|Our Byzantine opponents, Joel and Keith|
So, one of our regular Sunday night gamers, Steve, is a big fans of staging refights of historical battles. He'll playtest them with us and then takes them to area conventions to run. The latest battle that caught his eye was the Battle of Manzikert -- a pivotal encounter that probably did the Byzantine Empire as much long-term damage as any other in their history. Because of this disaster, the empire lost is vital agricultural and recruiting lands in Asia Minor. Through the centuries, the Byzantines had relied on this area for manpower, horses, crops, and other goods. Its loss to the Turks was one of the nails in the empire's coffins, though Constantinople did not actually fall for 400 more years.
A couple weeks earlier, he and Keith had tested out the game using Might of Arms rules. Steve wanted to give the battle a whirl using Hail Caesar rules, which our group had played a number of times. I enjoy Hail Caesar, though I often end up getting hammered by its abundant dice rolling! It plays quickly and is easy to learn its mechanics. There is a bare minimum of modifiers -- all of which makes sense.
|The centers advance towards each other...or would be, if my light horse would move! Allen's heavy cavalry behind are getting impatient and would ride through as we stalled for a third consecutive turn.|
By turn four, I was starting to succeed on activation rolls. I began to envelop Keith's left wing, spreading out my more numerous horse archers out to concentrate fire on him. Eventually, this wore his command down, along with a couple charges that went my way. His broken left wing ended up being the only command broken in the entire battle. We were really surprised at how much horse archery could wear down an opposing battleline. It taught me that you need to have reserve troops to punch through once the enemy is wavering.
|With my slacker light cavalry out of the way, Allen was able to close with the Byzantine center and soften it up with archery fire before charging in.|
|Late in the battle, my right wing starts to turn inward on the Byzantine center|