighting a civil War). My jumbos were pretty well much to the right of the town, with the Cv between them and the river
He had a LH (S) and Kn (X) command by the river, and then three of his own elephants with some Ps to the rear; then there were 16 pike flanking his CinC in the centre, with more Ps to the rear, with various LH to his right under the second subgeneral.
I can't remember too much about the battle, and I didn't take too many notes on it, but I recall that his Kn (X) took a long time to get into action against my Cv - too long as it turned out. His pike and jumbos advanced boldly, sensing my initial weakness (one unreliable command, and one off-table), and the pike managed to skewer two of my elephants and a Bd by my having positioned them badly so they couldn't recoil properly. Things weren't looking too hot at this stage!
However, my remaining Abyssinian guardsmen managed to turn some pikemen and kill them, and his CinC only narrowly survived being trampled by my last remaining elephant element and had to beat a hasty retreat. Meanwhile my grenade throwers had managed to stampede his jumbos and also some LH that had been tempted to join the fray, and then my flank march arrived, and his LH on my left were unable to stop them streaming on towards the flanks of his remaining pikemen who soon collapsed. With the centre broken, his army was all but finished, and my remaining elephant troop regrouped for the final charge, over-running some light infantry and sending the Bacrtian Greeks streaming to the rear.
Kim hadn't played badly, but I just don't think the army composition works well - the pike are just a bit too small to be resilient, and too big to be able to lose. Kim said that he was interested to read about my report on Valley Con: he had found it doing a web-search for his name as an example to a friend on how to use the 'net, assuming his name wouldn't be anywhere. But lo and behold! His search engine turned up his name on my site. 'Oh no! I've been outed as a wargamer!', he said... I should have asked him which search engine he was using - it had done a bloody good job.
The second round saw me pitted against Antony Binns' Marian Romans - not really a very good match-up for him. He invaded along a waterway; the Indus no doubt, which was on my right flank. The Rhys Mahal was placed against it to my rear, I diced for the same two hills as before, a large gentle and small scrubby (RGo) one; both ended up hard on my right flank table edge, in the centre.
The Roman camp and associated palisades was also positioned near the waterway. Antony had gone for the Cassius and Brutus option, and the ally general went down first: it included 8 Irr Bw (I) by the WW, 5 Bd elements behind and 6 LH (F) in column to the rear. His CinC's command was essentially 14 elements of Bd deployed 1 rank deep across the table in the centre, not a strong formation against my army; there were 6 elements of Ax (S) in column beside them on my left, away from the WW.
A sub-general's command including 7 Cv (O), an El (I) and 6 Ps (S) made up his right wing; the Ps were aimed to take the hills on my left. An entirely water-borne command (thus requiring no Bg) of 3 Bd on Gal (O), plus a Bts (F) completed his army.
Thejumbos I deployed hard up against the town, with the main Cv beside them in line to the left. The Bd/Cv command deployed in line to the left of them, with the Rajputs as a reserve line in case of gaps. This was just as well, since they turned out to be unreliable again! The artillery and the poor-quality infantry were all in thr town, ready to face the Roman marines that were sure to sail down the WW.
Poor Roman PiPs saw his LH move behind his lines from the WW to reinforce his right flank while his Ps made for the hills. I dispatched a couple of LH to hold them up, and quickly advanced all along the front. Rather embarressingly, my Cv (S) got the worst of the frontal fight with his Bd (O), and his Cv had manoeuvered to the left, threatening to outflank me as my Rajputs looked on, doing nothing to help the Muslim cause.
However, eventually, I was able to trample his CinC into the dusty plain with my elephants; deprived of the ablity to swap PiP dice, his flank attack was unable to do as much damage as it should have. Meanwhile his naval force had reached the town, and was engaged by the rocketeers and archers manning the foreshore. His galleys were getting by far the better of the shooting exchange, and if I didn't have so many defenders (something like two dozen elements) I could have been in real trouble, even though he could only make me flee rather than kill me outright.
With his CinC's command routing however, his army was getting close to being broken, and he needed to crush my left to have any hope of a win. Indeed, things were actually not looking good there for me, Bd (F) aren't the greatest troops to fight Cv (or El (I)!) with, but just in the nick of time before it looked as my left flank would collapse, the Rajputs decided to launch into action, and gloriously charged into the fray, bagging the two elements required to break the Romans for another 10-0 victory (not that scores were being kept!).
The final game of the day say me up against my old nemises, the evil Pharoah Brucenkhamen (see the report on his web-site for when we met a couple of years ago). Alas for the welfare of the army, the Pharoah had been coseted over-long by the Libyan priests of late (Bruce had just returned from nearly a year in a Bhuddist monastry, and wasn't up to date on v2.1, with crippling results).
The Muslim host invaded Egypt with strong winds blowing directly across the table from my left flank. The battle field saw a largish piece of scrub placed in the center of the table, a very large patch of scrub on my right flank, and a smaller patch next to that. Seeing I was invading, so had nowhere to hide the archers, and strong winds were blowing from the left, I deemd a flank march on my left to be imperative.
The Egyptian host deployed right across the table. The 16 Wb (F) with some Ps deployed in the centre, ready to stream through the scrub to their front. To their left was a mixed command of 6 Bd, 2 Sp, 5 Cv (chariots) and 4 LH. Since my army all deployed on the other side of the table, the foot from this command never saw a whiff of action, and had to be left behind. The Pharoah's chariots, 13 squadrons, backed up by some LH and javelinmen were deployed on my left flank.
My Hindi Rathors were on my extreme left, then moving towards the right, I had the Cv (S), backed up by archers, aiming in towards the centre of the battlefield so as to hopefully not be too disdavantaged by the wind, and then the jumbos with more archers to their rear in front of the Bg. The Bd command was detailed off on a left flank-march.
I rolled the jumbos forwards to block the exit of the gap between the larger patches of scrub, and sent their Ps into the scrub to delay the Wb. Here Bruce declared an amush, but this was v2.1, not 2.0, so no ambushing allowed there, and the offending 6 Ps were placed to the rear by his Bg. This scuppered his plans in a major fashion, since it effectively meant his Wb were never going to get to the party in a solid block. Seeing this, he pressed his attack against my Kn and Cv vigorously, and moved up his LH to have a go at whipping around my elephant group and escorts.
Unfortunately for the Libyans, the Rajputs ran rampant in a swirling melee, while the odd chariots that made it through the combat zone to the archers were all shot down, and the Pharoah was forced to flee the field when his bodyguard was threatend with being surrounded (destroyed by other elements recoiling over it). Poor Bruce just got out diced here...
On my right, the Libyan horse archers decided to engage my elephants, but even hit in the flanks, and overlapped, El (S) are still very tough customers for LH (F) to handle, and the losses were all on the Egyptian side. The Libyan warband was engaged by my light infantry, the Wb eventually caused them all to take off to the rear, but this just meant that the Libyan Wb emerged from the scrub to hit my elephants and CinC in dribs and drabs, were they were ridden down in heaps, and after a scant two hours of play, the Egyptians had been crushed for just 5 1/2 ee in losses.
Bruce probably shouldn't have deployed so wide, and shouldn't have engaged my elephants with his LH (F) quite so recklessly, but they were really minor points compared to being simply out-diced on my left, and his rather vital ambush being illegal...
Sunday morning saw India visted by Attila's Hunnic hordes (aka Rob Curry). An open battlefield saw the Rhys Mahal on my left, with my two gentle hills both falling in his rear central sector. The Hunnic Bg was deployed near the right table edge, so I flank-marched the foot command on that flank, with the Rajputs deployed hard up on the right, then the jumbos, then the bulk of the Cv, with a huge gap to the town where all the levies hid cowering.
The Hunnic deployment saw either the Gepids or the Ostrogoths, I forget which, in any case, 7 Kn (F), in front of the Bg. Fully 16 LH (S) under a sub-general went by them in two columns, then Attila with 18 Wb deployed on the hill in the centre and 6 LH on the far flank. These foot were too far away to play any part in the battle. Clearly the other Kn (F) command was flank-marching, probably on the same flank as me...
The first bound revealed his flank march was unreliable - excellent news. His LH advanced to slow my jumbos down while he tried to get his on-table Kn in the right place to hit my horse and not my elephants. My first bound saw my flank-marching force ready to join the fray, pusing the enemy flank marchers in front of it, and the rest of my army moved up to support the forthcoming struggle.
This left his LH somewhat in danger of being caught in a wedge between my main army and the arriving flank march, but they skirmished well and kept themselves out of serious danger. His on-table command had managed to mostly manoeuvre away from the elephants, and set about engaging my Cv, hoping Attila's LH would be able to tip things in their favour when they arrived from the other side of the field.
The real fighting at this stage came about between the two flank-marching forces. He sensibly brought his Kn on near his Bg, and my flank-marchers didn't want to bring on all their numbers, as all the Bd (F) made for quite juicy targets, whether for Kn (F) or LH (S), and as he was unreliable I reckoned I would have a bound in which to get into a good position before launching my attack. Therefore just the horse and the odd infantry arrived. Unfortunately, Rob immediately threw a six, and his Kn turned around, charging my flank-marchers, who were as yet too far away to be supported by my other commands.
To cut a long story short, his Kn pushed my Cv off the table, breaking my flank-marching command, although he eventually lost his command in the process, once the Rajputs arrived to help. His other Kn command killed off most of my Cv command (well, the Cv from that command anyway - he never went near the town...), abetted by Attila's LH, but he couldn't get my general, and this Kn command too was eventually broken. Eventually my elephants pushed all the way through to his Bg, nothing in his army can stop them, just delay them, and this broke his army. In the last bound however, my pursuing Rajputs flung themslves into one combat too many, and broke, meaning an 8-2 victory to me, which wasn't too bad for the Huns considering the match-ups involved.
The final game of the convention was against Rob Cameron's Early Burgundians - an army I know well, having used it myself frequently; what's more I had avised Rob in the past on his army organisation (although he favours Bw (I) far more than I do). My (partially) Islamic host invaded fair Bourgogne on a misty morning with a river covering my left flank. There was a small hill of no consequence on the far left, and a large scrubby hill in the cente of my baseline which gave me a very covenient place to station all my Hindu levy archers on. His Bg was in the centre of the table; mine was between the hill and the river.
Unsure of Rob's plans, I flank marched my Rajputs on the left, figuring if he had something nasty like archers over there I could withdraw them towards my half of the table. I deployed my Cv and mounted Bd to the right of the river; the jumbos to their right, and the Cv to their right, by the hill, aiming to steam-roll forwards. Rob had the 4 English longbowmen by the river, with a block of 12 Bw (I) beside them. Behind these shooters were 10 Bd (S) elements, including 2 sub-generals. Further to my right, extending the line, were 6 Bw (O), 2 Art (I), plus 12 Pk and 4 Ps in a shallow formation under Charles the Bold, then finally, rounding off his left wing, more Bw (O), and some Cv (O). The troops from the artillery onwards were essentially too far away to play any part in the battle. Some hordes were positioned behind the Pk, and the 4-strong French Kn (S) command was in reserve behind the Bd (S).
My Rajputs announced their arrival immediately, meaning Rob could turn these Frenchmen to defend his river flank on his first bound. My jumbos charged forwards, and Rob decided that Bd stood a better chance against them than Bw (I), so moved his foot-knights through his crossbowmen ready too engage the beasties with polearms. To the left of my jumbos, my Cv gave way to my Hindu swordsmen (they didn't fancy facing the English Bw (S), the Bd (F) were far more suited to the job...), and on their right, my Cv edged forwards more cautiously, concerned about the Picard archers to their front.
First contact saw one of his brave sub-generals trampled into the mire by a rampaging elephant; his command survived, but it did seriously hinder his ability to manoeuvre the Bw and Bd combinations. I decided that I should charge my Rathors across the river: although they would inevitably lose to the French, I planned on slipping one past the melee and making a steal for the Bg. Since one of his generals was dead, and the other hotly engaged with fighting off the elephants, I figured he would have problems rescuing the Bg.
So it turned out. His English longbowmen and foot knights eventually went down to my swordsmen aided by some cavalary flank attacks, while he was unable to wheel his archers around to shoot my right flank up fast enough to turn any elephant's flanks. My Rathors were broken by the French, but one had made it to the Bg, and pillaged enough to break his army in two hours, with a 9-1 victory. A short game, but when I looked up, I saw that only two others were still going on, most people were finishing even faster!
Yet again, a Hutt convention was played in the best spirits - I think there were 14 players there, and a wildly improbable 12 were voted as most sporting opponent!
The concept of hiding a lot of filler in an inaccessable place to the rear (as with my Sub-Roman British in the '99 Nationals), while fighting with a small but high-morale strike force once again proved sound. The narrow fighting front meant that the enemies were often unable to bring their full forces to bear, and my command structure meant that most of my fighting elements could fight to almost the last man without breaking.
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