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Abyssinian brief history and AAR from NICT 2015

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Todd Kaeser

Joined: 12 Apr 2006
Posts: 1012
Location: Foxborough, Massachusetts

PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2015 6:38 pm    Post subject: Abyssinian brief history and AAR from NICT 2015

During the Middle Ages the world was abounding with rumors of Prestor John, a mythical Christian king, somewhere in the East. As explorers like Bartholomew Diaz and Vasco da Gama pushed the exploration eastward they came to realize that there was no such kingdom. However, their expeditions allowed for the renewed contact with the Christian kingdom of Abyssinia in Ethiopia. The Portuguese maintained this contact with Abyssinia through a chaplain Francisco Alvarez in the early 1500’s.

Christianity has existed within Abyssinia for centuries (as early as the 4th Century AD) as there were past ties with Constantinople and Egypt. This disappeared with the fall of the Byzantine Empire. There were also rumors that the Ark of the Covenant was kept in this ancient kingdom. “To Ethiopian Christians and Jews, the location of the Ark of the Covenant is no mystery. According to the Ethiopian royal chronicles, the Ark left Jerusalem much earlier than generally thought - in the days of King Solomon - and went to Ethiopia by the hand of Menelik, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. (The Bible tells of a meeting between the monarchs (1 Kings 10), but not a marriage or Prince Menelik.)”( http://www.sacred-destinations.com/ethiopia/axum-ark-of-covenant) The current resting place of the Ark is near the Church of St. Mary of Zion in Axum, Ethiopia.

Abyssinia was also visited in 1541 by Christopher da Gama, son of Vasco, who brought a force of four hundred soldiers and their modern firearms to be used in the service of King Claudius (Negusa Nagast Galawdewos or King of Kings of Ethiopia). This list reflects this distinct time period and the banner of da Gama is present in the army.

The artwork of the army and camp comes from the rock churches at Lalibela. Excavated straight from rock, these 11 churches have their roofs at ground level. They are filled with beautiful murals of the religious history of Abyssinia. These murals are influenced by the Renaissance artist, Nicholas Brancaleone a Venetian who visited the country in the 15th century. He was not allowed to leave and stayed there for over 40 years.

Building and painting this army was a 2+ year project. Bill Low was a huge help with books and figures. I couldn’t have done this without him.
The banners of the army reflect the church murals and also art work from the Ethiopian Bible. I do love banners and these provided a unique portrayal of Christian images. The CinC’s banner (Claudius) is different as each side is different. One side depicts Mary and baby Jesus (Church of Ura Kendane Meheriet) and the other side depicts the bringing of the Ark to Ethiopia. I knew the images were pretty elaborate and didn’t think I could paint them twice and do them justice.



The Priest’s umbrellas (Irregular Miniatures – priests and carriers) are distinct to Ethiopia even today. They are brightly colored and part of the fabric of their society. They also help me identify the infantry units for fatigue.

The camp is an attempt to recreate the rock church at Lalibela (Church of St. George). The church camp is made out of bass wood and cut using a scroll saw and the details were done using a dremel, thick card stock, and balsa wood. The top of the church can be removed (magnets) to see the inside where the Ark of the Covenant resides guarded by a priest. The Ark was made by finding a 3D printer design and was made by the students of the school where I teach. It took more than a few tries by the students, but they were each rewarded with a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies.





The List:

Abyssinian Todd Kaeser– 1603 points

CinC 2E Ir B EHC/HC L,D,Sh (EP) – 174
2E Heavy Cav Ir A EHC/HC L,D,Sh (EP) - 103
2E Heavy Cav Ir A EHC/HC L,D,Sh (EP) - 103
2E Heavy Cav Ir B EHC/HC L,D,Sh (EP) - 97

4E Light Cavalry Ir C LC Jls,D,Sh (EP) - 89

2E Elephants Ir C dr. Jls & 1 Jls - 105
2E Elephants Ir C dr. Jls & 1 Jls - 105

12E spearmen LMI 1/4 Ir A 2HCW,Jls,Sh 3/4 Ir C Jls,Sh - 160
12E spearmen LMI 1/4 Ir A 2HCW,Jls,Sh 3/4 Ir C Jls,Sh - 160

10E Bowmen Ir C MI B 1/2 Sh – 125
10E Bowmen Ir C MI B 1/2 Sh – 125
4E Portuguese Musketeers Reg C LHI/LMI 1HCW,CB 1/2Sh – 98

6E Javelinmen Ir C LI Jls,Sh – 61
4E Slingers Ir C LI S,Sh – 49
4E Slingers Ir C LI S,Sh – 49

There was some discussion about the list on the Warrior Forum – I believe some of it is merited. The army is a challenge to have all the element working together.

I have found that the 12E units of LMI are better than 9E – a big fear is the 2nd turn of shieldless LMI and rightly so. When I was recoiled I would exchange ranks dropping them to the last rank and try and hold with the LMI Jls,Sh troops. This is not the best idea as they’re all “C” grade in the fighting ranks, but better than routing.

I intended the army to create problems with the huge bow blocks as solid line troops with some scary LMI rough terrain units. The EHC and elephants can work together in theory to take on knights or other cavalry. In theory the army can matchup with knights (Elephants), barbarians (EHC and LMI), mass cavalry (bow) and close foot (LMI). In reality it is a difficult army to get all the different parts working together. As Scott Holder noted – numerous times – I do not have the stomach for the huge swings of dice and the lack of up rolls for “A” grade troops. This is two years’ worth of work and the lack of good luck coupled with a lack of bad luck from my opponent that when I do get a break they pass their respective waiver tests and a gap doesn’t not occur to exploit.

My AAR – there are a ton of pictures to go with all the NICT and theme battles in the Album section – each one is titled to find what you need to see.

1st round vs. Scott McDonald – Moldavian.


I faced Scott in last year’s NICT with the same matchup and it is not a good one for me. His army has an abundance of scouting and he can dictate when and where to attack. I assumed a defensive position trying to force Scott to commit frontally and not crack either of my flanks – like he did last year. Scott rolled forward and charged a big bow blocks with a unit of HK and a unit of SHK. If memory serves me correctly I was able to roll up in shooting with a big bow block and then promptly rolled down 3 in combat – coulda’ been a contender. An even roll would have routed the HK unit. I even had an elephant unit behind the bow to disorder the knights…. I also received a charge from HK unit into my 4 deep LMI block only to roll a 2 on waivers and a shake (a theme for the convention as my dice were not kind overall). The Abyssinian army lacks the ability to spread out and I got a little cramped. Scott set up where he wanted to go and hit me there. I was eventually able to break a few knight units for a 2-5 loss. I had some tough thoughts on the army heading into a 2nd year of NICT foes but my personal morale was really beginning to suffer.




2nd round vs. Scott Holder – E. Byzantine.


Scott wrote up his version of the events. The battlefield is dotted with hills and knolls – four to be exact and woods on the flanks. I set up first (a trend that Mark Stone will write about often of the importance of scouting – which I was supposed to mitigate a little by the bow blocks). I foolishly set up too far forward with my bow block exposing them to an early action with Scott’s skutatoi units. I realize I need to push to get troops there to help. Scott luckily forgets to put his skutatoi units into testudo allowing me to kindly halt him and delay what should have been a rapid collapse of the center. I can’t catch Scott’s LMI with my troops while my center bow eventually routs and takes an LMI unit with it and shakes an elephant. 2-2


3rd round – Rich Novak – Sassanid Persian

Rich is back from a hiatus with DBM, FoG, etc… and it is nice to have him playing Warrior again. He certainly remembers enough to run an army and I’m continuing my struggles. Rich’s army is very different from Ewan’s – lots of HC lancers in 4E units. I feel good about the matchup initially. Rich doesn’t have all the regular LC and LI to dance around me so I can counterpunch like I usually like to. I figure the big bow blocks are targets of the SHC so keep the elephants nearby them to win the fight. The battle is sadly lost for me when Rich passes a counter with Irreg D LI in the right woods… this forces me to have to stand with one of my big LMI blocks to an impetuous charge of HC which I dutifully roll a 2 and shake and rout…. CinC – shake, Ir A EHC – shake, LI – shake. My left goes much better as I am able to configure the matchups better. I break his right (my left) but my army goes into retirement and it is a bloody 3-4 loss. I killed 990 Rich killed 1186…. I felt I played a very good game – setting up charges and my initial setup was also prett solid, but alas.


4th round – Frank Gilson – Nik. Byzantine

I am not at all happy with this matchup. My elephants have very little they can kill – Varangians and Skuts will eat them for lunch. I can only hope to shoot well. Frank is masterful as I delay the inevitable as best as I can and at the same time Frank is luring out my Irreg A LMI foot to eventual oblivion. I hope to get one break early on with my EHC unit hitting a Varangian receiving up hill – I roll up (a rare occurrence all weekend) and rout the Varangians – he shakes a Skut next to it, but I can’t exploit the gap before the army crumbles and breaks. 2-5 for Franks’ win.





5th roung – Matt Kollmer (Alex switching to Picts)


Matt has been working on his Pict army for YEARS and we’ve been texting pictures back and forth trying to inspire ourselves to keep painting. Matt brought the Pict army just in case and since we were both out of it we asked Scott if we could do this matchup and happily we were able to do so. The Picts are a rather large army and stretched across the board – intermixed in the army are a few units of 2HCW armed front while most of the army is LTS. As Scott noted I was so tired I couldn’t remember what was what and after some laughing and deal making I was able to line up most of my EHC vs. the 2HCW but losing out on some maneuvering… Up the EHC went into the Picts (standing on the hill and rolling well vs. my usually crappy rolling). The battle began to turn against the Abyssinians and Matt was on the verge of putting the army in retirement when luck finally started to come back to me. Some desperate charges by the EHC, including the general helps rout the Saxon command. Finally an up roll by the Irreg A LMI (they rolled like crap the entire weekend) saw a second command of Matt’s go into retirement. My elephants on the right, passed a few waivers and turned and eventually broke another big block of foot, but alas it was not enough. Matt finally broke the last unit needed to put the command/army into retirement. Final tally – Matt killed 1213 and I killed 910 – 4-3 for Matt. I have a long history of pulling victory out of the jaws of defeat and Matt was sweating it at the end .





After 2 years of painting and painting and modeling and painting and trying to run the army competitively I have come to a few conclusions.
I love the army in how it looks – the amount of research for the banners, Lalibela rock church camp (please look at pictures in Album for the inside and Ark), and help from Bill Low for figures made it a fun army to make.
I don’t like how the army handles in competitive tournaments. I believe it is a third or maybe a second tier army – and therefore a “fun” army. It just does not match up with your first tier armies (typically played in the NICT). It will match up against a second tier or worse army and it will be a fun back and forth type game. I went through two 5 round NICT with 1 win and a few draws. I know that I placed respectively in the NICT this year in large part as I was able to kill a fair amount of points in each battle. I also don’t enjoy irregular armies as much as regular armies. The difficulty in the army rests in part with the lack of scouting (27 in my configuration) allowing my opponents to create the matchups and with an irregular army it is difficult to rearrange your troops. Learning a little from this I set up further back than allowed and this gave me a little time to get my troops where I needed to put them. This unfortunately puts me on the defensive which is tough with Irreg A troops.

The army is also a little fragile with morale being a large part “C” grade. I tried to help the army stick around by having it in one large command of 15 units. Although I did not face any this year I know Meso-American armies rip through Abyssinian (Inca and Tepanec did so last year).

The Abyssinians will come out of the box again someday, but probably in local games only and not see the competitive tournament any time soon.

Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum
"Don't let the Bastards Grind You Down"
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