Sumatran Expeditions 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any game photos, so I thought a few photos of this evening’s DBR game would be in order. Now, my weekly Tuesday evening opponent recently purchased a Turkish army and after several games, where I have fielded a traditional pike and shot army, I decided a change was in order. After pondering a few options I decided on fielding my Sumatran army. Our regular weeknight gaming slot is reasonably short so our armies comprise just 300 points. Hard choices must be made in troop selection and army composition. We both opted for two commands, so PIPs were always going to be at a premium.

The Ottoman main command comprised both foot and mounted while the other command was primarily mounted supported by a number of bombards. In contrast the Sumatran army was more symmetric in composition with warriors, archers and elephants divided reasonably equally between the two commands.

With the weather determined the Sumatran commander ordered a rapid advance. Opposite the Turkish commander attempted to work each flank, hold with his centre while riding down the Sumatran foot with his massed sipahis opposite the Turkish left.

Combat was soon joined, first as Sumatran archers began to breaking up some of the Ottoman mounted and then, more critically as the Sumatran sword and spearmen became locked in combat with the aggressive Ottoman sipahis. Fortunately, the Sumatran foot were victorious in some combats while holding in others.

Above, some Sumatran warriors have broken through the enemy and pursued forward.

While Turkish bombards broke up some of the troops to their front other Sumatran foot pressed forward against Janissaries opposite. Now both commanders struggled to exploit the situation.

Below, a general view of the battlefield just prior to the Turkish left flank collapsing. 

Below, Sumatran foot prepare to charge the Turkish bombards in the centre. Two of the three bombards were actually overrun in the ensuing combats.

On the Sumatran left the Turks attempted to turn the now very exposed Sumatran left. Sumatran archers, fragile at best, along with elephants were thrown forward in a desperate attempt to protect the Sumatran foot engaged in a determined clash with the resolute Janissaries. 

However, the prophet would tonight, it seems, be with the Muslims of Sumatra. With casualties mounting the Ottoman host had suffered enough, and broke. 

A fascinating and enjoyable game, all resolved in 2 1/4 hours. Rumour has it that next week my opponent will be fielding his Royalists, their ranks expanded by new recruits. Another great game will be on the cards I’m sure…

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Fortified Churches of Stari Grad

In a recent edition of “Arquebusier” (Vol. 35/1), the Journal of the Pike and Shot Society, Conrad Cairns provided an interesting article on “The Fortified Churches of Croatia and Transylvania”. The article covers a range of fortified churches over an extended geographical area and is supported by a small selection of photos. However, I thought readers of the article may find several additional photos of interest. The following were taken during my four days in the picturesque town of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar.

First up is the Church of St Jerome, centre foreground below. The church is literally on the seafront on the northern part of the inlet. I’ve included two photos of the church which, when I visited was empty. I understand the building is occasionally used for art exhibits. Mr Conrad’s article suggests the tower was added.

Another view, this time from the side.

Also mentioned in the article was the Church of St Peter the Martyr, part of the Dominican Monastery. Today this imposing complex is difficult to photograph from the town side due to its size and proximity to many other buildings. More useful photos can be taken from outside the old town as the monastery sits on the outskirts of the old town.

Below, another view this time from the town side. The bell tower is a later addition, though interestingly it’s base uses stones from the Ancient Greek city walls.

Below, another photo this time from inside the monastery in the courtyard.

The monastery suffered two attacks by the Turks including the devastating attack of 1571, when the monastery, and the town, was sacked by the Turks. Information outside the monastery indicates the two round towns were added in 1586.

On a side note the small museum inside the monastery includes some interesting artefacts from the Greek foundation of the town, originally called Pharos, and should be viewed in addition to those displayed in the small town museum.

Ramblings on Recruitment

I’ve been mulling over my views of competitions, points systems and variety in games following another excellent English Civil War game this week. One of the old chestnuts of wargaming that often raises its head is that of points budgets, points values and army effectiveness. It’s an interesting debate and one that is certainly not restricted to the Renaissance gaming community. I routinely use points budgets to assist with balancing games, but I tend to feel that points based games have too great an impact on rules and therefore games. I thought I would post a few thoughts on points values in DBR games, though I suspect they are equally valid across a number of rules systems.

