Sunday, February 14, 2010

Retrospective: 17 July 2009 Historicon WAB Medievals (Game 2)

Opponent: Tom Eiche (Teutonic Knights). A very cheerful and energetic young gamer with a brightly painted army – the white tunics were nearly blinding! – Tom had a very straight-forward ‘beat face’ strategy that perfectly fit the style of his army list. Playing a crusader order transplanted to the Balkans, and which eventually forms the foundation of the Kingdom of Prussia (and thus, modern Germany), the Teutonic Knights and Burgundians meet on the field of battle in a wonderfully unlikely conflict. Maybe we’re fighting over Denmark or Saxony?

Army: (2000 pts)
  • 1x10 Teutonic Knights (plus General, ASB, and Character)
  • 1x10 Light Cavalry (Lithuanians)
  • 1x13 Medium Cavalry (Turcopoles with Heavy Armor and Spears)
  • 1x18 Heavy Infantry with Halberds
  • 1x10 Skirmishing Handgunners
  • 1x18 Crossbows
Mission: “Collision!” – before the game, each player divides their list into three sections, each worth between 500 and 1000 points. They deploy their armies alternating with the other player, and deploy each section all at once. The 2nd-largest section in terms of point value (“vanguard”) deploys first, then the largest section (“mainguard”), and finally the smallest section (“rearguard”). Deployment takes place in opposite corners, with a 24-inch-wide no-man’s-land running diagonally between the two (this is a common Warhammer Fantasy setup). Table quarters do not count for VP purposes.

Terrain: Tom’s deployment corner was split into two by a rather chunky copse of trees just at the forward edge of his deployment area. I had a small vegetable field set back a small ways in my own corner, but with room enough within for some units to set up in cover behind some low walls.

What happened?
With the copse of trees blocking up a portion of his deployment zone, Tom ended up somewhat crammed into his corner. He set up his Turcopoles (MedCav) on his far right flank, put his Knights in the middle next to his Handgunners, and set up his Halberds and Light Cavalry behind a long line of Crossbows on his left flank.

I responded with a far more defensive set-up. My General and Pikemen held my center, but back a good ways from the forward edge of my deployment zone. A unit of Knights sat to their left, and my three cannon in cover among the cabbages and rutabagas on the right, and they were all screened by a unit of skirmishing Longbows. Two units of Crossbows were in line to the left and the right of my center, with a unit of Knights on my far right flank, and an impromptu cadre of Light Cavalry, skirmishing Longbows, and Multi-barrel artillery on my far left flank.

Tom moved first, and moved up with every one of his units. I responded by moving only my flankers, and opening fire with everything else, aiming first at the very chunky unit of Teutonic Knights. And then again – leaving only the General and Hochmeister character alive after the turn 2 barrage.

Tom responded by panicking, moving his General and Hochmeister into the relative safety of his Turcopoles (Med Cav), and then retreating them all *away* from my light cavalry and skirmishers. On the far side of the field, his halberds maneuvered frantically to protect his crossbowmen from a charge from my Knights, who charged the Halberdiers with gusto. With few other targets, my ranged fire switched to the Lithuanians (Tom’s Light Cav), who quickly crumbled under the massed volley-fire.

With no Teutonic units nearby to help, the halberdiers eventually succumbed to the face-pounding they were receiving from my Knights, and were run down. With the Teutonic General hiding in a unit of Turcopoles, and certainly not nearby, the panic spread throughout the Teutonic lines, and the Crossbows and skirmishing handgunners also turned tail and ran.

In the end, I had lost just one unit of skirmishing archers (“fed” to the Turcopoles to keep them busy), and one Multi-barrel Artillery (which attempted to kill Turcopoles and misfired spectacularly). Tom had lost nearly his entire army. Final score: Burgundians 1608 victory points, and Teutonics 170 VPs.

Turning the Tables
Charging up the middle of the table with his sole nasty cavalry unit, with no screening units what-so-ever, was a recipe for disaster. It was only sheer luck that kept Tom from losing all three of his characters along with his unit of Teutonic Knights, and with his biggest threat out of the game, and the rest of his units out of position as a result, I was able to beat up the rest of his army with almost literally one arm behind my back (my pikemen and second unit of Knights sat around and simply picked their noses – er, drank fine Burgundy Pinot Noir, I mean – all game long).

Tom also chose to retreat with his unit of Medium Cavalry, rather than try to move them up to smash into my left flank – something he could easily have done once his General and Hochmeister joined the unit. Facing them was “merely” two units of skirmishers, and a multi-barrel artillery piece, and half my shooting would not have had an arc-of-fire had he approached at the appropriate angle. Instead, Tom chose to retreat, leaving his light cavalry to eat the brunt of my shooting, and leaving his infantry completely exposed to my Knights (who essentially ate all three units of his infantry in short order).

Given that a unit of my Pikemen AND a unit of Knights was waiting in the backfield for him should his Turcopoles ‘punch through’ my left flank, I see why Tom felt the odds were a bit long. But that said, his Turcopoles were nothing to sneeze at, particularly backed by two strong melee characters, and retreating simply meant that he had taken himself out of the game.

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