|A little cartoon - the Emperor in pursuit -|
just because I like the illuminations of one John Skylitzes
In the last couple of weeks, a fast-play quick game version of Portable Wargames, dreamed up by Mark Cordone, has created quite a stir among PW aficionados. The quick game concept quickly expanded into the notion of using the brevity of battle play to mount quickplay campaigns. As seen on the Facebook PORTABLE WARGAME page, Mark called his The Fall of Rome. Bob Cordery got in amongst it all with his Stalbania versus Khakistan war, and someone else has examined the concept for World War Two.
|The proposed 3x3 quickplay set-up.|
Briefly, the idea is to play the battle upon a 3x3 square grid, but with reserve areas extending the depth of an army's deployment. The broad idea isn't especially new, but I think the application - incorporating Portable Wargame mechanics - is. The beauty of the idea, and it seems to work, is that the game may be played on such a small area. It took less than ten minutes to hunt up a backing for an A4 pad; subdivide into a 3x3 grid, with reserve areas extending right across the board (and absent mindedly extending one of the longitudinal grid lines through it - damn); drabble some green and beige paint thereon - and there's the battlefield. The pictures convey the idea; the figures are 15mm Byzantines and Bulgars.
|Book added to show just how small this |
Well, of course, when the campaign idea was mooted, I bethought myself to an idea I have long had, but never really got to work on. Working title: Siege of Constantinople. Although... I am strongly tempted to rename the imperial capital after myself: Ionople. Fine appellation for a Greek capital don't you reckon? But I might settle for Byzantium - at least in the title.
|'Working' campaign map. This may be simplified down |
to a schematic for the actual campaign. The doodles
are just for fun...
The sketch map gives the idea. It is the beginning of the second millenium: 1001AD. The Empire is surrounded by enemies. I began with three, but, because my Byzantine army is so much vaster than the enemies I have available, I decided on a fourth - a revolting Duke who has designs upon the Imperial throne, that his progeny might be 'born in the Purple' - porphyrogenetes. I'll say straight out here, this hastily drawn map is 'concept only' - what will probably be simplified come the day.
|Bulgar - or they may be Abasgian - heavy cavalry|
As usual, I have allowed the concept to run away with me a bit. At any rate, here's the concept in more detail.
|Pechenegs. All of them. They need a war wagon.|
The Empire is under pressure from northwest, north, east, and southeast. From the west, the Bulgar Empire, recently pushed back from the Euxine (Black) Sea coast, and seeking revenge. From the North, those ferocious Turkic nomads, those Patzinaks (Pechenegs) whose idea of fun is to raid, pillage and plunder. From the east, there's the small kingdom of Abkhazia - the Abasgoi, soon to become 'Georgians', fiercely independent, and hemmed in by mountains, wanting to stretch their elbows a bit. Finally we light upon Duke Yevgenes Apostas, himself chafing under Ionopolitan diktat, but having concluded that, rather than break away (with consequences he didn't dare to contemplate), that diktat ought to come from none other than himself.
That gives us four campaign paths - four ksenikoi armies; faced by four Byzantine: two Imperial, and two Thematic. But, just to add an amusing complication, methought: why not add the possibility that the 'enemies of Byzantium' might (be induced to) attack each other? That is one of the reasons for my adding the Duke, actually. Between the Mediterranean and Euxine Seas, and the Caucasus Mountains, the east is cut off from the west. I wanted someone to be a possible distraction for the
Geor Abasgians. Of course, such occurrences are mere diversions, but they might bale out the Empire if the going gets a bit sticky.
|Kataphraktoi - the early Mediaeval tank.|
Before I go, I should perhaps explain the little sketches. The Pecheneg War Wagon design I've noted down because it seems likely I'll be forced to make one. For the others, I have long been a fan of the type of illustration that added colour to the manuscripts of a certain Ioannes Scylitzes, a copy of which is known as the Madrid Scylitzes.
|Varangian Guard, as seen at the Mediaeval Show|
Queensland (Australia), May 2014. Note that these dudes
favour spears, rather than axes.
I will confess that all this is probably rather hopeful, not to say, optimistic. It may well turn out to be one of those occasional campaigns - one that can easily be taken up for a few quick games, in between other projects. We'll see. Meanwhile, I wonder if the thing is feasible for Mediaeval 'Naval' war games...?
To be continued ... sometime...
To be continued ... sometime...
Looks very good! I'm looking forward to your campaign.ReplyDelete
Hi Mark -Delete
Those poor neglected Mediaevals have seen precious little action these last 20 years. Maybe it's time... I've begun work on 'finishing' off these chappies. One that's done it might be time to see whether the 'ksenikoi' might be filled out a bit...
I like your take on the 3x3 PW, and the Campaign idea is very nice. You definitely need to make a little war wagon!ReplyDelete
Hi Maudlin Jack -Delete
It is all in its formative stage yet. I'll probably have to carry out a few 'border incidents' by way of a prologue, and to 'playtest' the battles.
All the best -
This all looks rather nice but I think the smaller version of a PW is a bit too far for me. However I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops:).ReplyDelete
Steve J. -Delete
I tend to think of this sort of thing, along with one-hour war games, as something of a light diversion. But does permit the idea of a 'campaign in an evening', along the lines, say, of Bob Cordery's ongoing Stalbania-Khakistan War.
Because the requirements are so small, I would have more than enough Pechenegs to field; and can ALMOST field a Norman 'Army'. Unfortunately, a single bowman (who seems to have snuck in disguised as someone else) does not an archer unit make... Under DBM, my Normans (3 stands, led by Roussel de Bolluxe) served as allies - auxiliaries really - in my Byzantine Army.
The concept of the 3X3 PW is interesting; but will it allow for maneuvering troops? I can see how it would work for Medieval troops, though. I do really like your illustrations and map. They remind me of the old illustrations in Battle Magazine reports on Hyboria. Hopefully there will be more with this campaign.ReplyDelete
I don't think 'manouevring' is part of the game. It strikes me as similar to the 'battle' array of Wars of the Roses. Manoeuvring seems to be 'below the grain' with this concept; the battling by sector. But what is held in the reserve area may be flung into any sector where you might need support or to recover lost 'ground'. The latter consideration is why I THINK that it is only when you can't fill one sector at the end of your OWN turn that signals defeat.
Thanks for reminding me of the charming caricatures by one Richard Nelson that illustrated Tony Bath's series in 'Battle' Magazine. I think I saw maybe half of those 'Hyboria' articles, a hiatus occurring for a few months when 'Battle' seemed to be unavailable in this country without a subscription. Great read, that series of articles.
I love your map! The illustrations really add something that I didn't even know was missing. I look forward to seeing your tweaks for the 3x3 format.ReplyDelete
p.s although I support the name change to Ionople, They Might Be Giants are going to have rework their song.
John Y -Delete
The Turks might have found Ionople (Ionopolis) easier to transliterate ... maybe. Their version of Adrianople - Edirne - does give one pause, though.
In future articles on this topic, I'll endeavour to add the odd illustration comme ca the Madrid Scylitzes...
Looks like it may be an interesting way of getting troops on a "table" and playing a few games, so more power to your elbow!ReplyDelete
A 'Campaign in an Evening' maybe?