Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Separated by a Continent and 50 Years

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   On Military Matters Bookstore.  Owner Operator Dennis Shorthouse
Event:    Prep for Barrage 2019

Players: Phil Gardocki running Nikephorian
                  Dennis Shorthouse running Jurchen-Chin
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 200 points per side.
Theme: Prep for Barrage 2019 

The Forces:
Nikephorian Byzantine
Nikephoros, the Brilliant, Pumaphoros, the Brilliant and Adidasphoros, the ordinary.
      2 Cataphracts, elite
      2 Heavy cavalry impact, bow
      4 Petchnegs, Light Cavalry, Bow
      2 Varangians, Heavy swordsmen 2HW, Armor, Elite
      6 Skutatoi, ½ Heavy spearmen ½ Bowmen
      6 Light Infantry, Bows and Javelins
Breakpoint of 23

Jurchen-Chin, 2 Brilliants and one unreliable ordinary. 
The Jurchen-Chin later become the Manchu dynasty.  Their language is not readable by the author, and practiced battlefield obfuscation, you will have to pick apart the list from the chroniclers images.  

But the list has 4-12 medium and heavy cavalry impact bow, and 4-12 heavy cavalry, 1/2 bow and 1/2 impact. 
Break point 19

Dennis has a wonderful bookstore in Hopewell New Jersey, that he has been running for many decades.  Imagine going through a library that is nothing but military history.  If you don't think you knew him, he is a long time supporter of Historical Miniatures Gaming Society, and held the coveted #1 spot in the dealers area for over 20 years.  So if you have been to any of HMGS's events at the Lancaster Host, you probably have met Dennis at some time.

The Byzantines win the initiative and elect to attack in the plains.  The Jurchen-Chen select a fielded hill, a plantation and two fields.  The Byzantines a coastal area and a road. 

The Board:

A chance meeting along the Euphrates/Mudan river
The Jurchen right flank is what is expected.  The browner bases are elite forces.
While their left is more of the same.
And their third command, cannot be seen.
Further commentary, though not really relevant to the game, can be found here.

I am trying something new here.  A cavalry command, bolstered by Skutatoi
The center command, Varangians Kataphracts, and Skutatoi.

The Byzantine right is being held by Adidasphoros and 3 Skutatoi
Turn 1:
In the second mistake of the game, Pumaphoros surges forward.
Nikephoros advances, somewhat haltingly.
His snail like pace matched by Adidasphoros
Why was this a mistake?  See below.

Bottom of the 1st, and the Byzantines are already 4 points behind. 
This isn't just after hindsight 20/20 vision.  But every one of the enemy is on a horse and has a bow, and half are elite.  My lights are not screening anything, I just gave the Jurchen-Chin an opportunity to focus firepower, with predictable results.

The rest of the Manchu cavalry march in perfect lockstep.
From just behind the hill, an army begins to form.  It is the third command, all medium swordsmen, 1/2 bow, on a rough hill.
The Jurchen-Chin have 2 points towards their demoralization level of 19
The Byzantines have 6 points towards their demoralization level of 23

Turn 2:
The Petchnegs were known for both their audacity, and their timidity.  They tell Pumaphoros that he can shove off.
Nikephoros's main line steadily advances.

The Byzantines advance their ambush, but at a cost of not pulling back their Psiloi.
More focusing firepower.  3 Jurchen cavalry on the Skutatoi.  The sturdy foot holds, Time for the counter punch..

Arrows rain down the Byzantine line.  Luckily, not as bad as last turn.
Not retiring the Psiloi has consequences.  2 of them fall.
The Jurchen-Chin have 3 points towards their demoralization level of 19
The Byzantines have 11 points towards their demoralization level of 23

Turn 3:

The Tagmata charges, the Jurchen's feign flight. 
The Byzantines have turned the flank of the Jurchen 2nd command.  Now can they exploit that advantage.
Adidasphoros has no intention to go up the hill, and in theory, he can out shoot the Jurchen up there.  So far though, this is not working out.
The Skutatoi are surrounded.  And again, the Jurchen focus firepower on a separate unit of Byzantine foot.

And again.  A unit of Varangians is just run over.
The Jurchen 1/2 sword bow are not content to shoot it out on the hill and charge off of it.

The Jurchen-Chin have 5 points towards their demoralization level of 19
The Byzantines have 17 points towards their demoralization level of 23

Turn 4:
The tide begins to ebb, as the Byzantines begin to fully engage. 
But then falters.  Despite being elite and heavily armored, a kataphract is destroyed.

On the right, the Petchnegs catch and destroy a Manchu light horse. 
The Jurchen-Chin have 10 points towards their demoralization level of 19
The Byzantines have 18 points towards their demoralization level of 23

A Skutatoi falls, but so does a Jurchen heavy cavalry,  The remainder break off.
The second kataphract is destroyed.

Along with another Skutatoi and the last Varangian.  Giving the Jurchen-Chin the win 24 to 11.
What went wrong?  Just about everything.  Not properly assessing my opponents capabilities.  "Phoning in" an attack plan that was just destined to send troops piecemeal into combat against a much more mobile enemy.  Splitting my forces against a more mobile and cohesive enemy.  Even when the reality check hit on turn 1, I should have just hunkered down and solidified the line instead of trying to keep the initiative for little or no advantage. 

No comments:

Post a Comment