Sunday, June 25, 2017

1066, The Battle For Britain

A Headless Body Production

Location:  Regency at Providence Community Center, Phoenixville, Pa
Event:        Providence Gamer's Game Knight
Players:  Bruce William Potter, Jenny Parker and Steve Turn are representing the defending Britain's, England, Scotland, and Wales.
                Philip Harry Gardocki and Garth Parker are representing the conquerors, the Normans, Vikings, and the Bretons.

Preamble:   In a world before Brexit, England was known for its multiculturalism and fierce independence.  Where strange men bounced around the countryside to blood thumping background music, their servants banging coconuts in their wake.   But there were those in Europe,  who looked upon England with envious eyes, and made their plans.   
(Yes, I know I used the same preamble in the Vikings vs. Picts AAR, but it sounded too good not to reuse.)

Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, about 300 points per side.

Scenario:  In this scenario, Duke William of Normandy, allied with King Harald Hardrada of Norway and Duke Vetal of Brittany, unite in a plan to conquer Britain.  King Harold Godwinson has time to form an alliance with the King Rhys ap Gruffydd of Wales, and Clan MacDonald of Scotland to repel the invaders.
The Forces:

King Harald Hardrada of Norway
6    Huscarls                            Heavy swordsmen armour 2HW        elite
4    Irish mercenaries            Medium swordsmen 2HW       

Duke William of Normandy
3    Milites                                  Medium knight impetuous        elite
4    Norman Spearmen            Heavy spearmen       
2    Bow                                       Bowmen       
Duke Vetal of Brittany
3    Knights                              Medium knight impetuous        elite
4    Breton Spearmen            Heavy spearmen armour       
2    Bow                                    Bowmen       

Breakpoint 29

King Harold Godwinson of England
3    Huscarls                                    Heavy swordsmen armour 2HW   
9    Anglo Saxon Warriors            Heavy spearmen                  

King Rhys ap Gruffydd of Wales
9    Warriors                                   Medium spearmen missile support  
1    Medium Horse                         Medium cavalry  
2    Light                                          Light infantry javelin                   
Clan MacDonald (Scots)   
8    Warriors                                  Medium spearmen missile support  
1    Medium Horse                       Medium cavalry  
1    Light Horse                             Light cavalry javelin  
2    Light                                         Light infantry javelin  
Breakpoint 37  
All generals in this game are Competent.  Just to keep things simple.

King Harold Godwinson has home-field advantage, and elects to defend in the forest.  King Godwinson selects 2 woods and a 2 wooded hills and a village.
Duke William selects a field and a brush. 

It is a quiet morning near Nottingham.  It has a been a dry season and campfires are being carefully extinguished.  The mood music is shifting to a lower key, the plot is about to thicken.
Not since when the General Aulus Plautius of Roman, has such a massive invading army attacked the isle of Britain, and not since Arthur Pendragon has a united Britain faced such an invader.
Men from all over Europe have been called up, looking land, glory, and plunder.
Britain is not without it's defenders.  Fierce warriors from the north answered the call.  Standing alongside brave warriors form the west.
And holding the position left of the line, the English, with a full dozen units of men armed with spear and ax.
Turn 1:
The Irish plunge into the field, but one is sent to distract the Scot's horsemen from wrapping around the flank.
King Harold Hardrada's Huscarls move at the double, but are outpaced by Duke William's Knights.
The Norman spear and bow wave their goodbyes to the Knights as they depart.
Duke Vital's Knights are also eager to engage the enemy, leaving his spear behind as well.
What happened here was a flurry of small command rolls for the Normans and the Bretons.

Also, you may have noted a larger than normal board.  4 x 6 feet.  This was to accommodate the 300 point armies.  However, this made for a boring early game, as close order foot moves at a snails pace, even with double moves.

With their flanks secure, and with terrain advantage, and having Medium Infantry vs. Knights.  The Britain's stand pat.
The only movement on the left.  Scot's horsemen are running wild!
On the right, England pushes forward.
Turn 2:
FYI, this was a long approach, you might want to skip down to turn 7 or so....

William's Knights and Harold's Huscarl's seem to be in a foot race.
Duke Vital gets a couple of command points and summons his spearmen.
The Scots and the Welsh stand pat.
Harold Godwinson, is enjoying a good laugh at the Normans expense.
Turn 3:
Playing on a large board, the command radius really is felt.  The next few turns are are not so much about moving forward, but getting the troops back in command.

Hardrada's Huscarls and Williams Knights are neck and neck.
The intent of the Britain's is clear, so the invaders will spend time and command points organizing.
Turn 4:
Godwinson's troops have been reforming their lines, so Huscarls are facing spear, and Spearmen are facing Knights. 
The Scot's Light Horse gets 2 command points to slip behind the Irish lines.
Turn 5:
Turn 6:

Turn 7:
OK, back from the nap.  Duke Vetal's Bretons are closing to contact with Godwinson's British.  It looks like bad match-ups for the Bretons.
The Welsh are determined to stand in their woods. 

Hardrada's foot are now ready for their assault.  In response, the Scots of Clan McDonald, pull their lines back.
Harold Godwinson is not going to wait for the Breton assault, and orders a charge where the odds are in his favor.  The first die roll doesn't bode well as Breton Bowmen actually win their fight against Elite Armored Heavy Swordsmen.
Overall, the British did not do well here.  3 loses, 2 ties and a single win.
Irish Mercenaries pin the Scot's horsemen to the edge of the board.
Turn 8:
A lot of turns, but only an hour has passed at this point.
An ambush is revealed.  Light Infantry in the village.  The Irish eagerly approach to assault the village.   Harold's Huscarls spend a turn expanding their rear ranks before plunging in.
This all looks good, if it were not for the trees.
A decent picture down the line.
The back and forth down the line has both lines cracking.  King Godwinson goes to the front lines to bolster his men, and catches a spear to the eye.  Leaderless, his Saxons fight on 
Turn 9:
The Irish begin their assault.  And in true Irish fashion, one of the warbands is destroyed by defending Light Infantry.  Two Irish warbands invest the village, now defended by one Light Infantry and one Medium Cavalry.
On the bottom of turn 9, things go very wrong for the Bretons.
In the center, Normandies forces are at a stand off against the Welsh.
The Irish went into the village with all the advantages.  And are now losing.
Save for one bowmen, it is a clean sweep of Breton infantry.
It was hoped that the Bretons would keep the Britain'a engaged till they could be flanked by the Norman foot, but that is not to be.
Turn 10:
The shadows lengthen as the end of the day draws neigh.  As Nottingham forest grows dark, the Welsh begin to disappear.  Only the occasional jeer in that incomprehensible language keeps the Normans in their place.
Another Irish Warband falls.  The last is engaged with Medium Horse.  Despite the horse having a minus 3 modifier, they survive the Irish assault undamaged.  But Harold's Huscarls, winded by their long march, have now engaged the Scot's.  Winning only one battle, while losing 3. 
Scene from the center at sunset.
With the setting sun, the combatants disengage and return to their camps.  The Bretons had been massacred, the Irish decimated.  The defending Britain's are largely intact.  The invaders were defeated, but not broken, and begin the long retreat against a hostile countryside, hounded by the Godwinson alliance, facing the threat of winter, few would ever see their homes in Europe.

Neither side hit their break points, the final score was 14 of 37 losses for England, 19 of 29 for Europe.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

NJCon 2017, Round 1 Irish vs Greeks

A Headless Body Production

Location:97 Sunfield Ave, Edison NJ, 08837 
Event:NJ Con's Fire in the East  
Players: Phil Gardocki, playing the Feudal Irish 
               Jim Bisignani, Hellenistic Greek.

Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 200 points per side. 
It's the first round of the L'Art de la Guerre tournament at the 2017 NJ Con's Fire in the East convention.

I was going to run Anglo-Irish, in preparation for an upcoming team tournament in a couple of weeks, but when I went to check the address of this event, I discovered there were restrictions for this event and I had to come up with another list.

What to do.  I looked for fun lists, Palmyran, Parthian, Byzantine.  Good solid cavalry lists.  Then I looked at lists my newly painted barbarians could be used in, German, Gaul, Mithridatic, Thracian.  Exotic lists Indian and Burmese.  Then I did statistics on the last 66 battles.  I have them documented, what is my win loss ratio.

The results were depressing.

I am not really good at this game. 

I kind of suck.

My overall win/loss ratio is about 40/60.  My best ratio is Mithridatic, with 66% wins, second best is Anglo-Irish, at exactly 50/50.  I didn't want to run Mithridatic because it is complicated, and Anglo-Irish is out.  So, I reached way out of my comfort zone and settled on Feudal Irish (rimshot).  It has much going for it.  It is about as simple an army as you can run.  It has one tool, the 2HW.  So, when your only tool is a hammer, all your problems begin to look like nails.

The Forces Feudal Irish Commanders the vain and pox-marked maggot-pie Larry, Darryl, a yeasty unchin-snouted skainsmate, and the puking, knotty-pated, horn-beast Darryl.     
       4 Nobles, Elite, Heavy Swordsmen, 2HW
       2 Galloglaich, Elite, Heavy Swordsmen, 2HW
       11 Medium Swordsmen, 2HW
       6 Kerns, Light Infantry,  Javelin
Breakpoint 24.

Hellenistic Greek.  One Brilliant and 2 Competent commanders
6 Pikemen
4 Elite Heavy Spearmen
2 Heavy Cavalry
2 Light Cavalry, Javelin
4 Javelinmen
2 Light Infantry, Sling
2 Light Infantry bow
2 Light Infantry Javelin

Breakpoint 24

The Board:
The Feudal Irish lose the initiative and are compelled to attack in the plains.

Ancient Thrace.  A coastal zone, a plantation, a gully, a hill and a field.
  The Irish camp is a collection of pigs and cows tied up to some big rocks they found.
From left to right, there are LI with slings and javelins.  4 units of Thracians Peltasts, (Javelinmen) 6 Pikemen, and a contingent of cavalry.

While on the right, 4 units of Spartans.  Supported by 4 units of lights.
To meet this, is Darryl, with 5 units of Irish, Medium Swordsmen 2HW(3 in ambush), with two Kerns.  To his right is Larry with elite Heavy Swordsmen, 2HW.
And guarding the camp is Darryl with 6 more Irish.
Larry announces a general advance.  His forces double move forward.  Darryl, the puking knotty-pated horn-beast, not Darryl the yeasty unchin-snouted skainsmate, keeps pace.
Not wanting an engagement in the plantation, Darryl sends only his lights forward.  The idea here is to engage the center on even terms, and the Spartans with superior numbers.
The Greeks wish to commit their forces in an opposite manner.  The Spartans are held back, while the Thracians are aggressively pushed forward.
Turn 2:

An ambush is revealed and joins up with the rest of Darryl's Irish.  Now the Thracians do not have a numerical edge on their flank they expected.
Like two glaciers in the night, the forces, inextricably, closed together.

Turn 3:
Turn 4:

Contact!  The Thracians exit the plantation.  Darryl's Irish meet them with an overlap.  The results are in the Irish's favor. 
The center and right haven't engaged yet.  This is OK though.  As the left flank is looking favorable.  If the Thracians are defeated, then the Greek center risks a multitude of flank charges.

The Greek commander sees the risk and is playing conservative.

The dice turn in favor of the Thracians.  One Irish warband is destroyed, another damaged.  While the two disordered Thracians  hold their ground.

Greek spear vs Irish sword.  The Irish lose 5 out of 6 fights.

The Spartans were never lined up with the rest of the Greek line, and approach, but could not contact the Irish. 
Turn 5:

The lights are doing a number of charge and evades.  A Greek LI, Javelin is shot away.  Irish sword destroy a Thracian sword, then conform to line up. 

The Greek center is performing well.  Two Irish elite heavy swords are destroyed, 3 are damaged.
Darryl's Irish medium foot charge the Spartans.  The Spartan right most unit chastises and dismiss his foe in an amazing show of arms.  His Spartan brothers down the line however do not show the same skill.  Darryl, in a show of desperation, goes all in on his fight, and manages to cause an extra point of damage for his effort.

Another Thracian is defeated.  But even if Darryl wins this fight, his forces are wrecked.  Greek cavalry sees an opportunity and charges the last undamaged Irish medium sword.
Even with the support of the Greek Cavalry, a Hoplite is destroyed by the Boys from Stafford.
On the Irish right, 2 HW is doing it's job.  Two Spartan hoplites are destroyed in 2 bounds of combat.

Turn 6:
The game is getting tight.  The shellacking the Irish is taking in the center by their best forces seems to be balanced with wins on both flanks. 

The Spartan commander comes to the front to support his disordered Hoplite.  And is immediately killed!  His Hoplites are hopelessly scattered.  But can Darryl turn his forces around in time to effect the outcome in the center?

The Thracian line is penetrated, but still fights on.  They are near defeat, but even if they lose, Darryl will never get this line turned in time to effect the center.
4 out of 6 Irish heavy foot are destroyed.  The Greek center is also solid with only 1 unit destroyed, 1 disordered.

The last Spartan is hit in the flank, but skill wins out over daring, an their unit is undamaged.
The last Thracians fall.  Another Greek Horse unit commits to battle to keep the Irish center occupied. 
Another Irish Noble is destroyed.  Larry is down to one unit.
The last Spartan unit turns to face their opponents.  The luck of the Irish holds though, and delivers two hits to the Spartans.

At that point, the Greeks crawled across their break point of 24.  The Irish were at 18 of 24. 

What went wrong?  Other than bad die rolls in the center, I cannot say the Feudal Irish did anything wrong.  The skirmishers kept the Greek skirmishers at bay but largely avoided being defeated  by superior numbers.  This gave the heavy and mediums a numeric advantage on the edges.  2HW did its job, providing wins in case of ties, and boosting the cohesion hits half the time.