Game 4 – Ghaznavid – John and Malcolm
So, game 4 , Sunday afternoon. With 2 loses now we were right down the pack. When the draw was put up , and we had drawn Ghaznavid, I had mixed emotions. An army of Ghilmen and Turkomen wouldn’t be much fun. But my thinking was if that’s the army they wanted why pick Ghaznavid when there are probably better armies out there for that style of play. The main difference I could see was the amount of elephants available. I wasn’t disappointed. There were 8 beasts in total
The list (~)was
- 3 BG of elephants
- 3 BG of Ghilmen (arm/sup/bow/sw)
- 4 BG of Turcomen (sup/bow/sw)
- 1 BG of Ghazis (prot/sup/if/sw)
- 1 BG of Dailami (arm/sup/if/sw)
- 1 BG of LF with a firearm
The terrain was mixed. On our left flank was a couple of contiguous field giving a 8” corridor of RGo against the short table edge. In the centre was a large open field. My suspicions were raised when they had won the PBI but picked agricultural and have a big open field as their compulsory. Not the move of a cavalry commander. ON the right were more fields, but nothing that bore and impact on the game
Our plan was to deploy neutrally. Spear up front , Knights on reserve. Our trump card of deploying our 16 bases of Crossbowmen opposite the open field as our last move was somewhat trumped by the placement of a further 2 BG of Elephants and Dailami opposing them (the field would not pose a problem for the elephants and the impact foot would surely sweep us away).
The Ghaznavids had deployed (from left to right) the ghazis to go through the enclosed field. A string of Ghilmen covering the gap in-between. Elephants deployed somewhat in reserve, to exploit any gaps. Then 2 more elephants and Dailami and then a cloud of Turkomen to cover the open right flank.
The game started slowely. At least having the first move allowed us to deploy the Crossbowmen who were in a vulnerable spot. One BG turned and marched left, the other right. The gap between replaced by 2 BG of spear, who were deployed to the rear. This somewhat limited our strategic advance , as the spear couldn’t really enter the field, but would act as a barrier on the far side. To be honest the Dailami might fancy their chances anyway.
In response the Ghaznavids made a general advance. The Ghazis entered the enclosed field. We had placed the 2 BG of LF(4) bow there and really that was their game. They advanced we shot and evaded. But were enough of a nuisance for the ghazis not to ignore us , and therefore they played little part in the game.
The Ghilmen advanced and started shooting the spears. But the spears are pretty robust to shooting and not much happened. The Dailami & Elephants advanced into the open field, and on far right the Turkomen rushed forward , we had 2 BG of Knights and now 1 BG of Crossbowmen to hold them all off (not great). However, fortune favoured them , and 8 bases of Crossbow can shoot with as many dice as 12 bases of Lh when they dice to close to short range to try and win the shooting war. All of the Ghaznavid generals were marshalling elephants elsewhere and a couple of bad dice throws and the LH became disrupted, and then fragmented, as they pulled bad to get away some more targeted long range shooting broke one units and the Knights provided sterling support (not failing any impetuous charge tests). With that the Turks fell back and it was the Crusaders who would have the opportunity to envelop.
But the main event was in the centre. We had 2 blocks (of 2 BGs) of spear one in advance on the left. The other was limited by the field in front of it. It had fallen into a bit of a sticky situation. It was being shot at by the Ghilmen (superior), and now the fire syphoniers (cheeky). Our advance was limited as there were other troops , including the elephants, threatening the flanks. So we were being peppered with a lot of arrows and now taking a minus on the test (being shot at by firearms), we had to do something.
To the left of the , while the Ghazis pushed on to their road to nowhere, gaps where appearing and the Elephants were trying to wheedle their way through. We has some KN in reserve (no ideal), but we tried to intercept with some spearmen. Then we had a breakthrough. One BG of Elephants did start of get through the gap, so we did have to commit some Knight. But the elephants were isolated, with a general. Our Knights did have a general and with the elephants angle of approach meant that the initial impact would be small , only 1 base,(thus avoiding too much of 3 dice per elephant at impact). We held in the impact. Then we swung around and started to overlap. The elephant then could only ever get 4 dice (at a +POA), and the Knight (even disordered had 4 dice , then finally 6 as both flanks were overlapped), while at a minus POA re-rolling 1&2s meant that the fight was pretty even. At the same time the left most spear BG charges some Ghilmen, just to get them away, but in the charge threw a 6” , not catching the cavalry but allowing a little wheel an contact the other BG of elephants at the furthest distance. Again only a small contact reduced the Elephant impact effect and even though we disrupted in the impact, we held and then the numbers would tell. We had 8 bases and with the overlaps we could muster 6 dice (and then 8 when bolstered). While both sides were average, and level on POA , we were throwing more dice.
