Michael came around for a game of DBA on Friday. I decided to try my Early Hungarians against my Komnenan Byzantines. I haven’t actually used my Komnenan Byzantines yet, so I thought if I played against them in the first game of the evening, then I could use them in the second game. This didn’t happen as the first game lasted 13 turns and 90 minutes!
Michael looked at the various options in the Komnenan army and decided to field 2x3kn (one being Alexius), 3x3Cv, 3x2LH, 2x4Bw, 1x4Bd, and 1x4Sp. I decided to field the Ax option for the Hungarians, so I had 2x3Kn, 1x3Cv, 3x2LH, 3x4Sp, 1x2Ps, and 2x3Ax.
Michael was the defender, and laid out a river, as he’d never used one before, two gentle hills seperated it from a Roman road. I managed to roll successfully for choice of base edge – keeping the river at 90 degrees to the battle lines. We both set up all our forces on one side of the river. I opted to try to hem Michael’s cavalry in with my spear, and face the rest of the army with my mounted troops and auxillia.
I didn’t take detailed notes, and I’ve put my bag of markers somewhere not immediately obvious. I saw on one blog that the author had made a nice GIF file of a battle. I decided to be a little more primitive and make my photos into a sort of fast slideshow and put them up on YouTube. Not realising I would be making a movie of this game I haven’t policed the table very well so there are evanescent markers and dice, and in the background we can be seen to have made steady progress on our beers!
But here’s the YouTube clip anyway.
In the foreground, you can see of my 2LH testing the river, and finding that it ‘slowed movement’. Continuing across the river it then high-tails it back when Michael sends all of his LH over. My auxillia fail dismally in their attacks on the Byzantine bows, who make an epic stand on a hill. Both of my auxillia end up routed, one when it recoils into friendly knights (actually Coloman’s Bohemian buddies may not have been that friendly to a bunch of Croatian hillmen), and the other ends up having the door closed on it by one of Michael’s light horse that returns from its tour of the other side of the river. Michael’s remaining LH continues on until they are out of command range, and although they think about crossing back and attacking my camp they never quite get there. I manage to kill the Byzantine’s Norman allied 3Kn. And there the battle sit at 2-1. Alternating woeful and above average die rolls mean that none of the favourable attacking situations that Michael and I put together come to fruition. I finally manage to force one of Michael’s cavalry to flee, allowing me to close the door on his spearmen and destroy them the next turn. Things are looking rosy for me but once again those pesky Byzantine archers foil my plans by shooting my general with a 6-1 when he is supporting my 3Cv against a remarkably resilient 2LH. The next combat decides the game, when the Varangian Guard double the 4Sp that are attacking them.
The river turned what would have been a fluid cavalry battle into a slogging match, but the dice were unusually fey. The number of perfectly good attacks that came to nothing was really quite astonishing. In hindsight my auxillia needed a lot more support than they received in trying to bundle the Komnenan bow off their hill. Because they were attacking along the long axis of the hill they couldn’t gain the uphill advantage as easily. I was weary of all that Byzantine cavalry, which is why I didn’t field the bow option but I think they may have had more success if I’d fielded them and protected them adequately. It might have been odd though, with Michael and I both having a Bw infested hill each.