Cold Wars 2012: Thursday, Friday

Another Cold Wars has come and gone.  It was a lot of fun, as usual, and it has renewed my enthusiasm for going to conventions.  My friendships with friends I rarely see grow stronger, and I look forward to seeing everyone in person again soon.

I did a lot of losing this past weekend, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time dwelling on it.  There are other newer, more interesting things to talk about instead.

Thursday

JM and I rode out with Larry and Rich and set up camp in a second room the hotel accidentally reserved in Larry’s name.  Thanks for the mistake, no other rooms were available!

On Thursday night was Larry’s element-based theme game: Horde Wars.  Armies were required to contain at least one horde, so I took Post-Mongol Samurai with four hordes.  As usual, despite being a “Horde Wars” event, the metagame turned it into “Horde Killers Wars.”  I usually take advantage of the opportunity to try to learn how to use the themed element type, instead of trying to learn how to kill it.  This time, I’m not sure it worked, because I don’t think Hordes are as useful in large numbers as in smaller numbers.

My losses were against Ron Giampapa’s Feudal English, 2-4; Mark Bumala’s medieval army (I forget which one, but it had more Knights), 6-0; and Jason Bostwick’s Sarmations, maybe 4g-0.  Basically I was crushed, and the only elements I killed in the event were Ron’s psiloi rush.

Friday

I actually got sleep Thursday night.. no wait… no, I didn’t.  I had Thai iced tea and a Kahlua drink and couldn’t get to sleep at all, but JM confirmed I was snoring so I must’ve slept a little bit.

Friday morning was the first Big Event: BBDBA Doubles.  JM and I took Hittite Empire (I/24a) with a Mitanni ally (I/19).  This is hopefully the last time this army will be a straight spear line.  Starting with Historicon, we’ll be using the DBA 2.2+ rules for BBDBA, which will convert all the Hittite 3Sp into Light Spears.  This will make them weaker, but more maneuverable.  I’m not sure if I’d be as willing to take Hittites to BBDBA, but I’d be more willing to play a Hittite/Mitanni matched pair.

vs. Two Davids: New Kingdom Egyptians

In the first round, we faced Two Davids with their New Kingdom Egyptians. They placed a mandatory waterway on one edge, and marshes mucking up the deployment zone on the other edge. After protracted discussion, we chose the board edge behind the marshes, and they deployed half their army.  They reserved not only their last command, but a landing party from their CinC command, giving them maximum flexibility in deploying their final forces.  This won’t be legal in 2.2+.

We deployed defensively behind the marshes, with our mounted almost entirely on the right flank.  This gave us a good size bad going force to fight in the marsh while our spears sat behind to prevent breakthroughs.  JM refused their slowed left flank while we attacked aggressively on the right.

We won the bad going, and eventually broke one of their commands, but it wasn’t their CinC.  Unfortunately, it went more slowly than we preferred, and Dave Schlanger was strictly enforcing 2.5 hour rounds this time. We couldn’t seal the deal in time, so we ended up with an unfinished game, 29-10 in our favor.  This is as well as we’ve done against the Davids in person, which is good, but it is no fun to leave a game unfinished.

vs. Greek’s Greeks: Syracusan with Carthaginian ally

In fact, we disliked it so much that we decided to do it again in the next round.  We faced “Greek” Alex and Mark Pozniak playing Syracusans with a Carthaginian ally.  They defended again, but placed their mandatory waterway on the flank instead.  Heavy bad going bogged up the other flank, so we were destined to stick to the coast on our right flank again.

This game went very similarly to the first one, at the start.  We deployed on the right flank with the intent to attack heavily with chariots and support in adjacent bad going, while refusing the left.  The two games were similar enough that they get mixed up in my head.  In this game, we both broke one of the enemy’s commands before time was called, and the game ended 25-22 in their favor.

vs. Hans and Franz: Alex and the Classics

These two unfinished games pretty much spoiled the bracket and meant that someone could advance to the finals with only two wins.  That turned out to be Hans and Franz, who we faced in our final round: Rich Gause and Jeff Franz playing Alexandrian Imperial with Classical Indian ally.

Oh boy, did we end up sucking this game. But at least we finished it.  We placed terrain and deployed centrally and symmetrically.  I deployed Mitanni on the right flank.

I really don’t like blaming the dice, and it felt like we made a lot of mistakes this game; but in some cases we really didn’t have the PIPs required to do what we knew we should have done.  The first turn started with a PIP roll of 1, 1, 1, which just wasn’t enough; and it didn’t get better until it was too late.  Rich was able to push his attack down the road on our left flank unopposed, and I wasn’t able to mount any coordinated attack on the right.

Jeff and Rich both played very well and definitely deserved their 100-0 victory.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it!  They went on to the finals and won their final game, taking victory in BBDBA doubles.  Congratulations!

In the end, we failed our goal of getting at least 100 points.  Next time we’ll have to take a faster army… hopefully one that we can win with.

After BBDBA Doubles was the Pyramid Pyramid.  This was a Two Davids pyramid format event using biblical era armies and the DBA 2.2+ modifications.

Dave Schlanger ran the pyramid format a bit differently than it’s done out in Ohio.  Instead of carrying our losses each round, the losing players all lose 2 elements and the winners lose nothing.  This provides some strategic attrition to reduce the size of the armies in play, while maintaining the same size army on both sides and rewarding winning instead of playing conservatively.  It worked very well, I’d like to see this form of attrition used more widely.

I had Early Libyans, which looked quite fun in this era: Warband, Bow, Psiloi.  I lost my first game to Jan Spoor’s Sea Peoples, 5-2.  Playing together in the second round, Jan and I crushed Jeff Franz’s Hebrews and Larry Chaban’s New Kingdom Egyptians.  In the third round, the four of us lost to Alex Bostwick, Mark Pozniak, Rich Gause, and JM Seman.  The highlight of that game was my demoralized bow shooting Alex’s general (the CinC) and recoiling it to its death… but we only demoralized one of their commands before they crushed us under their unrelenting boot of progress.

Instead of playing the Midnight Madness event, which would have provided some chance of going to bed at a reasonable hour, 7 of us stayed up until 2:30am playing Arkham Horror.  We had more devoured investigators than I’ve ever seen before, let alone all in the same game.  In Soviet Russia, you don’t finish the game, the game finishes you.  We quit while we were ahead and got some sleep… not enough, just “some.”

Stay tuned for Saturday…

DBA 2.2+: Playtest Animations

JM and I have been playing some play-by-email games using the DBA 2.2+ rules modifications found on the WADBAG site.  The play by e-mail board is available on the Fanaticus forums and JM’s blog.  It’s intended for use with Inkscape, a free, open-source vector drawing application.

Since each game results in a series of .svg files representing each turn, it’s easy to automatically turn them into an animation.  I know that some people don’t prefer to see the turns go by so quickly without being able to pause the animation to look at the details, but I just think they look cool.  They also give an overall feel of the pace and flow of a battle, without diving down into the individual combats.

Here are the two animations I’ve done so far.  Click on the thumbnails to view the animated full scale versions.

Georgians (bottom) vs Konstantinian Byzantines (top).
Tibetans (bottom) vs. Hindu Indian c, other (top).

DBA v2.2+ Movement Gauges

Here are the movement gauges I had made in support of the DBA 2.2+ rules effort.  They were custom laser cut by Laser Lab Studio in Pittsburgh for a very reasonable rate.

In the upper left is transparent acrylic, 1/16″ thick.  The engraving on the surface is much more visible in real life, but it can be emphasized by applying a very thin wash of acrylic paint and then wiping off the excess.  This is what I did for the tool in the lower left, which is black 1/16″ acrylic.

On the right is a 1/8″ plywood tool.  The engraving is much more visible, and this tool has the improved cutout shape to fit around some figures more easily.

DBA v2.2+ movement gauges

Fall-In 2011: Part 2

Before we went to bed on Friday, we made sure we knew what time Saturday’s events started.

Embattled Isles

The first event on Saturday was an excellent set of themed games arranged by the Davids.  They built 7 scenarios that all took place in England over a long span of time.  The battles chronicled successive waves of invaders taking control of England and then defending against the next invading army.  Each battle had preset terrain and army deployments, and some had special rules.  Unfortunately, we only had enough players to play 5 of the 7 scenarios.

I enjoyed this format immensely, but it must have taken a lot of work to arrange.   The huge win here is that all metagame concerns are completely gone, so players are evaluated based on their ability to command in a variety of situations they don’t have complete control over.  Defenders and invaders had separate winners, ensuring that any scenario unbalance was compensated for in the results.

In the end, the top three on our (defending) side went 3-2, and I ended up in the middle of the pack (worst of the best) based on points.

The shortened event left us with too much time to spend money in the flea market and dealer’s hall as the snow piled up outside.  At some point during the weekend, possibly between these two events, I got in a few pickup games with Jeff Franz and Jan Spoor.

Viking Fury

In recent years, the highlight of every HMGS-E convention has been the themed campaign event run by (you guessed it) the Davids on Saturday night.  This year’s theme was Viking Fury: the Viking invasion of England and Ireland.  I played one of the Viking players: Ivar the Boneless. Unfortunately JM, aka “Ragnar Shaggybreeches,” wasn’t around for me to blame him for my name (Ragnar was Ivar’s father, but he’s still not sure who the mother is).

Chris’s Picts are taken from behind.

In the first round, I yelled “Waagh!” and ran forward, as all good Vikings should.  “You guys approach his position from the woods, and we’ll sail up from behind and surprise him.

Chris surrounds me, but not fast enough.

In the campaign turn, I landed on a space on the map that must be defended by either Chris Brantley or Jan Spoor, and took my chances.  Chris defended with his Picts, placed a mandatory waterway, and ended up with it at his rear.  Fortunately for me, he didn’t anticipate my littoral landing.  I boldly deployed my general with 3 supporting units behind his lines, and took his camp on the first turn.  Luckily I had enough PIPs to run forward with the remainder of my force.  The 3″ move for 3Bd (Raiders special rules for this campaign) definitely helped get my guys back into command.

After that, it was a matter of me killing two more of his units before he surrounded and destroyed me.  I plowed forward in the center, while he spent PIPs to go around me on both flanks.  In the end he completely surrounded me, but I was back in command and he had gotten out of command.  He was almost within striking distance of my camp when I killed a second element and convinced these reasonable men to join my cause.  Bitches!

Pushing David Kuijt back into the sea.

In the second round, I attacked David Kuijt, also a Viking who had claimed a landing spot on the campaign map.

He did anticipate the possibility of a littoral landing at his rear, and protected against it.  However,  through a combination of not making very many horribly bad mistakes, and rolling really well, I finally beat David, 4-2.

He ended up being my first vassal, since in the first round my victory only gained me a place to park my boats and set up camp.

Nick Swales rolls me up.

In the third round, I had yet another chance to invade on the campaign map, and I attacked Nick Swales with a long line of spears.  This was a fairly straightforward “line ’em up and roll high” sort of affair.  Unfortunatly only one of us gets to roll high enough to win, and this time it was him.  He poked a hole in my line where my warband had hoped to poke a hole in his, and beat me down with attrition in a 4-1 victory.

In the final round, Rich Baier attacked me to steal my growing vassal tree.  Again we were both Vikings, so it should’ve been a fairly even match.  And again, it was a straight line without much complicated maneuver involved.  But this time, Diceman was on a winning streak.  He didn’t win with a few 6-1 splits, but instead he kept pushing me back with die rolls just good enough to beat me, consistantly over a long period.  Eventually I had to die, and I did.

Diceman has a lucky streak

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed playing against Rich, because I had so many recoils that my combat factors were never horrible. I consistently felt like a good die roll was just around the corner; it just never came.  I don’t have notes regarding how badly he beat me, but I suspect it was 4-0. He went on to win the entire event, and I ended up in a multiway tie with the third most points.

I definitely have fun at these conventions, especially given how few opportunities I end up with to play DBA and HOTT outside the conventions.  I know I’d play better if I played more often, but I’ll take what I can get.

And now, to plan for Cold Wars.  I need to get 48 points of “something HOTT” ready for a grudge match, and it’s looking like it’ll most likely be my Fire army. We’ll see what other events pop up that will require more painting…

A hearty thanks to all of the game masters and the event coordinators!

Fall-In 2011: Part 1

JM and I rode out to Lancaster with Larry early on Thursday, to get to Fall-In with time for dinner before Larry’s Glue Factory event.  I wanted to write this up before I finished reading JM’s account of what happened during BBDBA on Friday. I expect he may find my post-game analysis a bit tedious, but I find it helpful to go back over images to learn from our experiences.

Mike Guth’s Tuaregs approach the dunes.

Thursday: The Glue Factory

The Glue Factory was a DBA theme requiring all participating armies to contain at least 8 mounted elements out of 12 (not including elephants).  I brought Mongol Conquest, because it was one of my two eligible armies (along with Skythians). Mongols have many light horse, with low combat factors, no room to maneuver on a 24″ board, and high aggression “guaranteeing” I’d never place terrain. I didn’t think this was a strong army compared to what I expected from the competition.

I expected to see mostly Knight armies, but I shouldn’t have been surprised by Mike Guth’s Tuaregs in the first round. He won terrain and placed massive dunes in the center.  These are bad going to me but not to his camels.  The only thing in my favor was that they didn’t block shooting, though they did constrict his command radius.

An anachronistic civil war vs. Dave’s Golden Horde

I didn’t expect to win with this setup, and I felt successful for killing 2 elements before I lost 2-4.  This was too much terrain even for Mike, who had command radius issues once he sent his general into the center.

In the second round I had a much better chance of success if you just compared army composition.  I faced Dave, whose last name I didn’t learn, with his Golden Horde.  Surprisingly, I won the terrain roll, and had to figure out what a Steppe is supposed to look like.  Unfortunately I lost my fourth element to his bow shots before I killed four of his, and he won 4-3.

