Never one to turn down a game I headed over to Northumberland last Saturday with the intention of playing a game then spending some time with the grandchildren before taking my life in my hands and driving home in the dark, it's not so much the dark but the headlights of the other cars.
It was the usual for us, a stand up fight between the Carolingians who are nearing completion and my Romano-British, I have not used this army in its original form, other than at the club, for a while having given it a slight twist as Vortigern's British. Stewart is now a veteran but I had grabbed victory the last time we fought in a spectacular eleventh hour turnaround. This time I was going to try some new tactics, I mounted one Comitatus unit and gave them heavy armour, planning to smash them into the enemy cavalry, I then, against my better judgement, took the Frankish mercenaries, hoping that this time I would charge them in and gain the advantage of their heavy throwing weapons and 'weight of numbers'. So, shock and awe was the order of the day.
The game started well as we drew for deployment and Stewart had to deploy first, I mulled my response over and popped my heavy cavalry opposite his lights, the Franks were opposite the enemy peasants, then came my foot Comitatus against Stewart's favourite unit which had let him down badly in the last game. I felt confident, Stewart was a trifle worried.
I also managed to win most of the initial initiative rolls so off I trotted as fast as I could on my right, the small wood was little more than an inconvenience, but the enemy cavalry suddenly took flight behind the Carolingian line instead of being rode down, this caused some consternation in the ranks. I decided however to go ahead and now aimed the horse soldiers at the peasants while the Franks moved on a new target. Way over on my left my javelin armed skirmishers taunted the Carolingian heavy cavalry and although causing no harm, effectively took them out of the game.
I now found my line out of sync with that of the enemy, I had a 'spare' unit and was unsure where it was going to go. My cavalry plunged into the Liberi and for a horrible moment I thought they were beat, but in the second round they did indeed run them down. Now it was the turn of the Franks to do the same, unfortunately I lost the numbers game as too many fell to javelins on the way in, they then fought like old women, to my horror they ran and not nearly far enough and were dispersed. I should now have moved my centre over or hit the unit in front of me with two of mine, but I didn't, but I did whittle it down with missiles, but I should have moved first.
The Carolingians came at me in desperate charges, standing in shieldwall I expected to bounce them back, but no, it was my Dux who had to spend his energy and initiative points holding my boys in place, I could not afford one unit to run. My Comitatus could not even budge the less than 50% enemy in front of them, these guys were doing their best to get back in Stewart's good books and giving me a headache. I had to break them fast as my flank was in danger, I had hoped my cavalry would be back but they took their time and were now suffering badly from missile fire, they would be too far away to help and would be lucky to survive the hail of death.
I still had that odd unit, it was now required to be in two places at once, I decided to turn and help the Comitatus but it too was too far and time was of the essence, my bodyguard broke, and so did a Milites unit at the same time, it was time to leave the field. My Dux yelled curses at the odd Frank still wandering aimlessly behind the lines "You're sacked, never again, it's eBay for you!"
And how was the wargame, well at first it went well for me and I won most of the initiative rolls, however when I actually needed to win a crucial one I had no Strategy Intervention Points to throw in as I had used them up to keep my units in the line. I did manage to force a reroll with a special ability allowed to 'Arthur' but lost that as well. Stewart's shooting had been pretty bad and when it was good I made most of my saving rolls, but his combat dice were literally to die for, he was throwing sixteen or twenty-two dice and losing out on two or three, I could not take those kind of losses. My main problem however was the loss of the Franks and not moving to confront the victorious unit, I wavered and paid the price.
OK, the Franks will not be on eBay, but they are getting more men so that I can actually take advantage of the 'weight of numbers' rule for my warbands, something I have not acted on properly but will once the new army is ready, it will be the first to benefit from the extra men. Will I choose them again, not for a long time.