I set up some battles yesterday for my son and of course my own enjoyment as he wanted to 'get some in' before attending the tournament in November, he will be taking my Romano-British so by default I got the Early Saxons.
The official lists for the tournament are those used by the organisers, the likely lads of the Gravesend Wargames Club and as such Stewart's army was ready for him, the Saxons did not need to be from the Gravesend stable so I set about looking at them myself. Historically you are almost beat before you start so I took four sets of lists written by guys interested in the period and tried to get one working list from them, one list to rule them all, not bad eh? My deliberations will be the subject of a later post, but I did come up with what I think is a reasonable list for them.
The first battle was Spring deployment where each army sets up in the opposite corner of the table, not a lot of room, my objective was to capture the enemy general, something very difficult to do, Stewart had to destroy my two most valuable units, again not easy, you have to find them first then kill them. Stewart had not put his Warlord with any particular unit so I just decided to take out his left flank and then see what happened, I felt confident as he only had Pedyt and Milites units on that side of the table while I had marshalled my elite Gedriht and expensive Frankish mercenaries and a large warband of Geoguth with a Shaman in case of failed morale rolls. I did my usual and chased off his skirmishers and threw my boys in, OK, the Gedriht failed to make an impact, but the Franks were next in along with the Geoguth, Stewart had now moved his Warlord into the unit opposing the Gedriht, lovely thought I, this will all be over soon. The Franks and Geoguth also failed to make an impact and my Kings elite companions decided to leg it! This setback turned into a disaster as the Franks and the Warband ran in sympathy, I bravely tried to claw back some honour but my second in command could not get his men to turn against the Kings pursuers, as I had predicted it was all over, but not the way I intended it. No real tactical blunders in this game, the first turning point was when the Gedriht assault put some 10 kills on the Milites but they saved every one of them and then the subsequent morale rolls for my three units all failed in spectacular fashion.
The Second battle had Winter deployment, so the troops can set up in a box either to the left, right or centre of the battlefield, I got the right and Stewart was in the centre, this time I had to raid his rally point and bring back loot to my deployment area, Stewart had to take the centre of the table. Maybe we were tired but neither of us performed well in this battle. I forgot my own maxim of getting rid of the enemy skirmishers and found myself being shot to bits as I advanced, I had left some of my own skirmishers behind the lines instead of in front and suffered for it. Stewart however missed an opportunity, I did not move my infantry in the first turn and he should have legged it forward to grab the centre, but he didn't, he went into shieldwall instead. My plan on the right was to push my cavalry supported by skirmishers forward on his flank, take out his elite cavalry and then loot the camp, this was initially helped by Stewart not counter-charging me and taking my charge at the halt due to a misreading of the rules, I did offer to redo the combat but we had made quite a few mistakes already and rectified them so we left it as it was. Although my infantry were getting pummelled by slingshot and arrows Stewart found that to come out of shieldwall took a command test and because my line was so close there was a good chance that some of his units would fail, he therefore felt he was stuck. Eventually I beat the elite cavalry and it fled, however I was not quick enough to catch them and they rallied just before they left the table, which meant they would be back, in a perfect position to catch me if I carried on to the enemy camp, I was a tad disgruntled to say the least. Stewart now began to slowly bring his shieldwalls forward but it was too late, I got the initiative and called a halt to the game, a draw.
So there you have it, a learning curve for both of us really and due to tactical errors a fairly boring second battle, I was especially dumb with my skirmishers in that battle. No matter, my new mat and road have had their first outings and both I think you will agree look lovely, the mat is really nice, the dice do not rattle on it and it has a nice smooth surface for moving soldiers around, I found myself several times trying to move 'stones' from in front of the bases only to find they were printed on the mat.
I just have to say how disappointed I was in my elite Gedriht, the amount of times my elite units fail to bring home the goods is getting me down, in Dux Britanniarum I actually demoted them and promoted a line unit!