Virtus 16 Day 2: or “Pride Comes Before a Fall!”
So day two of Virtus 2016 dawned clear and crisp and after an exhausting night (those 3 glamourous blondes are enough to drive a man to drink I can tell you) I set off on my repeat journey to Firestorm Games in the blessed land of the Bard. I had also been strangely troubled in my dreams by a number of competition related images …
“Call that a Papal Army Fry?”
“Mark who?” said Cassadee Pope about Virtus’16Following the same route as previously I noticed for the first time a couple of striking roadside sign – the first on the Seven Bridge:
And an equally more distracting one on the other side:
But then I noticed an even more appropriate one (that was only in English, which was most unusual in Wales – the land of ARF) with the warning message SLAG VEHICLES CROSSING.
Now since I’d crossed the great divide into mother Wales I had seen a fair few bright pink Ford fiestas with the back window crowded with a menagerie of soft toys and the driver pootling along in a random fashion singing her head off to a pop ditty with a cigarette in her hand as her furry dice swayed from side to side, whilst her female companion screamed drunkenly and made lewd & suggestive gestures to various male pedestrians they passed, but I was surprized that the local Cardiff council had been considerate enough to provide a formal warning to unwary English drivers specifically.
As I made the drive, my mind was drawn to the inevitable conclusion that fate had intervened and my victorious Papal Communal Italian was looking like a ‘winning’ army. But how savagely my hopes were to be dashed that bright Sunday.
The draw was made and that fiendish Colin had drawn me against one of the legends of the Western gaming scene … Steve Hacker from the Clevedon club with his early Carthaginians. At first glance this army looked as if it might not be too bad for me. A fair few MF impact or impetuous, a lot of HF spear (some elite and most armoured – the ones I should fear) some rather interesting elite Heavy Chariots and a few LF javs and slings and a couple of Numidian LC. Steve chose to defend and swiftly threw down a waterway and a village on a hill amongst other terrain features, I went for small fields and a road to give me the most open field of play I could have. So far so good, but it all started to go downhill from there on in.
My deployment was full of school-boy errors – Steve’s camp went into the corner next to the waterway and behind his village on a hill – so I put my own camp out on the other far flank (I know, I know – silly mistake with enemy LC around but there you go). I then deployed my HC impact division over on my left flank – in the vain & unfounded hope that Steve’s MF would venture out of the village (as if that was really likely to happen!) and Steve then countered me by putting his best quality foot in a position to draw in both the Italian HC and the Byzantines (which I’d deployed to cover the centre). Steve then deployed his chariot division facing my Communal Spearmen … so it was going to be an odd battle at the best of times. With Steve as the defender I roared into the attack making double moves (as far as I could) across the entire line and then I made that mind blowing error and throwing caution to the wind, I charged two units of Byzantine HC into a field defended by Elite LF Balearic Slingers! Why I did it I just don’t know … I think the idea that by destroying these LF it gave me a wonderful opportunity to wheel the Byzantines left and right into the flanks of Steve’s spear line and his chariot line was just so enticing … well that is how I justified it afterwards anyway!!!. As my Italian HC crashed into the north African spear-line and my Communal foot stoically plodded their way towards the stationary Carthaginian Heavy chariots, the Balearic slingers ripped the Byzantine HC to pieces in 3 easy goes of combat. Hmmm … so much for that bright idea.
Note: Steve wearing a Papal symbol just to distract me … !!!
On the left the impact of my HC had done some damage and the battle swung to and fro with lost units of Carthaginian spearmen being cancelled out by lost Papal HC and there was an opportunity for the remaining central Byzantine HC to finally get onto the flank of an isolated Sacred Band spear unit and destroy it, but the Carthaginian numbers were starting to tell, especially as the previously timid Spanish MF were now advancing rapidly out of their village and around the flank of the HC and enemy LF javelins were blocking the Italian HC from attempting any break-off moves. At that point my Byzantine LF in the centre started doing what I should have done all along against the slingers and were inflicting missile casualties on them.
However, it was all too late. Steve’s chariots held their nerve and sat waiting for any of my Communal Spearmen to be foolish enough to charge them (which they were not) but at the same time two units of Numidian LC had whipped around their flanks and dashed in to loot the Italian camp. With that loss and Steve getting a unit of HF spearmen into the rear of my Italian commanders HC bodyguard the game was over and I draw a sorry veil over proceedings. A hard fought game but Steve deserved his win fair and square, I wuz out manoeuvred all the way, but a loss to the ‘Great Hacker of Somerset’ is nothing to feel down about (in my books anyway).
After contemplation, prayer and a papal blessing over a frugal lunch, the Catholic host was ready for its final challenge of the weekend. This was to be a Patrician Roman fielded by John Dennis – a thoroughly nice chap that I’d never played previously. Note: this is my 4th battle on Italian soil Colin … I hold you totally responsible and need to have a word with you about this before next year!!!
Girding my metaphorical loins I set about preparing to use similar tactics to those that had won me such a great victory in my first battle on day one. So that was hold my right with my Communal Spearman against a line of nasty looking Roman HF impact – with some of my militia crossbow armed LF in the gully to my centre and then charge my Byzantine HC at Johns’ own cavalry centre of Cataphracts and elite Impact HC and with my Italian HC charging furiously into the HF impact Legionaries and MF impact Auxiliaries defending the Roman camp to their front. The fly (or flies) in the ointment were a host of Roman LC with bows and javelins and also a similar swarm of auxilia LF with bows that were to prove very nasty indeed. John took the initiative and advanced upon my Communal spears at a swift pace with his LF skirmishers inflicting missile casualties on the Communal spearmen without pavices (crafty Roman types – that’s him not me). On my left the Italian Noble HC had fiercely charge the Roman foot with a resounding ‘clunk!’ and no big wins – in fact my dice were turning out to have lost the meaning of the words Fives or Sixes … but likewise John was throwing only marginally better … but that was enough.
As my Communal spearmen were taken apart in text-book fashion – as only Roman Legionaries know how – the central cavalry battle degenerated into an ongoing stalemate as once again my Byzantine HC failed to do any real damage to the Roman HC and Cataphracts, and vice versa.
I won a small victory when my LF xbows destroyed an incautious Roman LC horse archer unit that had ventured too close to their gully. However that small victory was tempered by the fact that one of my HC nobles charged another LC bow and caught it in the rear as it evaded short and the HC charged long, but then the dice turned up a 6:1 score in favour of the LC (I’ll get my coat!!!).
At that point things were looking dire for both John and I as we were running up casualties and lost units across the board, but my Communal Spearmen had finally disintegrated and having successfully managed to break off 3 of my HC units I then launched my final push to destroy the Roman camp guard. But lady luck was to desert me totally at this point … and I blame Andy Unwin here completely (& I have witnesses to prove it). As Andy Unwin watched on (& laughed I’ll have you note … show him no mercy in future, none!) I threw my combat dice along the line of impact and preceded to caste an unbelievable series of 1’s and 2’s for all my combats … the infamous Unwin luck had followed him to my table. John again threw little better but just enough to ward off the destruction of certain of his already badly damaged legionaries … and as the clock of doom slowly counted down to the end of the game, a quick count-up of the breakpoints showed that the Papal army had broken and Pope Impotent III had to declare defeat.
A great game – very close and made doubly frustrating that whilst I couldn’t hit a barn-door with my combat dice, John had equally bad luck with his rallying dice – I think he managed 3 rallies out of 28 attempts – now that must be a record!!!
A terrific weekends wargaming … and am I dispirited by my Papal Communal Italians performance? No, not one bit. My result was above 200pts – which I was overjoyed at and being awarded the sportsmanship prize was embarrassing but a really nice conciliation.
I need more LadG practice in general and more practice with my Italians specifically and maybe a few minor tweaks to my list … like buying that defended camp – a 28mm Carroccio and guards (see below – still work in progress) and yes folks, that is yet another wagon for me to add to my list of wagon ‘armed’ armies.
Just need a couple of Oxen and a Guard unit and I’m done.
Or maybe I should try a later Pope another year … like Pope Rex here:
Thanks to Mike and Colin for all their hard work and a great event … sadly I cannot make the B.I.G event on 29th December in Bristol (as I am away) but I will be doing the 15mm Doubles LadG at Godendag in January and the 28mm LadG competition at PAWs in February.
Hope to see some or all of you there
Our thanks to Mark Fry for such brilliant writing. If you a young , struggling writer or indeed a broad minded out of work model, then contact the Despertaferres organisation for the opportunity of a lifetime.