Sunday, February 14, 2010

Warmonger Charity WAB Tournament: 30 January 2010 (Game 1)

Opponent: Bob Rioux (Teutonic Knights). A marvelously wry and subdued gamer with a killer army list, Bob was fielding a Teutonic army with a several metric tons of Knights (not even including horses!), backed by two big blocks of infantry warbands, and supported by a smattering of some missile fire. In all, it was a collection of units that would absorb almost any opponent’s assault, then annihilate it with warbands and First Charges in the following turn, and I was very happy at the fact that I was fielding a medieval gun-line when I saw what Bob had.

Army: (2000 pts)
  • General, ASB, and Hero operating solo on horseback
  • 1x12 Knights & Turcopoles (Sergeants in back ranks)
  • 1x10 Knights & Turcopoles (Sergeants in back ranks)
  • 1x9 Allied Latin Knights
  • 2x30 Warbands with mixed weapons
  • 1x15 Crossbows with Pavise
  • 1x14 Skirmishing Handgunners
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: Bob’s deployment zone was really awkward for him, with two large woods pieces right at the forward edge of his deployment zone, breaking up his potential lines of advance into three small breaks in the treeline. My deployment zone also had some woods, but far back in one corner, giving me nearly free reign to setup. The diagonal zone between us had three sizable hills, neatly blocking LOS from most angles – this meant that the battle would pretty much come down to Bob picking one approach, and being forced more-or-less to stick with it, given the combination of trees and hills between him and I. It also meant that I would have trouble bringing the bulk of my firepower to bear on him in any one turn.

What happened?
Bob moved first, and chose to move nearly everything to his right (my left flank). Although this meant that half my firepower was out of LOS of his units, it also meant that he was going to be coming at me piecemeal, and what’s more, my artillery had a great shot, which they immediately took. When the smoke cleared, Bob had lost over half a unit of Teutonic Knights, and a second turn of fire nearly wiped out the survivors.

However, with my limited firepower due to all the hills blocking my LOS, I was having difficulty wiping out whole units of Knights. Bob had one survivor to that first, doomed unit, who promptly slipped into the backfield and hid behind some terrain. I was going to have to jump into with melee units to “clean up” after the ranged damage I was inflicting. Accordingly, I knocked his big unit of Knights (slowly creeping up the center of the table, unable to march because of nearby Light Cavalry) down a few models, and then charged in with my WS5 Gendarmes. I went in with one point of combat resolution, plus the charge and higher WS, but learned after the crushing victory in the initial assault (+4 total combat resolution) that Teutonic Knights were Stubborn, and thus would not be running. Yuck. Eventually two of Bob’s three characters got involved, but the combat was two full turns (four combat rounds) of bloody stalemate, what with the 2+ armor saves and subsequent S3 attacks.

On the left flank, a badly battered unit of Knights smashed apart my Multibarrel Artillery, chased off my nearby unit of Crossbows, and then got jumped by a fresh unit of my Burgundian Knights… but of course, the sole Teutonic survivor after that lance charge was stubborn.

After five turns of maneuver, the game was a draw – Bob had managed to kill just one unit of mine (the Multi-Barrel Artillery), and I had managed to shoot up and chase off his one unit of Crossbows (in large part because of two successive shots with the Multi-Barrel Artillery, plus some firepower from my light cavalry). I had managed to destroy nearly all his cavalry forces, but the units were still technically alive. And, had we gone another turn, it’s relatively likely that the Teutonics would have pulled out a victory – the two infantry Warbands were getting into position to Mess My Knights Up, in large part because the stubborn Teutonic Knights refused to run from combat. Yeesh!

Turning the Tables
My efforts on my left flank worked marvelously, and I even had a bit of good fortune, with my unit of Crossbows on that flank managing to successfully flee from enemy cavalry and avoid destruction. Between my pikemen and unit of Knights, I had some very tough reserve units, but I really was out of position to “deal with” that large infantry warband backing up Bob’s late charge. Had the game gone another turn, my knights would almost certainly have been eaten by the warband, forcing my pikemen to handle them alone – some better positioning in the previous two turns would have negated the threat. Of course, the whole reason I hadn’t done this was sheer overconfidence, as I hadn’t realized that Teutonic Knights were stubborn, and hadn’t bothered to take that into account in my maneuvering and late-game setup.

Similarly, the brutal grind in the middle of the table, between my WS5 Burgundian Gendarmes and Bob’s Knights (later supported by his characters, and then backed up by his second infantry warband) was completely unnecessary – I had initiated the combat by charging in, and had I known that the Teutonic Knights were stubborn, I would have been far better off hanging back with my own Burgudian Knights and instead shooting for another turn or two with my missile troops on that flank. By charging into combat, I effectively took my missiles units on the right flank out of the battle entirely. Shooting for another two turns would have removed an average of three more models from the Teutonic Knights unit, and forced them to either move into a disadvantageous position in LOS of my cannon to threaten my units, or to stand still and keep sucking up damage, or (even better) to back away entirely and stay out of the battle.

As it stands, I was lucky to pull out a tie, with the game ending on Turn 5 instead of continuing another turn. Clearly, this is exactly the sort of thing that happens when you misunderestimate your opponent’s units.

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