My mate Calruthan has been giving me a lot of trouble in our regular Wesnoth games. He’d won at least the last two when I challenged him (or he challenged me- the challenge is mutual) to another rematch.
The game was played over a rather strange map called “Sablestone Delta”, which has many small patches of difficult terrain with lots of defensive fortifications scattered around.
We both began the game with very similar strategies- establishing a forward base over excellent defensive territory while our scouts scurried around securing villages to establish our economy.
Calruthan was the first to break the impasse by advancing a platoon of spearmen along the left-hand flank, which was conveniently lined with a row of castles running north-south. This did leave his army separated into two parts, and since it was dusk and humans have a 25% disadvantage in the dark, I decided to launch an attack.
Although the castles gave him a considerable defensive advantage, my archers and woses were able to cause a reasonable amount of damage. I sent other troops further north to stay between the rest of Calruthan’s army and the endangered flank. This had the added advantage that I could seize one of his villages, giving me a greater income.
Meanwhile, my Elvish scouts made an incursion deep into Calruthan’s territory and ultimately claimed another two villages, completely crippling Calruthan’s economy.
As soon as the sun began to rise however, my plan started to go all wrong. Calruthan began to envelope my northern force with his superior numbers while he slipped more troops round the back to reinforce the left. Feeling very outnumbered and surrounded, and with daylight coming on (humans have a 25% bonus in daylight) I tried to retreat, but it was too late.
Calruthan’s envelopment slowed my retreat, and his spearmen made several vicious charges against my archers. I finally managed to return to my original forward base, much battered, only for Calruthan to keep up the assault. He slipped a mage through my ranks and knocked out one of my woses, which hurt because woses were very potent against spearmen, and very expensive.
Calruthan’s greatest strength is his tactical skill, and he demonstrated it aptly, killing off my rearguard one by one with local superiority of numbers (easy to achieve when you also have strategic superiority of numbers!).
Then I made another mistake. The objective of Battle For Wesnoth is to kill your opponent’s leader. I had moved him up to a fortress quite close to my forward base so I could get my reinforcements (only leaders may recruit) to the battle sooner. Calruthan simply changed tack, threw his veterans against my meagre defenses in front of this fortress, and cut off my leader from the rest of the army.
I desperately tried to send in reinforcements to relieve the place, but my efforts were futile, and he had enough numbers to kill off my leader. It was all over.
Calruthan played very well, especially tactically, and his decision to push the attack rather than re-establish his economy paid off in the end. If I had withdrawn my leader, it is possible that I could have made a come-back: it was dark, giving my troops an advantage, and he was unable to replace any losses, whereas I could.
I made a few tactical mistakes as well- spearmen are deadly in daylight, and my archers just can’t stand up to them. I needed to have trained some more melee troops, and withdrawn earlier. Maybe I should have held my little forward base, and let him come to me. If I had managed to maintain my grip on his economy, then this could have worked very well, giving me the time I needed to restore the numerical imbalance he achieved by training cheaper troops.
After three defeats in a row, I’m definitely keen for a rematch!