Saturday, November 03, 2007

The glory of Sparta...

My last trip to the Harrogate club this year saw me field a Spartan army against my opponents Saxons; not the most historical of match ups; but hey, you can't always hope for that.

Although I'd got along well with painting the Greek elements of my Spartans, the Thracian elements to complete Brasidas' army of the north were still incomplete. Thus I fielded probably the smallest, hardest and cheesiest Warhammer army I could conceive of:

20 Spartan Royal Guard/Sacred Band with light armour and shields
23 Spartan naked hoplites with General Brasidas
24 Spartiate hoplites with light armour and shields
8 Slingers with shields
two units of 5 psoiloi with javelins and shields

Given that each hoplite unit was worth over 600 points on average, this was a tiny force where the heavy infantry cost the same as most other armies heaviest cavalry.

In contrast the Saxons were almost twice as numerous; fielding four units of 30 strong infantry and close to 40 skirmishers.

The terrain did a good job of splitting the table, most of it forming a line down the middle after randomisation. Lanes of movement were limited. I won the choice of end and deployment rolls so after picking the end with the terrain nearest to the deployment zone, I let Chris, my oppo deploy first.

He deployed a heavy unit far to his right, I responded with skirmishers on my right. To my surprise he continued to fill out his heavy line whilst I only deployed skirmishers; I felt he was sticking to a plan and maybe thought I'd deploy to meet his lines head on. But that wasn't my idea at all. I was going to use the discipline of the Spartans to fast march round that huge forest and flank him. I deployed behind my skirmish line leaving his line far away.

That done we moved our skirmishers, and got ready for the first turn.

I won initiative, and elected to move first. My Spartans marched forward, mostly 12 inches, the skirmishers able to cover their front and flank.

The Saxons started to advance and their skirmishers tried to remove my skirmish screen. In principle it should've been easy, but my unit of 5 Psoiloi made their morale test and stood.

On the next turn the skirmisher and Spartans charged, the Royal Guard turn to cover the flank with aid from the slingers. Remarkably the charging psoiloi catch the fleeing Saxon slingers and wipe them out. On their next turn the chase the Saxon bowmen off the table. 25 points of troops destroy around 150 points, what a return! The Spartans turn towards the heavy infantry, who start back pedalling away from me.

I guess at this point Chris recognised that I had neutralised the unfavourable terrain by out manoeuvring him. One flank was now safe as it was his table edge, whilst the other was secured by the unbreakable guards. A turn or two later I crashed into the Saxon lines.

Chris was able to hold the initial charge, and manage to flank both involved units. The Generals unit would eventually break and be run down, but the guard just kept grinding on. More importantly the other unit of hoplites were not phased, and were soon back in the hunt.

The guard broke, and then re-engaged the unit facing them. The Spartiates ground down another unit to nothing, but by this point Chris's final unit had marched round the back of the hill and set up a pincer move. One unit of Saxons hit the flank of the Spartiate. It was tough, but Spartans fight almost as well to the side as to the front. They held; and then using another Drilled manoeuvre, disengaged to face the other unit. Next turn they were charged front and rear, but that's still better than both flanks.

The Spartiates failed to win that, but at the same time the guard destroyed their enemy, and in a piece of rotten luck for Chris, both his enveloping units panicked; the result was all three units scattered. The guard turned and advanced, the Spartiates and one unit of Saxons rallied; the other fled the field.

Now it was down to the wire; so tense I forgot to get a photo. Whoever destroyed an enemy unit now would win. It was my turn, I charged the Saxons with the Spartiates; hitting their Huscarls (or easy to kill, slow moving folks in shiny jumpers as we came to term them), and smashing the line. They ran, but not far enough. I caught and destroyed them winning the game!

Two on the bounce!

The Spartan army is hard, really really hard. Of 86 figures I still had 43 left, exactly half! whilst of his 160 or so troops Chris ended up with only about 15 Viking skirmishers. The Sacred band is kinda cheesy, but it serves its' purpose perfectly. Chris is a canny player and his army was well engineered to be effective, but the Phalanx formation and Toughness 4 of my troops gave me the edge in hand to hand. Cap that with his sometimes terrible luck in combat rolls and the grinding match was mine.

This also meant a lot more than my win at Armati the other week, this was fully earned against a tough opponent. And it was my first win at the Harrogate club; proving I wouldn't just be a whipping boy!

Also it was nice that my army got many favourable comments as to its painting. In a club where unpainted is ok, it stood out. Not the only army there painted, my opponents for one; but pretty darned good if I do say so myself.

Elsewhere a half dozen games were going on, I plucked a few pictures of those near me. One chap had a very nice 40k Imperial Guard army; the old Perry Twins' figures styled after the Zulu War British:

Anothe game on was Legends of the Old West, with cowboys and Indians; not my bag gaming wise, but pretty enough figures:

Can I win next week too? wait and see...

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