The Elephants proved to be the proverbial glass hammer, and within a couple of turns both had lost a base, and broke. This crashed them through a supporting BG of enemy MF who were acting as rear support and allowed the Crusader spearmen to convert the pursuit of elephants into charge into the disrupted auxiliary foot (who held briefly then broke). So on the far left we had troop swinging around. With both flanks collapsing the Ghazanvids pressed the centre. The cavalry got close and allowed the spear to charge, they evaded and fled around an elephant to its flanks, but the spear crashed into an elephant. This combat was swift and the elephant broke. The Crusaders pursuing toward the camp. By virtue of alignment and line ups as part of this combat the spears were behind the enemy lines and had cavalry to front rear and flank, so my hopes for them wasn’t high. Over the open field on the centre with the break of some of the supporting units crossbowmen advance, their target the last remaining BG of Elephants. The Elephants , given their compatriots less than stellar performance , thought better of it and tried to retire. This was leaving the Dailami somewhat isolated in the field ( we still tried to give then a wide berth as they are as tough as nails in the rough going)
The Ghaznavid army was rocking, it has lost about 8-10 points of its 14-15. Most of the elephants were gone, LH had retired to the four corners of the board trying to bolster. As a final last ditch attempt some Ghilmen stood to be charged by some spearmen , to allow the last elephants to charge them from the rear. Even though we lost the fight the doughty spearmen did not break (hurrah)
At that point the Ghaznavid losses elsewhere , accumulated to a point where they broke. Leaving the Crusaders with a final 24-1 win. This was an interesting game. Our opponents were definitely committed to win, I suppose picking 8 elephants makes that decision for you. A great battle to end the weekend off with.
The final win shot us up the board and we ended up with a respectable 8th place.
Not bad for an army that had never won previously. As a final post mortem, I think in the past my army composition had been a bit basic. You want big BG of foot, you want the Military Order knights (why else Crusader?) , but this always lead to small BG army count. Actually picking the Armenian ally was a breakthrough. In the past I had disregarded it as ‘nothing good’, and only ever really contemplated Bedouin allies to up the BG count, and give a bit of skirmishing potential. But the boost that the Armenians gave was access to the 4 bases BG of LF bow and MF JLS. Having 4 of these boosted the army size of 12-13 to a respectable 15. The Medium foot (with the change in v2 rules) meant they could support 2 BG of 8 Crusader foot (with resorting to silly columns). The general with his entourage of Armenian Knights was a hammer , so all of the allied troops had a role to play. Good choice, and I might use the Crusaders more often now!
We had 4 great games, against 4 great opponents, who have reinvigorate me to do more FoG ancients! Thanks to all whom we played 🙂
Game 3 – Later Crusader vs Later Crusader, Graeme and Rob
Mid table now sees us draw another Crusader army. Their army was similar to ours (no surprise), differing only by having no Military order knights and a Syrian Ally rather than an Armenian one. The Syrians bought some light horse and Cavalry lancers and some light foot.
The enemy Crusader army was
- 3 BG of Knights
- 4 BG of Spear
- 1 BG of Crossbowmen
- 1 Syrian lancer
- 2-3 BG of horse archers
- 1-2 BG of light foot bow
The terrain was minimal and played little part in the game. We had a single wood on our right flank (upon which we anchored), there was a piece of uneven ground on our far left that made a little contribution. We had won the PBI roll off and got to deploy last. Which was of little importance as troops lined up and looked to be matched off… an advantage we did have was to deploy all of our crossbowmen on the open left flank, this was opposed by the Syrian ally, so was good for us, we should win that shooting war. Our right flank was spears up against the wood (with our light foot deployed within)
Both armies trundle forward. The Syrians did advance which was somewhat surprising, I was anticipating a mass redeployment when faced by so many shooters. I guess they didn’t want a hanging flank, and there weren’t many gaps for them to fill anyway.
In this first phase the shooting went in our favour. The Crossbowmen advanced ( Skirmishers can only prevent march moves with 4” in these new rules) shifting to allow Knights to pass through the ranks. The Syrian cavalry was in a quandary it could face off our Knights, who would be slightly better, or retreat for a better opportunity. The problem with allied troops is that you only get one general, and with some light horse getting peppered with crossbow bolts his influence was being stretched. The Syrian cavalry sought the table edge to avoid being overlapped on both sides, and thus faced the Crusading Knights rather than trying to a juicier charge on the crossbowmen.
This charge duly occurred and is it when bad for the Arab cavalry. The ‘knightly’ lance giving the Crusaders a POA. The Syrian soon lost a base and disrupted. The horse archers were wavering , with the Syrian general committed to the heavy cavalry fight he could no longer influence the other units in line of command. The Syrian lancers soon broke and that freed up that whole flank. The crossbowmen could start to wheel inwards and we had rampant Knights sweeping down round the left flank. All good so far…
On the right there was a big of a standoff. We had 2 units of spear faced by 1 unit of spear and the crossbowmen , with both sides having some Knights in reserve. The opposing crusader were bringing more foot up to support the fight so it would be in our advantage to press on. We did have a better defence as we had 2 Bgs of LF in the wood which could pop out unopposed and shoot the mounted in reserve. The thought of the crossbowmen facing armoured spear was too much though and we got in a charge. The crossbowmen crumbled and dropped to fragmented. At the same time the 2 Bgs of knights classed, and we go the better of them. They lost a base and disrupted. That phase couldn’t have gone any better … and then it all went wrong.
The fragmented crossbowmen who were then down to 3-4 dice needing 5’s beat our armoured spear (6 dice needing 4’s), not once but three times on the trot. Each time we lost a base as a result on the penultimate bound we did win against the fragmented troops (who with no general nearby couldn’t rally for the previous 2 rounds) but they threw 11 on the dice just enough to save them. Ignominiously the next turn they beat us again and we lost the 4th base (to auto break our 8 man spear unit).
While this was going on the Knights next to them had a change in fortune too. After being 8 dice vs 4 dice up, they lost that fight (both sides needing 4’s re-rolling 1&2s ) .. to cap it off our general was killed, and our knights dropped to disrupted. To add insult to injury the enemy crusaders rallied. But the jig was up… Our knights broke, next to the routing spears. The pursing knights bounded into camp. We were haemorrhaging points on this flank now.
One our winning left flank , the Syrian thought better of it and started beating a retreat across the back of the table. Our crossbowmen were in pursuit, but would have no chance to catch. The flank was open a revealing some enemy knights. Who rather than being shot, advanced to be intercepted by a BG of our spear. The knights options were limited and ended up charging the steady armoured spear, not normally recommended. However, fortune was on their side and they beat the spear who duly dropped to disrupted. 2 more turns later and the spear were broken. In the centre some more spearmen fought (against other spearmen), but it was for naught. We did some success and broke some spear and knights, but our attrition points were too high and our army broke.
Certainly in this game the luck we had in the first game was cancelled out! We accrued 7 points in that game, which wasn’t too bad considering such a terrible set of events.
Game 2 Bob and Peter – Hungarian.
After our perfect start things would get more difficult. The draw proved this. This is one of those armies that we couldn’t catch, and really they would have to throw the game away for us to get anything out of it.
The Hungarian army composed of
The Hungarians has +4 PBI and won the roll off (no surprise), but gave the initiative away. This allowed us to pick Hilly and clutter the table for difficult going. With no open spaces they too were forced to add a couple bits of lesser going. On our left flank it was cluttered with a forest followed by a marsh, adjoining to the base table edge was a bit of uneven ground. There was about a 1’ of space to the left of that (which we weren’t going to touch). With this barrier running parallel to the side edge we had narrowed the table to about 4.5’ , which we could cover. The deployment followed the plan. Fronted by the spears and with the KN in reserve. We had a couple of KN deployed on the far right to fill the table to the edge. Our plan was simple, we’d have to wait this out a and see what developed. There was no point in trying to try the table push. It never works, and you end with a lot of hard work with a few BGs fleeing off the back edge.
