Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Byzantium vs the Persians at Solachon

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   Regency at Providence Community Center, Phoenixville, Pa
Event:    Providence Gamer's Game Knight
Players: Phil Gardocki and Garth Parker playing Philippicus and Eiliphedas of Byzantium
              Bruce Potter, Steve Turn and Jen Parker playing Kardarigan (Black Hawk), Mebodes and Aphraates of  Persia

Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, about 200 points per side.

The Scenario:

The refusal of the Byzantine Emperor, Justin II, to continue paying the yearly tribute to the Persian Shah Khosrau became a defacto declaration of war.
This lead to a lengthy series of border skirmishes that neither side could afford.
14 years later,
in the year 586 AD, both the Byzantine Emperor and the Shah have been replaced, but the war rages on.

After another failure at peace talks, the Byzantine General Philippicus marched across the border to threaten The fortress of Mardes and the city of Dara.  He camped his army controlling access to the Arzamon river, and force the Persian force to cross a desert to reach him.  But General Kardarigan, aka Black Hawk was well supplied with water bearing camels and wagons, and approached without fear.  Then confident in his victory, ordered the water dumped, to induce his troops to fight harder.

The Forces:
 Maurikian Byzantine: Commanders  Philippicus, Eiliphedas and Anon the Unknowable

      10 Kataphractoi, Heavy Cavalry Impact Bow
       5 Trapezitioi, Light Horse, Javelin
       5 Huns, Light Horse, Bow
       1 Skutatatoi, Heavy Spearmen, Missile Support

Sassanid Persians: Commanders  Kardarigan the Black Hawk, Mebodes and Aphraates
       2  Ovenbox Men, Cataphracts (elite)
       10 Cataphracts, Heavy Cavalry Impact Bow
       8 Huns, Light Horse, Bow

The Board:
The board is several gentle hills, a sandy area and a gully.  Most of the terrain is on the Byzantine side of the board.

This was designed to be a 5 player game, so the Byzantines have two large command, and a single element command of Skutatatoi defending the camp.  The Persians have 3 commands.  One command with 2 Cataphracts and 2 Oven Box men in the center, the others, each of 4 Cataphracts and 4 Light Cavalry on each flank.
Turn 1:
 The Byzantines have local advantage on each flank in forces, but the Persians have a swing command in the center that can change things.
On the Byzantine left, 5 lights, which can cross the gully with minimum difficulty, and 4 Kataphractoi.  We later discovered there was a missing Kataphractoi for this command, and it will be applied later.  In the distance is 4 Persian Lights and 4 Cataphracts.
The Byzantine right, 5 Kataphractoi and 5 Lights, again faced by 4 Persian Cats and 4 Lights.
On the hill, basking in the sun, are the Persian Oven Box Men.
 Turn 1:
The Byzantine left flank charges forward.
Likewise the Byzantine right.
A view from the overhead buzzards.  With all that armor, they are going to need to have can openers.
Undaunted, the Persians advance to bow range.
The Persians win the initial volley of arrows.

Turn 2:
Despite the initial losses to arrow fire, the Byzantines have the numbers with effective bow fire, and decide to continue shooting.  Besides, charging is all equals so lets rally the troop and continue shooting.  The problem with odds is sometimes they don't pan out.  One of the Kataphracts rally, but the Lights do not, and are dispersed for their trouble.

On the right, in this blurry shot, the missile fire is desultory at best.
On the hill, working on their tan, the elite Oven Box Men wait in reserve.
The Persians decide missile fire is the way to go, and continue shooting. 
Turn 3:
Well, both sides decided to go for mediocrity.  Shooting it out instead of going for the heroic clash of arms.
The Byzantines on the right go for the advance and slide move, preventing one element of Sassanids from evading.  The Persian General, Mebodes, decides to stay and fight.
The Huns decide to charge as well, expecting the Persians to turn tail and run, but surprise!
The Byzantines destroy Persian Cataphract, but lost a Kataphractoi and the General Eiliphedas as well.
I am going to have to learn to not engage with lights.  They are too vulnerable to the vagaries of the die rolls.
The center continues to shoot it out.  Both sides seeing how the flanks will play out.
It is hard to tell with this blurry shot, but another Byzantine Kataphractoi is destroyed, and the Byzantine line is flanked.

Turn 4:
With only one command pip, the Byzantines turn and charge.
The Persians also charge in their turn, running off a Kataphract.
The fleeing Kat. is caught and almost destroyed.  Even if they had won, they were looking at real Cataphracts coming off of the hill.

In the center, the missile exchange is in the Persians favor.

Turn 5:
The Persian lights pursue their advantage and run off the Huns.

As do the Byzantine Trapezitioi on the opposite flank.

Turn 5 ended with the Byzantines just hitting their break point of 20.  The Persians were close with 17.  If Philippicus was more patient, this battle could have turned the other way.  The Light Cavalry charge in turn 3 gave away 4 points that would have held them through turn 5.  But maybe not.  The Persian Oven-Box men were just getting into the fray against tired and fragmented Byzantine lines.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Battle of the Pelennor Fields at Fall In

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   Lancaster Host, Lancaster Pennsylvania.
Event:    HMGS's Fall-In
Game System: Modified L'Art de la Guerre, about 700 points per side.
Theme: Fantasy. 

The Forces:
Rohan, Lead by Théodin (Brilliant), Éomer(Competent), Elfhelm(Competent)
12 Heavy Cavalry, Impact, Bow, 3 elite, organized in 3 Éored's.
About 162 points

Gondor, Denethor(deceased), Imrahil(Brilliant), and Duinhir(Competent).
16 Light Infantry Bow. 
6 Heavy Infantry Sword armor, (3 elite)
2 Heavy Knights, impact, (elite)
2 Heavy Cavalry, bow
6 Sword, missile support
4 Light Cavalry, bow
About  280 points

Mordor, Lead by Lord of the Nazgûl, Sorcerer King of Angmar, Ringwraith, Captain of the Hosts of Mordor (Ordinary), Wartburg (Ordinary), Gothmog (Ordinary), and Ignatz (1 command point per turn, goblins only).
5 Trolls
12 Goblins Medium Spear, Missile support, (Mediocre)
4 Wolf Riders Light Cavalry Impact, Carnivore (Mediocre)
2 Cassowary Riders Light Cavalry Javelin, Carnivore (Mediocre)
Ignatz, Light Chariot
13 orcs, Medium Swordsmen
2 Warg Riders
2 Heavy Chariots(elite)
3 Orc Bow
2 Easterling Medium Sword 2HW
6 Easterling Bow
2 Easterling Foot, Javelinmen
2 Jugger Medium Knight Impetuous, Carnivore
  About 420 points

King Saladin of the Haradrim (Competent), Abban Al Tufayl(Competent), Jibran Yazan (Competent)
 4 Medium cavalry impact bow (1 elite)
 4 Light cavalry bow 
 6  Mixed Medium spear, bow
10 Bowmen
3 Mûmakils, Elite Elephants
about 240 points
No Break point.  Play till time limit is reached.
I have been working towards this for years.  I have started and stopped this project half a dozen times.  Most of the figures are re-purposed from various Ancients armies, others painted for this event, only to have them languish on the shelf for decades. 

The Board:
8 feet of castle wall, but otherwise an unadorned field with a touch of the River Anduin in the south east corner.

The Scenario
At the end of the Third Age of Middle Earth, the Battle of the Pelennor Fields was the ultimate battle for control of the Planet.  The forces of Sauron were mustered to take the last great bastion of man, Minas Tirith.   

Sauron had every reason to expect success.  The forces of the west were divided on racial linesWhile Machiavellian schemes that had been set in motion for decades were bearing fruit.  The Steward of mighty Gondor was being driven insane by exposing his mind to the Palantir Théoden King was warped into premature senility.  Saruman the White, leader of the console of wizards was turned traitor.  Even though he was defeated, he served a purpose, as the forces of Rohan were now totally out of position to interfere

So with the entirety of the forces of east so arrayed, Mordor Orcs and Trolls, the Easterlings, the Haradrim and the Corsairs of Umbar, what chance does even the mightiest fortress  on Middle Earth stand?

The siege has started.  Black smoke fills the air, obscuring the view of the defenders.  
The forces of Mordor are arrayed as follows.  North most are the Easterlings.  Next to them Orcs and Goblins.  In front of the gate are trolls and Grond.  South of them are the infantry forces of the Haradrim.  Still arriving on the road from Osgiliath road are additional forces of the Haradrim.  In the gate is the Lord of the Nazgûl, Sorcerer King of Angmar, Ringwraith, Captain of the Hosts of Mordor.

He is confronted by Gandalf on Shadowfax.  The rest of the forces of Gondor have backed away from the gate in fear.  On the walls are defenders of the wall. They are spread thin, and so are represented by Light Infantry.  To the north, are the  Rohirrim. 
  This game has only run 2 turns so far.  

One note:  The table may look sparse, especially when compared to Steve Jackson's movie.  Bear in mind that this is a game and it has to be playable in a reasonable time frame.  If it runs too quick, I can add more orcs.  As it is, the Rohirrim are outnumbered 6-1.

Turn 1:

South of the great gate, massed Harridrim archers keep the defenders at bay.
The wall is pressed it's entire length.  The great ram Grond has thrown down the gate.
Orc hordes and Easterlings press the walls north of the gate.
Horns, Horns of the Rohirrim, Theodin has come at last.
The view from the Riders of Rohan.
On the other side of the gate, Gandalf and the Witch King of Angmar trade insults.

A huge ram, great as a forest-tree a hundred feet in length, swinging on mighty chains.... Great beasts drew it..., and behind walked mountain-trolls to wield it.  Grond they named it, in memory of the Hammer of the Underworld of old

In a united front, the Riders of Rohan charge, 3 units of Easterlings fall in the first rush.
The counter attack was almost immediate.  Easterling knights on Juggers.
A close up shot of the Riders.
Turn 2:
Elfhelms Éored dispatches the lizard riders, and other elements charge forward, but Theodin's command remains a cohesive line.
By the wall, Éomer's Éored leaves a bloody trail. 
On the left, Wartburg starts organizing his orcs.  Goblin wolf riders will take the lead.

His lines intact, Theodin's Éored advances steadily, and ready to receive the wolves of Mordor.
On the east edge of the board, Elfhelm aligns his Éored to face off Harridrim Light Horse and Orc Boar Riders.
Reinforcements arrive, Giants riding Mûmakils. 
The Lord of the Nazgûl takes wing with his fell beast.  Orcs and Goblin riders have no choice but to charge the line of lancers.
The Forces of Mordor are now well arrayed in the east.
Turn 3:
Mûmakils advance, pushing Haradrim cavalry forward.

Harradrim Light Horse skirmish against the Rohirrim.  General Wartburg in his 4 Warg Chariot is fully engaged as well.

Good news for Rohan, as the Riders of Snowborne have arrive.  Better late than never!
It's a massive impact, but with very little casualties so far.
The Goblin War Chief Ignatz, in his boar chariot, is leading from the rear.

A disaster for Rohan as Wartburgs Chariot mows down half of Elfhelm's Éored.  The Lord of the Nazgûl takes this opportunity to use his special ability to single out Snowbornes general and kills him.
Turn 4:
So what is happening at the gate?  Well not a lot.  The Lord of the Nazgûl left on turn one to take wing, and with that Gandalf went to deal with Denethor.  Most of the command points available, with Imrahil and Duinhir are spent rallying the wall defenders to keep them steady.  They are getting constantly bombarded by artillery and arrow all along the wall, and if any wall is undefended, then it will be climbed.

Most of Mordor's command points have been spent trying to turn the Orcs around to face the Rohirrim.  So none are available to send in the trolls to attack the gate.

More of Elfhelm's riders are taking hits.  Though Théoden's riders have about cleaned up the wolf and boar riders.  The Lord of the Nazgûl has taken position behind the lines of Rohan.  Adversely effecting the morale of Rohan, without effecting the orcs and Easterlings. 
Rohans charge is stalled, time to take them down a notch.
Using one of his special abilities, Lord of the Nazgûl swoops down on Théoden, on a 2+ Théoden dies.  But today, the Narrative decided that Théoden lives.  Eowyn and Merriadoc Took are revealed and dispatch the Nazgûl.
Turn 5:
Black sails are sighted on the river.  The Corsairs of Umbar have arrived to bolster the forces of Mordor.  All units of the west suffer a -1 on their rally attempts.

You may be asking yourself why Mordor would send the Lord of the Nazgûl to his doom.  I mean, it is a pretty obvious trap.  Well it is like exchanging queens in chess, except in this case, Théoden, being a "Brilliant" general is worth more as he can rally hits off of his Rohirrim much more effectively than the Mordor commanders.  The Rohan charge is now stalled, and so they lose all their nice +'s for Impact and +'s vs Medium Foot and so this is down to the hand to hand slog where numbers matter.  

Elfhem's forces take out a Haradrim Cavalry unit.
Near the walls, Éomer's Éored's move forward, attacking one of the Orc Ballistas.
Gandalf has returned to the gate.  Prince Imrahil sallies forth.  Attacking troll and destroying Grond.
Trolls are not so easily cowed, and counter charge.
Goblins attack on the right, but are damaged instead.

Orcs line up for a counter charge as well.

Mûmakils also line up, just waiting for the Orcs to give their last before sweeping the field.

Turn 6:
What's this? The black sails have been brought down, and the banner of the King of Gondor is revealed.  Spirits raise for the forces of the west, and get a +1 when rallying.  Also spirits sink for Mordor and they are -1 when rallying.
Aragorn disembarks with his Men of Renown, along with the Men of Befalas, Anfalas, and freed slaves.
At the gate, Trolls have been outmaneuvered.  The Orcs are not very motivated to charge in any more.
Even with a fresh Éored from Snowborne, the Rohirrim are looking thin.
Elfhelm is undaunted, and runs down more Haradrim.
But Wartburg's chariot seems unstoppable. 

Theodin has survived the Nazgûl, but can he stand up to the Mûmakil?
Imrahil's Swan Knights are charged by Orc and Troll, but hold their ground.  The Elite Gate Guards will in turn flank the Trolls.
Gondorian Cavalry are having a difficult time finishing off their Trolls.

At this time we ran out of time.  An enjoyable 5 hours of mayhem.  The game was decided in favor of the West.  Even if the Rohirrim were defeated, so were the Easterlings and most of the Orcs.  While the Haradrim were surrounded.  The City wouldn't fall, and more forces would soon sally forth.