Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ancient/Mediaeval: Playtesting Paul Liddle's Rule Set (Part 2)

Second battle between Byzantines and Bulgars.
Playtesting Paul Liddle's rule set.
I confess this posting is by way of a filler, really.  It was a second playtest of Paul Liddle's Ancient/Mediaeval War Games Rule set, featuring those deadliest of enemies, the Bulgars and the Byzantines.  I will provide just the sparest of narratives, and let the pictures tell most of the story. But it ought to said here that in this battle, the goddess Hexahedrona favoured the Byzantines more than rather, at least until it was too late for their enemy to hope for an eleventh hour victory.
Both sides massed their foot in the centre with horsed troops
on the wings.
To recap the armies:
Bulgar, 14 units:
4 light horse archer units,
3 heavy horse archer units.
4 heavy spear units,
2 medium bow units,
1 light javelin unit.

Early disaster for the barbarians: left wing heavy cavalry
shot to pieces by Byzantine kavallarios archers.  The two
counters are there for pictorial purposes prior to the unit being
removed from play.
Byzantine, 12 units:
1 elite 'super' heavy horse unit (kataphraktoi),
2 heavy horse units (Tagmatic kavallarioi),
2 medium horse units (Thematic kavallarioi),
1 light horse unit (prokoursatores),
1 elite heavy spear unit (Varangian Guard),
3 heavy foot units (skutatoi),
1 medium spear unit (peltastoi),
1 light sling unit (sphendonistai).

The foot close in the centre,  The elite Varangians have taken a knock from
Bulgar archery.

The horse on the Bulgar right have closed.  The Bulgars have
extra light horse in hand.  This could spell trouble... 

The unengaged horse archers envelop the flank of the prokoursatores...
Despite being attacked in front and flank, the Byzantine light
horse refused to budge all day (these guys had a remarkably
successful record in DBM battles, and all - often against huge odds!)

Bulgars close in rather piecemeal, considering their heavies
lack fire power, and their bowmen lack heft.  Sensibly, though,
the archers keep their distance from the Varangians!

The Bulgar left flank looking a little vulnerable, with just
two light horse units to deal with 2 heavies and a 'super' heavy...

Collapse of the Bulgar left flank?  Not quite as events turned out.
But one light horse unit gets caught by pursuing kavallarioi.
 In the above picture, the Bulgar light horse archers evade the Byzantine heavies.  I had missed the 'waver' token that ought to have been placed against the evading units, but allowed the Byzantines a rear attack.  Having been shot up the previous turn, the Byzantines could add only one to their roll, which turned out to be insufficient.  Accompanied by a general, possibly this light horse unit ought not to have evaded anyway...
The situation on the Bulgar right is deadlocked.  Two Byzantine foot
units hasten there in anticipation of the prokoursatores defeat.

The charge of the kataphraktoi into their flank scatters an
archer unit (two counters there to signal that the unit be removed).

Tough fighting in the centre; the Byzantines getting the better of it.

Bows removed.
Inconclusive action on the wing.  The dice rolling here was
woeful for both sides

Bulgar left wing being bent back.

The view along the line.

Byzantines pressing; two more Bulgar units destroyed.

Bulgar left wing facing dissolution.

In quick succession the Bulgars lose from left to right, a bow
and a spear unit (out of picture to the left), the second bow unit,
and the Tsar's heavy cavalry unit.

Bulgars taking heavy damage.

Even the prokoursatores, assailed from front and flank,
are giving better than they are getting!

At last, a Bulgar success! The  Boili Attaboi's light horse
fling back the enemy heavy cavalry.

Suddenly the kataphraktoi have an open flank!
Far in the Bulgar rear, the Thematic kataphraktoi at last
ride down the fleeing horse archers.  
The above picture, arising from flight and pursuit based on something I had overlooked in the rules, ought not to have taken place - at least, not there.  But maybe it is something that needs to be revisited.
The overall situation late in the day.

Byzantines pressing in the centre, but that open flank is a worry...

Byzantines enveloping the Bulgar centre  right.

The prokoursatores still hanging tough!  The peltastoi 
are just about to lend a hand.

Led by Attaboi, the light horse change into the flank of the kataphraktoi...
Meanwhile, the Byzantine psiloi, and the Varangians have also broken.

The final result lent some respectability to Bulgar performance, but it was still a heavy defeat:

Byzantine losses: 3 units: Varangian elite spearmen, Thematic cavalry unit, the slingers.

Bulgar losses: 9 units: two light horse archer units, all three heavy horse archer units, both bow units, one spear unit, the javelin light foot.

The final action, as the Bulgar army finally collapses.  


  1. A good looking game Ion, and a decisive result. It's always nice to get some long unused armies into action.

    I am painting some more 15mm Indians at the moment and will start on my Achaemenid Persians next. Shamefully I've had some of these left unpainted for decades, it'll be satisfying to get them finished.

    1. I'll have to do the same with my neglected Bulgars in particular. Actually, they are sometimes Georgians instead...