Dark Ages at the BHGS Challenge 2016
Feudal Spanish vs Communal Italian
Game 3, and the same opposition as Game 2 - literally the same list, this time used by the increasingly impressive Harrison Pearce.
The lists for the Feudal Spanish and Communal Italian from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at the BHGS Challenge can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
This was a table as bald as something which would have caused problems for web filters if I had been searching for appropriate metaphors whilst playing against a Tupi army in the previous competition to be reported on this website, but in this game it was simply the central Italian plain. This made the initial deployment a straight piece of bluff and guesswork, and - astonishingly - an opportunity to actually learn something from the previous two games and attempt to throw my fast-running Almughavars into the enemy mixed Bow/Sp formation.
The Italians bunched up on one side of the table, leaving my main Spear command rather out on a limb on the left, but putting the Almughavars where they had hoped to be, opposite the enemy Spear/Crossbow combo. Both Spanish mounted blocks were on the extreme right.
The Hidalgos were raring to go, with an empty field stretched out in front of them like a baize covered tabletop and in the far distance the Italian knights lurked patiently, backed up with a command of Medium Spearmen who on this table had done the right thing by finding arguably the safest place on the field to stand.
The Almughavars and the Hidalgos both got off to a flying start, racing forward in almost perfect sync and closing fast on their prospective opponents. This would be a no messing about game if the Spanish had anything to do with it
The Iberian spearmen were rather slower - they faced off potentially dangerous Almughavars, but had the advantage of width and quality compared to the Italians mixed formation
The Hidalgos were almost in before the ink had dried on the printout of this rounds' draw, and with just 4 opposing Knights against the 6 Hidalgos they felt that the force was with them, even though sniping crossfire had hit them with an early marker.
The Almughavars were in an even greater hurry, as the Italians were bringing up more Knights sweeping round behind their line of mixed X-Bow/Spearmen to try and catch the loose formation Viking-imitators with a shattering mounted charge before they even reached their intended target.
The two sides shuffled across as soon as they could, and as they clashed both could reflect on a partial success in the manoeuvre phase of the game, with one Knight getting into an Almughavar, but the other 4 squaring off against enemy infantry. The Knights, with Impact, Knight factors, an overlap and Furious Charge (causing an additional cohesion level drop when they won) were slightly gutted to only hit the Almughavars for 2 hits at impact.
As the Almughavars went in the Italian infantry were rocked, picking up a series of markers with almost no reply. The centre of the Italian army was starting to feel the heat, like an old man in a corner cafe, sipping an over-steamed cappuchino made by an absent minded trainee barrista.
It was warming up on the right as well, with an even-numbers Knight-off that the Spanish were already starting to win. The Italian foot were however free to start to join in, as they had been partly ignored by the smaller Almughavar command.
Suddenly this looked like a textbook battle, with the Italians enveloped by the Spanish forces on both sides. The Spanish Spear formation on the left had stretched out and split into two blocks, putting pressure on both flanks of the Italian Almughavars, the centre was fully engaged and committed and on the right the Hidalgos were gradually gaining the upper hand against the Italian knights.
In the centre the Italians use of a second block of Knights was starting to look like a ver clever move, as they blasted through the lone Almughavar and into a position where they could turn into the flank of the engaged Iberian foot. The Almughavars were making decent progress in eroding the resilience of the 4-hits Italian mixed close formation infantry they were fighting, but a Knight in the flank would soon tip that balance against them.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - It's been said before, but with HI being able to take 4 hits vs the 3 hits that MF and mounted troops have, you can use your dense formation infantry to grind down less resilient enemy troops through attrition alone. In combat you just take a -1 whether you have 1, 2 or 3 hits, and you also count as 1 lost element towards your army breakpoint irrespective of how many hits you are carrying, so surviving to the end of the game on 3 points of Red damage can be just as good as only having a mere 1-hit graze.
Protecting the flank of the Almughavars when they were starting to win was vital, and so the Iberians moved up a speedbump-capable Javelinman to pin the enemy Knights, supporting them with a Bowman for added shooting irritation and a handy overlap as well... or, until the second Knight charged him!
A-Hah! Javelinmen can evade!!! And, in this case, much further than the enemy knights charge range.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - When you charge against an enemy who evades, normal infantry can choose to stop after 1MU, mounted after 2, but impetuous troops must go full distance
The knight combat was starting to move towards a conclusion, with 2-hit Yellow markers and piles of 2-3 enemy markers indicating that large swathes of the combatants were teetering on the edge of elimination
The centre of the Italian army was now riddled with Almughavar-shaped holes and spattered with markers like a white kitchen wall next to a plate of dropped bolognaise - both sides were swirling around, breaking through and swinging into flanks and rears in a messy, degenerate combat.
Things were much clearer on the right, where the Hidalgos were polishing off the opposition. There was now a huge gap between the Almughavars up the hill on the left and the tattered remnants of the Italian infantry centre in which the only surviving combat forces were the Iberian nobility.
What was once a solid line of spearmen was now a small island of fear, surrounded by a swirling sea of mercenary swordsmen and hammered by a rain of crossbow bolts.
On the right, width and greater resilience were gaining the upper hand against the Italian's terrain-free Medium Spearmen, who were getting close to the point at which they would need to send back to their home city for more markers.
This was approaching the end game, and going for a home run was a unit of Italian knights who had finally caught the deliberately irritating evading Javelinmen and then followed up to a point at which eating the collection of acorn-fed ham scattered around the Spanish camp was a more pragmatic option than turning round to rejoin the main battle
The Spanish Spearmen were by now rolling over the Italian Medium Spearmen with some alacrity, hammering huge nails into the coffin of the City States hopes of hanging on in this battle.
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Hidalgos were regrouping and joining the battle - what was left of the Italian infantry were now in dire straits, rolled up and finished off by a knightly charge to the left flank.
The Hidalgos were utterly victorious, having swept away the whole force facing them
The game ended with the fighting troops of the Communal Italians swept from the field straight through the middle, and crushed by the relentless advance of the huge Spear command on the left. The Result is a decisive victory!
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from the Feudal Spanish Commander, El Sid
This battle has been a test of willpower, and you may not realise it, but I was once a weak man. Now I'm older, I know that once a week's enough for any man !
This was not so much a game of war, but a game of poker - bluff the enemy on deployment to get the best matchup and then wade in with decisive advantages - and the poker playing skills of an old rogue like me were the winning hand in this particular saloon
My Royal Treasury - which many ladies have remarked favourably upon - will further be enriched as a result of this great victory and the loot I will bring back from Italy as a result of this win
Next time I expect the results to Carry On
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Degenerate and base you are, you foul smelling pondweed eater, if you think this game was anything other than a second bite of the same fruit which caused you such great indegestion in the previous game. The random act of Fates and Lady Chance that gave you a second attempt to beat the same army is surely not something which you will see again anytime soon.
You are a most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, a daily promise breaker, and the owner of not one good proud Spanish quality - although to be fair in this game you did manage to spot that your opponent had little choice but to spread his men thinly and as long as you avoided his knights with yur Catalans things would surely go better than last time around - even so there was as strong element of haring off across the table in a mad attack
But even with this inability to make the same mistakes you still conspired to shoot yourself in the foote wherever possible - how ironic is it that in a game where your knights has weight of numbers, the still came off second best?
You escaped with a win by the skin of your teeth. Next time your teeth will no doubt be pulled in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition