Friday, 8 December 2006

Horsing Around the Battlelines

Well, I was going to post up pictures of my mounted milites tonight, but on relfection Ive decided not to. As they were a little rushed I didnt put as much detailing on them as I would have liked, so the shields are off and a little updating is in progress. I know, I know, I`ve broken the cardinal rule of army painting: never go back till the whole army's done. But in this case I felt it was justified. Ive gone back and added a few more blazes, highlighted a few manes and tails I didnt have time to finish, and now I need to mount the shields again (heh, heh, I said "mount", get it? a double entandre and a pun all in one word. Damn I'm plleased with myself).


In the meantime Ive being playing a few games of Battlelines with John. See his blog, here: Got game! for more details. Our game isnt up yet but I`m sure it will be eventually. That was sarcasm by the way. John has yet to write up a single game in which I've beaten him, though he's quite happily to admit to a few loses from badger? I wonder why?

Nah, I`m just ribbing you! Actually John and I rarely play boardgames, mostly because Im not a big fan and they quickly bore me. I've only played boardgames with him on three occasions: one in which I was soudnly beaten (Settlers), one on which I was victorious during my first ever game of Up Front (Well, I have commanded real infantry platoons a time or two, even if I was a tankie!) and on this last occasion an overall draw. He trounced me in the first game and I won the second, far closer game, after getting a grip on the game mechanics.

All in all, it's an enjoyable little game, but I cant bring myself to think of it as a wargame or a simulation, only as a very pretty dice game. A peasant with a shortsword and a bow is just as likely to kill a fully armoured mounted knight in close combat as he is to kill a fellow peasant ( a one in six chance either way). And if you ask me, that just isn't right. Plus the support rule encourages generals to form their units into "wedge" formation. The successful player is the one who exploits the rules mechanics to his best advantage rather than the one with the best tactical knowledge. In fact, someone with a decent understanding of historical combat is likely to be at a severe disadvantage in their first game (like I was). Just because a unit of knights would be near invulnerable to a peasant with a sword sword in open field doesnt mean they are are going to ride over them in this system. Admitedly,I did charge my knights unsupported across the field (well, I WAS playing the French at Agincourt :D) but even so it should not be possible for four stands of peasants with shortswords to withstand a charge by three stands of heavy cavalry and then wipe them out a turn later!

So, on the whole an enjoyable evening, especially when I came back from defeat and (again using the Fench) defeated John in a straight on infantry fight, using my knights as bait for his archers and swarming his men-at-arms (medium infantry) and dismounted knights (heavy infantry)with own medium infantry suported and one unit of medium cavalry. I didnt bother trying to take down his archers: they were faster than my men at arms and would simply flee "in good order" after a round of combat with an equally sized unit of my medium infantry. Also, my unit of medium cavalry was put to better use attacking already weakened infantry units to capture their banners. As the game is won by the player who captures a cerain numbers of banners first (in this case four) this was a far more useful role for them than chasing hordes of archers back and forth. Heck, theirs no guarantee the archers wouldn't have mown them down with their shortswords anyway, not in this game at least.

If it sounds as though I hated this game, please, don't get me wrong. I truly enjoyed it and would gladly play it again a time or two -this time including the "Lore" rules. See Johns blog if you want to know what I mean by that, as I wont explain it here. It's a fantasy game after all, but I would expect a fantasy game that perports to be set in an "alternate medieval europe" to at least reflect the realities of medieval combat a little better.

Two units of knights wiped out by two units of peasants archers with sword swords indeed!!!!

No comments: