Earlier this week, my Celtic forces met an army of Han Chinese, disguised as Romano-Britons, in battle for round 2 of our WEC campaign. The armies were 750 points each (see my Celtic army on the other side of the link), and we fought lengthwise on a 5’x3’ table. A single piece of rough going (difficult going in WAB terms) dominated the centre of the table, with a small stream (the Zenna river) running from the Celtic baseline in a long arc to exit the table halfway down the right flank.
The following missive by the Chinese general was intercepted by Celtic outriders after the battle (given the nature of the missive, the messenger was allowed to continue on his journey unharmed):
Friends, Senators, Countrymen,
History they say is written by the victors, but to my great shame I come before you today to report on the loss of Eastern Messa to the Celtic Hordes.
The Host of Han, or rather a detachment consisting of two units of spearmen, some skirmishing archers and the general’s guard of 8 cavalry, set out to secure a bridge over the Zenna stream. Looking, to the untrained eye, suspiciously like Post-Roman Britons, these forces approached the crossing, only to find the enemy already firmly established on the near side of the stream with his chariots, skirmishers and one warband, only the second warband which brought up the rear having yet to cross. The banner of Bartolomix fluttered over the assembled horde.
Undaunted, our warriors advanced as one, and drew first blood when the skirmishers dispatched one of the Celts’ chariots that were coming up to our right flank. The three remaining teams pressed on however, and ran the skirmishers to ground before fleeing in their turn from the spearmen which these had been screening.
In the centre meanwhile, the barbarian warband quickly advanced, shouting and screaming as is their wont, and I took my guard to intercept them. To my dismay the troopers failed to cause a single wound, and though I succeeded in wounding the enemy chieftain, that was not enough to break their wild spirit. They broke my men, and pursued with such ferocity that they were able to catch even fleeing horsemen! The carnage caused the spears of the left wing to break in turn. Swept along in the flight, I was lucky to escape capture, and could only watch from afar as my brave spearmen on the right made an honourable attempt to hold the the barbarian tide crashing into their flank, but were ultimately swept away and pursued by the returning chariots.
Retreating with the remnants of my troops, I have meditated upon the precepts of Master Sun as they apply to this battle, and resolved to increase the crossbow training of my footsoldiers: Though moving on foot, these Celtic hordes surge forward like the barbarian horsemen from the plains, and our answer must be similar to the practice by which we secure our northern borders.
I hope to bring you better tidings soon, and remain
- General Ho Ping -
(for better luck next time)
As can be inferred from the missive above, the battle was a resounding Celtic victory. My plan in this battle was slightly more cautious than the one in round one. Given the fact that the “Chinese” had a sizeable cavalry unit (well, 8 horsemen anyway), and that the Chinese general got first move, I thought it prudent to keep the warband slightly more controlled than ‘charge straight forward’.
I deployed one warband to the right of the river, hoping to appear inconspicuous and causing the Chinese to expose a flank, the second warband, led by Gremlix (who pushed the army list into slight illegalness, which was OK’d by my opponent) was on the other side of the stream, the skirmishers deployed below the rough ground and the chariots were in a column to the left of them. Bartolomix and his standard bearer took up their customary position between the two warbands.
The Chinese were deployed, their right to their left, with a unit of archers screening 20 spearmen, another unit of 20 spearmen and a unit of 8 cavalry. The general was between the spearmen and the cavalry. They opened with a general advance, with the cavalry wheeling to its right aiming for my central warband. In response, I sent the skirmishers into the rough going, advanced the warband full speed forward and sent the chariots to the left of the rough going streaking towards the enemy skirmishers.
The next turn saw the Chinese archers take out one chariot with bowfire. Unfortunately for them, the chariots were undaunted by the loss of a quarter of their number, charged the pesky skirmishers and ran them down mercilessly (the skirmishers elected to fire and flee, did not cause any casualties and fled just not far enough to avoid being run down). The cries of joy by the charioteers died quickly however when they noticed the fresh spearman unit now unmasked by the destruction of the skirmishers. Next turn would see these spearmen charging the chariots, who mangaged to escape with a flee charge reaction.
Meantime, in the center of the battlefield, the Chinese cavalry accompanied by their general charged Gremlix’ warband. I had anticipated this and was not really worried — a feeling justified by events. Javelin fire by the warband prior to contact (stand and shoot charge reaction) managed to knock off two cavalrymen but did not stop the charge. I thus had 6 cavalrymen (of whom only 4 were in contact) and one general (WS 6 and 3 attacks — ouch) versus 24 Celtic warriors (one WS5 character and 23 warriors, 5 of which were in contact) — this was my smaller warband. In the ensuing melee, the general managed to cause one wound to Gremlix, but the cavarlymen were ineffective. The Celts did two wounds and easily won the round of melee (+3 rank bonus). In the resulting panic test, the cavalrymen and general fled, only to be caught by the fleet footed Celts in pursuit. Scratch one spearmen unit and one general.
That was pretty much the end of the battle. The second spearmen unit of the Chinese held its ground after the rest of the army ran away, only to be charged in the flank by Gremlix’ warband and getting caught in pursuit as well. No more Chinese, for the loss of only one chariot and one wound to Gremlix.
This battle confirmed that WAB can be very bloody — the main reason the Chinese lost was probably my lucky dice in pursuit rolls, even managing to catch cavalry fleeing with pursuing infantry. The charge by the Chinese cavarly against my warband had me not very worried (a 24 man character led unit with the general next door for panic tests is fairly resilient) but I had definitely not expected them to win so swiftly.
I think both players had good fun in this game — on to round three!