My last game of toy soldiers at the Christchurch Wargaming Club was to be a game of WAB, pitting my Early Imperial Romans against Dave's Age of Arthur Romano-British, organised and GM-ed by Darren.
My army was pretty much everything I had plus some barbarian cavalry and skirmishers using figures loaned from Darren's AoA Early Saxon army. Dave's army was huge and included several large units of skirmishers. I wasn't too bothered by the numbers since I assumed that with the exception of the Mounted Commanipulares, the rest would be mostly poor quality troops. Hmmmm?
Clinton supplied some of his excellent terrain so the table looked great. Dave's army was painted by a painting service, so it looked great too. My army is only half painted but the painted bits looked ace.
The bulk of my army was deployed towards my right flank, as was Dave's army. He made it very clear that only his horde of skirmishers would go anywhere near my heavy infantry so I began to advance, wheeling the line as I went. I planned to use a combination of terrain, skirmishers and cavalry to guard the end of the wheeling flank.
Dave manoeuvred his skirmishing light cav (mounted Milites I think?) just a little too close to my skirmishers so in charged my 2 units of warhounds. Alas, I managed to roll a cluster of 1's and 2's, in return the cavalry slaughtered the dogs and the remaining few fled. The Milites huge pursuit roll positioned them nicely behind the wheeling line of legionary units whereupon the Milites proceeded to hurl lots of sharp pointy sticks with surprising accuracy.
Dave's big cavalry unit declared an optimistic charge against my own Auxiliary cavalry. However, the distance was too far and the charge faltered. Now, I had planned to use my Aux to delay and restrict his cavalry's movement rather than confront them directly, but this was too good an opportunity to miss! So I duly charged in with the cavalry. Oh dear, yet another bunch of 1's and 2's. So Dave's Romano-Brit Knight Commander General bod and his mounted Commanipulares chums made very short work of the Auxiliary Cavalry. The remaining five fled only to rally and be charged again. This time the Commanipulares left no survivors, in fact they didn't even get a chance to fight.
The very numerous skirmishing Romano-Brits (70-80 in total) proved to be deadly accurate with their javelins and slings, exacting an extraordinary toll on my heavy infantry. My own small units of skirmishers were soon brushed aside by their enemy counterparts.
When my infantry finally got to grips with Dave's units of Milites I (not unreasonably) expected my brave Legionaries to slaughter them. But no ... I proved yet again that just when you think you can't roll any more 1's and 2's ... you can ... lots of them. For example ... 2 units of 18 legion faced 1 unit of 25 Milites with thrusting spears. The first round score was Legion 1, Milites 5. Luckily the Roman's stubborn-ness kept them in the fight. I kept thinking "next turn". But when the next turn came the story was much the same. One unit of Legion fled (and was subsequently chased down by other milites, no they didn't manage to rally) the other unit stayed for one more turn before it lost another round of combat, fled and was trampled by some very surprised Milites.
The two units of Legion Light infantry did no better. One being massacred by skirmishing cavalry. The other (badly mauled by javelins) was slaughtered by another unit of Milites. Both combats saw even more 1's and 2's from the Romans.
In summary, I'm not sure I won a single round of combat. The only significant casualties for the Romano-Brits were a large unit (32 figures) of skirmishers and a few other figures from the main infantry units. The result was off the VP scale really. A total massacre. There's really not much you can do if the dice persistently roll against you.
Looking back at the game my initial thought was that I hadn't done too much wrong, apart from wasting the cavalry units - one by foolishly charging the Commanipulares, the other, a unit of allied Barbarian cav, by having it march from one flank to the other, then back again. But thinking more I realise that marching to attack en-masse was foolish. I should have sent the cav along one flank to attack just a part of his line, or to clear away the skirmishers at least. Then I should have manoeuvred my heavy infantry to engage his infantry on favourable terms, defeating his more numerous force a bit at a time.
However, it was an entertaining game, played with a strong sense of gentlemanly sportsmanship on both sides. That's what counts. It certainly raised gales of laughter at several points!
- Make sure you can win the "skirmisher war" otherwise even well armoured units will suffer if subjected to sustained javelin/sling attack.
- Try to have a back-up plan for vital combats, even the best infantry can falter against poorly trained troops.
- Don't hurry to engage the enemy, if they won't advance then manoeuvre your forces to attack only a part of the enemy force.
- Include some long range firepower to force an opponent to move, rather than wait for you. (My bolt shooters are not built so I did not include them.)
- Use cavalry effectively rather than wasting them in futile combats or by marching them back and forth.