Wednesday, October 26, 2011

AAR Warrior: Anglo Normans vs. Islamic Persians

After Action Report
Anglo Normans (Dennis Shorthouse) vs.
Islamic Persians (Phil Gardocki)

This AAR was written in “high prose” as opposed to the bare bones “we set up here and here”.  I was heavily influenced by listening to 8 hours of “Children of Hurin” by JRR Tolkien, and narrated by Christopher Lee.

I am Keygohab Ad, Scholar and Secretary to the Great Sultan, Tahir ibn Husayn, “The Bright Sword of Allah”.  And it is my honor to transcribe the right and true events that occurred in the Hejri  year 770.  That these events are accurate are vouchsafed because they were either witnessed by me, or by men of high character. 

As was custom, we celebrated the new year by witnessing the spring solstice, when disquieting news arrived by messengers.  Coastal towns were being raided and pillaged by forces from the sea!  Over the next few days many reports were received, and a pattern was emerging.  Barbarians would use the cover of night to approach, and go unnoticed till it was too late.  They would never stay overlong, before retreating to their ships, which then would not follow the coast either north or south, but head to the horizon till invisible from the shore, before setting a course to the next victim.

Now the Great Sultan did not wait for more news, but started a muster of forces, and sent many scouts, and marched south to meet these barbarians, and while marching took what men that could be found.

In response to his summoning’s came Werde hecar We, “The Cautious” , with a Spear of Quizalbashi’s and a great levy of bowmen.  Also came Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. “The Loud” with another Spear of Quizalbashi’s, and many tribal horsemen.  So too came Adbiesus, “The Just”, and with his Spear, he brought many men of the north, whose eyes were bright, and long were their spears. 

For a month we marched, and our scouts began to return with reports, and drawings of the enemy.    And they were known!  These were Varangians from the frozen north.  No doubt supplied with ships from the hated Byzantines.  These men were fierce and clever, and fought on foot with great axe’s, that could cleave a warhorse, armor and all.  And with them was a great force of horse.  

And so, we chased our foe, and while his fleet was fast, the number of probable targets was growing thin.  And so it was we confronted him near Bandar Abbas, and battle was brought.

The field was flanked with trees, both  left and right, while the barbarians controlled the coastal road. 

Adbiesus deployed his Afghans in the woods to the left, with his Spear of Quizalbashi’s nearby.  He was told to “attack” all before him with his North-men, for as the Great Sultan said, “A man’s weight in silver is the price of a warhorse, but a dead Afghan costs nothing.”

Werde hecar We, and Ahmedinejad’s Spears were next in line, but further back, and told to contemplate patience, and “wait” till they were summoned.  In the center was placed much of the tribal cavalry, and half of the levy.  For though their bows were ill kept and weak, they were many.  The Levy also labored through the night in the nearby woods, a erected a thick barrier of newly cut trees and sticks, as to be unassailable from the front.*

To the levy’s right was some Tribal Light Cavalry, with support from another spear of Quizalbashi’s.  And in the far right, more levy bowmen, whose front was similarly fortified as their brethren, and also supported by another group of Tribal Light Cavalry.  So if fell upon the Tribal Cavalry the main onus of “probing” the enemy for any weakness.

Since many of our Tribal Cavalry were from this area, our enemy was well scouted, and his positions were known to us.  To our far left was a fast moving column of foot, supported by light archers, and then some of their own “Tribal Cavalry”.  In the middle was a large horde of foot, all arrayed in mail, armed with axe’s and bows.  And down the line, was more mailed foot, and a smaller unit, with a banner to the Raven God they worshipped.  Then more foot, and even more foot.  And their line finished with another fast moving foot unit, supported by another bow unit.  Of their horse, only clouds of dust could be seen stirring in the distance.***

Out bound the Afghans from their wooded hiding place, and in response, the Norsemen did naught but form deep ranks, and lock shields, and waited.  With a mighty scream, the Afghans charged, hurling their spears.  But their ferocity was blunted by the interlocking shields of their foes, and their superior numbers were made meaningless by the contraction of the enemy formation, and their spears could not avail against so well an armored foe.   Even so, it seemed, for a while that they would prevail, but the Norse-men’s Axe’s took a heavy toll, and soon, a full half of the Afghans were thrown off, but they were not yet defeated. 

For the enemy supports were run from the field, Adbiesus had run off the enemy Light Cavalry, and their brother Afghans, chased away the archers, and were now closing in on the Viking Hirdsmen.  And great was Viking lament, for their earlier victory had cost them much.  The Afghans plowed into their weaken formation, and faster than on raven’s wings, the Hirdsmen were sent to their gods.

In the center, all the enemy foot had locked shields, rendering the shabby bows of the levy foot ineffective.  But in this, the Great Sultan perceived a weakness.  For the enemy, while invulnerable, were also made as slow as a desert tortoise.  Also, there seem to be much discomfort among the enemy, as messengers were seen flitting to and fro, like so many butterflies in a field.**** And so, he signaled Werde hecar We and Ahmedinejad to attack. And summoned also his reserve spear of  Quizalbashi’s  from the right to his side.  Since the Afghans had done their work. The enemy center was now his right flank.  The Quizalbashi’s massed upon the Viking horde, which loosed a great darkening of arrows upon them.  But though many, the arrows were like straw on the wind.***** and did not hinder so much horse in full charge.   A full 7 score men died instantly, and the cry of “More, more” erupted from Werde hecar We’s men. “Send more enemy.”  Ahmedinejad’s men cried back, “Save some for us!”  For their charge did falter, and if not for their compatriots, they would have been lost.

On the right flank, the enemy, encumbered by both doctrine and orders******, lumbered forward.  Being resisted by only a small number of Tribal Cavalry, and the massive wood works erected by the Levy.  But to Levy bow fire, the enemy was not discomforted at all.  Indeed, he managed to shoot up the Tribal Cavalry, which retired, leaving the Levy flank exposed.  And the Great Sultan, “The Bright Sword of Allah” showed that sometimes compassion can outweigh wisdom, did send more Tribal Cavalry to take their place.  But the existing unit of Cavalry refused to depart, making no room for the replacements, and all the while the enemy lumbered on. 

For one unit of the enemy turned the flank of the right most Levy, and chased them from their wood works.  The Levy ran, turned, and so motivated, shot as they never shot till then.  The sky darkened, and out of the darkness, their eyes alight with wroth, came the enemy, though many of their kin and friends were shot down, on they came.  They hewed down the Levy, scattering them here and there.  The Tribal Cavalry, confused by the rout, did not see their end till it was too late.  And on the enemy came, as if the whips of Valhalla itself were upon them. Another Tribe was caught and decimated.  And then, to our great relief, they stopped and rested. *******

Meanwhile on the left flank, just when all was going well, fate rose to test us.  The enemy horse, which was till now mere dust in the distance, rapidly closed the distance.  Adbiesus fell when his Spear was scattered.  Ahmedinejad was attacked, and engaged in single combat with the enemy commander, who first pinned him to his horse, then beheaded him with a stroke of his broad sword.  His Spear, to their credit, did not rout, but died to a man. 

Werde hecar We, who till now, was insulated from these events by distance, closed the gap to gain vengeance, but was soon turned, flanked, and destroyed.

But out of adversity is opportunity, for the enemy reserves were revealed, and now vulnerable.  Wave after wave of arrows crashed into the Norman General, and only a little less so descended upon his supporting horse.  So that when the Great Sultan, Tahir ibn Husayn, “The Bright Sword of Allah” did commit to battle, it was but a trifle to sweep the rival General from the field, trampling his Draco standard into the dust.  And joining him was the last Quizalbashi Spear, who arrived too late to save the hapless Ahmedinejad, but none the less committed revenge upon is slayers.

Now many of the Viking/Norman horde beheld the falling of their standard, and knew of the death of their Commander, but none the less, held fast on this news, thought one horde did not.  To that horde charged the Bright Sword, and the enemy stood, fighting bravely.   And their numbers began to press him, and his charge stalled, but at last, a nearby group of the Tribal Horsemen, plunged into the fray, and swept the enemy horde away.  At this, the enemy groaned as one, and began to drop their weapons, and submit to the Great Sultan’s Justice.  <end of Narrative>

As you can see, this was a great back and forth fight, with actually there was more going on than was described here.  The first final count had this as a Persian Loss, 704 to 680.  But then a missing dead unit was counted, and it was a Persian Win at 718-704.  Not a convincing victory.  But when I returned from loading my car, Dennis had realized that with that missing unit he had lost a command, and the final score was about 1024-704 or a 4-3 Persian Win. 

*OK, waxing poetic here.  The archers had deployed their unemplaced stakes.
**From Left to Right Afghan, Afghan, Quizalbashi, (with attack orders) LC,  LC, Levy, LC, Levy, LC (probe orders)
            In the rear, Quizalbashi, Quizalbashi, (wait orders)  CIC, LC, Quizalbashi (probe orders)
***From Left to Right, LHI, LI, LC, HI (Bow), MI, LHI (Ally), MI, MI, LHI, LI.  5 units of Norman Cavalry were positioned in the rear to charge through the gaps. 
**** Dennis’s Viking commander was Cautious, and currently had wait orders.   It took 18 prompt points to change it to attack by bound 4.

***** 3 down 2’s and a down 1 will do that to you.
****** Shield Wall limits you to 40 paces, Wait orders kept him on his side of the board.
*******LHI Hirdsmen took 2cpf, passed waver, charged and caught the Bowmen which then routed.  Over the next few turns also converted into two light cavalry units that just couldn’t get out of the way.
Subsequent rout checks almost caused the center command to go into retreat. 

Persian forces
5 “Spears”, of 12 Quizalbashi’s, Irreg ‘A’ EHC, L, B, Sh
2 units of 36 Levy archers, Irreg ‘D’ LMI, B
2 units of 12 Afghans Irreg ‘B’ LMI, LTS, JLS, SH
2 units of 12 “Tribal” Light Cavalry, Irreg ‘C’ JLS, B, SH
3 units of 4 Light Cavalry, Irreg ‘C’ JLS, B, SH

Anglo Normans
5 units of 6 Irreg ‘B’ HC (Normans)
1 unit of 10 Irreg ‘C’ LC (Referred to as Tribal Horse by the narrator)
3 hordes of 32 Vikings, Irreg ‘C’ MI 2HCW, JLS SH
1 horde of 32 Vikings, Irreg ‘B’ HI 2HCW, JLS, B, SH
3 units of 18 Viking Hirdsmen, Irreg ‘B’ LHI 2HCW, JLS SH

2 units of 12 Irreg ‘C’ LI Bow

5 units of 6 Irreg ‘B’ HC (Normans)
1 unit of 10 Irreg ‘C’ LC (Referred to as Tribal Horse by the narrator)
3 hordes of 32 Vikings, Irreg ‘C’ MI 2HCW, JLS SH
1 horde of 32 Vikings, Irreg ‘B’ HI /  MI 2HCW, JLS, B, SH
2 units of 18 Viking Hirdsmen, Irreg ‘B’ LHI  /LMI 2HCW, JLS SH 
1 unit of 6 Irr 'A' LHI 2HCW,SH  
2 units of 12 Irreg ‘C’ LI Bow

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