Sunday, 26 April 2009

Harran 1104 Battle Report - Part 3 (the conclusion)

We left the action with the Saracens, having won the next initiative roll, about to play their 10 initiative pips:

The Saracens drew two melee cards in quick succession and had to resolve the ongoing melees. In the fight between Jekermish’s Seljuk horse archers and Baldwin’s foot sergeants the horsemen forced the infantry to give ground (the Franks were low on morale chips and were unable to risk spending them to prop up stubborn troops). The fight between Soqman’s unit of Ghulams and Bohemond’s Knights (neither body guard units) was an unequal affair in which the Knights were pushed back with loss then routed.

Jekermish (using march and manoeuvre cards) changed the direction of his attack to concentrate on destroying Joscelin’s command. But even though Joscelin was surrounded and outnumbered he was holding out quite well.

In the Franks responding initiative: A unit of Tancred’s knights charged a bunched mass of Turcomans who had got into the rear of Tancred and his bodyguard, and dispersed them (evaded off table). Meanwhile Bohemond, seeing that it was going to be up to Antiochenes to reverse what was looking like a dire situation advanced as best he could, throwing a unit of his foot sergeants at Soqman and his bodyguard; the sergeants advanced covered by their integral bowmen and, by chance, a shaft struck Soqman and felled him from his horse: Huzzah! In the following melee, however, the foot sergeants were thrown back onto Bohemond and his Knights.

The continuing melee between Baldwin’s sergeants and the Seljuk horse archers was slowly grinding its way to a conclusion. It was only by shear luck that they were managing to trade space without breaking. They fell back through one of Bohemond’s foot units and were temporarily relieved from the pressure. But the relief was short lived as the horse archers threw Bohemond’s sergeants back with loss and they found themselves in confrontation with their ‘old foe’ again.

Bohemond, himself, was faring better. His knights, now in the front rank of the melee with Soqman’s bodyguard, fell on them with such ferocity that they were routed from the field. Indeed, in this part of the field he and Tancred were now, with most of Soqmans cavalry scattered or routed (off table), feeling quite secure.
The next initiate rolls gave a swing of 2,3 and 6, and the Saracens took first bite each time. Most of the combat cards had passed so this was not a time of much action.

Baldwin’s foot sergeants gave way and were sent scuttling to the rear causing more disorder to their support.

On the other side of the field Jekermish’s cavalry came to grips with Joscelin’s Armenian guard, but low and behold, were shockingly pushed back (d10 Vs d4 and they rolled – 1 Vs 2). But his cavalry, supported by Turcomans, were faring much better with the bow; Joscelin’s infantry taking severe loss but just about holding on.

Turn 3.
The first initiative roll gave a swing of 6, and again the Saracen took first bite. The cards they turned were fatal – March, Missilery, Missilery, Melee, Manoeuvre and March - and at this stage of any game this combination is capable of swinging a battle; with the Saracens already on top, and as the cards gradually unfolded, any doubt in my mind over who the winner was going to be faded: This was game over.

First it was Joscelin who took the brunt. One by one his units fell (destroyed completely) to sustained missilery then he and his bodyguard were routed by Jekermish’s heavy cavalry who followed up in its wake. What remained of Joscelin's infantry, now severely weakened by archery, were set upon by Turcoman horse archers and utterly destroyed. The Antiochenes were now alone, and all of their units were suffering disorder, loss, or both. What was more, the Franks were out of morale chips and handing them over to the Saracens at an alarming rate.

The last two cards were used by Jekermish to wheel and advance in order to cut off any hope of the Antiochenes retreat; their fate was being sealed.

It, with things going badly, came as no great surprise, when two of the first four cards the Franks turned over were Army Morale (is this not always the way of luck) – and they failed both of them. The remnants of Baldwin’s command (a unit of Armenian archers) ran for the hills. Tancred was forced to withdraw twice and this forced one of his units of Knights to break on the first occasion and he and his bodyguard to leave the withdraw from the table on the second. Bohemond passed his first check but withdrew on the second causing much disorder throughout what remained of his army. He was in such dire straights that I decided, that the Franks should concede the battle – EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!!!

So ended my solo re-fight of The Battle of Harran 1104. Although the passage had been different the result was near to history. The Edessans had been slaughtered almost to a man, whilst Bohemond, Tancred and the Antiochenes, with a bit of luck and a kind flow of cards (due to them after the debacle of the last draws and with only one enemy march card still in play), would see most of them (the Knights at least) off table to safety.

In all, the game spanned two and a bit turns and perhaps two and a half hours of play. Not bad considering the game was solo and involved 31 units.


Donogh said...

Great stuff! These solo battles always seem to take on a life of their own.
I'm currently half-reading Grant's Programmed Wargame Scenarios for some ideas (but if only I could get some time for actual wargaming!)


Hi Donagh,

Thanks. I tend not to play solo much. But it comes in for those scenarios that are either too complicated to umpire and prone to be f*****d up by players, or, those games you know that no one else wants to play. My next battle will probably be a solo affair for the latter reason: Bicocca 1522 - who wants to be the French for that game! It is one of the few games I've ever had to make specific terrain for - currently half finished - so it's gonna get played. After I done it solo, I'll probably rope some players in for the 'what if' scenario - there are plenty of 'what ifs' for Bicocca.