I think it’s reasonable to say that the DBR rules points system has a few basic flaws. Arguably some elements are too expensive, such as heavy artillery, while others are often considered too inexpensive. Examples of the latter are baggage and foot armed with firelocks. All are apparent when players start forming armies devoid of one type and using as many troops of another type. This was one aspect that “Kiwi Points” has tried to address, with reasonable, but not perfect results. Yet, these differences are made more apparent in “Open Competitions” where armies of very different periods face each other. I’m of the view that an early arquebusier is, for example a fine troop type when facing archers or even early caracoling Reiter, though terribly outclassed by firelock armed musketeers.

Looking at overall points budgets most games have a clearly defined budget. In DBR competitions these tended to range from 350 points to 400 point, with 400 point competitions being more popular under DBR v2. With the exception of Australia and New Zealand DBR competitions have all but died out, though even here the number of competitions are few in number. Within these remaining competitions 400 points as being standard in Australia and 400 or 450 points in New Zealand.

There is of course a balance here between satisfying selected players need to place models on the table, providing visual interest on the selected playing area, providing a balance between manoeuvre and being able to complete a game in the allocated time. I’m sure each player will have divergent views on the optimal game size. However, I think the points budgets that are normally used encourage repetitive play. They produce, in my view, games where armies are overly optimised and armies tend towards similarity. It is for example very common for a 400 point army to always have six stands of baggage. Why, well with this points budget your lists decision aren’t too restricted and as they cost vs value decision is such you would be silly not too.

In contrast I look at three recent English Civil War games I’ve played in recent weeks all played with 300 points. Partly we use this points budget as we only have a couple of hours for our Tuesday evening games. However, they really allow you to mix army composition up. Further, the points budget is so restricted some hard choices need to be made. As a result my opponent, using the Scots Covenantors, has to his credit fielded three very different armies. For my part I’ve tried some variations as well. The result is we have had three very different games.

I encourage players to add some variety in army list composition, ditch the “effective” list composition, consider some change to your traditional points budget and try something new. You may enjoy it.

For King or Covenant

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on my Renaissance site, but that shouldn’t be confused with a lack of Renaissance gaming. Far from it in fact with armies being deployed almost every week. As always the games played with the locals are always excellent. Last Wednesday’s game was no exception.

Jim deployed his newly completed Scots Covenanters while I took the field with my English Civil War Royalists in a game set in 1644. Each army comprised 300 points. The situation found the Scots invading, on a fine Autumn day with the Royalists deployed behind a stream. To the Royalist left several enclosures bordered the stream and would play a part in the battle. To the Scots left rear a small wood hampered the Scots deployment but would otherwise not impact the battle.

The English deployed in traditional manner with foot, some 1600 in number, in the centre with some 800 horse split evenly on the wings. A few dragoons and a handful of guns supplemented the small English army. The larger Scots deployed their foot across the battlefield interspersed with guns of various weight. Their horse, outnumbering the English, were deployed to the rear due to their doubtful quality.

Both armies advanced in the centre where soon the foot of both armies were hotly engaged in a prolonged exchange of fire. As time past the Scots foot and gunners would suffer heavy casualties. On the English left the enclosures soon rattled with musket fire as English Dragoons and Scots dragoons and musketeers engaged each other.

However the wings where the scene of much action when English foot charged across and threatened both Scots flanks. On the English right the stream caused much disruption and delay. While a foothold was gained counterattacks eventually drove the English cavaliers back in rout. On the English left the cavaliers were more successful. While delayed but Scots dragoons eventually across and began to drive in the Scots horse. Meanwhile English foot prepared to press their hard won advantage in the centre.

Alas it was only the lateness of the day that was to save the Scots right from collapse. Well, at least according to the English pamphlets reporting the battle…