Dark Ages at Warfare 2023
Carolingian Frankish vs Patrician Roman
After a swift return home on Saturday night, and another trip down the M3 on Sunday morning it was now time for the 4th game for Charlemagne's boys against CLWC clubmate Andy "Don't Call me Salman Rushdie" Finkel and a Patrician Roman army which had managed to win its first game even more quickly than I had the previous day.
Patrician is the mega-toolkit of Late Roman armies, at a time when the Empire was increasingly spread across the globe and where true Roman troops were almost totally supplanted by locally raised, and even locally equipped fighting forces under overall Roman command. Apart from a couple of somewhat degenerate Legions and rather better Auxilia the army depends on wild-charging barbarian infantry and some almost-Byzantine cavalry making this battle a true representation of the "Between two Emperors" theme at this particular event.
More importantly this game would see some of the "free gift from Deepcut to all competitors" mouse mat fields deployed, as Andy won the initiative and elected to attack Carolingia in the plains
The lists for the Carolingian Frankish and Patrician Roman 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.
Both armies had deployed slightly offset, with the Patricians anchoring themselves on a marsh and the by-now traditional Carolingian line of horsemen stretching out to my left to potentially outflank the Romans should they incautiously advance
Both centres were made up of cavalry - but here the Carolingians had a keen edge, with a full suite of Elite Heavy Cavalry Impact and Impetuous against a motley collection of non-Elite Heavy lancers and mounted wannabe-Byzantine archers.
The sullen tiddler, still muttering under his breath about his lack of attention and love from his cool uncle Charlie, had been dropped on the right to threaten the Patrician Auxilia should they dare to come forward
Charlemagne : 5 Fun Facts!
A symphony of war cries filled the air as the Gothic Foederate cavalry at the centre of the Roman line surged forward relentlessly, sheltering behind a line of Hunnic mercenary horse archers to provide cover from the total lack of shooting in the Carolingian army's centre.
Both sets of horsemen, armour gleaming in shades of midnight black and gleaming silver, seemed intent on settling this one quickly and brutally - admittedly the lunch queue the previous day had been pretty slow, but surely it was barely time for elevenses, never mind an early pasty ?
All this excitement and narrative focus on Charlemagne and his trusted second in command was too much for the sullen distant cousin. Yet again he dropped an initial "1" on the table and refused to come out and join the fray until his famous uncle Charlie paid him a little more love and attention
The tabletop shook beneath the weight of the two lines of charging cavalrymen, their horses galloping at full speed toward one another seemingly immune to any sense of tactics, subtlety or military expertise, trampling over the plaintive cried of those calling for calm patience or any thought of envelopment in the face of such impetuous savagery.
The simple fact of the matter was that the Carolingians wanted to engage in combat, and the Impetuous Roman Foederate cavalry had little choice but to meet them head on
Charlemagne was encouraging his infantry to keep pace with the mounted line, but their tiny little legs were nowhere near as fast as the bloodthirsty horsemen, and this accidental echelon suddenly created a chink of opportunity for the forces of Rome to spy a possible overlap at the end of the line. But... would they take it?
The Romans were now committed in the centre, but the presence of grumpy nephew had been holding up their attempts to support the central assault with Auxiliary archery and infantry.
Biting the bullet, and looking at the half-hearted numbers of archery-vulnerable enemy cavalry patiently waiting in front of them the Romans surged forward, looking to take on everything everywhere all at once and triggering the sullen relative into grudging action in the process.
The impact of the charging knights against the enemy cavalry was like a force of nature, horses and riders alike tumbling under the sheer momentum of the Carolingian onslaught.
The Romans were slightly wider, but the Carolingians were considerably better, with Elite Impact first round bonuses all along the full 7-unit width of the line of combat
The lines clashed, and the Roman cavalry, despite their best efforts, could not withstand the disciplined aggression of the Carolingian knights, who pressed on with unwavering determination until the field was littered with slightly more 1-hit casualty markers on the Roman side than there were on the Carolingian one.
Charlemagne and the Carolingians
Reforms and Organization:
Charlemagne implemented several military reforms that strengthened the Carolingian army. One key development was the introduction of the system of feudalism, which allowed Charlemagne to maintain a standing army by granting land (fiefs) to nobles in exchange for military service. This system ensured a steady source of trained soldiers and improved the overall stability of the empire.
The Carolingian army then became an effective mix of cavalry and infantry. Charlemagne placed a strong emphasis on well-trained cavalry, which became a formidable force on the battlefield. The cavalry consisted of heavily armoured almost-knights armed with lances and swords. Infantry, including spearmen and archers, supported the cavalry. This combined arms approach made the Carolingian army versatile and effective in various combat situations.
Sparks flew as swords clashed against armour, creating a dazzling display of deadly grace amidst the chaos of battle. Amidst the chaos of battle, individual duels emerged, as Carolingian nobles faced off against recently assimilated barbarian champions, the clash of their weapons a testament to their skill and valour
In the maelstrom, Charlemagne and his sub-commander dashed hither and thither, rallying their troops even at moments of indecision and fear (as in, I rallied off one of the two hits my guys had taken in my next turn).
What's The Odds of That Then ?
The Patricians here have committed some of their own Average Horse Archers into the front line against the Carolingian almost-knights, and this chart shows the casualties that can be expected from this clash
Basically its going to be brutal for the Roman horse archers, creating weak points in the Roman line which even a couple of overlaps at the ends of the line of scrimmage will struggle to counteract
The Roman Foederati cavalry, once a formidable force, found themselves now overwhelmed by the relentless assault of the Carolingians, their ranks shattered and scattered across the battlefield as the Carolingians punched through the Roman line in multiple places, exposing and revelling in the Romans lack of any meaningful reserves.
The Carolingians in turn still had successive waves of Medium Cavalry to throw into any gaps and follow up their initial successes
Charlemagne : Blossoms
The Carolingian knights fought with a sense of purpose, their loyalty to their lords and the promise of glory driving them forward, undeterred by the carnage around them.
The Gothic cavalry, once a proud and fearsome sight and a scourge of many an empire, were now reduced to chaos and disarray as the Carolingians exploited their vulnerabilities with every swing of their weapons, demonstrating the artistry of war with a fluid and graceful skill that sat seemingly at odds with the brutality of the combat they were now fully engaged in.
The Romans were shattered and reeling, with barely a single mounted unit left on table after the ferocious Carolingian assault.
The clash of Carolingian almost-knights against the shock troops of the earlier Empire had been a brief yet brutal struggle for supremacy, a battle of skill, strength, and courage that had left no room for the faint-hearted - and had left no Roman alive to contest the outcome.
As the dust settled and the echoes of battle faded, the Carolingian horsemen stood victorious, their prowess in combat immortalized in the annals of history as a testament to their courage and martial skill. They had taken some "hits/wounds/hit points/cohesion losses" (delete as appropriate) but not a single unit had been destroyed outright in the battle.
The Result is a huge win for the Carolingians, inside 3 turns and in just under an hour of playing time (including setup and terrain !)
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
Behold, the end of the Roman Empire, woven now into the tapestry of our conquests with the golden threads of bravery and sacrifice. The echoes of the battlefield still linger in the air, and the soil beneath our feet is consecrated by the footsteps of a remarkably small number of our own warriors who pledged their lives to our cause, and quite a lot more Romans.
On this sacred ground, beneath heaven's gaze, we stand not only as conquerors but as architects of a new era, where we have invented the 1 Hour Wargame more than a thousand years before Neil Thomas' book, and have for the first time in ages got plenty of time to go shopping and have a lunch before the queues at the cafe build up too much.
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 valour of the chivalrous soul. And lets face it, there weren't all that many swings either, so you must be well rested for this afternoons final round game too
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
At least that was short, and so we did not have to endure the thirst for originality in the desert of imagination in which your tactics seem incapable of finding an oasis of interest within for all that much longer than we absolutely needed to.
When books are written of military deeds and greatness, your name will go down with the briefest of entries, a poet with a pen as predictable as the sunrise, lacking the twilight of innovation to draw a veil over your smallness of mind
"If unoriginality were a crown, thou wouldst wear it atop a head bereft of imaginative grace instead of that gilded tasteless monstrosity we see atop your pate even now
"In the realm of inspiration, thou art a desert where the sands of cliché stretch endlessly and new thoughts are expunged of breath and nurture every time. Let us see how this fares for you in the final game?
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition