Tuesday, May 30, 2023

A Russack Full of Rus

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
               Steve Roper running the Rus
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 25mm, 200 points per side.

The Forces:
The Rus
Commanded by Sviatoslav, the Strategist, and two lesser mortals.  One Competent, the other Allied.
4 Druzhina, Heavy Cavalry, Elite
5 Pechnegs and Magyars, Light Horse, Bow
8 Rus Heavy Spearmen
4 Varangian Axemen with Missile Support
2 Light Infantry, Javelin
Breakpoint 24

Nikephorian Byzantine(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.  

Commanders are rated s for Strategist, b for Brilliant, c for Competent, o for Ordinary and u for Unreliable

The Initiative:

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

In the shadow of the Dark Tower, Merci nary Pechnegs deploy.

Petchnegs are my favorite lights. They were famous for both their timidity and their audacity. Phil Barker related a story about them. When asked by the Byzantine emperor to start hostilities with the Turks, the Petchneg ruler replied, "Since the Turk are both numerous and fierce, we don't want to do that. And we would regard it as bad manners if you were to bring up the subject again".

We had a kitten, all 20 ounces of him, frightened by a dust buster. Claws deployed, frantically scrambling, he spun slowly on the linoleum in a full circle before finally gaining traction. He zoomed into the flank of his 15 pound sire, knocking him flat, before continuing on.

"Light Cavalry! We'll call him Petchneg".

Rus heavy horse deploys in the center.
And holy cow, Sviatoslav personally commands 12 units of heavy infantry.
John Cleese reprises his role as the Black Knight, v1.0 (pre Arthur) and v1.1 (post Arthur)
Nikephoros commands the elite Tagmata
Leaving his brother to deal with the querulous Arthur and his knights.
Their right flank secured by the sea
The Aztec demon Ayar watches over the Mayhem.

This is a magnificent piece, put out by Mythic America but neither of us wanted to look towards the dealer area.

As the mist begins to burn off, a town comes into view.  A great spot for drinking later.

Following the plan, the Tagmata advance.  Not realizing their target has changed.

Arthur, King of the Britons lead the advance across the field.    The enemy are numerous, but dares not fight from the gully.

The main mass of Skutatoi advance.  They intend to shoot repeatably, forcing the Rus to close to them.

The wiley Pechnegs extend their line.

The Rus resolutely advance.  Their dismounted cavalry may only have 3 cohesion points, but they also have armor, which makes the Tagmata 1/2 bow mostly useless.

With 16 heavy foot, the Rus have a significant combat edge.

The Rus heavy spear advance a bit. 

Turn 2:
The Prokolursatores dressage left.

Nikephoros has a rethink here.  He withdraws his Tagmata.

Ordering his Varangians to replace them.

Adidasphoros's Skutatoi follow them.

The Pechnegs advance.  Both sides uselessly expend arrows.

The Magyars charge, threatening a Skutatoi.

Ignoring the terrain, the Rus Spearmen continue to advance.

So much for the plan of using the gully as a defensive obstacle.
Turn 3:
More arrows expended.

The Tagmata turnabout.

Both Varangians and Skutatoi also turn on a dime.

All this drill team maneuvers may look impressive, but I don't think I accomplished anything.

Frankly, I am not sure what I was thinking.

3 Pechnegs charge.  One is dispersed, the others have a win of sorts.

The extra Magyar works it's way through a gap.

The Rus advance to nose to nose.  But on the Tagmata flank, they have crossed the line.

The Rus Varangians and spear also line up perfectly across from Pumaphoros's Varangians.

Their remaining 6 foot advance through a storm of arrows against Adidiasphoros's Skutatoi.

In all the practice games, the Skuts have never shot so well

Turn 4:

The battle of the lights is inconclusive.

The Magyar leaker is challenged.

The Tagmata has 3 choices.  Hold, then evade if charged, exit a ZOC, both of which abandon the Varangians to their fate. 
Or they can pray for luck and charge...
The luck runs even for the Varangians.  Lost 3, won 2.

Their arrow storm completed, the Skutatoi must now seek for more arrows.

yadda-yadda-yadda  lights....

The Tagmata charge was an unmitigated disaster.
But a predictable one...
The axe on axe and spear fight in the center continues.

The Rus hold on their left, but turn the Skutatoi flank with an extra unit.

With no Tagmata left to support, a Skutatoi ZOC's the leaking Magyar.

OK, there is one Tagmata left, he broke off while he could.  I'm really not sure how that Magyar got there.  He was clearly ZOC'd at the top of the turn.

The Varangian left flank is turned, but the Knights that say "Ni' defeat their foes on the right.

With their flank turned, the situation is not going to improve if the Skut's wait and shoot, so they charge.

Comforted by a supporting Psiloi on the left, Adidiasphoros joins the fight.  And all down the line the Skutatoi manage to roll four ties in a row.

At the River Stix, the Nikephorians are at 13 of 21 to the Rus's score of 10 of 24.

Seeing the closing dismounted cavalry approaching on the Skutatoi's rear, the Magyars withdraw.

Arthur routs his foe, but the Rus spear advance on the Byzantine main battle line.

The Skutatoi line is beginning to crumble.

The Byzantine demoralization score rapidly climbs to 19.

The last Prokoursatore gets behind the Pechnegs.

The lat Tagmata almost flees the board.

The Knights that say "Ni" slam into the rear of Adidasphoros's opponent, routing them. 

Ignore the indicating dice.  The Byzantines have hit their breakpoint, 18 dead, 5 wounded, more than needed for 21.

The Rus stand at 15 of 24.  They knew they were in a fight. but the battle was not really close.