Monday, 31 October 2011

IX. Damascus - Saladin stops the Greeks on their tracks and counterattacks

This battle developed into a rather new way. For starters, due to the numerical advantage of the arabs and the openness of the terrain, the deployment is very different between the two armies. The byzantines deploy in a defensive formation, with archers and varangians in front, waiting for the egyptians. The latter have spread out wide, preparing to cover the distance between the armies and attack. The egyptian army is composed of thirteen elements, including mercenary camels, very appropriate for the dunes and the oasis (which we got to use for our first time :). After last battle's casualties, the byzantines are down to eleven elements, not managing to succeed in getting any extra reinforcements for this battle. Apart from the desert-like terrains (dunes and oasis) there is also a rough terrain in the corner which did not play any role. So, on to it!

Saladin is not afraid, he mixes his troops and deploys them in a wide line across the battlefield. His intentions seem clear. Close in fast and strike! His special camel unit of nobades is going for the oasis on the right.

Palaiologos forms his army into one big block of men, horses and steel. His archers and varangians are in the front line while a solitary unit of latin bowmen occupy the dunes.

The egyptians spread out with most cavalry on the left and prepare to move to the center of the battlefield. The byzantines separate into two groups, protecting flanks and rear.

Saladin's berber horsemen circle around the left for a flanking move while the greeks start spreading as well with two bow units marching forward on the far left.

The armies get ready to clash! The oasis is contested by greek and egyptian bows together with nobades camels and berber light horse.

The alan bowmen of the byzantines are shot down by the Saladin's sudanese archers and the oasis fills with bodies. The greek left is in peril.

Another greek bow unit is destroyed and things look dire for Palailogos. His left is crumbling and the egyptians celebrate!

The greek general throws in his reserves to his left (two pacheneg Lh) and prepares for the charge. The egyptian line is still forming.

Charge! shout the greeks and they surprise Saladin. They halt their charge and focus on the ghulam warband with their pachenegs. The varangians follow behind while Saladin is still deploying his men to his right.

The ghulams held and now the arabs attack! Saladin exploits his numerical superiority and tries to flank his opponent. 

Blood is spilled again... The greek left is all but done as the camel riders take down a pacheneg light horse. In the center a khwarizmian cavalry is cut down by the kavallarioi and Saladin becomes suddenly exposed. After a moment of hesitation Palaiologos orders his men to retreat.

The battle is over. The greeks are falling back and the enthusiastic nobades chase the varangians during the retreat.

The camel riders pay the price of their over confidence. The varangian elite guard chop them down with their axes, as two more mounted arab units are creeping up on them.

The brave varangian guard is decimated as the egyptian hordes of horsemen run them down. They fought to the last...

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