I found it interesting that when you have two light horse armies, you no longer need to play as a flanking force to gain an advantage.  My success was through flanking him around my right side… but so was my demise.

Mike Bumala’s Normans

 In the final round, I faced Mark Bumala’s Normans.  Once again, I placed terrain.  This game was a horrible massacre: I lost 1-5g.  I was really perturbed by how uncooperative my dice were being; it’s the only time I remember recently when I got very angry at bad die rolls.

Friday: Big Battle Doubles

Friday morning, JM and I got up nice and early, with plenty of time before the BBDBA doubles tournament at 9am.  Except, it didn’t start until 10am.  When did that happen?

We had time to get in a bit of a Viking civil war between our recently finished Baueda Viking armies. This Fall-In was notable for being the first HMGS-E convention I’ve been to when I’ve played a substantial number of pickup games between events.

This time, the Grey Wardens (JM and I) took Leidang (III/40d) with a Medieval German ally (IV/13a).  We chose 6 blades and the psiloi from each Leidang, and 2 auxilia in the German ally.  This left the Leidang with 2x3Kn, 12x4Bd, 4x3Ax, 4x2Ps, 2x4Sp, and the Germans with 5x3Kn, 2x4Sp, 2x3Ax, 1x4Cb, 2x2Ps.

Two Davids: Leidang on Leidang action

In the first round we faced Two Davids (Kuijt and Schlanger) with a nearly mirror image of our army.  They also had Leidang with a German ally, but they included 5 blades and 1 bow from each Leidang army, and used all of the German spears.  We won terrain and placed the terrain we planned for, with the waterway on a short edge so we wouldn’t see any landings.

The crux: our right flank bad going

We initially placed both Leidang commands, and then we were faced with the typical defender’s dilemma in BBDBA.  After placing 2 commands centrally so they’re hard to ignore, the enemy places 3 commands so they overlap your two and extend out each flank.  The defender now must choose which flank to attack and which to hold back.

Their Germans were on our left flank, but their knights were deployed inside a marsh, and didn’t look like they had room to maneuver.  On our right flank, we were a bit cramped by terrain, but our Germans are better in bad going than theirs.  We deployed the Germans on our right.  After a few turns we learned a few reasons not to have done what we did, but I think if we had deployed on the other side we simply would’ve learned a different lesson.

Our allies see their brothers working for the enemy, and flee.

We were slightly outmatched in the bad going on our right flank, but it could have gone either way due to the low combat factors.  When we first entered combat, it did go either way, and we ended up getting crushed in the bad going, and soon the German command broke before it could make contact. 

On the left flank, JM did an admirable job of holding off the Germans for as long as possible, but unless you’re winning somewhere else, living as long as possible just isn’t good enough.  He broke the enemy’s German command by killing its general, but that was too little too late, and we couldn’t catch up in elements before losing by attrition, 13-87.

In retrospect, in the best case scenario our knights on the right flank would still have been waiting for that combat to end before they could attack very strongly.  The fact that we didn’t want to advance on our left flank gave the enemy Germans the time they needed to maneuver to our flank unhindered.  It feels like we might have been better off deploying our Germans on the left, but then we would’ve had our knights facing their bad going, and we still wouldn’t have been able to flank them as easily as they could with bad going troops on the other side.  In short: it’s better to have terrain to anchor both of your flanks, than only one of them.

Stooge stand-in Mark Pozniak, with stooge Larry.

In round 2, we faced Larry Chaban and Mark Pozniak, using Larry’s “Jagoff” army: Medieval German IV/13d.  With 6 war wagons and 6 artillery, this is a formidable beast.

They defended and Larry placed pool table terrain. They deployed “everything except the mounted” first, with supported pike protecting the war wagons and artillery.  The Pike are too strong for our blades to beat consistently, and the war wagons don’t let us get any overlaps because they don’t recoil.   Our only hope was running fast, killing some artillery, and taking advantage of gaps in the line.

We were left with the standard BBDBA attacker’s dilemma: when faced with a narrower force, which side do we deploy heavier on? Which flank do we want to attack, where do we want them to deploy their third command, and how do we deploy to encourage them to comply with our preferences?  In this case we didn’t ask all of these questions, so we didn’t answer them.

For the Leidang, we used an interwoven command deployment: part of command A, then part of B, then the rest of A, then the rest of B.  The theory was to be able to get localized 2-on-1 command advantage, but the downside is that it always costs more PIPs to maneuver the groups, and it lets them get 2-on-1 command advantage at different locations.  We won’t be trying that again

In this game, we were basicaly trying to attack with our blades and knights while they attacked with their knights.  The problem with this plan is that all else being equal, their knights are faster than our blades, so we have to hold them off longer than they’d have to hold us off.

We also learned a lesson about allied commands: they are unreliable.  They can get high PIPs, but they can also get low PIPs.  This makes them more well suited for less PIP-intense missions than “primary attacking force.”

This time, the force JM was using to hold off the enemy also happened to be our CinC.  We did kill a few elements, but not many: we lost 8-92.

Rob and Matt Torres place their center command.

In our final round, we faced Robert and Matt Torres with their Low Countries army.  They had lots of pike, with some artillery and knights in support.

Just before initial contact

They won terrain and placed a river to narrow the board, with terrain on one flank.  They deployed a pike block on each side with an empty space in the center for their artillery and blades.  Our counterdeployment was simple: a straight line of blades against most of their pikes, with a flanking force of mounted and bad going troops on the one open flank.  Our hope was to break the center and then hit both of their internal flanks from their center to break another command and destroy them.

Overall, our plan worked, but there was a flaw: neither of their weak commands we attacked was their CinC.  Since we rarely have occasion to need to know how to win, we (or at least I) didn’t realize that demoralizing two commands isn’t enough, only attrition or demoralizing the CinC lets you win.

The Aftermath

In the end, we did kill their center and envelop and destroy them on our right flank; but we still needed to frantically kill elements while their strong CinC command hammered our low PIP command.  We ended up losing one command, and almost lost our camp, but we survived long enough to win a 74-26 Pyrrhic victory. 

Looking at these pictures, it becomes more clear to me that with heavy foot lines, you really don’t need to extend very far past the enemy’s flank to gain a significant advantage.  We could’ve shifted our entire line left two elements and we’d have been better off on both flanks.

Finally, the Grey Wardens won a game!  I think our next goal should be to end with more than 100 points.  I feel that we made mistakes, but they were a bit more strategic in nature than in past events, and that we agreed on what we’d try, even though it didn’t work.  At least I didn’t run my forces towards inevitable crushing defeat, like last time.

In the end, the Stooges and the Davids didn’t finish in time but still ended up first and second in our bracket, so they diced off to enter the finals.  Larry and Mark went to the finals and won the event.  Congratulations!

A Game of Ice and Fire

Because we knew we wouldn’t be participating in any other events during the time slot after Big Battle Doubles, JM and I arranged for a pickup game of Hordes of the Things against the Two Davids.  This turned into 72 points of 3-on-3 mayhem.

The Ice Elementals, commanded by David Kuijt, David Schlanger, and Mark Pozniak, defended their barren icy wasteland from liberation by the forces of Fire and Earth commanded by me, JM, and Chris Brantley.

I didn’t get a good sense of the battle on the other end of this large table, but the general flow seemed to be: we melt them with our fire, and the resulting water puts out our fire.  The earth elementals broke first through the loss of their general, followed by my complete annhiliation.

This was my first experience using the “large warband” variant rules, and I liked them a lot.  The figures were pretty, and the terrain was also quite nice.  Overall it increased my inspiration to play HOTT, and to complete some of my existing HOTT armies.  I’ve started basing my own fire elemental army, using many of the same D&D figures seen here.

Oh yeah! JM and I also played a pickup game of Hordes of the Things, Ewoks vs. Undead.  I was not at all put off by the weird combination of troops, it really didn’t seem any worse than fighting ahistorical matches in DBA once you got the figures on the table.

Congress of Gamers 2011: DBA

This past Saturday was Congress of Gamers in Rockville, MD (just outside DC). I was afraid I might not make it to the De Bellis Vasingtonium (DBA open) event, because we were going on a long family weekend… to DC.  I’m glad Marla argreed to let me leave them at the zoo for most of Saturday.  Thanks!

The events I didn’t participate in included a lot of open board gaming along with some organized board gaming events such as a racing series.  There weren’t many miniatures games other than the ones organized by “the DBA crowd.” Unfortunately I wasn’t able to participate in the Wings of War Balloon Busting event either, due to time constraints.

I really enjoyed the format of the “Bring-and-Buy,” where you drop off your old board games and hope someone buys them.  I didn’t bring any games due to timing, and didn’t end up buying anything because the prices were high compared to the size of my wallet and my desire to own the games.  But I think in future years I could sell off some of my games fairly easily since I wouldn’t expect to get as much as they were asking for theirs.  I also missed participating in the no-ship math trade.

Hordes of the Things

I arrived too late to play in the Hour of Wolves and Shattered Shields event, a Hordes of the Things giant battle scenario set up by David Kuijt and Dave Schlanger.  I did get a few pictures: here’s an overview of the whole battle.

This scenario was based on the Battle of Dale.  This battle was left out of the movies, and the main characters weren’t there so it was chronicled in less detail in the books as well.  Around Dale in the North of Middle Earth, Dwarves, Elves, and Men faced the forces of Sauron: mostly Easterlings (evil men).

In HOTT terms, each side had 108 points split into 4 commands, good guys vs. bad guys (aren’t they always?)  As in the Giant Battle rules, all players on a side played simultaneously.  Although this can slow things down given enough players, I think I prefer the “long line” battles over the more free-for-all format used in the Two Davids Monsterpocalypse themed HOTT games.  I should probably actually play a normal Giant Battle before I settle on that decision…

All the figures were Games Workshop, mostly Lord of the Rings figures (with a few pigeons from the Warhammer elf line.)

De Bellis Vasingtonium

As it turned out, only an “hour” of wolves and shattered shields was a bit optimistic. When everyone finaly cleaned up the Battle of Dale, we started De Bellis Vasingtonium: a 4 round DBA tournament open to all armies.

I couldn’t decide whether to take Feudal Spanish (III/35b) or Later Achemenid Persians (II/7), so I brought Hittite Empire instead: I/24b.  I chose the psiloi option, giving me a final composition of: 3xHCh (gen), 1xLCh, 6x3Sp, 2x2Ps.  Except for its lack of bad going troops, this is a fairly solid composition, especially for 1200BC. 

JM’s right hand blocks his view of his Greco-Indian general.

I thought I might face another early army, but JM’s Greco-Indians were the earliest possibility, so we played each other in the first round.  “I came all this way to play against you?”

I attacked and JM set up basically a pool table, which suited us both just fine.  Early on I denied his elephant flank and concentrated on his other side.  I didn’t win this battle, JM lost it 2g-0.  Our battle lines seemed fairly well matched, but after the first few bounds of combat, JM misused a 1-PIP roll and left his General open to being outflanked, so I killed him.

Apparently JM stopped making mistakes early, because this was the only game he lost.  Congratulations on the 3-1 placing, that’s excellent!

Before: Doug Austin’s Bosporans vs. my Hittites.

In the second round, I faced Doug Austin’s Bosporins.  I’ve faced these guys twice before in BBDBA but never in single DBA.  I was the attacker, and Doug set up symmetrical terrain with two roads and a central wood.  He set up in a tight block with his bad going troops poised to run down the road and take my camp.  My plan was to run as fast as possible towards his knights while expending the minimum force necessary to distract and delay his light troops… who were running twice as fast towards my camp.

After: A big mess of Bosporans and Hittites

In the end, my expectations were met and my plan ended up working, but the timing and some luck went in my favor this time.  His plan was complicated somewhat by a greater need to consider his general’s command radius due to the woods, but mine was limited by the speed of my heavy foot.

He moved to within striking range of my camp before pulling back his bowmen to try to kill my general.  In the mean time, my spears and mounted troops finally reached his knights and I started gaining an advantage there.  He was even able to shoot several times with his artillery, which he deployed on his base line.  In the end I took his camp with my LCh, and won 3c-1. 

I decided to use “before” and “after” pictures here, because the contrast is so striking.  After Doug ran down the road and I ran up the open ground, we ended up almost perpendicular to our starting deployments, and Doug had turned my “flank” (my original rear).  Apparently his bowmen thought my wall was too high, because he didn’t end up attempting to take my camp.

I won two games in a row? Weird!  Unforutnately things started going down hill from here.

Mike’s Medieval Portugese took my camp.

In the third round, I faced Mike Guth and his Medieval Portugese time travellers. This seemed like such an ahistorical matchup that even a bystander asked something like “what are you… why…. what?” In reality, they were just using their time machine to get some practice in before sailing to North America.

I don’t have any pictures of the start of this game, but I defended and set up terrain with a small wood on either side of a road.  I deployed with my spears in depth in the center (double ranked with psiloi support) and mounted on the flanks, to defend against a central Knight assault.  In retrospect I think a thinner line would’ve been more flexible and less intimidating to him.

The Portuguese and Bostporin army compositions are similar, but with more heavy foot in the Portugese.  I don’t remember Mike’s setup.

He pulled a psiloi rush on the first turn.  He didn’t kill my LCh, but did really annoy me for the entire game.  That psiloi required a huge PIP expenditure for me to defend against, and the best I got was a stalemate. Finally, he took my camp with his auxilia and won 2c-1, with about 1 minute before time was called.

It was definitely a good move for him to do the psiloi rush even if he didn’t kill me, because I was definitely set up incorrectly to handle it. I put two mounted on that flank, because as soon as I was free of the woods they could move out to their flank and be more useful… the problem being that they were never able to move past the woods.  I may have been able to deal with it better if I had spear and psiloi over there.

I don’t have any pictures at all of the final game, which is probably just as well.  I faced David Kuijt’s Hussites, and basically beat myself with a bunch of mistakes to go along with my lack of experience with or thought about Hussites (or war wagons in general).  My only consolation is that I learned more than DK did 🙂

First of all… a gentle hill is not bad going, and you should ask what kind of hill it is before you decide which board edge you prefer.  After deploying incorrectly because the hill was not actually protecting my flank, I failed to correct my mistake and wasted PIPs maneuvering around the hill even though it wasn’t bad going.

Hussites have war wagons that are superior to my mounted but inferior to my spears, and blades that are superior to my spears but lose to my knights.  His initial set up let him swap his elements to ensure he had a few hot spots that he could take advantage of and poke holes in my line.  I’m not a very good element dancer, so I didn’t see much advantage to trying to swap elements into good matchups as I advanced… but I hadn’t considered that the PIP sink of the war wagons would’ve prevented him from swapping back as easily.

But that wasn’t the last of my mistakes.  Without much enemy mounted, my psiloi were wasted in the spear support role I put them in: this is a mental block I need to get over.  They don’t die to anything in his army except his light horse, so I should’ve had them out in front, extending my line or at least preventing flank maneuvers.

I hadn’t even considered the effects of massed War Wagon and Artillery firing on my lines.  That’s pretty brutal.

In the end, he outflanked my short line with his light horse and general… but his 4-0 victory came from slaughtering my line in head-to-head combat while making me spend all my pips on my flank.

In general, I have a problem with beating myself when playing DK by paying more attention to what he’s doing than to what I’m doing… but this time I made some big mistakes that I should not have, and that made it even worse.  Larry wouldn’t have admitted to knowing me after seeing that game.

In the end, I finished in the middle of the pack with a 2-2 record, which surpassed my expectations but not my hopes. 

Summary

I had fun at Congress of Gamers, and if there are enough events I’ll try to make it down again in future years… but the hotel cost may be too high to make it worth it if we aren’t planning a trip down there already.

Terraclips: Almost Awesome

Just like everyone else interested in the Wyrd Miniatures/Worldworks Terraclips terrain building sets probably has, I read and heard lots of good reviews about the kits… and then I bought them: one each of the Streets, Sewers, and Buildings kits, and three boxes of clips.  This is definitely a high quality, well designed product.  However, instead of repeating all the glowing praise I read before I bought them, I’ll list all my picky problems.  Hopefully this will help someone to decide whether this is the right toy for them.

My overall summary is: I think these would work great for D&D 4E dungeon crawls, but I don’t think they’ll be very good forMalifaux.

Here’s a 3 foot square of Malifaux terrain built using parts of all three kits.  The build took Frank and I 2 hours to complete.  We started with a half-assembled build, and spent some time disassembling it but saved some time reusing a few of the buildings and roofs I built earlier.

And here’s the first problem: Terraclips are slow to assemble.  I rarely spend this much time setting up terrain, and that’s when I am planning a historical scenario.  I’d rather spend my time crafting individual terrain pieces that can be reused quickly, or playing a game.

Because of the long setup time, you need either a lot of free time, or a place where the completed terrain can sit until you use it.  Unlike large purpose-built terrain boards and smaller area/element terrain pieces, Terraclips can’t easily be stored assembled.

Many reviews I’ve seen gawk at the huge amount of stuff you get in each box.  It’s true: you get a lot of stuff.  However, having a lot of stuff doesn’t necessarily mean building a large area of terrain. The kits come with the parts needed to do anything, but not to do everything at the same time.  For example, there are enough roof pieces to handle any L-shaped or T-shaped building, but you can build more square one-story buildings than you can add roofs to.  If you build taller buildings, they take up less area on the map, so you require more streets and sewers to take up the slack.

We found that we had a huge number of balcony and railing parts left unused (unpunched, even), but we ran out of roofs and walls without doors.  Another challenge is using the right ratio of 6″ and 3″ pieces, to ensure that you don’t run out of one before the other.

These parts are also quite fiddly to assemble.  Experience would definitely help building things faster and more cleanly, but I don’t expect I’d ever be fast enough to roll up a Malifaux scenario and then build terrain for it as the rules recommend. 

The clips all have a bump on one side but not the other (look in the clip’s slot, which tends to put a slight angle in the connection, especially when using I clips.  The T and L clips don’t join up the cards in the same orientation at the corner, depending on which direction the clip is used, which can leave you with some less than square buildings if you don’t align all the clips the same way. All these little errors add up over the course of a large build.  The few instructions available implore you to make sure everything is lined up properly and fully assembled, but it’s still fiddly.

The remaining issues I have with Terraclips are related to how they will work with Malifaux.

Malifaux didn’t have any comprehensive rules for working with buildings, the last I checked.  All terrain pieces were “area” or “element/item” and had an overall effect; they didn’t contain discrete walls, doors, windows, and so on.  In previous games using our scratch built buildings and Mordheim buildings, we adopted the Mordheim rules: any obstruction gives you cover, and line of site is WYSIWYG.

WYSIWYG line of site works great… as long as you are able to use terrain to disrupt and limit that line of site without being able to completely hide.  In this regard, the terraclips don’t perform well.  None of the wall sections have open windows, they only have doorways and arches.  These highly enclosed buildings have the effect of breaking the board into small, isolated, easily protected sections. We have yet to see how this plays out in practice.

We also found it difficult to add enough buildings to a flat city street grid, to block the line of site across the board adequately. We were limited by roofs.  We might have been able to build a few more buildings taller, but we couldn’t really add more of them.  Actually, this is great for my Perdita crew, so I’ll just stop complaining now.

For what they are, the Terraclips do a very good job.  These will be great for doing D&D dungeon crawls and encounters inside buildings, and I could even see building a dungeon crawl on the fly if it’s straightforward enough.  They even have 1″ squares subtly printed on all surfaces.  But I don’t have high hopes for building a wide variety of different terrain boards for a series of Malifaux games.

In the future I’ll be sticking to building more individual terrain elements to place on my Terrainguy mat, but I’ll save these kits to build dungeon crawls, assuming I can ever fit them back in their boxes.

Painted for Historicon 2011

Say hello to my little friend!  Museum miniatures.

 I am only just getting around to photographing the random elements I painted up to bring to Historicon in July.

First are two bases I painted to use my Rajput Indian army in DBA-RRR. 

The cannon is huge, and sticks off the front of the base.  I didn’t expect this to be a problem, since it’s basically doomed if anything contacts it anyway.  As with my other artillery crew figures from Museum Miniatures, these crew are way taller than the other figures in the same line.

Essex miniatures Rajput general for DBA-RRR

DBA-RRR allows the use of a separate general base if you want, so I painted one up.  I like the way the shield turned out, and the more intricate design makes the individual figure stand out.  He also almost always detached from his unit, since elephants are so fragile in DBA-RRR with cannons shooting 8″.

Baueda Viking tent

I finished this Baueda Viking tent as a camp for my Leidang army, and I expect to be painting a Viking army to use it with as well.

GW giant eagles, 28mm

At Cold Wars I picked up some more figures for my Hordes of the Things Elf army at the flea market.  Here are two units of fliers: giant eagles from one of the Games Workshop Elf lines.  I was happy to learn how to use fliers at Historicon.  These figures originally had Elf riders, but they were too big for the eagles and didn’t match the rest of my Elves, so I decided to remove them and build some more general-purpose flier elements.

Historicon 2011: Friday, Saturday

Friday: Monsterpocalypse

After BBDBA on Friday night, the only event was the Two Davids giant Hordes of the Things game: Monsterpocalypse Episode 2: Rise of the Terrasaurs – There goes Tokyo!

This was an 8 player HOTT game played on a huge board using rebased Monsterpocalypse figures.  Each player had a 24 point army, and sat next to an ally on one side and an enemy on the other. The goal was to capture objectives on the board.  Capturing an objective increased your army’s power, and decreased the power of the defensive forces in the city.  The first army to capture all 4 of their objectives won.

My aerial hero general is nuked

I was signed up for one of the IOUS slots (Insects of Unusual Size) and Rich Gause took the other.  Apparently we left our hive mind at home.  I deployed in a completely stupid way and boxed myself in, spending several turns to even get out of my deployment zone.  Dave Schlanger decided not to flank my general and kill it in the first 2 turns of the game, but it didn’t extend my lifetime very much.  Instead, both of the defense forces to our right beat the crap out of Rich’s bugs. 

Soon, Jon Bostwick rolled a 6 and brought out his nuke (a god, in HOTT element terms).  This killed off several of Rich’s elements, broke his army, and then started wandering towards the center of the map.

Eventually I unboxed myself, got some PIPs, and flew away.  Alex Bostwick, to my left, used a Jedi mind trick to convince me to attack the nuke, and it was a total disaster.  We didn’t understand how multiplayer attacks were resolved, and didn’t realize we couldn’t cooperate to flank and destroy it.  When it came back to Jon’s turn, he nuked my aerial hero, which broke my army.  On my turn, immediately after Jon’s, I rolled a 1 for PIPs, and the rest of my army evaporated instantly (in HOTT, demoralized elements that you can’t hold on the board are removed immediately instead of fleeing).

In The Princess Bride, the ROUSes were killed by fire spouts.  I guess when your unusual size is as large as a skyscraper, a tactical nuke is just about the right scale for a fire spout.  Even though I was out of the game, I hung around to watch.  I left before it finished, but eventually the Terrasaurs captured their fourth objective and won.

Saturday: NICT

The NICT, basically the DBA annual national championship, is open to anyone who has placed first in a NASAMW sanctioned tournament (or second place, for larger tournaments).  My win at the Battle at the Crossroads this year qualified me for the NICT, so I got to sit at the big kids’ table this year.  The event was played on 24″ boards with dismounting in any bound.

Since the pyramid event I qualified in was so weird, both in terms of tournament scoring rules and special rules in use during play, I decided to use the army I qualified with: Leidang, III/40d.  This is not an awesome army within its period: it’s basically bringing blades to a knight fight.  I took 1xKn(gen), 5xBd, 3xAx, 1xSp, 1xPs, 1xBw.

In the first round, I faced Greek Alex’s French Ordonnance, on my terrain, and lost 4-1.  He really didn’t want to dismount, but he swapped in his blades to dig my auxilia out of the woods.  In the second round, Tony Aguilar beat me 4-1, also with French Ordonnance, this time on his choice of terrain, a pool table. I was playing my blades aggressively like knights, and he was playing his knights timidly like blades, but he still ended up beating me.  I tried to concentrate my forces on one end of his line, but I didn’t support myself well enough and ended up outflanked and destroyed piecemeal.

In the final round, I had a somewhat better matchup against Ron Giampapa’s Medieval Scandinavians, but I still lost: 5-1 this time.  I don’t have any pictures, but this was a straight “line ’em up, knock ’em down” affair with minimal maneuver.  The dice didn’t let me exploit any local advantages I managed to create, so my line quickly crumbled.

This wasn’t a frustrating event, but it wasn’t particularly inspiring, either.  I prefer themed events over opens, because of the variety of armies present.  Even in themes, I’m more likely to choose an army I like instead of choosing my army based on how competitive it will be.  Hopefully I’ll eventually get good enough to win despite my army choice.

Saturday: HOTT Open

Tom Thomas ran a Hordes of the Things open tournament with 25mm basing and 4 foot boards.  He had plenty of nice loaner armies, so lots of people dropped in who weren’t planning to play.  We had 9 players, which let Tom participate to even out the field.

I brought a new version of the Elves of the Offwhite Tower, and got to show off my phallic symbol again… this time complete with a sheath.  My army list was: 3xSp (gen), 1xBd, 2xSh, 2xFl, 2xRd, 1xMg.  I learned a lot and enjoyed playing the army, but I am likely to change it up before I play it again.

In the first round, I played against Catherine Thomas, who played a Stark army based on R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series of novels.  Considering how much mindshare these books are getting among persons whose opinion I respect, I’m going to have to pick up a copy of A Game of Thrones before vacation.

Catherine’s army was very similar to something you’d see in DBA, except with a Hero.  I surrounded her with my flyers and started pestering her a lot, but she ended up killing my general and winning 8g-2. 

In the next round, I faced Jon Bostwick again, and he had another Boudicca army. This time he had a giant tree for a Behemoth, Boudicca was a hero, and the army was rounded out by a handful of warbands and a couple more chariots (riders).  He ended up killing my general, but I was ahead and won 12-8g.  For some reason, it seems like the majority of my wins this weekend were against Bostwicks…

I faced Tom Thomas in the final round, also with a Song of Fire and Ice army.  This was an interesting battle, but unfortunately we were running out of time and I had to cut it short in order to make it to the Peloponnesian War campaign event. 

My magician ensorcelled his magician, and we were at 6-6. He brought his magician back, and I killed his hero: back to 6-6 again.  He tried to ensorcell my magician, but he failed and ensorcelled himself, so it was 10-6.  He was able to bring his magician back a second time, and then ensorcelled me, bringing it to 10-6 in the other direction.  This back-and-forth could’ve gone on for some time, but I was out of time.  I hated to concede and leave in the middle of the game, and hated to cheat to lose, so I explained I was short on time and put myself in a vulnerable position for him to take advantage of. It still took a few more turns, but he killed me and won 12-6.  Sorry about that!

I learned a lot from this event, and I’m now more inspired to play HOTT more, build at least one more army, and build a few more interesting elements for my Elf army.  Larry said it was a bad idea to take both a Magician and Fliers in the same army, and I can see why: they both need 2 PIPs to move, they can’t group move together, and magicians need even more PIPs to use their spells.  But they’re both so useful!

In all of my games, I put a second rank of spear behind my general, bringing him up to +6/+6.  Eventually I realized this is silly: I should have a Hero general.  For the same 4 points, I get a +6/+6 element that moves a lot farther, isn’t quick killed by knights, and maneuvers more easily since it’s only a single element.  It’s less flexible, but that only matters if you intend to use the flexibility.

Flyers are very fun.  I thought I’d need two of them to make them useful, but I’m not sure this is necessary.  One is enough to wreak havoc behind the enemy line, providing flank or rear contacts. I also see much more benefit to taking high PIP elements than before.  I thought it would be a handicap to have fewer elements, but you have more PIPs to run the remaining elements, and they’re stronger and more maneuverable.

Saturday: Peloponnesian War Campaign


“It is 431 BC, and things are going to crap.”


Peloponnesian Campaign Map

The Two Davids campaigns are the highlight of every convention and a great end to a fun weekend.  This year’s event was in ancient Greece, with a bit of Persia thrown in for good measure.  I was signed up for one of the Spartan slots, II/5a: 9xSp, 1xCv, 1xAx, 1xPs.

In the first round, I attacked Corinth, played by Alex Bostwick with II/5i.  His army was the same as mine, except with one more psiloi and one less spear.  This was a fairly straightforward hoplite battle, except for the part where he took my camp with his cavalry.  I was eventually in a position to take it back, but by then I had beaten him, 4-c.  I controlled Corinth, and had a vassal in the first turn.  Yay!  This also meant I had a big target on my head.

The Davids, who run the campaign, are becoming famous for getting the lowest numbered tiles in many rounds.  After Larry thoroughly searched the campaign tile bag, and demonstrated to everyone’s satisfaction that there was no funny business going on, Dave Schlanger drew the 1 tile in the first round.  In the second and third rounds, David Kuijt drew the 1.  Shenanigans!

DK’s Hoplite Echelon concentrates force on my left flank

I was a pretty target, so DK attacked me in round 2.  He had an identical army composition to mine.  I set up the same terrain as in the first round, approximately.  David did something very clever, shown in the accompanying image. I’ve seen and used echelon formations before, but not in this way. He made very good use of the tactic here to deny one of my flanks while concentrating superior force on the other, for a minimum of PIPs, and while mutually supporting his own spears in the process.  By the time I saw what he was doing, I had already wheeled into a position that would take many PIPs to send my spears against him… but I was rolling 1’s for PIPs and he was rolling up my line.  He beat me 5-0, and I became his vassal.

After I saw what he was doing and commented on it, David again said “It doesn’t always work this well.”  

“So,” I responded, “when you say it doesn’t always work this well, that means you can do it but no one else can figure it out, right?”

“Yep, pretty much.”

That “pretty much” guaranteed I had to try this enough times to figure it out.  Even if it doesn’t always work, it’s important to learn more tactics so you can not only use them, but protect yourself from them and find ways to beat them.

In the third round, Mark Pozniak attacked me with his Athenians. I tried the echelon tactic, but it didn’t work correctly.  I ended up leaving my general’s flank open, and after several turns of back-and-forth combats, he eventually beat my general and won 3g-0.  I made some mistakes I should’ve avoided, but I was more interested in learning this new way than practicing what I already knew.

In the last round, Jon Bostwick attacked me, again with the same army composition I was using… and again, I attempted the echelon tactic.  Again, I left my general’s flank open, but I realized it a bit earlier and was able to protect it somewhat.  However, it didn’t help me win, and he beat me 4-0.

When I think about hoplite battles, they always seem boring and uninteresting to me.  This is probably because it’s a typical army choice for demonstrating DBA to new players, where hoplite battles are typically played out in a very straightforward fashion for the benefit of the new player.  When I actually play with hoplites against an experienced opponent, it’s a lot more fun.

I finished this year’s campaign in the middle of the pack, which was satisfying, but more importantly I learned new ways to play this army, gained a greater appreciation for it, and best of all I had fun.

Another year of Historicon is over, and no one knows where next year’s show will be.  I guess we’ll find out eventually, if the convention actually happens in 2012, but depending on where it’s held I might not end up attending.

Historicon 2011: Big Battle Doubles (Friday)

Friday’s main event is always Big Battle Doubles.  Since JM wasn’t in attendence, The Grey Wardens couldn’t make a return appearance.  Luckily, Dave Schlanger set me up with Mark Pozniak.  After we settled on playing Mark’s Ancient British, II/53, we chose the team name Woad Kill.  The final army composition was 12xLCh, 6xLH, 15x3Wb, 3x2Ps.  This is not a power army by any means, but it can definitely win through outmaneuvering (and high die rolls).

Somewhat unfortunately, Warband is a finesse troop in DBA.  I say “unfortunately” because historically these guys were more likely to yell “Waagh!” and run straight ahead.  This is only “somewhat” unfortunate because warband are fun to play the wrong way, since they maneuver so well.

Game 1 deployment vs. Doug Austin’s Bosporans with Sarmatian ally

The first image demonstrates our final defensive plan: two large pieces of bad going in the center, daring the enemy to approach our central CinC command and camp; two pieces of bad going near the board edges to constrict a flank.  It also shows the command split we used for all three games:

  • 3xLCh, 1xLH, 5x3Wb, 1x2Ps (10 el, BP: 4)
  • 3xLCh, 3xLH, 6x3Wb, 1x2Ps (13 el, BP: 5)
  • 6xLCh, 2xLH, 4x3Wb, 1x2Ps (13 el, BP: 5)

One flank command (low PIP) would hold on and try not to die for as long as possible.  The center command and other flank command would work together to attack the enemy’s weakest flank.  In this picture, the enemy deployed ideally for us, by putting most of their army on our preferred defensive flank.

During planning conversations with Mark, I had three primary concerns with this plan and command split.  First, the low PIP command consisted of both warband and mounted, and with 10 elements it might not have enough PIPs to accomplish its missions.  Second, combining two commands which were split by a piece of bad going might lead to command and control issues.  Finally, what would entice the enemy to approach us centrally?  In practice, only some of these ended up being real problems, and we only defended once anyway.

Round 1

In the first round, we faced Team Bosporan: Doug Austin and Bill Connely. They played the same army Doug used when JM and I faced him at Cold Wars: Bosporans (II/25) with a Sarmatian ally (II/26).  They also had a 0 aggression, but we won the terrain roll.  Doug set up very similarly to last year: a central low-PIP command consisting of primarily artillery and bow, with his CinC command split on both sides of that command; and the allied block of knights (with 1xLH for variety, this time) on our left flank.  The first picture above shows the final deployment.

We knew we had enough bad going troops to take and hold any piece of bad going, but our goal was not to hide in bad going and delay the game. Instead, we intended to look like a Warband army but act like a Mounted army.  The bad going provided a safe “home base” and staging area for the warbands, but it couldn’t be a final destination if we wanted to finish the game on time.

Game 1 in progress: attack the right flank.