The Hungarians had a wing of light horse and light foot in the open space to the left, with the foot going through the difficult. In response we’d got 1 BG of crossbowmen and some Knights in reserve. The spears were close to the wood , but I wasn’t too bothered about the shooting. Hitting on 5’s on a unit of 8, with general and rear support. We should be able to take this all day.
In the centre was the Hungarian heavy horse archers and some more light shooters. Not so much to bother though. If we could prevent the ‘ganging up’ on the ends we should be ok. On the right they had deployed 1 BG of KN and 1 BG of lancers and some light horse. Our flank looked a bit hanging. But we had 2 BGs of Knights to fill that gap. If we could lure them into coming around, there was at least something we could fight.
The game began with the Hungarians trying for a double envelopment. As we weren’t going far that suited us. Getting the terrain was far more important that getting 1st go to us.
Our left would be bit fraught. We had 8 based of crossbowmen to fend of 12 bases of light horse. The uneven ground meant that at least if they fancied a charge we wouldn’t be in the open. It was tight, but not terrible.
In the centre it would be a none event, cavalry closed and there was shooting across the front. While there wasn’t a lot we could do about it, it should’t hurt us as they were diluting their firepower across a lot of targets.
On the right the Hungarians lancers fancied their chances and marched around that way. Our knights in response meandered that way (looking busy), we didn’t want it to look obvious as we did have a advantage there.
For the large part of the game all the shooting was desultory . From the left the crossbowmen held on valiantly. The spears weren’t bothered. On the right flanks things were more interesting. The Hungarian lancers had got too close. The Crusader knights had come across and were now facing them off. Realising that their cavalry lancers would be disadvantaged they tried to get away. Buy a few poor dice throws and some crossbowmen acting a bait kept them close. The first combats was a knightly charge. Both side being superior lancer knights (with a general in tow). It would be even factors. In the first impact we knocked a based from them, so it was all looking up. However, that battle group then lead a charmed existence from that point on. Our other knights caught the Hungarian cavalry lancers and swept them aside (hurrah some points). With the other combat going in our favour things started looking up. It might mean we’d had 2 BG of knights and some crossbowmen running free on the one flank. However, fate had other ideas. The next turn the 3 bases of Hungarian knights killed the crusader sub general. They also disrupted and knocked a base off our battle group. So in one fell swoop we had gone from 8 dice re-rolling 1 & 2 s to 4 dice re-rolling 1s (vs 6 dice , re-rolling 1 & 2s) They then beat us again the next turn and then again in the following turn. Our units broke when it lost its penultimate base. This same unit turned 180 and then headed towards the other BG of knights and crossbow. As we had advanced , while they pursued the gap was large but as they had now moved light horse in front of us (which were uncatchable) we too did a 180 and turned toward the Hungarians. This 3 base units then beat our other BG of knights (who were untouched, 4 bases) ,and then the crossbowmen (8 bases) for no loss. So we has lost 6 attrition points. Now we were the ones with the hanging flank. Elsewhere things were looking bad, we had lost the camp to skulking light horse (no surprise). We had run out of things to fight.
The crossbowmen on the left were finally feeling the worse of the exchange with the more numerous light horse. They were resorting to charging the light horse to at least alleviate alternate bounds of shooting. But like hyenas the Hungarian light horse would flee, but come back and pepper us again. If we had 2 BGs of crossbowmen things would have been fine. It was just a little bit too much for one unit to take.
In the centre I made a rash move to try and catch 1 BG of light foot archers , by charging it with 2 of our light foot. We had more bases , but we lost the impact and one unit disrupted and lost a base. They soon broke, we were then outnumbered and time for the other archers was soon up.
We were teetering on the army break and were looking for some avenue to get some more points. There were none. In the centre, where out spear had advanced, the opposing knights and cavalry (who had been spectators all game), and tuned 90 and headed to the safety of the corner.
Finally the crossbowmen broke and it was the end for the Crusaders. While we has been unlucky on our right flanks, at best we would have had another BG. To counter this their shooting had been poor and we might have broken an hour earlier with better shooting dice.
Against the grit and air armies we don’t have much of a chance, and this had proven that point. The Hungarians who were at home going forward as well as back could pick and choose were they wanted the battle to be. We could only respond and get what we could. In the end it was a 1-24 against. A grim game, but given that ~20% of the fielded armies would be of this type, one that we might find ourselves facing again.
The 19th Burton and District competition started bright and breezy for us.
The Crusader army we picked was based on the following plan. With 32 bases of armoured defensive spear this was to act as a buttress while the Knights would deploy in reserve and either to the flank or centre (The military order being drilled could act as either fire brigade or exploitation force as required. The 2 blocks of Crossbowmen would deploy last where needed. So often these guys are in the wrong place. Not being the best troops in the world we thought that they needed some advantage. Also deploying 16 bases of shooters might shore up a hanging and certainly drive of any light mounted troops ahead of them. Here is the list –
Our opponents in the first game was the illustrious Hammy and Martin with their Fatamid Egyptians. The list was something along the lines of
- 3 BGs of 9 bases of protected defensive spear
- 2 BGs of Mamluks (Sup/Arm/Bow/Sw)
- 6 BGs of Arab/Syrian lancers ( various grades from Arm/Sup to Avg/Unprot)
- 2 BGs of LH with Bow/Sw
- And a couple of LF BGs with bow
So about 15 BGs
With a PBI of 0, we lost the roll off, but our opponents passed the initiative. This happening in 3 out of 4 games. I’m not sure why people think that was such as good idea. Against a sluggish army like the Crusaders they largely like to be pinned back. Really this avoids the gaps in the line opening up too early. If you can deploy sensibly (with a reserve) then going second is no big issue (especially when you get the terrain advantage). In all of our games I didn’t feel like our opponents opening move was that much of an advantage. I would happily take this option ! As it happened it allowed our Crossbowmen to shine, where perhaps they might be considered mediocre.
In this game terrain was largely irrelevant. A couple of bits of rough going in the flanks , back on the edges. Certainly a 4’ wide section in the centre. Our deployment was to plan. The 32 bases of spear in centre (each group of 2 8s would be supported by 1 4 of Armenian MF (great filler)) We left a 16cm gap in the centre which could be closed by the spear or occupied by Knights or Crossbowmen. The Military order were centre rear. The Armenian Knights and Crusading Knights were deployed on the right (which with hindsight was a slight mistake). The Crossbowmen were split, one in a field to the left to shore up that flank and one to rear centre.
The Fatamids deployed in largely similar fashion. Their spear rear centre. Mamluks deployed in front centre. Our right flank had 2 Syrian (Superior) Lancers and 2 BG of LH. The Left flank had 2 more Syrian Lancers and 2 Arab Lancers (lesser quality ), and a bit of LF Bow.
From setup it looked reasonable for us. Our spear was better (armour), although less numerous. The Cavalry on both flanks we held a slight advantage, in quality , but we were less numerous in bases and BGs.
Their opening move was to send the LF and LH forward to hold us back. The Mamluks raced forward to start their shooting. We ambled forward, not committing any reserves. On the right flank the LH started peppering the KN and tempting them to charge. With 2 BG of KN vs. 2 BG of LH it wasn’t too bad , there would have to be exceptional set of circumstances to break those (more of that later!) . The Syrians on our right didn’t fancy the 2 BGs of Crusading Knights bearing down on them and did a swift handbrake turn and moved back to a safer centre rear position. On our left flank the general plan as I saw it was to envelop us with the Arab lancers while holding us in the centre with the spear and better Cavalry.
Our spears pressed on and the gap closed. The Mamluks started to shoot, but because they couldn’t gang up on any target the odds weren’t in their favour. 4 dice needing 5’s ,requiring 3 hits for a test and 4 for a minus… while the spear had rear support and general. Not much of sporter. As the spears closed the centre it was time to commit the Military order, to the our left. On our right there was a general swing inward. The LH were doing nothing and the chargers were swinging in towards meatier targets.
