Thursday 10 August 2023

A Clash of Cavalry

The current discussion at Fanaticus Forum to improve the light horse in the rules prompted me to experiment with cavalry tactics. This paired the Huns and the Alani in a historical clash somewhere on the steppe, anno 375.

Game one

The clash of arms took place on a level field broken by two gentle hills and scrubby ground; leaving enough open ground to deploy. Both armies formed small groups and positioned them in two lines with solitary units placed to guard against threats to flank and rear. 

Cavalry armies do best when placing the enemy off balance, here, the Alani focused their attack on one flank, the remainder of their force holding their original position. This created gap offering the Hun a tempting target.

The ensuing attack resulted in casualties on both sides, nonetheless, the Huns held the advantage after two turns.

To turn the situation around, some risks were taken by the Alani and by turn three, they prevailed, earning a narrow 4 – 3 victory. 

Game two

The positions exchanged, the Alani duplicated their ‘winning’ deployment, while the Hun tightened its formations.

Repeating their tactic, the Alani assaulted the Hunnic left flank. Knowing that battles tended to be brief, any plan of a flanking maneuver dispensed with.

Seeing the threat to his left, the wily Hun withdrew the horse archers to regroup further back. Though committed to the attack, the Alani had to adjust his approach.

Forming a longer line of nobles and some horse archers, the Alani prepared to attack the Huns head on.

Taking advantage of the delay, the Huns reformed their own ranks to meet the threat. In the meantime (turn 3), the Hunnic light horse was active on the opposite flank.

Despite low pip scores, the Huns took advantage of the moment to launch an all-out attack on the main body of the Alani host.

The desperate attack did produce the unexpected, the Alani suffered greatly, including the loss of their general. A clear victory for the Hun, 5+g – 1.


Both games needed little time to complete, the first, 20 minutes, the second 25 minutes. With cavalry armies, I found small groups work best and when in line formation. A second line is a must as these will hold reserve formations. Single elements placed in the second line can easily move forward to form a column for combat, therefore, they need not be formed during first deployment.

With adequate spacing between groups, 7 or 8 elements can easily cover a frontage of 12BW.

The spacing between groups can be covered by reserves or, as in game two, troops in the front line can withdraw and reform alongside the reserve.

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