I like this event, and Burton Town Hall is a good venue. And the parking is free.
I hadn't really enjoyed the new version of FoG at Usk, so having to take charge of the army solo (Chris was on family duty for the Saturday) was a little daunting. We had chosen a Palmyran army with a balance of troop types (15 Battlegroups: 4 cataphracts, 4 horse archers, 4 Romans and 3 light archers) ...
Fortunately, we got a nice draw ... the amiable Martins in the morning, and seemingly regular opponents Hutchby and Thorne in the afternoon. Another Palmyran, and some obscure Japanese, respectively.
(two very different Palmyrans ... the enemy were clearly true lackeys, full of Roman infantry)
Palmyran armies vary from predominantly mounted Parthian-style Eastern armies to what are basically Roman frontier armies (Romans with extra cataphracts ....) ... It was one of these latter that Jayne and Andrew had chosen. But don't expect our game to resolve which might be the better choice. We lost 4 attrition points a piece (so the the score was 9-11 against us as our's was the smaller army ... more cavalry meaning fewer battlegroups).
(marching out against Chris and Dave's Kofun-Nara Japanese ...)
Against the Japanese we were miss-matched ... separated by 5,000 miles of geography and more than 200 years of history. The Japanese are a big army of archers which probably could not have downed a middle-eastern cataphract however much they shot - but who knows as the confrontation never happened (so there is no history from which to extrapolate). Undeterred, and with a game spirit, I advanced rapidly covered by skirmishers, and did succeed in getting the cataphracts into contact with these medium foot in the open. To no avail - another losing draw.
(squaring up to Warring States Chinese on Sunday morning)
Sunday saw our team restored to full manning ... and facing more regular Northern Doubles opponents, Andy and Kevin Ellis and more far distant enemies from the time machine ... Warring States Chinese. It is the topic of quite another article as to why Chinese weaponry and armour is so highly rated compared to western equivalents ... suffice to say that these Chinese would probably have fled on sight of determined western soldiery ...
Thankfully, they did. Whilst I was grinding through indecisive pulses of skirmish and counter attack on the flank, Chris piled in with a combination of armoured cavalry and armoured infantry against the Chinese centre ... Crossbowmen protected by armoured halberdiers behind field defences. Fortune favoured the brave (for a change), and the desperate Chinese threw in their Inspired Commander (sun was going down on the game). He died too, and the wavering centre collapsed. The game ended before we could mop up ... a very gamely played score draw to us.
(a credible historical battle against Aurelian's Principate Romans)
We were all back on message to finish - entirely back on message ... against an Aurelianic period Roman. Even so, we fought them in green hills far from Palmyra. Very impressive thickly painted bed sheet terrain as good as I have seen (courtesy of our opponents, John Hogan and Lee Sanders) ...
We had played Lee at Usk last year and enjoyed big win, achieved mostly by my Aragonese high rolling late in an otherwise very even game. This was similar, but they had their revenge ... And the cataphracts who had performed so well in the morning were clearly tired after a good lunch. They took a couple of Roman units to the brink but could not finish them off. Both teams pressed on through the game turns to get a finish and on the game's last turn, the Romans got it.
(now you see him/now you don't: a late swing in the battle against China as their C-in-C falls in combat)
So, in all, a slightly below par outcome from a series of thoroughly enjoyable games. Although V2 seemed better, I think that was mostly down to us picking an army without spears and pikes in it. There was still plenty of nonsense playing out around the tables - just less gaminess in our encounters.
Even so, we are now 8 games into V2 and have 7 draws and one result. With V1 we generally would expect 50% or better (not saying who would win ... just on the game getting completed within the time limits).
(my modest contribution to our forces ... some Eastern baggage and some Roman infantry)
Although I do think the game will have more traction in other periods, a 12.5% completion rate for a team that regularly gets results is not a good sign - and the interminably fiddly nature of FoG is entirely unimproved in this new version. As an example, ranges for skirmishers have been reduced which produces fewer casualties. I can't see how this improves the game (skirmishers still slow the game down ... they just contribute less to getting a result). Infantry lines still kink implausibly to produce far-fetched flank opportunities (which consequently deter charges, again slowing the game).
(one unit bounced off, one disrupted and damaged ... but you would still expect the cataphracts to win from here ...)
Nevertheless a weekend full of good things ... nice to catch up with old friends (and make some new ones) and good to see stalwarts like Adrian Garbett back wargaming ... Great terrain in our last game (I'm intending to copy this method), lots of nicely turned-out armies, great organisation as always ... and some predictable and unpredictable winners.
(the winners of the ancients events collect their prizes)
Tim Child and John Hickman (Later Carthaginian) won the DBMM event, Dave Handley and Steve Royle (Classical Indian) the FoG-AM .... I understand Peter Kershaw won the best army prize with his Slave Revolt DBMM army - but I wasn't 'camera and notebook in hand' as I was on my way back from the stage where I had picked up the best baggage award. Yay!
Good to see proper Ancients armies picking up all the prizes.
Like many others, I always make an effort at Burton - because they try to encourage and reward people making an effort (there's a clue there for tournament organisers ... and it doesn't require a degree in rocket science!) ...
PALMYRAN BAGGAGE TRAIN
OK, since you ask ... here's a few more pics ...
(Palmyran camel train 'camp' for FoG-AM)
Since Queen Zenobia first mounted her camel, in the wargamer's mind, dromedaries have been associated with the fabled desert city ... Add to that Chris's comment on Palmyra ... 'Roman ruins' ... and I had my theme.
The composition recycles several broken or redundant items from my terrain boxes together with a handful of camels from Chariot and Irregular, and a handful of figures - one each from Irregular, Gladiator and New Era Donnington (the Roman lady) and a couple of Middle Imperial soldiers from Chariot.
Plus some cake decoration palm trees.
(click on the images for a bigger picture)
The nebulous idea is that the army's baggage train is arriving or departing a defended watering hole or urban area well to the rear of the battlefield. A couple of soldiers guard the archways from the rear, to give the model more than one view point. I have tried to indicate a bit of Roman style groundwork by glueing on some Warbases bricks and infilling with wood filler and sand.
(Palmyran Camel Train ... from some other view points)
I'm glad they liked it.
Excellent weekend. Thanks, Burton.