Thursday, August 22, 2019

Byzantines vs Seljuqs in 15mm

Today our weekly old guys meeting (lunch then a game) used Simon "Big Red Bat" Miller's "To the Strongest!" rules and my 15mm forces to fight a game between Byzantine defenders and a Seljuq raiding party.  For those who are not familiar "TtS!" uses squares to adjudicate movement and weapons ranges and playing cards for activation, missile fire, melees, and rallying.  If you are interested, you can get the rules, playing mats, and all sorts of accoutrements at Simon's shop.  You can also read more about the rules at the "To the Strongest!" discussion forum.  The playing mat was obtained from Simon and features a thin square grid that doesn't detract from the very nice surface.  Well, enough blatant advertising ­čśü on with the battle report.

This game was the second in a row for us.  The first one, for which there were no pictures, pitted two relatively balanced Norman forces against each other.  It was mainly a learning game.  Today the forces were:

Byzantine (Nikephorian list):  four commands with a total of four units of tagmatic cavalry, two units of thematic cavalry, two units of nomadic light cavalry with bow, four units of tagmatic infantry spearmen, one unit of psiloi javelinmen, four units of toxotoi light infantry with bow, and a camp.  This force had a total of 38 victory points with 13 victory medals.  Two players controlled the Byzantines.

Seljuq (Seljuq Turkish list):  four commands with a total of 1 unit of Seljuq noble cavalry, three units of ghulam cavalry, ten units of turkic light cavalry with bow, one unit of Dailami guard javelinmen, three units of light infantry with javelins, three units of light infantry with bows, and a camp.  This force had a total of 37 victory points and 12 victory medals.  Two players (including me) controlled the Seljuqs.

It would seem that the Seljuqs, with all their light bow-armed cavalry, would ride circles around the slower moving Byzantines while shooting them to pieces.  Unfortunately it didn't quite work out that way.  All I can say is "the cards was against us!"  All four of us couldn't seem to get into a good sequence where we activated with low cards and then shot or fought with high cards.  It was the other way around for almost the entire game.  In addition, our Seljuq light cavalry was very fragile.  It was not a good day to be a Seljuq.

Now for a few pictures, taken about midway through the game.  As you'll see, I use a rather large base with my 15mm figures, 80 mm x 40 mm with 8 to 12 infantry or 4 to 6 cavalry per base.  This basing was originally used for the old "Vis Bellica" rules which turned out not to be a particularly liked rule set among us - a lot too much adding and subtracting of combat modifiers.  As I already had a ton of figures based this way on fairly expensive Litko bases I didn't want to rebase them back to the old DBA etc. standard.  But with TtS!, this basing seems to work so I'll continue to use it.

A good look of most of the battlefield from the Seljuq right rear.  The gray colored numbered chits denote missile ammunition available to a bow or javelin equipped unit.  All 21 Seljuq and 15 of the 17 Byzantine units were bow or javelin equipped.  Directly in front of the camera you can see a Byzantine nomadic light cavalry unit in the rough ground and a leader and two heavy cavalry units to its right (your left) with a third Byzantine heavy cavalry unit to the rear facing one of my Seljuq light cavalry units.  My leader and three Seljuq light cavalry units are in front of the Byzantines.  My plan was to ride around the Byzantine flank, get behind them, and shoot them to pieces.  Didn't happen!

The Seljuq left flank with bow armed light infantry then light cavalry beyond them facing Byzantine cavalry and infantry.  The cards immediately behind the Seljuq units indicate their activations with the "3" being pretty good, allowing future activations while the "8" being not so good as one has to get a higher card to continue to activate.  The two red cards were played by the bow units as their missile fire, with both getting a hit on their respective targets.  It probably wasn't enough as I'm sure the Byzantine player was able to save from the hits,

Finally a view from the rear of the Seljuq center with my four heavy cavalry units and my leader facing a Byzantine infantry force.  The black squiggly marker by the left front cavalry unit indicates it is disordered from a missed save.  Another such missed save and the unit would be destroyed.  We only had five "2-hit" units with the rest being "1-hit" wonders - a missed save and the unit was destroyed.  The toothpick on the left rear cavalry unit indicates that it had not used its "lance" capability which allows it to draw two hits cards in melee.  It would later use it and bow fire to destroy one of the opposing Byzantine heavy infantry units seen in the distance.
The Seljuqs really took it in the shorts today, loosing one heavy cavalry, five light cavalry, and four light infantry units for a total of 11 of its available 12 victory medals.  We decided "he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day" and conceded defeat.  The Byzantines didn't lose but about 1/3 that amount.  To paraphrase, "something was wrong with our bloody bows and arrows" today.

But we are catching onto the mechanics of the rules and will have more of these games in the future.






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