Burton 2008 DBM Tournament Report – By Paul Nettle (with other bits from Graham Philpot and Paul Burton)

Rob and I both had Friday off, so we left at 2pm for a relaxed drive up the Fosse Way. We arrived at the Three Queens Hotel about 5pm, and we both had a very nice double room for the price of a single room. A quiet curry, which was very well priced, plus some beer from the Bridge finished off the day. Paul and Steve, who were also staying at the Three Queens Hotel, turned up at the Bridge too.

I must admit that I hadn’t played DBM since last February at Burton, because no-one else at SAD seems to play it anymore. Last year, Rob agreed that I would get the Book 4 army for this year, but changed his mind after buying a French Medieval army. This was largely untried, and I was still painting bits of it on Friday morning before we left; Rob was still painting bits of it on Sunday morning!

We arrived at the Town Hall in good time on Saturday morning, and were surprised to find there were only 30 teams in the DBM tournament this year. There were quite a few Field of Glory teams at Burton this year, which is vying with DBMM to be the successor to DBM.

I was also very disappointed to see that there were hardly any traders this year. In previous years the traders had filled two adjacent halls, but this year the four of five traders were scattered around the outside of the gaming hall, where in previous years there had been tables for DBM players.

Rob & Paul’s Army was Medieval French

CinC – Reg Kn (S)

8 Irr Kn (S)

2 Irr Cv (O)

8 Irr Bw (O)

5 Reg Bw (I)

4 Irr Ax (X)

7 Irr Hd (O)

1 Irr Ps (O)

Sub- Gen – Irr Kn (S)

8 Irr Kn (S)

2 Irr Cv (O)

10 Irr Bw (I)

4 Irr Ax (X)

9 Irr Hd (O)

Scots Ally – Irr Pk (I)

26 Irr Pk (I))

1 Irr Kn (I)


Graham and Steve took their Leidang, and Paul & Jonathan took Khitan Lao

GAME 1

Rob & Paul vs John and Kevin – Hundred Years War English. Well, this was a historical match, at least. We expected wall-to-wall mounted longbow men, and discussed starting the battle with all our knights dismounted. Rob took the CinC’s command, and kept his knights mounted. I thought Rob had made a mistake, and dismounted my knights from the sub-general’s command, but happily the English used the maximum number of knights, and most fell opposite Rob’s knights. John and Kevin had two commands with longbowmen and knights, plus a small flank command of mixed blades and bow. We planned to isolate the English CinC command while Rob attacked it, and we did this by charging the Scots pike into the CinC’s command’s massed longbow fire (which could otherwise have impeded our knights). The French Sub-general’s command faced off the two other English commands, and suffered a minor crisis when the English knights charged the French bowmen, but the inferior bowmen shot the knights to pieces, and only desultory fighting took place on our left flank. We lost the Scots but got the enemy CinC. Rob suffered appalling combat dice, but eventually the quality of the French knights told, and we broke the enemy CinC’s command for a 7-3 win.

 

Graham & Steve vs Tupi (By Graham).

The first morning of this years Burton doubles contest saw the war canoes of the Tupi sneak past our dragon ships and land these barbarians on the cherished soil of mother Finland.

The war horns blew and the Fjords rang to the cry of “Raise the Leidang” as the Huscarles manned the ramparts.

We defended as usual and deployed, despite having three compulsory terrain features, on a flat open plain. Our huscarles Bd(O) under King Melvin Bloodaxe (CinC) occupied the fortifications to defend the baggage, our light command of Leidang Ax(O), commanded by Herbert Forkbeard, rested one flank on the baggage camp and the other as close as they could get to the left table edge. Our third and largest command of Leidang Ax(O) and Landstruppe Kn(F) flank marched on the left with the Jarl Erick Sykes in command.

The Tupi attacked with superior Bow and fast warband, they flank marched on our left flank and were driven back in disorder onto thier own flank by our, much larger flanking manoeuvre. Unable to respond effectively to our flank attack they fled from the oncoming Norsemen. The Landstruppe struck – charging impetuously onto the flanks and rear of the enemy warband. We began to smell the enemy’s blood! Then we watched aghast as seven elements of fast Tupi warband, without loss to themselves, managed to either kill or push twelve elements of our flank march off the table edge in just two turns! After two more turns we did succeed in breaking the enemy command but in order to do so, our knights impetuously burst through some of our own Leidang who fled off table and took our command below its own break point. At this point the outcome of the game rested on the enemy attack on our small light command who, despite being heavily outnumbered, were not only able to hold thier own but in some places throw back the enemy warband masses. At the games end each side had broken a single sub general’s command. The result was a hard fought five all draw.

Paul & Jonathan vs Palaiologan Byzantine (by Paul Burton).

The deployment didn’t look too bad, our big infantry command of mainly Bw(O) and Bd(F) faced a smaller mainly Sp(I) C-in-C command and the two mounted commands faced off against a Serbian ally with Kn(S) and a few other bits, plus a mixed Kn(O), cavalry and bow command. Importantly, the 2 gentle hills we had put down as the defender fell nicely for the Byzantines in the forward middle part of their deployment area. At first things went to plan, our infantry/artillery trundled forward and started shooting away the few light horse screening their weak infantry command. We decided to be cautious with the mounted commands as we thought our Kn(F) would not do too well against Kn(S) and Kn(O). Then it all went wrong…..

Firstly, one light horse on their side became the hero of all four games of the weekend. We constantly shot at it with 4-0 factors, vainly trying to make it flee as we moved forward, but 4 or 5 bounds on a row it 5-1, 6-1 or 6-2 us, stopping us being able to march forward. Consequently it took a long time to get into their weak C-in-C infantry command, meaning that by the end of the game we had killed 6 elements of it, leaving us 2 short from breaking it. Over with the mounted troops the opposition strangely held back with their better knights. They brought some bow(I) forward to the edge of one hill and bow(O) to the left of it. It was here I made the mistake of the game (sorry Jonathan!) – I was drawn into trying to attack the bow and failed. They then got bold with their knights and they crashed into our two mounted commands and finished them off. A 0-10 start but a good game against nice opponents (as all 4 of the teams against us were).

After Game 1

 

Paul and Rob

7-3

7

Graham and Steve

5-5

5

Paul and Jonathan

0-10

0

GAME 2

Paul & Rob vs Dave and John – Tupi. This was a nightmare match-up for us, the Tupi had four commands, each with between 15 – 20 Bw(S) and 8 – 16 Wb(F), and they advanced steadily towards our knights with the bow in front and the warband behind in case we dismounted. The Scots charged one bow block and broke it, but broke themselves, and the French Sub-general’s command soon after. We thought getting a point was a minor victory.

Graham and Steve vs Early Burgundians (By Graham)

The next candidate for the attention of our axes was an early Burundian army with French allies. As in almost every game we fought during this competition, we defended with no terrain on our half of the table. We placed our fortified baggage camp in the centre of the table edge with the Huscarles deploying in and to the left of, the baggage fort. Our small light command deployed behind the Huscarles in support whilst our largest command containing the knights, flank marched on the left. This deployment became our standard battle formation for the remainder of the competition and meant we never attempted to contest any part of the right hand half of the battlefield. On came the Burundians who attacked as best they could but the Burundian French allies (5 elements of superior knights) became unreliable. Our flank march destroyed the first enemy command it could get at in very short order, the French decided to change sides and we gained the services of five French superior Knights who promptly charged into the rear of the Burundian pike block. The Huscarle quickly despatched enough of the pikemen to break another command and we claimed a 10-0 victory with just 3 elements lost. This game was straightforward from our point of view and only remarkable because neither Steve nor I have ever seen an unreliable ally change sides in a DBM game before. The French change of allegiance was not an issue in the game our opponent was wrong-footed by our flank march and never managed to recover enough to offer any serious resistance.

Paul & Jonathan vs Khmer (by Paul Burton).

“oh no” said me, and the others chuckled as they knew of my pessimism of using the Kittens against elephant armies. This one had lots of smellies indeed, with a Burmese ally included to add 5 El(S) to the numerous El(O) and El(X). Out of desperation I managed to persuade Jonathan to flank march with the knight command, as I had always lost this in the 3-4 games against Khmer before. We deployed our two on-table commands on the left-hand side, with the infantry holding the centre and the cavalry on a hill nicely situated on the back-edge of the table on the left. Crucially, the heroic horde(I), which was now in the infantry command, was in a long column holding the right flank of the infantry, with the 2 light horse in this command out scouting. Luckily our opposition deployed one large elephant command and the Burmese on their left, facing nothing but air and they were more unfortunate when the Burmese went unreliable for most of the game. Their other 2 commands had 5 elephants and lots of Ax(S) which they put in a lot of rough ground out in front of their deployment. Everything then went like a dream. The flank march came on just at the right moment (4th bound I think) after they had moved the 5 elephants forward. This enabled us to get a swarm of light horse around the flanks of the elephants and together with the artillery and infantry moving up, managed to destroy all but one of the elephants, including the general. Together with an Ax we had managed to shoot with artillery, this meant they needed a 6 to keep this, their biggest command, from breaking. They failed and we suddenly realised we only needed to break 3 elements of baggage to get the army. Over went a couple of light horse to do the job and that was it, a 10-0 and our first ever victory against an elephant army!

After Game 2

 

Graham and Steve

5-5

10-0

15

Paul and Jonathan

0-10

10-0

10

Paul and Rob

7-3

1-9

8

GAME 3

Rob and Paul vs Rob and Peter – Later Hungarian. This was the only game we invaded, and had terrain like a billiard table. The Hungarians had more light horse than you can shake a stick at, and we knew we could castle up with bow in front and dismounted knights behind and probably draw out the fight (we had good terrain for castling up) – or charge and die like knights. We chose the latter, and lost all the knights, taking two enemy commands to within an element of breaking but not getting the final element – both Rob and I had excellent chances to do so, but the dice didn’t go our way. A much closer game than the score indicates, and an extremely fun game – probably my favourite. They finally got our whole army (CinCs command and enough from the other two) just before last bounds were called. A 0-10 loss, but no regrets on not getting the guaranteed 5-5 we could have got by corner sitting.

Graham and Steve sv Ming Chinese (by Graham)

On Sunday morning we found ourselves facing a Ming Chinese army with Burmese allies. I knew our opponents very well, in fact my first war-game against John Patrick was at least 30 years ago! John is the proud possessor of more wargames figures than anyone I have ever known; to my personal knowledge he has enough figures for every army in all 4 DBM books in 25mm alone. I can’t even begin to imagine how many 15mm figures he can call on and all them very nicely painted by him.

I attacked with a left flank march whilst Steve held on-table with our Huscarles strongly supported by Auxilia; this has become our standard competition strategy and promises to remain so. Despite wave after wave of attacks from a veritable menagerie of creatures including men mounted on what appeared to be giant pigs with long noses and exploding cows – I still don’t know what all that was about! – the Huscarles gave no ground as our flank attack set about the grim business of killing Chinese cavalry (at least I think they were cavalry). Due to time constraints we were only able to slaughter enough Chinese to gain a 6-4 victory

Paul & Jonathan vs Burmese (by Paul Burton)

“Here we go again” we thought, but with more confidence after battle 2. The same plan was hatched, but this time the enemy were better off, with an ally command (Yuan Chinese I think?) that had some cavalry and light horse in it facing off against our cavalry command together with a lot of Ax, Bd(F) and smellies against that and the infantry. The first few turns didn’t look good as our opponents used their high pips to crash 4 commands into our 2. We got more anxious as reports came in that our flank march had turned right instead of left at the mountain pass down the road and wasn’t going to be turning up! (We rolled the 6 required for it to come on for the last bound but didn’t bother as it could not do anything by then).

It was then that the small cavalry command (break on 6) became our heroes. Facing superior numbers that also included smellies, they stood up to a man as I consistently rolled high in combat. We started to think we could pull a 5-5 out of the bag. Then, astonishingly, Jonathan smashed into superior numbers with the infantry and, following a string of 1s by our opponents, broke a command. A very surprising 6-4 to us and a second victory against an elephant army. I did feel a bit sorry for our opponents as, even though we had been a bit unlucky with our flank march not turning up, they had certainly been out-diced on the table.

After Game 3

 

Graham and Steve

5-5

10-0

6-4

21

Paul and Jonathan

0-10

10-0

6-4

16

Paul and Rob

7-3

1-9

0-10

8

GAME 4

Rob & Paul vs Paul and Oliver – Andalusians

In six consecutive years playing at Burton, I have always won the final game, so Rob and I went into the final battle under some pressure!

Rob and I were convinced the Andalusians had a flank march, and deployed accordingly. The Andalusians didn’t have a flank march, but conveniently deployed their smallish CinC command, with knights fast and cavalry ordinary, in front of my mounted knights. After a lot of time sorting my command out (I started in column to be able to quickly face the flank march) I advanced my knights and had an excellent ding-dong with the enemy. We should have broken his smallest command (it was an element away) and killed over 25% of his CinC’s command as well. We stopped fighting early because it was announced that last bounds would start at 4.45 – only later did we find out it had been amended to 5.15. The extra half hour could have broken the enemy CinC (and would certainly have got the smallest command) but our CinC (my command) was looking shaky too, and more likely to break than the enemy CinC, so 6-4 was a fair result.

This was a fairly slow moving game – the Scots needed to guard their flank, so advanced slowly whilst we brought up bowmen to protect their flank from marauding Andalusian light horse. The Andalusian spearmen supported by psilio could have done my knights some damage, but they stayed planted firmly where they were, fearful of the Scots. Consequently it was played a quite a relaxed pace, and we had a long chat about our various Flames of War armies – Paul and Oliver’s club didn’t do DBM any more and had gone of to Flames of War too!

Graham and Steve vs Later Hungarians(by Graham)

Our final game was against Later Hungarians and despite a scrutiny of the army list, we started the game neither knowing nor caring what could be in our opponent’s army. We employed our standard battle strategy of holding on-table with the Huscarles supported by auxilia whilst left flank marching with our largest command containing knights and auxilia. In this game our flank march didn’t arrive until turn 6 or 7 this gave our opponents an opportunity to get thier army over to our side of the table before we could attack it. Our Huscarles watched in amazement at the range and complexity of the enemy manoeuvres as they prepared to face our flank attack. When our flanking command finally arrived PIP constraints meant the knights had to be left off-table and we had to face superior knights with just auxilia for a while, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth but the enemy had few knights and did little damage before our knights along with the rest of the army finally arrived. We then spent the rest of the game trying to bring the enemy to combat anywhere and everywhere along our line. We finally managed on the last combat roll of the last turn to kill two elements of enemy light horse and win the game on the 25% rule. The description above does not really give a true flavour of this battle, it was exciting and challenging all the way through, our opponents were extremely good players having won the Burton competition on at least one previous occasion. They both knew exactly what they were doing but were let down by bad PIP scores on one of the commands sent to face our flank march. When it was clear they could not damage us they avoided combat as much as possible and it was hard for us to visit our wrath upon them. Even though we beat them, they went on to gain third place in the competition with 30 points.

Paul & Jonathan vs Ming Chinese with Burmese allies (by Paul Burton).

This was a very difficult game from the off. It was a flank march too far, the opponents knew what they were doing(!) and I blundered in failing to realise I did not actually have to bring on the knight command’s flank march to face up against horrible war wagons, which I had not really fought against before (I could have just brought on the general’s light horse element, ran him away and let the others ‘straggle’). This command duly died to a man, leaving our opponents with huge numbers against the our other 2 commands. However, these two again fought valiantly (Jonathan coming up trumps again with the dice) and we managed to hold them off for the whole game, losing 5 elements from the infantry command that had a break of 9.5. Again the horde(I) did the job, delaying the Burmese ally and a load of cavalry for a significant period of time. So a 4-6 and an interesting game that gave me a headache, but we learnt quite a bit and our opponents were gracious enough to debrief us after the game on what we could have done better.

After Game 4

 

Graham and Steve

5-5

10-0

6-4

6-4

27

Paul and Jonathan

0-10

10-0

6-4

4-6

20

Paul and Rob

7-3

1-9

0-10

6-4

14

Final Comments by Graham – We ended the competition with 27 points, I’m not sure of our positioning in the competition, equal 4th or 5th I think. This didn’t improve on our score from last years Devizes competition. I think this was due to our poor performance in game 1 but it was a difficult match-up for our army. Times have changed however, in previous years my aim was to enter Burton and not lose a game, now I am bitterly disappointed with a 5-5 draw. This is not due to any increase in skill on our part, far from it in fact, all we have to do is stand the Huscarles in line with auxilia behind and wait for our knights to arrive and impetuously attack the enemy in the flank. There is no manoeuvre in these tactics and PIP scores are irrelevant for us, I never fall into the trap of trying to do anything with my knights other than let them go, the only PIP I ever spend on them as a group is to bring them on table. We only ever have to decide two things- 1. who is going to defend the baggage, Huscarle or Auxilia and 2. Who is going to come on table first when the flank attack arrives, Knights or Auxilia. The army just gets on with everything else.

Final comments from Paul Burton – So 20 points for the weekend, our joint highest in the 4 trips we have done to Burton. Thanks must go to Jonathan for not only putting up with me but rolling good dice for most of the weekend! Also, thanks to Paul, Rob, Graham and Steve for being there and making the weekend as enjoyable as it was.

Final Comments from Paul Nettle – The tournament was the first time I had played with the Medieval French, and it was a fun but frustrating army to play with. Its greatest strength is its greatest weakness – 16 elements of irregular superior knights can be devastating, but they used all our PIPs to get them into contact as our opponents understandably tried to frustrate them at every turn. In many cases we could have done better if we had the PIPs to bring up the supporting cavalry and bowmen, but too often this only happened after all the knights had died! Not being able to swap PIPs is always exiting, and often not in a good way. Unlike Graham and Steve, who were indifferent to their PIPs, Rob and I needed every PIP we had, and often more besides. Luckily Rob had organised the lists so that we could loose all the knights and still survive, but they did tend to leave large gaps in our defensive line. We also got into the habit of dismounting our generals when the knights were nearly in, and getting them out of trouble, although against the Hungarians Rob’s isolated dismounted CinC fought off three elements of light horse for about six turns!

Thanks to Rob for partnering me again and providing the army, and thanks to Graham, Steve, Paul and Jonathan for providing stimulating company. The social side is always a big part of our Burton trips, and although I missed Andy and Derek, the trip was great fun and the chatting, piss-taking and laughter was non-stop.

On Sunday Rob and I sat outside the Town Hall on a park bench amongst the flower beds in the sunshine. It was warm and pleasant, and we sat having a smoke and a quiet rumination on the tournament. I shall miss DBM if it goes – I’ve been playing it since 1994 – but I shall certainly be back to Burton again, even if I’m playing 40K!!!!!