Open 2-list ADLG in Estella, 2018
Umayyad Arab vs Maurikian Byzantine
Three games down, and three times the Umayyads have broken the opposition army - not a bad start for an untested list, but perhaps to be expected from a force which had swept the Byzantine and Sassanid empires asunder on its trail of conquest around the Med and Red Sea littoral landscape in the past decades.
Despite being in Spain, the Umayyads still however had to face another blast from the past - a Byzantine army, transplanted from close to the Turkish capital into the uplands of Iberia, the Maurikians.
The lists for the Umayyad Arab and Maurikian Byzantine from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Estella can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Unusual in not being Nikephorian, the Maurikians have less punchy cavalry but a bigger more solid infantry core. An unusual choice perchance, but one which had the prospect of being much better painted than my rag-tag old-school collection of ancient figures.
The battlefield for this fourth matchup of the day was suitably arid, crossed by drifting sand and patches of bare earth and stones. Or it might just have been a photograph of the car park outside. Who knows?
With just two pieces of terrain of note yet again the Umayyads were left wondering why they had bothered to cart so much terrain across the oceans with them, but on the near-empty surface two fields hid two possibly fake ambushes between which the Byzantine army arrayed itself for battle in textbook "infantry centre, cavalry wings" formation. The Umayyads had dropped the Tibetans on table again, and as usual they occupied a central position flanked by twin massed commands of all sorts of old tosh.
Unsurprisingly the Arabs were wider by some distance than their opponents, and the combination of resilient spearmen and hard charging yet brittle Arabian lancers could already see its way to overwhelming the limited numbers of Constantinopalian Klibanarii facing them on the Umayyad right.
On the left the Umayyads had a strange opponent - a group of turncoat Arabian warriors, who in their flight from the gracious control of the Caliph's empire had seemingly left their lances at home in the headlong rush to grab big handfuls of the Byzantine shilling. Ordinary Medium CavalryÖ?
The Maurikians were of course a bunch of cowardly Byzantine dogs, and their first move was to fall back away from the massively overwhelming forces of the Umayyad right to drop their best cavalry behind the protection of their spearmen leaving only a solo light horse to contend with the massive Umayyad mounted and infantry firepower.
What's Going on Here Then?
Outnumbered by the Arabs on their left the Byzantines have withdrawn their cavalry behind a screen of protective infantry, taking significant numbers of Arabian troops out of the game for at least a while as they struggle to catch up with the rapid withdrawal by the high command value Byzantine forces. In the centre the Byzantine spearwall stands firm as the Tibetans approach. On the Umayyad left only a patch of terrain is holding up a sweeping Arab flanking move.
The Umayyads were clearly keen to wrap this game up before the 'break for dinner and overnight' whistle-stop pause which was due later that evening.
Crazed lancers hurtled round the Byzantine Arabs flanks in the early phases of the game, putting material pressure on the somewhat "difficult to know what they are there for" allied contingent and getting extremely overexcited in the process as they contemplated a haul of medals and booty for their role in this surefire swift and decisive victory.
This rapid evolution towards the flanks had left something of a bigger gap in the middle of the Uamyyad line that the Tibetans were capable of filling alone. The Byzantines, seeing opportunity, pushed forward bowmen and spearmen to challenge the mountain-clinging cataphracts, seeking to break through any unwisely-left voids and cause havoc in the Arabian rear areas as a result.
The Byzantine left had now fully tortoise-up behind their spearmen - only some seemingly arrow-proof light horse archers were left to occupy the vas swathe of desert terrain which stretched invitingly in front of the Umayyad advance.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Umayyads are now fully round the Byzantine right flank and roaming at will, and Byzantine generals are furiously redeploying penny packets of men to shore up the holes that have appeared here. This shift to the flanks has however denuded the Umayyad centre significantly and this is allowing the Byzantines to start to drive forwards here, in turn eroding the Tibetans ability to do anything meaningful now that their own flanks are insecure. The Umayyad right is an increasingly narrow-fronted puzzle box which the wide but poor quality Umayyads are struggling to find ways to unlock.
The Umayyads were in full flow round the back of the Maurikian right already, with rampaging lance-armed units of cavalry roaming at will behind their co-religionists in the pay of the Byzantine Emperor..
With Arab bowmen pressing into the terrain and pouring arrows into the paltry screen of ex-ambushers the pressure was ratcheting up rapidly on this wing of the enemy army.
The Umayyad drone force sent up a reconnaissance camera platform to assess the situation. On the ground things looked just swell, but from this angle the paucity of resources the overstretched and over-eager Umayyad left wing was applying to a rather large swathe of the Byzantine's total on-table capability suddenly became more apparent. Had the Arabs overreached themselves in a headlong rush to get round the Byzantine flank?
On the opposite wing no such issues or uncertainties plagued the Arab commander. With no opposition to speak of, and an open table over which to march the whole wing of the army swung towards the pivot of the Byzantine line with impressive momentum, gathering pace with each horse-step across the waving sand surface of Rafa's tabletop cloth du jour.
Byzantine Military - The Strategicon
Over-excited by the possibility of rushing round a seemingly open flank, the inexperienced Umayyad cavalry suddenly were given a harsh lesson in the importance of command and control as the well-led (and high command value) Byzantine army simply turned around a chunk of their mounted warriors and charged into the disgruntled Arabian lancers with abandon and glee
Pushing round the enemy flank is a great idea, but it appears that this tactic usually works better if it is combined with at least a modicum of pressure being applied to their front.
The other flank was, despite the total lack of elephants on table wearing masks, a bit of a Byzanto-Arabian-Mexican standoff, with the Tibetans unwilling to launch themselves against the Byzantine Skoutatoi spearmen, and the rest of the Umayyad flank attacking force struggling to get any degree of urgency into their advance towards the Maurikians line of cavalry which were now tidily defending their arny's left flank from any feasible attack from the decidedly sub-standard Umayyad mounted force.
If the Arab spears could be brough it that would give the Umayyad army an interesting selection of tools with which to unpick this lock, but so far their advance was decidedly slower than it should be.
At this poingt the event breaks for dinner, returing to the table in the morning.
And, being Spain, there was quite a dinner
Dave sneaks in a small G&T as a pre-dinner drink
Using the new "measure" app on an iPhone to assess the size of the leg of roast pork
What happens to you if you are bottom of the table at the meal break.
The walls of the road near our Pensione were sufficiently close to one another than bouncing off them didn't add too much to the journey home.
After an overnight break for dinner, drinks and a well deserved sleep, followed by a hearty breakfast in the Pensione Don Estelle the battle was rejoined
The Tibetans immediately decided that waiting for 10 hours in a darkened sports hall in Northern Spain was no fun at all, and promptly charged home. Admittedly I also did play a role in encouraging them, having worked out overnight that the factors were actually pretty decent in so doing, so with the enemy army already under pressure why not just wade in and trade some casulaties either side to push them towards defeat more quickly than the larger Umayyad force?
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Spears charged by Cataphracts are 2:1 up in the first round (Spear + Impact vs Cataphract base factor), but the better armour of the Cataphracts will mitigate a difference of -1 against them when working out the "post-dice" factors, so basically its a wash in the first round. The Cats also get "Furious Charge", so if they do beat the odds and win they do an additional hit in the first round.
After that, assuming everyone is still undamaged, its 1 vs 1 in combat, but again with the armour helping the Cats avoid some losses and reducing their hits as the melee continues.
A nicely balanced interaction all round really - before the dice come into play of course!
With everyone's attention elsewhere, the Byzantines had carefully engineered a bit of an advantage down by the edge of the uneven going. Maniacally waving their curved swords the allied Moslem infantry had charged forward to support the well-equipped Byzantine morsemen, ending at a stroke the standoff between the two forces in this part of the battlefiend and punching a hole through the Umayyad defences.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Umayyads have committed to combat on the right flank, having carefully assembled their best combination of troops with which to take on the high quality Byzantines on a narrow frontage. The thin Arab center is now starting to be a source of problems as Byzantine shooting (and numbers) are increasingly eroding the Umayyads ability to hold ground here. On the Umayyad left the initial euphoria of sailing round a seemingly indefensible flank has lapsed into the realisation that the Byzantine cavalry will be difficult to beat even when faced piecemeal.
Fortified by a nights sleep - or not - the attack of the Cataphracts from Tibet was hardly reaching the dizzy heights of the mountains from whence they had come.
Only one of the Skoutatoi units had taken any hits, although it was the most useful one to be potentially dead, Arabically speaking, as it sat in front of the Byzantine cavalry line.
But that line may well be advancing sooner than it would have Cataphracts in it's flank as it had despatched the Umayyad concerted infantry and lancer attack with ease, vaporising the supposedly resilient spear formations pretty much totally at first contact. The jaws of the Umayyad vice were not so much closing, more fracturing with metal fatigue due to their low build quality.
The seemingly easy victory was spinning out of control as the Arabs stared down the barrel of an Epic Fail !
The ridiculously well painted Byzantine cavalry were mopping up outnumbered spearmen now at some rate of knots - possibly catching them in two minds as to whether such small scale vignettes might be a previosuly unseen LBMS transfer or maybe a beyond-impressive hand pained masterpiece?
Maurice - the Bio
The game time was running out fast for both sides as the Umayyads, fearing a unlikely defeat, were forced to throw lancers in all along the line to try and stave off a loss. With two expert dice rolls to round out the game the Umayyad Arabs killed two mercenary Umayyad horsemen with a "you're injured twice, you're mate is now dead, and that causes you to also die due to having picked up a third injury for being behind the guy who just died" move. Teeth and skin indeed...
The Result is a remarkable 3rd consecutive mutual destruction!
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 Umayyad Arab Commander
Tremblin' Taramasalata! This looked like a reet good game fer th'lads for most of the first 90 minutes. But then, takin' th'Toon Army into extra time after the dinner break didnae work oot at all, and the rest and sleep allowed th'Byanteeens to claw their way back inta tha' game reet proper like.
Ah thought I had them Byzanteeens caugh oop by tha' short n'curlies, but like the grease from a kebab running down the double chins of a reet big lass at the end of a big night oot they slipped away and our men couldn't get a proper grip on 'em.
The Tibetans also disappointed and will need to put in a good display on the trainin' field to get a place back in the team for the next round game ah think. Like Teriaki terriers in a Sushi dogfight, they should have been the perfect weapon to break the resistance of the Skoouuutatoi once and for all, but somehow they got stuck and we was not able to force through a win.
At least it ended as the sort of Toon Army-Liverpool 4-4 draw that keeps the supporters coming along, even if the league championship may now be a Fajita too far in our effort to claim glory in yet another season?
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Stupid boy! How many of your regular foibles were on full display in the farrago of a fight? I cannpt count them as they truly must be without number!
Going into a game with almost the right tools for the job in the form of the spearman-crushing Tibetans, and then failing to understand the factors properly and so delaying the start of the combat they were pretty much born to win until there remained too little time for them to grind their way through the enemy spear-wall is foolishness of the order of hiring Dennis Wise as Director of Football.
Likewise on the left, you got some of your troops into a good position but then started showboating rather than doing things with them that would allow them to win. An error you then compounded by leaving other elements of your force in the firing line of some of the enemy's best men.
The overall result was a game in which you had the advantage pretty much everywhere at the start of the battle, and everywhere you then chose to sit back and wait for some as yet undetermined advantage to develop elsewhere. Really, blind aggression is usually your undoing but here you got yourself into such a strong alignment that you stopped being the Toon Army and turned into late Wenger-Era Arsenal in trying to score the perfect goal at the expense of actually winning the game. Maybe we will see a more hurried and decisive approach in the next game?
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition