Saturday, February 25, 2012

18th - 19th Feb, Burton on Trent

Badcon 2012 - Burton Doubles

The second of the year's big doubles events comes round quickly after Usk at Burton on Trent, the home of the brewing industry. I always make sure I have a pint at lunchtime.

Traditionally Burton followed the four DBM books of Army Lists in rotation, and this would have been the first of the four books - Biblical (and my favourite next to Book 4 - Medieval*).

In this age of FoG, however, the hosts have decided to extend the period to incorporate the armies of the Hellenistic world and the Roman Republic (to maximise the appeal to players, one has to assume) ...

I'm not sure it's quite fair to put men in loincloths with bronze weapons up against Phalanxes and Legions, really - and judging by the popularity of Graeco Bactrian and Seleucid armies, many players agree (rules aren't always at the fairest when the spread over technological watersheds like the end of the Bronze Age ...)..

(Game 1: Early Libyan vs Myceneans)

We chose to go with a traditional Biblical army ... Early Libyan (a great fun, massive army in the hey-day of DBM ... but out of favour since the V3.1 changes made Wb(F) armies almost hopeless).

It looked pretty useless under FoG (naked guys under a system that favours armour ...)... but we didn't want to use pikes or cataphracts ... so 'brave' it was ...

(massed skirmishing ... something the Libyans do well ...)...

The main thing to say is that the event gave us four really enjoyable and nicely fought games.

Sometimes you will read chuntering about 'competition wargaming' - nearly all of it written by ill-informed pundits who think they know better but don't actually play (or who maybe lost a game thirty years ago and haven't gotten over it somehow): they should get off their high horses and play doubles at Usk or Burton. They might enjoy it.

(against Carthaginians: various Sea People and Libyan Warrior blocks and columns march up behind the skirmish line)

We didn't have particularly high expectations of victory, so were more than pleased to finish about half way, and to have recorded a decisive win, sacked a camp and killed several generals amongst our tally of achievements over the weekend ...

(muscling up for combat ... )

In the end our games were decided by the skirmish and the charge of our warriors. If we could destroy the enemy front lines with our bowmen, we might be in business. In FoG the warriors are unprotected (Medium) Impact Foot. Against armoured guys that gives us one real shot - the Impact Phase. If, as in our big win, we can disrupt the enemy with the charge, we can make headway in the game.

If, as in most of the games, the enemy can stand the impact of the charge, the warriors will likely be cut to pieces in the melee.

(Gaddafi's tribal ancestor, alive and well and leading the Libyan charioteers)

The light chariots proved really useful and durable, but were mostly outnumbered, the skirmishing bowmen were always a threat ... but we had centred the army around the warriors and the (slightly better armoured) Sea Peoples allies.

In the end, there just never seemed to be enough of them to compensate for their weakness in the protracted melee phases of combat. Ignoring the last game against Parthians, which was really a long and exciting skirmish encounter**, we got three goes at infantry based armies (Carthagnian, Mycenean and Later Dynastic - i.e. mostly mercenary Hoplite - Egyptian) winning one handsomely, otherwise just running out of troops to support the front lines. The points system just doesn't give you the second wave you need to have a real chance of breaking armoured infantry.

(eager to seem sophisticated, the Libyans made their encampment amongst the Sphynxes of the detested Egyptians ...)..

Full results are available (say, TMP ), but an enjoyable weekend, great cameraderie and plenty of fun with an army that can lose with its heads held high ... Thanks again Burton.

You might also like this (Simon's Lurkio Blog)

Time to think about Armati, now ...

*this is not a slight against the Classical period for interest ... the age of the Greeks and the Romans is at the heart of 'ancient' wargaming - just I have never felt the warfare of the period is done well by the popular tabletop rules (where pike blocks tend to swirl around like Napoleonic battalions - who themselves didn't really swirl around anyway - rather than hold long steady frontages as they did historically). So it's a game thing.

** our naked Warriors were never going to charge headlong at Cataphracts, but the metal men were always going to be too slow to bundle through and chase us down.

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