Open 2-list ADLG in Estella, 2018
Umayyad Arab vs Medieval Polish
The final game of the weekend, and the most medieval of opponents - the Polish. With three mutual destructions there was still a small chance of a podium, or at least the possibility of being the top-scoring CLWC player (which was arguably more important), so yet again the Tibetan-infused army came out to play.
Polish is a late medieval army, so relies on a strike force of Heavy Knights - more than a match for anything in an Umayyad army. The usual tactic of going round the opposition flanks whilst trying to absorb the punch with a dense mob of spearmen would need to be implemented with more skill than the previous two games if a victory was to be achieved.
The lists for the Umayyad Arab and Medieval Polish 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.
After fortification with coffee the game got underway.
Poland is a land of forests, and this table was true to the homeland of the opposition with a major woodland cutting down the width of the board. The Umayyad deplyment as a result turned rather experimental, with the Tibetans bizzarrely occupying the slot opposite the forest and two further Arabic commands extending the line out to the open left flank.
This meant that the plan was reliant on nothing of note emerging from the woodlands to overrun the Tibetans, but did have the advantage that the Umayyad left hook was heavily weighted with a massive amount of mobile troops.
As expected the Poles deplyed their knightly strike force in the centre - Arab spearmen knew their role (die slowly) and prepared for a grim and attritional battle against the best the Polish Kingdom could throw at them on this possibly eventful morning
The staggering numbers of Arabs crammed into merely 2/3 of the table meant that the left flank was more than well equipped enough to scare the bejeezus out of the fairly textbook Polish screen of a couple of Light Horse bowmen. A solid(ish) line of Mediocre Lancers, backed up by bowmen and led by an ex-sassanid Heavy Cavalry Asarvan was not what 2 LH wanted to see at any time, especially not when they had been sent to hang out to dry by their commander. The Polish Cavalry in the background realised they may be needed to stem the Arab attack, rather than exploit a Knightly breakthrough.
With numerous ambushes in the woodlands the Tibetans had to be cautious - but this strategy suited the Umayyad plan, as deferring combat on the right and centre would buy more time for the left hook to swing round into the flank of the Polish army.
Even though they were tasked with delaying, the Tibetans, facing mixed Spear/Crossbow infantry, were starting to wonder if they might be able to sneak in some hits of their own as well against such opponents?
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Miixed formations count as one quality grade worse in combat, making the Polish Foot effectively "Mediocre Spears" vs the Tibetans. The Spearmen's advantage at Impact would be netted out by the Tibetan's better armour, so the qualift disparity may prove decisive in favour of the Tibetans even in the first round. Geting into sustained melee and it becomes Armoured Average Tibetans vs Medicre Unarmoured Infantry - a very winnable combat indeed.
The Polish Mounted Crossbowmen had been draggd forward to support their own light horse, but this incautious advance only put them in range of the Arab infantry archers on the flank. Normally a squishy target, when protected on bot hflanks by Spearmen and Lancers the Bows seemed to have found their natural niche and were popping off shots onto the heads of the disgruntled Poles with glee and amusement.
The Umayyad army was fully braced for impact as the Polish knights started to gather speed. Knees knocked together beneath kalwar shameez's as the Arabian spearmen faced up to the prospect of the sort of heavy metal high quality lancepoint attack which they had been trying and generally failing to stop since the long ago days of DBM.
The FoG era was at this moment something they looked back on with warmth and affection, mainly as they'd not gotten out of the box all that often as arab spearmen were a bit pants under those rules, but now in AD:LG they were facing yet another reckoning at the hands of their own Generals attempt to prove they were a decent pick for their points value.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Umayyad forces adopt a traditional echeloned approach, advancing on the left whilst hanging back against the terrain-covered right of the table. In the centre the Umayyad line of spearmen is already braced for the impact of the Polish knights, and the cavalry on the Arab left know full well the importance of overwhelming this flank before the centre - inevitably - buckles under such a fearsome assault.
The Poles had a definate Plasticine aspect to their lances as they galloped across the open ground towards the waiting Umayyads.
Hopefully none of them would see their badly bent lance points catch a divot in the ground and then trip themselves up in the same spectacular way that Raheem Sterling playing for Manchester City vs Shaktar Donetsk in the 2018 Champioins League Groups Stage would do so many hundreds of years later?
With their Knights about to charge home, the Polish mounted crossbowmen had now clearly decided that their role in this battle was now done. They turned tail and executed a shart and effective strategic withdrawal back towards their onw baggage in the face of the ragtag combination of poor quality cavalry and normally half-hearthed infantry coming at them at speed out of the North African desert.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Arab left has managed to move at a fast pace and is coherently assembling itself to sweep across the table left to right into the flank of the entire Polish army. The Poles own knights are still key to engage the Umayyad spear line in the centre, and the slower moving Polish infantry remain some way away from the Tibetans. The Poles appear to have nothing to emerge from the wooded area on their left flank either.
The Umayyads had achieved part of their objective in clearing the Poles from their own right flank - now the slow moving mixed infantry and cavalry command needed to get a real shift on to actually start fighting someone before the battle was won and lost in the centre anyway.
With much of the Polish army seemingly in full retreat the Arabs started to push forward eagerly.
The massed assault on this wing gave them men and units to spare and the Umayyad general took full advantage, driving lancers into any gap he could see careless of the risk of possible losses along the way.
It was simply a question of engaging as many of the enemy in the flank as possible, and trying at all costs to ensure that the line of Arabian infantry possessed at least one, maybe 2 overlaps before the Polish noblemen hit a line of men who were already braced for impact
Like a whole tube carriage fully of Robert Lewandowskis all riding on dirty great horses the Polish Strike Force slammed into the waiting (but not waiting in a 'I'm looking forward to this' sort of way) Arabian infantry line. Carnage ensued all round as markers and hits were exchanged like unwanted gifts at a post-Christmas branch of Argos. With two overlaps the Arabs could barely be any better set up to receive the mounted hammer blow, but with 4 hits dished out and only 2 suffered themselves, the Poles were happy with the overall outcome of this momentous clash
Robert Lewandowski - 5 goals in 9 minutes
The Arabian army was now making merry havoc all along the unprotected right flank of the Polish deployment.
The Knights suffered a Crappo Lancer attack to their flank, and the men of the mounted crossbow formation just gasped in astonishment at the sheer number of actually quite attractive individually but difficult to hit with just one crossbow bolt type opponents who were elbowing each other out of the way on the Umayyad side to get to grips with the Polish medieval warriors.
The Polish knights were now locked in a close quarters melee against the Arabs' foot warriors.
The tough, travel-hardened men had marched across continents in the service of their Caliph, and also their spears were cast integrally with the rest of the figure in a posture which was close to their bodies so they did also have the advantage of having straight pointy sticks vs the Knights' Pretzel Logic Lances.
But the decisive part in this drama looked set to be played out with the high speed arrival of loads of Arabian cavalry, some of whom had already hit the flank of the line of Knights, auto-killing the end of the Polish line and turning the tide back in Arabia's favour.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Charge into the flank of a unit engaged to it's front and with only one hit point left and it's just gone. The combat isn't fought, no dice are rolled, it just picks up another, final hit and is taken off - but not until the end of the combat phase
The Polish Knights needed no wings of their own, they were powered by Red Bull and their energy levels were more than a match for the dour Essex-Arabian infantry.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Polish Knights have done significant damage to the Arab centre, but pockets of Umayyad spearman resistance are preventing them sweeping forward in a coherent manner to follow up their victory. Meanwhile the Arabs have systematically advanced from their position on the left and are carefully picking apart the Polish forces on this flank. The tide of battle is turning the way of Islam
Spearmen were scattered like ninepins as the caffeine powered bowling ball of Krackow Nobiilty steamed forward and used it's armour and superior quality to grind the Umayyad infantry intro the dirt.
This was bad news of course for the Umayyad spearmen who were already back in the box, but for the Tibetans, who's flank was now fully open to the ravages of enemy Knighthood, it seemed like a defeat delayed for a short while only.
Umayyads in Spain
Boom - With the Tibetan Cataphracts already struggling far more than surely they deserved to do against what were supposed to be "Mediocre" quality infantry, but with a unit of Polish Knights hammering into their flank their end suddenly looked imminent. The Tibetan General was first in line, and as the Knights hammered home he dropped another level to pick up an unusual 3rd hit, wiping him from the field.
The Polish right flank was sagging like a wet bag full of wet things on a damp day by the coast
The Poles were chucking units at random into the onrushing grinding machine which was the Umayyad right hook in a possibly futile attempt to buy time for their Nobles to do yet more damage to the Umayyad centre.
This wasn't likely to be a long term play though, as the Polish mounted crossbowmen were undergunned against the hard-charging and by now increasingly experienced Arabian lancers
Markers now blossomed behind pretty much every unit on the Polish flank.
The Umayyad spearmen shuffled rightwards - conforming to the front of the Polish knights and locking them in place for a few more turns whilst the Arab right flank hopefully did it's work.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Units who start a turn in corner-to-corner contact with an enemy can "conform" and slide across into frontal contact. When this happens it's treated as a continuation of an existing melee, not a "new" charge, so first-round factors don't apply. It's a cute mechanic to somewhat overturn the binary nature of combat in an element-vs-element game
The Polish knights had by now pretty much finished mopping up the Tibetans, but as the knights drifted leftwards the Umayyad right wing continued to drive forwards, pushing deeper and deeper into the Polish flank.
Apart from a few tardy spearmen the whole Umayyad formation was now engaged and piling the pressure on the Poles, and here weight of numbers was starting to count as mounted crossbowmen fell beneath the hooves of onrushing Umayyad cavalry.
Polish History in 5 minutes
Suddenly the Polish wing evaporated, leaving a vast open plain in front of the Umayyad army. The way was now essentially open for Arabian forces to sweep forward and pillage the enemy camp, charge into the flanks of already engaged infantry and knights, or just chase down light skirmishers who were grasping their guns with fear, only to find they were now on the front line and ill equipped to deal with it.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Umayyads have ripped through the Poles flank and are now deep into their rear echelons, running down second string troops and capturing skirmishers who thought they had already long departed the dangerous areas of the battlefield. The Polish Knights are now flailing wildly in the center as weight of numbers starts to break them apart and take them down. The Tibetans however have experienced a torrid time and are all but eliminated - had they performed better the battle would by now surely be over already?
The Poles knew time was running out
Their remaining mounted troops on this flank frantically dropped back in the face of overwhelming force to try and throw their bodies and their horses in front of their baggage train in the knowledge that the Polish Noblemen would kick their arses from here to Warsaw if they let the camp get looted.
Oh, and the game would almost certainly be lost as well.
Bownmen, Lancers, impressed ex-Sassanid Clibanarii all rushed forward all eager to be the ones to claim the prize of tipping the Polish army over the edge of the world. What could a pair of horse archers do to prevent this massed mob of looting-hungry warriors from finding a stash of Polish cured meats (non pork based) to take home to the capital of Umayyadiania
The Cavalry head for the heart of Poland!
With their commander long since departed the field to the Tibetan Valhallah (kinda like the Viking one, but with less mead and roistering, and more joss sticks and chanting) the only remaining unit on the Tibetan side was struggling to muster any pips at all.
Transfixed to the ground, the "I can't believe we're not Chinese" bow-armed infantry found themselves standing in the crosshairs of a Polish mixed spear and crossbow formation - one who had only moments earlier helped the Polish knights to rid the playing surface of Tibetan Cataphracts.
Of course, the Tibetan Archers then, inevitably, pulled out of their back pockets the most heroic display of close combat dice rolling skills yet seen all weekend on the part of the Tibetan command and inflicted a telling defeat on the shocked and stunned Polish pedestrians!
The Arabs surged forward yet again on their left flank - sweeping over, through and past the now-paltry Polish defences to not only crush their Light Horse but also to capture the enemy baggage as well with an ex-Sassanid Asarvan cavalryman.
With both Sassanid horse units in camera shot here (and being in two separate commands of the army) the effect of having two full commands of cavalry (and command and control capability) hurled against this one flank of the Polish army is writ large for all to see.
The ex-Sassnaids put on their shades, check the fuel gauges of their horses, tap ouot a cigarette or two and head off to meet their destiny in the service of their Caliph.
The axis of combat has now been fully turned through 90 degrees as the Arabs sweep right to left across the whole width of the table, knocking over enemies from all directions as the multitude of casulaties start to ratchet up. The game ends with the Polish camp in Umayyad hands, and the flower of Polish nobility regretting not straightening out their lances.
The Result is a second victory of the weekend, and a 5th straight defeat of the enemy army for the Umayyads!
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
A tremendous victory to round off a weekend in which my mighty Arabian army swept all before them, defeating our enemies utterly in all five of the battles we fough. How could one not be pleased with such an outcome!
My army may loook like it has been built wi' Papier Mache, but when we is gannin' ooot on the town we can dish ooot a reet good pastin' t'anyone who gets in our way. Admittedly we may need to work on the defensive side of the game a little, as 3 breaks is not a recipe for winnin' th' league anytime soon I guess.
Bitter Lemons may sting, but defeat stings harder - at least here in this last game things seemed to work a lot better as my left flank attack seemed to hang together well, and the rest of the Toon Army just about did ir's job of not loosing before our wingers won by getting down tha' bye-line and crossing into the scoring zone.
It's never over until the fat lass sings, but here we did this properly and didnna have a fat lass - this victory warranted calling in Kiri Te Kanawa !
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Finally a win which did not also involve defeat for your army. I guess that is a step forward of sorts?
Yet again though the inexplicable decision not to add more quality to the Tibetans made the game a lot harder than it could have been, as they unsurprisingly crumbled in the face of crossbow fire - a weapon literally designed and made in China to defeat them. Fortunately the odd-seeming decision to add in a line bowman to that command meant there was something to stand in the way of an enemy rush to loo your baggage, and your own push into the enemy rear managed to maintain focus to achieve this feat itself instead.
Avoiding the obvious deplyment with Tibetans this time not in the middle also helped a lot, as then you had a massive amount of mobility, and a huge amount of command and control with both Umayyad commands on the left to make sure your weight of numbers achieved a decisive win.
Now this last proper victory has been achieved you are free to start the long trail down to Madrid, and see how many castles and plates of meat you can come across on the Route of El Cid