As the game progressed, we advanced into the bad going, defended on the left flank, and attacked quickly on the right.  Our cavalry and warband reached their right flank before their knights reached our left, but Doug retreated from our advance and competently maneuvered to avoid our attack.  This would’ve gone a bit differently on 30″ deep boards, with an extra few inches to use in their backfield.  In the center, nothing really happened: they didn’t approach, so I held our central mounted in reserve to act where they were needed the most.

The End is Nearly Nigh

In the end game, my left flank warband were able to aid in the defense and even tried to pick off a few CinC elements (or at least suck away some PIPs).  We delayed the inevitable break of our low PIP command for a long time, but eventually it did break.  I allowed the elements to flee enough to get in the way of oncoming knights before trying to hold them, but there were only a few turns left.  With time running out, Doug graciously recognized they would lose eventually, and allowed the game to come to a conclusion on our right flank instead of retreating and delaying until time ran out.  In the end, we killed enough elements to break their CinC, and won 84-16.

Regarding my concerns about this plan: The low PIP command was not too large, and did have enough PIPs, even though it was acting both in the open and in bad going.  The key to success here was the fact that it had a passive mission to “not die.”  It would have failed if it were required to attack.  Command and control wasn’t a big issue in this game, because the central command was only required to work on one side of the woods.  It didn’t really matter whether the enemy approached us centrally or not: instead of advancing aggressively in the center and risking attacks from bad going, they tried to maneuver to our right flank and faced the warband there instead.  I didn’t see this flexibility before I saw the plan in action.

Round 2

Vs. Two Davids, after a few turns

In the second game, we faced Two Davids with “some kind of Romans” and Sub-Roman British (King Arthur).  They were also aggression 0, but they won terrain.  We applied basically the same plan we used in the first game to the enemy’s choice of terrain since it was similar enough to our own.

Much of this game hinged on a minor but costly mistake shown in this picture: the CinC command sent a column of warband down the road to “help” in the woods, but they ended up out of command.  This sucked PIPs from the CinC while severely hampering the ability of the right flank command to maneuver there and attack effectively.  We were able to maintain this PIP debt for longer than we expected, but eventually the Davids killed off enough elements in the woods to control them completely, and it was all downhill from there.

Another noteworthy part of this game was the Davids’ deployment and initial maneuver.  They deployed their line behind the deployment line, and placed their third command in front of their main line near the center.  As seen in the image above, they wheeled the two overlapping lines away from each other, in a beautiful maneuver I can only compare to the blooming of a flower.  It was very instructive to watch and learn from, but as David Kuijt said, “It doesn’t always work out that way.”  (Hold that thought, and read the Saturday update once I post it…)

I don’t know what would’ve happened if we had anticipated the command and control issues, and decided not to send the central warband toward the right flank.  The real battle here ended up being in the center and the right flank woods, not on the far flanks, so the extra force and PIPs would have been helpful. 

In the end, we hardly killed anything, and lost 94-6.  I enjoyed the game a lot, and seeing the flower bloom taught me enough to make it worth losing.  Command and control was more of an issue, obviously, but the low PIP command still had enough PIPs.  I think the tides could’ve turned somewhat to our favor in the woods, but the Davids had the overall PIP advantage and we were fairly evenly matched in combat, so they were bound to win if the dice acted as expected (and I’m not one to bet against them).

Round 3

Alex and Jon Bostwick, not the One True Boudicca!

The Long Island Bostwicks (Jon and Alex) read our team name on Fanaticus, and decided that they weren’t going to be outdone by us, so they took Ancient British as well. They totally out-woaded us!  They must be extroverts, or something.

Unfortunately, no one else was familiar with the recent Beastie Boys video (and trailer).  I wanted to bring a super fresh, old school beatdown to the table: “We’re the real Boudicca!”  “No, we’re the real Boudicca!”  I’ve listened to and grown up with the Beastie Boys since middle school, so as long as they’re still rapping, I know I’m not old yet…

Once again, everyone was aggression 0, and they won the terrain roll and defended.  Since we have the same army, this wasn’t a big deal.  Their command structure was different than ours: they put all of their mounted in one huge CinC command, and split their warband into two commands.  They had no psiloi, and took more warband instead.

They deployed their mounted command centrally with one warband command on their flank.  Their mounted had some elements in reserve behind the lines, and there was a road in place allowing them to redeploy as necessary.

As usual, width is better than depth.  We decided to create a longer line and outflank them on each side.  Cavalry is superior to warband, so we didn’t want to face their cav with our warband.  By putting two commands next to each other, we had enough mounted to meet their cavalry with one or two elements in reserve, and the third command’s mounted elements were still available to provide a superior force on one flank.

Their third command placement showed a bit of father-son rivalry.  Alex wanted all the warband on one flank, while Jon wanted the third command on his side.  I think Jon may have had the better answer, but Alex got his way and commanded both warband commands on our left flank.  Unfortunately, this meant that the reserve chariots were out of command by the time they reached the flank.  This sucked up their PIPs, and once I tamed their warband on the left flank it allowed us to use all three commands against their CinC command.

We were going neck-and-neck until one turn when I broke both of the warband commands: one by killing 1/3 of the elements and the other by killing its general.  After that, it was only a matter of time; but we ended up killing enough CinC elements to end the game before they lost 18 elements. We won 86-14.  No, we’re the real Boudicca!

Once again, the low PIP command had plenty of PIPs, since its mission was to advance in a straight line and attack in the open in a single line.  There was some potential for command issues on the left flank, but I kept the general in a useful position and it wasn’t a real problem.

Summary

I had a lot of fun in this event, as usual, and I’m glad to have partnered with Mark.  Thank you very much, Mark!  You won so many other events that I hope I didn’t hold you back very much in BBDBA.

Besides having fun, I learned a lot.  At the time I couldn’t identify many specific lessons, but now that I’m writing it up, they are a bit easier to identify.

  • My approach to planning in past BBDBA events seems mostly on the right track.  I considered most of the same aspects Mark did, but valued their importance differently.  It’s not clear how useful considering all possible enemies is, given the limited field you’re likely to face unless you reach the finals.
  • 10 elements aren’t too many for a low PIP command, even if they’re of a variety of element types.  The more important aspect of their success is their mission.
  • It’s very important to pay attention to command and control radius.  Yeah, I already knew that in theory, but I need to pay even more attention to it.
  • If you split a command to work on two areas of the board, you can share its PIPs with two other friendly commands.  However, you may also present that command to two separate enemy commands, making it more vulnerable to enemy attack.  If it is your CinC command, it may make the CinC easier to break.
  • On the other hand, using multiple commands against one enemy command is an important aid to your success.  Balancing this with avoiding exposing your command to too many enemy commands may be difficult.
  • The Blooming Flower tactic is an interesting, useful, and dangerous way to deploy your commands flexibly in two overlapping lines.

BBDBA seems to warp time in an odd way.  For me, time seems to be controlled by the overall flow and pace of a battle, and not wall clock time.  As a result, when I’m finished with a big battle game it feels like it was just as long as a single DBA game, and I wonder where half the day went.

Thanks to my partner and my opponents for a wonderful day of BBDBA!