Well this last weekend I happened to be in the UK (for personal reasons) and managed to get along to VAPNARTAK. This is a one day gaming show in York and was full with traders – much more than are ever seen in any Canadian gaming event. I also managed to join in an Art de la Guerre ancients competition! So I thought I’d write up a quick report of the day, as getting to a show and tournament like this is rare event for me these days.
There were plenty of traders. Overall, I was impressed with the organization and layout of the event. With the number of traders there, to me it still did not feel too crushed/cramped. Yes it was tight at times between stalls, especially when people stopped on both sides and talked/browsed, but you have to expect that IMO. Everyone seemed friendly and it was not too bad at all. Compared to North American shows (Hotlead, Cold War, Fall in etc.) the variety of traders was great and the space was less crowded than I have seen. Now again I was around at lunch time so it may have been busier at other times, but that was my experience.
I hope all the traders did well. The only waste of space bit to me was a ‘rent a table’ section which I passed and seemed to be fairly empty. Now, I likely missed the busy time for that as well. That could have been used for traders/games but as it was away from most of the foot traffic I’m not sure any trader would really want to be there anyway…
My only complaint would be something which I created as an issue for myself. This was that as a player in a competition I did not have as much time to browse all the stalls etc as I would have liked. However, my wallet and bank balance likely thank me for that. As it was I still managed to find many interesting 15mm figs to buy, and got to look at a load more. There is nothing like seeing models for real vs just seeing pictures on the web sites. I have a lead mountain already but added too it at this event. Still, why not as they say – well I do anyway.
As for the precise nature of the purchased items I picked up, they were more 15mm for my long time in starting ‘War of the Roses’ project, as well as various interesting models for the Dark Age/Norman stuff that I am working on. I was guilty of getting a few more ancients as well… No pictures as those will be shown when I’m done vs. scarily large the lead pile.
There was a selection of participation/demo games as well – I saw a rapid fire one and and some skirmish games, especially one from the RAF which all looked really cool. There were others which I did not have time to look at. I did manage to spend a few minutes at the Infamy, Infamy demo table – which was showing off the ‘still in testing’ Too Fat Lardies game. It looked very interesting and a Sharpe Practice sized game for ancients. I liked that they were using multi-fig bases as well, as I can see me using my 15mm ancients for this game when released.
So, to the gaming event as I mentioned, the ADLG tournament. A few of weeks ago when I knew I was able to make the event I saw there was an ADLG tournament there. I did see a blood red skies tournament also taking place as well. I had contacted the organizer of the ADLG competition (Paul) about playing. He had kindly offered to lend me an army for the competition as bringing one across the pond was not really an option. Some would say I need all the weight allowance and space to carry back my purchases… That may be true but was not the original plan. Anyway, with this very kind offer I joined in. I have played I think 3 games this before, and only one of those was a real one on one tournament format game. I had never really had to come up with a ‘tournament’ list either – and I know how important that can be. That meant I was going in just trying to have fun, learn the rules better and not embarrass myself. To that last point, I hoped to not come last in the event!
That was my key aim scoring/position wise. In the end there were 14 players and some of them were experienced, but it was still a friendly competition throughout. There was some ‘banter and joking’ about aiming for last place at the start. I was certainly trying to do my best though to avoid that. The theme of the competition was steppes terrain – that had to be the terrain choice for defenders and any army which could have that as their terrain choice was allowed. I decided to go for Ottomans Turkish, as I have those figs at home and Paul could loan me them as well. I’ll reserve the comments around that till the end of this little write up, but let’s say that may not have been the wisest of choices…
I include some pictures of the various games. Rather than providing a detailed write up of each game which I would not be able to do as I was busy trying to win or at least not loose them, I will give a general overview of each. In each game I set up in the same way, with my two light horse/medium cav commands on the flanks and the heavy cav and cheering section of a heavy spear and 2 bowmen in the center. Next time I’ll vary that more but it worked for the most part. Being fairly new to the system I did ask plenty of rules questions and checked things during the games. Thankfully there were lots of people more than willing to help in that regard, so that was great. Opponents offered some wise advise at times as well, but that rarely helped bu did highlight the options I had.
In the first game I was the attacker facing a Gothic army. This had a center of heavy swordsmen and smaller flanks of cavalry – some of which were impact heavy cavalry. On the flanks my light and medium cavalry did ok. They were not great but worked hard. I found my light horse and bow armed mediums were slowly overpowered by impact medium and heavy cav. Giving ground might have been better to hold longer, but numbers and combat strength were against me. I don’t think I used my light horse as well as I could have in this.
In the center my heavy cav fought the heavy swordsman. I did not and likely should have evaded their charges to delay the fight and shoot more. A lesson learnt, as I could have used that time to soften the foot up more. But shooting is not that great and at the same time I still did ok in the fights. That said it was an uphill struggle for my heavy cav but in the end I did not lose the game in the center. I had kept my ‘cheering section’ of foot at the back well out of range of anything. That may have been a mistake – well at least not having them help on one of the flanks. This ended up being a close game as I had done a fair amount of damage to my opponent before I lost, but both my flanks were in bad shape when my army did brake.
