Monday, July 19, 2010

Christchurch DBA Comp

Yesterday the DBA competition was held in Christchurch. There were 16 players, 7 of them from down here in Timaru.

I'd like to report victory but alas my Sassanids got their butts handed to them in 4 out of 5 games.

Going into the comp I was concerned that the 2x horde elements might prove to be a bit weak and that I lacked bad going troops (only a single element of auxillia and psiloi were going to have to do a lot!) and this was to prove to be the case. I seriously missed having lots of auxillia. I got to attack a lot and most terrain was quite congested so my cavalry rarely got to use their mobility to full effect.

Game 1: 2-4 vs Hamish (II/ 37 Pathians).
What was I thinking- deploying my elephant and horde together across a wood from the general. Who set up that terrain? Oops, I did. Close though, I was furiously trying to backpedal vs the knights while trying to get my cavalry into action vs the LH on the other flank and nearly managed to pull back before my General and Cav chucked in the towel.

What was I thinking? Separating my general from the elephant + horde? Funnily enough I realised my mistake on my first turn.

Failure to kill the LH was costly- outflanked by knights? RUN!

Too slow! My general and a couple of cav just bit the dust. Looks like Parthia gets to keep its homeland this time round.

Game 2: 5-3 vs Andre (II/48 Methridatic).
His chariot looked dangerous so I charged it with my genral and 2 Cav and kill it. I managed to squeeze a knight through a gap (70% chance of me sdying accoridng to Andre... but they didn't) and exploit the gap. Once the battlelines were fractures my mobility helped, although nellie did fall prey to a genral + pike combo.

Only 1 photos but as you can see much more freewheeling. The knight is just getting through the gap and about to charge off in search of baggage! Didn't quite make it in time though.

Game 3: 4-4 loss to Gary (Middle Imperial Romans).
He defended and suckered me in with an a artillery piece in a BuA so I lined up 5 elements to deal with it- only for him to swap in blades- crap. i lost a horde before I could pull back the res tof my forces but that emant nellie could switch flanks and eventually crush the blade to death and captured the camp for some bonus points. Across the table were to woods full of auxillia. Eventually I charged, taking out the artillery piece in the gap but lost a cavalry element to an auxiliia before I could pull back. This allowed Gary the opening he was looking for and his knights, blades and auxillia came out, chopped up a horde and cavalry to take them game. Gary set up the perfect defensive position and I lacked bad going troops to deal with it. I could have played more defensively and for a draw but where is the fun in that? I got 2 extra points of capturing his camp.

How not to attack a BuA- the artillery piece is about to be swapped for a blade. Runaway!

The trap is sprung. the artillery had been between the two woods but I had managed to attack but could not quite pull back enough. An Auxilla in the wood was able to double my cavalry and then then lill a horde on my right flank to take the game. You can however see my LH and knight at the top of the picture awaiting enough pips to to to get behind the line.

Game 4: vs Tim 1-4 (Trojans)
What can I say Tim (another TAG player) always beats me! I missed a chance to close the door on his general after killing a cavalry early (by only rolling a 1 when 2 for pips would have done it). Tim quickly sealed off that opportunity and in the eventual mass combat he chopped up my hordes and a couple of Cav for the win. Talk about a game of if only. Twice I failed to kill an auxilia (once with the door closed and only needing a 2 to do it) and "Fearless Nellie" twice failed to kill a single spear with her quick kill ability. If only he'd done a littorial landing!

Early manoeuvrings vs Tim. I managed to kill the far left chariot but failed to capitalise to take out the then exposed general and then when the lines met and push came to shove his troops shoved harder!

Game 5: 3-5 vs Dave (Patrician Romans)
Another Timaru player- yep us Timaru players were in a dog fight for wooden spoon honours. Again a close game but in the end the dice went Dave's way. He closed down the battlefield by good terrain palcement and had lots of bad going troops. I managed to kill a couple of LH to open a gap but he also killed a couple of elements. It all went horribly wrong for me when he recoiled a knight element into the rear of one of my cavalry (which had just killed a LH the previous turn and was not trying to buttocks of death him!) and then his auxillia both doubled my hordes and killed them! Oh the humiliation!

Dave's favourtie terrain type? Crossroads!

This should be a doddle!

Lessons Learned?
1 Hordes: Going into the comp I was not sure how to use (or should that be where to hide) the horde or how effective they'd be- in the last couple of games I used them in the front line and they got cut to pieces. I really needed a couple of troops capable of going into bad going and these guys just weren't able to.

2. Horde + elephant- 3 of my elements took 2 pips to move and I knew this was going to cause problems at times. I tried to keeping them together and separating them but not really effectively. In future I'll have the elephant supported by horde on one flank and maybe keep one as a garrsion troop. Maybe a central anchor for my army to maneuver round? I tried that, it didn't work.

3. Cav + LH- paper tigers whose mobility was curtailed by terrain more often than not so couldn't exploit the movement enough. They'd be much more effective on 30" square boards.

4. Heavy hitters: Cav General, knight, elephant. My plan was to make 3 battle groups (2x cav + general, 2x Cav + kn, 1x Cav + elephant & possibly horde). On reflection, this failed miserably. In future I intend to make a single battlegroup of my heavy hitters (Gen-Kn- Ele) with each end of the line supported by 2 elements of cav (on behind the other to start) and try to win the battle in the centre.

Infantry: This is the area I posibly struggled most. 2x Hordes, Psiloi, Auxillia. I was never able to get the auxillia and psiloi operating closely together enough or was outnumbered by opposing bad going troops so they were unable to win the bad going battle. I will need to continue to work on this but the horde were a real liability anywhere near bad going so will keep them well away.

Overall- was a very different army to the auxillia heavy ones I have been favouring lately, and I have yet ot get to grips with it, but have a few more ideas to try and see if I can make it work better than it has so far. We'll see.

I am seriously tempted to give it another crack at TAGCON next month and am sure I can make them work a bit better than I did. However, I am considering the Alans as a knight + LH heavy version for that too as the Alans 2x blades are capable of going into bad going and more effective outside it- 4x knights & 2x blades backed up by 5x LH and a single psiloi is rather tempting...



  1. Interesting report Craig. It is always good to read of other peoples experiences at such events.

  2. Great report. Those hordes are a challenge. I'd not thought of the PIP drain they create in combination with the elephant.

    A great-looking army like the Sassanids deserves to be persevered with!

  3. I learned a lot- my opponents used terrain to stop my mobility and the only win I managed was the game where I got to make the most of that mobility- something I MUST remember! However 2 games definitely could have gone either way so I cant complain.

    The Sassanids are now 1-7 (not just with me at the helm I must add) and so must be knocking on the door of Mark's Carthaginians as the most underperforming DBA force due to their lack of success :)

    I will endeavour to preserve Mark. I'm still experimenting with different formations to increase their success ratio. They are an army that I do enjoy fielding so will continue to use them. Although the Alans with 3-0 so far are tempting for TAGCON...


  4. The Carthos are now W4, D3 and L9, but they had an opening streak of 8 losses, an achievement that you didn't overtake (but then would you want to?).

    Getting a result in competition play is something I'm still working out; you got a result in each game, though not usually the best one! I had three draws, and my only victory came in the last die-roll of the game. Maybe I'm too slow.

    The mobility of the Sassanids must help getting into combat quickly, but I would have thought that cavalry needs time to manoeuvre, time to break up the enemy formation. Anyway, just a few random musings!

  5. Clawing their way back into respectability, eh :)

    I take the front cover to heart "fast play ancients rules", IMO this is no reason game should last more than an hour :)

    One thing I didn't like at the comp was the scoring system- it (IMO) gave to many points for playing for a draw. I prefer systems that encourage a result and would take a 3-4 loss over a 2-2 or 1-1 draw any day. I didn't travel 160k to play not to win (hence my aggressiveness in game 3 when I could have captured the camp and taken 3 points- including the dead element in the BUA) and sat back and done nothing else- but where would the fun be in that?)

    Also that scoring system didn't seem to reward sacking the enemy camp of you won (always fun) which I found a little odd.

    But they are minor grips about that system- we are still working on a system for TAGCON but the conversation the other night was focusing on trying to encourage winning and not draws.

    I think the Sassanids would be perfect (for me) with only 1x horde (oh to be able to field 2x auxillia!). 2 horde is a bit hard to use effectively, or at least by me. My latest idea is the "horde column" and accept one is hiding and not going to do much.

    My 28mm Sassanid army arrived yesterday so will be working on getting that on table ASAP. The A&A figures are beautiful.


  6. Great report Craig!
    I just finished mine, which is definitely lacking in detail by comparison, but has a couple more photos of our game.