Dark Ages at the BHGS Challenge 2016
Feudal Spanish vs Communal Italian
Suddenly (well, after an early lunch break with 7 of the 9 ADLG games finishing comfortably within the allotted time) the second match of the weekend hove into view. The most popular army of the weekend was the Communal Italian and this was my opponent
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.
Communal Italian. Go figure - they were rubbish in pretty much every previous set of rules, but the combination of drilled Knights, solid spearmen and some useful Papal high quality troops to stiffen the lines makes them pretty good in theme in ADLG. Common wisdom so far seem to be that there are actually very few "dog" armies in ADLG, which is surely a good thing.
The terrain had been unkind to the Italians, leaving them to mostly deploy in ankle-deep crud. There was only one sensible space for close formation foot to go, and that was over on the right hand side - the Spanish Spear command therefore deployed facing off against what turned out to be another long line of BwX-types, but this time they were close formation spearmen backed by crossbows rather than loose formation infantry backed by bowmen. The Hidalgos Knights were flanking them on the right
There was an Alughavar-off brewing in the centre, for which the Spanish had one more unit, , with the Caballeros cavalry keeping any rogue Italians honest and in the woods on the left.
The Italians had their own knights tucked neatly in the centre of the table, between their Almughavars and Spear/Xbow infantry, meaning that the Spanish Spearmen would need good pip dice to get forward and pin them before they could filter across to threaten the loose formation Almughavars, who were still smarting from their rough handling at the hands of enemy mounted in the previous battle
But, all this clever tactical stuff was a million miles away from what was going through the minds of the troops on the right, where the Spanish Hidalgos had started as they meant to continue, by wading straight into the opposing Italian Knights at the earliest opportunity
L'Art de la Guerre hint - you can start as close as 10 MUs, so with even Knights moving 3 MUs there is the possibility of combat as soon as turn 2!
The Iberian Spearmen had been fortunate with their pips, and urged on by the exhortations of their general they had made great strides forward to eyeball the Italian mounted, whilst hanging back somewhat on the right, mindful of their rough handling at the hands of the Tulunid bowmen in the previous game.
The Almughavar-off was now imminent, with the Italians extending their line with some less capable Medium Spearmen on the far left but with the Spanish enjoying a small advantage in Almughavar quantity. If the Italians could be tempted out of the terrain it would also open the possibility of their Spearmen and even some loose Caballeros joining in at a later stage...
The Knight on Knight combat was progressing swiftly to it's inevitable conclusion - carnage on both sides and a disorganised mess, which would probably be decided by whoever was the last man standing, or more accurately, whoever got the most decisive flank attack in after achieving a lucky breakthrough of the enemy lines
Have an American explain Medieval Italy to you...
The advantage was swinging to the Italians, even as the Spanish plugged the end of the line with the Caballeros, who had redeployed the full width of the battle line after realising that the Italians were not going to come out of their woods whilst Impetuous Cavalry were waiting to hit them. Many markers in plain old vanilla and 2-hits Yellow were scattered behind the by-now teetering Spanish Hidalgos.
As the dust started to settle, both sides had taken one helluva beating in a quick and decisive combat - and neither looked as if they had much left in the locker with which to regroup and potentially influence the infantry battle in the centre either
What's Going on Here Then?
Both sides are facing each other off in the centre and on the Spanish left, unwilling to commit as yet, but with the Italians having more shooting to erode the Iberian infantry. A knight-based lottery is taking place on the Spanish right, where the impetuous character and the opportunity for forcing a potentially decisive flank advantage has tempted both sides to commit
But, the infantry battle was where the game might well be decided, so influencing it was worth taking some risks to achieve. The battered Spaniards took a deep breath and charged home yet again against the Italians, whilst the Italian spearmen looked on nervously.
In the centre the Iberian foot were caught in two minds - they were waiting for the Italian Knights to lose control and come steaming towards them in an uncontrolled charge, but they were also starting to become the targets for some sustained and heavy shelling from the Italian crossbowmen - and when Red markers appear as a result of shooting, things are pretty grim
With the Spanish Spearmen starting to wilt under the hail of crossbow bolts the revitalised Hidalgos exchanged units with the Italians - but a one-for-one exchange doesn't really cut it when you start outnumbered 2:1, and instantly things then looked very grim for the remaining Superior Knight.
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The Spanish foot saw that their right flank was now deeply compromised by the destruction of their nobles, and decided that it was now or never for heroics and full frontal bravery. They charged home across the line, Almughavars and Spearmen piling into the opposing forces.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Spears into knights is a bit tricky, and is all about surviving the first round of impact combat, after which attrition, and the 4 hit points of a HI unit vs the 3 of a Knight, start to kick in.
With the whole line of spearmen in combat, the Italian mixed units were now free to wheel round and threaten the Spanish supporting second line troops.
Medieval Italian Swordsmanship
Charging in was the brave thing to do, but it was not proving to be the correct thing to have done. The Iberians suffered horrific losses in the first round against the Italian knights, with 3-hit Red markers on 3 out of 4 units! Things had not gone much better for the Almughavars, who were conspiring to lose a straight fight against their Italian-paid compatriots.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Iberian right is almost gone, and this has prompted them to go into combat in the middle on unfavourable odds, trusting to the dice to even the battle before things tip even further against them.
The last of the Hidalgos is sent to the great Iberian Tapas bar in the sky.....
The Spanish Spear line is almost immediately and totally wiped out in just a couple of rounds of combat, leaving the Almughavars as pretty much the only real troops in the Spanish army. This is only going one way..
The Italians are jubilant, and poised to run over the second echelon of Spanish padding when the Iberians fall to utter defeat
The Result is a humiliating defeat for the forces of grilled monkfish and Padron peppers, and a success for pasta and bacon-infused cream sauce!
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
When I first thought about this opponent I had sore misgivings. But I put some talcum powder on them and then they were fine right up until the point at which we made contact with the enemy
Really I should have done more to protect the spearmen, or to get some faster troops into the soft underbelly of the mixed formations - and splitting my mounted force was also probably not wise in retrospect either
There are enough tools in my toolkit to take down an army like this, but I just need some divine guidance to help me plot out which tool fits which slot
Now I must go and pray for inspiration and consult the monks in our Catholic monastery. Last time I went they were all doing their laundry. I suppose that's where they get rid of their dirty habits.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Pray you, stand farther from me you foul smelling stale eater of anchovies! How you struggled to learn anything from your previous game when you fought not dissimilarly constructed opposition is something which I shudder to think about. Here your most optimistic efforts were invested into a series of at-best evens combats, and your masterstroke was charging Knights with foot at a point in the game at which the battle was already largely lost. How can this be a strategy for anything other than utter defeat?
My fear is that far greater hardships and travails await you other than the opposition provided by this chianti-swilling rabble - the only good thing to come from this is that the game was - like all but one of the 9 games in this round - decisive in a fair bit under 3 hours.
Perhaps your men are better off suited to concentrating on improving their culinary skills and opening tapas-based restaurant chains across Europe rather than seeking to conquer it through military force of arms?
Admittedly that will mean a change in the usage of your spears to transform them into skewers, but after this showing they will not be returning to the field of battle anytime soon methinks. Pernicious and indubitate beggar, your time of defeat is soon to be upon ye. Do not hesitate to grasp it with both hands in your next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition