Dark Ages at Warfare 2023
Carolingian Frankish vs Abbasid Arab
Game three, off the back of two wins which had seen me shoot up the table (although with heavy losses, so not entirely to the top!), and a matchup with Steve Nice, who I tend to play a couple of times a year on the circuit
Steve had an Abbasid army, giving Charlemagne a good chance to emulate Charles Martel and keep Europe for Christendom against the Arab foe.
Abbasid Arab can have all sorts of options, but as one of the "earlier" Arab armies those are all mostly built around charging cavalry rather than mounted horse archery / Ghulams, making it a straight matchup for the Carolingians in many ways.
The lists for the Carolingian Frankish and Abbasid Arab 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.
Given the preponderance of horsemen on both sides, neither of us were likely to want much terrain, although Steve did seek to narrow things down with a Waterway to set up a head on Lancer on Lancer clash - there would be none of this messing about with shooting before charging that the effete and decadent Byzantine Empires seemed to favour !
The sun hung low in the western sky, casting long shadows across the vast plain where two mighty armies stood poised for battle.
On one side, the proud knights of Charlemagne's French Carolingian Empire, clad in gleaming armour and bearing lances that sparkled in the fading light.
On the other, a formidable force of Abbasid Arab cavalry, their desert-honed steeds pawing at the earth, eager for the clash that awaited them.
The ground started to shake beneath the weight of the charging Frankish and Arab horsemen, their horses galloping at full speed as the two lines of troops started to ride towards each other, both seemingly intent to smash into combat at the earliest possible opportunity.
The thunderous hooves of the French cavalry echoed in the vaulted halls as they surged forward, their lances lowered and glinting in the dying sunlight.
Across the plain, the Abbasid Arab cavalry answered the challenge with a resounding cry of their own. Swift as the desert wind, they charged towards their foes, their Arabian horses effortlessly gliding over the sandy terrain.
But, not everyone was keen to join in the coming melee. The Carolingians errant cousin, arriving to battle with his small force of rather unlikely mounted archers counting as lancers (go figure..) decided that his love of dates and grilled lamb exceeded his desire to risk his life for his uncle Charlie, and steadfastly refused to start the battle until he saw that the Carolingians were certain to win!
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Generals can be "Unreliable" - this means they cost less army points, but on an initial command roll of "1" they will not move until either the enemy approach them within 4MU, or they roll a "6" in a subsequent turn. Which is what this guy has just done, leaving one of my flanks rather undercooked in his absence
At the meeting point of these two formidable forces, the clash was nothing short of apocalyptic.
Lances met shields with a deafening roar, and the impact reverberated through the battlefield.
Horses screamed, and men shouted in the chaos of the swirling melee.
What's The Odds of That Then ?
This chart shows the casualties that can be expected when an Elite troops meet non-elite troops, which was the case for much of this cavalry battle, as both sides had Impact and Armour
The Average guys in one time in 3, doing 15 casualties in all scenarios combined, while the Elite Carolingian horsemen should leverage that quality advantage to win exactly half of the combats, racking up 27 hits across every possible one of the 36 outcomes on the dice
The French proto-knights fought with disciplined ferocity, their Charlemagne-inspired training regime and their shining armour providing a formidable defence as they pushed against the Arab cavalry .
The initial clash had been indecisive, but the air still crackled with the energy of impending success and incipient disaster - the only question was which of these two forces would pick the route of success, and who would be ground into dust by the dice!
The Most Important Thing
It was so so sad with Charly in his sick bed.
He looked like hell and smelled like chemicals
Maxing out on medicine and feeling all invincible
ICU at Regions Hospital
But the Abbasid riders were no strangers to warfare - especially those with black blobs behind them to the left of this photo, as they were the "Elite" component of the Abbasid army, with skills honed in the vast expanses of the desert
The Arab horsemen weaved through the Carolingian ranks like serpents, striking with deadly precision. The lance-armed knights found themselves entangled in a whirlwind of flashing scimitars and swift manoeuvres, their formation crumbling under the relentless assault of the Arabs which left the Carolingian side of the line of scrimmage littered with a flowering of casualty markers.
Charlemagne and the Carolingians
One of the most significant military challenges during Charlemagne's reign was the Saxon Wars, a series of campaigns against the Saxons, a Germanic tribe living in present-day Germany. /p>
These wars, spanning from 772 to 804, were intense and brutal, but Charlemagne eventually subdued the Saxons and integrated their territory into his empire.
The conquest of the Saxons greatly expanded the Carolingian realm.
The fortunes of the battle swung back and forth like a pendulum as the French horsemen, with their disciplined training and chivalric elan, managed to rally and push the Arabs back momentarily.
Yet, the Abbasid cavalry, with their unmatched speed and agility, would not be denied. They regrouped and launched a series of deadly counterattacks that sent shockwaves through the Carolingian ranks, opening up a series of huge gaps in the French lines.
My Carolingian Army List
1 Caballeri, Heavy Cavalry Impact, Elite
2 Caballeri, Heavy Cavalry Impetuous, Elite
2 Caballeri, Medium Cavalry Impetuous
1 Basque Light Cavalry Javelin
2 Infantry Spearmen, Heavy Spearmen, Mediocre
1 Archer, Bowmen
This command is a slightly smaller mirror image of Charlemagne's command, missing a light javelinman and one "Regular" Caballeri. Even so, with a Brilliant Commander there is enough command and control to keep the Impetuous cavalry restrained until they choose to charge - but anyway, that is often "as soon as they can" so the need for the +2 on Command rolls that a Brilliant general brings to the table is often going to be academic
The lone non-Impetuous HCv does give a little more ability to use him to more easily (ie for less pips) exploit gaps or charge in a more restrained way, but in reality this command is probably going straight forward at any target it chooses and letting God decide who wins
The battle soon devolved into a swirling maelstrom of clashing steel as swords and scimitars flashed in the sunlight, individual combatants engaged in deadly duels and the two commanders sent in wave after wave of reserves to try and tip the scales in their favour.
Against the Arabian cavalry, the Carolingian almost-knights continued to display unparalleled skill and bravery, expertly manoeuvring to try and hold the line under incredible pressure from the repeated Arab assaults.
As the sun sank lower on the horizon, casting a blood-red hue across the battlefield, the Abbasids threw their infantry into the mixer seeking to make a final, decisive push.
With a coordinated effort the poor quality spearmen clashed with the equally poor Carolingian foot in battle of the peasants with sticks in a Chivalric universe.
This meeting of sub-part equals saw the Arabs start to finally break through the weakened French lines, sending the Carolingian horsemen into disarray as their once coherent lines started to fragment under the repeated assaults
The melee was a cacophony of clashing weapons, the metallic symphony of swords and lances striking shields and armour.
Spears shattered, and shields splintered as combatants fought desperately for supremacy.
The wound markers now lay strewn across the battlefield, and the air was thick with the acrid scent of sweat, blood, and dust - but the Arab horsemen were slowly gaining the upper hand, as the Carolingians struggled time and time again to blast a way through the resilient core of Elite Abbasid cavalry on the left wing.
The clash between Abbasids and the Carolingians by the coastline was a symphony of steel, the ringing of swords and the screams of the wounded filling the air.
The Arab commander however was everywhere, rallying his troops repeatedly to maintain their resilient line, while their enthusiastic yet brittle Francophone opponents were seemingly unable to respond in kind to the hammer blows suffered by their mounted contingent at the hands of the Abbasid horsemen.
The Carolingian line teetered, at imminent risk of being overwhelmed by the relentless assault of the Abbasid horsemen, their ranks on the cusp of fragmenting in response to the desert tribesmens charges.
The errant cousin was still steadfastly refusing to join in, no doubt having seen the tide of battle ebbing away from his more famous uncle.
Really though, he just wanted some attention and a bit of love - but his uncle was just too busy managing the rest of the battle to even send him an encouraging little note, and so the cousin, in a fit of pique, doubled-down on his public displays of sulkiness time and time again.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - The CinC of an army can always spend 2 Command Pips to encourage an "Unreliable" General to come back on line.
This gives the "unreliable" general a +1 on his next command dice roll, allowing him to re-join the battle with a "5" rather than a "6".
However, 2 pips is a lot of command points to sacrifice, especially when Charlemagne has a LOT to do to keep his own troops in order in the middle of a violent battle.
Which is why I decided, on two separate occasions in this battle, that I needed those 2 pips to try and do stuff with the troops under Charlemagne's command rather than gamble on sending a message to the Unreliable commander.
And this is the die roll the sullen cousin rather ungraciously coughed up in return on both occasions ..
The ebb and flow of the battle seemed endless, a relentless tide of conflict that showed no sign of abating.
Amidst the chaos, leaders on both sides rallied their men, shouting commands and encouragement over the din of battle.
The clash continued well into the waning light of day, neither side willing to yield.
Swords and lances were wielded with desperate determination as the fate of the battlefield hung in the balance.
(Ask her for) Adderall
Now Charlemagne don't seem the same
He's skinny, scared, and off his game
He's been hiding from those gentlemen
With the same tattoos as Gideon
As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting long shadows across the battlefield, both sides teetered on the edge of defeat.
The Arabs lost their commander, crushed between crashing walls of Carolingian horsemanship, but the Abbasids were not done yet. Exploiting a momentary lapse in the French formation, some of the dogged Abbasid spearmen surged forward with unmatched ferocity against the exhausted Carolingian infantry.
The Carolingians, battered and fatigued, could no longer withstand the relentless Arabian onslaught.
In the dying light, the victorious Abbasids finally emerged from the melee, their generals bloodied, but theur banners unfurled against the backdrop of the fading sun. The battlefield was littered with the fallen, a testament to the fierce and protracted struggle that had unfolded.
The desert warriors, though weary, stood triumphant, their blades stained with the blood of their foes. The winds of the desert whispered through the aftermath, carrying with them the tales of a prolonged and tumultuous clash between these two formidable armies!
The Result is a narrow defeat for the Carolingians
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
As we gather in the wake of battle, let not despair cloud our vision nor the spectre of loss extinguish the flame of hope within our hearts. In the tapestry of warfare, there are threads of triumph, but also threads of tribulation, and today we find ourselves entwined in the latter. The deeds of our brave knights echo in the halls of memory, mingling with the sombre notes of a dirge for those we have lost.
The battlefield, once a stage for our aspirations, now bears witness to the fragility of mortal endeavour. The sun, which once illuminated our path to glory, now casts a sympathetic light upon the wounded and the fallen. Our swords, though valiantly wielded, could not turn the tide of fortune, and our banners, though raised high, now flutter in the face of an unforeseen tempest.
Yet, as the sun sets upon this mostly but not entirely victorious day, let it cast its rays upon our banners, both when they were raised high above the walls of our triumph, but also when they were raised not quite so high by the ditches of our defeat (but we shall gloss swiftly over that and move on).
In the face of this setback, I call upon thee, my loyal comrades, to regroup, to mend our wounds, and to stand resolute against the encroaching shadows. The sun shall rise again, and with it, the promise of redemption and renewal. Let our spirits not be broken but tempered by the forge of adversity, for in the crucible of defeat, the seeds of future triumphs are sown - and anyways, I'm sure we will have to come back to discuss the lands of the Orient and Levant another time I think.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
At last, defeat for the dullard, and some semblance of justice has at last been done by the failure of an imagination which were it a garden would be one where only the weeds of repetition would flourish.
As a painter of scenes of military excellence, thou usest only the most mundane hues in thy palette to conjure up a drab world of linear warfare, and it is a good job your men are so brightly attired lest we all fall asleep in the act of reading these uninspiring reportages.
Thou art a poet with a pen as predictable as the sunrise, lacking the twilight of innovation to conjure up any new chapters in the book of military successes
Thy creativity is like a dried quill, scratching out the same tired lines of thought long into the night, but at least you got your comeuppance this time. Let us see with unbated breath what fortune brings tomorrow in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition