Wednesday, 22 March 2006

WEC round 4 - Gauls vs Saxons

Yesterday Alan came over to Zemst for our game in round 4 of the
[WEC]( - his Saxons fighting for
civilisation versus my Gauls fighting for the barbarians. This was the first
game up in the attic that has been recently promoted to wargames room (due
to the evacuation of the old one that is now fast becoming child number
two's room).

The armies were 1000 points each (well, mine was 959 -- I only noticed
halfway through the game that I had a unit of javelin armed skirmishers on
the army list that I had not painted yet) and we played the 'Breakthrough'
scenario, with the Saxons having to break through the Gauls. The Saxon army
was from the Shieldwall supplement, the Gauls came from the list in the
Hannibal and the Punic Wars book, which is much more realistic and
historical than the vanilla barbarian list in the basic book (not to mention
the heavy throwing spears you could give your Celts with it and FoTW).

The Saxon army consisted of two big warrior blocks of 32 men. The front rank
of each consisted of thegns (armoured WS4 and strength 4 brutes), and both
had a character in them wielding a double handed axe. The rest of the
warrriors were ceorls. All were armed with thrusting spears. A third block
of warriors was slightly smaller, consisting only of 20 men and having no
character leading them. Two units of skirmishers, one with javelins and one
with bows, and the general rounded out the army.

[The Gauls]() have [featured here before]() -- the only change from that army is
that yesterday's list did not include the army standard bearer and should
have included a unit of javelinmen extra. These last are now on my work desk
for painting prep :).

We played on a standard 6'x4' table, which had a river on one flank, some
woods and a steep hill on the smallest side of the table, and some gentle
hills and woods scattered throughout the rest of the table:

The Saxons deployed with, from their left on the river to their right, the
bowmen, the two big warrior blocks, the smaller warrior block and the
javelinmen on the right flank. The general was stationed behind the two big
warbands. I deployed the Gauls, from our right on the river to our left,
with the chariots against the river, the two regular warbands next and the
fanatics on the left. The bowmen were covering the front of the fanatics
and the leftmost warband. Bartolomix was stationed in his customary position
between the Malini and Zemstiani.

<-- insert map here -->

My deployment turned out to be a bit suboptimal. On the one hand, the
skirmishers are actually slower than the warbands and fanatics, so they hold
them up by standing in front of them. On the other hand, my chariots would
probably have been better placed on the far left flank, behind the main
battle line. This was compounded by the fact that the Saxons, being the
party breaking through in the scenario, got to deploy their units after all
of the Gauls were deployed, so could tailor their deployment to ours.

Turn one saw a general advance of both armies, with some desultory bow fire
resulting in very few casualties. The real fun started in turn 2 when my
chariots declared a charge on the Saxon bowmen in front of them, only to
have them fire (killing one chariot) and flee out of reach. This opened up a
charge opportunity (redirected charge) on the Saxon warband block behind
them. This is where I made my first mistake -- I reasoned that the chariots
would be charged the next turn anyway so I declared that they redirected
their charge against the warband (a great idea). What I should have done was
to make it a failed charge, and chosen fire and flee as the reaction to the
inevitable charge of the Saxons next turn. That way, I had a good chance of
getting away from the Saxons and possibly keeping the chariots in the game
if they managed to rally. As it was, the charge of four chariots against 32
Saxons was predictably a massacre: my chariots were summarily dealt with and
the lone survivor chased down and killed in the next turn:

<-- insert map here -->

While the chariots were meeting their bumpy end on the right flank, the game
defining charge and subsequent melee was taking place in the center. The
Malini, one of the regular warband units, and Bartolomix himself charged the
32 man warband unit in front of them. This was very much a make or break
charge. With the fanatics out on the left flank trying to maneuver on the
flank of the third Saxon warband, I needed some other hammerblow to knock
out a Saxon unit -- hence the charge of warband and general. If I would be
able to win the combat, the Gauls would autobreak the Saxons and things
would start looking very good indeed. To make things more interesting,
Bartolomix challenged the opposing 2 handed axe wielding character.

Well, it turned out to be a frustating round of combat. To begin with,
Bartolomix, although outclassing the Saxon wild man on stats, managed to
only score one wound (which was saved) and had to endure the ignominy of
receiving a wound in return (that did not save). The rest of the warband (7
attacks with rerolls of misses - HatPW mixed weapons rule) only managed to
score one extra wound. So 2 wounds to the Celts. Not very good. Luckily, the
Saxons only scored 2 wounds as well (appaling dice rolling on both sides),
and with equal numbers of ranks (4) and standard bearers (1) on both sides,
it came down to a musician roll-off: a battle of the horns (carnyx vs
hollowed out piece of cow). Tension mounted as the dice tumbled ... drat ...
a Gallic one to the Saxon five. A lost combat and the chance of breaking the
Saxon warband was gone for good.

<-- insert map here -->

The Saxon reply in their round of combat saw a massive difference in wounds
inflicted - my 2 versus the Saxon 9 or so, resulting in both the Gallic
warband and Bartolomix breaking from the combat. To add injury to insult,
Bartolomix tripped over his cloak while running and was caught by the
pursuing Saxons. Cue one dead general and a general panic test for the
Gallic army. Luckily, my two intact units (the other warband and the
fanatics) held their morale, although the rest of the army was now fleeing
back to the roundhouse.

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