Tuesday, 29 December 2009

First Ever Championship Game

Well, I finally broke my Society of Ancients Championship Game duck this year, - something I thought I'd never do. As a wargamer I've mostly eschewed structured competitions, - I've had a foray into the world of Armati tournaments which was fun enough, but not something to do every week.

When I started wargaming at University the SoA championship sort of encapsulated all that was wrong with the hobby. The obsession with who was a 2 or 3 pointer, the requirement to play one set of rules, the pages it seemed to take up in Slingshot. I just didn't want to have anything to do with it. Then it seemed to die, - I don't know why, but it just went away.

And now it is back in its first return year, with the accent on meeting other Society members, play what ever you want, all managed through the internet. Still wasn't convinced I'd bother to take part, but I reckoned without President Steele.

Phil Steele's enthusiasm for the hobby and the Society of Ancients is legendary. He is tireless in promoting the SoA round the country, often seen on the stand, presenting prizes or taking part in competitions. He's set himself a target of playing a certain number of championship games and has been steadily picking off the local wargaming populace. He got me cornered last night, so we set to at a Roman Civil war style game of Armati.

We played Armati as I don't do FoG or DBx and AMW is a bit unbalanced for this type of thing (tho' we're working on it). I like Armati, - it's a good, clean system that makes sense and works really well for "battle line" games. Plus I used to play it a lot and got moderately proficient.

Quick read through, I reckoned, and I'd be away.

Oh, how we forget. All those little nuances. Firstly picking the army. I have a choice of Trajanic Romans, Parthians and Germans in 15mm (like, no one uses Wars of the Roses stuff...). So I got hold of the lists and dragged the boxes off the shelves, blowing off the dust.

Hmm. Parthians, - all that light cavalry, - gotta know what you're doing with that. The Germans, - all that slow moving warband stuff. No one wins with that. Erk. So the Trajanics. I had a couple of goes at putting together a proper Roman army, ignoring all the gimmick options (not sure what you do with camels).

Besides, if you pick a Roman army it should be stuffed full of legionaries.

There's a lot of stuff I'd forgotten about playing competition Armati. There's an awful lot of space on the board. I prefer wall to wall troops in ancient games as I reckon that's what battles mostly looked like.

I won't provide a battle report, - personally I don't like them. But here's things I learnt too late during the game:

1) Camels deny impetus (aargh!!!!)
2) It's not always a flank attack, even if it looks like one.
3) Always think a move ahead with your general to stop him being surrounded and killed.
4) The game's not won until it's won.
5) That initiative roll thing is really important
6) Sometimes you can kill things too quickly. I never did get the routed into flank affect.

It went down to the wire, - President Steele won, killing four key units to my two. However, if I'd won the intitiative in the last turn I'd probably have run out winner. Losing my general figure early in the game sort of gave it away. Tense right to the end.

Anyhow, we rounded off the evening with some excellent whisky cake and a conversation that put most of the wargaming world to rights. That's what it's all about sometimes.

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