Friday 24 March 2023

Battle of Graus 1063 ?

After a series of WW2 battles I thought we would change things up a bit this week with a Reconquista battle. The battle of Graus took place between the states of Aragon and Zaragoza/Castile around 1063 apparently some source place the battle around 1069. Very little (almost nothing) seems to be known about the battle which means you can make it up.

What is known is the King of Aragon Ramiro I had invaded Zaragoza and was facing a force under the command of the Emir Al-Muktadir with supporting troops from Castile under Prince Sancho ‘the strong’. Given the very limited historical information perhaps the only reason the battle is known is because it is thought the Emir had employed the mercenary El Cid.

In our version of the battle which takes place outside the town of Graus itself, Al-Muktadir and his Castilian supporters have drawn up whilst the Aragon forces under the King are on the attack. The king has employed some Muslim mercenaries who have the potential to swop sides. The townsfolk of Graus have come out to defend their fields. El Cid with a small contingent of cavalry reinforcements has a randomised arrival time and location. Will he arrive in time to save the day ?
The Zaragozian forces mainly lighter spearmen and archers in two ranks
The Christian Knights on their right wing
The King in the centre with the bulk of his heavy infantry
A shot from the town, the levy townsfolk can be seen in their field protecting their goats
Mercenary Muslim forces on the Aragon left, if they waiver they run the risk of deserting to the other side  !
The bulk of the Aragonese force
Would you believe it, in almost the first action of the game the mercenary mounted crossbowmen move forward, fail their morale check when they take a single wound and desert to the enemy πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ we laughed a lot here the only disappointing thing was the rest of the mercenaries then charged the deserting scum in the rear and wiped them out !
A general advance by the heavy Christian cavalry
Al-Muktadir sends in his heavy camel troops to block the Christian cavalry 
The Castilians face off the mercenaries
A swirling melee in the centre begins
Zaragosan Jinetes against heavy Christian knights πŸ™
Sancho the strong is keeping the mercenaries at bay
A lucky roll on the reinforcements arrival and the Cid arrives, but a poor roll on the location brings him on close to Graus itself when he is needed on the left 
Advancing Castilians feeling more confident now that they know they have El Cid at their rear
The centre is now a mass of spear troops in melee 
The archers are having a limited effect
….and then the Christian cavalry breaks through !
Some fighting breaks out amongst the rocks
The locals determined to protect their goats throw stone, sticks and poo at the mercenaries keeping them away !
The Zaragosan left flank is turned as well
The centre is strongly contested by both sides
Christian cavalry break through in the centre….
It is touch and go, in the distance El Cid can be seen galloping between the rocky outcrops 
The king charges in to try and slay Al-Muktadir in single combat
Sancho the strong is driving the mercenaries back but his assault is faltering
…….and just as the battle is lost the Cid arrives to save the day.
At this point we finished the battle, on the Zaragosan left flank the spearmen had held the flank and sent the Christian heavy cavalry fleeing. On the right flank things were fairly equal and although the mercenaries have been pushed right back they have more reserves so we called it at best a draw. In the centre is was really too close to call so we had to play one more deciding combat round here. The various commanders failed to kill each other, the key combat was between the spearmen, the Aragonese failed to break the Muslims and with the Muslims getting the next turn El Cid would be charging into their rear. This would have left a single Aragonese spearmen unit in the centre but this was already heavily wounded so we called the battle for the Emir Al-Muktadir, Zaragoza and Castile taking the day. Hoorah !

As you can tell a close battle which nicely broke up into three quite distinct battles, very entertaining. By surprise we had produced a historical outcome, and that single wound on the King would be costly as historically he died a few months later potentially from a wound at the battle.

These Dark age/Al Andalus battles are so colourful and fun to play. It has of course got me thinking about what troops I have in the lead pile. I’m feeling I need more cavalry, Heavy knights and some more Jinetes types so we might see those getting into the queue amongst the current Napoleonics.

Thanks as always for checking in, no outdoor photos I have been out cycling but it always seems to be raining at the moment 

Matt

38 comments:

  1. Charlton Heston couldn't have done it better with that timing.

    Excellent looking game and fun to follow.

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    1. Thanks Dai he didn’t even get into combat just his presence won the battle…a true ‘Hollywood hero’

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  2. Matt, a splendid table, I do like a camel unit. That looks like it would also make a fine Hail Caesar game.

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    1. I love camels too πŸ‘ yes I am sure HC would work, with so many troops on the table we are always looking for something simple to keep the game moving , which Kings of War does.

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  3. Excellent fight, Matt! Once again, El Cid arrives in the nick of time to save the day. Fighting Reconquista battles without grid? Heresy!

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    1. Thanks Jon …..I know No hexes what’s that all about πŸ˜€

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  4. That all looks spectacular Matt. I always think it is an extra bonus when something historical occurs during the game.

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    1. Thanks Lawrence there is actually so little known about the battle I think anything could have happened and we could claim it as historical πŸ˜€

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  5. Most splendid your forces of Andalus are always a welcome sight and you are a master at setting practical yet visually spectacular tables

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    1. Thanks Phil….they are a colourful bunch πŸ‘

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  6. Lovely looking reconquista game, terrain and figures! Of course you need more figures 😊!
    Best Iain

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    1. Thanks Iain there are quite a lot of figures in the lead pile at the moment so I don’t need to buy anything at least just get them painted

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  7. Wonderful gaming with beautiful figures. Always intrigued with this period, ever since reading about El Cid as a child in a book of famous horses, of all things. It was a short chapter on El Cid and his war horse Babieca.

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    1. Thanks Dean I can vouch for the period, colourful, variable troops, lots of mercenaries. I haven’t heard of Babieca but will look it up

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  8. An interesting period and a lovely looking game Matt.

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    1. Thanks George, of course it is ‘Dark ages’ from a time perspective but somehow more colourful with more variable troops.

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  9. Absolutly superb!! Spectacular table and armies, I do like the heavy camel troops...

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    1. Thanks Phil….camels troops are both pretty and fun too have πŸ‘ I’m not bothered whether they are effective

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  10. What a spiffing spectacle of a game that is!

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  11. Not only historical, but completely made up. I like your style. Helps that the game looks splendid and read as a fun recreation. El Cid for the win.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head Joe fictional history , we can make it up……and have fun πŸ˜€

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  12. Interesting to see a battle about which so little is known inspiring such a splendid encounter. There are lots of colourful periods and armies but this is right up there. Thanks for sharing so many photos and the narrative that goes with them. I like the 'lesson of the day' - 'don't change sides when your friends are behind you!'.
    all the best
    Stephen

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    1. Thanks Stephen…….I cheered when the crossbow men changed sides and was mightily disappointed when they were charged immediately in the rear. Cut down by their recent friends πŸ™ don’t think they even got a shot off before they fled

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  13. Superb looking battle and a very close run encounter

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  14. Great to see this period on the table again Matt and something that might tempt me one day, if I ever get my other multiple projects even close to finishing...

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    1. Thanks Steve….it is certainly a fun periodπŸ‘

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  15. I feel like many dark ages battles fall into the category of we know hardly anything. Which is why it’s fun to game!
    Very nice looking game full of great pics. πŸ˜€

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    1. Thanks Stew I think you are right, the more I read about the period the less convinced I am about anything that claims to be accurate, the evidence is so weak. I am just reading a book about the battle Crecy which suggests yet another battlefield is in the wrong place !

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  16. That's odd, I was sure I commented on this great battle a couple of days ago....I only came back to check your reply! The whole thing put me in mind of Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren....which is basically ALL I know about El Cid and the Reconquesta (and I can't remember much about the film really, either!)

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    1. Thanks Keith and returning is really keen. Easy for me to say but a wonderful backdrop for wargaming. Sun, sand, religious wars, small city states and abundant mercenaries. A whole range of colourful troops….and of course camels. It’s like the Dark ages but in colour !

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  17. Splend stuff indeed Matt...
    A beautiful and interesting period.

    All the best Aly

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