If my battle plan was simple, that wily old Moslem John El Gallacher thought he had the answer. Quite rightly, the rules make heavy spear units very robust. John paid the extra for archer support. This allows the spear to recover to some extent from a disasterously low die roll. I may have confidence in my brave Knights but was having second thoughts when he deployed solid foot spear in his centre. To compound my difficulties, the Moslems had scoured the island for bow and javelin units. These were placed in the fields to John’s right. Again I wasn’t suspecting an Agincourt refight but would have to use my skilled swordsmen against this assembly.
The table for a 200point game is only 80cms. by 120 cms.. The set up is similar to the much missed DBM. The general and number of light horse decides attacker and defender. John won the choice and went for “plains” . Both of us chose three pieces of terrain. This gives the player to add or modify terrain. This was all handled very quickly by the rules. We ended up with quite a clear table. The central hill gave me a secure base for my Griffons and Saracen mercenaries. I put my second knight command behind the first, either to have a second attempt to burst through the shield wall or flank it.
John’s last corps command went down to his left centre. My second line Knights had a target!
The full list for the Sicilian Aghlabids was from page 153 of the rules book. Unlike its forebears, L’Art de la Guerre includes 283 army lists to salivate over!
Corps One- Competent Commander, six supported spear units, two light horse.
Corps Two- Competent Commander, four heavy cavalry (elite impact horse), one light horse, two light infantry bows.
Corps Three- Competent commander, four Arab archer units, one light horse unit, four Berber javelin units.
As the attacker, John had first move. I think his red-bull had kicked in! His bowmen raced forward on double moves. His spear wall trundled forward and his elite cavalry raced to catch up.
This was going to be a short game, one way or the other. Fittingly I reached for my mobile to bring forward my Kebab order by an hour! It’s not just Medieval Normans who can show cultural awareness after all. Roger the Second would be proud of me.
We weren’t going to be out done. The Griffons stopped sharpening their swords and screamed down the hillside, Saracen mercenaries alongside them. On my right, the first corps wheeled to attack the elite horse. It would fall to the following second corps to hopefully only have to make a demonstration against the Arab spearmen.
L’Art de la Guerre ( God I ‘ll have to think of a shorter title) uses a very simple combat resolution. Each firing or fighting unit rolls a dice. This is compared with their opponent’s roll. Modifiers are added for weapons used e.g. crossbows versus armour, protection and mode of combat. The results are compared. Depending on how many pips you are defeated by gives you points of damage. Heavy foot can take four points, medium three and so on. Missile fire can only ever inflict one point of damage per turn. But, that doesn’t mean that you can ignore the trickle of losses. There were more than enough arrows in my Greeks to slow down the inevitable clash.
But, when those swords met the bowmen and javelinmen, the results were predictable. Two turns was all that was needed before there were great gaps in the Moslem line. And then the Greek swordsmen got their hands on the Emir. With no general, more pips are needed to manoeuvre and so John’s right wing were defeated.
The deadly swordsmen catch their prey!
The clash on my right was equally exciting. John had expected more of his mounted elite but they rapidly fell to the Norman onslaught. The rules really gives a flavour of these desperate struggles. Being impetuous the Knights push through the gaps and into John’s rear!
Bravely the spearwall itself spontaneously charged and unhorsed a few riders. But, it was all decided to their rear when John’s second command collapsed!
The battle had been bloody. I love this “new” ruleset (it’s been popular in France for over eight years!) The mechanics are simple yet give a really exciting and in my opinion believe able result. Thanks to John for a great game and to you my reader! Musket and Tomohawks next week!