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Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Black Army takes the field

Today saw my Later Hungarian army on the tabletop for the very first time.  Brandt promised to bring down an army to "help" me field test my army and he did not disappoint.  

My Later Hungarian Army:
Hungarian Nobles (Knights) x 2

Szeklers x 3
Serbian Hussars x2
Hungarian Light Horse Archers x2
Clipeati & Armati x 2
Handgunners x 2
Foot Archers x1
Troop commanders x 4


Brandt's Mamluk Egyptian army:
Mamluks x2
Halqa x3
Sultans own mamluks x2:  Armored Elite drilled bow swordsmen!
Turkoman x2 
Bedouin  x 1
Field commander x1, Troop commanders x 2

His list was a rude awakening for me because it was all mounted with mostly armored, superior, drilled, bow, swordsman and four units of Lancers!  Unit for unit, his cavalry generally outclassed mine except for my Knights.  I had a lot of foot troops and I realized my Defensive Spearmen were going to have trouble getting into a game with mounted troops.Brandt's quality army versus Monty's quantity. As they say in Canada, who will win out, eh?

The first twist of the game was that of the 10 pieces of terrain, 8 ended up on Brandt's side. Since I lost initiative and had the first move, I decided to try to jam Brandt's army as moved up and out the terrain on his half of the board. There was a vineyard in the middle of the table which counts as difficult terrain and it basically cut the battlefield in two. I stacked my Knights on the right side of the battlefield and planned to conduct a delaying action on the left side against Brandt's best troops, The Sultan's Own Mamluks.   


I paired each Hungarian light horse with Serbian hussars and sent them on double moves to delay on the far left and right flanks. The downside to this strategy was that my Hussars took a great deal of bow fire and each ended up disrupted, neutralizing them.  The upside was that they did slow the Egyptians out of the gates and made a nuisance of themselves.
On my right flank, my Knights made good progress, although one battle group almost got sucked into a trap due to its impetuousness and a charge without orders.  One more inch of pursuit and they would have been in trouble from the start.  As luck would have it, they ended up just short of offering a flank to the Halqua and their lances. My second unit of Knights got extremely lucky and was able to catch an evading unit of Halqua from behind.  In short order, the Halqua were broken from the field.  The saving grace for the Egyptians was that the pursuit phase put my Knights far away from the critical action on my right flank.

In what would turn out to be the critical match up of the game, 2 units of Halqua charged a single Knight unit.  Against all odds, this matchup would grind on for 4 or 5 turns. Brandt's dicing was insane at times, with him rolling a 12, a 12, and 11 for morale checks in 3 consecutive turns.  Whichever side broke first would open up a hole which the other side could exploit and win the day.  
On my left, the 2 units of Sultan's Own Mamluks each got in a charge against Szelker Cavalry.  I knew I had to hold these guys up if I wanted to have a chance so I threw my commanders into the front lines in each of the melees.  In one  turn, Brandt killed 2 of my 4 commanders!  Ahhh!  Fortuna was starting to frown on me.  How could I make her smile instead?  The game teetered on a knife's edge!  Could my Szelkers hold long enough for my Knights to win on the right? Things were so desperate that I did the unthinkable and threw my King into the front lines to rally the weary Knights.  Brandt Kingslayer salivated at the chance to collect the head of Matthias Corvinus.
Finally, my superior numbers kicked in. I was able to sneak foot archers through a vineyard and up into the Egyptian camp for a quick 2 points. I threw a unit of Szeklers into the all-important scrum with my Knights and King, giving me extra to dice for melee. And I was able to bring my 2nd unit of Knights in with a rear charge on the enemy, putting Brandt over the break point as I myself went fragmented. Game goes to the Black Army!  And the King lived!  Long live the King!
This was a close run thing.  I was mentally exhausted at the end of this 5 1/2 hour marathon match. Medieval match-ups tend to be quicker than ancient games in Field of Glory but this was the exception!  Plus, I have to say that Brandt is one of the toughest match-ups in our club and proof is that this is was the very first time I've beaten him.  Great game, fascinating match-ups and both Brandt and I plan to tweak our lists just a bit.

Lastly, let the record to show that the Mountain Dew vending machine was broke today and I was unable to sustain myself with the sweet nectar of the gods as is normally my practice when I get tired. In the alternate, I tried a can of Red Bull and wow, does that taste bad!  Plans for a Red Bull sponsorship for my Hungarian army in Field of Glory tournaments are definitely off!