Wednesday, October 28, 2020

A Turmoil of Turks

A Headless Body Production
Venue: A Completely Different Undisclosed Basement
Playing a game for the camera
Phil running Thematic Byzantine
John Doe running Ottoman Turk
Game System:
L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side.

Friday evening, time to head to the basement for some miniature action.

Same forces as two weeks ago, described in, An Objurgate of Ottomans, But played on a different board with a different set of figures.

I have done over 200 of these battle reports, but this is the first one where none of the figures are mine, and I didn't take the pictures. So I have minimal memory of the game, and the images are not helping much.

So it is just like your perspective, as the reader, then me as the writer.

It was weird just looking at the first picture. I don't even know which side of the board I am on. Turns out I am at the top, when normally I am at the bottom. At least the lists are the same as last week, so I have one frame of reference to draw on.

The Forces:
Ottomans (list 251)
Commanders, 2 Brilliant and one Competent
6 Sipahis, Heavy Cavalry Bow
2 Syrians, Heavy Cavalry Impact
4 Akinji, Light Cavalry Bow
2 Bedouins, Light Cavalry, Impact
4 Janissaries, Medium swordsmen, Bow, Elite
2 Azab Bowmen
1 Light Infantry, Bow
Breakpoint of 21

Thematic Byzantine (list 127)
Commanded by Nikephoros (the younger), Brilliant, Pumaphoros, also Brilliant, and Adidasphoros, the Ordinary, and somewhat Unreliable.
12 Thematic Kataphractoi, Medium Cavalry, Impact and Bow
4 Cursors and Alans, Light Cavalry, Bow
3 Skutatoi, Heavy Spearmen, Missile Support, Mediocre
2 Light Infantry, Bow
2 Light Infantry, Sling
1 Light Infantry, Javelin
Breakpoint of 25 

The Board:
The Ottomans win the initiative and elect to attack in the plains. The terrain is heavy with 3 fields, a plantation and a hill. 

The Ottomans have two identical cavalry commands, each with 4 heavies and 3 lights, led by a brilliant commander deployed heavily on their left. Their Janissary command is not to be seen.

The Byzantine cavalry commands fit perfectly in the 13 UD gap between the fields. LC is positioned for screening, LI in the fields.
The view from the Ottoman left
Some forgotten troops missed their wake up and were late arriving. I'm just labeling the new figures as I had already annotated the deployment photo above, and did want to do it again.

Turn 1:

The Byzantines decline the delay of game penalty. The Ottomans move out.
Pretty much just a straight line. Light Horse running around the Byzantine right flank.

The Byzantines move out, but hold to the fields edge and keep their distance from the Turk foot bow. As Medium Cavalry (ordinary) they are pretty vulnerable to bowfire.

Off of the right edge of the picture, Alan Light Cavalry race up the edge. If they can get by the Jannisaries, the Turkish camp is vulnerable.

The view from the Byzantine side of the board.

Turn 2:

Ambushes are all revealed. Foot bow loose arrows, and the Byzantine horses begin to fall.

Turk light horse find Psiloi in the fields. Their heavy horse take a position to flank Byzantine cavalry should they decide to charge out.

The Byzantines have the advantage with missiles, as all of the Kataphractoi have them, while the Turks have only 6 heavy cavalry that is bow armed. But the Byzantines also all have lances, while the Turks have just two. 

But the Turks have 6 foot bow units, and they can ruin the day of medium cavalry.

Once in range, the Byzantine cavalry have only one choice, and that is to charge, even though it is up hill. They could have withdrawn, but that would just give the Janissaries a chance to run them down, shooting them in the back.

Fortune favored the fools. The Janissaries have two units run down, including their commander.

The view from the Byzantine left. Half of their cavalry is disordered, but the position on the hill is secured.

Turn 3:

The last Janissary on the is not going down without a fight, and destroys a Thematic Troop.

Ignore the red XX on the hill, that is an error. 

The Turks are being patient. Their Azab foot archers are safe in the field, they just need to clear the Psiloi from the field, and turn the Byzantine flank.

Ignore the dice, the score is 10 out of 21 for the Turks and 6 out of 25 for the Byzantines

The Byzantines commit.

Charges down the line. In the open area, Turks resist the charges, tieing 2, winning 1, and lose the fourth. 

So the Byzantines have penetrated the Turkish line, but their forces are now fighting just mounted on mounted where the Turks have the armor advantage.

A Janissary is killed on the hill in a similar manner, while the last one is taken in the flank and rear.

In the field on the Byzantine right, Psiloi charge Turk Heavy Cavalry, then a Thematic Cavalry flanks the unit as well. 

Casualties climb rapidly. 17 to 13 in favor of the Byzantines.

It was at this time Dave realize that he was not counting the dead correctly, and was much closer (1) to demoralization then he thought.

Turn 5:

In the field, a desultory charge by Bedouins into the Psiloi flank. But to no effect. But the Byzantine Thematic Cavalry in the field is ridden down by a Sipahis flank charge.

An Azab is destroyed in the field, another picked up a missile hit. The last Janissary is destroyed. Taking the Turks over their demoralization points for a Byzantine win.
The view from the hill.

So what was different from this fight from the last game, An Objurgate of Ottomans, where the Ottomans thoroughly trashed the Byzantines?

In short, the terrain, and how it was played.

Last game:

The Byzantine Front has a field on their left
While on their right the Ottomans have a Coastal, a village and a field on their left.
Today's game also has the Byzantine flanks covered by a field, and the Ottomans have a hill and and field on their right flank.

It looks pretty similar, but there are some differences that were crucial.

First, the force projection of the Janissaries. In the first game, they were in a field, some 9-13 UD's from the edge, with bowfire range, they were projecting up to 17 UD's from the edge, almost to the center of the board.

In this game, they were on the Hill, some 8-9 UD's in, and could project 13 UD's with bowfire. The Field next to them had a pair of Azabs, also bowmen, which project to the center of the board if need be. 

But a gentle hill is not a field bordered by a village, which is Difficult terrain. And while the hill still provides a +1 in combat with a height advantage, it is not like a field, where Cavalry are -2 and lose impact. In short, the Janissaries were immune to cavalry in the first game, while they were merely a difficult problem in this game. And a couple of favorable die rolls were all that was required to take them out.

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