The Worlds 2018
Alexander The Great vs Nikephorian Byzantine
Game 5 followed a legendary Birmingham curry in the glamorous and sophisticated environs of Solihull, after which the brave and foolhardy amongst our group retired to the drawing room for cigars, brandy and a couple more pints of local ales at the nearest Weatherspoons we could find in order to comment overly loudly on how much cheaper beer was here than in London.
Breakfast was much more upscale than in Milton Keynes, as we didn't even have to leave the building this time... lured by the attractions of the advertising in the hotel where we were staying
This time the opposition was a Byzantine army from the once-Roman city of York under the command of recent ADLG convert Paul Dawson. Paul had stepped in at the last moment after a cancellation threatened to leave us with uneven numbers, having been planning on attending UKGE anyway - and now he was sat across the table with a very well painted army and two wins and a loss.The lists for the Alexander The Great and Nikephorian Byzantine from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at The Worlds can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The field of play had ended up rather open, with the clutter concentrated on my left flank and a broad open cavalry-friendly plain on my right over which presumably waves of high quality Nikephorian cavalry would be seeking to roam.
This led inexorably to the reappearance of the decidedly not Madras-tastic Indians on my right, with the half-hearted Death Star in the centre ready to either support the South Asians or drift left and work with the Pike and Hypaspist command as it sought no doubt to bottle up any enemy mounted on the hill.
The Byzantines had however matched my Indians with a solid looking line of Varangian mercenary spears and axemen, broadened by Skoutatoi. Their mounted was in penny packets to nip and dance around the extremities of the advancing spearwall.
Nikephoros The Emperor
This was not an enticing prospect for the Indians, and they promptly indicated their disgust by rolling a 1 to start the game unreliable. They would now not move until they were either sufficiently threatened by enemy action or became inspired enough to roll a 6.
This reluctance on the part of almost half my frontage to advance had not stopped the rest of my army from pressing on, as it seemed hard to imagine how a wall of spearmen would either be able to redeploy to support the rest of the Byzantines, or indeed whether they would dare to do so with the possibility of the Indians coming back online at any moment and sweeping forward against them.
Pikes and Companions moved up to try and bottle a small and varied Byzantine force ensconced atop a local hill in much the same way as we had ensconced ourselves in the Indian restaurant on the table nearest the Cobra tap the night before.
The Death Star command was a complex threat vector for the sophisticated Byzantines to deal with - it wheeled outwards, daring the Byzantines to swing to face it and risk diverting attention from the still-uncommitted Indians.
In the domain of spicy food, Mexico vies for supremacy against the spices of the Indian sub continent, and in the world of battlefield matchups the Indians were likewise matching the Byzantine foot in a proper hot and humid Mexican standoff
This continued lack of action started to become somewhat of a problem for the ex-Romans who remained committed to not committing their opponents.
Blabbering Baltis! Faced with a static enemy on a hill, the Alexandrian pike command had found the pips to drive its two light horsemen to outflank the enemy position. Close range shooting ensued as Graeco-Makedonian javelins and archery sought to knock holes in a Byzantine LH unit whilst the proper tooled up Nikeforian cavalry looked on and dithered as to whether supporting their skirmishers was worth risking being closed upon by the enemy Phalanx.
The Byzantines had decided that their supremacy on the left flank was sufficient to justify attacking the Indian formation and lurched forward into unreliability triggering range. Things were soon getting hotter than a Vindaloo as Kavallorai and Light Horse itched for action on the edge of the table as the line of Skoutatoi and spearmen raised a Greek Hurrah and steamed forward towards the line of bowmen and elephants.
The Byzantines had now fallen back off the hill on their right in the face of a sustained aggressive advance by Pike and Hypaspists
Their sole and lonely block of Spearmen had also driven off the Greek LH as well, who were now scattered across the extreme left of the table, pursued by Byzantines LH who's shooting had proved surprisingly effective.
The Death Star had undergone a genre-defying Saucer Separation, splitting off a lone elephant to charge aggressively at a Byzantine Kavallori who was shocked to find himself entirely unsuitable to defend the flank of his infantry formation.
The Kavallori had evaded, and as the elephant charge rolled long the Pachyderms had just reached the back edge of a pair of units of Katafractorii who had been falling back to avoid exactly the fate which now befell them - a devastating elephant attack
With one lot of Elephants now doing well, and the smell of last night's curry in their nostrils the Indians wheeled outwards to match the Byzantine axis of attack - and to secure their own right flank against the enemy cavalry probe.
Both sides were exchanging shots in the hope of causing a few casualties, any of which might serve to tip the coming infantry on infantry (and elephants) battle more in their favour - sort of like taking a sneaky second poppadum in the pre-starters phase of the currytime meal.
The whole empire in a cartoon
A frontal battle between the forces of India and Byzantium did however rest on the continued viability of the Byzantines flank guards - who had clearly not read this part of the script, and had just been trampled underfoot by a Greek-owned elephant charge by the rest of the separated Death Star. The Byzantines centre now had a huge problem, but on the flip side it no longer had a right flank to worry about. So, not all bad eh?
The Indians were also not entirely free of the entire "Houston we have a problem" scenario themselves, with nothing credible to prevent the Byzantine horsemen from swinging round their flank.
Faced with the prospect of a mounted attack the Asiatics decided that getting into combat with their frontal opponents as quickly as possible was probably the best bet, as this would remove any element of skill from the game and also put them in contact with Inferior troops - they charged forward against the Skoutatoi accordingly.
This however did not go entirely successfully, and the sudden arrival of the Byzantine Kavalllori into their rear did not help at all either.
Half the Indian forces were now close to elimination, but with a significant part of the Byzantine army occupied in facing down what was still only 3 units of the larger Alexandrian force, this was not quite the disaster it first appeared.
Jumping Jalfrezi! The other component of that particular equation was unfolding on the Byzantine infantry blocks' other flank, as the Death Star continued its advance into the space formerly occupied by the Byzantine right wing.
Varangians were struggling in the face of elephants + overlaps. While the Thracians were less than happy about being clobbered by lancers in the open, the distracting proximity of the Elephants and the vague whiff of Birmighham Balti they carried with them al all times meant they were just about still in the game.
How good were the Byzantines?
The right flank of Alexanders army was now creeping with some speed towards its centre as the Byzantines successes on that flank approached totality. Elephants may be the coolest thing since before the invention of sliced bread, but once they were removed the Indian battle plan didn't really amount to much more than a pile of crumbs.
The whole empire - hand drawn
The Death Star faced further dismemberment as the Thracians succumbed to enemy cavalry action, exposing the elephant in the process. But the half-hearted Death Sttar had already been reinforced by a unit of Companions, who's presence gave a lot more capability to the Greeks. This in turn meant that the Byzantine horsemen might well struggle to choose the right targets to help their Varangians without exposing their own flanks in the process.
The Byzantine Skoutatoi had finished off the Indian infantry and heffalumps who had so unwisely attacked them, and now the well-shielded shooters started to swing around to try and complete the demolition of the remaining Indians, aiming their bows and starting towards shooting the rest of the Indian command.
The rest of the Indians didn't fancy this at all, and had turned and marched away rather than waiting to be outmatched and overwhelmed by a wall of close formation shooting with added cavalry on their flanks.
The dismembered Death Star elephant had quickly realised that the Indians were not going to come to his aid, and, losing heart had fallen victim to a renewed and reinforced Varangian and Menavaloi attack - but the Byzantine army was now running out of hit points as well.
Alexander the Great vs Ivan the Terrible - Epic Rap Battles of History
The rest of the Death Star had been chewing it's steady way through the Katafractaroi whilst all this action was ongoing, and having finished them off had carried on towards the enemy baggage.
This elephant had claimed the booty of looting the enemy camp and together with 2 units of Cataphracts had been responsible for 8 losses out of the 20-odd in the Byzantine army - fittingly delivering the final blow which condemned the Byzantines to defeat and secured a win for Alexander!
Click here for the report of the final game in this competition well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from the Aleksander The Great Meerkat
Yay - a victory even though the Indians were late to the party - which is possibly a good thing as with only 5 games I have now used up the full statistical possibilities of them being unreliable and so can confidently take them into the next game knowing they are guaranteed to be in play!
This was a genius-like display of military brilliance in which I managed to leave half of my forces uncommitted, split the rest of my troops into several packets and spread them across the table against a faster-moving and better commanded army than mine, and then attack in a carefullly coordinated set of piecemeal actions. This in a nutshell is what allowed me to win.
The skill with which I managed to roll up with the elephants when charging a lone cavalryman was undoubtably the key part of the game, as that allowed me to pursue into the rear of Cataphracts, and ultimately take the enemy baggage home with me. I'm not sure what this city was called when I was Emperor of the World, but based on the stuff in their baggage train I would have enjoyed a holiday or three there I'm sure.
Fittingly, one great Icon such as myself managed to beat an army festooned with them. This is synchronicity, and sets me up well for the end run into the trophy zone.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
How in the names of all of the Gods above and below did you manage to conjure something out of that ? To start with the terrain, which was terrible, and then to go on with deplying the Indians in a position in which it was entirely possible for the enemy to ignore them... and, of course, to compound that error further by attacking with the rest of your army on a broad front is a mistake you seem to make on such a regular basis that it now barely warrants comment at all.
Here it appeared that you did not expect at all the number and width of spearmen that the opposition were able to put onto the field, and this then caught you out with what in retrospect looks like a lucky but probably wrong army list, and therefore terrain choice as well.
A solid line of Pikemen on a narrow cloth would have made things much more difficuult for the opposition here, and would have not taxed your small and puny brain as much in the process either.
At least we have only one more potential debacle left to endure in this 5-round competition, and so we move forwards towards the last and final game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition