Friday, 7 July 2017

Big Battle DBA - Crusades

These days I'm becoming very bad at posting anything about any club games apart from the one I'm playing in. And this post is no exception. Yesterday, most people were involved in a great big Bolt Action game which, if you're into Bolt Action, you would have really enjoyed seeing. But I didn't take any pictures of it.

I played DBA with Peter, Geoff and Dave. We set up a 24-element game pitting Early Crusaders against Syrians (although you'd be hard-pressed to know that from the figures involved, which were a bit varied).

Peter and Geoff took the Syrians, whilst Dave and I played the Crusaders. The Syrians were mostly cavalry and light horse. Peter took some infantry support in the form of auxilia, whilst Geoff opted for bows. Dave went for a fairly standard Crusader configuration; he kept some of his knights as such, and dismounted a couple as blades. He supported them with spears and crossbows, and threw in an element of Byzantine light horse. I simply opted for maximum knights. And then I noticed that the spears could be fielded as hordes instead, and went for those. Adding in the pilgrim hordes, I had five of theses intriguing elements in play.

We set up on a 30" wide board. It became obvious rather quickly that it wasn't wide enough. In the foreground you can see my massed hordes (all depicted as pilgrims, although I'm not actually sure what the bulk of the hordes in the Early Crusader list are actually supposed to represent).

The lack of width prevented the Syrian light cavalry from turning the Crusader flanks; in both cases they were confronted by the Franks' missile troops, who shot them down.

The main force of Syrian cavalry prepared to advance. Both Dave and I kept our knights in reserve.

Peter's cavalry charged in against the massed hordes.

A desperate struggle ensued. The hordes can't kill cavalry, but are surprisingly resistant to being destroyed themselves. However their tendency to pursue anything ...

... soon led to a very fragmented battle-line.

I moved some knights up to exploit isolated Syrian elements. Peter's command broke, and the battle quickly developed into a mopping up operation.

Dave and Geoff had more of a deadlock going on over on their flank. It didn't prevent the Syrians losing.

We set up the armies again, except that this time I was opposite Geoff and Dave was opposite Peter. In addition we fudged an extra 6" of width onto the board, making it 2' x 3'; an adequate size for 24 elements (it's certainly what I'd use for 48AP HOTT, which is the equivalent).

Once again the Crusader missile troops dominated. We couldn't deploy in the far edge zones, but could quickly move the crossbows and archers to cover those areas before the Syrians could exploit them.

Unwilling to get shot down on the flanks, Geoff opted to demonstrate against the Crusader hordes. But he didn't commit to an attack. My view was that the Syrian light horse could have gone into combat; the worse that could happen to them would be that they'd flee, whereas the hordes could be killed and would certainly be drawn out of position, making them vulnerable to attack by the cavalry.

Peter managed quite an impressive envelopment on his flank, but Dave managed to turn enough of his army to see it off.

Geoff did manage to outflank the Crusader bows on my flank, but then failed to win any of the close combats. Eventually the archery whittled down the Syrians until, once again, their army was teetering on the brink of demoralisation, at which point Geoff and Peter conceded.

I have a bit of a soft-spot for the Early Crusaders, mostly because event reading their army list in DBM, you could see what a truly terrible and messed-up army it actually was. In DBA it's less prone to running totally out of control, but with a few hordes in play I can see that you'd have difficulty keeping it in place for long. We were keen to try this matchup again, possibly at 24AP. Peter and Geoff felt that the Syrians had an uphill struggle,  with them having little that can match the Crusader missile troops, but I suspect they can win with patience and a willingness to accept a lot of fleeing cavalry.

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