Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Return of Fu Manchu

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   On Military Matters Bookstore.  Owner Operator Dennis Shorthouse
Event:    Prep for Kozcon 2019

Players: Phil Gardocki running Anglo Irish
                  Dennis Shorthouse running the Jurchen-Chin
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 25mm, 200 points per side.
Theme: None

I am going to abuse my position here to offer a link to a different blog post about internet based attempts to commit fraud.  We are all in the target market, and every robo call you receive is an attempt to steal your money.  And while we would never fall for these obvious ploys, we do know people that will, so this may help someone you know.  In my personal experience, the lady that fell for the romance scam would be near the bottom of the list for someone that would fall for this sort of thing.  My write-up is a short read.  Scams. 

The Forces:
Anglo Irish
Larry (brilliant), Darryl (competent) and Darryl (unreliable, ordinary)
      4 Longbowmen, stakes, mediocre
      2 Longbowmen, stakes
      3 Javelinmen
      4 Galloglaich, Heavy Swordsmen 2HW
      2 Foot Knights, Heavy Swordsmen 2HW, Heavy Armor, Elite 
      1 Bombard
      2 Kerns, Light Infantry, Javelins

      2 Irish Nobles, Heavy Cavalry      
      2 Turkomons, Light Cavalry, Javelins
Breakpoint of 23

The Jurchen-Chin are from Manchuria, and later became the Manchu.
They have 2 brilliant commanders and an ordinary.
    2    Heavy Cav Bow/Impact - Elite
    4    Heavy Cav Bow/Impact - Ordinary
    4    Medium Cav Bow/Impact - Elite
    2    Medium Cav Bow/Impact - Ordinary
    4    Light Cav Bow- Ordinary
    2    Medium Sword/Bow - Ordinary
    2    Bowmen - Mediocre
Breakpoint of 20

Dennis has a wonderful bookstore in Hopewell New Jersey, that he has been running for many decades.  Imagine going through a library that is nothing but military history.  If you don't think you knew him, he is a long time supporter of Historical Miniatures Gaming Society, and held the coveted #1 spot in the dealers area for over 20 years.  So if you have been to any of HMGS's events at the Lancaster Host, you probably have met Dennis at some time.

The Running Gag:
I am not the only one using the Larry, Darryl and Darryl gag.  This from the Web strip, the Whiteboard:

The Whiteboard has been running for over 17 years and is extremely funny, even if you never played paint ball.

The Jurgan win the initiative and elect to attack in the plains.

The Board:
A mix of heavy/medium impact and bow cavalry.  some elite, some not. 

The plantation has a secret.

Darryl (not the competent, but the unreliable and ordinary) takes the left..

Larry is in command of the main force of Gallowglaichs and Arthur's knights.
In the foreground is the Proto-Large-Wooden-Badger

Darryl holds the right with a strong contingent of longbow.

Darryl, the unreliable, goes unresponsive.

Undeterred, Larry advances.

The bombard fires some ranging shots.

Darryl's Longbow hold their positions.
Turn 2:

Jurchen cavalry approach the Galloglaich/knight line.

Their lights performing preparation fire.

The remain Jurchen remain out of range.

Out of the plantation a column of men depart. Uninhibited by concerns of the enemy, they quickly march to the center of the board.

Darryl decides to join the fight.
His other brother Darryl steps forward, but not to charge reach. 

My thought here was to attack the Jurchen left, exposing the Longbow to a limited cavalry charge, but at risk of receiving massive bowfire.  This is all part of the cat and mouse game, where both sides play both parts.

Larry is also trying to force an early engagement.  But the Jurchen see an opportunity to eradicate Darryl's weak cavalry force .

One note here.  This hill is also a field. This may explain why the light horse doesn't race up the hill to smack the bombard.

The Jurchen cavalry use their superior mobility to avoid the longbow's attempt to wheel on them.  They now are more focused on Darryl's right flank.

Darryl recalls his light horse as they have already done their job of stopping the Jurchen foot march.

Larry keeps up the pressure.  He charges down the line, causing Jurchen horse to flee.

Darryl decides he likes the Jurchen position just fine and now focuses on the cavalry's right flank.
Turn 4:

The Jurchen finish the redeployment of their archers.

The horse archery fire scores a few hits.

The center of the Jurchen see an opportunity to knock off some Irish Javelinmen.

The Jurchen redeploy their cavalry again.  This is not a game Darryl can win.  The Jurchen commander is a better quality, and his troops too fast.

Case in point.  Darryl only had two command points here.  Just enough to dress the lines a bit.
Turn 5:

We are half way through this snooze fest.  So far the score is 2-1 in favor of the Jurchen.   Both sides complaining about the inaccessibility of their opponent.

But the Jurchen have finally got what hey wanted.  A corner that has been weakened by bowfire.

It's supporting cavalry also disordered.
Larry compresses his line to cover the disordered Clan Jordan.  His attempt to rally failed.  But the corner is now held by Sir Robin the Brave, and his minstrels. 
I have added new figures to my old Anglo-Irish army.  All from Medieval Mayhem, based on Monty Pythons Holy Grail movie.  Above is Sir Robin, Galahad, their patsys, and Robins minstrels.  For those who have not seen the movie, (Al, you know who you are) here is a clip.
On the right, the Jurchen have another corner. 
It's not totally ideal for the Jurchen.  They are in front of stakes, and the bowmen have a bend that lends them flank support.
Turn 7:

What happened to turn 6?  I think it happened while I was in the bathroom, or checking my emails.

The scunners from Manchuria managed to catch a kern, wiping them out to a man. 

While the remaining cavalry patiently await for the inevitable flank to be exposed.

On the right, a similar patience is shown.  The cavalry is willing to take exchange bowfire against longbow, while working the flank.

They also attack the far right.  Both sides 2 up, but the dice favored the Jurchen.

Massive charges all round.  Heavy cavalry charge with favorable odds and both fail.

Larry also orders a charge driving off his harassers.

Darryl knows this unit of longbowmen will be flanked if he stays, so he orders them into a suicide flank attack.

One Jurchen cavalry unit breaks from the masses.  Stormed at with shot and shell, pursued by Kern Ramsey, they head for the camp.

Darryl's group is not reduced to 4 effectives, but all are behind stakes.
Turn 8:The Jurchen-Chin have 3 points towards their breakpoint of 20
The Anglo-Irish have 10 points towards their breakpoint of 23

An Irish Noble falls.

The camp is under siege.

A longbow falls, as well as a Irish Javelinmen

Another Longbow falls

A distant shot from the bombard scores.

Sir Robin attacks.  Elite Foot Knights vs Bowmen, and the dice when even up!

Larry advances, ZOCing his enemies.

And as the clock ran out, Darryl covers his flank on one side, and eliminates a Jurchen-Chin Cavalry on the other.
The final score:
The Jurchen-Chin have 8 points towards their breakpoint of 20
The Anglo-Irish have 15 points towards their breakpoint of 23

What went wrong?

Several things, but I am going to pick on the army composition.  It has a lot of nice features, but the large longbow groups is just too vulnerable to cavalry.  Against knights, there is a good chance, because the knights have a shorter charge reach.  The longbow can't attack cavalry, as soon as they get in bow reach, they become charge targets.  Thus you have this game of cat and mouse.  It's a game where if either side makes a mistake, it's dead.  In this game the game was still being played, but with another two turns, Darryls Longbow command is done for.

Then we have the other brother Darryl's cavalry command.  It is small, 2 Heavy Horse, 2 Light Horse and a Kern.  It's job is to hold it's flank.  By evasion usually, by attack if necessary.  However it is too weak to attack and too small to resist bowfire for any time.  In short, it is ill equipped to do what it needs to do.

The center command.  This is the command with the punch.  It has the ability to slam and destroy what ever is out there.  And if it doesn't do more than be a pin cushion, then it's just useless, and my opponent only needs to kill the weaker two commands to win.  Case in point this game.  A line of Heavy Swordsmen with 2HW is expensive at 81 points.  Especially if it never fights.

And what if it does fight?  Frankly, Knights beat them, so do Pike.  Impact Swordsmen is a 50/50 proposition, so what do they beat?  Heavy Spearmen.  The percentages say that is about a 25/75, probably closer to 10/90.  So why have them?

Also, having the commands where the units are homogeneous allows your opponent to line up on them with good matchups.   In this case a command of 6 2 Handed Swordsmen and a command of 6 longbow.  A few years ago I ran them integrated in what was referred to as a Swiss Army Command.  It had its advantages in that there was always something in the command that was good against what it was facing.  The reverse was also true.  That and the commands tended to fragment along movement rates, which means it's very structure was doing my opponents work for him.

The real issue with this configuration is that it lacks the ability to force the battle.  The main line of battle can continue to advance, but never engage anything that does not want to be engaged.

Back to the drawing board for Kozcon.