Dark Ages & Early Feudal at Lisbon 2023
Anglo-Irish vs Nikephorian Byzantine
This was it - the team based highlight of the global ADLG year, with yet another trip to the tile-clad temperate oasis of sardines and Port, Lisbon !
After a stunning bout of mid table mediocrity had engulfed us last year we saw no reason at all to break up a non-winning formula and so the Anglo-Irish team found itself heading to the banks of the Mighty Tagus for the second September in a row, although this time we had shuffled the pack a little and all 4 of us had swapped themes around.
This saw me occupy the Dark Ages & Early Feudal slot, a tricky one to field given my current penchant for non-obvious list choices and a desire not to reuse anything that had been tabled previously.
A bit (OK, a lot) of intra-team muttering later the suggestion of taking Feudal Anglo Irish popped up - which was great, as it would allow me to use a load of figures that haven't really been put on table before, would be pretty unique, and would align with my current penchant for armies which are large but have a lot of "WTF?" troop types in them to give the impression of being a bit rubbish.
List 186, Feudal Anglo-Irish, starts with a few Impetuous Medium Knights (not as good as non-Impetuous ones), only two of whom can be Elite, the rest therefore being a potential liability.
There are a couple of Medium cavalry, then comes the compulsory Heavy Spear Mediocre - OK in parts, but again at risk of being a speed hump against the wrong opponent
The cool part of the list is 4-8 Longbowmen in the later period (of course...) although they are neither Elite nor armed with swords, so are at the bottom of the pile in terms of Longbowmen in any other list.
Then its odds and sods - a couple of Viking-esque Heavy Swordsmen, some Medium axemen, loads of Kern javelineers or skirmishers and a couple of rather Gaelic allies in the shape of Scots Isles or Irish.
All of this is wrapped up in a Command +3 army with Plain, Mountain and Forest which therefore struggles to get to +2 Initiative even if it opts for a full half-dozen Light Foot.
Embarrassingly it was only half way through the competition that it was pointed out to me that we were actually an Anglo-Irish team, and so the only Anglo-Irish army in the whole set of lists did have quite some resonance in it's own right, irrespective of how many of my rarely-used troops it could accommodate!
Anyway, we all got to Lisbon safe and sound, and immediately found a local bar with a great view of a lot of cocks
The day went predictably from thereon in, although being old I think we did all slope off for an afternoon snooze back at the Air BnB before heading out into the wilds of Lisbon's Old Town nightlife
Of course, being 1/4 Irish and 3/4 fashionable London hipsters (OK, Dave Allen now lives in Rugby, but to be fair he has the beard to count as a Hackneyite by proxy) our team did manage to find a craft beer bar to indulge in some weird and wonderful 1/3 pint based beverage sampling, before diving into a nearby restaurant to go full Portugal with reconstituted codfish pie
And jolly nice it was too
The next day saw wargamers from around the world congregate outside the Army Museum, near the port and of course the Brazilian bar which was also the final stopping point on the evening of some of Lisbons more eclectic night-time revellers.
But then all of the previous nights excesses were consigned to history as we got down to some proper subterranean artillery museum gaming against our first opponents, Team Strategus Alentagus, which saw my barely-tested Irish taking on a proper heavy metal Roll Royce of an army, the Nikephorian Byzantines
The lists for the Anglo-Irish and Nikephorian Byzantine from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Lisbon can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Facing what was almost certain to be a mostly mounted, hard-charging army I had hoped to clutter the table with some uneven, horse-unfriendly terrain in which the large numbers of Medium (loose formation) Infantry in the Anglo-Irish army could safely install themselves and be relatively immune to being run down in short order by the Byzantine Kavallorio and Cataphractoi.
This effort ended up as what could best be described as a partial success, with almost all of the terrain falling on one side of the table, forcing the Byzantines to attack down a narrow yet disturbingly level and even bowling alley.
As the defender I had also managed to drop an ambush filled with the proper-Irish allied contingent into a forward position hidden in a plantation (some pretty large potato plants I guess...?) on the right, where the enemy forces would be certain to trigger them into reliability should they start the game unreliable.
The other two commands had the more solid foot command in the centre, butted up against the terrain, with the Knight-Longbow-spear command on the more open flank where the Hobilar Medium cavalry could act as surrogate Light Horse, helped by some more Longbows
The Nikephorians were not messing about, driving down the centre of the board at pace with a solid wall of mixed shoot-and-charge Byzantine cavalry ready to pepper the waiting Anglo-Irish with well-aimed archery before no doubt charging home
Over in the distance a fairly chunky and aggressive flanking command of Light Horse skirmishers occupied the Nikephorian right wing position, presumably hoping to have encountered the more usual "2" Light Horse and surprise them with their tactically innovative use of "3" Light horse of their own
But the Anglo-Irish army list is bereft of any Light horse at all, so these Byzantines were instead pondering what to do against a block of spearmen and Longbows, who no doubt would be inching towards the edge of the table as soon as they made their first move
The Nikephorian infantry had set themselves up on a hill opposite the terrain, and were pushing forward with curious light infantry.
Their proximity to the Ambush markers triggered the waiting Irish allied contingent into life, and suddenly some rather Viking-esque Medium Swordsmen with mighty axes emerged blinking and burping from the depths of the Plantation in which they had been hiding.
With Skoutatoi deployed on the hill facing them, the rest of the Irish contingent however decided to stay hidden in the rather vinyard-esque undergrowth, this avoiding being shot at for the time being at least
This plan of the Byzantines to just roll up, shoot, do damage and then charge home was all well and good, but it really didn't suit the Anglo-Irish all that much, so something had to be done about it - especially as the initial rounds of Byzantine horse archery had proved to be surprisingly effective in damaging several units of Longbowmen and Colonist spearmen
Bacalhau Bonanza! The stoic (and more resilient) Ostmen infantry were therefore immediately sent forward to absorb some archery, with the English knights from both non-allied commands carefully teeing themselves up for what would hopefully be devastating and irresistible charges on both ends of the Byzantine formation in a subsequent turn
Moustache of the Year Award Outer Hebrides Region
Winners & Runners Up Official group photo,
All of this clever nonsense however was totally ignored by the confident Byzantines, who had just unleashed another round of devastating shooting, leaving hit markers on pretty much every Anglo-Irish unit in range.
The Byzantines then simply charged in wherever they could, and suddenly the battlefield roared with the clash of their armoured horsemen, their lances shattering like thunderbolts, scattering splinters like deadly raindrops and leaving only a couple of overlaps to give the Anglo-Irish forces some small crumb of hope
This was the moment of maximum peril for the Anglo-Irish - the line of bowmen and spearmen was not supposed to be absorbing these sorts of enemy mounted charges, that was supposed to be the job of the English Knights
But they were off chasing shadows on either flank as the Byzantine horsemen skittered away from their powerful and impetuous charges.
It was down to the Colonists, the Ostmen and the Longbowmen to do better in combat than they had done receiving archery.
They wavered, they wobbled, their resolve almost faltered.. but apart from a couple of very painful hits on the spears and Ostmen, the infantry line did indeed stand firm.
My Feudal Anglo-Irish Army List
2 English Knights, Medium Knight Impetuous Elite
1 English Knight, Medium Knight Impetuous
1 Hobilar, Medium Cavalry Impact
2 English & Welsh Archers, Vanilla Longbowmen
2 Colonists, Heavy Spearmen Mediocre
1 Kern, Light Infantry Javelin
1 Archer, Light Infantry Bow
In this command the three Knights are the obvious hammer, with the Hobilar acting as either an outrider or a reserve/second wave mounted attacker to fill in any gaps that might crop up. The two elite knights make the mounted force good enough to even have a reasonable go at enemy spearmen, and 3 Medium Knights supported by Longbow archery is quite a decent sized offensive force anyway
Two Longbows + 2 mediocre Colonist spearmen are a tricky combination for enemy mounted (or even foot) to approach, as the Longbow can dish out quite a lot of damage, with even a single hit usually evening the odds for anyone thinking they can attack the fairly brittle spearmen with impunity.
If the Longbowmen can get a toehold in a field or other rough terrain they become a lot more of a challenge to attack, channelling the enemy towards the Knights and Colonist spearmen, with the two Light Foot being either a protective shield against shooting for the Knights or the Spearmen, or sitting in terrain in their own right.
With things going rather badly so far in the centre against the Byzantine mounted contingent, the proper Irish allied force suddenly realised it needed to up it's game and get stuck in.
The Byzantine infantry was actually pretty patch in quality terms, and as long as the Irish axemen could get into the Byzantine Skoutatoi without taking too much shooting damage they should be able to cleave them from their defensive position atop a small rise and make some pretty serious dents into the rather small and compact Byzantine army.
The Irish commander urged his men forward, keen to sweep away the Byzantines paltry handful of skirmishers and outflank the enemy infantry for a swift resolution of attack
The Nikephoran Dynasty
Back in the centre and the echeloned Anglo-Irish formation was slowly starting to come into it's own, as the Byzantine horsemen struggled to finish off the hordes of infantry facing them in a prolonged hand to hand melee.
The sheer width of the Anglo-Irish infantry line, and the resilience of the solid blocks of Ostmen and Colonist spearmen were all being brought to bear, and now the English Knights were starting to look eagerly at the opportunity the flanks of the Byzantine cavalry presented, after they had finished driving off the Constantinopalese light cavalry
The Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland
The Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century occurred in a complex political and cultural context, with many of the key actors in a state of flux. This fragmentation, and tapestry of changing power structures and allegiances is reflected in the makeup of the ADLG army.
In the centuries leading up to the invasion Ireland was politically fragmented into numerous small kingdoms and territories. There was no unified Irish state; instead, the island was divided among various Gaelic chieftains and kingships. These regional lords often engaged in conflicts and alliances with each other, creating an attractive opportunity for the expansionist Norman-led English to take advantage and play fiefdoms and warlords off against one another - hence "Irish" troops appearing both as allies and main army troops/mercenaries in this list
Ireland had been subject to Viking raids and invasions since the late 8th century. Viking settlements were established in coastal areas, most notably in Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, and Wexford. Over time, Vikings had integrated into Irish society, intermarrying with locals and adopting Gaelic customs while also remaining as a distinct military force (in this list "The Ostmen") as part of the shifting mix of alliances the Anglo-Normans were able to take advantage of.
Faced with a somewhat second-string division of Byzantine horse archers, the English Knights in the other command next to the terrain were enjoying a purple patch of their own.
Swords clashed amidst a storm of sparks, each blow a thunderous echo of steel meeting steel, filling the air with the scent of hot metal and sweat as the Ostmen absorbed the initial charge, bogging down many of the Byzantine horsemen in a futile mess of combat and leaving the English Knights free to charge targets of choice.
The Byzantine cavalry were no real match for the Knights, but equally they dare not evade away as this would open up the flank of their main strike force to Anglo-Irish attacks.
Pastéis de Nata Pandemonium! Caught between these two tricky stools, the Byzantines stood - and then started to fall
The Byzantine's elite strike force in the centre were slowly, painstakingly gaining the upper hand against the resilient Colonists and Longbows - but it was slow going.
The entire Anglo-Irish line was now only one fairly reasonable dice round from utter evaporation with almost all of the infantry on the brink of dissolution.. but the Byzantines flanks were looking increasingly at risk too
Fingernail-biting stuff for both armies!
The Irish were now fully committed on the left flank, engaging the Byzantine foot wherever they could.
At the moment things looked precariously even, but the Irish allied Commander and his bodyguard of elite infantry had managed to insert themselves into a gap in the Byzantine line, and surely next turn they would start to exploit it ruthlessly?
Finally, the much-trailed and anticipated Anglo-Irish flank attack clicked into gear to start to tip the tables in the centre
The block of Colonist spearmen had hung on far longer than even mere heroism should have allowed, and now the lightweight plastic Hobilars were throwing their inconsiderable weight into the end of the line of Byzantium's supposedly best cavalrymen.
They needed no encouragement to step up to the plate and prove that the oft-unheralded Medium Cavalry Impact was indeed a troop type worthy to strike the decisive blow in any battle
The Result is a Vinho Verde Victory for the Anglo-Irish Army in its first competitive outing
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 Anglo-Irish Commander
DRINK! FECK! ARSE! KLIBANARII! GIRLS!
Oh My! I find myself in a most extraordinary and delightful situation today, standing before you as the victorious general of our noble forces. It is, indeed, with no small measure of satisfaction that I report to you the successful outcome of our campaign. We have, by dint of unwavering determination, resourcefulness, and a spot of impeccable strategy, managed to secure victory in this most daunting of endeavors.
WHAT! KNICKERS! SKOUTATOI! ARSE!
I must confess that this outcome was not entirely unexpected, for, as we English are wont to do, we approached this battle with a combination of unyielding resolve and a spot of tea in hand. Together, we have achieved a triumph that, in its own way, rivals the successful retrieval of an unwanted engagement ring from the pocket of an alarmed policeman.
I'M STILL ON THAT FECKIN ISLAND! KNIGHTS! FLANKS! GIRLS!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Verily, I must begrudgingly concede, Father Jack, that thou hast achieved a victory most unexpected upon this hallowed field. Though my own exploits, in a previous life, didst surpass thine by leagues uncounted, it is a testament to thy... unique leadership that this army of Anglo-Irish warriors hath emerged triumphant against the Nikephorian Byzantines here today.
In my past life, I, Hannibal, didst traverse the Alps with elephants, and my name was spoken in awe and dread from the Pillars of Hercules to the very heart of Rome itself. Yet, here I stand, acknowledging thy improbable success
Mayhaps it is the spirit of Carthage that resides within me, recognizing greatness even in unlikely vessels. So, Father Jack, I offer thee my grudging congratulations, for in this medieval incarnation, thou hast carved a niche in the annals of history, alongside the likes of a certain Carthaginian general.
Aye, 'tis a most curious turn of fate, indeed, and perhaps one we will see o'er turned in the next game ?
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition