Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A Bedlam of Bedouins


A Headless Body Production
Venue: An Undisclosed Basement
Event: Preparation for Barrage!
Players: Phil Gardocki running Early Swiss
              Dennis Shorthouse running Ancient Bedouin
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side.

The Forces:
Ancient Bedouin
Commanders of uncertain quality and ambition
A whole lot of Medium Camels, Bow, Mediocre
6 Javelinmen
2 Medium Swordsmen
6 Light Infantry, Javelin
Breakpoint around 31

Swiss (list 220, Pre 1400AD)
The Swiss are commanded by Larry, the Brilliant, his brother Darrel, also Brilliant, and their other brother Darrel, the Ordinary, because mom made us bring him along...
4 Pike, Elite
10 Halberdiers, Medium Swordsmen, Pole-arm, Elite
2 Mounted Crossbowmen, Light Cavalry Crossbow
2 Stone Throwing Children, Light Infantry Javelin
6 Crossbowmen, Light Infantry, Crossbow
Breakpoint of 24

Conventions: When you see a word bubble "Ouch!", أوتش!, Autsch!, this implies a disorder from missiles. Letters in parenthesis represent some value change for the specific unit. For commanders it is s for strategist, b for Brilliant, c for Competent and o for Ordinary, u for unreliable. For troops it is e for Elite, and m for Mediocre. Other abbreviations, Hvy Heavy, XB Crossbow, LB, Longbow, Jav Javelin, 2HW 2 Handed Weapons, B Bow, Kn Knight, HKn Heavy Knight, HC Heavy Cavalry, Md Medium, Sgt Sergeants, LC Light Cavalry, Chr Chariot, Cat Cataphract, Pa Pavise, LI, Light Infantry, HG Hand Gun, FKn Foot Knight, Hvy Spear, Heavy Spearmen.

"XX" implies a unit killed in that location on that turn.

The Board:
The Swiss win the initiative and elect to defend in the mountains.  They select s 2 steep hills, a gully and a wood. The Bedouins select two brush.

Dennis Shorthouse is the proprietor of On Military Matters book serviceA delightful book store in Hopewell New Jersey that specializes in military books.


On the Bedouin right most of the terrain lay.  Some camels and some serious rustling of the trees.

Their center was some 8 units of foot

Their left, more camels, armed with bow.

Darrel takes the position on the left.  5 units of polearm and 2 kiels of pike.

Larry takes the right.  His flank secured by a pair of fortifications.

The third Swiss command, cannot be seen.

Turn 1:

Predictably, the Bedouins storm across the field.

All down the line.  On the field they out number the Swiss by more than 10 units.

Darrel makes some minor adjustments, recalling his lights to the hill

Larry does likewise.  Everything in the Bedouin army has a missile, and there is no percentages to shooting it out with them.

Turn 2:
The Bedouins continue their advance

The crossing of their brush is complete.

Camels ignore the terrain effects of brush.  For all purposes, it is clear terrain for them.

The missile exchange starts, and the Swiss are up 1!

Darrel calls for a general advance.  Staying back to be shot at is a losing proposition.

Larry also advances.  Arrows fly, but it's Mediocre shooters vs Elite receivers, and no hits are scored.

Turn 3:
More camels come up to shoot.

It is now the Swiss skirmishers that take a hit.

But if you put enough arrows in the sky, some are going to find their targets.

A massive charge down the line. 

One way to avoid hits is to charge so as to not be shot at.

Larry offers some less than comforting words.

Turn 4:
A Swiss skirmisher is dispersed.
This is not good.  They are racking up hits too fast.  As 8 of my units are lights.  I have to protect them as they represent  2/3'rds of my break point.
The Javelinmen return and throw javelins.

So too the camels. 

Swiss Polearms charge again, and roll a 5 for extended distance.  The Javelinmen roll a 1 for short and are caught while evading.

Another charge and two failed rallies.
Turn 5:
The Bedouin Medium Swordsmen commit.  One frontally on a halberdier, negating the ZOC he had covering the flank of another halberdier. 

The Bedouins are using their superior numbers to lure the Swiss out for flank charges.  They can lose all their foot and that only gets them half way to their break point.

A shortage of command points has the Bedouin commander only adjusting his lights.

It is now the turn of the Swiss to turn and flank charge the Bedouin foot.

Another charge on the center javelinmen has them fleeing again.  Meanwhile, Larry's pike are pinning down the camels.

This time the Bedouin Javelinmen run long. 

Turn 6:

Dust on the horizon!  Darrel's (remember Darrel?) flank march will arrive on turn 7!

With nought but lights on the hill, the Bedouins surge through the gap

While the Camels on their left "Exit the ZOC", avoiding the trap closing on them.

At this point we ran the final battles but called the game.

The score was like 8 to 5 in the Bedouins favor.  But neither of us was going to secure a victory in time time.

If there ever was a diametrically opposed set of armies, this is it.  Frontally, nothing the Bedouins have can defeat the Swiss frontally.  And nothing the Swiss have can catch the Bedouins except by good fortune.

Medium Camel, Mediocre charging Medium Sword, Pole-Arm, elite loses 88% of the time.  If the Camels manage to score a missile hit first on the Pole-Arm, they still lose 59% of the time.

The Bedouins can put out a massive amount of missile fire, but with the mediocre minus, while the Swiss have an elite plus.

The  odds of an ordinary shooter, without support, of scoring a hit on an elite unit, protection of 1 is 7 out of 36, or 19%.

The  odds of a mediocre shooter, without support, of scoring a hit on an elite unit, protection of 1 is 3 out of 36, or or 8%.

Even the Swiss crossbows are more ineffective due to counting the medium camels with a protection of 1.

Also, the Swiss are more maneuverable, due to 4 command points for 24 units vice 2 for 31 units.  

In short, this game was not going to come to a conclusion. 


  1. Great pics, as usual...how often does a mismatch that won't conclude occur in events?

  2. Not very often. I recall one a few years ago, late Swiss vs Timurid. Ended in a 5-2. Most games do get decided in under the 2.5 hour limit.