The crux came as the lined closed to 4-5’ on the left one Military order was facing off 2 units of Syrian lancers. All BGs had a general in tow as no-one wanted to fail the test to charge. Being drilled it meant a 5 thought but they would have 2 tests each turn, so it was in our advantage to wait. We were trying to wiggle a spear unit to get closer and get in-between the cavalry standoff. This meant that the Berber spearmen were pushed to prevent that. Then as luck would have it Hammy failed one of the 2 tests that he needed to make. The impact was brutal. The Knights were a POA up, re-rolling 1 &2s … the Syrians needing 5 (thought re-rolling 1&2s). The Knights of Jerusalem were triumphal. They won the combat. The Syrians lost a base and disrupted – Perfect. In the ensuing melee the Syrians fragmented. In our turn we just pushed everything forward. The Mamluks were a bit squashed, with Berber spearmen directly to the rear. But it wasn’t in our interest to charge, as they were superior with a general, we weathered the shooting. But now our crossbowmen had moved up with all the enemy committed (pinned), we could then just start shooting the end of the Mamluk line with 4 crossbow shots.
The Syrians to the left broke, and the rampant knights smashed into the other Syrian lancers unit behind. With their best cavalry ½ shattered and the other ½ now being outnumbered, the Fatamid saw this as a do or die moment ( they didn’t want drilled lancers floating around to the rear of their lines). SO, they charged en-masse in the centre. The fights were level and there were a lot of dice. For the spear BG that was closest the left most lancers, it was a tale of woe that Hammy will be dining out on for a while.. I should mention at this point my daughter was in charge of dice duty. In the impact were we were level, and they needed some luck (as they would be down in melee for armour). She rolled the first 6 dice , and rolled 6 5&6s (showing off as 4s would be OK). Hammys dice were poor and he only got a couple. He disrupted, it was all looking ominous. Then to compound matters with another throw she threw 11 to kill the general. A general waver when through the Fatamid lines, and several other units dropped after seeing this calamity.
To the right a lancer units was trying to sneak through to get a charge in against the Crossbowmen that were shooting at the Mamluks. But they took 3 hits for their trouble and threw the ubiquitous 1 for their death roll and removed a base.
The whole centre was wavering now. The left centre the second Syrian lancer was breaking… the next Berber spearmen held on briefly but soon broke. The ripple that this caused fragmented the last spear units that was behind the Mamluks, as our turn opened we charged a Spear BG as the Mamluks (who has contracted to avoid being shot , but therefore could not evade. The spear charge also targeted the fragmented Berber spear who didn’t stand. The whole Egyptian centre was now in flight.
With KN bearing down on the remaining right flank, the jig was up. We have a solitary fight on the very left flank were the Arab lancers manifested a charge into the crossbowem (in a field). With the loss of lance, disorder, and the bowmen getting support shooting that was only going one way
The Fatimid’s lay crushed. We have only lost 2 bases in the whole game and suffered 1 disruption. So would be a 25-0 .. a rare score and a perfect start for the Crusaders. Who prior to this had never won a game.
This year’s Badcon is the Feudal period (so about 500AD to 1149AD or thereabouts). No heavily armoured Knights basically. Through a set of circumstances beyond my control I’m not really prepared for this year. Last year with the Gauls it was a bit easier, as we had a plan ( possibly not a very good one, but a plan nevertheless). Normally we can be planning for up to 6 months in advance, but this is a last minute thing. I’ve also been roped in as umpire (I thought I did it last year !), which put a bit of dampener on have an easy weekend. Hopefully, given the maturity of the competition scene it shouldn’t be too stressful. Most of my club mates have jumped ship now into the Renaissance period, which is a better game, and the ancients FoG:AM is probably going through its death knell. I’m not sure what it is. The mis-management of the v2 release (which is better , but could do with being a bit ‘different’), or the malaise of the regular competition player whose ‘meta’ gaming can suck the life out of it… I digress
So, with a week to go it looks like we’ll be using the Crusaders. This army has been knocking around for a few years , but has the ignominious reputation of never having won a game (not that I can remember). So why these losers? Well … I’ve got the army… I like it … seems reasonable straightforward plan. Some spears, some knights and some crossbowmen
The Army was painted a few years back by a friend of mine , Jason (he of JAD designs). I’ve added some pictures to the gallery, but here are a few.
More thoughts and plans to follow