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.

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