Last weekend I visited the Attack wargames show just up the road from here in Devizes. It was the first wargames show I can remember going to for a long time and it was a pretty fun experience.
The campaign/tournament games seemed to be well attended and well organised, certainly the Warmaster Ancients one I took part in was great fun. There was a good mix of traders present, but I was a bit underwhelmed that none of them seemed to be trying very hard to sell stuff. There was a complete absence of "show special" deals to tempt you into buying. Certainly the stands that were selling other people's minis were mostly RRP or 10% off RRP, making them more expensive than ordering from Maelstrom or the like.
The sole incentive to buy on the day seemed to be from the manufacturer stands, such as Magister Militum, where you could buy without having to pay the usual £3-5 P&P.
I love the new Firestorm Armada game from Spartan Games and when I saw a stand selling the models, I anticipated spending some of the money burning a hole in my wallet, only to find the models were £35 for a fleet, as opposed to £33 delivered from the internet.
No bulk buying deals, no random blisters, figures, junk thrown in for spending say £50 or £100. Overall very poor value.
I left the show with £60 of the £70 I arrived with over the two days.
On to the WMA campaign - I took a 1250pt Imperial Roman list
General, 2x Legates
1xHeavy Cav, 2xLight CavScorpion & Onager
We were playing standard WMA campaign rules from the Ancient Armies book.
I got 3 territories to give me 2 extra Auxiliaries and 1 Skirmisher.
Game 1 - Seluccid Sucessors (Ben)
Large blocks of pikes mounted on the long edge. He deployed the pikes front and centre and split his archers across either flank, with his skirmishers and Warband on my right and all his cavalry brigaded on my left flank.
I deployed with the legions in the centre, with artillery in the gaps, archers and light cav on the right flank and skirmishers and heavy cav on the left.
The first few turns were plagued by bad command rolls on both sides, meaning the lines didn't really get anywhere close to engaging until the end of the battle.
Most of the fighting was on the left flank where my skirmishers got a bit of a mauling from his light cavalry. I threw any chance of a draw away in the last turn when I got a bit bored and stop concentrating and threw a legion/auxiliary brigade into some of his lighter troops, which they killed but then got minced in return by a counter-charge. Lost 315 - 155 VP.
Game 2 - New Kingdom Egypt (Vince)
I had a hill and a wood just in front of the right-centre of my deployment zone and so based my plan on deploying and advancing to rest the flank of my lines on this and then send a strong flanking force around the other side of the hill.
I had lost a territory giving me auxiliaries and gained one giving me skirmishers in the last game, but unfortunately didn't have the models, so was effectively one territory short.
Again poor command rolls from me hampered the advance, while Egypt (with Rameses commanding warbands on a 10) advanced steadily. I managed to park my flank against the woods though and my archers and skirmishers held the far right flank and killed/drove off the chariots there.
Vince then set up a screen of chariots and skirmishers right in front of my lines (~10cm) meaning he could shoot at me, and could evade if I charged my legions. Setting up a depressing stalemate where I stood there trying to redress my lines each turn without having a clue how to respond. The chariots would pounce on a flank, take off a stand and then retreat again, very demoralising!
In the end though Vince was unable to kill a significant proportion of the army, only taking a single stand off many units, and thus not gaining VP's. The game ended 155 - 100 VP and a draw. The 100 VP's were almost all taken by the two units of archers and 1 skirmishers on the right flank!
Game 3 - Alexandrian Greek (Declan)
I tried something a little different with my deployment here going for the legions centre and left and a body of skirmishers and archers on the right flank, with all cavalry in reserve.
My plan was to appear to refuse the right flank, before swinging the cavalry round there and hopefully hitting him in the flank of the pikes (where they would get next to no attacks back). It relies on a lot of command rolls in a row to spring the trap, but I was confident that if I could pull it off my 3 cavalry units could win the game...
The game was quite cagey again, both sides lacking substantial numbers of skirmishers and reluctant to be charged given the reputation of the other side's core infantry.
In the end although the cavalry plan of mine had a chance of working, Alexander himself led a last turn cavalry charge with his companion cavalry and wiped out a legion and auxiliaries and then overran and wiped out two units of my cavalry.
Loss 405 - 200 VP.
Game 4 - Early Visigoths (Mark)
We both had our fair share of luck and the Visigoths advanced steadily across the board, the onager really came into its own in this game confusing and disrupting a central brigade of warband and meaning the warband on my right flank became more isolated.
After a typically cagey opening we realised that time was running short and there was a mutual unspoken agreement to generally get stuck in a bit as it was the last game of the weekend. The aforementioned warband charged into a brigade of archers and auxiliaries on my right flank, pretty much wiping them out. My right-hand brigade of legion then passed a couple of command rolls in the final turn (9 & 7) to charge the warband and pretty much wipe them out, they then withdrew and were hit again with a counter-charge from pretty much everything Mark still had on that flank, the remaining 2 stands of legion and their auxiliary back-up winning again. When we totted up the damage Mark had won a narrow victory 180 - 270 VP.
Although the legions did well, at 80pts vs 45pt they didn't do quite well enough in resisting taking casualties.
So what did I learn from playing a few games of WMA?
Imperial Rome is a tough list to be competitive with, as it is tricky to bring the enemy to battle. I guess it would work well as a defensive list, but with everyone being aware of this they tended to hold back.
Scorpions are not great - it is very difficult to get them lined up in such a way that they can use their special "pierce ranks" rule, if I was lucky I was getting 4 shots out of them, but because they are so weak in combat (charged by anything they are dead and give up 50pts), and their relatively poor range of 40cm I couldn't use them effectively at all. I would probably leave them out in future.
Skirmishers are very strong en-masse. Against a largely infantry force they can make it very hard to get to grips.
A great fun weekend though and hopefully I'll be able to get together with Gareth, Ben, Mark et al for a few games down in Bournemouth at some point.