At SLW we have been playing with Sword and Spear in glorious 28mm-o-rama, and last monday two of the more colourful armies came head to head – Arabs met the early Byzantines. An Arab raiding force entered the Byzantine province of Arabia, looking for loot and glory. Gathered to meet it were the local border forces of legionaries, part time limitanei and the provincial horse archer units, stiffened by a central force rushed to the scene comprising of the local Dux, his elite Buccelarii personal guard, and various Phoideratoi (mercenary) contingents of Vandals, Goth and Sassanids heavy cavalry and Hun and Moorish light horse. Also moved up for the ensuing battle were the crack Equites Clibinarii Leones and Comites Alani Orientales, both regular armoured heavy cavalry lance and bow units.
And now the 28mm-0-rama model porn bit:
The Byzantines, blocking the Arab way form a line from the Oasis on their right occupied by a unit of psiloi archers (blurred guys in front centre)to the small town on their left (rear of picture)
The Arab raiders, shaking out into battle formation
Initially the Byzantines were succesful, their archery taking out the screen of Arab light horse, and then the Goths, being Goths, charged a unit of Arab horse that got too close and with their impact charge routed them. Unfortunately, they then carried on charging into a unit of mercenary Ghilmen, far way into the enemy lines so they could not be rescued. Oops
At this point, Allah willed it that the Arabs would get the agressor advantage for a few bounds in a row, and this allowed the Arabs to mount a large cavalry push on their left wing (front centre, picture below) as well as go on the offensive against the hole left by the Goths in the Byzantine line on their right (top centre left – spot the hole)
But the Byzantines were not too concerned – the veteran Vandal unit, and the crack Leones and Alani regiments were ready and waiting – high morale, high impact, well armoured – both deadly units who should sweep all before them… Or not! The Vandals failed to vandalise their foe, the Regulars were very irregular in their dicing, and both rapidly succumbed, as did their Captain, moaning about dust in his eyes. But despite this, all was still salvageable, the Sassanid clibinarii moved up to shore up the flank – get the initiative, a good charge and some decent shooting by all the archers in ithe Oasis should do it…
…er, no. Arabs got the initiative and in they crashed. Even the limitanei part timers took a charge – ouch!
Meanwhile, in the centre, the Byzantine legions finally got into contact with the Arab foot and started to do what legionaries do, and Arab heads started to roll off Arab necks…
But it was too late. the loss of the Goths on the right flank had put the Byzantines on the defensive, and they were having to fall back to the town against a pressing Arab attack
..and on the Arab right, the Sassanids were broken, and the Byzantines were beaten and had to withdraw what was left of their forces.
But casualties were heavy on both sides. Arabs lost 17 army points…
Byzantines lost 19 and a Captain. The way to the Byzantine hinterland was open…
….or is it?
About half the forces from the province of Arabia were commited in the battle, and the Arab raiding force lost a lot of men in the battle. As we write, the rest of the province’a horse archers and the other legion in the province are moving up. Was it better for the Arabs to sack the local town and make off home, or should they try to push further into Byzantium for more loot, but risk a similar scale battle and possible defeat?
Tune in for the next enthralling episode….
(500 point Sword and Spear battle, the 2 armies are very well balanced – Byzantines slightly heaver and harder hitting, Arabs slightly more numerous, both very mobile with fairly good archery capabiity. Byzantines started well with their shooting but in the critical mid-game the Arabs had several back to back initative pulses and put together a strong cavalry push, and the Byzantine heavy horse performed very poorly. In a predominantly cavalry battle the foot takes ages to get into action so the Byzantine legion was not able to break down the poorer Arab foot in time to make a difference and the Arabs eventually took what was a very exciting game.)
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This post was written by Alan Patrick