Sunday, February 14, 2010

Warmonger Charity WAB Tournament: 30 January 2010 (Game 3)

Opponent: Don Effinger (Saxons). An all-around great guy, and a pillar and leader of the wargaming community in the Northeast for many years, Don was fielding an early medieval army list – a large mass of infantry warbands, but sadly without any of the traditional benefits of a classic warband army. The Saxons would not autobreak, they did not have throwing spears, and they only moved a base of 4 inches, not 5. Don was fairly certain that only doom awaited him should he face the Burgundian gunline, but being far to good a sport to take a rain check, he instead gave this astoundingly anachronistic match-up the old college try.

Army: (2000 pts)
  • 1x48 Medium Infantry with spears (with Stubborn Huscarls with Double-handed Weapons and Toughness 4 in the front ranks), including the General, ASB, and an Abbot (granting Hatred)
  • 3x35 Medium Infantry with spears, with Thanes in the front rank; one unit had a hero leading it as well
  • 2x11 Skirmishing slingers
  • 1x14 allied Vikings (Medium Infantry with Toughness 4)
Mission: “Pitched Battle” – standard 12” deployment zones, with one variation -- both sides deploy in secret, setting up all forces with a screen dividing the table. Table quarters do not count for VP purposes.

Terrain: Two sections of woods neatly ‘boxed’ me into the center-left of my deployment zone, while Don had a fairly open set-up in his deployment zone, with his left flank anchored by a grove of trees. A low hill partially blocked off LOS in the very center of the table, but otherwise the field was very clear and open.

What happened?
Realizing that with as large an army as he had, with his large infantry blocks, Don’s deployment was not likely to be terribly unusual or offbeat, I had basically two deployment options of my own. With the large pieces of woods terrain blocking off large sections of my own deployment zone, I could either set up entirely on one flank (and thus force the Saxons to approach a unit at a time), sacrificing some of my firepower in the process, or I could try to use the terrain to funnel the Saxons into my gun-line (and thus limiting the Saxon maneuverability). I chose to do the second – and in hindsight, I probably would have been better off doing the former.

Because of the hill in the center of the table, I knew that I would have trouble drawing LOS in most cases, and chose to set up all my missile units on the flanks, and as protected as possible in the woods on both flanks. My hope was simple – if the Saxons should charge any of my missile units, I would flee, and effectively trap the infantry block in the woods for several turns. Also, as the Saxons advanced, I would get flank shots on more and more units. Because I ran out of space on the right, I placed my cannon on the left – ultimately a bad decision, as that severely limited their LOS.

My pikes and a unit of Knights set up in the middle as a mobile reserve, and I placed the other unit of Knights, and the Light Cavalry, on the far right flank, planning to threaten the Saxon flanks and rear.

I won the roll-off to move first, and immediately shot up some of Don’s Skirmishers (on both flanks), and did a few casualties to some of his large blocks of units. Don immediately went into Shield-Wall with his four large blocks of troops, and continued to move up with slingers (now backed by some Vikings on his right flank).

Realizing that I needed to focus fire in order to do anything significant, I put all of my missile fire from my center and right into the unit of Huscarls – even with the range and shieldwall, they started to take some damage. The low hill in the middle of the table meant that my left flank couldn’t concentrate on the same target, so instead my artillery targeted the left-most unit of Thanes, and started to blow large holes into it. Don responded by keeping the three units out of LOS of my artillery in Shield-Wall, and moved up and to the left (my right) with his one damaged unit of Thanes, attempting to take it behind the rise of the hill, out of LOS of the Burgundian artillery.

By this point, the slinger units on both flanks were badly damaged by miscellaneous bow and crossbow fire, and the slingers on the left flank fled off the table (helped by crossbows reducing the unit to below five models, ensuring they did not rally) around the same time the slingers on the right flank was charged by my light cavalry and annihilated. After two turns of movement, my Multi-Barrel Artillery had finally gotten into position at the base of the hill in the middle of the table, and opened up with all nine barrels at the nearest unit of Thanes (ironically, the unit that had moved forward to avoid getting shot by my artillery), shredding them badly.

Don finally started moving with more of his units: his Vikings moved up my left flank, still unscathed, while his damaged unit of Thanes moved forward and prepared to charge the Multi-Barrel. Two of his other three units finally got out of Shieldwall and started to move forward, as well. This simply meant that I had another round of fire from all four artillery pieces: the Vikings evaporated after getting hit with all of my three cannon, while the Thanes survived the second round of Multi-barrel fire, charged, and then panicked and fled after the THIRD round of Multi-barrel fire (as a charge reaction) blew out nearly half of their surviving ranks. Having never used the Multi-Barrel so often in one game before, I was as pleased as punch.

A retaliatory charge from a second unit of Thanes on the Multi-Barrel went badly for the Saxons – although the Multi-Barrel finally misfired, the Thanes failed to do any damage on the charge (!), and the Multi-barrel crew actually held, instead of fleeing. By this point, I had maneuvered my cavalry and pikemen forward, and presented with this gift horse of a flank charge on a second unit of Thanes, the Burgundian pikemen (led by my General) charged into the fray. It was a massacre, and the victorious Pikemen sailed right into the flank of the nearby unit of Huscarls on the over-run action.

With nothing to lose, the Saxon General challenged the Burgundian General to single combat. Foolishly (and authentically), I accepted the challenge. A few minutes later, I was rolling Leadership tests across the board as a result of having had my army general killed.

Fortunately, Burgundian units have very good base leadership, and I lost only four units (two artillery crews, and two skirmishing longbowmen) – in exchange for which, the Huscarls (and the general) were smashed by my flanking pikemen. The last Saxon unit passed its panic checks, but the game was over. In all, including the two captured standards, the final score was somewhat lopsided: Burgundians 1914, Saxons 484. Every single one of the Saxon victory points had come as a result of the poor decision by my very foolish (and very deceased) general.

Turning the Tables
I think Don forgot during his first turn that neither Shieldwall (nor skirmisher screens) would do anything to protect his blocks of troops from my artillery fire – as a result, he basically lost an additional turn standing still while I poured firepower into his units.

Then, Don kept most of his units in Shieldwall to protect them from my archers and crossbows on the other flank – but as a result, was not threatening my lines at all, and simply gave me more opportunity to pour firepower into his big infantry blocks. As a result, I managed to effectively fight his infantry blocks one unit at a time – and had the time and opportunity to blow away two of them with my artillery, though granted my Multibarrel was doing much better than average in this game.

Given the terrain and my poor set-up, Don’s best bet would have been to march forward with all of his units, and use his skirmishers and maybe one unit of Thanes to protect his left flank from my cavalry wing behind the trees. Give how I had set up my forces, I would have been very hard pressed to deal with all four (five, including his flank guard) big blocks of infantry at once with my reserve, which I had very cleverly trapped between the woods on both flanks – and as demonstrated, Don’s characters were more than capable of messing up my own units. Particularly combined with the Fall Back In Good Order rule protecting his infantry blocks from getting swept by my units of First Charging Knights, things would have been very rough for my Burgundians, and I do not think that several turns of fire would realistically have been able to put a real dent into all those units before they showed up en masse and started smacking around my crossbowmen and artillery crew (and overwhelming my knights and pikes).

No comments:

Post a Comment