domenica 13 novembre 2016

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

Continues from second part of the Battle Report

The Challenge
Theodoros Leontakephalos faces the gastald Arnald and his retainer Wigmund.

[After the third, terrible charge] 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.

"There is only one way we can end this, you and me!" shouted the Greek, in a clear Latin which he hoped his foe would understand. But even if Arnald didn't, the Pentakontarchos' gestures were clear to all. He pointed his mace of war towards the gastald, and prepared for the last charge.
"Do not accept his challenge, Sire" pleaded Wigmund "Greeks are a treacherous lot, and he knows his end is coming. We can take him down easily, together"
But Arnald would not listen to his friend. Raising his sword high, he shouted his battle cry and spurred his horse forward.

At that moment, on the other side of the hump, the fighters were oblivious of the confrontation of the two captains. The Frankish knights had finally reached the enemy and would charge the Skutatoi, who bravely stood their ground.

Before anything can happen between the two leaders, the Frankish knights on the other side of the hump have tested for Wild Charge and succeeded. They charged into the Skytatoi leaving two of their number on the groun; the Greek also lose two fighters, and as a draw the attacker must retreat. The charge of the knights have been repelled!

One again the Skutatoi prove their armour and discipline are stronger than the Frankish knights.
But nothing could stop Theodoros and Arnald as they rode towards each other. Theodoros laughed trimphantly as his mace struck the shield of the Gastald, but the laugh died in his throat when he himself had to defend against an attack more furious than he had expected. Theodoros retreated under the assault of Arnald, but his horse stumbled and, unbalanced, the Pentakontarchos was struck on the shoulder and lost his shield. Arnald's sword hit his black-crested helm on the side and slid towards the shoulder, finding its way to the neck. Leontakephalos, the Lion-headed, fell from his steed without a cry, and rested on the blood-soaked ground.

Arnald and Theodoros battle each other, as Wigmund watches in anguish.

Light is for Arnald, dark is for Theodoros.
 Challenges are pretty straightforward in Lion Rampant. Each throws three dies, scoring on 5-6. Whoever scores more, wins and kill the other. In case of a draw the parts are separated. Arnald scored three hits, against only one of Theodoros.
And now all Byzantine units must take a Courage test or run away.

"Victory to Spoleto!" cried Arnald, raising his sword and towering over the body of the Leontakephalos.
"Glory to Arnald!" echoed Wigmund "the Greek captain is dead!"

And this is how you win a battle like a Sire.
 The news of Theodoros's death swept through the battlefield like wild fire. Half of the Greek forces abandoned their weapons, together with all hope, and ran away, hoping to save their own lives at least by leaving the lands of the Spoletans.

The retreat of the Byzantines begins
The End of It
"For Spoleto!" cried the Frankish knights as they again charged into the remaining Skutatoi. This proved too much for the brave soldiers, and they also abandoned the field following their companions.

The Frankish knights on the other side of the hump tested again for Wild Charge and succeeded. This time they only lost one and fell three opponents. The Skutatoi were now forced to retreat and, losing a Courage test, also started routing.

More retreating happening

Only Audo and a half of those men who originally followed him now stood on the hump. Stubborn and proud, they understood the end was near, but refused to flee from the Franks. Instead, they decided to hold their position until the end, and die a honourable death. Their arrows, shot with the determination of the desperate, managed to repel the Militia.

One unit of Rustici still stood. A ranged attack on the approaching Militia killed one of them and sent the rest into retreat.

The Militia assails the hump

And is quickly repelled

Arnald, seeing his enemies driven before him, still did not rejoice. He had fulfilled his first oath, to have the head of the Greek captain, but now he would bring the second one to completion. Not one of the rebelling Lombards of the mountains would see his home. And so he and his knights hunted down the running footmen, so that only a handful of Skutatoi managed to escape the battle with his life.

Arnald and Wigmund charge into the retreating Skutatoi, who no longer benefit from the Shieldwall and, being battered, hardly fight back, and kill another one.

The Galstald gives no quarter
The other knights, having driven away the Skutatoi, charge into the retreating Rustici making easy sport of them. All of the Rustici are killed without any loss for the Franks.

Next time you won't challenge the Gastald again.
Audo's death
Audo and his kinmen now turned to face the knights. They prepared their swords and axes, and waited for the charge to come. Uphill rode the knights, their lances lowered. As the sun set, the last of the mountain men wet the hump with their blood.
Now Arnald's victory was complete.

No matter the higher terrain, if Rustici are charged by knights, the outcome is pretty simple.

Up the hill go the knights
Down the hill go the Rustici

Three days later the few survivors of Theodoros's force reached the army of the Strategos, reporting the events. By that time, the Leontakephalos's head was gracing the main square of the nearest town, on a pole, witness to all that the Gastald would bear no offense. Next to him, the heads of the rebels of the mountains. Their kinmen fled their mountain homes, rightly fearing the Gastald's retribution, and settled again in the lands of the Princes of Benevento.
The Marquis of Spoleto was pleased to hear the reports of the battle, and sent the Gastald a horse as a gift, and the grant of various lands to be held in beneficium.

The game was fun. All in all, it took a couple of hours. It was fast paced and dramatic. Next time, I'll try it with a scenario and, possibly, an opponent.

I hope you enjoyed reading this report and please leave a comment - feel free to send opinions and notes: being my first game, I may have overlooked some rules. If you want to know more about my house rules to play in the 10-11th century, let me know and I'll post you.

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