Thursday, December 12, 2019

King Arthur on Crusade, Part 2

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   Ferrell Fire Company Hall, Monroeville, NJ   
Event:    Kozcon 2019
Players: Phil Gardocki running Nikephorian
               Kevin Swanson, Feudal Hungarians
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 200 points per side.
Scale: 25mm

KozCon is held in memory of our good friend and avid gamer Dave Kozlow who passed away in 2012.  If you've ever had the opportunity to play in one of his many games at HMGS events you know that he was not only a great person but also a notable credit to our hobby.  In light of Dave's five year battle with cancer ALL proceeds from KozCon are donated to the American Cancer Society.

Kevin and I have been across the table a number of times in the last few years.  Mostly in the comfort of Walt's Mancave.  So far, my total number of victories against him is exactly 1.  This is not surprising.  Kevin is a better player.  He plays more often, and it shows.  His ranking world wide is 140 out of 1500, while mine is 732.  23 and 140 respectively in the US.  I have no doubt that my dreams of crowning glory were going to be trampled underneath the impetuous knights of his Hungarians.

The Forces:
Nikephorian Byzantine
Nikephoros, the Brilliant, Adidasphoros, the Brilliant and Pumaphoros, the ordinary, and somewhat unreliable.
      4 Thematic Kataphractoi, Medium Cavalry Impact
      4 Petchnegs, Light Cavalry, Bow
      1 Turkomons, Light Cavalry, Bow, Elite
      2 Varangians, Heavy Swordsmen 2HW, Armor, Elite
      8 Skutatoi, ½ Heavy Spearmen ½ Bowmen
      4 Light Infantry, Bows and Javelins
Breakpoint of 24

Feudal Hungarians
     6 Nobles, Heavy cavalry impetuous,Elite      
     6 Szekelers, Medium cavalry bow, Elite      
     6 Horse Archers, Light cavalry bow             
     2 Medium swordsmen           
     2 Bowmen
Breakpoint of 22?

The Board:
The Byzantines win the initiative and elect to defend in the plains.  They pick a field, a fielded hill, a gully and a coastal.  The Hungarians took a road and a field.

The Deployment:
The Hungarian right,six units of horse, supported by foot archers.

The center is pretty much the same, six horse, two footmen with swords.

Defending the camp seems to be Medium Swordsmen.  and more of the same.

That's 22 units plus the ambush.
One note, Kevin's army is mounted for another game system.  Light horse is represented by a single horse on a stand, while the heavier troops are represented by 2 horsemen on a stand.

The Byzantines have a fielded hill in the center of the board, and the River Raba on the right.  I expected Kevin to go for a strong right punch, and set up to receive it.  But Kevin was not fooled by the terrain layout, and set up evenly across the board.  His superior mobility will allow him to adapt to any deployment of the Byzantines.
Compressed on the far left is Pumaphoros's command consisting mainly of 4 Skutatoi.

Nikephoros deploys all the way to the hill. 

Ambush markers provided by John Cleese reprising his role as the Black Knight, both before and after his encounter with Arthur.
The Varangian Guards will be played by King Arthur and his knights.  Including Sir Robin and his minstrels.

And where is Adidasphoros, and his cavalry?

Turn 1:

The Hungarian right flank has an unreliable General, and after seeing he is against the cream of the Byzantine Empire, he decides to ask for more.

The Hungarian center streams across the board.

As does the Hungarian left.

An overall view of the board.

Pumaphoros has an abundance of command points and extends twice and advances.
Nikephoros line leaves the hill.  He sends one Skutatoi to help with the Ambushes to prevent a flanking attack.
From the ambush, nought but crickets.
Turn 2:
The Hungarian indecision lasts but a turn and then they are off.
The Hungarian center and right veer off to their left.

Ambushes are revealed.  Psiloi with javelins and bows.
There is dust on the horizon.  Adidasphoros's cavalry have arrived!
The Croats are good shots.

Nikephoros tidies up his line. 
A reminder that the hill has a field on it.  Not including a higher ground bonus, the cavalry is a -2 when fighting there.
The Hungarians have 3 points towards their demoralization level of 22
The Byzantines have 3 points towards their demoralization level of 24

Turn 3:

The Hungarians try to adapt to the flank march but there are command control problems.  Two of the cavalry are impetuous, which means most maneuvers are difficult.
The same problem exist for both center and left commands.  They don't want to charge too early into spearmen, and since every move but straight forward is two command points, they don't have enough for the adjustments needed to exploit the relatively weak Byzantine right flank.
Facing formed foot shooters on the hill is more than the Szekelers bargained for, and they withdraw out of range.
Adidasphoros arrives.  Pumophoros lines his Skutatoi for a hammer and anvil attack.

Nikephoros is not used to be in the subservient role of just supporting his weaker brother.

The Hungarians have 5 points towards their demoralization level of 22
The Byzantines have 4 points towards their demoralization level of 24

Turn 4:
The Hungarian right line fragments. Their Nobles flee, while their horse archers are offered up as a sacrifice.
Their center cavalry likewise withdraws, leaving their lights as harassment.
The Skutatoi on the hill is wounded, and so are some of it's supports.
Leading from the front, Adidasphoros orders charges, and they don't all go the way he planned. 
One Petchneg is destroyed, even though it had support. Adidasphoros's personal cavalry attacks with +5 against +1, and fails to destroy his opponent.

Nikephoros is content to let arrows do the talking.
Several Hungarian Light's are disordered.  With them out of the way the real work can begin.
The Hungarians have 9 points towards their demoralization level of 22
The Byzantines have 6 points towards their demoralization level of 24

Turn 5:

A trade off here.  A Petchneg for a Hungarian Horse archer.
The Hungarian right flank is now exposed to massive bowfire, with cavalry running in their rear.
Nikephoros continues to wheel, forcing the Hungarians back.
Nikephoros takes a position on the hill to survey the battle.
The Turkomons sneak up behind the Hungarian Light Horse, trapping both of them.  Skutatoi charge them both, destroying one, disordering the other. 
Adidasphoros had an opportunity to also capture another Medium cavalry, but only had enough command points for one attack or the other.
Nikephoros splits his line into maneuver elements.  Each one covering the flank of the other, but also poised to surround separate Hungarian units.
Hungarian archery is focused on the Psiloi on the hill, which so far has avoided any damage.
The Hungarian Nobles look upon the splitting of the Byzantine line with considerable interest.  There will be opportunities to exploit here.

The Hungarians have 17 points towards their demoralization level of 22
The Byzantines have 7 points towards their demoralization level of 24

Turn 6:

Another Hungarian horse archer down

It's now a desperate situation, requiring desperate measures.  A Szekeler charge supported by Hungarian Nobles attacks Arthur's Varangians.  The other Byzantine maneuver groups are screened by Szekeler cavalry.

Hungarian horse archers find a hole in the hill defenses and now are behind the Byzantine line.

The Byzantines continue to methodically take apart the Hungarian right.  Only one Szekelers unit remains.  The Byzantines haven't charge it as it will simply skedaddle off. 
This is kind of inexplicable.  The Hungarians have had two turns to get him out of there.  He is ZOC'd, but also Medium Cavalry Bow, so it's only a single command point
Arthur's Varangians, are now joined by Nikephoros II, put a wailing on the Szekelers to their front.  Their flank is covered by the ZOC of a very damaged Skutatoi, so the Hungarian Nobles cannot turn to hit them.

Off on the bottom of the picture, the disordered Psiloi (javelin) turns and charges the Szekelers on the hill.  Both chose dishonor and flee the board.
Even disordered, the Light Infantry is 0, +1 for Javelin, + 1 for higher ground, +1 attacking flank or rear and -1 for disordered for a net +2.
The Szekelers are 0, -2 for field for -2.  If the Psiloi rolls one under the the Szekelers, the Szekelers will still be destroyed, with it's rout taking out its friend.  So, from a strategic point of view, this was the correct choice as the Hungarians are only about 5 points from breaking.

The Hungarians have 18 points towards their demoralization level of 22
The Byzantines have 7 points towards their demoralization level of 24
Note that the score is almost unchanged from turn 6.  The difference is some of the Hungarian cavalry have multiple hits, and two are now off board, and not able to influence the game.

Turn 7:
One take away here is that things take longer than you think they should.   The flank march arrived on turn 3, but cannot actually charge anyone till turn 4.  Here it is 3 turns later, and while the flank march is victorious, the game is still going on.  The second take away is even with a huge strategic advantage, tactics matter.  

This Szekelers is still not fleeing.  I think it is being offered as a sacrifice to tie up the line.

The Vlachs position themselves to defend the camp, whose ramparts look especially intimidating. 
I don't seem to have any relevant shots of the final turn.  This Szekeler is surrounded, trapped and killed.
As is this one.  It's rout takes it through it's compatriot, which also routs.
The Hungarians have 22 points towards their demoralization level of 22
The Byzantines have 8 points towards their demoralization level of 24

So what went right.
The flank march went off on schedule, but that is a matter of luck.
The flank march is huge.  9 units.  So it does a good job of sweeping the board.  But if the opponent is ready for it, it can compress, with plentiful lights screening the vulnerable lancers.

The Byzantine line troops kept their cohesion for most of the game, and able to constantly shoot at their opponents.

I didn't lose my lights needlessly due to the common maneuver of getting 1mm in their rear, preventing an evade. 

The fielded hill is becoming a favorite of mine.  Light Infantry is tough to remove from it.  It offers ambush opportunities. 

What went wrong?  The hill battle was too close.  The Hungarians were able to focus a fair amount of archery on the defenders and only a bit of luck, and a lot of command points spent rallying, kept the Byzantines on the hill, preventing the Hungarians from sweeping the right flank.  This would turn out to be a failure in the next game, leading to a defeat of the Byzantines.  I posted that battle early, as it was for the championship of the day, titled, "The Last Crusade".

1 comment: