Battle Report from Bob Smith
Last weekend, I took the flight to Hong Kong to play in their annual DBMM championship.
I had been planning to go, then thought I wouldn't be able to make it, but HM Passport Office did a sterling job of turning around my passport renewal, so I was able to make a last minute entry.
The competition was book 2, so I took a Qin Chinese (List 4) army. We've been playing quite a bit with another Qin army that one of the Bangkok group bought, but mainly 500 AP games, with quite a defensive stance. I needed a 400 AP army, and something a bit more aggressive for competition, so took the option of having Bai Qi as a brilliant general. I didn't have an opportunity to practice with this list, but in the end it turned out pretty well, and I'm not sure there's anything I'd change.
The list was
Command 1 RCvO Sub General, 4 x RKnO Chariots, 4 x RCvO, 3 x RLHF 8 x RBwI 2 x RBgeO = 27 ME
Command 2 RCvO Sub General, 12 x RBwO, 2 x RBdI, 2 x RAxO, 3 x ILHF, 1 x RBgeO = 24 ME
Command 3 RKnO Brilliant CinC, 1 x RKnO Chariot, 3 x RBdO, 3 x RAxS, 2 x RPsO, 3 x ILHF, 1 x RBgeO = 18ME.
(yes there are only four elements of baggage, as that's all the models I have).
My general game plan was to attack with the mounted command, while the big bow block either soaked up, or applied pressure. Command 3 would link up, or protect flanks as needed.
Was against Alex Sum using Imperial Alexandrian with the experimental phalanx. Alex had two big blocks of BwX/O each supported by some psiloi and 4 Companion wedges. On his left he had a small command of Thracian Ax(S). I figured he'd outshoot my bow, be able to shoot up my mounted, and I wasn't confident that I had enough infantry to tackle the BwX head on, so I resolved to try to draw him into a cavalry fight, where hopefully his KnF would prove fragile. I deployed with my big bow command well back on the right with their right flank resting on a marsh (the only terrain of note), and the mounted command on the left, with the small third command in between. Alex had his small command opposite the marsh, with his two big commands in line, each having the companions held back in reserve.
I attacked, and immediately played a brilliant stroke to advance my mounted command in column right around Alex's right flank. He responded by bringing over the Companions from both commands, while pushing forward with both BwX blocks. The one on the left broke into two parts, with part splitting off to face my chariots and bow I. Whilst I got my light horse right around his flank and was causing him some trouble, honours were even until I got lucky and six oned the general of his rightmost command. At the same time my CinC lead a thundering brilliant stroke charge into that command's BwX and the combined losses broke it. On the other flank his BwX had advanced to within shooting range of my BwO. As expected they were winning the shooting battle, but I picked off a couple with blades and a rear attack. The LH from the bow command had ridden right around the marsh to menace the rear of the Thracians, and Alex attempted to drive them off with his general.
On my left my chariots were engaging the companions from Alex's other big command. We both took some losses, and my mounted command became demoralized. However, I managed to get a flank lock on his general, and give myself a good chance of breaking him. However, this time he six oned me, breaking my command. Resigned to a draw at this point, we rolled the dice for the combat on the far right where his general was trying to drive off my outflanking light horse. This time it was six one to me, killing the general, and breaking Alex's command and army. 19 - 6 to me.
This was against Kenneth Chan and his Middle Imperial Romans. My deployment space was very restricted, with a river on my left flank, a marsh on the right, and a wood bisecting my deployment area. I put my bow block to the right of the wood, with the mounted behind, and the small infantry command to the left of the wood. I attempted to ride around the outside of the marsh, but Ken moved his own mounted to stop me, while moving his legions to opposite my bow. I countered this my moving my chariots through my bow line, he countered by bring up some blade X. I responded to this by pushing LH and some blade in front of the chariots, and getting some bows in the marsh to shoot at them. I also moved up the BwI from the mounted command to break the stalemate on the right by shooting up his cavalry blocking my advance. But it was too little too late, and time was called with the score 14 - 11 to me. Although it was a draw with Ken unable to come into my terrain fortress, and me unable to force a way out, it was a really interesting game with lots of move and counter move.
Was against Christopher Chu and his Alans. These turned out to be a well balanced force with a large center of 21 BdI and some psiloi, a command of mostly KnF behind and a couple of smaller LH commands. I defended this time and was lucky enough to get a nice gentle hill in the center of my deployment area, a marsh on the right and a BUA on the left. Having fought half a dozen game in Bangkok recently where various forces of medium infantry attempted to storm hills held by a strong bow line, I was pretty confident of the bow command's ability to hold the center, but I was a bit concerned about my mounted getting into a head to head fight with his numerically superior mounted. I therefore tried to repeat the trick from the first game, by marching around his right flank with a brilliant stroke, and hopefully tying up his clumsy knights in knots. However, his first turn's PIPS were good, and he was able to turn his knights to point at my outflanking force, and also dispatched one of the small LH commands in that direction. It was at this point that I also remembered that knights quick kill cavalry, so the cavalry force that had advanced so boldly, immediately started retreating towards my own lines, while the Alans tried to trap them against the BUA. It escaped, but barely, thanks to some good dice from one rearguard element.
Meanwhile the Alan center of blade inferior had advanced against my bows on the hill, and as I'd predicted, they got shot up on the way in, and when they did make contact, did so in dribs and drabs that were easily repulsed, leading to the command breaking. On my right, the small infantry command had been exchanging insults with an Alan LH command. As the latter pressed forwards, I was able to counter attack with my chariots, catching his general with no recoil space, and killing him when he couldn't complete the initial recoil from a flee result. This broke that command, and gave me the game 23-2.
Everything had been going much better than expected so far, so I found myself in second place facing Herbert Wong on the top table. This was going to be a very tough game, since Herbert is a top player, and his Late Imperial Romans with their four ArtF were not a great match up for me. His artillery would shoot my bows to shreds, while my arrows would have little effect on the Bd and AxS in the rest of his army. I also didn't see my chariots making much headway against psiloi supported blade and auxillia.
I decided the best way to protect my bows, without taking them out of the battle completely, would be to put them on the reverse slope of a hill. He wouldn't be able to shoot them, but would have to leave a substantial force to mask them. I attacked, but was able to get a suitable hill in my deployment area, and also got a wood in the center of the board. I had hoped this would restrict Herbert's artillery a bit, but as it turned out his army all fit to one side of it anyway.
The rest of the terrain was a BUA on my left, and a rough area forward of my right. I deployed my mounted command to the left, the bows on the reverse slope of the hill in the center, and the small infantry command to cover the right. Herbert had a center command of legionaries, bow, artillery and blade X in front of my bows, a medium force of Auxillia on my right, and a largish command of cavalry behind, with a few LHS out on my far left opposite my mounted.
Herbert advanced his foot commands very aggressive for the first couple of turns, while I tentatively pushed forward my mounted and bows on the left, although I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to do, as the LH opposite them would obviously not be hanging around to fight. However, as Herbert's infantry advanced, he left behind the two psiloi he had protected his flank in the woods, and his legions on the right of his line might be vulnerable to my chariots as they had no psiloi support. Accordingly, I abandoned any ideas of a large flanking manoeuvre, and instead angled my cavalry and chariots inwards towards the right of his line, while pushing a couple of auxillia into the wood to outflank him. Herbert responded my trying to get his BdX in front of my chariots, and brought over the KnF and X from his mounted command. There was some dancing as we tried to get the best match ups, but eventually I charged in. He counter attacked with his KnF and also by attacking my flank with the LH that had started out on my far left. I cobbled together a flank guard of my general, a chariot and a couple of LHF. At this point the dice were favoring me, and two of his LH(S) died in the initial charge, and I was able to mop up most of the remainder, while I also killed a couple of his KnF in the main melee, leaving his cavalry command close to breaking.
On the right flank his Auxillia had pressed forwards and become separated from the bows and artillery in the center. I decided that although numbers were on his side, blades and chariots vs Ax was a decent match up, and moved the small infantry command to counter attack, supported by the non bow elements of the center command (the artillery were still parked in front of the hill, and the bows weren't about to venture over the crest). I send some LH around the far right flank, and he countered with a mixed force of LH from the reserve command. Surprisingly there were a couple of LH(I) in the front rank.
By this stage his BdX had started to get some kills on my mounted, and he had brought over some bows to help, and my command was close to breaking. However, I only needed one more element to break his large mounted command, and I had a hard flank on the last remaining LH on the left. Annoyingly the later threw off my attack, then got itself spent in a counter attack on my chariot, denying me the chance to kill it properly. On the right I charged my light horse forward against his LHI, only needing to get lucky once, but to no avail.
Meanwhile the small infantry command, had been trading losses with Herbert's auxillia command, and a chariot broke though his line. He launched a desperate counter attack with his cavalry general, killing the chariot and dishearted my command. On the left my mounted command also broke. I launched a final desperate charge of my demoralized LH into his demoralized LH hoping to get lucky, but a run of three ones lead to me breaking instead. 22 - 3 to Herbert.
In the end I finished third, which I was pretty happy with. More importantly I had a really good time, and four excellent games. Many thanks to James Cheung for organizing the tourney, and to him and the other members of the Hong Kong society for their hospitality and such a warm welcome. I hope some more of the Bangkok group will make the trip next year.