Thursday, August 4, 2022

Two Batches of Byzantines

A Headless Body Production

Venue: Lancaster County Convention Center.
Event: Historicon!
Tournament Theme: Dark Ages (I.E. Byzantines and friends, but mostly Byzantines)
Players: Phil Gardocki running Nikephorian Byzantine
               Cy Taylor running also wik Nikephorian Byzantine
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 25mm, 200 points per side.

The Forces:
Nikephorian Byzantine, aka, the Rebels (list 127)
Commanders of uncertain quality.
3 Tagmata, Kataphractoi, Heavy Cavalry Bow, Impact, Elite
3 Thematic, Kataphractoi, Medium Cavalry Bow, Impact
4 Prokoursatores, Light Cavalry, Bow
2 Varangians, Heavy Swordsmen, 2HW, Elite
5 Skutatoi, Heavy Spearmen, Support
2 Bowmen
1 Psiloi, Light Infantry, Bow

Breakpoint of 20 or 21, camp dependent

The Imperial Nikephorian Byzantine, aka, the "Empire" (list 127)
Commanded by the Sneaker brothers! The brilliant Nikephoros, the unequally brilliant Pumaphoros, and their ordinary and unreliable sibling, Adidiasphoros
4 Tagmata, Kataphractoi, Heavy Cavalry Bow, Impact, Elite
4 Prokoursatores, Light Cavalry, Bow
5 Varangians, Heavy Swordsmen, 2HW, one Elite
5 Skutatoi, ½ Heavy Spearmen ½ Bowmen
4 Psiloi, Light Infantry, Bows or Slings
Breakpoint of 22

Note: Any ambiguities, misrepresentations or out of context Monty Python references are intentional and should be considered part of the fun.


When you see a word bubble "Ouch!", or "Heus! or "痛い!", this implies a disorder from missiles. "XX" represents a recently routed unit. 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.

The Board:

The Nikephorians win the initiative and elect to attack in the plains. 

 Historicon! Where the events at other tables look so much more interesting than your own.

Imrahil musters the defenders of Minas Tirith to sweep the Pelennor of remaining foes from Mordor.


You know how you go through your photo library, annotating all the images for the battle report, with witty word bubbles and near Shakespeare like sentence diction, only to get to that one picture that just makes you think, "Whats wrong with this picture?"

So I'm writing this battle report, and working out Steve Ropers Rus list from the pictures. Easy enough, some cavalry, some spear, some axe, and then realize, when I get to the Rus's left corps, and they have more cavalry than the list allows. We are up to 6 Heavy Cavalry and 4 light horse. Far in excess to the 0-4 and zero for the Rus list. Rechecking my notes, and these are Cy Taylor's Byzantines!

What to do?

1) Fake it, they are one inch tall figures with photos taken from 4 feet away, who would know? Answer: enough.

2) Reset the images and start over. So this game starts with the Rus being magically converted to Byzantines...

On the ByzanRus left, 4 units of foot supported by some horse.

In the lee of the hill, a strong force of Spear/Varangian/Skutatoi stand ready.
On their left, a confused force of cavalry.
Not knowing what to expect, the Varangians adopt a refused left position
A force of Skutatoi, 1/2 spear 1/2 bow, defends the center.
Nikephoros takes the point of honor on the right.

Turn 1:

Arthur orders the charge,  Sir Robin's minstrels capering at double speed.  Pumaphoros desperately keeping up from behind.
The center Skuts have an advantage, they can shoot, their opposing Skuts cannot.
Nikephoros has a slight quality edge, but a strong advantage in lights.
The view from the back.
The rebel Byzantines advance their horse and arrows fly.
The Rebels advance cautiously.
Their 7 units of horse challenging Nikephoros's 8.

Turn 2:

Pumaphoros's Varangians advance to a merry little ditty.
Adidasphoros and Nikephoros form up their lines.
Off on the far flank, the light horse continue to maneuver.
John Cleese bemoans his lack of presence in this story.
The rebel right throws caution to the wins and charges off the Psiloi, colliding with the French. Volley after volley of chickens and vegetables ensue, leaving a unit of lights fleeing the field.
Lines of Skutatoi close to bow range.
The resulting arrow storm strikes at both sides.

Turn 3:

The French and the Knights that no longer say "Neet", conform on the surviving light horse, which promptly runs away.
Having many more archers than the rebels, the Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros orders a halt.

In one of those rare moments, a Thematic Cavalry is dispersed by bow fire alone.

His light horse charges both front and flank of their foes, and lose the impact.
The rebel general sees an opportunity and launches a charge.
The rebel center holds their ground.
They are out of sync with their Skutatoi, who advance to codpiece range.
Outnumbered but highly motivated, the Rebel horse charges, winning every contact.
The light horse battle goes very poorly for Nikephoros as well.

Turn 4:

The score at the Bridge of Destiny is 13 of 22 for the Byzantines, to 6 of 21 for the Rebels.
A Varangian unit charges off a light horse. But the Knights that no longer say "Neet", with their French allies, blow the spots off the dice, killing the rebel commander, and dispersing his bodyguard
Sir Robin, minstrels in tow, run down a group of Psiloi archers, but to no avail.
The Rebel charge was successful, but now the numbers begin turn the tide.

Turn 5:

With another Thematic Cavalry routed, Nikephoros's Tagmata find holes to exploit.
Another lucky dice off. This time in favor of the Rebels. A Varangian is routed by a Psiloi Archer.
Arthur and his knights are greatly diminished, facing a resolute foe.
Skutatoi clash! Wounded rebels vs Mediocre Empire. The results are mixed, but in Empires favor.
On the far right. Tagmata on both sides fall. Along with an Empire Skutatoi.
The score is now 17 of 21 for the Rebels.
To 18 of 22 for the Empire.

Turn 6:

Disordered, outnumbered, but with God on his side, Arthur charges.

He wins his personal battle, while a Psiloi disorders a light horse for 2 points.

After a lengthy battle, worthy of many sonates, and maybe even a Saga, Sir Robin disperses the weakly armored and poorly armed Psiloi. Note. 5 rounds, Heavy Sword 2HW against LMI Bowmen. +2 + 1 if they win verses + zero, 5 rounds...

But another point against the Rebels.

Another Empire Tagmata is routed, but so to an enemy light horse. The last point needed for the Empire!
Taking the score to 19 out of 22 for the Empire.
To 21 of 21 for the Rebels.  

So what went wrong?

Poor deployment.  I placed my Skutatoi in the center.  With the idea that with their bows, they could support the attacks of the Varangians on the left, and the cavalry on the right.  

This relegated the Varangians, my heaviest hitters,  to a flank guard role.  One they do not do so well as bow armed heavy spear.  As a result, Cy was able to peel one off, and only a lucky 6-1 on the second round saved it.  He destroyed another, a third, ("Sir Robin"), was distracted by a Psiloi bowman, leaving just two, and by then they were disordered, for their alpha charge.  

On the far right, LC Bow on LC Bow.  I can't say my horse did anything wrong, except lose almost every dice off.  Having Javelin armed lights would be better, but they are not available for the list.