Dark Ages in Devizes 2018
African vandal vs Nikephorian Byzantine
After a textbook, and surprisingly cheap curry with the welcoming DDWG crew (and multiple pints of local specialist ales) a hearty breakfast set me up for Day 2 of ATTACK 2018
Having despatched the assembled armies of Islam on Saturday on two separate occasions the Visigoths and Vandals were now looking to cross over the Mediterranean and take on the might of Byzantium - no doubt with some far more interestingly painted figures than they themselves could deploy
The list for the African Vandal army from this game can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The battle in the morning saw the Vandals' deployment area bisected by a forest, with the Byzantines clearly having arrived by ship and hugging the waterway with their own setup.
This created a vast open space on the Vandal right into which it seemed a no-brainer to pour all of the cavalry whilst potentially semi-refusing the left with the wall of infantry.
The Devious Byzantines had also only deployed 2 commands...
The Moorish infantry skirmishers raced forwards as only mercenaries with little idea of the type of well bow armed enemy they were facing could do. This left the Vandal infantry where they were becoming accustomed to be - hanging at the back keeping out of trouble and combat.
The Vandal cavalry were being screened off by a pair of Byzantine skirmishing cavalry - not a long term game plan really as many pips worth of Heavy and Medium cavalry steamrollered towards them at full speed.
Pinning back the Byzantines own remarkably well-painted cavalry force were the two Vandal skirmishers
Taking their lives in their hands they were getting as close as they dare to see if the shields of their enemies were in fact hand painted of LBMS transfers whilst hoping to avoid being shot to ribbons themselves.
The Vandal plan was simple - engage the Byzantine horse as quickly as possible whilst shoving spare and excess Vandal cavalry round their flank.
This was accomplished by turn 2, with one of the Vandals preventing the end of the Byzantine line from evading - leading to all of them deciding to take on the North African barbarians where they stood.
The Byzantines were even more well painted from this angle, taken as a Vandal officer tried out his new camera drone programmed to follow him by GPS when on horseback
The rest of the Byzantine army was in ambush, not on a flank march! Hiding in a city against the army that famously sacked Rome in the 5th Century was perhaps not the wisest thing, but it sure was a good surprise...
They emerged, blinking and stuttering, from the village by the waterway into a position of somewhat stunned silence as the rest of the battlefield wondered what they had been doing for the previous turns...
Skoutatoi and Varangians were advancing rapidly on the Moorish skirmishers, who now also found themselves in a quandary as the ambushing Byzantine LH now threatened to cut off heir retreat. Bowfire was a telling enemy for the Moors, and the Byzantine formation had it in abundance.
In the centre the Vandals rapid attack had started to overwhelm the high quality but narrow Byzantine line
Starting the dominoes falling, the unit on the end of the Byzantine line was blown away in short order.
Suddenly Vandal horsemen had more flanks to aim at than they had had couscous dinners on their campaigns across North Africa!
Having seen the breadth of the Byzantine infantry formation, and with the Byzantine ambushing cavalry safely heading off to the open flank the Vandal infantry suddenly suffered a bout of confidence. Impact Swordsmen (with Furious Charge) against Inferior spearmen is a nice matchup, and even the bastions of the Varangians made this a risk worth taking.
Galloping Gelimer! The Byzantine cavalry were already seriously overwhelmed as the Vandals flowed through, round and over them from all sides. Even the odd breakthrough meant nothing to the rampaging Vandals who were by now causing the Brzantine Klibanophoroi to drop markers and lose bases almost every bound.
The Byzantines continued to be removed unit by unit as the game flipped into gear, Vandals everywhere they looked, slamming into them at pace with pointy sticks at the ready.
The combat was a swirling mess as the Byzantines disappeared under the hammer blows of the Vandals
The North African Gothic troopers appeard to be as equally skilled at fighting at close quarters as they were at charging home a lance point, and the Byzantines were discovering this to their cost.
The Vandals were deadly, but also numerous - even at this early stage as their men overran the enemy centre they also had men on the enemy baseline, turning in towards the enemy camp and lining up against the previously ambushing enemy horse.
The Byzantine centre was just a memory now, with Vandals trampling on the discarded markers of the crushed pseudo-Roman troopers
The Vandal cavalry were starting to think seriously about hammering into the flanks of the Constantinopl-ian infantry in the near distance.
Only one Byzantine Klibanarii was still alive, and even he had become bogged down against the solid and stodgy Visigothic foot who were approaching the ganger area at a rate of knots.
The Goths were taking showerfuls of arrows to all parts of their exposed extremities - perhaps stalled by the impressive brushwork on the faces and shields of the Varangians and Skoutatoi they were supposed to be facing down.
The solution? Get so close that there is no space to draw a bow, and the work turns to swords, daggers and shield bosses to the face delivered with gusto and speed.
The two formations slammed together like a mighty train crash several hundred years before trains were even thought of never mind invented, as two mighty elephants looked on from the nearby forest, puzzled as to why they were not the metaphor of choice.
This was a dramatic battle, with Furious Charge on the side of the Vandals, and 2HCW swinging in favour of the Varangians in response. Everyone was taking hits and rapidly approaching destruction as the solid bodies of men - and some horseflesh- got down to business.
The last of the two Byzantine LH fled cowardly off the table, pursued for what felt like weeks but was probably about 4 turns by a Vandal horseman - who now would struggle to do much more than trade off his one hit for the one break point of the evaded skirmisher.
L'Art de la Guerre hint
Evading a unit off table loses you one hit point, irrespective of if you are carrying injuries or not.
If your unit is already injured, it may as well scoot off if it is charged (and can evade).
Basically we've done the story of this part of the table to death, swinging swords, clashing shields, neighing horses - you get the picture. Key point is no Byzantines, lots of Vandals still left. Got it?
Despite the better painting quality of the impressive Byzantines, the Vandal foot were striking feat into their hearts and big holes into their lines, allowing the North African Goths to steam forwards and begin to roll up the enemy lines. This looked bad for the Byzantine pedestrians even as he Goths also took hit after hit to slip towards their own destruction.
The Byzantine Horsemen formerly known as The Ambush had been shocked to see the scene of devastation in front of them as they emerged blinking from the warren of streets in the small village by the waterside. Their day got little better as overwhelming numbers of rapidly attacking Vandal horsemen piled into them at speed, seemingly not caring whether they were overlapped or overlapping - weight of numbers gives you that confidence it seemed
End Date: Friday May-3-2019 14:41:54 BST
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Dark Age CAVALRY - 28mm (Gripping Beast) Goths / Franks / Germanic - 3 MODELS
End Date: Tuesday Apr-23-2019 20:09:39 BST
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DARK AGE CAVALRY - GRIPPING BEAST PLASTICS GBP - 28MM SAGA - SWORDPOINT
End Date: Sunday Apr-21-2019 10:42:48 BST
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The Byzantine infantry were now also going down, as the Vandal foot went to town on them big style. No army can survive all three of its commands being overrun quite so comprehensively, not least a small force like the Byzantine Empire had deployed here. The Result is another win for the Vandals!
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 African vandal Commander
I'm delighted to report that for the second game in a row I managed to push an enormous number of Impetuous Heavy Cavalry into a gaping empty space on one of my opponents flanks, then turn them around and roll up the enemy whilst still engaging them to the front as well.
Coordinating the infantry assault against the potentially tough yet also potentially squishy line of Skoutatoi and Viking Varangian warriors also helped here, and as you may notice this means there have now been several games in which I haven't just piled forward at full speed with my whole arnmy to engage whatever is in front of me. It's almost as if I have discovered tactics, and learnt how to pace a game.
The Byzantines clearly hoped to skirmish away from my advance, but the rapidity of my attack meant they found that evading would only put them still in the path of my own attacking pace and speed.
With three unbeaten games in a row this weekend is looking good - and with only 4 games I might even make a full sweep of victories!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Again, as in the previous game, you were insanely fortunate here to find an opponent so willing to ambush his own chances of victory by the need to try something overly clever against your rather less subtle set of so-called tactics.
You still ended up taking on some excellent quality cavalry frontally with your near-identical troops, so a total lack of skill there really if we are honest - which I usually am in a brutal fashion.
If your opponent had actually had a flank march, or had held back the cavalry wing and then brought the ambushing command out and driven it along the edge of the waterway whilst protecting his powerful Skutatoi/Varangian formation this could have been a very different outcome.
Your winning position flatters you and your one dimensional tactics - perhaps we will see it come unstuck in the next game?
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition