02 April 2015

By Fire & Sword Grand tournament 2015 AAR

Much of the past month was spent preparing for the grand tournament in Warsaw, the guys at my club got to play the new Deluge book less than they had wanted to due to the late delivery. However we managed to try out many of the new rules and I toyed with several army lists up until the departure.

Initially I wanted to play the Royal city of Gdansk, I even made 3 army lists that I figured would be very competitive and fun to play at low/middle/high end points. Sadly I realized soon during my playtesting that the army would have a difficult time with the new Deluge scenarios, additional effects and pretty much formed a new (better) paystyle at the skirmish level. Deluge rewards mobile armies, and you will have a hard time with a very static force. Imo 7 out of the 10 scenarios in Deluge are very hard for static armies, and only 2 could be counted as directly favorable for static gunlines (defend the crossing and defend the village). 1 last scenario, "Delay the enemy" can also be played with static force but its imo risky to the point of being 50-50.

I was then considering bringing a Swedish force, but wanted to have dragoons - and lacked the models. So in the end I brought a Lithuanian army divided into 3 lists that looked like this:


Lithuania 1655-61
13FSP,
41 Recon points

On their own ground, Swimming, Left hand division Right hand division


Colonel 3 Command points
Rotamaster 1 command point
6 bases of armored Reiters
6 bases of Reiters
12 bases of Cossack style cavalry
10 bases of Volunteers
2 bases of Dragoons


....................
Lithuania 1655-61
5FSP,
16 Recon points

On their own ground, Swimming, Left hand division Right hand division

Colonel  3 command points
3 bases of armored Reiters
3 bases of  Reiters
5 bases of Cossack style cavalry
2 bases of Dragoons
....................
Lithuania 1662-67
9FSP,
21 Recon points

On their own ground, Swimming

3 bases of armored Reiters
4 bases of Elite Reiters
9 bases of Cossack style cavalry
2 bases of Dragoons


Short info on the army lists. In the 2015 tournament, "Small skirmish forces" were being used, so you were forced to bring at least 1 army lists with 7 or less FSP. I settled early on the 1655-61 Lithuanian skirmish force due to the large number of Reiters it could field as well as the recon boosting Volunteers. The list has one big flaw, the rule "Left hand division, Right hand division"  randomly selects a unit or squadron at the start of your movement phase. That selected unit becomes insubordinate and loses its starting order, and if it is already insubordinate it becomes disorganized.

Furthermore the Volunteers suffer from the new "Robbers" rule, which make their deployment and use on the battlefield even more uncertain than ever.

It was only at the tournament when I realized that the best way to limit the impact of those two negative effects on my army was to never consider the Volunteers as anything more than Recon bonus points and increasing the tolerance for taking losses in battle with better units. I deployed the Volunteers in companies instead of squadrons. With more companies the chance of rolling "Left hand division, Right hand division" for an already pretty useless unit like the Volunteers increased. And indeed, during several of my battles the Volunteers absorbed that rule, leaving my better troops unaffected.

The "middle" list ,Lithuania 1662-67, I didn't play once during the tournament.  Despite being more of a safe bet with no "Left hand division, right hand division" rule I grew to like the maxed out Lithuanian list and huge Recon numbers of Lithuania 1655-61. 

That large list was able to rival even a Tartar skirmish force at 12FSP in the first battle I played during the tournament. And it also seemed like more people had the same idea as me - that  the new rules of Deluge encouraged fielding larger armies. In 4 out of 5 battles I played forces ranging from 12-13 points! 
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Now onto the individual battles:

Day 1: Battle 1
My first battle was against "P." (P Kropka) who was fielding a 12FSP Elite tartar army vs my 13 FSP Lithuanian 1665-61 army.

He picked the scenario "Patrol" and both our huge cavalry armies massed in two opposing lines. Having recently played against my friend Andreas tartars, I had an idea of what I was getting into but still lacked proper experience. I knew that the Tartar units would love me to  chase after them with failed charges only to shoot and charge me to death the next round. As such I attempted to keep my force somewhat coherent during deployment and movement, and advanced cautiously - figuring I would trick the Tartars by doing the opposite of what was expected (like movement/defend order instead of charge even when charges would be possible).

Unfortunately I took that idea a bit too far and was sloppy on a few occasions which cost me unnecessary losses. Admittedly the Tartar player was more aggressive than I would have thought. The battle was a fairly even battle with lots of fighting around the center of the table. We did not manage to play more than 5 rounds before the time (2 hours only per game!) was up. We had both scouted the objectives, and had both taken heavy casualties which ended the battle a draw.

3-3 in big points

Though I am certain that my opponent would have pulled off a tactical victory had we played one more round.




Day 1: Battle 2
Second battle was against "VeyDer" and his small Imperial skirmish force at 4FSP, I fielded my 5FSP Lithuanian army.
On the outset it looked like an easy victory, he rolled and picked "Delay the enemy" and his army only consisted of musketeers, dismounted dragoons and a single cannon.

This battle thought me to carefully read the scenario victory conditions since I lost the battle due to not knowing about how the points were being scored. My opponent was holding two hills and a forest while I was attacking the southern hill closest to my deployment zone - having sent one Reiter company on a Flanking maneuver.

The attacks towards the hill went OK and I did my best to limit my casualties. Then my opponent left his other hill and I figured that he did not control it anymore. Then my flanking cavalry arrived and instead of sending them off the opposite end of the table I decided to gather more points in kills.

What I failed to understand was that a played controlled a hill whether he occupied it or not, as long as he had occupied it for 1 turn. And then my opponent got 2 points if I failed to move any units off the table!!

I was very surprised, and partially shocked when I realized that I had lost a tactical defeat.

Big points 5-0, and 0-0 in small points.



 Day 1: Battle 3
Third battle was against "Ordnyiec" and his 12 FSP Swedish Reiter packed skirmish force against my 13FSP Lithuanian force.



The scenario was "Take and hold".

Having played a bit against Swedes on division level during the early days of my By Fire & Sword gaming I had huge respect for Swedish Reiters. Their excellent skill, coupled with Good tactical discipline and military drill make them a very dangerous foe.

The enemy had two squadrons of 4 Regular reiters, and two squadrons of Armored Reiters along with 3 commanders.

This was the first time "Left hand division, Right hand division" severely messed me up as the result landed on a company of Lithuanian armored reiters. The remaining company of armored Reiters was also delayed by the enemy with an additional effect. Effectively I was robbed of my best unit and fairly demoralized by this fact. I knew that it would be tough to win with the cossacks and regular Reiters alone.

The battle that unfolded over the next 5 turns was very even, several fights went down with the control of the hill going back and forth between the Lithuanians and the Swedes. The Swedish side also suffered a fair number of casualties early on which made me hopeful that I could pull off a victory. In turn 6 however, things went bad quickly with a show of extraordinarily bad dice rolling on my part. What was to be the decisive final all out assault on the Swedish defense near all 3 victory point locations ended up in a complete failure.

Swedish defensive fire and countercharges coupled with horrific Lithuanian armor save / rolls to hit saw a complete breakdown and my troops were sent either Fleeing or Disorganized away from all 3 victory locations. My opponent just laughed and shook his head at the end result and we shook hands. Despite the total defeat I thought that this battle had been the most intense and even battle so far during the tournament, and also the most enjoyable. Bad luck had seen that two negative effects completely messed up my best unit though and it was hard to work around that loss.







Day 2: Battle 4 
At the start of the second day I was weary of my placement in the rankings - I certainly didn't want to end up anywhere near the bottom like I did last  year and was determined to pull off two victories in the last two battles to place myself somewhere in the middle of the player rankings.

I had up until this point been spared at least the horror inducing scenarios like attack the river/defend the river, and spared fighting a large cossack army which I had seen being played in a "defend the village" scenario which (with that combination of army and scenario) looked like a complete nightmare for the attacking player.

Ironically just as I was thinking about it was announced that I was to play against a cossack player!

My fourth opponent was "Alexander07" and he played Cossacks at 13FSP! I played my Lithuanian 13FSP list. Rolling the scenario "Take and Hold" was to be played again. At least I now had an idea how the scenario worked and despite my worry about the wagon train my opponent had I was at least confident that I would not overlook any victory conditions.

I played this scenario pretty carefully, only allowing myself a couple of "let's try and see what happens" moves. What happened was that the hill was captured by my troops early on, but the closing cossack trains were soon going to cause me problems. So I formed 3 attack groups poised at the wagon train and cossacks in the middle of them and attempted a  charge. This first attempt was ground to a halt when one unit was sent fleeing through the other two and ended up disorganizing them - completely disrupting my entire attack plan.

My opponent sighed in relief and laughed a little, rightly so. Fortunately the losses from that assault were minimal. And as he moved up the remained of his cossacks on the left flank on I realized that more attacks like that would cost me too many casualties and forced me to focus on the victory locations. Most of the fighting during the second half of the game was on my right flank, between a Reiter squadron and cossack infantry acting alone outside of the safety of their wagon support.  This yielded some much needed kills to the enemy army, but I also took a surprising amount of losses myself. In the end I decided I would focus on the victory locations and just keep my troops out of harm's way - a single charge my mounted cossacks went my way as they were beaten back and the hill remained in Lithuanian hands despite cannon ball and case shot fire from the wagons.

The battle ended a 5-2 for the Lithuanians as I held the hill, 1 approach and had acceptable losses compared to the enemy heavy losses.




Day 2: Battle 5
My final battle was against "Pawel Siarkiewicz", who I would later learn is the main proof reader of the Deluge rulebook! He was fielding a Swedish 12FSP reiter force, identical to that of "Ordyniec" who was playing against me in my 3rd battle. Interestingly enough the "Take and hold" scenario was rolled again.

This meant I would play the same scenario a third time. I had nothing against this fact, since I think the scenario forces both sides to actively engage each other which makes for a dynamic game. The second reason I was pleased with the scenario beside that was that I got a chance to try an idea that I could not against Ordyniec as my armored Reiters had been out of order in that battle.

No, in this battle I deployed my armored Reiters so that they would move against the hill, they were flanked by Reiters who became "insubordinate". Then I deployed a "light flank" made up of two squadrons of cossack style cavalry, their aim was to make a joint charge and destroy an enemy squadron as soon as possible and then flank the remainder of the Swedish force.

Pawel had deployed fields in my path however, and that charge of Cossack style cavalry was slowed down enough to allow him to move out of reach, having my flank slightly disorganized with only 1 cossack style cavalry reaching their target. On their own, they could not break the Swedes and were thrown back across the field.

The fighting around the hill went somewhat better, with me rolling above average and Pawel rolling below average when our armored Reiters clashed. His good tactical discipline and my numerical superiority resulted in several draws, but his squadrons around the hill ultimately lost one attached commander and were thrown back from the hill. I consolidated my position with both Reiter regiments and kept fighting with the cossack style cavalry on the right flank and harassing the enemy with Volunteers on the left flank.

The battle was close, especially with the "Fatigue" effect that Pawel inflicted upon me as the stronger player. This caused the morale of my troops to drop by 1 point, and made the end game a very shaky experience with morale checks at morale 4.

But ultimately, with some luck and experience from having played the same army 4 times and the same scenario 3 times I pulled off another tactical 5-2 victory.



 .....................

I ended the tournament at place 35 out of 68 with 15 Big Points and 7 small points which I was happy with. Though I curse myself for overlooking so much in the "Delay the enemy" scenario against VeyDer, as it could probably have been 3 tactical victories, 1 draw and 1 loss had I fully understood the victory conditions. 

The overall experience of the tournament was good. I had a great time during my battles. The 2 hour limit was very stressfull for large armies at the start of the tournament, but towards the end I knew how all my effects/charts worked and could work out my army special rules very quickly. But with the shift towards larger armies this year I think the time limit should be extended with 30 minutes to compensate for all the new effects that require dice rolling and randomly picking affected units. 

The strongest impression I took with me from the tournament is that By Fire & Sword as a skirmish level game feels a lot more polished, almost to the point of feeling like a new game. The new scenarios, additional effects etc provide a whole new experience and you can no longer rely on certain scenarios being rolled or certain effects always being available for you. I think the Deluge book has reduced the boring "meta-gaming" of certain armies at certain point levels, and forced players to try out new things.
Full list of players, their armies and their rankings
1 Jarema iconHRE 22 30
2 Szwedzki iconTRA 21 29
3 Gajowy iconTUR 20 33
4 P. iconTAT 20 27
5 Masakrator iconTUR 20 24
6 Olbracht iconTUR 19 25
7 Alexandros iconRON 19 22
8 pnzr iconTUR 19 22
9 Kidziak iconTAT 19 22
10 Artois iconKOZ 19 21
11 Lubelak iconSWE 19 17
12 Skościański iconRON 19 16
13 Orris iconTAT 18 25
14 Przemek Gorek iconKOZ 18 23
15 Piotroslav iconTAT 18 22
16 Veyder iconHRE 18 8
17 Sowabud iconTAT 17 23
18 Seebar iconPRU 17 22
19 Netcop iconSWE 17 16
20 Mario iconRON 17 15
21 Bombel iconSWE 17 14
22 zk1944 iconRUS 17 14
23 Fensir iconRUS 17 12
24 Samu iconRUS 17 7
25 Mires iconRON 16 27
26 Moggrash iconTUR 16 20
27 Adek iconRON 16 16
28 Adam2412 iconRON 16 13
29 Geralt iconHRE 15 29
30 Niepokalany iconRON 15 14
31 Kijanka iconRON 15 14
32 Filip iconRUS 15 13
33 Wrednobrody iconKOZ 15 9
34 Rahumene iconRON 15 9
35 Anatoli iconRON 15 7
36 Wicio iconDAN 14 16
37 Sztazi iconRON 14 13
38 Enma iconTUR 14 12

39 Skoczek HRE 14 11
40 Pug iconRON 14 5
41 Anders iconSWE 14 4
42 Avallar iconRON 14 3
43 Iluzagin iconTAT 13 18
44 Diacon iconHRE 13 16
45 Paweł Siarkiewicz iconSWE 13 15
46 Pancer23 iconRON 13 14
47 Ordyniec iconSWE 13 5
48 Jacek Cybulski iconRON 13 5
49 Emen75 iconRON 13 3
50 Eoderen iconRON 12 11
51 Tomek Kurpiewski iconRON 12 8
52 Vojti iconHRE 12 7
53 Malmstrom iconRUS 12 6
54 Aleksander07 iconKOZ 12 5
55 Tomasz Korkus iconRON 12 3
56 Daw iconKOZ 12 2
57 Juha iconTUR 11 9
58 Cichy iconTAT 11 7
59 Najemnik iconSWE 11 5
60 Blak iconHRE 10 12
61 Norbert T. iconHRE 10 7
62 Cukierek iconRON 10 2
63 Łukasz G. iconRON 9 7
64 Bartosz P. iconRON 9 6
65 Tim van der Weyden iconSWE 8 2
66 Plusman iconSWE 7 0


7 comments:

  1. Thanks a lot - wished to be there... maybe next year. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jag får komma ner nån gång å lira om ni har fler turneringar, å öva upp inför nästa års turnering! 64 av 66 är inte optimalt... fajnie było jednak Ciebie spotkać, po tylu latach szpiegowania! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't worry, last year I was 3rd from the bottom! You'll do better next year now that you know how things work.

      You'll have to come down to Lund when we play our Swedish tournament in the Summer :-)
      At the moment we are trying to settle on a date, thinking about a full weekend tournament.

      Delete
    2. Sounds great, I'll try to visit! :-D Uppsala represents.

      Delete
    3. Hi
      Johan from the GT here, I think I ran into some of your friends at Gothcon. I arranged the Bushido tournament where a couple of people from Uppsala attended, Andreas, Robert and Oskar.

      Delete
  3. Hey Anatoli,

    Great Photos and Batreps. I was wondering where did you get the Unit Card for the Reiters that has all of the info on it? Is there a download for it or can you buy them?

    Thanks,

    Rich

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My last opponent had a deck of very nice unit cards that he had made himself. I found them very useful and inspirational, may attempt at making some of my own.

      Delete

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