The second game was against North African Arabs with a full camel ally! The terrain fell with bush to my right flank, Thus would impact my cavalry (but not the camels). So I setup offset and tried to use the bow and spear to hold that bush area, while I used the mounted more in the center vs the mediocre heavy spear of the Arab’s. This plan went south quickly – some very poor die rolls on my part meant my foot collapsed in the first round of fighting.
My lack of knowledge/skill showed up as I lost out in the cavalry fight on the other flank as well. It was over all too quickly really with some continued poor rolls. Even my opponent said I rolled a vast number of 1’s and very few above a 4. My regular opponents know for some reason I can have such spates of bad die rolls. You just have to laugh and get on with it when that happens…
However, that’s an excuse I can use to myself, but the bad match-ups of troops and poor tactics really did me in. I was outmatched from the start I would say on most counts. Cavalry vs. camels (or spearmen) is not a good fight for the horses at all and although I evaded some of the units to prolong the fight, trying to trade space for time did not work out that well. I did in the end try to play a holding game but I ran out of table. Lady Luck did not save me at all, and the above factors doomed me to a comprehensive loss to a good opponent.
The last game was against North Indian based forces (I forget the exact list) -with Indian elephant ally’s ! I was the defender for the first time but set up as normal. Again the flanks forces were still out played with better mounted on the flanks – but I was learning and so not as badly outclasses. My forces held, but really did not win on either flank in the start through to the middle of the game. My shooting was not that effective at all in this game as per the last ones. In the end my left flank was the last to fall and it came down to 2 combats. After all the moving and fights it came down to a few ‘straight’ die rolls, as all the factors cancelled each other out. As you might expect, Lady luck was again not with me and I lost these quite comprehensively, which killed my units and lost me the game. If I’d have won both those then I may well have got the game instead, as we were both close to having our armies break.
On the other flank I had managed to drive off (but not kill) the opposing cav. In the end that worked ok, but killing them would have been much more useful. That did allow me to get on the side of some of the center medium swordsmen who were supporting the elephants. My cavalry did alright against them but it took time. I even got on the side of an elephant and killed it with my cavalry! However, the Indian’s had destroyed my foot cheering section and it became a complete mess in the center. Units were scattered all over the place. I had a few lucky breaks as well as some unlucky ones in those center fights, but in the end my army broke. Slightly better tactics and/or lists or significantly better luck and I may have won this one but it was not to be. This was a close fought game though but the power of the elephants was seen.
So, over all the first and last game were close – camels. plus poor tactics and dice were my failing in the second game. After the numbers were sorted I came second to last – 13th out of 14th so I managed to succeed and not come last. I had a classic (for the uk) Chinese takeout on the way home to celebrate/comisterate.
Thinking back, I have to first say the day was a great deal of fun. Yes it would have been nice to win one but at least 2 games were close. It was a friendly competition and I have to say thanks again to all who attended and made me welcome. Thank you again to Paul for the loan of the army as well. I learnt a lot I think about the rules and I want to play more games of ADLG.
Looking back, what stands out to me, and how can I get better?
* First, I will say I did not appreciate the differences between DBx and ADLG for how ‘risky’ melee is, as well as the differences in other areas as well. By that I mean how the small combat factors (compared to say DBA) can help or hinder your chances, but there is always the risk of a loss in melee in ADLG. A poor roll can swing the fight which seems fair, as this highlights the risks of fighting hand to hand. You nearly always have a chance in a fight in ADLG – unlike some DBA ones where the odds often heavily favor one side or the other. I believe I chanced too many bad combats though – likely I had little choice at times but still. Getting better match ups is key, but you will lose some fights no matter what.
* The weakness and risk of shooting (especially with light/med horse) was also highlighted to me. It can be effective but is not a battle winner. In the second game my ‘soften them up first’ tactic really backfired badly when facing better units who shot back. I also seemed on the day to struggle with the fact that unlike DBA a successful shot vs opponents does not impact their following command options – no recoils in this ruleset.
* Light horse although fast are not as effective as other mounted in combat (as they are skirmishers) and although I had elite versions, that was a tough match up vs. opposing cavalry troops. They are fast but not that good at really changing the combat when impacting the flanks of troops compared to main line troops. That brings up my last point.
* I also realized I had a bit of a one track pony army list. I had a ‘true steppe’ army – nearly all bow armed and all the troops other than the spearmen and bow were mounted. I also had too many light horse or did not do well with them at least. Without any significant foot to base the army around or really good impact cavalry I had problems. Facing camels and elephants or even a massed line of impact troops I lacked a real punch hard ability in the list. I used moves to get on flanks and even the rear of opponents but that’s not as good a winning model in ADLG with light horse. As a last point with such a list as mine I also really needed to attack to get the best match-ups. My lists did not do as much as it could in that area either.
So lessons learnt but I had a great deal of fun on the day. I do recommend anyone interested in ADLG to try such a tournament as a learning exercise. This is especially true if you don’t have a local group to teach you. Really I had 3 good learning games vs. people I would not normally play against. Even in loosing I had laughs and I learnt a lot about the rules. I hope to take the lessons learnt and get better over time. Who knows I may even have the opportunity to play in another competition at some point.