Sunday 3 February 2013

Bashing the Bishop!

With my wife away for the weekend with friends, I decided to invite my regular gaming chums, Craig, Keith and Chris, over for a multi-player Dux Bellorum game. For Keith this would be his first game and for the rest of us the chance to play against an opponent rather than playing solo.

As we are all still relatively new to the rules, this was to be a test game where we could really get to grips with the games mechanics, test out strategies and to get a handle on how different unit types and warbands worked. Craig chose to play Romano-British as he has a virtually finished warband that he naturally wanted to put on the table and show it off in all lts glory. Chris went for an Irish warband, whilst I chose to draw up two very different warbands for the Saxons and Welsh. So broadly speaking the forces were as follows:

1 x Foot Companions
3 x Noble Foot Warriors
1 x Ordinary Foot Warriors
4 x Javelin Skirmishers

1 x Mounted Companions
2 x Noble Riders
5 x Ordinary Warriors
1 x Mounted Skirmishers

1 x Foot companions
3 x Noble Warriors
4 x Ordinary Warriors
+1 leadership Points

Romano-British (I'm not sure on this but I think it was roughly the following)
1 x Foot Companions
2 x Noble Shieldwall
1 x Ordinary Riders
1 x Foot Bow
1 x Foot Bow Skirmishers
1 x Monks

So as you can see quite a mix of warband types which is what we wanted. With Craig and Chris already spoken for with their warbands, Keith opted for the all cavalry force of the Welsh, leaving me with my Saxon Warriors. In keeping with the early Dark Ages period, Craig and Keith paired up as the gallant defenders of Albion with Chris and I as the Pagan invaders.

Using the KISS principle for this learning game, with went with a straight forward Annals Battle as per the rulebook. Unsuprisingly the Pagans won the die roll off and became the Agressors, which again was entirely in keeping with the period.

Craig and Keith selected the terrain and duly placed it, then both sides deployed as per the rules. The Romano-British deployed in and next to the woods with the Welsh cavalry on their extreme left flank. The Irish deployed opposite the woods with the Saxons on their immediate right in front of both the Romano-British and Welsh.

Now I spent most of the time playing the game and taking photos, rather than taking notes. However the following pictures should give you an idea of how the game developed.

The Romano-British deployed in and next to the woods with the Welsh cavalry on their extreme left flank. The Irish deployed opposite the woods with the Saxons next to them in front of both the Romano-British and the Welsh.

The Romano-British Companions.

Not a Santa Claus convention but the Monks ready to give spiritual support.

The Welsh advance to try anf flank the Saxons, who move out to meet the threat. By the woods both sides move forward. Not the red cohesion die caused by blunders in the first turn!

The Welsh cavalry came off worse in a clash with the Saxon Warriors, losing one unit of Riders.

The Welsh Mounted Companions close to routing after the first clash.
The irish and Saxons itching for a scrap.

The Saxons close in on the remaining Welsh cavalry.

The Saxon elite get stuck in.

The Romano-British Companions see off the first Saxon assault on their shieldwall. This was to be the start of a protracted but important fight.

The Welsh cavalry attempt to get round the back of the Saxons, whilst the Irish and Saxons close in on the Romano-British.

The Saxons turn to meet the threa to their rear whilst combat rages by the wood.
The Welsh cavalry severely outnumbered.

The Irish join the fight.

The threat from the Welsh cavalry has all but disappeared.

The victorious Saxons.

The Shieldwall stands firm.

The Welsh cavalry routed after reaching 50% and then failing their Bravery rolls.
The Romano-British stand like a rock against the waves of Saxon and Irish attacks, but the irish are beginning to lose units.

The Irish Nobles Warriors are lured into a trap in the wood by the Monks and Foot Bow.

Even with the trap sprung in the wood, things are not looking rosey for the Romano-British.

With the Welsh cavalry gone, the saxons move to attack the Romano-British left flank.

A few losses cause the Irish to leg it off the table, most likely to go and watch the opening Six Nations game with the Welsh in the pub! Could the Romano-British pull off an unlikely win from here?

The Saxons close in for the kill. With cohesion points building up for the Romano-British, a few turns of combat see them at 50% and they too leg it off the table, most likely to join the others ready for the Calcutta Cup match!

Well we certainly had an entertaining game full of action and high drama, exactly what we wanted. I think we had at least 4 blunders in the game, two in the very first turn, as well as a fair few double ones. For a learning game it certainly ticked all the boxes and post-match reading of the rules through up a few things that we had missed, but then this was the point of the game.

We did however surpass ourselves on our usual bawdy badinage, with no opportunity for double entrendres missed. Any talk of 'interpenetration', being 'taken in the rear' was seized upon with juvenile glee. The highlight of this, if you can call it that, was the "Irish being sucked into the woods to bash the Bishop, only to be assaulted and taken in the rear". I fear Keith still hasn't recovered from his shamefull display of sniggered comments!

So what did we learn, apart from the fact that we should really grow up?
  • Cavalry on their own are very weak.
  • Skirmishers need to be used with care, to get them into the right place for maximum use but not expose them to danger.
  • Shieldwall units are tough nuts.
  • When and when not to group units will take some practise.
  • A 'combined arms' approach probably works best.
  • Uncontrolled Charges can be very usefull, especially against cavalry.
  • When and where to place Leadership Points, and then how to use them, is crucial.
I'm sure there are a few other points, but hopefully you get the main gist.  Once again Dux Bellorum produced a great, fun game that was very easy to play, which as I've said before, is what it's all about. In true Frankie Howerd style, I can't wait for another chance to get 'stuck in!'