ARMATI-BY-THE SEA 2011
Peter Barham's Society of Ancients sponsored spring Armati event has become an excellent regular feature, these days ... and I was back this year as defending champion.
I may as well get that bit out of the way now, as it became pretty quickly clear on the opening day that I was not going to get lucky two years running (and that obscurity was once again opening her welcoming arms to receive me)..
(some of the armies featured in this year's Bournemouth scenarios)
The formula for the event is that, courtesy of Roy and Mark, 52 preset armies are provided by the organisers in 26 historical pairs. These are marked as (a) and (b) on a coin, and the coins are shuffled together in a bag. Each round one of the players from each match draws a coin to be allocated the game, then tosses it to see who plays which side. A great idea, I'm sure you will agree.
(The 'Sucro - 75BC' scenario)
(The Pompeian battle line)
I drew Sassanid against Ian Kerr with White Huns (Scenario #17); Assyrian against Stuart Campbell with Medes (Scenario 5); Sertorian Spanish against Mick Owen's Pompeians (Scenario 10); Hittites against Richard Jeffrey-Cook's Sea Peoples Confederation (Scenario 3); and Later Crusader against Craig Tannock's Comnenan Byzantine (Scenario 23).
(The 'Ugarit - 1182BC' scenario)
So a good mix for me ... Something Biblical, something Medieval ... and not a pike phalanx or Samurai in sight (a little 'in joke' for the benefit of the UK Armati fraternity, there - apologies to the rest of the world ...)..
(the 'Fourth Crusade - Constantinople 1204AD' scenario)
For what it's worth, Scenario 1 ('Megiddo - 1479BC') was Early New Kingdom Egyptian vs Syro-Canaanite ... and Scenario 26 ('The Second Invasion of Japan - 1282AD') was Yuan Mongol vs Early Japanese ...
Very few players can even aspire to have as extensive and diverse a collection as Roy and Mark can put together, and one of the great joys of the Bournemouth formula is getting to play the numerous areas covered by Armati that your own collection doesn't cover. There is always something new up for grabs.
I was surpised by how good the Romano-Spanish game was ... and I was surprised to win the Hittites/Sea Peoples scenario where dauntingly huge numbers of Warband and LHI crashed in waves upon a small Hittite army (however, I did have a plan, and I did win the initiative in what turned out to be the last turn: both clever stratagems on my part, only surpassed by rolling dice high enough to destroy the unit which was personally led by Richard's general!) ...
As a veteran player of these games, I know it will come as scant compensation to those who got on the wrong end of my good dice to know that this happened somewhat infrequently during the weekend (I lost most of the games and was never really in contention ...)..
Winning or whining is less important, of course, than wining and dining and the 'all in' Chinese on the Saturday evening was its usual sumptuous self.
(Pete takes time off from running the tournament to lose a game of Gladiolus with his son!)
We were able to contribute meaningfully to Bournemouth's recycling targets by emptying several large and dozens of small bottles for them during the course of the weekend - bottles which otherwise would have been out of circulation, idly full of wines and beers. Indeed, some of the wine bottles had been out of circulation for many years, so it was particularly helpful of us to empty them and return the glass to other uses.
Sunday saw some of us still hunting elusive victories, others shaping up for their podium finishes. In the end Roy Boss ran out a worthy winner (and there is a full results listing here, on the Society of Ancients News blog) ...
There was much talk this year of how to get the slow minority to speed up a little (the schedule of games - which allows for 3 on the Saturday - is clearly not hurried, as nearly all of the games finish within the allotted time ...)... and it may be that next year's event will feature a new scoring system placing more emphasis on winning before the clock runs out.
It is a pity that this is becoming more and more likely - but slow play is a problem across all the current tournament systems from DBA to FoG. Some players just like to play methodically (for them it is not slow ... it is how they normally play) - unfortunately the consequently slower pace of the game is determined for both players, not just the methodical one (and it is not uncommon for the other player to disadvantage himself by playing more quickly in order to push the pace along, and make the odd mistake). Hmmm ...
Undoubtedly, this is a theme we will come back to...
Meanwhile, here are some more pictures....
(Decisive moments as the Sea People crash into the deep stationary Hittite infantry)
(Roy's resplendent Goergians hold the line)
(collecting heads for the general - this Samurai was doing better than I was, so it seems ...)
A great weekend as usual - hopefully, it will not clash with Alumwell next year, and we can do it all again.
I took many more photos, and plan another entry shortly which will just be a tour round the marvellous collection of armies put at everyone's disposal for enjoyment over the weekend.
Thanks on behalf of the Society of Ancients to Roy and Mark for planning and transporting everthing, Peter for masterminding the event and to all the players for their support.