Classical & Early Dark Ages at Marksburg Castle, Braubach 2022
Palmyran vs Nikephorian Byzantine
Sizzling Schnitzels! A rather surprising 4 game winning streak had by now carried the Palmyran army into the final round almost at the head of the table with only one more German castle-topped mountain to climb in the formidable shape of our erstwhile hitchhiker the esteemed Dave Allen!
Dave had been a late entrant to the event, and had tooled himself up with that Roll Royce of pre-Knightly armies, the Knickephorians with a list purloined largely from our co-clubmate Richard Case
The Nikephorians have all of the toys, with Heavy Foot mixed shooting Skoutatoi, double-armed Impact Bow lancers, Varangian Guardsmen, Russian Spearmen, a smattering of rough terrain dudes, light horse by the budket load, excellent command and control and some really cool flags and shields to boot. All of this however makes them a teeny tiny army, and so the wide open spaces of Steppeistan are not where they usually like to fight.
The lists for the Palmyran and Nikephorian Byzantine from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Braubach can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The whole "narrower table" thing was a challenge the Byzantines had sorted out by the application of a large round Village on a Hill, providing dense terrain to anchor one flank of their army on.
The rest stretched out with Frankish-style warriors blocking egreess from the field adjacent to the village, a line of mixed shooters in the centre and then a thinning out left wing extending into the open desert on their left
L'Art de la Guerre hint - A village chosen as part of the terrain-setting pre-game sequence can include a hill, although this does count as an extra piece towards your 2-5 terrain choices. Villages always fall in a flank sector - even when including a hill - and are very Difficult terrain for anyone other than Light Infantry. As such, they are a pretty solid way of narrowing the table, and a few Light Infantry hidden in such a hilltop village are almost impossible to dislodge - so if you see a hilltop village on table best to stay well clear!
The Palmyran army was by now in a success-driven deployment rut, and had set itself up in pretty much exactly the same way as the previous 4 games with a centre of cataphracts, the Legions and bolt shoter on one (right) wing and the Auxiliaries on the other
German Translation: "Zonemilitarischeroriginalitatchirurgischentfernt"
As the army of Zenobia advanced gracefully across the blasted plain the Nikephorians began a dance of literally byzantine complexity
It appeared that they had realised their entire deployment was basically inadequate, so almost every unit on the table commenced the act of changing position
In German : Katastrophenvorsorge durch professionelleformationstanzvorfuhrungen
This messing about did naught but encourage the Zenobian Legions to ever faster trotting, as they speedily closed up the gap on the crazily gyrating soon to be Turkish Dervishes from Constantistanbul
Keen to flush out whatever nonsense was hiding in the hilltop village, and with little else to do anyway, the Pamyrans had detached a unit of Light Horse to race up the road to the town square, hoping to find little else but a pretzel shop and the ornately carved frontage of a Guild House when they arrived
But no, it was the nemesis of anyone in a village on a hill - a couple of Light Infantry Javelineers, immune to rough terrain effects, and armed with the magic ingredients of Javelins and Uphill
Unable to be ZoCced in such terrain, yet casting a ZoC of some ferocity themselves, the Byzantine Light Infantry hollered and whooped as they lept from the upstairs windows of a variety of half-timbered structures and threatened to attack the surprised Palmyrene horsemen
As the two lines clashed the Zenobians started to do their own slow moting dance routine, drifting Legionaries toward the mixed shooters in an attempt to target these squishy vulnerable components of the Byzantine line.
Other legions sought to pin the Former Ost Roman cavalry in place while their colleagues hopefully did the business on the thin skin of spearmen at the front of the Skoutatoi.
Withdrawing the LH at pace, the Palmyrans sought to use some otherwise unemployed archery to try and erode the uphill-generated confidence of the township-dwelling enemy lights. Creeping up to the edge of the village they combined in attempting to unleash a fearsome barrage at the shuttered windows of the conurbation
But no - suddenly the realities of in-village combat came to the fore as the impossibility of seeing more than 1MU into the urban area emerged blinking and mewling from the depths of the rulebook - the bowmen had moved into position for no reason, they could not shoot without entering the village at which point the Javelineers would sweep down the hill and consign them to destruction in a trice!
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Visibility into or within a village is only 1 MU - so anyone further inside than 1MU can't be seen from outside, and so can't be shot at.
Steckerlfisch! Battle was joined! Legions hit Skoutatoi as Bukellarii slammed into Legions - the centre of the game was entirely in play!
German Translation: "Gottentscheidetmomententscheidungmilitarischengluck"
Here's a picture of a beer, for no real reason other than pictures of beer are good
The other end of the Skoutatistic line was protected by the Nikephorians own Cataphract formations, but they had a lot of ground to cover over there
This had forced them to split their efforts and formation, giving the Zenobians an opportunity to steam in and catch one of them in a double-overlap
This could be a huge chance to burst through the end of the line and punch through past the end of the Skoutatoi - especially as the Byzantine Cats were outnumbered by Zenobia's own forces, and were wearing onsie pyjamas instead of full metal armour to boot!
Kraftwerk! With all of the Cataphracts now locked in combat, the time for the Auxilia to commit was now.
They raced forward, hurling their heavy javelins at the solid block of barbarian mercenary infantry on the Byzantine right as the two lines closed
Vorsprung durch Technik! Things were starting to fracture and fall apart in the middle of the game table - both sides were losing units as Legions and Bukellarii clashed in a swirling melee of combat
David Hasselhoff in Spandex! The first Nikephorian Cataphract had broken, exposing the Skoutatoi to a potential charge from the best mounted elements of Zenobia's army.
The Auxilia were enjoying a mixed bag of results, knocking holes in the block of enemy foot but taking casualties along the way as well. Things were not going badly - but they could be going much better
The idea of sitting and being shot was starting to get boring, so the Elite Cataphracts charged home against the end of the Skoutatoi line.
Schwarzbrot! Yet more second-strong Cataphracts drove forward into the gap between the Skoutatoi and hairy foot, rasing the weird prospect of heavy metal baggage looting in the near future.
German Translation: "Lauterockmusik-plunderungsparty"
This was just a mess. Units swirled everywhere on the open flank, as the lines started to dissolve and intermingle
The Boukellarii were taking heavy losses, encouraging Zenobia's archers to boldy dash forward and start pinging at almost-dead horsemen units to tip them over the edge
For archers to be roaming around in the open against such a powerful mounted force was a huge risk - but one worth taking as the game began to fall apart
With the bowmen having been marooned and becalmed in a futile attempt to take the village before discovering the shooting visibility rules, the slow-moving lumbering Byzantine mercenary foot had bought enough time to turn the end of the Auxilia - aided by yet more invulnerable skirmishing skirmishers
The flurry of bold shooting opportunities had failed utterly, allowing Byzantium's countless hordes of mounted warriors to then pick their targets and charge home at pace against the flanks and rear of large swathes of the unsuspecting Palmyran army
A series of devastating clashes saw the forces of Zenobia overrun and nigh on swept away as the Bukellarii made the most of their ability to survive and move to catch the enemy from unexpected angles in a flurry of combat which seemed of sufficient dramatic quality as to potentially be immortalized in the naming of a new type of schitzel
Currywurst In Bread! The Extra hairy mercenary spearmen were also in full flow by now - rolling up the Auxilia long before they themselves could break through the mercenaries stoic resistance.
The Palmyran's attack was blunted, and the tournament ended in a round 5 defeat!
German Translation: "Kitschigeropazugreitrophaendieb"
Click here for the report of our trip home via Bastogne after 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 Palmyran Commander
Amelia Earheart will in future say that women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others. That is what I leave as my legacy here after this incredible showing where victory was ripped unfairly from my fair hands
Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women, but here I fell only for myself, and of couorse also my men and my small but perfectly formed desert Empire
Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on, but sadly as this game showed we are at our weakest when trying to evict light infantry javelinmen from a village on a steep hill
Even so, I am still a queen; and as long as I live I will reign as such, even if my armies are defeated in battle by super-late Romans
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
I think that you would not be bold enough to blow at a farmer's fence if you knew that there was a flail behind the door; you would lift your heels in quite a womanly way, as though it were snowing flails behind you, and run away - yet in this battle you chose to attack the strongest points of the enemy line with whatever you had instead of ignoring an obvious defensive bastion and rolling up the enemy from the open flank.
You loathsome, accursed, atrocious monster, unable to work out even the barest minimum of imagination in changing your deployment by a scintilla based on the situation and possible deployment of your opposition.
All your holiness is only stench and filth, and it merits nothing but wrath and damnation for throwing your troops lives away so cheaply. The Auxilia in particular must be fuming at your incompetence when they should have been nowhere near those opponents at all.
Why would anyone tolerate such claims of brilliance from someone like you, a rotten paunch, crude ass and fart-ass? All I can hope is you have time to reflect on your inadequacies on the journey home
Click here for the report of our trip home via Bastogne after the competition