sabato 5 novembre 2016

Battle Report: Byzantine raid in southern Spoleto (Lion Rampant in High Middle Ages) 1/3

I've purchased Lion Rampant some time ago (read: more than one year) but only now do I have the chance to test it. Here follows then a battle report of my first solo game. I have adapted the rules to an earlier period than the one specified by the book. The story is set in the 9th-10th century, in southern Italy.
I will distinguish fluff in Italics and crunch in regular characters, to make it easier to follow.
I have taken  any pictures - but it was a rainy day, and the light is not natural. Apologies.

Theodoros Leontakephalos had recently obtained the military office of Pentekontarchos, leader of 50 men. It was, in a way, natural: his old father had been his predecessor, as one of the wealthiest men living on the northern border of the Theme of Longobardia. But Theodoros was not content with this: he wanted to impress the Strategos in Otranto. He wanted everybody to talk about his military exploits against the barbarians of the North.
During the first expedition against the Lombards of Benevento, he saw his chance: the forces of the Strategos were pinned by the enemy and food was scarce. Theodoros then had the idea of crossing the Lombard border to the North, into the Frankish March of Spoleto. Surely, they were not expecting an attack, and they had plenty of food.

A map of the region
One of the two sides is a force of Byzantine warriors, led by a Lionheart leader (who can re-roll two dice when attacking). He fights in a unit of Cataphracts (essentially similar to standard mounted Knights, 8 pts.), and is followed by two units of Skutatoi (somewhere in the middle between Foot Knights and Foot Serjeants, 6pts. each), for a total of 22 pts.

Figures from Essex Byzantines
As Theodoros entered the March of Spoleto, he was not stopped by any armed force, but on the first night armed men approached his camp among the hills. It was on that fateful night he met with Audo, leader of a community of local mountain people. Audo and his people were Lombards, and hated the local Frankish gastald with a passion so strong that they did not mind joining the Greeks against him. Audo told Theodoros that the gastald, Arnald, was a cruel and petty man, and a rash fighter whose guard was weak. If a great warrior like Theodoros could challenge him, he was sure to kill him.

To reach 24 pts. the Byzantine force added two units of Rustici (same as Bidowers).

Figures from Baueda Lombards
It didn't take long before Arnald had report that an Greek warband had entered his lands. Without hesitating, he gathered all his vassals and set out from his manor to stop them.

The Frankish Spoletan force is led by a Vulnerable leader (killed in battle with a roll of 2 or 3) composed of three units of greater mounted Milites (somewhere between mounted Knights and mounted Serjeants) and two units of Freemen Militia, one of which equipped with bows (essentially comparable to Foot Yeomen and Archers).

Figures from Baueda Carolingians and Essex Dark Ages

The Battlefield
The two armed bands met each other in a small valley, marked by a low hump in its centre.

To build the battlefield I use the following house-rule: the starting player rolls 1d6+3 to determine how many elements of scenery there are, and then starts choosing and placing the first one. The other player follows and the two take turns until the scenery is complete. In this case the die rolled a 1, so there were only four elements: the hump, the fields, a short low wall besides them, and a line of trees.
The last step was rolling a direction die, to see which side the attacking player would come from - from the right part of the table.

The Deployment
Theodoros took his position first, in the middle between the hill and the trees, challenging the gastald with his very presence. Arnald did the same, taking his place in front of the Pentakontarchos. But while the Greek captain was taunting the enemy, he ordered Audo and his men to take the hump and use it as a vantage point to shoot arrows at the Franks. Once he noticed this, Arnald also sent part of his forces on the other side of the hump, whose nearer side was impossible to climb. They would take the Greeks with a pincher movement, and crush them as they deserved.

Each player deployed a unit in turns, in their third of the table. It became clear soon that the hump would be the centre of the battle. The Byzantines would take it easily, since they were closer and in easier position to climb it, but the Franks would challenge them.

The two captains taunt each other
The Rustici position at the feet of the hump, and half of the Skutatoi stand behind them. Not far away, Frankish knights and militiamen stand ready to attack them.

The final deployment. On the right, out of the picture, stands Theodoros with his Cataphracts
The Oaths
Arnald was furious at the treacherous attack of the Greeks, who not only raided his lands as bandits, but also roused the subjects of the March into rebellion. He swore that at the end of the day he would have Theodoros Leontakephalos's head displayed in the square of the nearest town, and that not a single one of the revolting mountain men would make it back to their homes.
Theodoros laughed at the anger of the gastald, and he taunted him and his men, betting that before one third of their forces was defeated, the other two thirds would be running away like sheep.

Vowing to kill the enemy captain (2 pts.)
Vowing to completely kill 2 units (3 pts.)
Vowing to route the enemy before 1/3 is killed (2 pts.)

 Continue to second part of Battle Report

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