Thursday, February 23, 2023

An Auxeses of Axums

A Headless Body Production

Venue: Freedom Hall, aka the Crestwood Community Center, NJ
Event: LeeCon
Players: Phil Gardocki running Nikephorian
               Jeff Wiltrout running the Kingdom of Axum
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side.

The Forces
The Kingdom of Axum (list 114)
Commanded by Gemaneh, the Brilliant, Nesanet, the Ordinary and Bekhit, an Ordinary Ally
2 Horsemen, Lighte Cavalry, Javelin
6 Blemye Camels, Medium Camelry
1 African Elephant, Mediocre
2 Guardsmen, Medium Swordsmen, Impact, Elite
10 Warriors, Medium swordsmen, Impetuous
4 Bowmen
4 Light Infantry, Bow
2 Light Infantry, Javelins
Breakpoint 31

Nikephorian Byzantine(list 127)
Commanded by the Sneaker brothers! The brilliant Nikephoros, the unequally brilliant Adidiasphoros, and their ordinary sibling, Pumaphoros
6 Tagmata, Heavy Cavalry Bow, Impact, Elite
5 Petchnegs and Prokoursatores, Light Cavalry, Bow
2 Varangian Mercenaries, Heavy Swordsmen, 2HW
2 Varangian Guardsmen, Heavy Swordsmen, Armor, 2HW, Elite
2 Skutatoi, ½ Heavy Spearmen, Bowmen
5 Psiloi, Light Infantry, Bows, Javelins, Incendiaries.
Breakpoint of 22

Display Conventions: When you see a jagged word bubble for "Ouch" in Greek, "Ωχ!", or in Ethiopian, "ተጐነጐነም!",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 Situation: The Byzantines win the initiative and elect to attack in the plains.

Jeff and I ran into each other at Sandy's Cozy Cafe in Lakehurst that morning. A charming eatery about 10 miles from the venue, and quite a surprise to both of us.

Even more of a surprise was we were now sitting across from each other for the championship round of this tournament. Now I wish I had paid more attention to him describing his army over my Eggs Benedict. "Blah, Blah, Blemyes", "Blah, Blah, Elephant"...

Also of note, Jeff and his daughter created the camp's that I use. He was selling them at the flea market when Historicon was in Fredericksburg, and I needed a camp in order to play that new game, L' Art de la Guerre. The Camp has 3 parts, and can be sized from 120x40mm, as shown below, to 160x120 if need be.

As a stratagem, I only use the smallest camp. There is no sense making an unfortified camp any bigger, as that would make it closer to marauding enemy troops.

As a courtesy, Jeff gave me his list to take with me, so I have no excuse for getting anything wrong describing his troops.

Not that I won't, I'll just have no excuse....


On their right, behind a convenient field, Nesanet, the ordinary, is commanding a force of 10 units, 6 impetuous foot.
Behind the hill, Gemaneh, the Strategist, has a large force of foot, mounted and elephant.
Their allied command, led by Bekhit, has 6 troops of Camelry.

Wait, 31 units? In an army that has both Camels AND Elephants? Holy Crap!

There is a reason the Jeff is sitting in the #1 seat.

On the Byzantine left, is Pumaphoros, hiding in the gully. The Pink Lady* is standing by.
Nikephoros takes the center with his Tagmata.
Adidiasphoros takes the right. With 5 units of Light Infantry, in a very convenient field, I expect to be able to hold the right for quite some time.

Turn 1:

Despite the Axum numerical edge, they have a large hanging flank. Pumaphoros will try to take advantage of it.
Nikephoros doesn't have a lot of choices, and none of them good. Between rough terrain, or a hill with an elephant.

But the Tagmata does have bow. I can shoot until the enemy decides to emerge from the field, or come off the hill.

The Byzantine foot command advances on the double.
The Axums advance to long range bow and loose arrows to good effect.
Their remaining foot advance past the crest of the hill
The Blemye camels split up. Half to attempt to run around the Byzantine right flank. The other half, maybe to go after the Byzantine mounted command?

Turn 2:

Nikephoros sees an opportunity for a quick kill. Two of his Kataphractoi charge a bowman out of the field, and a swordsmen not quite on the hill.

Leading his charge, Nikephoros does not get the results he wanted, and is now stuck in battle.

Adidiasphoros advances his foot.
Psiloi slingers emerge from the field and loose stones at the enemy lights.
It is not often that LI missiles can put a cohesion hit on an armored, elite foe, but it can happen.
Nikephoros is having a brown pants moment.
Breaking out the Pink Lady* for one final time. One Tagmata disperses their opposing bowmen, the other, with Nikephoros and support, manage two cohesion hits. But the elephant is looming large on their flank.  
With a chilling ululation, the warriors of Axum charge with abandon!. The Varangians hew and destroy with cruel axes. But their end unit of Skutatoi, disordered previously by bow fire, are run over.
3 camels at a cost of 24 points, against a single Psiloi in the open.

With some pretty good die rolling, I retired the Pink Lady*. She deserved a good rest. 

Turn 3:

Pumaphoros splits his forces, sending his Petchnegs towards the camp, his Prokoursatores pinning (ZOC'd) the rear Axum warrior unit' whose rear is hanging out of the terrain.

The Tagmata led by Nikephoros defeats their opposing warrior, and pursues into the warrior behind it.

His other, and no longer engaged, Tagmata are ordered to retreat and regroup.

Adidiasphoros' foot command surround one Axum warrior. The Varangian guards destroy another. The subsequent routs have also dispersed one light foot, and disordered another.

One of the problems with the Axum army is it's shortage of command points. 3 are available, but Jeff took only 2. All too often he had to make a choice between attacking, or getting his lights out of the way. Here he lost 3 points in light infantry due to a shortage off command points.

And another point on the light horse.
But this turn, Nesante has an abundance of command points. His warriors turn and charge the Prokoursatores taunting their rear, his bowman focus on the Tagmata, while his other warriors cut off the route the Petchnegs were taking to the camp.
Nikephoros' Tagmata is flanked and takes a hit. He is no longer leading from the front though, as he retired from the front during the pursuit. The Auxm Elephant is held back for now.
The Auxm Warriors have turned the flank of a Varangian mercenary unit. The Blemye camelry pursue their taunting Psiloi.
In the River Styx, the Byzantines have 8 points towards their breakpoint of 22
Along the Blue Nile, the Kingdom of Axum have 21 points towards their breakpoint of 31

What? 21 points, how could that be? <Scroll up><Scroll up><Scroll up> OK I see the 14 points for the dead, and can count 7 disordered in the pictures.

Does that mean I am winning? I know I did not think I was at the time. I was so busy taking the pictures, that the reality that I was 14 points away from demoralization and Jeff was just 10 didn't occur.

These things don't happen to me...

Turn 4:

Pumaphoros realizes the camp is out of reach and recalls his Petchnegs to assist against the Warriors. One Tagmatic Cavalry is swarmed under.
Nikephoros orders a general order to regroup.

There is nothing else to be gained here. The Axum command in the field has been bloodied by combat, losing 3 units with one disordered. The command is also fragmented with unmaneuverable units, with an ordinary commander. And, they are still in a field, which the cavalry dare not tread.

Nikephoros is brilliant and should be able to reorder his troops much quicker then his Auxm rival.

Adidiasphoros' Varangian Guardsmen approach the bottom of the hill, daring the Blemye's to charge.
More Axum casualties due to a lack of command points to get out of range.
This Psiloi is doing an amazing job of distracting 3 troops of Blemye's

Or could be another command point problem. They are more than 4 UD's away from their commander.

Nasente gets his bowmen turned around.
From the hill, Bekhit separates one of his camels, charging the flank of the Varangian mercenaries.
Now there are two major combatants in Adidiasphoros' rear.
The Blemye are determined to crush this Psiloi bow unit.

 I think the score is 11 Byzantine to 24 Axum.

 Turn 5:

The Petchnegs are again going to threaten the camp.

The score is 11 Byzantine to 25 Axum.

The Tagmata return the field, their bows testing the elephants patience.

The score is 11 Byzantine to 26 Axum.

On the right, one Varangian Guardsmen ZOC's the Camels on the hill, the other charges to the rear.
The Camels evade, then the Varangian Guards roll up on pursuit, engaging and destroying the bowmen, then pursuing into the warrior.

The score is 11 dead for the Byzantines to 27 Axum.

Just more taunting.
Again, Nesanet has to spend valuable command points to protect the camp.
Germaneh tries to organize a counter punch. Bekhit's camels charge down the hill into the Varangians, recoiling them disordered. But at last, the Skutatoi finally defeat their foes. They have been fighting for 5 rounds with friendly mercenaries providing +2 melee support. This destroys 1 unit and the rout puts a cohesion hit on another.

The score is 12 dead for the Byzantines to 29 Axum.

The Varangian Guards destroy another unit, and the rout puts a cohesion hit on another.

The score is 12 dead for the Byzantines to 30 Axum.

Turn 6:

The situation is an out at any base. Byzantine lights go for a cheap kill with bow fire and flank shots, but score nothing.

The Tagmatic archery further disorders the elephant. But that does not add to the score either.

Varangian mercenaries charge up the hill. Destroying a troop of camels. Then the Varangian Guards finalize the job. With Psiloi in their rear, the Auxm light horse cannot evade. The guards conform on the light horse, and with Adidiasphoros leading from the front, hew them man and beast for the last point and the win.

 It was a bloody good game.

*From the first battle report of this tourney.
Let me introduce you to The Pink Lady. The Lady is a rescue die rehabilitated by the Mulligan Center**. “Because every die deserves a second chance.”
The Pink Lady, her edges may be worn, but her numbers are still clear.
The Lady contributed to the cause of many a D&D character in her day. She got an assist on the 18 Intelligence score for the wizard Ali-Kazam, the 17 constitution for the ranger Farinear, and a glorious 17 Dex, 15 wisdom and 16 strength for the future Grand Master of Dragons, Gea-Tea.

When not rolling high scores for attributes, The Lady was pounding out damage scores for clerical non-edged weapons, which were always D6.

Then, when her owner’s interest in D&D waned, she was relegated to the dice box, with other low impact dice that TSR was producing. Her fine edges slowly rounding, only to be brought out in memories when searching for other, sharper dice.

There ARE no BAD DICE!

The Mulligan Center’s mission has been to find these dice, rehabilitate them, and find them good homes with Gamers willing to give them a new lease on life and a Second Chance! A Do Over if you will!

**Mulligan Center***, and the concept of Rescue Dice**** is entirely the creation of Jolly Blackburn, the creator and publisher of the Knights of the Dinner Table (KODT). And is used with permission.
If you ever played any role playing games, then KODT is an absolute riot to read. Jolly has published 300 issues, plus numerous extra books, and has compiled all his early works into 4 issue bundles.
These can be found at Kenzer and Company’s website.

*** The Mulligan Center is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between it and a real company, is totally coincidental.
****No dice were harmed in the making of this article.

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