2010 Wargames Championship
And sort of 'on the move'.
Crammed-in between shows in Edinburgh and Manchester, I have had a batch of Championship games set up with Committee and Show Team colleagues.
Home and Away in Northamptonshire ... and another to follow on the Friday of Britcon.
The championship is a great opportunity of all enthusiasts to get involved in a 'low impact' way (your games will be as 'gamey' as the opponents you choose to play), but your results count in the mix with all the rest of us (any and all, of course, fellow Society of Ancients members) - and there are some great prizes up for grabs (figure vouchers, ready painted battle groups etc.).
There are also just about as many ways to play as there are wargames types out there (Computer games, boardgames, and figure games from all different perspectives): all you need is the will to get involved. Fresh back from playing Field of Glory at the Doubles Masters, my first game was an Armati encounter against Richard Lockwood.
Just in case either of us was up and ready for that game we warmed up with a run of my 'Double DBA' Zama game (but more of that when I do the Zama wrap shortly) ... I was the host, and had set up a fairly open plain plus a choice of two Triumph of Cavalry armies - Abbassid Arab and 11th Century Byzantine (OK, I know the later is AoC, but I was just using that list to field a slightly de-tuned Nikephorian with plenty of LC in it). Richard followed his established loyalties and picked the Byzantines.
Richard went for a strong right hook, with an underpowered left comprised mostly of Skirmishers and LC. I had opted for a more balanced deployment, but with my weaker cavalry on the right, and my (even weaker) infantry out of command and out of the way (right rear of my battleline deployment zone). With some cavalry to back up my skirmishers, I should ultimately win on the right, but the mighty Byzantine right would crush me in the end. So I had to slow them - maybe get a few against the odds - long enough to win the skirmish and shoot out.
I got very lucky with the game's first decision point. I had mixed Bedouin camels into my line in the hope this would hold them up (camels take away cavalry impetus in Armati, and also - on a 5 or 6 - panic the horsemen, making them fight on a lower factor) ... a standard Arab ploy in Armati, but one that can back-fire (as you are offering up intrinsically weaker troops ...). Contacted both by Cataphractoi and Cavalry, both were panicked (I think the first time Abbassids controlled by me have pulled that particular rabbit): it would indeed be a slog for the enemy, and I was now pretty much guaranteed one of those units.
The Arabs did well in the shooting, and losses on the skirmish wing, plus faring badly against the camels, left the Byzantines looking for a decisive intervention in a battle that was otherwise going against them.
Richard looked to the Varangians, who had been pushing up in support of the centre throughout the game. The loss of another unit of cavalry, this time to the Ghulams, created the opening, and ignoring a barrage of archery as they pushed forward, the northern mercenaries eventually were close enough to charge in.
It was, perhaps a fitting end. The Varangians threw a 1 in melee, and - counting as charging, and with 1 fresh charge left - the Ghulams threw a 6. This was more than enough to break the infantry on contact and rout the army. It had been one of those wargames: entertaining and challenging, but with all the critical die rolls going one way.
(still looking good: 15mm Minifigs Late Romans)
To face Will's Late Romans, I chose the Byzantines myself, but morphed to an earlier spec. (Maurikian) ... very similar, as are all these Byzantines (slightly more archery, especially as Armati classifies these earlier Skutatoi as spear/bow, whereas the later ones are just spear - assuming the bowmen are skirmishing). I intended to dismount some of the cavalry to stiffen the line - as I was pretty sure there would be some Gothic Warband coming my way in the centre.
It being Will, I also feared big wings of LI/LHI Auxilia chucking javelins and looking to trap my prized cavalry in unwinnable multiple melees. My plan would be to stand off for as long as possible, and just whittle the Romans down to their key troops before committing anything valuable to the fray. Easier said than done - but as Will intended to draw me on, maybe surprise me with concealed troops, I was able to start the shoot out on terms I thought favourable.
I just about got where I intended with the skirmish before Will (a turn or so late, I thought) called for a general advance ... and I thought he was pulling the battle back when the end came. The decision to dismount some cavalry was vindicated ... when the expected German impetus charge came in on the Skutatoi, the scores were level (the +1 stiffening from the cavalry just negating the 1 pip by which Will out rolled me). Without it, the Skutatoi would have gone down on contact, and my centre would almost certainly have collapsed.
On the other end of the line, we routed some Legionaries who had already been seriously worn down in the shooting, and fell upon the exposed flank. Meanwhile, the armoured cavalry comprising most of my right had done little other than hold their ground, shoot back, and rely on their high protection to provide a solid and secure flank for the infantry. It was just about enough, and with their right lost and enveloped, the Roman army routed.
Excellent work from my (now quite venerable) Byzantines ... they managed to lose their combats against me, but win when I was in charge. Of course, I say 'combats', I mostly mean shooting: despite some awesome fighting values, the army is mostly bow-armed, and - in FoG or DB, as well as Armati - I try to think in terms of an empire that lasted a thousand years ... (so no need to hurry).
Well, that's a couple of games under my belt and a good, if a little tardy, start to the 2010 Championship.
I have another on Friday, and as I plugged before, a possible slot on Saturday in Manchester. 28 players have participated so far this year, and there is still time to get some games in (give it a go). Richard Bodley Scott is winning, but there is plenty of time left to catch him :O) ...
You can find out more about the Championship (here on the website) ...
Or check the current standings (follow this link)
See you in Manchester.