Finally (finally!) got in the next game in our Maurice campaign, the first since October. Actually, there were a few firsts last night: first game no one played the "That's not on the map" card, and first time I won while attacking (since our very first trial game, I believe). Of late, I've found attacking a bit discouraging, and while I still think the game is weighted in favour of the defender, and I caught a number of breaks last night, it's nice to know the attacker can win; it rather restores my faith in the game ;)
I was playing DaveB, the gracious commander of the forces of the Dutchy of Fenwick. We began by drawing for terrain, and got Plains (which seems to have happened a lot, of late). He had the advantage in cavalry, won the scouting roll and elected to defend. He also has the Skirmishers national advantage, and used it to good effect; despite my roll of 1 for the number of terrain pieces, we ended up with a total of 10!
|I'm on a plain. I can't complain.|
DaveB managed to set himself up quite the little fortress. He had his best infantry well-entrenched behind a wall, abutting a village garrisoned by his artillery. Surrounding the down (outside the open area I placed) was a line of forests (plural!) in which he placed his irregular infantry, and on his left, he massed his cavalry in reserve. Between the woods, rough ground, and hill surrounding the town, not to mention the town itself, he'd presented me with a pretty tough nut to crack. I figured my best bet would be to pretty much ignore the objective / town itself, along with the tough core of his army, and go after the more accessible stuff (note: irregulars hunkered down in woods and a massed formation of 5 cavalry units constituted the "accessible stuff" in this case ;). I refused my left, and massed my infantry and cavalry to envelop on the right, with my guns as the "hinge" between infantry and cavalry.
|See that town? Yeah, I'm not attacking it.|
To be honest, I was kind of iffy about the whole prospect. From my side of the table, there were no good fights available. I knew that even though he didn't have lethal volleys, getting into a shooting match with irregulars in rough terrain was a bad idea, and my best bet would be to try and gang up on anything exposed, and then hope for the best.
|Dawn over the field of glory.|
I opened the festivities with a bombardment on his cavalry, who had obligingly presented me with their flank (when resolving, we actually forgot to add the modifier for them being in massed formation, but it all worked out okay). After a couple rounds of firing, DaveB opted to pull his cavalry back behind the shelter of the ploughed fields outside town. This made my firing much less effective, and with a mittfull of cards, I started the advance.
|Cavalry advance to threaten his flank.|
A fairly consistent theme this game was that I generally seemed to have good cards. Not sure if this was dumb luck, a result of me getting better at using the cards, or my decision to never let my hand fall below 4-5. Probably a bit of all three. At any rate, coordinating the advance was helped along by the play of the coordinated card, which let me move both my cavalry and infantry on the same turn.
|I watch Treehouse. Working together is fun!|
This let me push forward as an army, and simultaneously threaten both his forward units, and his flank.
|The might of France arrayed.|
The killing began on the left, where my two units of infantry faced off against his cowardly irregulars skulking in the woods.
|Grenzers gonna grenz.|
Thanks to the amazing promotion rolls I made back in October, and the way my national advantages are kicking in now that we're fighting the second round of the Silver War(e), my army is actually in good shape; I've got a respectable number of elites to throw out, and I figured that even with the penalties I'd be delaing with fighting in the woods, the relative combat value of the two units coupled with the outnumbering would be enough to push him out.
In the end, it was actually shooting that did the trick. I managed to get enough firepower to bear that his irregulars were dispersed, and my infantry was able to advance and take the woods.
|The noose tightens.|
This was assisted by the use of the "Find the Way" card. Normally, I don't get much use from this one, as I'm usually dealing with rough terrain in the context of a charge. In this case, it meant my line could advance without significant disruption.
|This way to the Egress.|
While this meant my infantry were now broken up into at least two forces, I didn't see much of a way around it. I also know that I had no intention of advancing further on my left. It would mean crossing a fire zone that would shred my infantry before they ever came to grips. At this point, the units on my left were there primarily to pin down the bulk of his infantry, and leave me free to envelope on the right. A desultory fire was exchanged on and off for the rest of the game, but it didn't produce much in the way of results.
|Looking a little lonely for those Fenwickian regulars.|
With the bulk of his infantry occupied on the left, I pushed my centre and right forward, charging both the regular infantry at the bottom of the hill, and the irregulars in the ploughed field (who didn't manage to evade). We both played modifying cards, which cancelled each other out, but mirabile dictu, I won both combats decisively, and between musketry and the bayonette, both units were destroyed.
This left me in a mixed position. My infantry were now scattered into at least three forces as a result of terrain, and the units that were in a position to attack were fairly well disrupted. While I might be able to reform and coordinate an attack, it would take several turn, and be card intensive; I needed to buy some time, and put pressure somewhere else. DaveB nudged my decision when he shuffled his cavalry a little, giving the impression they were finally going to come out from behind the field, and I thought it might be time to exercise the horses.
|Send in the cavalry!|
The ground where the final fight would take place was quite constricted. Neither one of us wanted to go into the ploughed field, and there was a space of perhaps 4-5 base widths between the field and "the edge of the world". It made it harder for me to get multiple 2 on 1 combats, but on the other hand, it also made it harder for his conscript cavalry to avoid combat with my much better cavalry.
|Le Marquis, always in the thick of the action.|
At this point, I played the Captured Intelligence card, and helped myself to a "Stirrups In" card that DaveB had been saving for a rainy day. It made a nice match for the one already in my hand. DaveB was kind enough to charge out of his own volition, but the combination of my better cavalry, along with playing his own card back at him, meant his cavalry recoiled. As an added bonus, both his attacking units actually recoiled through the third unit supporting from behind, leaving him in a rather vulnerable state.
|Part way through the cavalry melee. So far we're winning.|
On my turn, I hammered my own cavalry home, playing the second "Stirrups In" card for good measure. Given that in all the resulting combats DaveB was down to straight die rolls, the outcome was more or less predictable, and a few more cavalry fled down the road to Fenwick.
|See those pink dice? Disruption. Looks bad for DaveB, but it's about to get bloody for me.|
Things were going well at this point. DaveB had some terrible morale rolls, and was down to two morale points. I still hadn't lost a unit, but pretty much everything in my army was disrupted, and my infantry was broken up into multiple forces. While I was pretty sure I could break a unit or two of his to win the game, it was likely I'd lose a disproportionate number of my own in return.I figured my best bet would be to offer DaveB honourable terms, which he seemed happy enough to accept.
|Dusk falls over the field. My kingdom for a good Rally card!|
This was a game where a fair bit went my way, but I think it was also a game where some of the hard-taught lessons I've encountered seemed to take effect. I coordinated my army, kept my card count high, thought ahead about what cards I'd need and how to use the cards I had, and generally resisted the urge to go hell-for leather at my opponent.
I'm still catching up on painting from my dive into Star Wars online, so I doubt there'll be a painting post this weekend, but I've got tentative plans for a Bloodbowl game next week. Fingers crossed.