The expedition to:

NatCon 2002

This page last modified: 14 April, 2002

I had been stuck in Japan for two years, divorced from the gaming scene, and I was in a bad need of a fix. It was time to take a holiday, and so I decided to take a trip back to New Zealand in Easter 2002 to take part in the annual Nationals competition, which was for this year being hosted by my own club in Christchurch.

Being badly out of practice, I decided I needed an army that would encourage me to get stuck in rather than win through manoeuvre - I reckoned I simply wouldn't have the time to get my game up to scratch through manoeuvring. My perverted desire to include Wb (O) in my Nationals armies - possibly the worst type of attack-troop in the game - had me drawn to my the Alamanni boys, with the Wb (O) being provided by some Burgundian allies.

The competition was a 6 round, 400 AP, 4 hour, 1800 mm by 1200 mm affair, using a single list and the wind/draw/loss scoring system with tie breaks being decided by VPs. My list was the following:

2.72 Early Frankish et al.: Alamanni in 286 AD

Alamannic CinC Alamannic Sub Heruli Ally Burgundi Ally
1 CinC as Wb (S) 1 Sub as Cv (O) 1 Ally as Kn (F) 1 Ally as Cv (O)
16 Warriors as Wb (S) 20 Archers as Bw (I) 6 Nobles as Kn (F) 18 Warriors as Wb (O)
10 Archers as Bw (I) 5 Archers as Ps (O) 9 Javelinmen as Ps (S)
5 Archers as Ps (O) 2 Javelinmen as Ps (S) 9 Javelinmen as Ps (I)
1 Bts (O) [1 of above Wb]
8 Baggage
40 elements 28 elements 25 elements 19 elements
29 1/2 ee 24 1/2 ee 16 ee 19 ee

The entire army was graded as irregular, and the army came to 112 elements; 89 ee, and broke on 44 1/2 ee of losses.

I had yet to play under version 3 of the rules; when I left NZ for Japan, we were still play-testing the version 2.2 amendments that were to become v3.0. Accordingly, I decided it was about time to experiment with the new "super-troop" of 3.0 that everyone was going on about - Irr Bw (I) - another point in deciding to take my Alamanns to the competition. My army was large by most standards; I figured I could win an attrition game against most other opponents fielding Bw.

The two allied command commands were deemed to be expendable. The Burgundians were there to concentrate the attention of any enemy heavy infantry while the rest of my army over-ran their supports; if the enemy had no heavy infantry they weren't going to be of much use, but I figured that at just 66 AP that wouldn't be too much of a worry. This proved to be over optimistic, even for me - thye are just too much of a liability against too many foes.

The Heruls were cleary the fast assualt squad for the army; their large number of Ps (S) I figured might prove useful at defending terrain for a while - I had no illusionn at them being capable of assaulting any difficult going however since they were unlikely ever to get the PiPs required for this task: they were really there with the Ps (I) as filler for the Kn.

The sub-general's task was to guard the refused flank of the army, especially against mounted troops while the CinC:s warriors advanced covered by the little flotilla of boats paddling up and down ant water feature I happend to position. The CinC's archers were mostly to be used as guards for the baggage.

The 15 mm competition in which I entered had 30 competitors; the 25 mm section drew 20 to 24; enrires had to be closed off weeks before the deadline to to lack of hall space (the club at Woolston will be expanded this year so that the next Nationals in Christchurch will be able to accomodate 200 gamers rather than the 150 of this year).

Game 1

The 'random' first draw (it was to be Swiss Chess after that) saw me lined up against Paul Hutton - a member of my own club. The draw was arranged so that people didn't meet their own club-mates at the beginning of the competition; but I was exempted since I hadn't met any of my own club-mates for two years in any case! Paul was using Nikephorian Byzantines as usual - what was more; he still hadn't finished painting his army so I was to be fighting an army that was half comprised of my very own figures! (I had lent all my armies out to various people when I left NZ).

Paul is a competent player, by suffers from not owning enough armies - his only other one is a 25 mm Viking (Haraldr Hardraada in 1066) force. Accordingly he very rarely gets to defend, and I ended up invading him in springtime in the mist at 6 in the morning. Unfortunately for him, his defensive deployment was very poor. I had marched down a broad river to my right; the only other piece of terrain was a steep hill with a small town on it to his rear, to his right; in which he deployed his baggage - 6 elements. His psiloi were all defending this hill when they would have been far better off used as a screen for his army to manoeuvre behind; his 4 LH were deployed back with his cavalry when they too should have been up front.

The CinC's warband formed up mostly 3 deep by the river, with the bowmen behind guarding the baggaae near the river - they, aided by the flotilla, would also prevent any enemy horsemen slipping around my right flank. Ahead of my CinC's command were half of the enemy's 12 skutatoi and some artillery under Paul's CinC plus a 8 Cv under a sub-general in a column to the rear; his 2 LH (F) were on the other side of the river and did not play any part in the ensuing game. The rest of his CinC's command was a one deep line of 10 Varangians and menaulatoi covering his centre - a very poor deployment for a defending player with no sckirmish screen. Opposite these were my Burgundians - the one and only juicy target they were to be presented with all tournament!

His right wing, next to the menaulatoi, was the other artillery unit, two wedges of kataphractoi, the other skutatoi block, 4 more Cv elements and 2 LH (S). These were faced by my Bw (I), more than a little nervous of his Art; and my Heruls, more than a little nervous of his Bw (X). I got good PiPs in the first bound and raced up the board with all four commands so that he would not be able to rearrange his army. In his first bound, he rolled 2 threes and a two, causing the mist to lift, but the damage had been done. He manoeuvred his right wing skutatoi to try and take on my Kn (F), but my Heruls never threw a 1 for pips, and I was able to block off their shooting with my abundant Ps (S) while the Kn moved up the extreme flank to press home the attack against the Cv and LH of his extreme right.

His kataphractoi menaced my Bw (I), but my shooting was good enough that while I didn't exactly kill many Byzantines; they could never really get to grips with me their either. My Burgundians took on his Varangians while my CinC forced his way into his CinC's skutatoi before his cavalry were able to do much about it.

vs Nikes

My army charges forwards into contact. My Heruli horse have scattered their mounted opponents at the extreme left while his skutatoi face thin air. My leftmost Bw (I) are beating off the attempt of his kataphracts to run them down (would that be possible in real life?) while the centre ones try and shoot down some menaulatoi. The Burgundians are engaging the Varangians while CinC's warriors are just about to push aside the cavalry trying to prevent them from getting in amongst the skutatoi to their front.

In less than two hours of gaming, all three of his commands had been crushed for the loss of just two ee from each of my four commands, leaving Paul to say 'my defensive game really needs looking at...'. Indeed! In fact he only got to play 6 bounds... With any small army like Byzantines (he had just 50 ee) it is imperative to manoeuvre to advantage; and the only way to do that when defending is to deply well back behind an advanced skirmish screen. This is doubly important if you employ a lot of Bd - especially Bd without Ps support, since these are a troop type that is very senstive to match-ups. Given I had an extra command, and was attacking, the match-ups, at least at deployment, were always going to be in my favour.

Game 2

The afternoon saw me pitted against another Christchurch club member, Kevin Nielson. He was using later Hungarians; the post 1490 version. Kevin was only a beginner when I left; as was to become obvious during the game he had learned quite a bit in the meantime...

I invaded; it turned out to be a misty night; with the battle starting at 4:30 in the morning. I intially thought this would be to me advantage and very much not to Kevin's - he was thinking the same thing; as it turned out we were both very mistaken. Once again, I invaded along a broad river to my right. There was a gentle hill on the far right of the river; another was in Kevin's rear in the centre on which his baggage was deployed.

I drew up my CinC in front of the baggage by the river; this time I deployed four of his Bw elemnts across the river, on the hill, in case lots of LH should slip down that flank. Anticipating the Burgundians would be of little use, they were deployed in my centre, but to the rear; in front of them were the sub-general's 20 archers. To the left were the Heruls. It wasn:t a stunning deployment by any means - my lack of gaming over the last two years was showing here, but against most Hungarian armies it wouldn't have been bad, especially in this weather.

Needless to say Kevin's army wasn't normal! He had only three commands, and the first one to go down was entirely foot - Bd, Sp and WWg in front of the baggage. As it turned out, he hardly moved them all game. The second command was entirely of LH, under an irregular LH general, facing off against my Heruls. The third one was essentially a long line of Kn (O) (with 3 being (S) however, and a few LH in reserve) lined up against my Bw (I). As he put it down he said "I'm facing you; if I try and get complicated, I'll get stuffed - I need a simple plan". Unfortunately for me, his simple plan was exactly what was needed, and I knew I was in deep trouble.

My fate was sealed by my Heruls deciding that they weren't being paid enough to fight in such dismal conditions and refused to move forwards. This enabled Kevin's light horse to swing around their flank before moving in for the kill. His CinC's khights rumbled straight forwards in the gloom, while my infantry were oblivious to the looming threat. With visibility down to 100p, their archery was to little effect; and dawn crept up upon us only fast enough to see the flower of Hungarian chivalry sweep down on my bowmen and trample them into the mire. My poor Heruls woke up just in time to be simultaeously taken in front and flank and ignominiously broken while his rampaging knights burst in amongst the routing archers to crash into the Burgundians made nervous by all the screams drifting through the misty air. A horrible 0-10 defeat, and what an embarssing one it was too. The news spread round the room rather rapidly... It was made even worse in that I was just 1/2 an ee from making it a 3-7 loss: his CinC's command had taken losses during the carnage, but it wasn't to be.

Game 3

Thus Saturday morning saw me already a game down and nursing a wounded pride. I drew Hamish Cameron using Mdeieval Castlian. A real man's army! Hamish was also from Christchurch it turned out, but I hadn't played him before - he was 'after my time'... He had a very nicely presented army, and the battle we fought was exceedingly interesting. He invaded me down a road; it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon with wind blowing into my face from the top left corner; there was the risk of rain.

From my prespective, the left flank was open, while the centre and the right were chock-a-block full of terrain (I put down some rough hills in addition to his steep ones and my compulsory wood). His centre was dominated by a large rough hill (one of mine) - a great defensive point; another rough hill was immediately to right (from my point of view) of that, and a steep hill immediately further to the right, leaving a 300p gap to the table edge; my centre wasa large wood, with two very small steep hills to its right; then a 300p or so gap to a smallish rough hill; to the far right and rear were two more smallish steep hills. The terrain was completed by the road running through the large hill and the wood, and a small rough hill way out on the left table edge near the centre of the table, on his side.

With such an unsual board, deployment was sure to throw some surprises. His baggage was situated in the open, but close enough to his large hill to be somewhat supported by any defenders on the hill. I put mine on the right. My CinC's warband went in the gap between the wood/hill and the rough hill in front of the Bg; their archers occupied the rough hill, while a few psiloi lurked in the steep hills on the right in case he flank marched there. This wasn't very smart of the face of it. The warband would have to wheel leftwards to get into a position to fight anything that wasn't in bad-going; but didn't I tell you I was out of practice? My Heruls were in the centre. Psiloi in the woods etc, while the Kn were to the leftin the open. My Burgundians were to their left, acting as bait, while I flank marched my sub-general on the left hoping to trap anyone attacking the Burgundians, and to hopefully not be disadvantaged by the wind.

Hamish had a large number of Bw of his own occupyimg his hills, along with a large number of psiloi in support. He only had three commands; two being regular. His CinC was on my right, controlling the archers in the hills; along with 4 elements of light horse and 6 of knights. His reserve command was 10 Sp (I), 6 of them with Ps-support, 4 more LH and the military order Kn (S) under the command of a military order sub-general; the second military order sub-general commanded the French mercenary knights, four more LH and soem more Ps on the central hill.

His inital turns saw him sneak some LH down my far right, and I had to spend an inordinate amount of Pips trying to neutralise them with Bw and Ps from getting into my Bg, and thus delaying my CinC's advance for a good half a dozen turns. Another v3.0 thing to get used to... His Kn and LH in the open moved towards my Burgundians while his CinC's Kn traversed the length of the board (sometimes the CinC's bonus is more useful than PiP-swapping), going over the central hill on the way, to move against my Heruls. Rain fell, and gave way to clamer skies, and fell again intermittnetly, and the wind guage veered round so that it was now blowing directly into my face. Not that my flank-marching archers had arrived of course...

The heavy armour of the Christian knights proved invaluable against my fur-clad Heruls, and they were ridden down - broken by bound 8. By bound 11, the wind had now veered around 180 degrees so that if my archers arrived it would be blowing into their faces; the Spaniards and French had also got into the Burgundians and broken them too - I was now 36 1/2 ee down and in dire straits indeed...

However, dusk was now falling; as it was moonlit, the battle would continue on into the night should it come to that. The knights of the 3 Spanish commands were by now hopelessly broken up and intent on pursuing my fleeing allies. Hamish was trying to reign them in, but with the failing visibility, it was a tough job. Of course I was in no position to do them any harm, but he still needed more ee to break me, and to do that, he needed his Kn. Thus the game entered its second phase, him trying to regoup his pursing Kn, while i tried to wheel my CinC's Wb around the hill, doing their best to avoid the archers on it, and try and make a bee-line for the Sp defending his Bg; while all the time hoping my flank march would arrive...

This must have been incredibly frustrating for Hamish, as we now played 7 bounds in which I sat on 36 1/2 ee lost and he could get no more since it took him that long to extricate some of his Kn from the pursuit. On my 18th bound (more than the two previous day's games combined), my flank march finally announced its arrival as some of his Kn were finally being collected together in a reasonable shape. A glimmer of hope sparked itself in the Alamannic side as my CinC swung round towards his spearmen. My archers arrived and forced Hamish to spend valuable PiPs moving still isolated Kn away - one of his commands was looking somewhat brittle. My subgeneral raced towards the flank of his spearmen (and therefore the Bg) along with some Ps, forcing his CinC to personally try and intercept them; Pips were becoming critical for both sides.

Could his Kn get into the side of my Wb before I could get into his Sp? It looked like they would. I decided to gamble on throwing forward a single long column into the Sp while the rest of the Wb wheeled and tried to hold of the oncoming Kn. My Ps held up his CinC while the general slipped in behind the Sp. I ignored the Sp and got into the Bg. My warband crashed through his Sp and got into the Bg as well. It was the 21st bound, night fell and his Sp command fled the field as we looted. His Kn were a bound too late. Truly, he was robbed! But robbed in such a historical manner - with the mounted pursuing the enemy mounted from the field, leaving their own foot and baggage to be defeated by the rest of the enemy host.

So I eventually managed to pull an 8-2 win from what looked certain doom ten bounds before. hamih had done pretty well much everything right - and got little reward for it. I think Hamish's only mistake was in not sending a few infantry forward to harrass my CinC. They wouldn't have caused me any harm, but they would have slowed me down. And slowing me down, even for a bound, would have meant I would have gone down: the CinC wouldn't have made it into his Sp-line, wouldn't have broken that reserve command, and wouldn't have gotten into his Bg either, because by then his reformed Kn would have ridden over my CinC's flank.

Game 4

The Saturday afternoon draw saw me facing Tim Driver. Tim is a good player from my club, and he was using a 1285 Sicilian army - he is a big Catalan fan. In invaded during spring at 7 in the morning, with any rivers swollen by flooding. Naturally, I put down a big river - where in Sicily can you find a 150 meter plus wide river exactly though? It put it down on my left flank - as close in towards the centre as possible of course as everyone does. Tim placed two largish rough hills. Both ended up on the centreline, on my half, one on each edge. There was also a patch of rough going by the river on his tebledge side towards the cntre by which his 6 bg elemnts were placed; mibe went near the river again. I deployed a few Ps on the hill over the river in case he should put some LH over there - he did - 2 of them; but they and the flotillaconspired with their ZoCs to prevent him from moving through the gap. The CinC's archers went by the river, and then the CinC's Wb who were 4 deep. Then the 20 Bw (I) were deployed 2 deep across to the hill. The Heruls were hiding behind the hill - I was suspecting he would put more Catalans opposite it and I wanted to jump on them. The Burgundians I deemd uselss against the Sicilians, and detailed them off on a right flank march to support the Heruls.

Each of Tim's commands had 6 Kn - all (O) save the CinC. The reserve comamnd under the CinC was of regular Kn, with 6 LH (F) and a bunch of Hd guarding the Bg. The other two commands had Irr Kn; 12 Catalan Ax (S), 2 LH and a few Ps - much more Ax than I suspected. He had 12 opposite my Bw (I)/Wb(S) - not so good; but he also had 12 against the hill in which the Heruls were lurking - bloody marvellous I thought!

Alas, the Heruls were unreliable again. Bugger. This would mean that the Catalans would likely catch them in the rough... Fortunately I was able to move their Ps (S) up to the crest of the hill (but not down it since they could then see enemy withing 600p) so there was a chance I could get away with their lapse. In fact that was pretty well much all I did - my first bound's PiPs were 1,1,1, and a 2 for the off-table Burgundians!

His left hand Catalans therefore moved forwards to contest the hill and hopefully drive my Ps back onto their Kn in confusion, while his right hand ones charged forwards into my CinC's command, with their Kn adding weight to the effort. Everyone had said how easily Bw can resist Ax in v3.0, but those Catalans just brushed my 10 Bw (I) aside as if they were so much mist. My CinC's command was broken by bound 7, but we did at least unhorse his sub-general in the process. This didn't break his command, but it did mean he couldn't rein in his pursuing troops very easily - and a command with over 30 elements in it takes a bit of cutting down in the pursuit.

His assualt on the hill faltered in the face of my uphill Ps (S) and my Heruli Kn got enough PiPs to reverse KMDT into column, and eventually trot off the hill into the flat zone in the centre. What to do with them? My large Bw block in the centre was now in three sections trying to shoot at various Kn, and could be vulnerable to a massed charge, especially with overlaps at the section breaks. It looked like it might need reinforcing. But the Catalans pursuing my CinC were getting rather close to the Bg - I decided to try and intercept them. I figured if I was lucky, I would get their first; if I got average Pips I would get their after only one of his elements made it. My Heruli Kn made good pace across the central plain and it looked like I had made the right decision.

Meanwhile, on my far left a rather comical situation had arisen. His two light horse on the far side of the river wanted to join in the pursuit, but it turned out the river was dangerous in both sectors. As his victorious command was only one ee off demoralisation by this stage, he couldn't risk any men drowning lest his command be broken. Not to mention my flottila paddling desparately upstream the swollen river trying to flee the battlefield who would only have to rout through them in any case to destroy them... Keeping these two elements from adavancing near the river when their general was dead ate up valuable PiPs.

Meanwhile his assault on the hill had not only been rebuffed, but I was actually on the counter attack; he had taken quite a few losses aided by the bowmen from the sub-general's command. On the 11th bound my Burgundians declared their imminent arrival; I brought on only their general, who being mounted slipped in behind the auxilia threatening to buttock people while remaining out of reach of his LH and Kn. His catalans racing towards the Bg were met by my Heruli in the nick of time, and with no time to spare they were hit within charge reach of their target. The other Catalan command was broken the next bound, the 13th, and thus breaking his army for an 8-2 win, although they would most likely have been broken in bound 3 if my Heruls had decided to join in at the start!

His Catalans did a sterling job against my Bw, but embarassingly badly against my Ps - even allowing for uphill advantages. I think Tim wasn't aggressive enough with his reserve Kn - but I am fairly sure he just didn't realise how big my army was, and that even after breaking my CinC's command - 29 1/2 ee, he still needed to break another command that had a breakpoint of over 5. By the time he was mobilisong them, his own army was perilously close to breaking meaning any attack couldn;t affird to lsoe many casualties on the way in - and the only viable target was a load of Bw who were likely to cause plenty of casualties on the way in....

Game 5

Sunday morning therefore saw me with 3 wins and a loss, and my spirits somewhat more bouyant - I was still in the hunt. I had drawn Lyle Salmons from Tauranga using Southern Dynastic Chinese. I had played Lyle 3 years ago in the Hutt valley; he was a beginner back then. Either he had gotten some good luck in to be on 3 wins, or he had been really working on his game well. Which of these was it? From the terrain placement I suspected it was the former. I invaded in winter at noon with no weather to speak of; given his compulsory WW, I saw no reason to advertise the fcat I had a navy, and opte for nothing. He put down a WW and two gentle hills. One was in my central rear; the other was in the centre of his left flank, away from the table edges. He went to put down another when i pointed out that he had to put down a BUA - he hadn't realised this, and nobody had told him in any of his previous games either (I doubt he had attacked all the time given his low aggression). So he put down a small town right at his table edege along the waterway which was on my left. I thn placed a rough hill which ended up in my central sector near the table edge - just right for me to anchor my archers on.

He had 6 archers, Bw (I), by the WW, then a dozen Sp and their usual Ps under the CinC. Next, angled back a bit in the traditional SD 'fight in a corner' stance (there's one in our club too...) were half a dozen Bd (O) and their Ps, along with a column of mounted troops - LH, Cv and Kn. The third command on his left was of Bd (F) and their Ps, along with more LH, Cv and Kn in two columns. This deloyment confirmed my suspicion that he was riding his luck.

I couldn't have asked for better really. Indeed, there were so many opportunities going I nearly embarrassed myself in trying to go for too many of them and overreach myself. His Bg was by the sea, in the town, and totally unprotected from my roving flotilla. My 10 Bw (I) lined up in deep formation against his 6 Bw (I) by the WW, while my Wb (S) aimed at his Sp. My Burgundians were next, opposite the rest of his Sp, and some of his Bd. My Bw held the central hill, reday to move off if his central cavalry tried to intercept my Burgundians - which they did. My Heruls were out on my right flank; they were just there to keep his horsies on his left honest while the Alamanns did their dirty work.

As it is, the Heruls got a lot of PiPs, so I sent them to occupy the hill on the right and distract him from the main issue. The Burgundians advanced, enough that he was forced to commit some Kn against them (scary enough when you are Wb (O)...) but not so far he could get enough into them to break them - they were well supported by my Bw. Meanwhile my CinC's bowmen lost their entire front rank in the first exchange of arrows - but I wasn't too perturbed - my CinC's warriors hit his spearline, pulverised it, and my floilla inflicted the coup de grace by disembarking into the town and pillaging their baggage; Lyle only got to play 6 bounds; 10-0 to me.

Game 6

So that put me at the top of the pack leading into the sith and final round, just like my last nationals in 1999. Like then, my points differential was poor - armies like mine don't get draws; they do or die, and even in the doing, lots of them die. So there was no way I could rest on my laurels, anything other than a win would likley see me tumble back to 8th or thereabouts. And therein lied the rub - since I had drawn Paul O'Hagan. Paul had been in Britain (I saw him there in the Doubles playing 7th edition in 1993) and Paul was using a very British style army - Komnenan Byzantines. Not only that, but it was a regular four command model. I had as much hope of catching it and bringing it to battle on my terms as catching, well, as catching a four comamnd cavalry army with an irregular foot warband army!

I deemed the river option would be pointless against the Byzantines, figuring I needed lots of channels more than a single often illusory flank protector. Sure his army would likely have loads of Ps; but I didn:t want to sit in the hills, just march up valleys between them. I stuck down a road therefore and a bunch of bare steep hills. It was spring, fine weather, and an hour befor noon. There was a big hill in his central sector, and another smaller one next to it; his bg was by this. There was a hill on my right flank edge near the centre, and another on my rear right edge; I intedend to deploy between these features and march out of them. There was another hill on the far left near the centre line. Paul put down two gentle hills; one was again on the right, near his centre line; the other on my left towards the rear.

My Bg was at the extreme right, telegraphing my intention to flank march there - this was of course because my Burgundians were unfit to fit a battle in the open against such an opponent! Hoefully these would arrive as I attacked over the gentle hill on my right. He had a load of ps occupying this hill; ranged against them were my CinC's archers and psiloi. My CinC's Wb (S) were next; then the sub-general's Bw were angled back towards the hill to my rear. My Heruls were deployed way way out on my far left. My plan was that they were to tie up at least one entire command of his for essentially the whole game - they were over 15 ee strong after all, and would take more than a few elements to defeat. If I could keep a whole comamnd out of the game, I might be able to attack quickly enough to break through to his Bg if my flank march came on in reasonable time.

