The Campaigns of Frederick Barbarossa 11521190 AD at Campaign 2017
Sicilian Norman vs Feudal German
After months of intensive lobbying, a letter-writing campaign which was widely credited with an 8% overnight rise in the share price of Royal Mail and a series of hashtags which broke the internet, L'Art de la Guerre finally made it onto the roster of Campaign in Milton Keynes. Yes, a second DBx-based ruleset is now played in the hallowed malls of the MK1 postcode, in the very windward lee of John Lewis and across the aisle from Pret a Manger.
This landmark achievement saw ADLG immediately springboard both FoGAM and DBMM, and leave the newly-born MeG even further behind in its wake to become overnight the biggest Ancients event at Campaign with 7 teams and 21 players taking part. The 2.5 hour game time allowed an impressive full round-robin to be played, in 7 rounds with everyone getting a much-needed bye for one of the 7.
Taking part in this festival of warfare in a temple of retail was a crack team of seasoned old soldiers - one in each of the three themed pools on offer. I had a pressing need to deploy some much loved but often overlooked figures and so opted for the Campaigns of Frederic Barbarossa, putting the Sicilian Normans (mostly from Two Dragons, but with Thistle and Rose and some Essex in there) on table in a very experimental (as in, no practice before competition deployment) list.
Pictures of Norman Troops from my Ancients Photo Directory
(Click any image to see details of the manufacturer, and a larger version of the photo)
The other armies in theme were either the same as the Germans I had used at Challenge a couple of years before, or too different and scary for me to try in a 6-game "oh dear, if this list is rubbish I'm doomed" sort of way. The Normans however had the merits of not being the obvious German army, and also allowing me to execute a very simple plan - a rapid attack with large numbers of Elite Knights on one part of the enemy line, hoping to overwhelm and overrun them and continue to exploit the gap I would hopefully create.
The army choices and pools at Campaign 2017
|The coming of the Sea Peoples 1260 -1150 BC||The end of Alexander's Eastern Empire 130 - 55 BC||The Campaigns of Frederick Barbarossa 1152-1190 AD|
|12. Early Libyan||46. Graeco - Bactrian||183. Feudal German|
|14. NKE||46. Indo Greek||180. Sicilian Norman|
|21. Mitanni||76. Skythian||181. Communal Italian|
|24. Sea Peoples||79. Classical- Indian||185. Cilician Armenian|
|25. Philistine||102. Parthian||195 Seljuk Turk not eastern|
|30. Mycenaean||107. Kushan|
The lists for the Sicilian Norman and Feudal German from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Campaign can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki, along with Marc Crotteau's Sicilian list from The Worlds last year that I really should have looked at before compiling mine really...
Hey, wiseguy! Fresh from the lemon groves of Sicily the Norman army was resplendent in the early morning sunlight as they deployed for their first battle of what promised to be a gruelling but entertaining weekend. The opposition - a soon to be all too familiar Feudal German army with a hefty spearman centre and knights on both wings were wedged in between a classy-looking medieval town and a riverbank, providing a wide but unappealing target for the Norman nobility. You gotta problem with that pal?
With the two likely to be contested by infantry which the Normans had singularly failed to include in their list, the point of maximum pressure was on the left, along the water's edge. A cavalcade of Norman knights hurled themselves forward in abandon, keen to test their spears against the enemy knights in a wave of punishing attacks.
What you lookin' at? The middle of the table was bare of Norman troops, but the right flank contained a probing command of knights and well-drilled lancer cavalry from the Arab side of the street. Mindful of the need to retain command and control the two columns of horsemen inched past the town and fixed the attentions of the lurking crossbowmen of the German horde.
As far back as I could remember...
With only a thin screen of light horse holding up the German centre, the Normans needed to get into combat quickly where they has a potential advantage, as otherwise the Germans would wheel round and pin them mercilessly against the riverbank. Urging their horses ever faster forward the Norman knights approached full lances-levelled charging speed...
The Arab lancers knew that they could turn and fall back at a moment's notice, but even so they did not want to be retreating with an ass-full of crossbow quarrels. 30 years of wargamers theodolite experience kept them just out of crossbow range on the edge of the world as they knew it.
In a carefully synchronised movement, the Arabs turned and moved gently out of range of the entirely unsurprised crossbowmen.
The first wave of knights went in as the scribes of the Sicilian Norman army started to realise that their one-dimensional force composition may mean they would face 6 whole games of needing to come up with ever more expressive means of describing the impact of two identically-equipped lines of knights.
Ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing! The first moments of combat saw a near-decisive breakthrough for the Normans, as two files of German Knights took telling hits - the Norman plan was clearly brilliant, and it was also clearly working! Admittedly the 2 hits taken by the overlapped endmost Norman knight were less than ideal, but plenty more were sat in the cab rank just a charge distance behind all eagerly waiting to join in the melee.
With the sweet scent of a rapid and famous victory in their nostrils, and some rather poor command and control dice rolling which limited their ability to hold the eager nobles the second wave of Normans also committed themselves to the fray - unfortunately against the overlapping German Pikemen in this case. At least it took away the overlap from the injured Knight.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - in ADLG an overlapping unit musty also be unengaged to count as an overlap to friends. This is different to DBx-based rules, where any side to side contact counts.
Hey, wiseguy! With the crossbowmen distracted by the skirmishing Arabs, the handful of Knights in the 3rd Norman command operating on the right had seen an opportunity to drive off some of the German horsemen and put themselves in an interesting position threatening the end of the line of spearmen. With live threats still off to their front, this might not come to much, but at least it sucked pips and command and control capacity from the other end of the line where the Pikemen were now more than fully occupied.
The initial exuberance of the Normans was starting to evaporate as the much-threatened breakthrough failed to arrive on the back of a startling series of rallying rolls by the German commander, which bolstered the morale of his wavering cavalry and spurred the to up the tempo of their resistance.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - You can rally off one cohesion hit per turn instead of moving - it's tricky if you are in combat as it costs 2 pips to make the attempt, and you need a 5+ to succeed (or 4+ if the General is attached). But when it works you are delighted!
The third wave were starting to realise that they may be required to act as a frontal battering ram rather than a blitzkrieg-like exploitation force as the Norman knights cohesion slowly ebbed away in the sustained hand to hand struggle.
On the other flank, the Norman Impetuous knights had similarly gotten themselves into a (lime) pickle, as running short of pips they opted to charge home against some potentially spectacular but actually quite robust targets. The Arab horse, tasked with supporting exactly such charges with their longer charge range, had only just gotten back on station in time to see the Knights charge off into history a moment or two too soon for the Arabs to really assist.
Ducks and swans scattered, realising they were getting no bread today as the riverside battle continued with neither the Germans nor the Normans making the decisive breakthrough needed to open up flanks and overlaps to press their advantage further, harder and faster.
A wave of carnage not seen since Pirhana II washed up out of the river and over the struggling Normans - the whole front line was decimated ten times over and they all went back in the box. The second wave readied themselves - at least the Germans had suffered some casualties in the scrum, and so there was an opportunity for success if they could follow through on executing the same plan in the same place with the same troops and same opponents
The second wave crashed in Would they leave the gun, or take the cannoli?
What you lookin' at? On the opposite flank the Normans had fared better, and had managed to hang on long enough for the Arab auxiliaries to join in the fight. The Germans had the advantage of overlaps in some cases, but the Normans had engineered a few of their own as well and so whilst the Sicilians were taking hits they also had knocked some cohesion off the enemy - a breakthrough was still on the cards!
The Germans were getting a little desperate as they flung light horse into the front of Arab lancers to try and keep their crossbows and spearmen in the game just a little longer. The Normans were in a tight squeeze themselves though, and any breakages would surely have to be paid for in lost cohesion of the troops behind them You gotta problem with that pal?
L'Art de la Guerre hint - if you are less than 1MU behind a non-skirmisher unit which breaks, you take a cohesion hit.
FINALLY ! The Sicilian nobility had overcome adversity and Teutonic efficiency to burst through the enemy line right on the extreme edge of the line of battle! As of now all of the Normans were fully intact but all of their opponents had taken hits - perhaps the second wave would turn the tide..?
The Tide is High
Say Hello to my little friend! Even as the Germans plugged gaps with their meagre reserves, more holes opened up - this time the Pikemen found themselves in danger of a devastating flank attack as the Teutonic knights supporting them evaporated against the charge of the Norman knights (clearly featuring some Museum Miniatures figures who had been missed off the original description)
Ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing! Things were brightening up on the other flank as well, as the sheer power of the Norman Knights proved too much for the inexperienced German crossbowmen who had ventured out of the safety of the ploughed field to their rear. They were now paying the price for such rashness, having been ploughed under hoof in the open terrain by the hard-charging Knights.
The German right flank was also fast imploding as more Teutons collapsed, exhausted by the waves of repeated attacks by the Sicilian gentry. A huge inviting gap was appearing in a part of the German line that they had no real capability to backfill as the lumbering pikemen at that end of the line lacked the fleetness of foot to respond.
Having run down the crossbows, the small but high quality mounted force on the right found it suddenly had room to manoeuver, an opportunity which it chose to take advantage of by swiftly bringing all its force to bear against the now-isolated and exposed spearmen. Once considering themselves a bulwark against Norman aggression, the German spears were discovering that giving away overlaps and not maintaining a coherent line could turn even the most solid of battle troops into vulnerable herds of cowering pedestrians, able to be picked off at will be marauding cavalry.
What is the difference between the government and the Mafia?
.One of them is organized..
The same story was playing out at the other end of the line - the Sicilians had collapsed the German knights eventually, and now their plan of envelopment and rolling up the spearmen was being implemented with huge alacrity and enthusiasm. Soon rampaging Knights would be slamming into the rear of the Germanic spearwall, with inevitably devastating effects, while in the distance the other flanking force was attempting much the same plan - a double envelopment!
Desperate to save their main battle line, the Germans ordered more spearmen and crossbows out of the safety of the terrain and into the open, proving to be too tempting a set of targets for the Normans and Arabs, who turned about and charged home. What ya' gonna do when every unit counts the same towards the army destruction? Why hack away at heavy foot when squishier fare is on offer ?
And with that, the game ends in almost a victory, but time has beaten both players and the end result is a losing draw for Sicily.
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 Sicilian Norman Commander
Well, given I had no practice games with this army before deploying them on table at the start of this 6-game epic weekend, I feel fairly well vindicated by a choice which boils down to Take Lots of Elite Knights As They Are Rather Good And Throw Them At The Enemy.
Admittedly there is an agrument that a different more popular army would have created interesting tactical opportunities, however I have commanded the Feudal Germans before, even reaching the giddy heights of placing in the Challenge 2 years ago at the more manly 300 point version of the game using them. But hey, with 200 new, seemingly all viable army lists to choose from in L'Art de la Guerre, why revisit past successes when you could be building brand new successes - and armies - for every competition?
All that prevented me recording a victory here was a little more luck in the initial rounds of combat near the waterside, and of course the lack of the 2 Elite Armoured Halberdiers in the Viking ally that I did not take in the Feudal German army that I did not choose - they would have made short work of the entire spear-packed centre of the Germans and won a much more simple victory.
But, what is success worth if it comes in the absence of style and innovation? OK, a trophy is always nice but the adoration of millions is even better. If not quite as easy to put on a shelf.
Don Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
I am sorry. What happened to your army here was business. I have much respect for your army. But your army, your design and thinking is old-fashioned. You must understand why I had to doubt you. Now let's work through where we go from here. The biggest problem in the world today is lack of respect. Respect for your elders, respect for the members of your Blood Familiy, and respect for yourself. Here you disrespected the sanctity and integrity of the competition by taking a frivolous army choice, and then failing to plan ahead for what you would actually do with it. And now you come here to ask my forgiveness? Here, in my own house on the day of my daughters wedding?
If you think you can ask these things, you clearly think that your Godfather is stupid. But I ask you now to remember, perhaps you wouldn't have a job if he was any smarter. Although deploying so much terrain with an army containing almost no infantry is difficult to match on the stupidity scale. I spotted this, so perhaps I am smarter than you after all. Capiche?
Here this weekend, in the closest thing to the olive-grove clad hills of Siciliy we have here on this small island, you will face many similar armies, and those armies will no doubt deploy and fight in much the same way. You need to be wise, you need to learn, and you need to improve. Otherwise you will forecer remain a wiseguy, but you will never become a made man. Not here, not now, not ever whilst I remain your Godfather
Let us see if you are learning these lessons in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition