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This blog presents my different wargames armies, after action reports, campaigns which I have run, some scenarios and a presentation of some of the different rules I play. The pages at the top of the blog contain historical information on the periods that interest me. They are an aid to my poor memory, and not in any way exhaustive nor necessarily correct. As I am an Englishman living in France, some pages are in English and others in French...sorry, I am too lazy to translate...

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mardi 4 septembre 2012

Dominion of Tengri

THE PEOPLES OF THE STEPPE

This campaign is set towards the end of the 9th century AD. Campaign turns have no fixed value, but can be considered to cover around 5 years each.

Fighting over a map divided into 10 kingdoms or confederations, the Byzantine and Arab Empires are struggling to protect themselves from the forces sent against them by Tengri, the God of the Steppe.

The campaign rules are here.

Battles are preferably played with DSC, but DBA can be used if time is lacking or if a battle offers little interest.

The OOBs at the start of the campaign can be found here : Alains, Bulgars, Volga Bulgars , Ghuzz, Karluk, Khazars, Khwarezm, Magyars, Rus and Sogdians.

This campaign ended in a crushing victory for the Arab Caliphate, the Byzantines losing all influence over the peoples of the steppe !




Turn 1

Neither Byzance nor Baghdad registered any diplomatic successes, whist all remained quiet out on the steppe (no Aggression). The Byzantines naturally chose the Khazars as their Avatar, the Arabs choosing Khwarezm.
The Khazars (1250 pts) were sent against the Volga Bulgars (1250 pts). The Khwarezm-chah, hesitating at the Sogdian frontier, decided instead to attack the Ghuzz (1250 pts).

Khazars vs. Volga Bulgars (DSC)

Slightly outscouted, the Volga Bulgar army deployed the first corps, commanded by the C-in-C, with the Slav infantry positioned behind the 4 element wide ditch. To the left, bow-armed light infantry lined the river bank, with massed levies behind them.

The Khazar Beg also took up position in the centre, intending to advance the artillery to bombard the ditch. Levies and light infantry were deployed on the right, and the remaining cavalry corps on the left.



In the centre, half of the Slav infantry advanced rapidly towards the marshes, considering that it was now or never. Despite a brief moment of danger as they came under fire, they made it across the open ground without difficulty.



The Khazars rapidly found themselves losing the initiative, with both the left flank and the centre in enemy control. On the right, they were unable to make much headway against an elusive enemy, despite destroying one unit of Kassoge cavalry.



Although scarcely the best troops available, the levy was called upon to eject the Slavs from the marshes.


 
On the Khazar left, where their remaining hopes lay, a sequence of devastating volleys killed men in all four of their units, leaving them powerless to oppose enemy control of the battlefield.

The battle drew to an end after 8 turns. The Khazars had lost 38 morale points (43%) with their left moral aggravé 2 and their centre moral aggravé 1. The Bulgars had lost 40 morale points (31%). Their total domination of the battlefield (16 points, thus 3 columns gained on the victory table) transformed their resistance into a total victory (level 3).

Khwarezm vs. Ghuzz (DSC)

The deployment of the two armies was very dissimilar. The Khwarezm Shah decided to concentrate all of his heavy cavalry in the centre, and split his numerous mounted infantry between the two flanks.

The Ghuzz preferred to concentrate their light cavalry, but parcel out the heavy cavalry. The aim of this tactic was to strike fast and hard in several locations at once, and take the enemy by surprise.



With the initiative advantage, the Ghuzz opted to begin the battle. Their objective was to bring a major force to bear as rapidly as possible on their right flank. Light cavalry from the centre were devoted to this task, initially wrong-footing the Khwarezm by their rapid redeployment.
Their initial volley of bowfire, from the hill and from the light cavalry, sent a shudder through their enemy : 9 dice against two units, both moral aggravé...but this rain of arrows was completely ineffective. The riposte from the Khwarezm archers was far more violent.


On the Khwarezm right, mounted infantry advanced quickly into position, throwing back the enemy light cavalry with their surprisingly accurate bow fire. The enemy's heavy cavalry, forced to skirt round the difficult ground, was unable to trouble them, being constantly threatened on their flanks by the Arab medium cavalry (whom, thankfully, were bowless).
The Ghuzz also abandoned the centre : they could certainly not stand against the massed Chakars and Ghulams of the Khwarezm, and with their light cavalry scattered to the four winds, could not slow them down either.
An opportunity came on turn 3, and the Ghuzz, in increasingly dire straits, decided to take it. They charged in on an isolated unit of Chakars, hoping to receive light cavalry support against its flank...but this did not arrive. In the ensuing battle the Ghuzz heavy cavalry were slaughtered, and the centre became moral aggravé 2.



On the left, it was obvious that the levies were unable to slow down the enemy advance, whilst the heavy cavalry there proved consistently unable to intervene. On turn 4, the Ghuzz decided to throw their full weight against the enemy on the right. Their nobles charged the Khwarezm ghulams on the hill, whilst their infantry archers dismounted...and charged. They met with astounding success, destroying two units of enemy infantry before themselves succumbing, sufficient enough to rout the entire enemy left !



Unfortunately, the destruction of the Ghuzz nobles on the hill caused their right wing to flee aswell. The Khazar centre was now moral aggravé 1 but victory was close at hand. The final blow came when Chakar cavalry rode down the Ghuzz levies.

Decisive victory (level 4) for Khwarezm with heavy losses on both sides (5 Khwarezm and 8 Ghuzz units forced to refit).


Turn 2

Despite their defeat, the Khazars remained loyal to the Byzance (Loyalty of 0 for this turn). The Ghuzz however joined forces with their Khwarezm conquerors. Embassies to the Magyars and to the Sogdians failed for both powers.



The Byzantines obviously chose the Khazars as their Avatar, the Arabs choosing Khwarezm again. The Ghuzz were called upon to provide an allied contingent, to be used against a neighbouring province (hence called up at +2 on the die roll). The Turks sent a meagre contingent from their depleted forces, a 120pt General (Cdt 8) leading a unit of Ghulams and another of Horse Archers.
These were led by the Khwarezm-chah (1190 pts) against the Volga Bulgars (910 pts).

Khwarezm and Ghuzz vs. Volga Bulgars (DSC)

Armed with superior numbers, the Khwarezm army was nonetheless slightly outscouted. The Khwarezm-shah deployed in the centre, commanding the corps of archers, with a unit of medium cavalry in reserve. The heavy cavalry, under the command of a brilliant young Sogdian general, formed up on the right, supported by light infantry. The Ghuzz deployed on the left, with the mission of skirting around the woods and crossing the ford.
For the Bulgars had taken up a solid position behind the river, whilst placing the mass of the Kassoge cavalry on their right, opposite the Ghuzz.

The Khwarezm opened the battle. The importance of the wood on their left flank was quickly confirmed as fighting broke out here.



Covered by their light cavalry, the Kassoge horse archers were able to squeeze into the gap between woods and river, their shooting sending the Khwarezm mounting infantry archers reeling back in disorder. The Shah's plan, to send his archers to the river bank to drive back the opponent, then cross with the heavy cavalry, was already disintegrating. To his right, the other woods had also been taken by Bulgar archers, who were able to drive back the Khwarezm light infantry. If they could not be disloged, they would make any crossing of the river perilous.

On turn 2, the Kassoge medium cavalry crashed into a unit of Arab levy, destroying two bases (the third taking refuge in the woods). The Khwarezm position began to look precarious, especially if the enemy army's Slav archers were able to attain the woods.  Reflecting his increasing confidence, the Bulgar Beg ordered his levy infantry to shift to their right, coming out from behind the treeline to solidly hold the river bank.






His triumph was, however, short-lived. On turn 3, the inspired Khwarezm commanders were simultaneously able to
a) Form an archery line whilst charging and disordering evading Kassoge cavalry archers.
b) Transfer the Chah’s cavalry to the wood on right, to screen off the enemy skirmishers there
c) Advance two units of mounted light archers to the flank of same wood ready to capture it next turn.
The first unit of Kassoge LC having already fallen to the Ghuzz light horse on turn 2, these Turks also managed to destroy the second unit : charged by heavy cavalry from 1cm on a second successful order, the evading target scored only 3 on 2 evade dice !

Screening from the Slav archers and ineffective bowfire from the Khwarezm left the Kassoge medium cavalry still within striking distance of the enemy centre at the end of turn 3, but they were unfortunately now MA2.

On turn 4, the Khwarezm were unleashed after their well-executed redeployment. The Ghuzz ghulams having crossed the ford on turn 3, were able, after two successful orders, to reach the flank of the Bulgar levy. As for the Chakars and the Chah's own ghulams, their general's "Strategic Value" allowed them to engage both units of Kassoge medium cavalry, hapless to evade given their morale.
In the ensuing fighting, one unit of Kassoges was destroyed, the other actually losing only one base whilst inflicting one casualty on the enemy. But both units of Bulgar levy were ridden down by the Ghuzz.

This was enough to demoralize the C-in-C’s command and end the battle, with a decisive victory for the Khwarezm (+8).

Bulgar losses were particularly heavy, with the Kassoges virtually annihilated, as well as the levy. The Khwarezm took light casualties to their Ghulams and to two infantry units, as well as to the Ghuzz at whose feet much of the triumph could be laid.


Turn 3

The Beg of the Bulgars rode in person to Baghdad to pledge allegiance to the Caliph. For their part, Byzance succeeded in bringing the turbulent Magyars into their fold.
Chosen as Avatar, the Khwarezm recruited allied contingents from amongst the Ghuzz (2 units) and the Bulgars (4 units). As for the Khazars, they sent a contingent, including artillery, to join the Magyar invasion force.



This Magyar army (1510 pts) pushed southwards into the Caucasus, to lay their hands upon the kingdoms of the Alans (1250 pts).
The Army of Three Khans (1635 pts) - for the Volga Bulgar and Ghuzz contingents were respectively led by the Beg and the Khan in person - laid waste to the steppe of the Karluks (1250 pts) in order to bring them to battle. With three kingdoms present in one army, this was considered an Epic Confrontation.

Magyars and Khazars vs. Alans (DSC)

Outscouted, the Alans were brought onto a battlefield which allowed the invaders to use their artillery to best effect. A rise in the centre of the battlefield, giving onto boggy ground, offered a useful position for the Alan infantry archers, but was partly screened off by another hill on the Magyar left flank.



The Magyars grabbed the initiative, planning to wipe the Alan foot archers off the hill, whilst encircling the Alans on their own left with their swarms of horse archers.  The Alan battle plan was to stall on their right flank, and attack vigorously on their left, using their heavy cavalry here to drive back the enemy light horsemen. The central hill should, as long as possible, provide archery cover for this attack.

The initial Magyar advance was slow, with orders slow to arrive, no doubt due to the confusion of tongues. The attempt to take the central hill by surprise thus failed. On the right flank, the Szekely advanced over-confidently and lost one base to enemy fire. The Alan EHC soon came under fire, however, from the Szekely and the Khazar ballista on the hill.

The Magyars essentially stalled through the first four turns of the battle, making little progress due to both command failure and enemy bowfire. On turn 5, however, they began their breakthrough. The weight of numbers and troop quality began to tell on the Magyar left (with 2 bases of Alain EHC lost by now to bowfire), and the central hill was at last menaced by a unit of Kavars.

On turn 6, the Szekely, who had consistently pushed back the Alain light horse facing them, drove one unit off the battlefield, causing the Alan left to become moral aggravé 1. The Kavars rode down the Alan infantry archers, and their centre also became moral aggravé 1. Magyar domination of the battlefield sectors placed the Alans in a difficult situation, forcing them into an offensive. It was planned to move the reserve of heavy cavalry from the right to the centre, and redeploy the infantry archers towards the left, to shoot down the enemy horse archers.

A regiment of Kavars had come down from the hill towards the Alan left (in pursuit of fleeing light infantry). Finding itself with its back on the marshy ground, it was a potential target for a nearby unit of Alan EHC (with only 2 bases). After some deliberation, the Alan C-in-C joined this unit and it charged the Kavars. In the ensuing combat, both sides lost 2 bases; the Kavar Ardeur 2 allowed them two extra strikes, which turned the tide and killed the Alan commander-in-chief.

A tense battle thus came to an end on turn 6. The Alans had fought well, but with their EHC unable to close without flank attacks, and this proving impossible on the left due to the whirling mass of enemy LH as well as the effective fire from the ballista on the hill, their strike force was neutralised.
After the battle, 6 Alan and 5 Magyar units were forced to refit; casualties had, in all, been fairly light.

 
Khwarezm, Volga Bulgars and Ghuzz vs. Karluks (DSC)

By driving off or massacring their herds, the Khwarezm managed to force the Karluk into open battle, on terrain of their choosing, an open plain dominated by a hill, whose west-facing slopes were boggy and dangerous. The Karluk attacked however before their enemy could properly deploy [a scouting advantage of 14 points was used to restrict the enemy deployment zone, and guarantee the Karluk the first move].
The Karluk concentrated their main force on the more open left flank, with their best horse archers and heavy cavalry in support. The levy cavalry were to sweep round the right flank and cause chaos. The Karluk relied on a rapid advance allowing them to take all three enemy sectors rapidly and hold them as long as possible.

The Khwarezm intended to infiltrate their numerous archers into the difficult terrain and on the hilltop. The mass of medium cavalry, a perfect counter to the enemy light horse, were to engage aggressively on the right; the Ghuzz on the left were to secure the flank as best as possible. The heavy cavalry formed the reserve, to commit as required.



The Karluk plan worked well during the opening phases of the battle, as light horse seized both flanks, causing havoc amongst the packed ranks of the enemy on the Khwarezm right and swamping the Ghuzz horse archers on their left. Disorganisation caused by bowfire amongst the Khwarezm medium cavalry allowed the Karluk nomads to charge them, resulting in the elimination of one unit for a loss of only one base.


In the centre, however, the Khwarezm progressively took hold of the hill, protecting their flanks with medium infantry and beginning to pour bowfire into the enemy horse. The immobility of the Karluk nobles was a source of concern to their general, who needed to keep up the pressure on the enemy’s right.



On Khwarezm T2, the Bulgar and Arab medium cavalry launched a series of charges which threw back the Karluk horse archers. The Kassoge nobles, accompanied by the Beg of the Bulgars, caught up with a unit of light cavalry whom, disordered, was unable to evade far enough. Eliminating them in the first round of combat, they were able to pursue their attack on the unit of Karluk HC to which the Karluk C-in-C was attached.

The Karluk C-in-C faced a difficult decision.  Either he evaded, with a risk of being caught and destroyed [if 3D6 < 10cm], or he stood, but with heavy cavalry without a lance facing charging medium cavalry with a lance, and an excellent general to boot. Nonetheless, if his unit more or less held, they would have the upper hand on following rounds. He chose to stand; unfortunately, the Kassoge nobles hit very hard indeed, with 11 hits out of 15, and only 3 saves. The Turkish nobles dished out only 3 meagre hits. On the following round they were, naturally, overrun and their C-in-C killed in hand to hand combat with the pitiless Beg of the Bulgars. The Bulgars thus achieved a decisive victory for their Khwarezm overlords.
Casualties were light in what was, after all, a short battle, neither side losing more than 3 units.



Turn 4

As expected, the Karluks rallied the Abbassids, and the Alans pledged allegiance to Byzance. Both recruits were, however, unable to invade neighbours due to the heavy losses suffered in the preceeding invasions. Allied contingents were allowed.



Byzance placed its destiny in the hands of the Khazars and the Magyars, whilst the Abbassids prayed Allah for the Khwarezm and the Ghuzz.
The Alans sent an important allied contingent to the Magyar Khan, formed of 2 EHC and 2 LI with a 120pt general. Their aid would prove vital in the battle to come.
The Volga Bulgars provided the Ghuzz with an imposing contingent, consisting of 1 unit of Bulgar Noble MC, 1 Kassoge MC, 3 units of Slav MI and 1 unit of Ghulam HC, led by the Volga Bulgar C-in-C.

The Karluk were less enthusiastic, providing to the Khwarezm only 2 units of Karluk light horse and 1 unit of horse levy, led by the inexperienced Karluk Khan.
The intention of the Khwarezm had been to attack the Magyars; but worried by the growing power of the Abbassids east of the Aral Sea, the Shah of Merv (Sogdia) raised an army against Khwarezm. (aggression, roll of 12).
This obliged the Khwarezm to strike first, with their Karluk allies (1490 pts). The Sogdians could count only upon themselves (1250 pts).
The Ghuzz and their Volga Bulgar allies (1675pts) met a marauding force of Magyars and Alans (1275 pts) on the banks of the Volga.
The Khazars (1250 pts) attack the Volga Bulgars. With a large part of their army absent, the Volga Bulgars are automatically defeated (level 4).

Ghuzz and Volga Bulgars vs. and Magyars and Alans (DSC)

Numerically inferior but with equal numbers of heavy cavalry as their Ghuzz enemy, and including in their ranks the dreaded Alan kataphraktoi, the Magyars chose to take the offensive, deploying on as narrow a front as possible. Their choice of battlefield also neutralized the large numbers of enemy infantry; the threat posed by the Slavs on the left they chose to ignore.
A more serious threat was posed by the mass of the Volga Bulgar medium cavalry; the elite Szekely were dispatched to hold them up as long as possible.



The Alan heavy cavalry pushed their adversaries before them, accompanied on their left by the Kavars who soon took the lead.
The Ghuzz cavalry – less heavy than the Alans, and lacking the lance of the Magyars – continued to recoil, awaiting help from their right flank.

The Volga Bulgars rapidly overran the Szekely but crossed the entire width of the battlefield with elan, falling upon the flank of the Kavars who resisted desperately.



They arrived however too late, the Alans finally managing to drive the Ghuzz nobles off the battlefield, without having crossed swords.

This resulted in a decisive victory (level 4) for the outnumbered Magyar Khan.


Khwarezm and Karluks vs. Sogdians (DSC)

To counter their enemy's superiority in numbers, and above all in heavy cavalry, the Sogdian King of Merv drew the Shah of Khwarezm down into a rocky valley, commanded in the centre by a village (considered impassable to cavalry in this battle).
The Sogdian battle plan was to invest the hill on their right wing with their archers, form a screen of heavy cavalry in front of them, and send in the elephants to break up the enemy cavalry. The artillery, deployed on the hill opposite the village, was to cover both the centre and the left flank, screened by the mass of levy infantry.



The Khwarezm opened the battle with elan, investing the village and the rough ground around it with their infantry.



The painfully slow deployment of the Sogd archers, who crested the hill only after an hour's fighting (turn 3), gave the Khwarezm an opportunity, which they seized, charging the archers as soon as they came into view with their Arab lancers and throwing them into disarray. In fact, all attempts to build a strong position on the right flank were permanently thwarted throughout the battle, either through command failure, or disorder resulting from enemy fire. The few volleys that the Sogdian archers got off were pathetically inefficient.
The Sogd also lost early a unit of light cavalry on the same flank in a fruitless engagement with their opposite numbers. Their situation was saved, however, by the elephants, who drove the Khwarezm back in confusion. The Iranian horse archers were thrown out by the presence of these pachyderms, lacking the tactical conceptions needed to defeat them.

The Khwarezm decided to switch their heavy cavalry reserve – two units under the Shah – to their right flank. This proved to be a crucial decision : it simultaneously offered an occasion for the Sogdian chakars to defeat their enemy in detail, but also forced them to cover both flanks.
The Sogd consequently realized that their levy infantry could not remain exposed on the hill, and threw them forward towards the outskirts of the village. Their superior numbers and better formation allowed them to seize the rough ground from the Turkish foot serving the Shah. They preferred however not to follow up, given the proximity of the enemy cavalry.



The Khwarezm archers, who had already performed a certain number of feats, swung once again into action.

A determined volley from two units cut down an entire unit of Sogd levies around the hour (turn 3), and twenty minutes later, another volley from the light infantry slew one of the elephants (4 unsaved hits from only 6 stands firing!). This broke the Sogd corps and drew the surviving elephant off the field, a terrible blow for the King of Merv
The situation looked desperate for the Sogd. The king's chakar retainers pressed him for a suicidal attack on the enemy ranks in the hope of breaking them, but he refused, trying to create two strongpoints : the hill on the centre, with the artillery protected by the chakars, and the rise on the right, held by the infantry archers.



Repeated command blunders on the right wing riddled this attempt with difficulties.

Determined resistance from the foot archers, supported from long-range bombardement by the balistae from the central hill, continued to keep the Khwarezm at bay, causing disarray among the Ghulams. Attempts by the Karluk light horse to ride down the artillery were thwarted by a unit of foot archers in reserve.
The Khwarezm were by now, however, present all over the battlefield (all three enemy sectors held). After two hours of fighting (8 turns), a unit of ghulams managed to crest the hill and charge the enemy foot. The latter resisted valiantly - three rounds of combat - which prevented their enemy from achieving a breakthrough and destroying the final units of their command. At battle's end, the Sogd had still not routed. Their losses however were severe - more than 50%, including units in flight - compared to only 10% amongst the Khwarezm.


 

Among the fallen, the Sogd general commanding the infantry archers, testament to the ferocious defense put up by the Sogdian right wing.
The Khwarezm Shah thus scored a major victory (level 3), but Sogdian determination had prevented total rout.


Turn 5

The domination of the southern trade route by the pro-Abbassids allowed them to raise new units with their abundant treasure (1 x HC and 1 x LC Karluk; 2 x MC Khwarezm). The rallying of Sogdia to the Caliphate enhanced their control of the southern trade route. The heavy losses suffered in the previous year rendered the Sogdian army incapable of assuming an offensive, however.



The Khwarezm, reinforced by a Karluk contingents (1385 pts) strike northwards against the weak point of the Byzantine glacis, the Magyars (1250 pts). The Ghuzz contingent sent to aid the Khwarezm Shah is hastily recalled, to oppose 1250 pts against the Alans (865 pts) who assail their homeland.
The Khazar Beg intended to invade the Volga Bulgars, but was distracted from this intention by the Rus who, driven by new aggressive population elements coming from the north, decided to attack their neighbours. The Khazars (1250 pts) had little choice but to strike pre-emptively against their Rus enemies (1250 pts).

Khwarezm & Karluk (1385 pts) vs Magyars (1250 pts)

The Khwarezm lured the Magyars onto the battlefield of their choice (the latter preferring a totally flat plain), but made the mistake of camping too far from the central hill. The infantry archers holding the centre were still marching across the plain when they came under attack.

The Magyars took their enemies completely by surprise. With excellent maneuverability (except on the right flank), they managed to place the C-in-C’s Nobles behind the hill crest long before their enemies could even approach it.



Their Szekely swung round on the left, supported by a unit of Petchenegs from the central command. Their bowfire cleared the enemy LI out of the rough ground, thus protecting the left flank of the Nobles.  They then drove back the Karluk command, rapidly demoralizing it (MA1) and killing the unfortunate Karluk Khan.

The Khwarezm were in total disarray. With their MI exposed in the open, their right flank menaced by light cavalry (who would later manage to take both units of Chakars in the flank, killing off one base from each), and their left flank totally immobile (not a single order was successful on the left throughout the battle), their situation was grim.

The Magyars decided to try their all, throwing the Nobles down the hill at the enemy infantry. Two successful orders allowed them to reach their target. Although resistance was surprisingly solid, they naturally rode down the bowmen in droves, destroying two units and leaving the third with only one base. The Khwarezm C-in-C’s command was now MA1.

The Khwarezm could simply not recover from this. The harrying bowfire on their right flank; the recoiling of MA2 infantry and MA1 Karluks created a huddled and vulnerable mass . Attempts to deploy the reserve of Ghulams from the left were, as usual, fruitless, whilst the Arab MC, who had hoped to threaten the hill, were disordered by bowfire and charged frontally by Petcheneg LH, adding to the chaos.


The Magyar C-in-C brought his Nobles down off the hill to finish off the enemy, but in the end the Szekely did for them; effective bow fire against one unit of Chakars and a flank charge against the other – despite the presence of the Khwarezm Shah - killed off two bases.

The Khwarezm fled the field on turn 4, giving the Magyars a decisive (Level 4) victory.

Not for one moment had it looked like they could resist the Magyar flood. This was akey strategic victory for the pro-Byzantine camp, leaving the The Khwarezm army is in tatters (3 units of cavalry and 3 of infantry out of action); their Karluk ally decimated (their Khan killed and 3 units forced to refit). As for the Magyars, they had their two Szekely, a unit of horse archers and a unit of Nobles forced to refit.


Khazars (1250 pts) vs Rus (1250 pts).

The recent Khwarezm defeat changed the strategic relevance of this battle for the Byzantines. Their advisors suggested prudence to the Beg; if outright defeat was to be avoided, a minor defeat was acceptable if it meant reduced losses. This would leave the Khazars with an army capable of striking at Khwarezm or the Ghuzz in the following years.

The battle began as the fast-moving Rus advanced upon the Khazar encampment, established in an area of forest and bogs, in the shelter of a few gentle hills.

It was quickly evident that the central gap between forest and boggy lands was the key to the battlefield. The Khazar ghulams and arsiyah sought to push through it at the same time as the Varegues were sent to close the gap. Meanwhile the Petchenegs swept round the left flank with devastating speed and fell (on turn 2) upon the unprotected Khazar artillery. Their bodyguards, a unit of heavy cavalry detached from the centre, arrived too late.
The Rus infantry swiftly infiltrated into the forest and into the boggy ground on the Khazar left. The Khazar ghulams, unable to push through the gap, saw the door closed by the advancing Varegues.



Despite a moment of dismay when one unit of arsiyah panicked and was caught by charging Varegues, the Khazars reacted vigorously.


On their left, concentrated and accurate bowfire threw back the Rus spear and bow units, inflicting losses on all three units present. The commander of the light horse split his command, half to the left, half to the right, and the Khazar C-in-C shifted his heavy cavalry to the right with the intention of winning back the right flank from the Petchenegs.
By turn 6, losses were light (3 bases of MI for the Rus, 2 bases of HC and 2 Art for the Khazars), but the Rus clearly dominated the battlefield (+11).
Khazar hopes of riding down the milling and disordered Rus infantry on the left were dashed by command failures.

On the right wing, however, two successful charges by the heavy cavalry, supported by horse archers, drove back the Petchenegs, catching a unit of Rus infantry from the centre command totally by surprise and destroying it.
It was nonetheless by now obvious that the Rus had total command of the battlefield. To avoid a decisive defeat, the Khazars must cause heavy casualties on their enemies, and this is what they set out to do on turns 7 and 8.
Paradoxically, over the following half-hour, it was territory they regained, driving the Petchenegs almost back to their starting positions on the right, and finally infiltrating on the left. Equally paradoxically, it was on the casualty front that they lost out, both to bowfire and then to poor local command (bad luck !) in the fierce struggle in the boglands.

One out of two of the Turkish foot levy charged home, drove back its enemies on the initial impact but then totally failed to capitalise on this victory; beaten back, they were destroyed.

Losing 33% of their forces, compared to 19% for their Rus enemy, the Khazars were soundly and decisively defeated (level 4), given the Rus domination of the battlefield (+18 points, ie. 3 victory levels).


Alans vs Ghuzz

The strategic situation having evolved with the previous two battles, neither the Alans nor the Ghuzz desired battle, intending to conserve their forces; none was therefore fought.


The end of the campaign

Despite bringing Khwarezm into their camp on turn 6, the Byzantine position was desperate. Manoeuvres on turn 6 saw an Alan army engage Karluks on Khwarezm soil; the Khazars faced a Volga Bulgar army twice their size and capitulated; the Magyars, who called in vain on their Khazar neighbours, faced a Sogdian-Ghuzz army also twice their size and followed the same course.
On turn 7, the Magyars (loyalty -5) joined the Arab camp; the Caliph's embassy also bought Khwarezm (loyalty -4) back into the fold.



Two Byzantine provinces - of which one totally ravaged - faced six Arab provinces of which five had near intact armies. Byzantine influence over the steppe had evidently come to an end !

9 battles were fought in all, with 3 pro-Byzantine and 6 pro-Arab victories.

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