So I let Grahame from the club talk me into entering this year's WAB GT at Maelstrom this past weekend. To be fair, it didn't take much persuading :D
Arrived Saturday a.m. with Grahame (to whom thanks for driving us both days) and AndyB from the club, in time for a sausage sarnie and the first of many mugs of tea. For those who haven't been to the Eye Of The Storm before, it's an old mill that's been converted into their shop and webstore distribution warehouse, with a downstairs bar and an upstairs pretty much devoted to about seventy five gaming tables. We were off in one end of the upstairs area, with 10 double tables (2 x 6'x'4' end to end) between the 16 of us, which made for plenty of space to dump everyone's collections of Really Useful Boxes (seriously, they looked like the second or third biggest supplier to the assembled company!).
I'd taken a British Tribes list from AoA2 representing the Brigantes under Cartimandua, basically four warbands (one fanatic) each with a chieftain, a group of chariots with the army general (Queen Cartimandua herself), some cavalry and a few skirmishers. A fair chunk of it was painted last week - as I've said many times before, I'm not the best painter, but they looked pretty decent as a seething mass from a couple of feet away! (Yes, Curt, I'll get you a photo or two this week :D)
So, first up? David Johnson's EIRs - nice looking army with a couple of units of Maccebean allies to add interest, on a rather fun table with a long stretch of broken ground and trees diagonally across the table from one edge of his deployment zone to the opposite one of mine. I have to confess that the precise details of the combat are lost in a haze of time, tea and overstrained brain, but suffice it to say I hit army breakpoint sometime after I'd managed to rout a couple of his units off the table, and the end result was a 27-5 win to him.
Next up after more tea and lunch (and a quick raid on Maelstrom's store with competitor discount) I ambled back upstairs, having idly commented 'with my luck, I'll get Grahame...'.
I got Grahame.
Grahame's tournament army was Late Imperial Roman, with, as is something of a trademark for him, lots of skirmishers. He's a master of the art of being very very irritating with them, something I need to learn :D I'd faced this army on Monday at the club, and learnt a few things not to do (charging his legion in shieldwall for one). Kind of a one-sided battle, this one, sad to say. I didn't get outmanoeuvred by his skirmishers, at least, and my cavalry (with feigned flight) did manage to lead his a merry dance on one flank, but in the end a number of crap dice rolls and a couple of really badly timed failed warband tests led to a mass exodus of my entire army and an 0-32 drubbing. A consolation was that I did make good use of a long skirmish line to protect the warbands from incoming missile fire for a couple of turns.
Final game of the day (after some very nice apple pie and more tea) was against Martin "the man who wrote the supplement" Gibbins, also fielding a Late Imperial Roman army, but rather different to Grahame's - fewer skirmishers, no cataphracts, no rear-rank archers in the legionaries. We got the table with the crocodile swamp, which we both basically ignored, and ... well, I lost. I'd probably have lost less if I could estimate the difference between 10" and 8" better, as I basically let two warbands get charged that I really shouldn't have, and (stop me if you've read this before) that led to a mass exodus of my entire army and an 0-32 defeat,
Warbands. Gotta love 'em. Your best laid plans get scotched by that one failed test that pushes you into range to be charged, and once they start down the slippery slope of breaking, they're kind of hard to stop, as you just lost all your rank bonuses to Leadership.
Sunday morning dawned way too early after the amount of brain I'd expended on Saturday (including some late night trigonometry that gave me a useful mental 8" and 10" ruler!), and we arrived in time for more sausage sarnies and tea, before...
...I drew AndyB's Dacians.
He'd taken the reverse approach to warband to me: no characters at all, some noble cavalry, and 5 10x4 warbands (four armed with bows as well), which pretty much fit the full width of the deployment area (44" including 1" gaps between units!). Surprisingly, unlike Grahame, I've never actually played his army at the club, so this was a welcome chance to do so. I have to confess that this was the one defeat I was actually cross with myself about, as I missed three charges which would probably have turned the battle my way - certainly would have cleared out Andy's right flank. And by missed, I mean got caught up in start of turn admin (warband tests, rally, etc) and plain didn't see them until it was too late. Nrrrgh. Stupid, stupid, stupid. 0-32.
Lunch! And man, that red velvet cake was gorgeous.
Last up, and 40 points off 15th (which was about the point that I realised there was a last place prize!) I drew John Wall with his collection of my hereditary enemies, the early Imperial Romans. We got a very plain table, one wood in the middle and a couple of hills. My lights went for a sweep round the right flank, carrying off his bolt throwers (but not before they'd taken out one of my chariots) and some archers, while the warbands fanned out either side of the wood. On the left centre, we had kind of a standoff for several turns, until one warband blew its warband roll and advanced into charge range of a legionary cohort (which ended up with it chasing me off the table over the course of about three turns). On the right, my chariots' dice deserted them and they got routed by a legion (with thirteen attacks on a charge, and 3+ saves, they really should have done better). However, the two warbands on that side (including the fanatics) got stuck in properly, to two knock-down drag-out brawls (one including TWO tied musician rolls, both with snake-eyes), and eventually broke a cohort of auxillae and one of legionaries. Meanwhile, my cavalry's dice also deserted them, and they got routed by a smaller unit of cavalry, largely due to a very bad Feigned Flight roll putting them in harm's way. By then it was turn six of seven, and everything was, pretty much, out of reach of everything else, so we spent two turns jockeying for position on the table quarters and called it a game. A defeat, true, but a much more satisfying 13-19 to John, and I could maybe have won it with better dice - not losing one or other of the chariots or the cavalry would have made it interesting!
And that was that, barring the awards. I'm struggling to remember all of them: Keith Tait's gorgeous Sassanid army deservedly won Best Painting. AndyB upheld the club's honour by winning Best Sportsman, both Grahame and I won a raffle prize (to my relief. I didn't win any more Celtic Warband. but some Immortal Miniatures Hoplites instead). My loser's prize was a copy of the Hail Caesar army list supplement, and...
...well, I'll let AndyP, the organizer, have the pleasure of revealing the results at the other end of the table in his own time.
I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part for being friendly, accommodating and making us all welcome. to AndyP for a sterling job organising the whole event, and to Maelstrom for hosting (and the lass behind the bar for countless mugs of proper, decent, drinkable tea!)