Monday, 24 October 2016

Gaming Weekend: WAB

Despite a late turn in the night before we all mustered on the parade ground at 0800 hrs ready for a completely new experience, well Stewart and I did as Dave was going to introduce us to Warhammer Ancient Battles which we had never played before. I now realise I should have taken a photo of the excellent Scottish breakfast I prepared, especially for a certain blogger who enjoys his breakfasts, black pudding, haggis, tattie scone, mushrooms, beans, square sausage and egg but I digress.

Dave had brought a Scots/Irish army to the field consisting of four very large warbands all with their own leaders, characters, standard bearers and musicians, an important addition to units in WAB, in support were some slingers and a unit of elite cavalry led by even more characters and the army general, a very powerful unit. Stewart was playing the first game and was using his Carolingians as Western Franks, he also had four infantry units, slings and bows with a cavalry reserve, Stewart had not cottoned on to how important the extra leaders etc. were, Dave magnanimously gave him the chance to rectify this but he turned it down and stuck with what he had.

Terrain was almost non existent and played no part in the game, both lined up in typical Dark Age fashion and set too, Stewart was hoping to wear down the enemy cavalry before impact and started off well with a kill but thereafter his arrows missed or fell short. Dave's main problem was that despite possibly having a plan his warbands had minds of their own and they were difficult to control as several of them went hell for leather at their opponents. Stewart threw his cavalry in and they were easily destroyed by the Scots/Irish nobility, I think at this point Stewart had an infantry unit rout as well but they managed to outdistance pursuit, the Frankish Rex was not amused.

On the other flank a warband had chosen the wrong people to mess with, Stewart's favourite troops and not a bunch to take lightly, sure enough the warband bounced off and ran for the hills, the pendulum began to swing, the routing warband took another with it and very soon Dave was left with only his cavalry and one warband to face three victorious Frankish units which included the fearsome hearthguard. After a decent beginning the Scots/Irish morale had crumbled and Dave called a halt to the slaughter, the score after the previous days Union victory now stood at 2/0 for Clan Anderson.

Stewart's boys.
The Scots/Irish break.
The end.
It was now my turn and the pressure was on, I felt I had to get a win but of course was unsure of how my army would perform, although the warbands had failed against Stewart I knew they could be fearful in that first clash, I had chosen a Romano-British Civitates army, the Twilight of Britiannia specifically. I had done my homework and received intel from someone who had played a lot of WAB before, I knew to put all those leaders etc. into my units which I did with the infantry, I had  four blocks of infantry, one elite, one average and two mediocre, again like the others I had two skirmish units, slings, and one average cavalry command.

I lined up in typical fashion, like Stewart I hoped to kill off some cavalry before taking them on but Dave had decided to put his horsemen in the centre of his army, I was nonplussed to say the least, I then decided I would hopefully use my cavalry to catch him in the flank as he advanced his right. My best troops, my Comitatus, were on my extreme right and I wanted them to destroy the opposite warband and then flank Dave on his left, my general went with them.

The lines clash.

I deliberately advanced into the Scots/Irish charge reach hoping to entice the warbands to come at me which they did and again to my surprise so did Dave's cavalry, no subtlety in this battle. My first Pedyt unit was ridden down by the cavalry and things looked bad but I should not have been worried, although one warband held I was confident of destroying it in the second round, my Comitatus as planned beat their opponents, I was on a high. I had tempted the gods, my second Pedyt unit were stalwarts and made their morale for my rout but even as their enemy ran so did my Comitatus!

Things are looking dodgy.
Dave's right flank is destroyed.
The next turn was mine, my cavalry flanked the warband facing my Milites and off it went, the Comitatus, shamed, returned to the fray, another of Daves warbands failed its morale and off it went while my remaining Pedyts turned to neutralise the Noble cavalry, this turned out to be unnecessary as the cavalry also failed their morale and left the field taking their general and his heroes with them.

The Scots/Irish were in an extremely bad position but I still needed to get at least one more unit to run, my victorious Milites found themselves again attacked by a new warband and the combat turned out to be a draw, as we both had full commands it was down to a die throw, I threw a 2, if defeated I don't think the course of the battle would change but I still didn't want my boys to run, Dave smirked and threw .... a 1! I allowed myself a small victory jig which I know annoys Dave, in a nice way. We shook hands and the score ended 3/0, which gives an overall score of 5/0 against Clan Toone, Dave will have to bring son Dan next time. A great weekends gaming and three excellent games.

You can stop reading now if WAB vs WAC does not interest you but for the benefit of a number of my gaming mates here is my opinion. At first glance the games look the same, there is no getting away from that and for the most part they play the same but once the combat starts the difference is stark, in WAB it is brutal and quick, in WAC it is a steady grind with eventually one or other giving way, morale is also totally different and again WAB tends to be black or white while with WAC you can try and influence morale, in the games above Dave had some shocking morale and command throws which did not help his situation but them's the breaks and it is up to your generalship in both games to make the best of a bad deal. I don't know the politics behind the demise of WAB but I find it incredible that such an excellent gaming system with a huge community disappeared almost overnight.

I did like the effect of skirmishers in WAB they are much less dangerous than in WAC and against my conservative leanings I did actually like the characters, their effects were not as overwhelming as I had originally thought, I do prefer the WAC combat and morale systems these seem more realistic.

I now have to come off the fence, I prefer WAC although I have to admit that if I had been part of the WAB community which I never was I may have seen no reason to change in the same manner that although John Hill designed Johnny Reb III and Across a Deadly Field being a JRII player I saw no need to change for the sake of it. I would however have no problem playing it again.

I also have to say that the WAB supplements, Dave has all of them, are fabulous, the information contained in these could be applicable to any ruleset and the army lists easily converted, whatever you play if you can get your hands on the one for your period I would recommend getting it, some are already commanding ridiculous prices on eBay etc.


  1. Glad you enjoyed the games. Good to see some WAB :)
    Better luck next time Dave!!

    1. Always a pleasure to beat Dave Matt :) He was very even handed though and only took advantage of his vast knowledge whenever he could.

  2. A cracking weekend of gaming against Clan Anderson. I do prefer to play against Stewart though, as I feel is much more of a gentleman than the ole fella!!!! Seriously, three great games and no surprise to anyone that I lost all of them :-D

  3. WAB? Now there's a blast from the past. We used to play quite a bit of WAB back in the day, with a few tweeks of course!! Two great looking games though George!

  4. Cheers Ray, Dave has gone back to the future and was introducing us to his favourite rule set, the battles were good fun and all the more so for Dave falling on his sword :)

  5. George, you're having a laugh !! Dave didn't fall on his sword, he was performing to his usual standard ������

  6. WAB was great in its day, its demise sudden and unexpected perhaps, so a nostalgic revisit was welcomed. The armies in your game look good too.

    1. Most of the people I play with put a lot of effort into their armies and some are exceptional, all are a joy to play against and of course they inspire me as well.

  7. Best Ancients rules ever, that's WAB! Even though WHW died a death at the hands of some very dodgy management, the rules and supplements are still as good as they always were - And I still can't win a bloody game!!!!! :-D

  8. Nice looking games with splendid armies!

    1. Thanks Phil, certainly enhances a game, win or lose.