Brushing off the effects of overindulgence the previous night we assembled for our final two battles of the tournament. As I mentioned previously I was up against the victorious Jenny and her, so far, invincible Celts for the first game. This time I had to kill the enemy's two most valuable units, you can change your objective but I decided to keep this one, and again march forward and kill whatever was in front of me, I know it is not rocket science but with a grinding Roman killing machine, what is better?
After we deployed I felt a ray of hope, as it happened Jenny's two most valuable units were on her rather weakly held left, with chariots, cavalry and more skirmishers on her right I knew that is where she planned to roll up my flank or get behind my line. I took my chance and immediately aimed for the target, hoping to hit them with three of mine and let my left look after itself. I managed to get my three units into position to charge the two Celtic veterans, "Roma!" or whatever the Romans shouted as my veteran cohort surged forward, "Roma!" shouted the line cohort following them, "Whatever" mumbled the Auxiliaries as they decided to stay put. My plan looked like unravelling as I would now have to manoeuvre the damn Auxiliaries on to a Celtic flank, and that was going to take precious time, not something I had a lot of at that moment. My heart lifted again as my veterans, against the odds routed their opponents, but the effort had been too much as they failed to pursue and the Celts would live to fight again, someone had displeased the gods. I had shot my bolt, my left went south, the barbarian hordes were behind me and my plan was in tatters, a depressing score of 35/12 and a 'what if' that will haunt me for years.
The last game of the day and eagerly awaited by all at the tournament, there were even comments that money was on the line, my opponent was co-organiser Dave Toone who had been slating my Scottish heritage and accent since the first pint on Friday night while I of course had been answering with my best Cockney rhyming slang and Eastenders sound bites, on that front we were even. Dave was using Successors and he and Phil as a pair were playing two games each, they had been very successful and were tying with Jenny for first place with 135 points apiece, so the battle took on even more significance.
I drew the Raid objective and changed it to Pitched Battle where I had to destroy 75% of the enemy army, I had to deploy first, which is a huge disadvantage, but with this deployment and from where the wood and hill were I thought his main line would still probably be in the centre, so I put nothing in front of my cohorts, two skirmishing units to muck around by the wood and one to annoy his skirmishers on the right. I felt slightly troubled by his strong right but the wood would cause him problems advancing.
My cavalry and left wing skirmishers quickly stopped and then routed the enemy right, a surprise for both myself and Dave, my cohorts advanced quickly and drifted to the right, the dodgy Auxiliaries were left to oppose the elephant. I used all my Strategic Intervention Points to keep the advantage and zoom across the field, I wasn't sure how the pilum would fare against pikes but I knew the first clash would be crucial. Now and again Phil went past muttering dark things to himself but loud enough for Dave to hear. The lines met and my guys slaughtered the pikemen, they then also put to flight a supporting unit of Thracians along with their skirmishers, one cohort was stopped dead and eventually routed but it had stood long enough to deny Dave the centre of the battlefield and give the rest of the Romans time to return and deliver the 'cup of grass' (as they say in Dagenham).
I was ecstatic and managed a victory jig, Dave was forlorn and Phil looked most unhappy, the Dynamic Duo went from joint first to fourth, with 48/20 I went to sixth place, a creditable performance from my second tournament. Salt was rubbed into the wound as Dave also managed to wrest the Worst Tactician prize from son Dan.
So there you have it, the Second War & Conquest National Tournament, a competition more about comradeship and playing than winning and that takes hard work to pull off. The third will be in November at Wargames Foundry HQ near Newark, it could have a Dark Age theme or a mixture of Dark Age and Classical, I don't know exactly how many slots will be available but if there are any I will notify readers and urge you to take a chance, you will be hooked.