or - how Bartolomix and his Celts faced off against a Belisarian army in the wilds of Corcyra.
Yesterday, I took my Celts down to Bruce’s in leafy Overijse for our round 3 match in the WEC campaign. My army was mostly a function of what I had painted (not enough, so I had to improvise and adapt), and consisted of two big warbands (30 and 27 men), a unit of 12 fanatics armed with throwing spears and with a shaman leading them (long story, but basically if they charge you it’s 24 attacks against you with rerolls of misses — do not stand in front of these), 10 bow armed skirmishers and the ‘Black Brigade’ of 6 chariots (so called because two of them are still only primed — slow painter. My excuse is the terrain for the Arnhem game :) ). This motley crew was led by Bartolomix and his personal standard bearer.
The basic plan was to set up with the fanatics between the two warbands, screened by the skirmishers, while the chariots would be off to one flank. The warband and the fanatics would charge anything crunchy, with the two big warbands and skirmishers soaking up the missile casualties for the fanatics.
Upon arriving at the scene however, great consternation broke out in the ranks when it was learned that the Belisarian army consisted of only bow armed skirmishers (four units of them) and two units of cavalry: one of German heavy cavalry, and one of equine lobsters (cataphracts) led by the general. Nothing really crunchy for the warband to get stuck into. I switched plans and decided to try and take on one or both of the cavalry units with my warbands.
I set up with the 27 man warband screened by the skirmishers in front of most of his skirmishers, the 30 man warband in front of the rest of his skirmishers, and the fanatics and chariots off to the left flank. The Belisarian cavalry where all concentrated on his right flank in front of my chariots. When the game started, I rolled forward with the warbands and fanatics while the skirmishers traded bow shots with their opposite numbers. The chariots made some cautious moves forward with the intent of drawing out the Belisarian cavalry so I could charge them with my fanatics and warband later on.
This worked admirably: I moved the chariots to just within 8 inches of the cavalry line, who promptly charged them. For my charge reaction I took the calculated risk of fleeing, needing 9 or more on 3d6 to escape annihalation. I rolled … 6 2 1 totalling 9 — yeah! This meant that the Belisarian cavalry was stuck halfway in a perfect position to be charged by my fanatics and the big warband.
Unfortunately, I had slightly miscalculated (well, it’s Celts, any calculation is over the top for them :) ) the movement of the big warband, which had to wheel to get into contact with the Belisarian cavalry, and contacted a unit of skirmishers during the wheel, converting this to a charge against the skirmishers (impressive, but futile as skirmishers fleeing do not cause any panic tests elsewhere). This episode illustrated the fact that this was a very civilised battle, BTW, as the contact of the warband with the skirmishers was only very tenuous (just the outside of the movement base, not the figures themselves). We dealt with it in the classic WAB fashion: roll the dice — the die roll indicated that it was a contact, so we played it that way.
So instead of fanatics and warband charging, I had just the fanatics charging. To make a long story short, their initial charge was not strong enough to bowl over the enemy (damn countercharging kontos armed horseymen :) ) and the fight lasted for three or four rounds of combat. On other parts of the battlefield, my two warbands had a merry though useless time chasing off skirmishers, and the chariots succumbed to the second charge of the Belisarian cataphracts.
The game ended when I had brought in my general and standard bearer into the fight of the (by then down to half their number) fanatics. The general promptly broke from combat, causing the fanatics to panic, causing the general to be caught in the following pursuit, causing the rest of my army to run away.
In conclusion, I was fairly happy with this battle, seeing as that I managed to charge the Belisarian cavalry, even though I did not win that fight. It would have been much preferable of course to have had some crunchy infantry to get stuck into, but alas, the Belisarian scouts had informed them of the nature of my army well. I also came away from this game with a bit less respect for missile fire in WAB — even though around 40 skirmishers spent around 3 - 4 rounds of missile fire against my shielded warband, they only managed to kill 5 or 6 or so per warband. When you start out with 30 figures, 5 or 6 losses due to missile fire still leaves you with 24 men when you contact the enemy line. More than enough to do some damage.
Finally, in WEC terms, this means that Corcyra has been conquered by civilisation! There are two games left to play, but the previous three have all been won by the civilisation side.
On to game four!