donderdag 13 oktober 2011

I am an Anvil... part 3: War Stories

So how are names made and gained? For the historical players participating in the annual ACW weekend of TSA, I`m known as `Concrete Wall Murrath`, the Union`s new and improved version of Stonewall Jackson.

How this came to be? By an excellent defensive plan, and a bucket load of luck. But no luck no glory the saying goes, and Lady Luck is a fickle mistress.

Still, they christened me with it, and I still wear it proudly

Two years ago, we fought the battle of Antietam. I had only a small division of two little units of riflemen under Cpl Hofmann under my command, getting the `Forlorn Hope`
They are all in the red square on this picture:

Including the officer, that`s 25 models on a total of 1500+ Union models on the table that are all advancing on the right side of the picture, while the left side, where I was stationed, had the whole cavalry corps of JEB Stuart comming my way. The organisers plan for me was that I bought the Union reinforcements one extra turn in order to be able to deploy more decently and organised, then to take command of one of those corpses to continue playing in the game...

The corps needed another player to command it, as Hofman didn`t buckle.

Facing my two small regiments where no less then 8 cavalry regiments including the fearsome Black hats, and here the plan went in motion. I swivelled my line to be able to see the whole cavalry under a 90 degree arc, then used my opening volley on long range to target the middle one, accidently but not necessarily intended, the Black Hats.
Quick mathematics had taught me that the opening volley compensated for the penalty of the range, yet still many players on both sides didn`t get it why I would do that. Simple, it was a chance to good to miss!
1. The commander, JEB himself, was in the front of the column of regiments, which was spread long due to being in a 2 rank wide marching formation for exxtra speed. This meant also that from the 4th regiment onwards, they where out of his bonus command range.
2. Cavalry doesn`t take well to being fired upon in the flank, and the extra morale modifiers made it very likely the regiment would brake when sufferinf even a single casualty, requiring about average rolls to do so. And first casualty is not only an extra modifier, under JRIII also an extra test!

This happened, and people laughed a tat that even though the cavalry promptly ran of the table, they wondered what I had hoped to reach by wasting my first volley on that instead of waiting for the stand and shoot volley on the next turn.
They saw it on the next turn: due to the chain being `broken` where that regiment had been, not only couldn`t the south make a long series of chained attacks, this caused only the first three units to charge, the others falling behind. But charging a long distance in the open with only 3 cavalry regiments (instead of 8) made it easy for the two rifle regiments, they just picked the first two, volleyed them, and as is more than often the outcome the cavalry turned and ran... past the second `wave` gathered, causing more panic, and taking the whole corps of the table. (physically, they had like 12 inch for a 60 odd inches retreat move straight away from the enemy).

My name was made.

On my TSA clubshirt, there is embroided `Twin-Linked Murrath`. A heritage from our Babylon 5 craze, in which my force of choice always has been the Earth Alliance, preferably the middle age with all their, you guessed it, twin-linked batteries. The first vessels on my roster always where the venerable Nova and Aurora Starfuries. Sure, the weapons don`t hit spectacularly like triple damage beams or AP DD matter cannons, but they literally `nibble` the enemy away, often causing him not to notice in one eye shot that a vessel gets in perile as it was only a 5 damage salvo... followed by another one like that, and another, and suddenly the vessel is a hulk. With a one voley 20 damage hit, players tend to look out more for the vessel attacked for it suddenly became vunerable...

A clear case of quantity over quality, and playing the waiting game with those blokes wasn`t hard, as they are 4 inch speedy, lumbering bricks anyways...

My name was made.

But here are other great tales to tell, as often happens when one plays a lot of battles, events and tournaments.

For example, in the first year of the Ranking der Nederlanden, and we`re talking waaaaaaaay back now, I somehow managed to end highest ranked Belgian in the end result. Now mind you, I never, ever won a Warhammer torunament. Never. I do have a knack to `count` during battles, trying to draw or not to win to big the first round, in order to avoid all the heavy hitters in the Swiss system later on. These guys then start to kill each other off, while your winning your battles and slowy move upwards in the result, usually ending somewhere between place 4 to 7, occasionally 2nd or 3rd. But do that over a whole year and series of tournaments, and you end pretty neat in the overall result, as continuity always rewards players, look at women`s tennis, Safina never won a Grand Slam either and she even ended up top dog at a certain point.

Now, my army of choice in that exploit was, and always will be, the Chaos Dwarves, but their tale is for episode 4 of this series.

Other Warhammer forces I fielded where the Empire and Wood Elves, as well as unnatrual to my style the Vampire Counts. I played warhammer from the second half of 4th edition, over the whole of 5th through the first hale of 6th. That was the era of the `Hero hammer` opposed to todays `warhamster`, when the focus where the mighty heroes slashing solo through all kinds of units, who nowadays are just laughed at by such an effort.

This was the age of `Rooted` treemem, who with their T7 and as long that they didn`t get a wound, didn`t require to take break tests. You smacked them against s3 spearmen and they held that unit for ages. The age of the sylvan longbow still firing 36" and the War Dancers with their automatic a tie combat result dance.
I had a Steam tank once, back then a T10 little engine, that ran amock over an army of dwarves because they couldn`t dodge it`s bulk with their initiative 2. Lines of cannon stood ready to await the oncomming hordes of knights and demons. Old Weirde`s Tacticus `the oblique line` was my most hated enemy (remember THAT issue of WD younglings?) and Paul Stewart became editor in chief of White Dwarf. A true time of legends (or just a fancy way of saying, a long time ago).

But WFB also brought great fun ideas like the Warhammer Siege book, which we used for this mega battle involving a horde of greenskins and demons besieging a Dwarven hold with an Empire force encamped in front of it. I still hear the rumbling voice of the Thane vs the Imperial Count... `Get out of my Fortress!`... the Empire commanders face, as he had to stand before the castle against the tide was worth millions (editorial note: they didn`t like each other real life).

I also, though less, played warhammer 40k, but I didn`t like the feel of regiments in that setting. IF I`m playing with armies, I prefer to have them nicely lined up in blocks, maneuvring over a table as a line, instead of collection of skirmishers darting left and right all over the place.
My main force was an Empreror`s Children marine force, because well, they where pink. Nobody had a pink army back then, and apart from a slight bonus if your squads numbered the `holy number`, being 6 in the case of Slaanesh, it didn`t make much difference wether you fielded vanilla or chapter specific.

But this thing did raise many a brow, my Possessed Pink Predator or 3Po for short (yes, very tongue in cheeck, it was a silly reference to all the C3-PO is gay comments all over the years of Star Wars)

And another reason to take the Emperor`s Children, space marines fighting with electrical guitars are ubercool in the young mind of a just out of puberty gamer...

But one name still needs to be explained... Lord Aldades. And for that, tune in tomorrow as I will tell you about my personal (in hindsight) best feeling I had during wargaming, and it even belongs to Games Workshop.

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