Wednesday, 20 July 2011

III. Thessaloniki's defence - Muzzafar is slain and the Egyptians fall back

Hello again! Our bloody campaign continues, this time with a battle which points to the implications of the rules we followed. The Egyptian army is numerically inferior (10 elements against 13 Byzantine units) due to the first battle's outcome (2 Arab casualties which were not replaced). Our reinforcement (and the whole 'initiative' system) works like this: the loser of a battle decides first what to do, retreat one or two areas. If he retreats one, he rolls the dice and subtracts one for every area between the area he goes to and his capital. The result is the number of casualties to be replenished. After the first battle e.g. the Byzantines retreated one area and rolled for 6-1 (only Thessaloniki between them and the capital) and managed to fully recover. If the loser retreats two areas, his army is fully reinforced. 

Then the winner decides whether to follow or stay (or even go back but that is another story). Then he rolls with the same rule. This implies a more favourable reinforcement for the loser who is forced to retreat. If the winner stays, he gets to roll but gets also a bonus of half his lost units back. And then the loser decides whether to counter-attack. In our case, in the first battle, the Egyptians lost two units and the Byzantines three. The latter retreated one area and got two units back after rolling. The former got none. In the second battle, the Byz lost three units and got them back for the third battle (and a mercenary, a topic of another time). The Arabs got none back. Thus, 13vs10 in Thessaloniki.
Among Roman arches and old fortresses, general Dukas deploys his army in a long front, placing his infantry on the road.
As the sun is setting on the Greek fields, Al-Muzzafar thinks of a bold but risky plan. He places most of his troops on his left flank. (We are missing a photo after this one but it was rather a straight march for both armies. The Egyptian plan was to charge the right Byzantine flank on the mountain, ignoring the slow Greek infantry on the road.)
CHARGE! The mass of the Arab cavalry smashes on the Byzantines on the mountain slopes. A difficult uphill battle for the Egyptians.
Fatal mistake by Al-Muzafar. No space to recoil and Berber light horse goes down by Mercenary Crusader spears. On the mountain the battle continues with the Byzantines horsemen holding their own. The Greek left is slowly but inexorably advancing.
Elation! The Egyptian general is slain! His men are shocked and suddenly uncertain.
The crusader mercenaries (Sp) take down sudanese bowmen and the battle is all but done.
Dukas coordinates his men with perfection. Victory is at hand.
At last, the Arabs are fleeing! The Byzantines give chase to the retreating men.
The sun has almost set but the Greeks had one more thing to do and the Pecheneg light horse takes the Egyptian camp. The Byzantine empire is safe (for now...)

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