Medieval and Later Dark Ages in Godendag 2016
French Ordonnance & Italian Condotta vs Ottomans & Serbs
In keeping with my regular pattern of combing extensive international travel with early starts for wargaming weekend, the 630am departure for Usk along a near-frozen M4 came cold on the heels of a return from holiday in Florida just 2 days before.
The occasion was a world first – the inaugural 400 AP L’Art de la Guerre Doubles event, and the first ADLG held in Usk to boot. The competition had been well supported, with ADLG weighting in with 14 teams, level with both FoGAM and FoGR at the venue. In keeping with the AM theme, the ADLG event was in the High medieval period, meaning that pretty much everyone had opted for the heaviest, most magnetically attractive (and consequently smallest) armies they could find. Tin openers would be at a premium in the quaint high street of rural Usk for sure…
Our army was both very shiny and extremely metallic – Italian Condotta together with Ordonnance French. This obscure combination (together with the fairly liberal allied rules that we’d made up for the event) was built around a number of key strategies:
The draw set up a tantalising first round matchup in which we would face the might of the only Francophone team in the event, all the way from Belgium to the Pays du Galles. Their choice was a doubles classic – Ottoman and Serbian.
The lists for the French Ordonnance & Italian Condotta and Ottomans & Serbs from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Godendag can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The armies set themselves up on table – a first for our combination which had never previously been deployed. Luckily it appeared to cover most of the board, meaning that our opportunity for clever manoeuvres that we would undoubtedly get wrong was quite severely curtailed. The table was dominated by some interesting terrain, with a field made of Rough Going in the middle, and a plantation just off to our right. The field looked like an obvious place for the Janissary bowmen to go, and so we faced their likely – and actual – deployment off with the Almughavar command and also our Longbowmen, hoping to use our rough terrain specialists to rush the Ottomans and both shoot and cut them down before they could do too much damage. With heavy foot on either flank, and then knights outflanking them the trap was complete.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Ottomans and Serbs have concentrated their knights on the left of the table, and are refusing the right side with some skirmishing cavalry. The Janissaries make a tempting target for the Italian Almughavars but a good part of the Italo-French army may be skirmished out of the game on the left. (This graphic does not show all the enemy commands separately, but instead shows the major blocks of troops)
The Ottomans saw what was facing them on their right, and quickly decided that their Sipahis and light horse were now a skirmishing, holding command, as the French and Italians began to wonder if they would be allowed to have any effect on the game at all …
On the flank (see, I did take some photos of Simons side of the board) a solid line of knights and heavy foot moved to block off the gap between the woodland on the coast and the central plantation. The Serbs would have a real challenge breaking through this line, stiffened as it was with a sprinkling of Pikes. On our extreme flank a scattering of handgunners planned their slow retreat into the woods in the face of superior enemy numbers.
LArt de la Guerre hint– Light Foot can easily be run down in the open (as in, they are just instantly removed when contacted by a charge of heavier troops), but become much tougher to shift once they are in terrain.
The Janissaries clearly knew something we didn’t, as they sat waiting expectantly as far greater numbers of our troops, from 2 separate commands, bore down on them across the uneven field.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Italian/French army is pushing forwards along a broad frontage whilst the Serbian knights are massing against the smaller numbers of Italian/French knights on the left.
Back on the left, our knights advanced slowly, careful not to outdistance their associated foot as this may allow the sneaky Ottomans to insert some flank pressure on them. They also needed to be mindful of shooting casualties as the Ottoman horse hurled dice and arrows at them from distance.
French-paid Longbowmen (from Old Glory) began to test their bowstrings as the Ottomans brought up some quality Horse to try and persuade them to stay in the terrain, whilst the Almughavars and supporting swordsmen ploughed a straight furrow across the field towards the Janissaries.
The Belgian Serbs were probing the line of knights, hurling crossbow bolts and explaining to the eager French nobility the finer points of the impetuous rules (which before then had remained somewhat of a mystery to them…)
LArt de la Guerre hint– Impetuous troops who are in charge range have three options – pay pips to charge under command (usually 1, zero if charging from less than 40mm, of 2 if they are turning and charging), pay 3 pips to halt or move and not go into contact, or charge impetuously for free (which gives a -1 combat factor in the first round for uncontrolled charge). 3 pips is quite a lot when you are rolling a D6, adding your command value of 0-2 and then halving the result….
The Almughavars were almost in - and were still fully coherent (as in no cohesion markers, and so no minuses in combat – they may still have slurred some of their words due to a heavy night in the tavern before the battle). Even with some poor quality bowmen on the Almughavars flank this looked good, as the Italian LF could surely hold them off in the terrain whilst the Almughavars and swordsmen did their business?
What's Going on Here Then?
The Italian/French army has committed the Almughavar command against the Janissaries, but the cavalry on the left have largely taken 1/3 of the Italian/French forces out of the game.
This is an Almughavar in combat!
Maintaining the suspense for a while longer, on the left the Italian knights charged forwards, forcing the Sipahis to evade. The Knights had suffered a few cohesion losses but the Ottomans still not dare stand up to their fearsome charge (and better armour in combat).
On the right the rest of the knights were still being kept on a short leash as the two sets of skirmishers retreated out of the way.
Back to the fun stuff, and the Almughavars traded blows with the Ottomans, coming off slightly better – as one would expect because of their extra “impact” factor – out of the initial clash. In melee things would be much more even as the sword-armed Janissaries could go toe to toe with the Catalans quite happily.
Holes appeared quickly in both lines, making a Franco-Turkish cheese metaphor in the process, and markers spring up across the plantation as the two sides fought manfully to try and wrestle an advantage in the crucial middle section of the battlefield.
Meanwhile, things were springing into life all across the field of battle, as the Serbs crashed into the Frenchmen – but inspired by the forthcoming Australian Open tennis no doubt, the 4 horsemen of the Djokavic quickly gained the upper hand and punched a hole right through the French line.
Desperate to keep the flanks of the Janissaries safe, and probably sick of being peppered with longbow arrows with no real means of reply, the Sipahis in the centre had piled into the Longbowmen who were temptingly just in the open ground. This allowed the Longbows to swing forwards and then turn onto the flan of the Sipahis, causing a decisive advantage to occur.
LArt de la Guerre hint– the flanking combat rules can be a source of confusion, but are actually quite simple.
The Sipahis had clearly not read these rules in their entirety, and so ended up comprehensively out-dicing the Longbowmen and chewing a big hole in their formation!
What's Going on Here Then?
The Almughavars are about to be swept away by the Janissaries and as more Ottoman Sipahis join in the fight extends to the Longbowmen in the Italian/French army. Weight of numbers is seeing the Serbian Knights break through the Italian/French forces facing them.
On the right flank the clash of two lines of knights had forced the Italian foot into a more ambitious frame of mind, and poor quality pikemen were now advancing unwisely towards a Serbian skirmish screen, hoping to drive away the enemy LH crossbowmen and prevent their irritating archery from doing any lasting damage.
The Serbian knights needed no assistance and were starting to turn and plan their roll-up of the French chivalric line.
The Janissaries too were fighting back strongly, and the Almughavar command found itself whittled away under a hail of Turkish swordsmanship. This had not gone to plan, as the initial Impact POA (factor..?) had failed to prove decisive.
On the far left the Turks had been scattered to the four winds, but in so doing they had failed to concede any casualties to the advancing Italian knights who were now broken up as they were forced to leave behind some of their more badly arrow-impacted colleagues. The alternative would have meant risking some death and base removal from successive cohesion drops to the sustained evading and shooting tactics of the Turkish horsemen.
After a lengthy struggle, the Janissaries finally put paid to the aspirations of the Catalans and, having removed their frontal opposition from play turned their attentions onto the flanks of the French Longbowmen – or more precisely, the Mercenary Swiss Halberdier who had been seconded to help them out in this battle. With no frontal opposition the Turkish slave foot were able to demonstrate just how important a breakthrough of this type can be in creating the opportunity for proper, devastating flank attacks in ADLG…
The right flank was turning into a blur of motion, but the motion was all about the Serbs rolling up the French unfortunately as the knights continued to break through and slam into the French flanks.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Janissaries and Ottoman Sipahis are combining to chew up the Longbowmen in the Italian/French army, and the Serbian Knights are rolling up the exposed infantry on the French/Italian right
Soon the Italian infantry command were drawn into the fight, as the Serbs ran out of knights to chew up!
The Longbow/janissary battle had exhausted both sides, and they took time to regroup and face up as a French halberdier and an Ottoman Sipahi, both of whom had been drawn into the combat, found themselves the centre of attention – much to their own great surprise!
Fricking mental people fighting medieval style ...
"That Guy's got an axe stuck in his helmet! That means someone is without a weapon!!"
The Italian infantry stood no chance against the whirlwind of Serbian chivalry, who were besetting them from all sides as the battle raged towards a conclusion
Fittingly, the Ottoman Janissaries were able to deliver the final blow that saw the Franco-Condottieri army slip to total defeat…
What's Going on Here Then?
The Serbian Knights complete the destruction of the French/Italian right whilst the victorious Janissaries clean up the remnants in the centre. The game is done.
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 French Ordonnance & Italian Condotta Commander
Aaaarh! This has been a rough and ready awakening on an early Welsh morning - there will no doubt be sheep roaming these hills who have experienced far worse but from where I currently sit, at the foot of the table and facing the prospect of a bacon sandwich with more fat than pigmeat for lunch this looks to be a long weekend for myself and my plodding army of flank-ignoring buffoons.
Normally in my rare and infrequent defeats I can apportion causality to luck and naught else, but here we were roughly treated by the worlds best Belgian Father & Son ADLG doubles team, which seems a rather unfair matchup for the worlds first game in the worlds first ADLG doubles tournament, but hey, sometimes life deals you a black joker or two...
I would like to think that I learnt much from this game, but that is probably limited to recognising that Ottomans & Serbs are a solid choice and perhaps I should look to recruit some Janissaries into my army instead of these half-hearted Englishmen and their supposedly superior bows?
At least we will start the next game from the bottom of the pile. Which, strangely enough, reminds me that I need to warn my valet to be a little more careful when helping me on with my undergarments as he dresses me for my next battle this afternoon.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
What foolishness is this analysis? If brains were grain, thou wouldst not have sufficient quantity to feed thy fat whore ! You were roundly beaten by someone making the most basic of tactical approaches involving walking through rough terrain that you had not defended, and turning your flank to roll up your best troops.
And what sort of albatross-biting buffoon allows two of his 6 commands to be skirmished out of the game, and in fact positively sits up and begs for it by placing them so far out on a flank that they are practically deployed in Hererfordshire? The Gendarmes and Infantry had no chance of getting into this game, and so the matchup was already 5:4 against you from the start, perhaps even more by the time that you look at points values!
Only a boil-brained cretin such as you could make such a mistake, and then even more pathetically would compound it by attacking the Janissaries with no idea what capabilities they owned! Sword-armed bowmen are a unique troop type in ADLG, but Janissaries are an obvious candidate for eminence - perhaps if you had opened the lists this failure could have been avoided?
I fear that your mewling attempts at generalship will end in yet another cougar-fowling debacle in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition