Dark Ages at Warfare 2023
Carolingian Frankish vs Maurikian Byzantine
With a spanking win under their belts the Carolingians must have been confident, and with Round 2 taking place with just enough time to grab a sandwich and a fizzy pop they were well (but expensively) victualled as well as they headed into the afternoon session
This time their opponents would be .. another Byzantine, hailing from the slightly later Maurician era and commanded by the suave York-based Maestro Marco Baroni with his gracious tableside manner.
This would be another game of charging and shooting, that much was already clear even before the dice started to roll for terrain setup
Maurician is kinda the same as the Justinian list, but with a few tweaks. So, almost all shoot-and-charge cavalry, but none of the full-fat Bow/Impact top flight guys - and of course some sub-par infantry and a few light foot javelineers
The lists for the Carolingian Frankish and Maurikian Byzantine from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Warfare can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
This was an absolute bowling alley of a table, with a couple of bits of terrain on either flank beautifully framing the two long lines of lance-armed horsemen
The Byzantines were slightly less numerous than the Carolingians, as their leader Maurice The Bold had elected to arm all of his troops with bows as well as lances, and had also conjured up a +5 initiative by stuffing the army with a load of light horse and light foot, which the almost-all-combat-ready Carolingians looked upon with distain and an arrogance borne of Gallic insouciance
Tramps like us and we like tramps
Yeah, Charlemagne's got something in his sweatpants
The Byzantine army was skewed to the right flank of the line of Carolingians, and they seemed intent on closing rapidly, perhaps looking to achieve by sheer speed a volley-and-charge attack before the Carolingian left wing could swing round into their exposed right flank.
The sun glinted off polished armour as the valiant Carolingian knights, their banners billowing like flames, returned the Byzantine forward momentum with interest, seemingly intent on descending upon the enemy like a tempest from the plains of Central France
Charlemagne pulls street corner scams
Gideon's got a pipe made from a Pringles can
Holly's insatiable, she still looks incredible
But she don't look like the same girl we met
On that first night...
Both armies had by now withdrawn their skirmishers, as the two lines of well-trained, lance-couching horsemen raced together like a speeded up version of that bit in the dumpster in the original Star Wars film - there was no time for shirking in this battle!
Charlemagne's cavalry, bedecked in regal hues of royal purple and fiery orange (well, contrast paints are pretty cool huh?), surged forward with a courage that seemed to set the very air ablaze in the high vaulted cathedral of combat that was the 2023 Warfare exhibition shed.
Carolingian feudal cavalry, their armour adorned with hues of deep azure blue and radiant ruby red (actually, those names are too pedestrian to be Contrast paints), crashed into the enemy lines like a force of nature.
They had given up an overlap to the Byzantines, but quality had a value all of it's own and with the longer Carolingian line already forcing the Byzantines into a refused flank defensive malarkey sort of thingy the die was now ready to be cast to see which of the two fully committed armies would emerge victorious
On the Carolingian right the Byzantines were maintaining a steady fusillade of archery, peppering the infantry block of Charlemagne's army with well aimed arrows that gradually began to erode the kettle-helmetted infantry's resolve. With the Carolingian horsemen also suffering from the arrows of outrageous fortune, the tide of battle was in Constantinoples favour, even though the Carolingians had not suffered all that many outright losses
But with yet more Carolingian lancers soon joining the line of battle, this still looked a challenging obstacle for Byzantiums finest to surmount - their shooting would continue until Carolingian morale declined yet further!
A symphony of war cries accompanied the Carolingian Caballeros, whose armour gleamed in shades of midnight black and gleaming silver as they bore down on the enemy to turn the whole tabletop into a fiesta of dice and close quarters combat - this was much more to the Carolingians liking than the relentlessly effective shooting that had eroded their confidence early doors
What's The Odds of That Then ?
This chart shows the casualties that can be expected when an Elite Armoured Impact Cavalryman charges into a non-elite, non-impact horse archer
The better quality cavalry win big almost every time in this matchup, recording over 12 times as many casualties as the unarmoured average horse archers in the first round
The second string Byzantine cavalry really don't want to be fighting Charlemagne's knights in this battle
The charge was a spectacle of bravery and colour, as the Carolingians, donned in regal amethyst and gleaming gold (now we're getting somewhere..) started to punch through the enemy lines - although the Maurikians were giving as good as they got, with their Elite Impact cavalry matching the Carolingians for quality and skill, and causing a cascade of losses to litter the Carolingian side of the line of scrimmage too.
This was not the same cakewalk as the first battle at all - Charlemagne's men suddenly woke up and realised they had some serious fighting to do.
The Byzantine right flank suddenly erupted in a clash of steel and vibrant hues as Carolingian cavalry, adorned in celestial blue and fiery crimson (Yep, I'm calling it now..) pressed forward and started to flow around the end of the Byzantine line, putting the well-drilled cavalry from Constantinople under intolerable pressure even as the battle in the centre of the field also started to tilt towards the men from Aachen too.
The clash of Carolingian and Byzantine horsemen was a kaleidoscope of violence, the Caballeros meeting their foes head-on and breaking straight through the fast-wilting Byzantines with calculated fury and ferocity.
The Byzantines had also been forced to step into the solid line of spears presented by Charlemagne's peasant infantrymen - either that or risk gifting the Caballeros a series of decisive overlaps in the middle of the park - and that was also not working out all that great either
A notable lack of Byzantine reserves exacerbated the problems - this looked like it could be the beginning of a great unravelling of what had for much of the game looked like a Byzantine victory
Like a whirlwind of courage, the Carolingian cavalry skittled through the increasingly ragged enemy ranks, leaving chaos and destruction in their wake. Everywhere you looked, countless numbers of Francphone horsemen were making a mess of what had started out as a nice and neat Byzantine line of well drilled shooters.
Rise of the Carolingians
The clash of arms resonated amidst a sea of dice rolling, as the Carolingian cavalry surrounded and picked off the isolated and dispirited Byzantines one by one.
They had thought the game was in their grasp, but it was now slipping from their Constantiopalese fingers - and it seemed that the only question would be one of how the Byzantines would fall to defeat!
And, here the decisive moment as the Carolingians surrounded and unhorsed the last remaining Byzantine defender of the Orthodox faith in Western Europe
The hard-charging proto-knights had struck fear into the hearts of the enemy, and despite soe initial reversed and taking heavy casulaties along the way, had finally carved a successful path through the tumultuous battlefield to claim a great victory for the one true Holy Roman Empire!
The Result is a second win for Charlemagne!
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 Carolingian Frankish Commander
My loyal knights, your mettle hath been tested in the crucible of war, and like the finest steel, you emerged unyielding, unbroken. With a heart unshaken and blades unsheathed, you faced the tempest of chaos and guided our realm through the storm. Each swing of thy sword was a symphony, a melody that resonates through the ages, a testament to the valor of the chivalrous soul.
For we, by divine providence and the courage of noble hearts, have forged a union that transcends the earthly realm. I, Charles, by the grace of God, stand before thee as the Holy Roman Emperor, crowned not by the hands of men alone but anointed by the very spirit of righteousness that courses through our land, and some pretty decent dice at the right time as well when it looked like we may be slipping to defeat it must be said.
Let this victory be not merely a laurel for our brows but a foundation upon which we shall build a realm where justice is the cornerstone, where the bonds between liege and vassal are unbreakable, and where the light of civilization dispels the shadows of discord! OK, Feudalism may not be all that great if you are a serf or peasant, but we're a long way off democracy here in Europe and my closest buddies and relatives now have all the armour, lances and horses so we shall gloss swiftly over that anyway and move on.
Our duty is not solely to wield the sword but to guide with wisdom, to lead with compassion, and to nurture the seeds of prosperity that our triumphs have sown - but another straight up heroic charge forward by all 8 of our Elite Heavy Cavalry lancers in the next game, leading to a noble 3rd victory of the weekend will frankly do just as well.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Astounding! Not a smidgeon of tactics graced your tabletop in the initial battle, and lo and behold, we see the same paucity of thought reappear here in the second! Thou art a veritable echo, a dull reflection of creative thought, a mimicry without a muse that dares to claim leadership of Christendom not through genius or skill, but by means arcane and unknowable I can only assume.
The belly of the beast, the heights of Abraham - no, I can only imagine that thy mind doth dwell in the shadow of banality, where novelty fears to tread and where repetition returns like a bad-breathed lover in the night to wake you from your fever dreams of military success
Thy thoughts, like wilted flowers, bear the stench of unoriginality, and it is hard to see how such a stench could engineer a victory in this game which so nearly slipped from your grasp.
Thou art as imaginative as a parchment filled with rehearsed sighs and uninspired ink, but llet us see what tale will be told in the next game perchance?
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition