Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Ancient Foes, Byzantines vs Arab

A Headless Body Production
Location: Lancaster Host Convention Center
Event:      Cold Wars 2108
Venue:     L'Art de la Guerre 15mm Team Event, Round 1.
Players:   Phil Gardocki, Steve Turn Umayyad Arab
                 The Brothers Ohtonen, Nikephorian Byzantine
Game:      L'Art de la Guerre, 300 points
Description: A battle report between Byzantines vs Arabs

Arab forces:
Brilliant Generals Abdul bin Hummus and Caliph Barack bin Obama (no relation).  Ordinary General Baba bin Ganoush the Unreliable, and Darryl. 

Forces include:
14 Heavy Cavalry, impact, 4 elite.
2   Light Cavalry, impact
9   Heavy Spearmen, mediocre
4   Bowmen
5   Light Infantry, Bow
3   Tibetan Cataphracts
Breakpoint 37

Nikiphoros the First didn't get to be alive, the Byzantine Emperor, and 50 by giving away information.  You'll just have to figure it out.

The Byzantines won the initiative toss and elected to attack in the plains.   Steve and I agreed that terrain was not our friend, and picked a plain hill and a road in addition to our mandatory field.  I don't recall the picks of the Byzantines, but their terrain seemed to not be present in the photos, so I assume it didn't fit, or got booted by 6's.

Turn 1 

The Byzantine right side corps.  4 excellent cavalry supported with light cavalry off camera.

The two center corps of Byzantines.  A mix of spearmen, swordsmen, missiles, artillery, and cataphracts.
Was that Barrista's?  It's early, where is the coffee?
On the Byzantine left, more Cavalry, but no lights.
My 15mm ambush markers didn't get packed, so I am making due with a substitution of desert rocks that I did pack.

Our center force consists of 12 elements, spearmen and cataphracts.  Almost a perfect match for the Byzantine main battle-line.
Does everyone else think the word battleline is one word?  My spell checkers disagree, and so apparently does Merriam Webster.
Our right flank has 7 heavy cavalry and supporting forces.
Turn 1:

The Byzantines advance their forces with some trepidation.  I think they also had command point problems.

Some of their foot advanced, but not all. 

Their left side cavalry didn't even keep up with their advancing infantry.

Our ambush on the hill is revealed.  4 heavy cavalry, which run off the probing Byzantine lights.  Arab bowmen take position on the hill and loose arrows.
Byzantine artillery is in range.  That was stupid of me.  I know lights are supposed to suck up missile fire, but I didn't really need that 20mm this turn.
The right flank Arab horse advances to charge reach.
Turn 2:
It looks like I missed a set of pictures of the Byzantine move and shoot phase.  We will pick up the game at the bottom of the 2nd.

I also have to add, I forgot to pack my dead unit markers.  This will make the status of the army breakpoints difficult. 

Arab horse continue to pursue the Byzantine lights.  The Byzantine cavalry decides it does not wish to tangle with the Arab cavalry and several Tagmata's march to the center, passing Byzantine infantry marching to the right side of the field.

Both the Arab infantry and the left side Byzantine infantry rush forward.
Arab Horse attempt to turn the flank of the Byzantine line. 
While 3 Arab horse units make sure this Tagmata will not see any action this game.
Turn 3:
The Byzantine Medium Horse has been run off the board, but at what cost?  In the end only one of the three Arab units ever got back into the fight.

Allowing the Byzantines to gain local superiority where before the Arabs had 7-5 edge.
The Byzantine main battle-line has approached to charge reach.
On the left there is much maneuvering going on.  Byzantine Light Horse is trying to avoid being run off the board.  Byzantine spear are expanding to face Arab horse.  Archers are shooting it out. 
Turn 4:
The Byzantines take advantage of their numbers to get in a flank charge.   Supporting their Cataphracts the Varangians attack the supporting Arab horse.  But dice are not favorable here, and it is the Varangians that take the hits, while the flanked Arab horse holds.

Why didn't the Arab foot charge at the bottom of the 3rd?  I cannot say.  The Cataphracts are holding back because of the spear on horse interactions, and looking for a resolution on the flank action.

The Byzantines have brought up their cavalry to challenge the Arab main battle-line, which has picked up a lot of hits from the Psiloi skirmishers and artillery.

The Byzantine Light Horse has pulled an escape.  But a lack of command points is preventing both sides from doing what they need to do on this flank.

Back on the Arab right flank.  A fresh Arab horse is brought into the battle.  Both sides lose a cavalry unit.

The Tibetans charge in with with their Cataphracts. One picks up flanking support position, enforcing a tie result of what would otherwise have been another Arab loss.

The Cataphracts go after the Skutatatoi.  One "Skut" takes two hits, the other is a tie.  Arab spear charge in sync with the Cats, destroying the Artillery.

Because, why not?  Spearmen charge the Byzantine horse, who don't evade.  The result is a tie.  Time for a grinding battle of numbers vs. quality.
Turn 5:

The Arab flank fight is devolving down to a two on two fight.  The Nikephorian Cataphracts turn the flank of their opponents and kill them, then pursue into the Tibetan Cataphracts. 
The remaining Tibetan Cataphracts have a pair of wins, destroying their opponents in the same turn.  The remaining Byzantine Skutatatoi are well and truly flanked.
Not liking the initial results of being charged by spear, the Byzantine horse break off.  Once again the Arab foot are under ballista fire.
Turn 6:

Time was called here.  I don't recall the exact number.  I think the Arabs had the barest of a winning draw.

Not having my dead markers really makes it hard to tell the action here.  But also, the larger table size for 300 points makes it hard to get the over view as well.  If you zoom out, the figures become indistinct, if you zoom in, you only get the regional view.

So what went wrong here?  The Arab plan here was to overwhelm the flanks, then push the center.  On both flanks there was a failure here.  On the Arab left flank, the Byzantines redeployed their infantry presenting a an unfavorable match up for the Arab horse.  So the Arab horse kept seeking for better position, and in the end, achieved it.  The Byzantine infantry was flanked, the camp was in jeopardy.  Another half hour and this could have been the game winner.

On the right flank, the Arabs ran off a distraction, but gave away its numerical advantage to do so, and the battle of that flank wound up being mutual destruction.

The center commands suffered from a bit of timidity.  This may be forgiven as the plan was to commit after the flank actions were concluded.  However, as soon as the Byzantines turned half their foot to redeploy, this command should have run across the board and engaged.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Contenders All

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   Havre De Grace Community Center, Maryland
Event:    Barrage's L'Art de la Guerre's Open Tournament, Round 1
Players: Phil Gardocki running Mithridatic
                  Bob Nedwich running Palmyran
Game System: L' Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points 

Big praises for H.A.W.K.s (Harford Area Weekly Kriegspielers) whose volunteers graciously shoe horned our tiny group into the spacious venue at the Havre De Grace Community Center.  Just kidding, the center is spacious, and we got our own room.  Not only did they provide ample space, they arraigned to bring in food as well. This year, the hot dogs were particularly well done.  Thank You!

The Forces:
The army of Pontus (south), led by the King Mithridates (the Great) VI, and his princes
Mithridates VIIa and Mithridates VIIb.
      2 Sarmations, Medium Cavalry Bow
      2 Scythians, Light Cavalry Bow
      2 Guard Cavalry, Heavy Cavalry, elite 
      2 More Light Cavalry, Light Cavalry Javelins
      2 Scythed Chariots
      2 Imitation Legionaries, Heavy Sword, Impact

      2 Thureophoroi, Heavy Spearmen
      2 Pikemen
      1 Light Infantry, Javelin
      1 Javelinmen

      2 Cataphracts, elite
      4 Armenian Light Cavalry, Bow

The Western Palmyran Expeditionary Force:
Queen Zenobia is a master of subtlety and obfuscation.  But her son is an idiot.  It wasn't enough that in their revolt against the Roman, they now have conquered all of the far-eastern lands, from the Aegean to the Nile river, he had to go north through the horrid mountains and antagonize  the vestiges of a once great kingdom of Pontus. He didn't even bother to keep it a secret.  Instagraming his intentions, and even stopping for a selfie while his army checked in at a Pontic weigh station.  

CNC Joash Brilliant
    4 x Cataphracts, elite
     1 x MC bow
     2 x LCam bow
     2 x LH bow
SubGen Jeremiah competent
     4 x HI sword, armored, impact, 1x missle support
     2 x LF bow
     1 x HC
SubGen Joab competent
     3 x MI sword, impact, missle support
     2 x LMI bow

Breakpoint ......21.
While all know that Mithridates VI (the Great), will live forever, his princeling sons vie for favor as the number 2 slot.

The Board:
Mithridates VI wins the initiative and elects to attack in the plains.   The defenders select 2 fields and a coastal area.  Pontus selects a hill and a gully.  After the dice have fallen, all the terrain was on the Pontic right, while the gully was filled in.

I almost came to Barrage with the Palmyrans.  This was the first 15mm ancients army I ever painted.  So this was very nearly a civil war.  As the day turned out, I think I would have been better served by the Palmyrans.

The Palmyrans deploy with a strong right wing, a solid middle and weak left.  Mithridates VI deployed with a strong center, a solid left, and an OK right.
On the Palmyran right is led by Lucius Julius Aurelius Septimius Vaballathus Athenodorus, and has the cream of Palmyran Cavalry.
The center is led by some Roman functionary gone native, taking the name Jeremiah.  And yes, the Legionaries have armor.

The left, more Roman troops, and what can only be some barbarian hillmen from the north.  They can't be Palmyran troops, as Palmyrans had uniforms.  Blue-green tunics and maroon trousers.  Their officers having a reversed combination.
Off course, after that rant on inaccurate figures, what do we have here?  A single Trapezitoi and a Hun on the same stand.  Thracians, Sassanid Persians, and wonder of wonders, actual Sarmations.
And it is unknown if Mithridates VI rode a chariot into combat, but he certainly didn't drive it.  (I later found the driver in the bottom of the box.)
And there is no way Mithridates VIIb would be leading Armenian Cataphracts.  His uncle, the King of Armenia might, but not him.  And according to the Wikipedia, Mithridates VII was a girl anyway.
 Turn 1:

The original plan was for the left to penetrate and turn the enemy flank.  But the Pontic horse is clearly out matched.  Now their plan is to not die.

The Pontic center outnumbers the Romans and should be able to win, as long as the Palmyran Cataphracts are kept busy.

Though only 2 Cataphracts are available to Mithridates VIIb, they looked well positioned. 
Palmyra advances with alacrity.

Their Cataphracts sliding left on the advance.
Which means the Pontic center will be impacting both Legions and Cataphracts.
The Roman Auxiliaries advance towards field.  
Turn 2:
Seeing an opportunity for a flank here, Mithridates VIIa advances to range.  He has totally forgotten his primary mission which is to survive.
The main Pontic infantry line advances as fast as allowed. 
I should not have made fun of the Palmyran bowmen. Their shots all find their targets.
Palmyran Cavalry and Camelry charge.  Mithridates VIIa orders no retreat!  They have camels, we have javelins.  And if the Cataphracts wish to charge, their flanks will have Pontic Guard Cavalry to contend with.
The ground rumbles as if the gods Hades and Mitra themselves were wrestling.  The Cataphracts hit home, and pull dual wins out of the dice cup.
On the right. The "Weak Command" of Auxiliaries have turned the Pontic flank.
The Palmyrans have 3 points towards their demoralization level of 21.
Mithridates have 7 points towards their demoralization level of 23.

Turn 3:

A brace Palmyran Light Cavalry units are routed, as well as their medium horse archers.  To the cost of one Pontic light horse and a couple of disorders.

The Scythed Chariots charge to cover the flanks of the Thureophoroi on the left, and the Imitation Legionnaires on the right.  In both cases the chariots are ineffective.  The Thureophoroi also are routed.  The Pontic main line of infantry is crumbling fast.
But there is a hole in the Palmyran line, and the camp is in sight.

On the Pontic left, these horsemen have had enough, and are running as fast as they can.
It looked like the Palmyran right flank was going to collapse, but the camel jockeys are showing their pluck.  Even if Mithridates's horsemen win the day here, they won't have enough power to influence the remaining battle.
The Pontic center is down to 3 main combatants, 2 are disordered.  Their flank is turned, but so too is the Roman line.  The Palmyran camp, which was in sight of the Pontic light horse, is suddenly free from jeopardy as the horsemen are dispersed by a rain of arrows.
The source of those arrows being the Palmyran foot archers. 
The Palmyrans have 6 points towards their demoralization level of 21.Mithridates have 22 points towards their demoralization level of 23.
Turn 4:

Trying desperately not to look bad in front of dad, VIIa recalls his surviving Sarmations.  He then takes command of his guardsmen and destroys the Roman Heavy Cavalry.

The main line infantry fight with no changes.  But the Roman Legionaries acting as flank guard pull a win.  Even though it's sword vs. supported, armored, elite, Cataphracts, and with a 6-1 die roll, the final result is 7-5.  The Cataphracts are disordered, and that is the last point.  It is a decisive win for the Palmyrans.

Final words.  I went into this event looking to have fun with an interesting army.  On the surface, the Mithridatic looks like fun.  It has a little of everything.  But that, I think is it's problem.  It has just a little.  This enforces early fragmentation and command control problems.  

The Pontic infantry block looks solid, 2 pike, 2 spear and 2 heavy sword.  Something to counter everything.  But the reverse is true as well.  A large, cohesive block will also find its weak points and defeat them, causing the remaining units to fight under sub-optimal conditions.