Imperial Pike and Gunpowder army vs. Byzantine old school army.
SwampRat (HRE) vs. HG-SubRosa (Byzantines)
Cavalry---General’s Bodyguard, Imperial Knights, Feudal Knights, Mounted Crossbowmen
Foot-------2 Dismounted Feudal Knights, 3 Armored Sergeants, 1 Hand gunners, 3 Pavise Crossbowmen
Cavalry---General’s Bodyguard, 2 Latinkon, 4 Byzantine lancers
Foot-------Varangian Guard, 4 Dismounted Byzantine Lancers, 4 Byzantine Guard Archers
Phase 1: The Waiting Game.
Swampy, the M2:TW reigning ladder champion demonstrated his knowledge of terrain and picked a naked hill top ringed by woods, a perfect defensive spot for pike-and-artillery type armies. The hill gives him an enviable range of sight and shooting power while the woods will slow down any adventurous attackers. He chose an orthodox formation of pikes in the front, spearmen and swordsmen right behind with missile supports in the center. Cavalry were deployed on the sides.
Rosa on the other hand is a fairly new face on the M2:TW ladder although she has vast experience in playing R:TW, its predecessor. Her knowledge of terrain wasn’t novice either and she picked a relatively flat plateau overlooking a sunken road. Any attackers will have height disadvantage while assaulting from the front and her impressive array of cavalry will make short work of them by flanking from both sides. Her deployment was straight forward, with infantry in the center, archers right behind them, and cavalry on the sides.
With such preparations on both sides, it was sheer folly for either of them to attack first. The one who first attacks will most likely be shot to bits, will grow tired even before the serous engagement, and the opponents flanking move might collapse the whole army. Since both sides didn’t want that to happen to them, they waited.
Phase 2: Redeployment
If there was one advantage Swampy had over Rosa in this standoff, it was his Serpentines. With a range of 450 yards, they were able to shoot and reach the ranks of Rosa’s infantry. Many of the shots missed, but the rest found their marks. Here and there infantry fell by twos and threes. Even with the extra ammunition, the Serpentines usually cannot hope to make a serious dent in the enemy ranks to make up for its expense of 700 florins. Such weakness is more apparent in larger unit settings since the artillery pieces do not multiply proportionately with men’s numbers. All Rosa had to do was to pull half of his forces back a bit while stretching his infantry into thinner ranks so even the luckiest shot will blow away only 2 men at a time. In the end Rosa might lose a whole unit of her Dismounted Byzantine Lancers before Swampy finally run out of ammo but it is a small price to pay. One unit of Dismounted Lancers equals 440 florins while 2 Serpentines equals 1400 florins.
However, either due to some strategy or due to innate fear of artilleries, Rosa chose to abandon her position and move further back. By chance or choice, there was another hill behind her near the south east corner of the map, which also offered excellent defensive places. Swampy immediately followed her with his army now that she is outside of his artillery range. Pikes first, then the rest of his army following.
Rosa meanwhile consolidated her position on the hilltop but I knew it wasn’t a solution against Swampy’s artillery. Just then I noticed a wide depression behind the hill. If Rosa had stationed her men here then Swampy simply couldn’t hit her and will have no choice but to engage in melee in which Rosa had the advantage. However, Rosa probably didn’t notice that nugget of information.
Phase 3: Cavalry Engagement.
Swampy also consolidated his holdings on a small rising just north of Rosa’s previous position. His Militia Pikemen created a right angle corner type defense with infantry and missile support behind them. Before his artillery begins its deadly work, Rosa already began to charge with all of her cavalry. Now that her forces are in range, Swampy’s gunmen cheerfully began the fireworks. Not daunted by the numbers, a single unit of Imperial knights rode up the Rosa’s cavalry forces to stop them in their tracks. Swampy also sent his Armored Sergeants—cavalry killers for support while his Pavise Crossbowmen also began to shoot at the big targets. Swampy successfully half enveloped Rosa’s bunched up cavalry with her spearmen and a one-sided massacre began.
Phase 4. Melee Café.
Swampy’s sole Mounted Crossbowmen weren’t standing idly. They had already circled around Rosa’s infantry and began shooting their bolts at their exposed backs. However, the superiors numbers of Byzantine Guard Archers’ counter fire forced them to break off. Meanwhile Swampy’s spearmen with gunfire support proved to be too much for Rosa’s cavalry, and they broke and fled. With cavalry threat out of the way, Swampy’ Serpentines once more focused their attention to the Byzantine infantries. Not a moment too soon since Rosa now made her second assault, comprised of her infantry and archers. With all the commotion south of Swampy, Rosa quietly slipped her General’s Bodyguard unit behind him in the hopes of destroying those annoying Serpentine crews.
Now Rosa’s infantry finally came close to Swampy’s camp and he sent his relatively intact Armored Sergeants to parry the blow. As before, his Hand gunners began to shoot their deadly loads, no doubt causing some serious morale reduction. At this stage the field in front of Swampy became a no-holds-barred melee battlefield. Seeing his Armored Sergeants won’t hold up against swordsmen, he sent additional Militia Pikemen and Feudal Knights to bolster the point of defense. He also had noticed Rosa’s general to his rear and sent one of his pikemen to guard the Serpentines.
The brutal battle happening in front of Swampy’s defensive position was still in full swing. The Dismounted Byzantine Lancers scored a point by routing one pikemen unit, and they were supported by Byzantine Guard Archers’ cover fires. Swampy, realizing his need for speedier resolution had committed his final reserves, the Dismounted Feudal Knights, on to the slaughter. His own General’s Bodyguard unit was shadowing that of Rosa’s threatening to pounce on her rear if she makes any definitive attacks. Rosa had an ace up her sleeve as well and the Varangian Guards finally joined the fray. They quickly became entangled with Swampy’s dismounted knights.
Dismounted Byzantine Lancers are well equipped and well armored but they have just one crucial flaw: their low morale. It was of no surprise then, to see them break after they became tired. Freed from the engagement the few Feudal Knights and their reinforcing dismounted brethrens lunged after the skirmishing Byzantine Guard Archers and caught one unit. Although suffered by the charges, the Guard Archers are adequate enough to handle them in melee, if only for limited time. Rosa’s general unit, though decimated by crossbow fire, finally broke into the interior of Swampy’s rear and attacked Serpentine crews directly but due to numerical differences heavily affecting their morale, the bodyguards soon broke and fled.
Phase 5: The Last Charge
By now Rosa’s cavalry were all routed, most of the infantry were slain, and the missile troops were scattered to hell. Victory seems to be heavily swinging to Swampy’s favor but any Total War gamer will agree that it won’t be over until the fat lady sings. Rosa’s Guard Archer still had plenty of arrows and there were abundant targets to shoot. First to suffer were the Imperial Knights Swampy forgot to redeploy after the cavalry battle. They simply stood there and took the arrows. The Varangian guards tried to rout them by charging but they in turn were routed by a unit of Dismounted Knights attacking from behind. Now Swampy have no serious opposition to fear anymore. Part of reason why the Varangian fled was the ever devious Hand gunners Swampy employed. He made another ingenious move by merging the gunmen with the pikemen so the only the front line of the gunmen were exposed while the rest stood safely behind the row of pikes. In all my matches I never saw others using Hand gunners much less deploying them in such an effective way. This was a truly eye opening battle.
Although the Guard Archers still unleashed their arrow storms, Swampy now had plenty of Pavise Crossbowmen to focus and counter their fire. Seeing the attrition will only wear her down, Rosa decided to make one last charge in hope of snatching victory from certain loss. Swampy meanwhile turned his flank hinges inward into a C shape ready to swallow up Rosa’s assault. The last assault was not much in terms of numbers but it was ferocious enough to rout the Mounted Crossbowmen firing in the front of Swampy’s formation. However, the Hand gunners behind them now had a clear view of the charging Guard Archers and in conjunction with the Serpentines, unleashed thundering volleys which blasted apart the assault and dashed the last hope of Rosa.
From now on, it was simply a matter of mopping up the few remaining Byzantine units for Swampy and he was on it swiftly. Victory screen soon came up and Swampy got yet another triumph under his belt.
The map offered both sides excellent places to defend easily while hard to assault. When in a situation like this, usually the first one to lose composure and attack head on loses, which is exactly what happened to Rosa. Had she stayed clam under artillery fire or had she took advantage of the wide depression behind her second position on the south east corner, then the match could have turned out to be very differently. Although her mass cavalry attack was audacious, it didn’t have the momentum or maneuverability to punch through Swampy’s defenses. Her foot units also came too late to support the cavalry before they fled. However, she was also innovative enough to do flanking moves on her own, and if she can master the devilry of combined arms assault then I can say for sure we will be seeing her successes in the near future. You can do it Rosa! :D
Swampy on the other hand, used a very orthodox Pike and Artillery formation which he utilized to great success in the ladder. It didn’t fail him this time too and his utilization of artillery as psychological weapon was a nice choice. His use of Hand gunners was ingenious and his fluid deployment of troops was nothing short of breathtaking. If this was a real battle, then his tactics would have been studied in military academy. His brilliance was also partly due to much experience in the ladder games. I wish him even more success and great match replays.
[Edited on 08/17/08 @ 11:53 PM]