The 6th and 7th September saw a dozen gamers from all over the place meet at Stafford Games to participate in the first ever UK "By Fire & Sword" Championships. When I say all over, we had players from Wessex (Dorset, I think, to be specific), Yorkshire (as in Halifax, centre of the universe), Sweden (via Nottingham), Poland (via nowhere in particular...) and Australia! (Anyone else fancy a weekend of wargaming whilst visiting the "Old Country"?)
Up for grabs were three rather splendid trophies and sundry goodies for all participants, as well as food laid on for both days.
Now, I need just one hand to count the number of touries in which I have participated in 30+ years of "proper" wargaming and, with just three games under my belt, trepidation was the word as I entered the hall on Saturday morning. I need not have bothered, as complete strangers came up and shook my hand, introducing themselves in the process. What did I hope to get from it all? Well, just one win would have been nice, four good games would be great and a top half placing would be a visit to hospital with shock...
My Ottoman Turks vs Swedish "Invincibles" played by Anders, the Swede from Nottingham. The scenario was patrol, I vastly outnumbered him, but his quality level was much higher. I had three distinct pieces of good luck that helped me here. One: I rolled five saves exactly when I needed to to win a combat. Two: Anders failed some saves and promptly got his commander killed in a crucial melee, routing a very tough Swedish cavalry unit in the process. Three: I shot at a Swedish cavalry unit that had broken through my lines and threatened serious pain, caused it t take a morale check and it promptly failed, despite having a 70% chance of success!!! A massacre ensued and I won handsomely!!! The best bit of the game, however, was my decision to have some Spahis charge a unit in the flank. Great idea you might say, but this unit was BEHIND me, so the Spahis could not see it! A classic case of the omniscient wargamer...the unit promptly charged right across the table to my left flank, through some rough terrain and were murdered by Anders' sole remaining unit!!!!!
Me vs Prussians played by Big John (once of Yorkshire, now of Stafford). The scenario was "Capture the Crossing", which John was stoutly defending. I forged my way across the bridge I had to capture, only to be forced back again. I forced my way across the ford at the other end of the river, only to be forced back again, but then my flank-marching Delis came on table, routed the unit of Prussian cavalry near the ford and I made it across, though could not quite bring pressure to bear at the bridge with my flank units before the three hour window was reached. A draw.
At the end of Day One, I was scoring 7 Large Points and 5 Small Points. I was in the top half!!!
Me vs current tournament leader, Steve Hymas from Halifax, a blue on blue clash as Steve's light cavalry based Turks took on my Spahi based Turks. Steve outnumbered me slightly and the sceario was again "Patrol". This was one tight affar throughout. Steve's typical shabby Yorkshire trick of about-facing when I charged him in the second turn came to nought as I managed to keep hold of my army, despite the failed charge, and I managed to break open his centre and left flank. However, he held three objectives and me just two, so casualties would be the making or breaking of my cause. The end result was 3 large and 1 Small Point to Steve and 3 and 0 to me - a draw.
Me vs co-leader Mike Webb and his Poles. I was heavily outpointed, so chose the scenario (Ambush) and got a free reinforcement unit, basically the first to flee would come back on. It started well (except for my best unit of Spahis who suddenly could not hit a barn door and were routed by Cossacks), but then the Pancerni got involved...
I had used up my dice luck against Anders, I think, so could not really grumble as the Poles promptly wasted me. Two units did all the damage and, even though most of the Polish army was dead or had fled, I was left with one disorganised unit of light cavalry hiding behind a hill at the end. I scored 2 Large and 0 Small Points though, and the result was merely a "Tactical Defeat" and not the Massacre I thought it would be...
So who won overall?
There was just one small point between first and second and the final analysis was...
1st - Steve from Halifax
2nd - Mike Webb with those infernal Pancerni
3rd - Piotr from Poland with his Tartars
I came 6th!!!! RESULT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks to all involved for a great couple of days and playing the top two players meant I had been in the top few for at least a couple of rounds!
|Game 1 in motion, as the horde of Turks advances on the small but elite Swedish troops.|
|A section from Anders' Swedes advance bravely to confront the men from the Porte.|
|Death of a general? No, as this Swede saw another day, but this is the unit that failed its morale check after a couple of paltry bowshots.|
|Set up for Game 2, with John defending his bridgehead.|
|Two big units of Spahis with which I planned to steamroller Steve's centre.|
|A view down the line from my left flank.|
|The First Place Trophy, a wonderful Winged Hussar figurine.|
|Third Place Trophy - a Streltsi, I think. I did photograph the Second Place Trophy too, but the camera does not want to share it with me now...|