Dark Ages at the BHGS Challenge 2016
Feudal Spanish vs Sicilian Norman
The next day dawned after a lovely curry, which the ADLG players were able to attend en mass after every game in the third round finished decisively inside the 3+hour time limit. A decidedly non-European breakfast fortified the commanders as they got ready for Game 4.
This time the opposition were Normans from the lemon groves of Sicily, packed full of Medium Spear armed Almughavars and plenty of knights.
The table was again fairly bald, but with just enough rough terrain on table to make the Spanish Almughavars deployment incredibly predictable. Seeking to avoid this trap after the debacle of the first game where the same obvious placing had seen enemy Cavalry run them down the Iberians adopted an unorthodox deployment, hunkering into one corner with a very stretched Spear command protecting the entire right flank, the Almughavars deployed in a deep column behind their own Crossbowmen in the centre, ready to go left or right, and the Hidalgos on the left. Missing was the Caballeros command, who had been sent on a bold and risky flank march on the left - putting them potentially into the flank of one of 2 huge Spear-armed Almughavar commands.
The lists for the Feudal Spanish and Sicilian Norman 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.
The Hidalgos pushed forward, seeking to put pressure onto the Almughavars and prevent them responding to the obviously-arriving flank march. The Normans were desperate to redeploy their knights from the far right of the table over to respond to the flank march, but it was a long, long way ago...
With the Normans moving their knights away, under the command of the General, the Spanish Spear line found it had nothing but skirmishers to prevent them advancing forwards across the Sicilian plains
The Hidalgos were in a hurry to engage the Almughavar spearmen, who were slightly distracted by the arrival of the flank march... which rolled the necessary dice in turn 2, meaning it would rock up at the second possible opportunity.
With a decent run of pips the Spanish Almughavars had been able to redeploy into the centre, where they had realised that they would not be facing enemy Knights but other brothers in Almughavarian mercenaryness.
The Normans were doing everything in their power to throw knights into the path of the onrushing Hidalgos, desperate to prevent a full-frontal attack by all 6 of the Hidalgos on the line of Almughavars who were trapped in the open, a long way from the Rough Going field that they had presumably hoped to get into on the left flank. At least the reserve Norman forces had almost finished redeploying from the other flank, but the flank march would still be there first...
And here it was! A line of 4 fast-moving Caballeros Villaneros swept onto the field and was immediately teed up for an instant charge into the flank of the by-now engaged Almughavars. Morale was crumbling on the Norman side.
The rough terrain in the middle was looking like a mathematical test of whether Medium Spear would be better than Impact Swordsmen, with both sides being Elite to keep it as balanced as possible.
As the Caballeros geared up for a flank charge the Hidalgos were seemingly keen to get the job done on their own, as they chewed up the Catalans at a rate of knots.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Medium Spears are considerably worse against Knights than they would be against Cavalry, as their base factor is zero vs Knights vs 1 against Cavalry
The face-off in the centre was one which the Iberians were happy to let continue, as they enjoyed the upper hand on the extreme left. Both sides were shuffling carefully in an attempt to maximise overlaps and threaten flank attacks when the two forces inevitably clashed.
Weight of numbers, better matchups and the surprise of the flank march meant that the right flank was a place of some considerable jubilation for the Spanish, as the Normans did not have enough troops to protect all of their flanks from the marauding Hidalgos and Caballeros flowing over them.
The Norman Almughavars were scattered and in pieces, but the Caballeros were still in a coherent formation as they finished off the last remnants of the enemy pedestrians, leaving them ready to sweep onwards and engage more targets of opportunity
The Normans were looking at elimination of their right flank at this stage, even tempted to throw Generals into combat if only on the basis that once the whole command was eliminated they would have no function anyway.
Both sets of Almughavars were ready to go....
The Norman Almughavars were finally resisting, holding up the flank march for a turn or two - but this meant that they had merely delayed their own demise from frontal combat to a time when a swift application of Hidalgos in the rear would surely finish them off.
And finish them off they did - the Hidalgos and Caballeros were almost unscathed and the Norman right flank was almost evaporated
With the left almost flank won, it was time to get busy in the centre - with spare spearmen creeping forward into a dangerous position the Normans peeled off a lone unit of Almughavars to take them on. Hitting hard with an overlap and Elite the Catalans slammed in a double-damage at first contact even with "I had a spare point" rear support integral to the Spanish Spearmen.
The left flank was down to the dregs, and this created many opportunities for both sides to hit flanks - knights and bowmen combined to create a Russian roulette of near-instant death.
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The Normans could wait no longer - despite the presence of a longer Iberian line there was now no way to record more losses on the Spanish without committing the Almughavars into a slightly disadvantageous combat situation.
For the tenth time in this battle report the Spanish right flank claimed total victory against the opposing knights - admittedly the Catalans were long gone, and the enemy were down to a couple of bases of mounted troops but perhaps the most important development was the breakthrough of the Caballeros, who were now looking at a baggage-looting exercise
Catalan on Catalan combat went heavily in favour of the Impact Foot, much to the disappointment of the far more accurate Eureka models on the Norman side who deeply resented losing to a bunch of proxy Vikings
The Norman LH were exchanging fire on the far right of the Iberian lines, chipping away at the Spanish bowmen to a point at which one of the many, underemployed units of Spearmen was dragooned into launching a charge to drive them off... but, with 2 overlaps and a Disrupted marker on the Spearmen the Norman LH opted to stand!
Pretty close to nothing left
The Spanish spear wobbled against the enemy LH, but then dug deep to drag them off their horses and rack up more hit points. The enemy Catalans were now showing their flanks to plenty of Spanish troops.
Almost down to running over LI now, but in the distance the Caballeros have captured the enemy camp, hitting the Normans for a decisive 6 more losses (4 in the 200 point game)
The Result is a crushing 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
Wah-hey! What a beauty! This game went as smoothly as a nurses bottom, with not so much as a slap around the face to thank me for my interest! A bold approach and a swift shuffle in the middle and Bob's yer uncle, and Fanny's yer aunt!
I knew they would spot the flank march - it was like when I was taking care of one of my subjects, Mrs Bottomley at No 24. She was always complaining of suspicious activities in the rear of her premises.
But, once it arrived on that gaping open flank there was only going to be one winner, as the Medium Spear proved that they are the makeweights in these rules, especially in the later themes against Knights when they are several factors worse off than against cavalry.
I think that my men worked well here, and the army was starting to know what it was supposed to do and how it all fitted together, like a Swiss clock, or the engine in an MGB Roadster, taken down to Brighton for a bit of South Coast Fresh Air - know what I mean?
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
I would rather be tied astride a pommel horse and paraded around the streets of Bilbao than be a part of a force of Knights under your comand sacrificing themselves on the spears of the enemy in a plan that relied on luck to win rather than strategy
What on earth were you thinking here to have to redeploy your rough terrain troops into, erm the only patch of rough terrain on the whole table? And your flank march - frankly it was not needed, and the dog-tired men in it did worse attacking the flanks of the Catalans than your Knights did running them down frontally. If the opposition had kept their nerve and sent cavalry round your right flank you would have been undone in an instant
And all of this after such a positive start of sorts - keeping troops off table is always good for you as then you have less to break, and less to go wrong! Those horsemen are not intended for combat, and are barely fit to provide fertilizer for your gardens never mind hare off into the byways and sidestreets of rural Siciliy to try and find a way back to run down unsupported infantry.
Admittedly it could not really have gone better in the end, but it in reality this was down to the matchup and not your skill. Next time you will surely be outmaneuvered, and overwhelmed in your next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition