Showing posts with label medieval. Show all posts
Showing posts with label medieval. Show all posts

Monday, 12 February 2018


At the end of my previous post I said I'd acquired a pile of painted 15mm medieval figures that I was planning on assembling into a couple of DBA armies. Well, I spent this weekend working on one of the armies. Mostly this involved stripping figures from their current bases, a few minor changes to the paint-jobs on some of them, a lot of repairing and replacing of weapons, the addition of flags and, finally, a complete rebasing.

The end result? An Early Swiss DBA army.

Actually it's more than that; a quick check of the DBA lists showed that the first Late Swiss sub-list is very similar and I had the figures to cover the differences. So I did those as well, extending my army's date range by a massive 25 years.

The Early Swiss army offers the chance to have an force made up almost entirely of double-based troops. I found this quite attractive, despite the fact that it's something of a liability not entirely offset by the advantage it offers. So there's nine elements of 6Bd. Including the general. The rest of the army consist of a couple of psiloi with crossbows, and an element of light horse, also with crossbows. That's it. Very one-dimensional.

The Late Swiss list covers the stage when they switched to pikes, but the first sub-list is still basically the 6Bd, with a small core of pike elements. Four to be precise. The army loses the light horse and only fields six of the blade elements.

I did some reading around and the first 'proper' Confederacy consisted of eight cantons. So I gave each of eight elements one of the cantonal flags. The one element without a flag is the committee that commands the army. The flags really set the army off nicely.

I have no illusions about how effective this army is. The other figures I've got should, if I work them right, give me an appropriate Medieval German list to oppose them, but all of their historical opponents are strong on knights; a troop type the Swiss blades are vulnerable to. I suspect that Swiss victories rely on them being the defender and being very cunning in their use of terrain; pretty much how they performed historically, as far as I can tell. Still despite their weakness the army looks great, and I'm thrilled to have finally acquired it at such little effort, and no cost.

Friday, 28 July 2017

More Medieval DBA

We played some more DBA last night. Caesar brought his late-medieval figures, Peter brought his mixed-bad medievals and I brought along any HOTT army I could find that had knights and similar in it. Between us we cobbled together two opposing double-sized armies; Caesar and Peter fielded a Free Company army, whist I used Italian Condotta.

The Free Company (across the table in this picture) attacked, as is its wont.

After failing to turn the Free Company flank with my mounted crossbows, I swung out my artillery to harass their archers.

They had a lot of archers and crossbowmen. Peter advanced his and took my right flank under fire.

My only option was to charge into contact. That ended just as you'd expect, in the death of a pile of knights.

I charged my left flank knights as well, with a little more success. Caesar' knights outnumbered me, but were stuck in a double rank.

Unfortunately French blades attacked my artillery and cut down the gunners.

In the centre men-at-arms clashed with my militia pikemen. It all went horribly wrong after that. I lots heaps of elements as my piecemeal attacks and hesitant advances left my flanks exposed, and I lost badly. Very badly.

Caesar and I then used the same armies, but in a standard 12-element game. I ended up with a hamlet in the centre of my deployment area.

I have no idea why I decided to advance my artillery though it, but I did.

Again my knights charged into the centre of the enemy line. I never learn. However they managed to drive the enemy back, despite their dangerously exposed flanks.

My right was was I had the most success. My archers and crossbowmen destroyed one element of knights, then another after they tried to charge into contact. A third fell a couple of bounds later.

The Free Company blades rushed into the hamlet to try and destroy the Italian artillery, but were met by some peasant hordes.

In the centre the opposing knights charged and counter-charged.

But victory was won in the hamlet, when the peasants mobbed and destroyed the French ribauds with the support of some flanking archers.

I find I much prefer the basic DBA game over the bigger battles, although I don't object to the latter. I find the managing of a limited number of troop types in a game where one or two combats can be decisive much more pleasurable than the longer-term management the larger games require.

And I'm becoming - or have become - a big fan of hordes in DBA.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Big Battle DBA - Crusades

These days I'm becoming very bad at posting anything about any club games apart from the one I'm playing in. And this post is no exception. Yesterday, most people were involved in a great big Bolt Action game which, if you're into Bolt Action, you would have really enjoyed seeing. But I didn't take any pictures of it.

I played DBA with Peter, Geoff and Dave. We set up a 24-element game pitting Early Crusaders against Syrians (although you'd be hard-pressed to know that from the figures involved, which were a bit varied).

Peter and Geoff took the Syrians, whilst Dave and I played the Crusaders. The Syrians were mostly cavalry and light horse. Peter took some infantry support in the form of auxilia, whilst Geoff opted for bows. Dave went for a fairly standard Crusader configuration; he kept some of his knights as such, and dismounted a couple as blades. He supported them with spears and crossbows, and threw in an element of Byzantine light horse. I simply opted for maximum knights. And then I noticed that the spears could be fielded as hordes instead, and went for those. Adding in the pilgrim hordes, I had five of theses intriguing elements in play.

We set up on a 30" wide board. It became obvious rather quickly that it wasn't wide enough. In the foreground you can see my massed hordes (all depicted as pilgrims, although I'm not actually sure what the bulk of the hordes in the Early Crusader list are actually supposed to represent).

The lack of width prevented the Syrian light cavalry from turning the Crusader flanks; in both cases they were confronted by the Franks' missile troops, who shot them down.

The main force of Syrian cavalry prepared to advance. Both Dave and I kept our knights in reserve.

Peter's cavalry charged in against the massed hordes.

A desperate struggle ensued. The hordes can't kill cavalry, but are surprisingly resistant to being destroyed themselves. However their tendency to pursue anything ...

... soon led to a very fragmented battle-line.

I moved some knights up to exploit isolated Syrian elements. Peter's command broke, and the battle quickly developed into a mopping up operation.

Dave and Geoff had more of a deadlock going on over on their flank. It didn't prevent the Syrians losing.

We set up the armies again, except that this time I was opposite Geoff and Dave was opposite Peter. In addition we fudged an extra 6" of width onto the board, making it 2' x 3'; an adequate size for 24 elements (it's certainly what I'd use for 48AP HOTT, which is the equivalent).

Once again the Crusader missile troops dominated. We couldn't deploy in the far edge zones, but could quickly move the crossbows and archers to cover those areas before the Syrians could exploit them.

Unwilling to get shot down on the flanks, Geoff opted to demonstrate against the Crusader hordes. But he didn't commit to an attack. My view was that the Syrian light horse could have gone into combat; the worse that could happen to them would be that they'd flee, whereas the hordes could be killed and would certainly be drawn out of position, making them vulnerable to attack by the cavalry.

Peter managed quite an impressive envelopment on his flank, but Dave managed to turn enough of his army to see it off.

Geoff did manage to outflank the Crusader bows on my flank, but then failed to win any of the close combats. Eventually the archery whittled down the Syrians until, once again, their army was teetering on the brink of demoralisation, at which point Geoff and Peter conceded.

I have a bit of a soft-spot for the Early Crusaders, mostly because event reading their army list in DBM, you could see what a truly terrible and messed-up army it actually was. In DBA it's less prone to running totally out of control, but with a few hordes in play I can see that you'd have difficulty keeping it in place for long. We were keen to try this matchup again, possibly at 24AP. Peter and Geoff felt that the Syrians had an uphill struggle,  with them having little that can match the Crusader missile troops, but I suspect they can win with patience and a willingness to accept a lot of fleeing cavalry.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Lion Rampant

Last night we played a four-player game of Lion Rampant, two players a side. Each of us selected a 24 point retinue from the figures available, which were mostly from Saga warbands, and we played the basic pitched battle scenario. As fate would have it, Gary and Daniel both went for English knights, and faced each other, whilst Caesar and I went for wild Islemen and also ended up opposite each other.

Here's my retinue: a unit of archers, two lots of fierce warriors and two small groups of armoured Islemen.

My commander, with his wild axe-wielding bodyguard.

Because this was a straight, head-to-head fight, we also each made a boast, as this would affect how the game played and create useful tie-break points at the end. Daniel vowed to destroy more enemy units than he lost, Gary vowed to destroy Daniels elite knights, I psyched my warriors up with the boast that we would destroy two enemy units in one turn, and Caesar's commander decided that he would not draw his sword during the battle.

The boasts did affect how we played. I tried to position my warriors such that I could do a wild rush at two of his units in the same turn, hoping to break them both, especially after I had softened them up with archery from the cover of the woods on my flank. Caesar played a more cautious game, keeping his units positioned such that his leader was protected from being attacked.

My plan was hampered by my failing activation rolls to launch both of the attacks I needed to make. But eventually we got stuck into the fighting. One of Caesar's warrior units attacked my Islemen nobles, but despite their numbers they cam off worse and routed.

On the other flank the two English forces fought their own battle, with knights charging and counter-charging.

After a promising start, Daniel's force was badly mauled, and eventually Gary made good his boast, destroying Daniel's leader and his elite knights.

Back to the Islemen. Caesar kept avoiding combats, I kept trying to initiate them.

Two units of warriors met in the middle, and there was much slaughter.

Gary polished off the last of Daniel's units. Daniel was nowhere near to making good his boast, which was a point lost for our side.

I whittled down Caesar's units, but only managed one each turn; we were both too dispersed for me to make the concerted effort needed for a double kill. Eventually we ended up with Caesar's battle-shy leader sheltering behind the remains of Gary's retinue.

Meanwhile I had the scattered remnants of my nobles, flanked by archers on one side and some warriors on the other. My only option was to try and defeat Gary's bowmen with my own. It was a 50/50 fight, and I lost. Daniel and I conceded the game at that point.

The actual battle losses were about even, but neither Daniel or I had made good our commanders' boasts, so we both lost honour. Gary and Caesar, however, both achieved their goals, picking up five points, so despite the even losses, Gary and Caesar won a decisive victory.

The game itself was great fun, but the boasts really added an extra dimension to it, leading to all four of us planning our tactics around achieving the various goals. Whilst optional, they are well worth including in any game.

Thanks to Daniel for being organised, and Caesar, Gary and Daniel for providing the figures.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Army Showcase - Prester John

Many years ago I picked up a pile of HOTT armies on a bring and buy - and when I say 'many years' I mean 'back when I was living in the UK'. It seemed like a good purchase at the time, but when I got them home I realised that what I'd bought was a pile of badly-painted and very unexciting miniatures. They went into a box where they have remained ever since.

Until the other week, when I was looking for something else, and came across them again. Maybe I've mellowed with age, but I felt sorry for them, and decided to salvage at least some of them. A good proportion of them were medieval knights and foot-soldiers, so I decided to tidy up or redo the painting on them, and assemble a basic army out of what I had. A simple medieval European HOTT army is always worth having in one's collection, after all.

Then I started reading the army lists for David Brown's in-playtest 'Last Stand' fantasy rules. Two of them covered the mythical medieval king Prester John, and I was inspired to change the direction of my repainting project.

Prester John was a legendary Christian patriarch and king popular in European writings and legends during medieval and renaissance times. He was said to rule over a mighty Christian nation, lost amid the Muslims and pagans of the Orient or, in later writings, Africa. The legends seem to be based on accounts of isolated Christian groups beyond Europe, both in India and in Ethiopia, inflating them to mighty empires which would ride up and aid Europe against Muslim and pagan invasions.

I decided to switch my army to Africa, but go down the medieval route of assuming that they'd still mostly look like medieval Europeans in terms of weapons and armour. Essentially I did a core medieval European army, but gave all of the troops dark skin, and added in some native troops and elements for local colour.

Here's the whole army:

1 x Cleric General (Prester John)
2 x Knights (Knights. Of course)
2 x Blades (Armoured foot-soldiers)
1 x Behemoth (War Elephant)
1 x Shooter (Armoured Bowmen)
1 x Shooter (Native Subjects with Bow)
2 x Warband (Native Subject Warriors)
1 x Lurker (Crocodiles)

Here's Prester John himself, and his noble knights. The original figures had this blue and while colour scheme, but with some additional jarring purple as well I de-purpled them, and tidied up the rest.

The blades. They are made up of those terrible figures that have a bent sword cast across the face that's almost impossible to cleanly cut away without hacking the figure about.

The elephant. Because who doesn't want an elephant in their army? It's from HAT's 20mm Carthaginian range; oversized for 15mm, but suitably heroic for an elephant in the army of a legendary figure like Prester John. The crew are more of those wonderful medieval figures, though.

Archers. The 'regulars' are a mix of spearmen and bowmen, but count as shooters for HOTT. There was only one element of archers in the  collection, so I mixed them with an element of spearmen to stretch them out a bit. Then I only used on of them in the finished army. There's still room for expansion. The irregular archers are some 15mm Tupi I had going spare. Not African, I know, but the average medieval chronicler wouldn't care, and neither do I.

Native ally warbands. More Tupi. I seriously don't care.

Crocodiles. Nothing says Africa like crocodile lurkers. And, again, they were going spare.

The whole army again.

Now let's see how they fight.
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