This month’s theme for DBA on the third Friday of the month at Legions was Chinese armies and their enemies. There were 5 of us; unfortunately, at least JM, Kevin, and Larry couldn’t make it.
I played II/4c: Warring States Chines, Chao the whole night, and managed to get in a game against everyone.
First, I faced Jim’s Sung Chinese (III/61), with a single Artillery. He was defender, and set up on one half of the board, with his deployment zone bisected by a steep hill. My response wasn’t ideal, and I made some mistakes (not following my plan, and moving my LH where they didn’t need to go). In the end, he beat me 4-1.
Next I faced Neal, who borrowed Jim’s Ming Chinese (IV/73) with two Artillery. I defended and placed triangular terrain with two steep hills and a wood (with a road through the middle). He attempted to flank me around the wood with his two light horse, but I managed to repel them with a single element of crossbow, and kill one in the process. I approached his artillery and bows with my spears. His shooting was ineffective even after many shots, but I killed one of his bows in the woods. I think my other kills were blades by my knights, but I don’t remember very well. It was a pretty even match that finally ended with me winning 4-2.
In my third game, I defended against Rich’s Southern Dynasty Chinese (II/79) including an Elephant. I placed a small central wood and a gentle hill bisecting one deploment line. I deployed facing the side opposite the hill, with my forces concentrated on my left and my bows moving towards the wood. He placed his elephant on the road directly approaching my line.
My deployment was adequate, but not spectacular, and Rich had the upper hand early on with expected matchups. He moved his elephant down the road, supported by blades, toward my spear line. However, he was frustrated by poor PIP rolls: he rolled a single 3 and nothing else higher than 2 for PIPs for the whole game. I was able to use my higher PIPS to maneuver into better matchups and pushed his elephant back, but I was very vulnerable at some points, if he only had enough moves to take advantage of my position. I ended up winning 4-3 in a very close, tight game when I killed 2 elements in the last turn on a few more lucky rolls.
My last game was against Steve, who attacked with his Shang Chinese (I/13). I used a smallish steep hill and smallish wood on two deployment zone corners; the road played no part in the game. I never got my bows out of the wood on my side: he attacked with superior forces of Auxilia and Psiloi. I had a fairly strong central position, but he controlled the other flank with his bows against my light horse.
I was able to shave a spear off to hold back the bows, but my bows were suffering in the woods on my other flank. I ended up killing off his three psiloi, while he whittled me down. Eventually he was winning 3G-3 and I needed 2 PIPs to move anything. I lasted another 2-3 turns, when he killed my fourth element and I wasn’t able to return the favor, so he won 4G-3.
I learned some important points in these games, mostly about the interactions of bows in bad going. Chao has a very small bad going force, only a single Psiloi, so the bows have to pull double duty in the woods and steep hills. Playing against Neal, I realized my spear were an even match for him in the woods, since he couldn’t shoot me in there and we were both +2 and 2″ move. Rich taught me that blades are still better than bows in the woods, with their +3, and my shooting didn’t make up for this. Steve reinforced the point by demonstrating Auxilia’s superiority in bad going: they survived many turns without moving or recoiling from my shooting. In short, Bows are good only against a few troop types in bad going, even in a defensive role: mounted, pike, and maybe psiloi if you can get a double shot off.
There was a wide variety of Chinese armies there. Besides the armies I played against, Steve also had Ming and Post Mongol Samurai; Jim could field Yuan, Khitan-Liao, and maybe one other option; and Rich also had Warring States (other). I had all of the Warring States options except (other) as well as Mongol Conquest. This seems to be a very heavily populated part of the world, w.r.t. locally owned DBA armies.
I also noticed several of the armies had Museum figures in them, and they were all painted very differently. It was interesting to see the different color schemes, they made the figures almost unrecognizable in the different armies.
It was a fun theme this month. The proposed theme for next month is Elephants: every army must have at least one. Sounds good!