Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Battle of Teutoberg Wald

I came across some old photos from last year on my computer of a game I took part in with the Bournemouth Warmaster Ancient's from "Rick's Warmaster". This was one of their periodic huge battles where we re-fight a historical battle with as many troops as can be mustered.

These games are great fun, and well organised by Jim and Gareth. You can read a narrative report of the game here

I've put the best photos below, but I can't remember exactly what was happening now!!

Forces deployed, the board is 14'x4'! Romans on the left bank of the river, Germans on the right. I commanded the 6 brigades from the river to the marsh in the centre.
Peace loving Germans survey the Roman column
The Romans attempt to reform out of column and secure the far bank. The Germans race forwards on the right, but stall a bit on the left.
Fearing the German advance the Roman Commander in Chief collapsed in his left flank around the village to secure his position, but effectively abandoned the commander on the extreme left

Roman Left Flank collapse into a defence position...
..but Jake's forces, including the lion's share of the Roman cavalry are boxed in on two sides by the Germans and are in danger of being cut off to their right.

German's press forwards in the centre. Note the Roman left flank has collapsed further
The Roman cavalry regroup towards the fort on their left flank, but with Germans now lapping around 3 sides and cut off from the next commander by over 4' now their fate is sealed
The view from the German right confirms the Roman's here are few and far between and there are waves and waves of Germans waiting to attack the hill the Romans collapsed their line onto (top left of photo)
The Germans attempt to force a crossing
Crucially at this point, although the head of the Roman column is lost the centre is holding the banks of the river, with a strong counter attack to the right of photo above pushing the Germans back and following them up. The tail of the column is in trouble, as they look potentially outflanked by bowmen, but as yet is holding.

We are not all aware of the victory conditions at this point (often they are not revealed until the end of the game by whoever is GM'ing the scenario), but the Germans will only categorically win if they can break the line and gain the far bank. This will cut the column in two and ensure the historical massacre will be repeated.

Another turn and the Roman line still holds the far bank and has beaten back the first wave of Germans comprehensively
The final turn and the base of the Roman column repels the German attacks and holds!
I was fortunate to still have a fair chunk of warband still left in the centre and so threw them all forwards to try and force a crossing at the last

The warbands throw themselves into the river again, all the commanders joining fighting units to add crucial attack dice.
In a wonderfully cinematic moment the centre combat was won by the Germans by a single wound! The German commander makes all the difference!
As I'm sure anyone familiar with WMA will know, once a warband is winning they are hard to stop! The Germans won the initial combat by just one wound, but following up they lapped around the Romans and butchered them to a man. The column was broken and the general cut off from retreat. The GM informed us that the commander of the base of the column (the only part not cut off) galloped home for Rome abandoning his troops and his report painted a very unflattering picture of the Roman C-in-C!

A great battle at Jim's place, really good fun and fantastic that such a massive battle essentially came down to a single combat in the last turn! I recommend reading Jim's report as well.

Roman Artillery

Continuing the Roman theme, these guys are my scorpion unit for my Imperial Roman army

Again they are Pendraken figures. I've not put them together right as I thought the little box was an ammo box so I mounted the bows on a piece of balsa wood, when in fact I've since found out the little box is supposed to be the weapon mount! These paint up quite nicely as the crew have nice definition in their scale armour so a wash and a quick pass with a drybrush really brings up the armour.

In the game they are pretty rubbish! The ability to ignore armour saves is useful against 5+ save units, but there aren't a lot of them around. Typically as well people will only line up their troops two deep, so the best their ability to penetrate ranks gives you is 4 shots (2 on the front rank and 2 penetrating through to the rear rank). They could be good against heavy cav which generally are 5+ save, but they can't stand and shoot so tend to get the worst of that. I haven't been able to find a decent use for them and generally don't take them, they are not as good as a unit of archers in my opinion.

Of all the rules in warmaster I think light artillery is the one which doesn't work. I know the Bournemouth guys who play a lot of the WMA and maintain Rick's site now have their eyes on updated pike phalanx rules and house rule it at the moment, but I think these need looking at.

Possibilities could be to increase them to 3 stands to give them an extra shot (for a modest pts increase), or giving them a rule in the roman army to reflect their combined arms usage in the legions. Some way of negating their penalty of being unable to retreat (and thus being wiped out if anyone basically contacts them)?

Let me know your thoughts on light artillery