To take on the Heruls, he had his CinC's comamnd. This was 3 Kn, 9 LH (F), and 8 Ps occupying the central hill (they never had to move during the game). In reserve he had a micro command of 2 Sp (I) to guard the Bg, and 2 mounted Bd (O) Varangians, including the general, to take on things like Bw (I) - a rather useful little command i thought. His centre consisted of 8 more LH and 5 more Kn - 4 of which were (O), plus 8 Ps on the small hill near the Bg. His left was 9 more LH, 4 Kn and the 7 Ps on the gentle hill I needed to take in front of my CinC's right.

My plan was full of holes, but it was all I could think of that would give me a chance of a win rather than a draw. In particular, I foresaw that as my CinC advanced, my subgeneral's Bw would be unable to simultaneously cover the CinC's left flank, and hold their own flank on the rear hill - at least one flank would be exposed, and quite probably both.

Paul certainly saw this, as his Kn (O) command immediately started to move out towards the centre and swing around to move behind their left. Fortunately, I had adequate PiPs to wheel the leftmost archers around tightly so that his slower moving Kn (O) were exposed to my shooting and they began to take casualties. On my right, my archers and skirmishers soon pushed his psiloi off the hill, but his light horse were making a beautiful job off taking apart the left of my Wb block. I could do nothing to prevent him sending in lone light horse to peel back a few Wb, turning them, and breaking up my group, leaving single elemnts of Wb pursuing impetuously after them out towards the centre of the table.

On my far left, his CinC's light horse fell back before my Heruls, then encircled them while the CinC's Kn moved in for the kill on the flank as they rode past. By bound 7 they had been broken without loss. I did however have the satisfaction of shooting the sub-general of his Kn (O) down. His command needed a 5 or more to survive - but with 4 regular dice he had every chance of success, and they held. It did however leave his command in a very brittle state, and he was now having to use PiPs up at double rate to withdraw the remaining Kn element back out of range of my archers who were keen to shoot him down. His 2 Bd had started to close in on my Bw, causing concern, and his CinC's command was regrouping, aiming to take the place of his dead sub-general. In the 9th bound, I managed to bag the last Kn of that command with a lucky shot, breaking it.

On my right, my plans had been frustrated by my Burgundians announcing their arrival in the very first bound, so he had not committed anything solid into holding the hill; indeed, having not moved at all, his Kn were still in a position to ride them over; hence I had to bring them on on the hill to ensure their safety. This alas meant that they were also pretty much useless for threatening the enemy in a meaningful way. However, by this stage he has lost a good number of Ps to the shooting of my Bw coming over the hill, and he was wary of committing his reserve Kn to the fray. Half of my CinC's warband had been scattered all over the place by his LH; but his LH were not actually able to kill them, just take them out of the action. The other half, supported by their archers were now getting rather too close to his Bg, and he had to send in his reserve Kn to stop them.

The odds were in his favour - not here perhaps, but on the other flank where his CinC and Varangian sub-general were moving in on my sub-general's Bw; but they would take a couple of bounds yet to do the neccessary damage; likewise it would take me a few bounds to get into his Bg - a bit of a race. However, this assumed my CinC would punch through his few Kn. The odds were good - he needed a 6-1 to kill me, and at factor 5 (S) vs 2 (F) each bound, I had a good chance of killing him and it would take just two casualties to break his army - I finally understood why he had been so reluctant to engage the Burgundians - his army was too small to take such losses. However, in the 10th bound, as my CinC charged in, it was all academic, as he got the requistite 6-1 combat roll that killed my CinC, breaking my army.

So I went down 1-9 leaving Paul the champion. I started the game off a bit niggly - being on the top table doesn't sit well with me it seems, but Paul reminded me it was only a game, and after that everything went fine.

Surprisingly enough, despite this second loss, I still managed to come in 3rd, as several of the other higher placed contenders were unable to achieve clear victories in the final round.


Well, I think I have been finally rid of my Wb (O) habit. Without a front rank of Wb (S), such as a Saxon ally would bring, they are just too vulnerable to all sorts of things in an open competition. Of course, I knew this, but was rather hoping I could make up for it in other ways, like cunning play etc. (!) Not a wise idea when I hadn't been playing for so long...

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