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Suevi at Burton

Page history last edited by John Hickman 8 years, 7 months ago

Don't step on my blue Suevi shoes, part 1

Burton is a great event, always has been, and John Hickman and I had a title to
defend. So, what should we choose? It was an open this year, so we could
expect people to bring all the toys, Bw(S), El, Kn(S), LH(S) etc. Hmm, Wb and
Kn(F) - naturally. :o)

More seriously, we looked at various options, and then I bulked up my Challenge
400AP list into something hopefully legal and we thought it looked really

CinC - 8 Irr Cv(O) including da man, 6 Ps(S), 10 Ps(O) - 21 ME
Sub #1 - 9 Wb(S) including himself, 25 Wb(O), 1 Cv(O), 2 Ps(S) - 28.5 ME
Sub #2 (Alammani option) - 1 Cv(O) general, 12 Bw(I), 12 Ps(O) - 18 ME
Sciri Ally - 12 Kn(F) including the reluctant waste of space himself, 8 Bw(I), 8
Ps(O), 2 Bge(I) - 36 ME
Army Baggage - 6 Bge(I)

109.5 ME

Just for a bit of fun we chose Ambush and Exaggerating Army size, but the
terrain and opportunity never really arose to properly exploit the stratagem.
The intention of course was to ambush stuff but cover it up with extra troops.
In a practice game we discovered that exaggerating 2-deep Bw(I) to look 4-deep
had the benefit of frightening away even massed LH(S), which could be handy for
the Alamanni sub-general's command, which was really just intended as a
flank-covering wing.

The downside was that in order to have all the bases (ahem) covered for what we
might want to exaggerate, I had to bring about 1000AP of troops to the
competition, which is why I ended up bringing a small filing cabinet, rather
than the single box that most of our opponents were using! On the other hand,
that in itself was also intimidating...

The Burton organisers try to match up historically (I think) in the first round,
so we played Mike Newnham and Ian Sims with Arbogast's rebel Late Imperial
Romans, and we invaded with a strong wind blowing across the table (very handy,
given their Art(F)). The relevant terrain was all on the Roman side of the
table (because we weren't the kind of boys to sit tight and wait...) and was a
Wood toward the Roman left (as we looked at it), and a central rough hill.

Ian and Mike deployed (left to right), with

1. their largest command of Ax(S) and Ps in the wood, a few LH(O) lurking in the
rear, Ps-supported Bd, Kn(X) and Art(F) forming the left of the gap between the
wood and the rough hill;
2. a command of Ps-supported Ax(S) and a couple of Bd(X) filling the rest of the
3. Frankish Wb ally occupying the rough hill, with some Ps and a couple of
Cv(O); and
4. Arbogast himself commanding LH, covering the entire remaining right hand of
the table.

Against that, we deployed with the Alamannic Ps and Bw on the left, then the Wb,
8 wide and 4 deep, clipping the edge of the Wd and aimed at the Bd, then the
Sciri, 2 deep and aimed at the Ax(S) (and, Bd(X)), then the Sciri Ps and CinC's
Ps to play with the frankish Wb on the hill, and finally the Cv(O) to face off
against Arbogast's boys.

Wb v Bd, Kn v Ax, what could be better? CHARGE! The Wb had to cross a deadly
killing ground of ballista bolts, and took quite a beating on the way in,
despite the wind. Still, we got to within range in reasonable order, and ...

Hmmm, 3 bounds of combat later the 2 Roman Bd(X) had killed 6 Sciri Kn(F)
including the general and the 36ME command was busted to bits. So much for that
plan! Even Ian and Mike were finding it difficult to believe what had just
happened. The Sciri killed, I think, 1 Ax(S) and even that was just a
consolation prize after the the command had broken! It would turn out to be
crucial, however...

Still, if you're going to lose a command, lose it early, before the 2ME does
damage to the rest of your army, and so we fought on, desperately trying to
shore up the enormous hole left in the centre by the shattered Sciri. The Wb
had gone into the legionaries, and although the legionaries and cataphracts had
sheared-off the front rank, they had come good in their own bound, killing the
Bd and one of the Kn(X). On the right, the two CinC's eyed each other up. Both
had stretched out wide, but only 1-rank deep. We couldn't afford to wait and
John's Cv advanced, offering to accept the LH(S) "hit". Whack - but the Huns
bounced off the Cv and the Suevi nobility climbed into them in our own bound,
smashing through them in short order.

The Wb were struggling forward, trying to push past Ps(O) to get at the Art and
second line of Bd. We took out the other Kn(X), then spent the Ps shield, but
were disheartened by the losses caused on our flanks. Last bound was called,
but we would get one more move. 5 PIPs were enough to shove 2 groups of Wb into
the fighting against those blasted ballistae, routing the crews and breaking the
Roman left wing, and with it, thanks purely to the +2 ME ripple in the Aux and
Bd(X) command (remember that 1 Ax(S) consolation kill?), the Roman army.

We had taken a pounding. We had lost 45%-ish of the army and the large Wb
commmand was disheartened, so the result was a 16-9 win. John and I couldn't
believe it, and I don't think Ian and Mike were much different. We'd been
losing from the moment that the clubmen tee-ed up the Sciri, and suddenly the
game had turned in the final pair of bounds. That is why we love DBMM!


Don't step on my blue Suevi shoes, part 2

Round 2 at Burton, and the somewhat surprised Suevi have won their first game.
The reward is an encounter with Navarrese, in this case piloted by Jim Gibson
and Mike Pickering. The Navarrese somehow managed to invade our part of what is
now Germany.

The field was fairly cluttered, with a rough hill half way up our left flank,
facing a wood on their half of the table. The centre of their deployment zone
was a large rough hill and our right flank was covered by a difficult hill and a
large settlement.

Navarrese, so of course we knew that they would be dismountable Kn, lots of
Ax(S) and an English FC Kn(I)/Bd(S)/Bw(S) 4th command. We deployed with the
Alamannic Ps and Bw on the left, occupying the rough hill and covering the flank
of the Wb, who faced the central rough hill. The Sciri were to the centre-right
and the took the far right flank, his Ps occuying the village and Cv in reserve.

Jim and Mike stacked the left of the table, with Ax(S) to assault the Alamanni
and occupy the central hill and the English and a large block of Kn(S/O) in
reserve. On the right I faffed and faddled and couldn't get the Sciri knights
into the fight at all, while Mike brought the English command around to cover
the their flank against the CinC's on-table flank march with his Cv and Ps.
However, all that manoeuvreing ony just got us into contact when time was
called. The real fighting was all done by John's two commands on our left and
the central hill. On the far left the Ax(S) successfully assaulted our
Alamanni, and they broke. Meanwhile, the Wb tempted the other command of Ax(S)
down off the front of the central hill and eventually broke them in return.

Honours were very much even, both suffering 20%+ and 1 broken command. As
defender we took a 12-13 result from the game. A good game, tight and tense as
I always find games against Jim and/or Mike are. At the end, we had both lost
the commands we expected to lose, but neither had been able to exploit anything
further. I felt that we could be about to suffer more than they were, as the Wb
were getting dodgy and we had hardly touched any of their other commands, but
things were about to get messy with the English command as the Sciri Kn and
CinC's Cv had all just got into range, and that could have gone in all sorts of

Don't step on my blue Suevi shoes, part 3

Round 3 at Burton, a bright Sunday morning and all is well with the world.
Coffee and bacon sarnies served by the on-site catering, and we have escaped two
potential losses (especially in the first game) and are 28 points to the good.

What awaits the savage Suevi this morning? Andy Parkin and Tim Kohler's Han
Chinese, that's what. Lots of Cv, some Ax(S) and Ps and some varied LH
(including a relatively small Hsiung Nu ally). Well, it's got a lot more
manouevre than we have, but we're big enough to fill the table. The terrain
fell with a difficult hill to our left flank and a wood to our right, so the
flanks are covered and the plan is obvious - line up the heavies in the middle,
with the Alamannic Ps/Bw command on the left and the the CinC's Cv and Ps on the
right, and demolish everything in front of us, what can possibly go wrong with
that plan?

The answer came rather swiftly, in the form of an unreliable 36ME allied Sciri
command and an early-arriving Hsiung Nu flank-march behind our left wing. The
Sciri obstinately refused to come out to play, and the Hsiung Nu refused to roll
PIPs less than 4-5. John, commanding the Alamanni and the Wb, was desperately
turning around what elements he could to deal with the LH(S) in his rear zone -
the single element of Cv(O) and the 2 Ps(S) in the Wb command were crucial. The
Wb themselves were haring off into the chinese Cv in front of them, where we
thought that they would cause chaos due to the flee result whenever they beat Cv
in our bound. Sadly, the Wb refused to beat a single Cv in our bound at all,
and we were being sandwiched.

Things were a little better on my flank, where the CinC's Cv and Ps were
advancing on what turned out to be a rather smaller than expected (exaggeratd
command stratagem) command of chinese infantry sharing the two lowest PIPs, and
trying to tear them into pieces. 4 elements of Sciri Ps(O) had been reversed
into baggage protection-role while the Hsiung Nu were out of freezing-range (at
one point John and I had realised that if the Hsiung Nu broke the baggage
command the Sciri would change sides!!), and Tim attacked them not realising who
they were. The Sciri nobility took offence at the shower of arrows aimed
(fruitlessly) at their peasants (if anyone gets to ride down Sciri peasants, it
is the Sciri nobility!) and finally began to advance toward the enemy up table.
Their archers took several pot-shots at the enemy Cv, but had apparently
forgotten to put any actual heads on their arrows, because we did nothing more
than spook them.

On the left, the Alamanni broke, and the Wb were tiring, turning into one of
those inevitable echelons where files get ahead of their supports and threaten
to be hard-flanked. In the rear, the Hsiung Nu were finally getting a bashing,
and it looked as if they were not long for this fight. On the right, the
position opened up and suddenly I had a Sciri Kn(F) into the chinese Cv(O)
general, and Ps into the rear of the enemy Ax(S) and things were looking up.
Except that the chinese refused to lose any more fights and time was called - we
were 4 VP to the bad, so 11-14 against us. Could have been worse, and if we had
somehow managed to break the Hsiung Nu and killed the chinese general on the
right flank it would have been a lot better.

We had an OK plan, but were horribly wrong-footed by an unexpected flank-march
and our unreliable ally. On the other hand, the army had proven again just how
much pressure it could take and still keep on going. When almost all your
elements are 0.5ME, the enemy's sword arms (and dice) tire eventually...


Don't step on my blue Suevi shoes, part 4

And so, Sunday afternoon arrived for the climax of the competition. We were
lying in submariner territory, periscopes up and hoping that someone above us
got a beating!

Our army was a massive barbarian horde:
CinC - 8 Irr Cv(O) including da man, 6 Ps(S), 10 Ps(O) - 21 ME
Sub #1 - 9 Wb(S) including himself, 25 Wb(O), 1 Cv(O), 2 Ps(S) - 28.5 ME
Sub #2 (Alammani option) - 1 Cv(O) general, 12 Bw(I), 12 Ps(O) - 18 ME
Sciri Ally - 12 Kn(F) including the reluctant waste of space himself, 8 Bw(I), 8
Ps(O), 2 Bge(I) - 36 ME
Army Baggage - 6 Bge(I)

109.5 ME
Stratagems: Ambush and Exaggerating Army Size

Our opponents were Keith Nathan and Thom Richardson, with one of the three
Navarrese in the competition, and this time we invaded Navarre. The terrain was
hill-country, with a line of difficult hills and an orchard dividing the table
in half, and sizeable rough hills either side on their half of the table. For
an army stuffed with Ax(S), this was a fortress, and yet we knew that we needed
a result if we were to have a chance to place...

We also knew that the Sciri had let us down badly in all three games to date.
Murdered by 2 Bd(X) in round 1, useless in round 2, unreliable in round 3. They
*owed* us in round 4. There was only really one small passage between the hills
where the decent troops could fight (on the left-hand side of the large central
DH), so both sides set up to fight through the pass - about 7 elements wide.
The consequence was that we had the Sciri Kn(F) 6-deep and the Suevi Wb likewise
- would it be enough against the wall of plate-armoured Kn heading in the
opposite direction?

The left flank of the Sciri would have to be held by their Bw(I) and Ps(O) for
as long as they could agains what was inevitably going to be a mass of Ax(S).
The right flank of the Wb (the large central DH) was covered by the Alamannic
Ps(S) (which we exaggerated just for effect) and the CinC's Ps(S) and Ps(O).
The CinC's Cv(O) was out on the right, to try to deal with whatever was
stationed out there - as it turned out more Ax(S), Bw and 2 Irr Sp(O).

The Navarrese's English Free Company ally (faced with a wall of Wb!) decided
that they weren't being paid enough, and sulked. We hadn't come here to watch
while the enemy negotiated between themselves, and piled forward anyway. The
Navarrese Kn came through the English longbowmen as we approached, and the Wb
and Sciri were hit by Kn(S) and Kn(O) respectively. Amid a thunder of hooves,
our brave fellows began to fall. The Navarrese were finding it difficult to
attack across the central hill, as their Ax(S) were having to cross it column by
column. (Keith and Thom had also laid it accidentally the wrong way around, so
the not-very-central crest was nearer us than them and when I did eventually
advance (I had deliberately delayed, to force them to spend PIPs to advance in
column) they were attacking uphill and found it tougher going that they may have
anticipated. Nevertheless, the Wb got too far ahead of the supporting Ps and
were hard-flanked. Things were going downhill fast. The battle had approached
the English, and they were now committed.

On the right, Keith advanced his infantry off the far rough hill and began to
press up, and in response the CinC's Cv encricled their far flank. In the
centre, the first Kn(S) was dragged off his horse, but there were still
reserves. On the left, the Sciri archers were collapsing under the Navarrese
infantry assault, and the nobles were pressing on into the Kn(O) ahead, far
outstripping their own flank-guards. Every time opportunities arose to pull
some of the 6-deep Sciri out of column into the flank of the Ax(S) assault, or
onto the side (or at one point rear) of outflanking enemy, our PIPs were 1.
When we had the PIPs, the enemy were just in the wrong places, blocking movement
out. It had the feel of a slow-motion disaster.

But as bad as it was looking for us, things were not looking rosy for the
Navarrese either. More Kn were being dehorsed by our mighty warriors, and their
reserves had now all be used up. On the central hill, the Ax(S) had suffered
unexpected losses and were reduced to plugging a three-element gap with two
set-back reserves. On the far right, the Suevi cavalry were into the rear of
the enemy infantry, who found themselves in a nasty sandwich between Cv(O) and

The Sciri disheartened, and so did the Wb, but the main enemy Knight command
broke and ran. The front of the Sciri line was hard-flanked on one side and
overlapped on the other and that one casualty would break them - and with them
our army. On the other hand, the Navarrese right was now scattered and easy
prey - the Suevi CinC was into the rear of hard-flanked archers and they would
then break (at factors of 5:-1 with the CinC having a quick-kill...) - and with
them the Navarrese army. So, here we were, last round and it all came down to a
2:1 (against us) combat between two disheartened Kn, but ours was hard-flanked.
The odds were not good - but John outdiced Thom and the game was ours. We had
suffered a gnats-crotchet under 20% casualties, but 2 disheartened commands, for
a 21-4 result.

A real nail-biter from start to finish, and great fun. I am not complaining
about the final result, but the MAD would actually have been a far fairer

We finished on 60VP and third place, continuing our surprisingly good form at
Burton (even though we did surrender the title to the only Navarrese to have the
good fortune to avoid us... ;o) ).

Great fun as ever, and I am thoroughly looking forward to more doubles in Oxford
in April!


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