domenica 13 novembre 2016

Battle Report: Byzantine raid in southern Spoleto (Lion Rampant in High Middle Ages) 2/3

Continues from first part of the Battle Report

The Onset of Battle
Theodoros ordered Audo and his men to take the hump, protected by half of his Skutatoi, while the Pentakontarchos, his Cataphracts and the rest of the Skutatoi advanced towards the enemy. Arnald did not wait for him, but he also ordered the advance of his forces: the main part of his knights, assisted by the archers of the militia, advanced towards Theodoros, while a smaller force attempted to circumvent the hump.
But it so happened that Theodoros and his Cataphracts were delayed - afraid of an ambush and concerned that, entering battle, the people defending the hump would be overwhelmed, they tarried, so that the Skutatoi advanced alone towards the Franks.

The Byzantine started taking actions, but when it came to move the Cataphracts, they failed the roll and so they remained behind. The Franks then moved all their units forward.

Early movement on the battlefield
These Skutatoi face overwhelming forces
The Lombard mountain men and the other Skutatoi hold firmly the hump.
Tragic was Theodoros's delay, because the first line of Frankish knights, seeing the Skutatoi isolated, launched their charge, screaming their war cries. The impact of steel against steel was frightful, but the brave Skutatoi held their ground against all odds, joining their large shields together as a single wall. The attackers were soon repelled by the iron-clad footmen and their long, cruel spears.
The Greeks were screaming taunts at the Franks, and it seemed that Theodoros's prevision would come true, as the knights were already on the run.

In the second turn, the Byzantine failed the first roll for activation and so it was again the time of the Franks. Their knights tested against Wild Charge and failed, thus charging directly the Skutatoi. The latter defended in tight formation, taking advantage of their Shield Wall ability (same as Schiltron), which pushed their armour value to 4. So even if the knights scored 11 hits in 12, only 2 Skutatoi were killed. On the other hand, the Skutatoi scored very well in defence, downing 2 knights. Since the clash was a draw, the attackers had to retreat. Both units tested for Courage and the knights failed, retreating further away and becoming Battered.

Frankish knights charging into the Skutatoi
Frankish knights retreating, battered by the Greeks.
The Skutatoi still remained defiant as the archers of the militia, fired on them. Their armour value of 4 was just too much, and also was strengthened by the partial cover offered by the hump.
For the rest of the turn, the Franks countinued to move forward.

The battle turns
Audo and his mountain people, taking position among the trees of the hump, started to fire arrows against the approaching militiamen, which were lightly armoured. The Franks were slowed down but bravely moved forward, even though one of them was killed.

The Rustici (Bidowers) suck at firing arrows. Seriously, they only score on a 6. The Militia has an armour of 2 so they only lost one of their number to the attack.

The hatred of the mountain folk against the people of the lowlands threatening them is well represented in this image.

Theodoros at this point hesitated: he should have advanced, but he did not, standing watch instead to see if the Franks would fall back, and this proved his undoing. Arnald rallied the knights and personally led the second charge, and although again the valiant Skutatoi repelled the knights, it was too much for them. Feeling abandoned by their commander, they turned and retrated towards the bulk of their forces.

Again the Byzantines managed to fail the activation phase - a terrible thing. The first line of Frankish knights rolled a successful Courage test and removed the Battered status, while the second line, including the leader, tested against Wild Charge and failed. Their charge again was a draw - 2 knights dead and 2 skutatoi felled. But as the knights were pushed back, this time they kept their cool, and it was the Skutatoi that failed the Courage test, and started retreating becoming Battered.

The outcome of the second Frankish charge.
The final charge
At the sight of his men routing, at last Theodoros snapped out of his doubts and ordered his Cataphracts forward. The sight of the armoured knights marching in a line restored the courage of the Skoutati, who also returned to their battle formation and faced the Franks. Meanwhile, Arnald was rallying what remained of his knights, and ordered them in a straight line, preparing for a third charge.

The two forces facing each other now are two units of Frankish Knights, each of 4 riders, and a unit of Militia Archers with all 12 members; and a full unit of 6 Cataphracts plus 7 Skutatoi.

The moments before the final charge

Loud and clear was the cry of gastald Arnald to his men, when he ordered them to charge the Greeks. Booming and raging the answer of Theodoros, as his Cataphracts rode forward to meet the enemies. Frightful and terrible their clash. Many a valiant warrior met with his death on that moment, his armour pierced by a lance or his helm cleft by a sword.
At last the fight ceased, and as the dust cleared, only three horsemen still stood. Theodoros was covered in blood, a fierce lion, surrounded by the bodies of his men, of which only him remained. A few paces from him, Arnald was panting, his shield covered by marks of blows it had withstood and his eyes as wary as those of a wounded wolf. Beside him stood his retainer Wigmund, whose lance had been broken and was now wielding his sword.
It is said that all those who saw those men stopped their fighting, and a grim silence fell on the field.

The Frankish Knights charged with a first unit, while the Cataphracts rolled succesfully for a countercharge. 3 Greek knights were felled, but none survived among the Franks, whose armour was only 3.

Seven dead bodies, and half of the Franks haven't yet charged.
Then the second unit of Frankish knights, comprising the leader, charged, promptly getting countercharges by the Cataphracts. The outcome was 2 dead for the Byzantines, who were now fighting as a half unit (6 attack dice only) and 2 for the Franks. Miracoulously, both leaders rolled for Lucky Blows, and none was hit, even the Frankish leader who was Vulnerable.

Another four dead, and only three survivors.
While this was happening, the Skutatoi were advancing under volleys of arrows from the Militia, which proved uneffective. On the other side of the hump, the Rustici also fired on the Militia killing another two of their number, which sent the Freemen into panic so that they retreated on their way. But the Knights advanced, coming almost into contact with the Skutatoi.

Two casualties of the arrows of the Lombards

An armour of 4 and partial cover defend the Skutatoi from the arrows of the Franks

The Frankish knights are coming

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