Thursday 25 April 2024

A Burgundian Civil War – collision course

The current project will be completed soon and preparations are underway for next, a return to the late medieval period with a focus on the War of the Roses. Details will be posted in a future post.

In the spirit of things to come, this late medieval test brings two Burgundian armies on a collision course. Both vanguards have made a wrong turn and view one another across a road. (Royalist forces on the right and rebel forces approach from the left).

Note, in this manner both hamlet and enclosure are better seen, call it artistic licence.  

The Royalist third division arrives shortly and takes a position to the left of the line, both wings await with patience, the placement of the artillery. The cannonade will announce the start of the battle.

Rebel forces anxious for the arrival of their third division bring forward their cavalry to extend the battle line to match that of the Royalist. Meanwhile, Royalist artillery moves into range.

An anxious rebel commander sensing the third division will not arrive on time, employs a little-known tactic called the “Burgundian shuffle”. The left takes steps back to bring them out of artillery range followed by the right leaping forward to attack.

Performed on the dance floor, the ladies fall flat on their back in shock, here, the result is similar as the hooves of the rebel cavalry trample over the ranks of Royalist infantry. Their sudden destruction prompts the Royalist commander to sound a retreat. After a long afternoon (13 turns) the rebel troops enjoy a 4 – 1 victory. The whereabouts of the third division remains a mystery.

Remodelled enclosures.

The segments used to construct an enclosure have been remodelled with Milliput. The created embankment is then covered with white glue, sand, painted and flocked.

The segments can also enhance the look of a hamlet.

Friday 19 April 2024

The Alani raid the Empire

Over the centuries, the Sassanian Empire’s eastern front experienced frequent incursions from a number of nomad peoples; Hephthalites, Kidarites, Chionites and Alchon Huns. Less frequent, the Alani crossed the Caucuses Mountains to raid the northern regions of the empire. After 363 the kingdom of Armenia is divided between Rome and Persia. Dissenting minds in Perse-Armenia are planning rebellion, however, seeking to test Sassanid readiness, the Alani are invited to do what they do best.

Returning from one such raid, the Sassanian forces have intercepted the Alani, laden with plunder, before reaching the northern gateway. Terrain is mountainous (Hilly) and restricted to 2 x difficult hills, 1 x river, 1 x woods, 1 x BUA and a road.  Armies are double size and primarily mounted, making this an interesting encounter.

Game one.

The valley floor leaves little room forcing both sides to deploy in depth. The Sassanid place their hope on the elephant corps and cataphract cavalry to be sufficient to crush the Alani.

Like a thunderbolt, the elephant corps is launched at the Alani centre. As a counter, the Alani light horse move against the supporting asavaran and strike first.

This brings a temporary relief as the Sassanid attack is halted to deal with the Alani light horse.

Sensing the threat subsiding, the Sassanid continue their attack against the Alani centre with the asavaran cavalry making first contact followed by the elephant corps.

With the failure of the Alani attack against the Sassanid left and its centre in shambles, the Alani break after losing their general, 8+gen – 7.

Game two.

Positions reversed, the Sassanid have interspersed asavaran cavalry between the elephant corps and cataphract cavalry. Useless levies are positioned to block encircling moves by the Alani.

The Alani have formed a light cavalry screen with heavy cavalry in a second line.

The Alani move forward to catch the Sassanid in the restricted space. Sensing that danger, the Sassanid advance their line to clash with the enemy.

Alani archers descend from the hills to aid the destruction of the Sassanid right. In centre, formations have dissolved in small combats, but the Sassanid have lost half their elephants.

The decisive blow was struck when the Alani warlord launched his group of nobles against the Sassanid left centre.

Seeing the dragon standard in the distance, the subordinate moves the remainder of the Alani to seal the victory over the Persian, 8 – 4.


A most bizarre moment in game one developed near the battle’s end. Alani nobles attacked and forced an element of elephants to back pedal, not once, but four times. 

No, the Alani general died in combat against the Sassanian leader, but if battle had lasted one turn more.

In game two, following the destruction of the elephant corps, the Alani held the initiative. Pip scores were not an issue, but Sassanid spent their pips recovering their position. The Alani nobles had less problems as they pursued any enemy recoiling.   

Tuesday 16 April 2024

William and the Duchy of Normandy

Battle of Mortemer 1054

During the early reign of William, Duke of Normandy, King Henry I of France, once an ally, turned on William in an attempt to curtail the rapid expansion of his domain and in a two-prong attack, King Henry confronted William while the king’s brother, Odo, swept through east Normandy, putting villages and crops to the torch. Odo plundered the town of Mortemer (County of Eu) and spent the night there. The following morning, Robert, Count of Eu, surprised the French by assaulting the town at dawn, defeating them and capturing Odo and other nobles. 

The refight.

To replay the battle of Mortemer with DBA3, a few rules were added to have play follow as close to historical events. 


The town of Mortemer is four times the standard size of a BUA and is positioned in the centre of the board. Robert de Eu deploys his troops in four groups and positions these 6BW from the town perimeter. French deployment in the town is random; a die is cast for each element and is placed in one of the six zones. French elements are not in contact with one another.


The attack began in the pre-dawn hours and ended, according to one source, at 3 pm (15.00 hrs.). If the battle took place during the harvest season, daylight hours would be 0600 to 1800 hrs. Using the Time Scale on page 2, the battle ending at 15.00 would equate to 36 turns. To speed the game and add tension, we used the ‘variable time’ house rule suggested by Stevie. Using a standard card deck (number cards only), one card is drawn at the completion of a full turn. The game ends when the score reaches 36. 

Sequence of play. 

Dawn 0500 – 0600 hrs. (four turns)

One hour before daylight, Robert de Eu’s troops may move a maximum of 1BW per turn (no road bonus). Their direction is aided by the fires set to buildings by the town’s folk. Where the fires are set is determined by a die cast each turn. French troops in that zone are roused from their sleep and may begin normal movement on the following turn as per rule set (read movement in town). No cards are drawn during the pre-dawn phase. Sunrise takes place on turn five permitting normal movement and a card drawn for elapsed time. 

Note, At the start of the game, all French mounted are dismounted and fight as spearmen. Remounting each element cost +1 pip and must take into account enemy TZ, and command distance.   

Battle 0600 – 1500 hrs.

At the end of turn four, the French are fully alerted to the surprise attack making all elements eligible to move as per rule book. At the end of the French turn, a card is drawn to determine the amount of time which has passed.

Note: the interior of the town is considered rough ground affecting movement and command distance. Movement along tracks is considered open ground but offers no road bonus.


Norman (defender)

1 x Robert, Count of Eu (3Kn), 3 x milites (3Kn), 3 x milites (4Bd), 2 x Bretons (Cv), 2 x archers (3Bw) or spearmen (Sp), 1 x archers (Ps).  

French (attacker)

1 x Odo of France (3Kn), 3 x milites (3Kn), 3 x milites (4Bd), 2 x milites (3Kn), 2 x spearmen (Sp), 1 x archers (3Bw). All mounted are dismounted at start of game.  

Victory conditions.

Norman eliminates more elements than lost and may claim a minor victory.

Normans eliminate twice many elements as lost, counting as a major victory.

French must escape the confines of Mortemer before mid-day (36 turns); all knights saved is considered a victory. 

Animated presentation.

Battle ofMortemer can be followed from the 12.30 mark of the video presentation by History Marche.

Thursday 11 April 2024

Battle of the Nedao

To meet the Hunnic horde, Ardaric deployed his tribal warriors in a thin line interspersed with archers. Flanking the line at both ends, other skirmishers took their position in the rough ground, The Gepid cavalry, greatly outnumbered, formed a reserve behind the infantry.

The Hunnic arrival placed the bulk of their cavalry in centre, clearly intending to wear the down Gepid infantry. However, on the extreme flanks, small units of horse archers were seen, possibly placed there to threaten the Gepid rear and precautions were made against such a move.

As the Hunnic horse archers advance, Gepid skirmishers reposition themselves within the rough ground.

For the better part of an hour, the Gepid line remained immovable passing the initiative to the Huns. Coordinating their attack, the Huns closed the distance between lines.

As a skirmish ensued on the Gepid right flank a column of Hunnic horse archers raced toward the Gepid rear, the threat was countered by a timely charge of Gepid cavalry drawing first blood.

The battle shifted to the opposite flank with the Huns catching a unit of skirmishers in the open. These proved resilient in their defense, but in the end, they too were destroyed, bringing the casualty score even.

Swinging back to the Gepid right flank, the Huns launch a massive assault against the infantry forcing the Gepid line to buckle.

As the Hunnic left regrouped preparing to renew their assault, Ellac shifted the battle to batter the opposite flank. This time, the Gepid line cracked and gaps in the line begin to appear.

Till now, both sides suffered casualties, but sensing the moment right, Ardaric advanced his right to catch a few Hunnic units off guard and sending others in disarray.

Ordering his subordinate to regroup, Ellac intensified his own efforts widen the breaches made. In response, Ardaric raised the stakes by sending his cavalry into the general action. Though severely outnumbered, the Gepid cavalry prevailed to turn the tide to a close victory, 8 – 6. The Huns are defeated, but Ellac survives the day to ponder further options.


The game was tight, despite its length (twelve turns). Pip scores were not an issue, but the Gepid held the infantry in place content to having his skirmishers conduct an early role.

Turn five, the Gepid advanced their entire line as a challenge the Huns. The gauntlet thrown, the Huns began a methodical assault alternating their attacks between left and right Gepid flanks which placed pressure on the Gepid to maintain an unbroken line. Gepid cavalry moved to close the gaps created and for one critical moment surrounded an element of Gepid cavalry, these held their ground for another turn.

Turn twelve, a Gepid pip score of 5 sealed the fate of the Huns.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Battle of the Nedao 454

Developing a scenario for the Battle of the Nedao has proven difficult due to the scarcity of information, such as strengths and deployment. The battle is mentioned as having taken place near the Nedao tributary. From Jordanes, the Germanic force included Heruli cavalry and among the infantry Rugii, Suebi and Sciri warriors are listed. Other sources mention the presence of the Ostrogoths, but this has been discounted by later studies, simplifying the selection of an army list for this scenario.

Recently, History Marche produced a video with an interesting interpretation of the Battle of Nedao

Using the video as a guide, our battlefield will have woods, rough ground and to one side, the Nedao river. The Gepids deploy on the right of the photo and have woods to cover their rear and the Nedao river on its right flank. Both armies are a single command of 24 elements. The distance between rough ground features is 12BW force the Gepid army to deploy a thin line to rest its flanks on the terrain features. Gepid cavalry, heavily outnumbered, are positioned behind the infantry line.

Possible outcomes to consider.

A decisive Gepid victory and the death of Ellac would mean a historical outcome with the dispersal of the Huns to the Pontic steppe.

A marginal Gepid victory might prompt the Ostrogoths to join the Gepids to bring the downfall of Ellac.

A Hunnic victory would bring the Gepids to heel prolonging the presence of the Huns on Rome’s frontier.


The Forces

The Gepid army (II/71)  of two commands: 

1 x Ardaric (3Kn), 1 x sub-general (3Kn), 6 x cavalry (3Kn), 8 x warriors (4Wb), 8 x skirmishers (Ps).

The Hunnic army (II/80d) of two commands:

1 x Ellac (Cv), 1 x sub-general (LH), 22 x horse archers (LH).


The refight

Thursday 4 April 2024

Sassanian Empire and the Nomadic Invaders

 Since the reign of Shapur II, the Iranians had to deal with nomadic invaders in the east known as the Hephthalites, Kidarites, Chionites and Alchon Huns. The Sassanids lost the control of Bactria to invaders from the north in 360 CE, first to the Kidarites, then the Hephthalites. Shapur III seems to have clashed with the Alchon Huns to the east (388) and during the reign of Bahram IV (395), the Huns invaded the Roman eastern provinces reaching as far as Galatia, then returning to invade the Iranian realm, devastating much of the countryside around the Euphrates and the Tigris. A counterattack was made resulting in the defeat of Hunnic forces and the retrieval of their spoils. 

The Sassanian II/69b sub-list cover the majority of the incursions while the Hunnic player has several sub-lists to select from; II/80d will serve for the invasion of 395, for the campaigns in Bactria use II/80c and the campaigns of Kavad I and Khosrow I, use II/80b (see note). 


Most likely an omission, the Sassanian army list II/69c should list the Huns II/80b as enemies.

Game one.

Facing the Huns, the Sassanid army formed two divisions; on the left all the foot, elephants and cataphracts and on the right, the asavaran cavalry. Opposite, a screen of Hunnic horse archers hid two groups positioned in a second line.

As the Sassanid left advances, the Hunnic screen moved to encircle both flanks of the advancing Sassanid divisions.

The auxiliary hill tribes led by the sub-general checked the Hunnic threat on the left; this allowed the infantry and elephant corps to continue their advance. The Hunnic threat to the right is also contested and develops in a full fledged cavalry battle.

Troops fiercely engaged on both flanks, yet sensing the battle reaching its apex, the Hunnic warlord led a desperate attack against the Sassanian cataphract and elephant corps. 

As the dust settles, the destruction of the Sassanid centre sends a shock wave through their ranks and despite the heavy casualties to both sides, the Hunnic warlord pursues the Sassanid general off the field to claim a narrow victory, 8 – 7.

Game two

A second Sassanian army caught the Hunnic raiders napping as they quickly position a screening force as they deploy. In the Sassanian centre are the cataphract and asavaran cavalry, guarding its flanks are the infantry and elephants. More asavaran form on their right and light cavalry are positioned on the left.

Using the woods as cover, the Huns attempt to encircle the asavaran to catch them in a pincer. This is foiled by the timely intervention of the auxilia infantry giving the asavaran cavalry an opportunity to charge the Hunnic light horse.  

The Sassanid cavalry in centre quicken their advance and attack the Hunnic screen as the asavaran cavalry to their right continue their pursuit of enemy horse archers.

The Hunnic army is totally committed along the entire front and casualties among the horse archers run high. Seeing their warlord’s standard fall, the Huns break, 8 – 2.


Confident of a second victory, Hunnic attention and pip expenditure focused on the flanks while ignoring the Sassanid advance in centre. Leaving the infantry behind, the Sassanid cavalry and elephants accelerated their move to charge the Hunnic first line, severely mauling them.

There is a valuable lesson to be learned here.