Cancon 2014: DBR Report – Part 1

What follows here is a short report of my games in the 15mm DBR competition at Cancon this year.

As with previous Cancon DBR competition this competition used pre-set terrain. Typically these tables attempt to model a specific historic battlefield. As a result I have indicated the name of the battlefield in each of the brief reports. As I have mentioned in earlier reports I rather like the pre-set terain. Firstly it makes travelling to Australia logistically easier, no need to pack terrain. In addition I believe the DBR tables looked considerably more interesting and visually appealing to me than some other competition tables around us. The work put in by the Cancon DBR organisers was clear to see.

Prior to attending Cancon I considered several armies as possible candidates for the trip. These included Royalist, which I have some experience with, Japanese which I have previously taken three times to Australia, and Maori which I have had a string of defeats with. However, with a burst of activity in December and January I prepared a new army. In particular a Sumatran army based on that of the Sultanate of Aceh. I had been planning to paint this during 2013, but life had got in the way. With the basic army completed less than two weeks prior to Cancon little time was available for trial games. Given the unusual troop types and my inexperience with them this was disconcerting. Further, three hasty games rewarded me with a such a drubbing that the Sumatrans looked likely to suffer a series of defeats across the ditch. Indeed, comments from one of the locals who defeated me in two of these trial games, that he “expected to see the army on ebay within a week” were not exactly useful. Yet despite expecting to suffer six defeats at Cancon the army was packed ready for the trip to Australia…

Game One – Royalist 1644 (Peter Gillard)

The first engagement of the competition was on the “Morbegno Table”, which was based on the battle of 1632. It comprised four gentle hills, the village of Morbegno on one flank. On the other flank some woods and an steep hils, leading into a portion of the alps, completed the table. It was my first game of DBR against Peter so I was unaware of his playing style. That said I took some comfort in at least I knew something of fighting Royalists and how the amy would be composed and deployed. At least that was until Peter deployed very differently than I had expected. His significantly thinner line overlapped the Sumatrans on both flanks.

Cancon2014_G1_2

Having realised the area of my deployment, I was defending and therefore deployed second, I determined that I had still to attack his centre, despite it being thinner than I hoped. The result of an attack on the centre however would mean that even if I broke through in the centre the English army would likely remain on the field and likely be breaking my flanks. Despite this the Sumatran drums and gongs burst into life and the army advanced.

Cancon2014_G1

The Sumatran centre, seen above, comprised the bulk of the warriors who are classed as Wb(S) and were screened by a great number of skirmishers armed with, bow or arquebus. The Sultan Iskandar Muda was in the rear mounted on his elephant. It was this centre that would strike at the enemy centre and achieve victory. Supporting the centre was two wings. Each wing comprised more warriors and skirmishers. However, the wings also comprised a number of archers, elephants and light horse.

IF

The details of this now famous battle between the mighty Sultanate of Aceh and the European interlopers is now lost. While the English centre was soon crippled, and would eventually break, the English pressed the Sumatran right mercilessly. Indeed, the photo above shows the Sumatran right as being reasonably open about midway through the battle.However, English losses finally became overwhelming. Iskandar Muda was well pleased and secured a 16-1 victory against the infidel.

Game Two – Dutch Rebellion 1585 (Roger Mackay)

The next game of the competition found me facing Dutch Rebellion on the “Lund Table”. The battlefield comprised a paltry stream that separated both armies and was flanked by the town of Lund, on the Sumatran left and Valkarra on the Sumatran right. Determined to be the invader he Sumatrans deployed second. As expected the Dutch were well ensconced behind the banks of the stream and had positioned their heavy artillery well forward to bombard the Sumatran centre. The battle opened in the centre by an advance by Sumatran light troops, part of whom can be seen below, to screen the army from the Dutch artillery.

Cancon2014_G2_2

At the same time Sumatran archers on the right advanced to harass the Ducth harquebusiers. This archery while resulted in some Dutch casualties and the probing attacks against the Sumatran right by Dutch light cavalry was soon replaced by an all out attack on the Sumatran right. Below, Dutch cavalry on the right have crossed the stream. In these attacks the Sumatran archers were ridden down and eventually some elephants eliminated. This resulted in the breaking of the Sumatran right wing.

Cancon2014_G2_1

Now sensing victory the Dutch centre advanced across the stream with the intent of attacking the Sumatran centre frontally and from the flank. However, the Sumatran right rallied and in turn counter-attacked. Now the Dutch left itself broke just as the centres clashed. The Sumatran warriors pressed their advantage at every point and finally the Dutch centre broke as well. The Sultan was awarded with another victory, 15-3 and putting a halt to Dutch colonisation.

Game Three – Royal French (Stu Todd)

Sunday morning found the Sultan facing the Royal French on the “Killiecrankie Table”. Forced on the defensive the Great Sultan opted to deploy with the paltry river flowing through the French deployment area. As before the Sumatran army deployed with the mass of warriors in the centre and the elephants and light horse on the flanks. The battle took place in the autumn and as in previous battles, the weather was to have no impact on the game.

Cancon2014_G3_1

The French commander moved aggressively to clear the stream and areas of rough going, especially so on the French left were a mass of horse and commanded shot pressed forward aggressively. This is illustarted above.

The Sumatran right was at a disadvantage. The Sumatran archers could disrupt the enemy horse, but were at risk of being dispersed by the commanded shot. Further, the elephants have a habit of fleeing from massed musket fire. As a result the Sumatran right delayed the advancing French using a thick skirmishing screen and terrain of nearby brush covered hills.

Cancon2014_G3_2

However, the Sumatran warriors of the centre and right were launched in a series of fanatical charges against anything to their front! Above, the Sultan orders the Sumatran warriors forward.

As the battle progressed the engagement became general and while some breakthroughs were achieved the Sumatran line was under significant stress. The Great Sultan was himself involved in the fighting. However, the Sumatran warriors were resilient and as the French pressed their advantage they overstretched themselves. The remaining Sumatran elephants moved forward while the Sumatran foot attacked the French infantry in front, flank and rear. Under this wave of attacks French cavalry fell fled and the French infantry centre collapsed. The Sultan was once again able to claim victory with another 15-3 result.

But what would the next three games hold? Part two of the competition can be found here.

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