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Dragons Glided into Milano

A report of the Italian DBMM International Team Championship 2013

By Herbert Wong

During the learning trip last year to the ITC 2012, I was stunned by the high skill level of the European DBMM players and I learnt a lot of tricks from them in playing DBMM (please refer to the report I wrote last year). After returning, I spoke with James.  He had a strong interest in the event and persuaded me to go to Milan together again.  Later, fanatic Andrew was enrolled into our team.  Even though he had only played DBMM for 6 months, he had displayed his talent in table-top miniature gaming at our local DBMM240 competition last year.  We played a lot of practice games and studied the rules hard for almost one year with a view of performing better at the ITC 2013.  James did a lot of preparation and logistic works for the trip.  Without his hard work and efforts, the Dragons could not have flown there.  As we had only 3 members going there from Hong Kong, Lorenzo (the organizer) helped us to recruit the fourth player, from Germany, to form the full team.  Then, we had obtained permission from HKSW to represent our society at the event.  We took the name: ďYellow DragonĒ and everything was ready.

This time our team was formed by: Tilman Walk (German player) using Early Archamenid Persians in Pool 1, Andrew Lam (Hong Kong player) using Alexandrian Imperial in Pool 2, James Cheung (Hong Kong player) using Sui Chinese in Pool 3, and myself using Later Hungarian in Pool 4.

Yellow Dragons

My Army list was follows:

C1- CiC RKnS, 2 RKnS, 4 ILhF, 6 IPsO, 6 RPsO, 6 RPsS, 3 RWwgO, 2 RArtI - 31ME

C2- SG RKnS/I, 2 RKnS/I, 4 ILhF, 4 IPsO - 16ME

C3- SG RKnS/I, 4 ILhO - 9ME

C4- SG ILhS, 5 ILhS, 2 IPsO - 12ME

C5- 7 IBgI - 7ME

Stratagem: Feigned Flight

After much play testing, I picked the Later Hungarian as my army for its punch power (Knights in wedge), high mobility (numerous LH), hard-core defensive line (War wagons and organ guns) and having enough Psiloi to contest difficult terrain.

My tactics were: using difficult terrain to break the battlefield into small sectors (it is highly possible to do so as the aggression factor of my army is just 2, which has a good chance to be the defender in the game, and even if I am the attacker, my opponent will likely place terrain to restrict the movements of my mounted troops). Then I would block the likely avenue of approach of my opponentís main attack with my trains, harass with my LH and Ps to force him to overextend his line, and finally deliver my killing blow with the Knights in wedge at selected areas.  I have more than enough light troops to cover the difficult terrain and for securing my main bodyís flank.  Overall, these are very cautious tactics and usually it takes a long time and patience for the ploy to work.

Game 1 vs Tony Bergin from The Wild Geese team

Tony used the Catalan Company with 4 commands; he had CiC with Knights, Sub Gen with RAxS, a dump PIP Sub Gen with Cv, and Alan ally with ILHS.  Lots of superior troops.   Nice army selection. I was the defender and I had placed a wide river running from my left edge to my bottom edge. Then I placed a Built-Up Area to cover my right flank.  Tony placed 2 marshes in my deployment zone and a gentle hill over-watching my BUA. Since only half the table can be used for deployment (with the other half being separated by the river) I had decided to send my C2 as an outflanking force from the right so that I could attack from 2 directions.  However I regretted to do so after we had thrown the deployment dice because the weather condition for the game was mud.  It meant my knight would be in combat disadvantage for the whole game and even worse the river was in spate so I would not maneuver my LH to my left wing as planned.  I afraid that my main line could not coordinate with the outflanking force and Tony could attack my knights with his LHS (he had much more than me).   Having considered the above, I had decided to be defensive at first.  

Situation after Tonyís deployment

The game started with Tony moving his Ax command to attack my train line by crossing the marshes.  A few lucky shots by my train killed several of his RAxS, which stopped his attacks.  Then my outflanking force arrived on board early in the game and forced him to adopt defensive position.  He posed his LHS on the gentle hill just away from my outflanking arrival zone.  At first I hesitated to attack aggressively, but news from my teammates that they were hard-pressed in their games made me decide to carry out an all-out attack immediately; I concentrated the elements from all my 4 commands and attacked in 2 directions against Tonyís occupied high hill.  Lady Luck was with me again and with the assistance of several lucky dice throws, I had managed to break his Alan Ally command.   In response, Tony committed his CiC and Knights to cover the gaps in his lines.   However my superior Knights in wedge proved to be tougher and carried the day.   Final score for the game was 25:0 to me. Tony did well and made no mistakes at all, but Lady Luck was on my side and that decided the winner of the battle.

Some Lucky shots from Artillery stopped Tonyís Ax attacks

Near the end of the battle, the bloody fight for the hill, showing Tonyís CiC moving his Knights to cover the gap. The Hungarian Psiloi at the bottom left survived the battle

My Knights finally reaching the top of the hill

 Game 2 vs Greg Mann from The Old Contemptibles team

Greg used the Hundred Years Wars English, his CiC Command with foot BwS, 2 ArtI, some LHI and Psiloi; a Sub Gen Command with Mtd BwS and KnI; another Sub Gen Command with 4 Mtd BwS, a Burgundian Ally Command with BwS/O/I and Dismtd Kn as BdS.  A Hundred Years Wars English army with 4 commands was not the typical army used by my usual opponents, so something new for me.

The terrain set-up was more or less of what I had in mind, with both my 2 flanks anchored by 2 Woody Hills. There was a marsh in the centre of Gregís deployment zone and I had also placed a road and a Built Up Area in order to cut the battlefield into 2 sectors.  There were several open areas in-between for my attack routes.  I had bad weather in this game again (with my Art in combat Disadvantage and WWg having a shorter shooting range under the Strong Wind Weather Conditions).  My opposite right was rather open so I expected Greg to deploy there.  However, to my surprise, after my deployment, Greg deployed his main force on my left opposite, with the center marsh as an anchor, and therefore I guessed he would take the initiative to attack. I needed some redressing.

 

My initial deployment completed but Greg had not yet deployed

Greg swung his smallest command (KnI Gen with 4 Mtd BwS) to my left bottom.  It was supported by his 2nd largest command, and thus all his Mtd Bw had moved to my left.  He retreated his Burgundian ally dismounted knights into the marsh, and supported them with his BwS.  His CiC had kept the main battle line from moving.  Obviously he would attack from my left.  I started to redress my line.   I moved the furthermost right command back to the centre and moved the train up to the right hand side of the Built-Up Area.  I also moved one of my Psiloi groups to contest the centre marsh.  Greg kept to his plan with his Mtd Bw heading to my left bottom.  We started skirmishing around the Built-Up Area, Gregís Bw took advantage of the strong wind and out-shot my War Wagons though some lucky dice throws kept my train intact.  My Psiloi gained ground slowly inside the marshes and after my Sub Gen (RKnS/I) arrived, I had the upper hand in the skirmish around the Built-Up Area.  With Gregís Ally command close to becoming disheartened, he skillfully withdrew them toward his base line, thus saving his ally command and preventing from becoming broken but the retreat had also exposed his main battle line to my forces on my right.  In the mean time, his Mtd Bw had reached my bottom base line.  They were deploying into battle formation so as to get ready to launch the attack.  I thought it was the right time to attack, as Gregís line was over extended and the left flank of his CiC command was also exposed.  I moved up my heavy knights into their attacking positions.  Greg reacted by anchoring some of his BwS into the woods and shot at the flanks of my knights.  It was a brilliant move that had to be countered.  As my Knights were double-based and the element in the rear was KnI, it would be easily killed by BwS if it was shot from that direction.  So I took time to reform my assault force and waited for my Ps to clear and secure the Wood.  After reforming and with the help of coordinated attacks from the right flank, my knights crushed his main battle line.  With Gregís CiC command broken, his Burgundian Ally Command was dishearten by the transmitted ME loss.  Greg wisely withdrew his 2nd largest command out of action and avoided further loss.  It took at least a few bounds for me to re-deploy my forces to change the attack axis, which could not be completed in time as timeís up for the game.  Final score was 15:10 to me.

My tactics required my Light troops to clear and secure the difficult ground and flank before I could commence the main attack, it worked but took a long time to complete. Greg is an excellent player and many of his moves had forced me to stay cautious, otherwise I might have made some incorrect moves that could be lethal for my boys.  It was a fair result, even though I was very close to victory.

Close to the end of the battle.  Note: my knights in the centre had crushed Gregís line but it would need some time to redress the battle line so that I could shift the attack axis against his 2nd command

 Game 3 vs Kai Peters from The Conradin team

Kai used the Venetians from the Italian Condotta list, and to my surprise, his army had an English CiC from the Free Company, which consisted of RBdS, RBwS and RBwX/O totaling 35ME.  Each of his 2 other commands had RKnO Sub Gen, 5xRKnO and 4xRLHI, totaling 22ME each.  All the 3 commands were regulars and he allocated average PIPs for his lowest 2 commands, a very good army selection and the only weakness was that it did not have any Ps.

Even though I was the attacker, I had to setup my army first because of the deployment dice throws.  I setup 1 Woody Hill in Kaiís left deployment zone, and a marsh in his right deployment zone; another marsh in my centre deployment zone.  Kai placed two rough hills, a road and a larger Built-Up Area in my left bottom.

My initial deployment before Kaiís army had set up

View of Kaiís setup from my side - note the 2 large gaps in both of his flanks

As Kai had left 2 large gaps in his bottom line, I quickly moved my Szekeler (ILHS) command to his right (my left) which was supported by a group of RPs from the CiC command, and I also moved a group of Serbian Hussars (ILHO) to his left (my right).  These two movements were to pin his 2 flanking commands down and hopefully made the opportunities of flank attacks for me.  I moved my train to the bottom of the centre rough hill to threaten the right flank of his main line.  My heavy knights remained out of his shooting range though were close enough to keep his Bow line and knights busy.

Opening stage movements - note 2 columns of my LH approached from 2 flanks, my trains were ready to fire uphill.  Kaiís Bow line anchored in the rough hill made me hesitate to attack head-on with my knights

Kai started to attack down-hill into my train with his BdS, but without any fruitful result.  He had lost 1 BdS from bad dice throws and another one to my Generalís counterattack, when my Ps started to turn and attack his BdS from the flank.  In the mean time, my Szekeler took up the attack position. With the help of the Hungarian Horse archers (ILHF), the Szekeler charged his Mtd crossbow (RLHI) line.  All of his LHI were dipatched without any difficulties.  Kai reacted by turning his knight group to face my Szekeler and filled the resultant gap with his LHI. I reformed and charged his Knights with my Szekeler again.  I started a feigned flight of the Szekeler command as well.  Usually, I would use the Feigned flight stratagem (which required retaining PIPs and good co-ordination) as a safety precaution to preserve my LH, in particular, ILHS so as to avoid them to be counterattacked by the enemy after they had delivered their killing blow.  But this time, the charge of Szekelers killed 2 Knights and broke one of Kaiís commands.

Situation before my LH attacked at top right, note the battle around the hill

Struggling for control of the hill

A closer look at the Cavalry battle

Charged with Feigned Flight

I kept attacking uphill with light troops and it was really hard to kill the BdS with just light troops since those BdS were in rough and my knights could not quick kill them there.  However I had got the upper hand in the long run because of quantitative advantage.  Finally when Kaiís Bow line command became dishearten, I attacked his line with my Knights in wedge, and they had done their job by breaking the English command. Final score was 25:0 to me.

So far I had played 3 games and with Lady Luck smiling on me, I had managed to accumulate 65 pts and I should have a decent chance to get a medal.

My Knights approaching Kaiís Bow line

A closer look from my rear right

Final sweep of the English bow line - in the upper right corner, Kaiís mounted command's broken General still survives

 Game 4 vs Jim Gibson from BBG&D

The BBG&D were the 1st runner up in the team class last year and definitely Jim is a respectable and skillful player.  Jim used the Navarrese, which also used to be the first choice of my competition army earlier this year.  Finally, I gave up using it because it is an irregular command and most important of all: the preferred English powerful troops were all under ally commands.  Before the tournament, I play tested this army in 3 games, and in 2 out of 3, the Englishmen were unreliable allies; I think it was too risky for tournament purposes and therefore turned it down.  However, the Navarrese army had many good troop types, such as BwS, KnS, IAxS and a large ME.  They were those I met in this game.

I was the attacker and I placed 2 x 1 FE Woody Hills both on my left and right flanks, then Jim placed 1 x 1FE Woods on my center deployment zone, and he also had a rough hill on his left bottom.  All other terrain could not be placed because of lack of space.  The battlefield was over-cluttered with terrain on my side but very open on Jimís side, meaning that if I attacked, I had to do it in the large open battlefield, the type of terrain I always avoid where possible.  I had only a handful of Knights in wedge plus some Hungarian Royal Guard (RKnS) for its punching powers.  The remainder of my army was mainly made up by light troops that could not stand long in prolonged fighting.  Therefore my army was not well suited for frontal assaults on abroad front.  So I always attack on a narrow front, with my flanks (difficult terrain) secured by light troops, and so far, it had worked well in all of my three previous games.

Jim deployed his army in his left sector with its right flank refused.  After careful consideration, I decided to attack.  I had come a long way to Milan and the trophy was close to my grasp now.  I had to take the tactical risk.  Moreover, if I rushed my attack and moved fast enough, I could meet Jimís battle line on the short table edge.  The frontage of the battle line would be reduced substantially.  So ďToday, we attack!Ē

With my train set up in a defensive position deployed on my right, I moved my C2 (Knights in wedge) and Szekeler toward Jimís centre bottom, hoping that my Szekelers would reached the bottom line and turn Jimís right.  Meanwhile, my Wedge would attack the corner position of Jim Ďs defensive perimeter.  Jim reacted with a brilliant dancing way, with his right hand-sided Ax command facing my Szekelers, the English command with BwS and BdS facing my Knights, his CiC grouped with KnS in behind as reserve and his left hand-sided Ax command moving to my right bottom line to threaten my train and baggage.  The game flowed very slowly as both of us acted cautiously.  We had different interpretations on some rules and were assisted by the umpire to settle our differences, thus we inadvertently slowed down the game.  Even though there may be some arguments, I sincerely believe that we settled them in an amicable manner and I hope Jim will excuse me again for arguing on some of the rules issues in the rulebook.

My right sector was under strong pressure by Jimís attack. My Ps group was driven out from the Woody Hill and the situation was stabilised only by the arrival of the Serbian Hussars.  In the centre, in order to concentrate my striking force, I had to cover the gaps in my line with another of my Ps group opposing directly against the English Longbows.  The Ps took substantial casualties but in return, they managed to inflict some damage to Jimís longbows.  My Knights in wedge slowly ground down Jimís Auxilia command and eventually disheartened it.  When the game ended, it was just 1/2 ME from broken.  For this game, 13:12 to me.

The game was very tense.  I lost 1 Wedged Knight ,1 War Wagon and a few Ps/LH, and only 1 of Jimís commands was disheartened, with the other commands suffering some casualties but still remaining intact. I failed to execute my pre-battle plan, but it was only Jimís masterful skill level plus the shortcomings of my army making it fail.  To be Fair, had we kept on playing, and even if I could broken 1 of his commands, it would not have been easy for me to break Jimís army.  It was because all my commands had been committed to fight while Jim still had his CiC with KnS in reserve.  He would have been able to break my army with his reserve in prolonged play.  So I think the draw was a fair game result for both of us.  Moreover I learnt some rules interpretations and playing styles from Jim.   A good game as well.

Even though it was a draw, I had gained enough points to be the 2nd runner-up in Pool 4.  Our team ranked 7th out of 18 in the team classification.  My teammates recovered from the initial panic of the 1st day and perform excellently on the 2nd day. And more to my surprise: my Hungarian army took the ďBest Painted Army" trophy as well.  It was a happy ending for my tournament this time.

Check out the pictures of Herbert and his trophies.

Almost at the end of battle, note we fought along the short table edge

A close look at Jimís English, note my Ps had just been replused from a flank attack vs bowmen

A close look at my right flank near the end of battle

My Ps fought in the front line as they were needed to fill the gap

In Conclusion

My Hungarian army performed better than my expectations in this tournament, 3 out of 4 my opponents had used BwS which is one of the dominant troop types in Pool 4, but my army could deal with them without much difficulty.  My Knights in wedge had good punch power to crack the hard nuts while my light troops provided the necessary flank security.  Worse come to worst, I could put those Ps into suicidal positions without any hesitation as they were cheap enough to act as cannon folder.

I must thank my fellow teammates.  I enjoyed fighting with them shoulder to shoulder in the event, especially Tilman from Germany, without him we could not have formed the team.  I believe all of us had a good time in Milan.

ITC 2013 was a successful event and many thanks for Lorenzoís efforts for organizing and running it.  I trust that it will become a renowned event among the World Wide DBMM players.  I enjoy my stay in Milan and was delighted to make new friendships with lots of ďDie hardĒ DBMM players from all over Europe.  I am looking forward to meet them again in the future.

Herbert

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