This week I has been mostly winning games.
Which is nice. Also fairly uncommon.
Saturday morning dawned bright and cold and I was up with the larks at 5am. This kind of thing is the daily bread of the Davey Dubbyas of this world but for me it's like getting up at bed time. A quick shower and some toast and then I set off to meet up with Lord S. and travel up the M1 for a weekend of WAB at GW HQ. After a brief stop for a bucket of coffee and a pastry we arrived just in time to grab a complimentary doughnut and get on with the fighting. The Beasty boys were in charge of the Byzantium campaign again this year after a small administrative hiccup and I had been seconded to fill in and make up the numbers. Lord S and his man had cobbled together an army for me from the extensive Beast collection to my exacting standards as submitted on the back of a fag packet the previous afternoon. After a brief briefing the eight players in the campaign paired off and got on with the fighting.
Game 1 was against Bubba Stu, sausage fingered umpa lumpa and casting slave of the Beast. With the objective of capturing a central building full of gold (and other sundry trinkets too numerous to mention) we set up our forces and went at it. Stu managed to garrison the central tower early in the game but after a series of audacious and cunning tactical maneuvers I managed to shift his lads and install a bunch of Byzantium's finest in the tower. Come the last turn Stu's tricksy Arab cavalry had snaked into the surrounding compound and denied my the major victory I so rightly deserved, but then again a win's a win so I can't grumble.
After a spot of lunch I took on Brian's Sensational Sassanids. These chaps are tricked out in lashing of gold and jewels, beautifully painted and dead 'ard. It was hidden deployment and so all of my lads started off skulking behind woods so as to avoid the torrents of bow fire coming my way. Two of my units decided to take the scenic route into battle and as a result arrived just in time to see the rest of the army crushed and running to the hills. A legendary victory for Brian and my only defeat of the weekend but it put me in a good position for my next game. I had them right where I wanted them. Honest.
To wind up day one I played Andrew's lovely Byzantines. Having lost my previous game I had to play 400 points short (meaning I was without my beloved Kataphraktoi) and was attacking Andrew's camp in the misty early morning. All his troops started unformed and as his officers tried to rouse them to fighting order some plucky light troops put up a sterling defence at the edge of camp. With sledgehammer like subtlety my army rampaged across the table and battered back his troops panicking a number of his quality units whilst they were still trying to find their horses. Andrew ended up with one unit left and was ready to hand in the towel but I convinced him to fight on as we had nothing much better to do and he ended up getting a consolation kill by taking out one of my units. A mighty victory to me to round off the day.
Saturday night was spent in the Trip to Jerusalem pub. It's proper old and half of it's a cave and so was a good place for a bunch of wargamers to retreat from the world and indulge in beer. The Beast and retinue made their raucous presence felt as we joined Uncle Duncan McFarlane, the Perry twins and the Scottish lads for a few pints. As the evening wore on Lord S captivated the assembly with his rapier wit whilst Darren and Alan Perry sat and talked about hitting people with axes and all the fun they used to have in foreign lands after the re-enactments had finished. I told the story of how I got my name and initiated a few more people into the select club of those who know how it came to be and they even got the alternate ending with unthinkable alternate nick-name...
As the evening wound up I told my riot squad stories and how we started the violence in Trafalgar square after Euro '96. They're good stories too. Buy me a beer one day and I'll tell you about it.
About one-ish I escorted Lord S back to the hotel and we got a bit of shut eye as the retinue got it's collective funk on down at Rock City.
Sunday morning and with a few sore heads the Beast and posse headed in for day two of the campaign.
Game 4 was against Paul and another Byzantine army, again fantastically painted. We started off with a single combat where I took his general apart causing panic throughout the army. The Beasty boys, seeing a chance to deny me an easy victory allowed an unprecedented number of panic test re-rolls which meant I had to do it the old fashioned way. The game was a real meat grinder with combats in the centre of the table seemingly stalemated until my general made a fantastically well timed flank charge which finally managed to collapse the opposition. A cracking game where the final score does nothing to show how close it all was for most of the game.
Lunch again and back to the table for the final slobbernocking doubles games. By virtue of my scores and having polished of a rival general or two I found myself leading the minority faction contesting the throne. With me were Bubba Stu, Paul and Uncle Duncan facing off against Faction leader Brian, Big Jim Sweeney, Andrew and Darrell. We divided up for two doubles matches and Duncan and I had to face Jim's Rus and Brian's Pimped out Sassanians. The hidden deployment ended by with 3/4 of the enemy arrayed in two lines against my forces whilst Duncan faced a couple of light units intent on stopping him coming to my aid. I had a cunning plan however. Before lunch I had decided to myself that I would put it all on the line and challenge the other faction to a single combat before it all kicked off. Brian accepted and sent his Sassanian boss man up against my Byzantine Strategos. With stunned gasps from the crowd (who all expected him to order Big Jim's mighty Russian to do the dirty work) the top lads fronted up to each other. After a grueling contest and about eight rounds of combat I finally found an opening and killed the Persian general. Mass panic ensued but once more the gods of fate decreed that there should be much re-rolling of failed panic tests. A single unit of Clibinarii and a mob of Varagoi where all that legged it so it looked like a fight was on, Big Jim's Rus Warlord smugly taking the reigns as army commander. As the enemy advanced I did a quick left face and refused the flank leaving much of the enemy cavalry trying or realign on the new front line as Duncan swept away the light troops on the left flank and moved in to support my re alignment. Needing to buy my army the time to reform its lines the Kataphraktoi charged in and held up the bulk of the enemy heavy cavalry whilst two units of elite slingers and solinarions all but wiped out a unit of Rus Drazina and slowed the advance to a crawl. When the dust had settled our faction emerged victorious and I was crowned Emperor! Huzzah, this is the first event where I have ever been on the winning side let alone having won it!
After prizes and much back slapping and shaking of hands every one headed home. The wife was singularly unimpressed. I was unsurprised.
On bank holiday Monday basking in the afterglow of the weekends victories I headed of the our local club, London Gamers in Richmond, of one of our semi regular Bank holiday mini tourneys. This time round it was 40k and so I unleashed my Space Marines once more. The army has yet to win me a game and is regularly wiped out to a man. Three games later I was undefeated and had won my second event in two days. I am hoping that the luck holds until the end of the month and that I can perform as well at the Club Challenge.
Strike continues but a lively discussion with Darren this weekend has really got me going and I have started doing something I haven't done for ages and am producing concept sketches for some of the pieces in the up coming Saxon and Franks ranges. For those of you awaiting pictures it will be a while (in blog time) but there should be plenty for you to see in the next six to eight weeks.
Still with me? Okay, you can get back to your life now. Thanks for listening.
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