Monday, March 16, 2020

Albanians, Assemble

A Headless Body Production
Venue:   A Disclosed Location
Event:   Missing Cold Wars 
Player : Phil Gardocki
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side.

Since my last posting, there has been some interest with the Albanians.  I received two phone calls on the day of posting.  One opponent wanted to fight them, the other wanted to fight with them.  I hadn't cleaned up the table yet, so another fight was in order.  Besides, I thought of the catchy title, and had to find a use for it :)

The Forces:
Commanded by George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, the Strategist, James May, the Competent, and Jeremy Clarkson, the Ordinary and Unreliable.  All commanders are Included, saving 9 points, and one is unreliable, for a total of 12 points saved.
16 Horsemen, Light Cavalry, Javelin, 6 elite
24 Light Infantry, various weapons
Breakpoint of 40
Nikephorous the younger, Brilliant, Pumaphorous, also Brilliant, and Adidasphorous, Ordinary

8 Tagmata, Heavy Cavalry, Impact, Bow, Elite
1 Huns, Light Cavalry, Bow
1 Trapezitoi, Light Cavalry Javelin
5 Skutatatoi, 1/2 Heavy Spearmen, 1/2 Bowmen
2 Psiloi, Light Infantry, Bow and Javelin
Breakpoint of18

The Board:
The Byzantines won the initiative and elected to defend in the plains.  The alternative was to attack in the mountains, as that is the only terrain available to the Albanians. 

The battle was halted to allow Kat Kong to pass through.
Adidasphorous takes the right side battle anchored to a plantation, with the Skutatoi.
Center and Left are taken by Nikephorous and Pumaphorous
 The center is dominated by a field covered hill.

Clarkson takes the left flank.
James May, the center.
Skanderbeg's horsemen on the right.
 Turn 1:
Out of hiding is a mass of Albanians with crossbow.
They race forward to occupy the plantation.

James May's troops invest the hill.
Skanderbeg spreads out on the right.
Byzantine Psiloi challenge the Albanians for the Plantation.
Byzantine Skutatoi advance and loose arrows.
While the Kataphractoi spread out to avoid encirclement. 
Turn 2:
Crossbowmen advance and take aim.
Players of other game systems complain about the flat terrain of ancients players.  And this is why it is flat.  We have to play on our terrain, everyone else has to maneuver around theirs.

Bowmen advance and loose arrows with some effect.
Some bowmen take the hill.
Javelins and arrows are traded on the right.
Byzantines largely hold and continue the volleys.  They have no need to close contact.
Kataphracts manage to enfilade the Albanian horsemen and trap one.
The remaining Tagmata give chase to the evading Albanian horsemen.
This game is turning out quite different from the Albanian verses Alexander the Great game of yesterday.  The Byzantines have more cavalry than Alexander did, and the Skutatoi can reach the Albanian lights with bows, and need not try to chase them down.

The Albanians have 9 points towards their breakpoint of 40
The Byzantines have 3 points towards his breakpoint of 18

 Turn 3:
Clarkson has an overwhelming advantage in numbers here, but lacks the command points to use them.
The entire front row of Albanian shooters are disordered, and so are recalled and replaced by the second rank.  The Skutatoi have found their distance and just keep shooting.
The Byzantines are very likely to run the Albanians off of the table, so Skanderbeg gets as many away as possible.
The rest of the horsemen return to the line and throw javelins.
I missed taking pictures of the Byzantine turn, so we are going to have to pick up the game at the top of the fourth.

Right here.
A visit to the "Tree of Woe"  The Byzantines have 3 points towards their break point.  The Albanians 12.
The Psiloi vacate the Plantation, but a shortage of command points is preventing the Albanians from capitalizing on it.
His flank covered, Nikephorous begins to circumnavigate the hill.  Skanderbeg spends his time trying to extricate his exposed horsemen from being run off.
He is focused on getting around the flank of the Kataphractoi.  They charge the Huns in masse, but the Huns prowess in hand to hand proves unequaled.
We will be making regular visits to the Tree of Woe.  The score is 14-1
Turn 5:
On the left, the Albanians look like they are getting their act together.
On the center hill, bowmen continue to harass the Byzantine lines.
Skanderbeg saw an opportunity to attack the flank of the Tagmata, previously disordered by javelins.  There is a charge both front and flank, but the Kataphractoi are both elite, armored, and supported, and run down their tormentors.

Nikephoros pulls away from the hill, to more focus on finishing off Skanderbeg's horsemen.
Pumaphorous chases a number of horsemen off of the edge of the board.
The score is 16-4
The score is 18-8

Turn 5:
The Albanians are taking a thumping, but are still a long way away from their breakpoint of 40.

Command control problems.  Clarkson can either try to bring up more troops, or, he get out of his own way.
The Albanian center is mostly disordered.
Nikephorous pauses to reorder his lines.  He can do that and still shoot.
The same with Pumaphorous
The score is 24-8
Put another way, the Albanians are just over the half way point, while the Byzantines are just under.

Turn 6:

All take cover as Kat Kong returns.
The Albanians keep bringing up Javelinmen to fight, and the Byzantines keep disordering them with bow fire.
Jeremy Clarkson's guards take a hit.
The Skuts split up their battleline, each covering a portion of the line.
The Kataphrats are now free to circle around, and trap enough Albanians to win.
The score is 28-8
Turn 7:

Clarkson manages to pull his horsemen out of bow reach.  But the Skutatoi have a target rich environment.
The Kataphractoi catch another horsemen and with desultory ease, run them down.
The last Psiloi is destroyed., and most of the Skutatoi are disordered.
At this point I started running out of green, single hit markers.  Since no unit in the Albanian army can take two hits without being destroyed, any marker is a single hit.
A disadvantage of the Albanians, is they can NEVER, take a fortified camp.

Superior bowfire begins to clear the hill.  Many Albanian archers are now in the jaws of the Byzantine trap.
Two brave horsemen nip at the heels of the Byzantine Tagmata.  Their numbers are now matched by the Kataphracts.
But the score is still close, 29-13.
Turn 7:
The clock is winding down.  Can the Byzantines collect 11 points for the win?

The Albanian left is a fragmented mess.  I think the term is "Combat Ineffective"  Also, they are unlikely to destroy any Skutatoi, and so cannot get any more points here.
The Tagmata are still picking up hits from missile fire.  But they only have to touch the Light Infantry to destroy them.
The last organized Albanian horse have decided to retire.
Somewhere off panel, the Albanian camp has been taken.
As the clock runs down, the score is 39-13. A winning draw for the Byzantines
So what went wrong with the Albanians?  One problem was the command control issues on the left flank.  The command started broken up in two parts, and rapidly became 4, then 5.  This was just too much for an ordinary commander to deal with.

Another problem is the Albanians lack the ability to "Seal the Deal."  And pick off enemy wounded.  Half the Byzantines on board are disordered, but were in no real danger of being eliminated.  Ditto for the Albanians, but everyone of them was a single point away from being destroyed.


  1. Nice write up! What scale are the minatures?

  2. Thanks. Thinking about picking up L'Art de Guerre. Looks interesting.

  3. For now, you would have to download the PDF of the rules. 5 euros. They are working on V4.0, and sold out of 3.0.

  4. What about the 4 Heavy Knights in the list, or does that go against the philosophy behind the army

  5. Yes, there are Knights and Heavy Swordsmen available to the list, but as you observed, the main concept here is to maximize the breakpoint, and to see if the army is viable in that condition.