Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Bashing Byzantines! - To the Strongest! AAR

Last month's South Jersey Gamers Association meeting featured a game of To the Strongest! put on by Bill Perry. The scenario was based on the Battle of Manzikert, where the Byzantines faced of against the Seljuks. Little did we know that Bill had implemented a few hidden mechanics that would help recreate the disastrous abandonment of various elements in the Byzantine army during the fight.

The Seljuk force largely consisted of either light or medium bow-armed cavalry and light infantry with bows as well. The Byzantines had some light infantry and cavalry, but also had more formed infantry with bows and spears, along with a deep unit of two-handed weapon wielding Varangian Guard.

The Turks had the initiative and advanced together for the most part, not wanting to close too quickly with the Byzantines and lose a change at loosing a few arrows. The Byzantines also moved forward cautiously, and then discovered Bill's nasty surprise. Each command had to roll a cup full of d10s. If the right colored die matched up with a unit on Bill's hidden sheet, the unit was removed and their Victory Medals awarded to the Seljuks!

While it only happened during the first couple turns, the Byzantines managed to lose a few critical units, which let the faster Seljuks run rampant around their lines.

That was the major advantage of the Seljuk's right flank, when a unit of Armenian spearmen decided to quit the battle before the enemy had even approached. 

The Seljuk's light cavalry darted behind the Byzantine's lines and raided their camp. While the Byzantine center held for a little while longer, they were eventually demoralized and unable to fight back.

The Byzantine center had fared a little better with its desertions, and even had a couple units in reserve. Their Seljuk opponents had their best cavalry in the army, accompanied by light infantry. 

The Byzantines did their best to avoid the axes of the Northmen, while targeting the Byzantine cavalry and archers.

The Byzantine right had the worst of the desertions, and their delay meant the Seljuks were able to advance across the table and pick their engagements as they liked.

The Seljuks plinked away at the inheritors of the Roman Empire for a bit, and skirmished with their cavalry.

Eventually, enough units had either deserted or routed that the Byzantines were forced to quit the field, following the historical outcome close enough! And while the Byzantine commanders certainly had the worse of it, they took the hits on the chin and kept fighting as best they could with their dwindling numbers.

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