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Thread: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: Forward, Advance, X-7

  1. #41

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Grey Army, II-8

    Dreadbolt: The Grey Army
    Ch II-9: The Young and Old Fight



    Though Soderino's First Army made good speed westwards towards the Roman cities, the reinforcements from Italy were even faster thanks to marching though the now-secured roads. As a result, when scouts brought reports of a Roman force headed in their direction, Soderino had a full number of soldiers and was not about to be stopped.

    Soderino: Romans trying to stop us? Attack, and scatter them!
    _Officer: Shouldn't we wait for the men to finish forming up?


    As they were having his conversation, the officers had already begun reforming the marching units into a battle line. Though there was no pressure due to the timely scout report, Soderino did not feel like giving the Romans a chance to detect them and fall back.

    Soderino: Let's charge into them -




    As he had moved to a good vantage point to survey both his and the Roman army, Soderino laid eyes on a unit of Roman axe militia which were marching ahead of the main spear-armed infantry. He immediately seized the initiative and spurred his bodyguard unit into battle. Italian lances were brought to bear against the surprised Roman infantry.

    Soderino: Even if I am three times your age**, you will still fall before me!
    _Officer: Wait what? Quickly, follow the Podesta!


    **He is something like 55 years old at this point




    With nearly 50 heavy Pisan horse bearing down on them with lances, and even more horsemen rapidly approaching to join it, unsurprisingly the axemen turned to run. Equally as expected, they were mostly skewered on the lances of those pursuing them. Soderino's own unit nearly chased the routers into the confused main mass of Roman infantry.

    Fortunately, his officers convinced him to pull back from the spearmen, as the infantry had managed to prepare themselves and move into range. The cavalry moved off to their side and watched as the Pisan crossbowmen began to take apart the Romans with their bolts.






    ===============================================================



    Another Roman general was assassinated on his way to take command of a Roman force. Nothing new.




    Engelbert von Karnten (senior) pulled on his armor as he saw Pisans approaching. His men had been on watch for any assassin that might target him, but any chance of dispatching his son's killer personally came to nothing.

    Instead, it was time for a straight-up fight.

    ===============================================================



    Ugolino de Gorgeto watched his Fourth Army prepare for battle. His objective, the Large Town of Freiberg, was surprisingly well defended contrary to expectations at the time his army departed Italy.

    Ugolino: This is not "lightly garrisoned" at all.
    ____Aa: Well the Romans do get the choice to not smash themselves against Marco's forces.
    Ugolino: The enemy always does get a say. But we're well able to deal with them.
    ____Aa: I expect good results on this field.




    Engelbert pushed his men forward, to take control of a critical bridge before the Pisans arrived. Unbeknownst to him, the Fourth Army had already crossed the bridge and was formed up waiting for his army to arrive.

    Ugolino even had the time to give a bit of a speech before his first major battle.




    For their part, the crossbowmen were a little further away, lying in ambush as part of Ugolino plan of battle. The long range of a crossbow added to their raised position would allow them several shots before the enemy could close to melee.

    The elite crossbowmen in particular were anxious to show off (to one another) the performance of their custom-made weapons.




    As Engelbert's men began to maneuver a particularly steep incline, suddenly people began to slip and fall while screaming. In truth, they had been hit by a Pisan crossbow bolt. Barely visible in the distance above, Ungolino's soldiers shot the Romans and then moved back to allow others to take their place.

    Although their commander had wanted to use a massive initial volley, the geography didn't allow for such an attack to be stealthily prepared.




    Engelbert: Don't falter, we have them now!

    Enraged by the trickery of the Pisans, Engelbert rushed forward at a group of crossbowmen who kept on rotating to shoot at his unit. He gained on them, all the while losing men when a second unit appeared to the side with a clear shot at his side profile.




    Ugolino did get to see a volley. Engelbert got to experience the impact of it.




    The Romans tried to fall back down the slope to regroup, but they were in full view of all the Pisan crossbows, while the fresh Pisan infantry confidently made their way down towards them.

    There was little hope for the Romans, but when men started to run, it was all over. Cavalry easily cut them down from behind.






    ===============================================================





    Flush with his first real victory, Ugolino marched towards a reported force of Roman reinforcements. This time, he was positively eager to get into the fight.

    Waving his sword in the air with a flourish, he quickly prepared another ambush.




    Much like the previous battle, he intended to take the Roman marching column by surprise from an elevated position.

    This time, he was able to pick a somewhat better location that allowed him a good view of the massive volley he ordered.






    The ambush went off just as Ungolino had planned. The Romans were quite well-armored but it didn't avail them much when the bolts began to fly toward them.

    With missiles slamming into Romans up and down the length of their force, the Romans attempted a brave charge but were ultimately cut down by the spearmen waiting for such an occasion.






    ===============================================================



    By the way, Ugolino's capture of Freiberg was the one settlement needed to officially allow Soderino to announce the Pisan Empire, the largest unified faction in the known world!

    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 02:32 AM.

  2. #42
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Grey Army, II-9

    Pisa's rise seems unstoppable and your images and commentary show how devastating they are on the battlefield, particularly the elite crossbowmen - poor Engelbert! I wonder is the expansion of the Pisan Empire will cause other factions to avoid conflict with Pisa, or to ally against this rising empire.

  3. #43

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Grey Army, III-1

    Dreadbolt: The Promised Land
    Ch III-1: Assaulting Romans
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Soderino's First Army reached the walls of Speyer in what had to have been a wintertime record. The Pisans promptly sat down to siege it.

    Soderino: The spies report a minimal garrison, so without any aid they will fall once we have sufficient ladders for a mass attack.
    _____Aa: How many are you thinking of?
    Soderino: Preferably as many as we can bring up against the walls. A massive one-shot saturation assault will be most efficient in terms of casualties.
    _____Aa: Just remember that -




    _____Aa: No, not that. The other one, about:

    ...men must either be flattered or crushed; for they will revenge themselves for slight wrongs, whilst for grave ones they cannot.
    The injury therefore that you do to a man should be such that you need not fear his revenge.
    Soderino: I've never heard such a saying before.**
    _____Aa: It's just an amusing turn of phrase.
    Soderino: Who said that?
    _____Aa: An Italian. Anyway, proceed as planned.
    Soderino: I would like to get the men into those walls to finish out the winter.
    _____Aa: I should be back before then, but regardless do not start before then.


    (** Note: Because he only shows up a few centuries later.)

    ===============================================================



    Marco: Haha Romans, your castle walls cannot stop us!
    Officer: Crossbows, provide cover for the assault. Forward Pisa!

    The attackers moved forward in a slow and steady manner. Each of these soldiers held his large shield aloft with one hand and kept hold of a ladder with the other. The Romans garrison tried to stop them with missile weapons but the steady crack of Italian crossbows sounding from the Pisan rear frequently were matched with the scream of a Roman up in the fortifications who had been pierced by a bolt.




    Under such a carefully planned and executed assault, the Romans did not last long and did not harm many Pisans. An excellent result, Marco thought to himself while surveying the siege camp from how new quarters in the castle's keep.

    With winter following his soldiers into the shelter of the castle, Marco thought about having them settle in for the coldest period before marching further along the Roman-Polish border. It would also allow supplies and reinforcements some time to catch up.

    ===============================================================



    In the next Roman castle, that Marco was thinking of, a Roman general slumped over in his chair next to a small fireplace. Poison.

    ===============================================================



    Since the start of the invasion, Pisan strength had only grown due to recruitment outpacing attrition, while the reverse was true for the hapless Romans on the recieving end.




    It was time for us to seize their lands for the growing Pisan Empire!

    ===============================================================



    (Simone's PoV)

    As my men of the Third Army rushed into positions, I couldn't help but be struck by the irony of us, the besiegers, coming under assault by the Roman besieged. Probably a last gasp effort driven by the fact that no relief force had come.

    Simone: That's an odd deployment pattern. What are they doing?
    Officer: Crossbows, shoot them down before they can form up!




    The Romans all rushed forward in a mass towards the Pisan left flank. A single unit of crossbowmen tried to shoot into our ranks, before being sliced apart by our own crossbows.

    However, the teeming swarm of Romans were not easy targets as our own infantry were in the way!




    Simone: What? Reinforce the left and flank on the right!
    Officer: Watch out, enemy cavalry are about to charge!


    The infantry immediately rushed into position while the mounted units gathered together and lined up for a potential counter-charge.




    The Pisan left was prepared, but nevertheless suffering heavily by the time units from the right had made their way to assist. However, the one held and the other did make it.

    Shouting encouragement, Simone led his men toward the enemy as crossbow bolts flew in the air a little ahead of them, striking down the Roman horse who were trying to pull out.




    As luck would have it, crossbowmen on both the left and right reached their "destination" at about the same time, and were able to enfilide the Roman line from either end.

    Imagine what it might be like, fighting spear-to-spear against a desperate Roman when suddenly a bolt blooms in their side and down they go...




    Imagine what it might be like, fighting spear-to-spear against a sturdy Pisan when suddenly a bolt blooms in your side. And down you go....




    As the Romans desperately began running for the safety (and starvation) of their walls, we shot them in the back. A few Romans were taken prisoner, but not too many.

    There were many bolt-pierced Roman corpses decorating the day's field.



    Spoiler for Details


    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 02:37 AM.

  4. #44

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-2

    Dreadbolt: The Promised Land
    Ch III-2: Special Taskgroup





    (Soderino's PoV)

    I watched my brave men prepare for and then launch the offensive against this first of the Roman Triangle (a set of three cities around which was formed a critical network of Roman villages and industry). Speyer attempted to resist my First Army, but it was a futile attempt.

    As the well-oiled assault machine took the walls, a great slaughter of Romans was about to begin. Just at that point however, Our Lady arrived with a special order.




    ____Aa: Such and such are to be rounded up and secured within the camp.
    Soderino: Well that's easily done though the army would have taken them for spoil.
    ____Aa: Have the quartermasters value them and I'll order the amount paid out appropriately.
    Soderino: Not a problem.
    ____Aa: I will also require you to set apart such a number of soldiers for "special tasks". You will be reinforced, but I want chosen men for this.

    ===============================================================



    Soderino: Really now? The First Army just got put back on an offensive footing and you want to take away chosen men?
    ____Aa: They don't have to be your best, I'll take the second- or third-best as you appraise them.
    Soderino: If that's your demand... what's this about anyway?
    ____Aa: It's for a special long-term project.




    Soderino: We're in the open stages of an invasion, and you're taking a number of elite soldiers and Roman women and children for this?
    ____Aa: Yep. Get it done.
    Soderino: *sighing* I've accomplished more with less, but it will take me a few days to deal with the wounded and so on from this battle.





    How exactly this set of tactics works is we form up at a safe distance away in our large box-like formation, and then move slowly towards the enemy (if they don't first move to us). Then once we are within crossbow range, the infantry brace themselves while the missile attack begins. This presents the enemy with a couple of options, none of which are particularly good. Based on their general response, we will execute the appropriate counters.

    Not long after the sound of crossbows being shot, shouting and signals from the front conveyed to us that the Romans were advancing. Once again our strategy had paid off in making the Romans come to us. Good. If they engaged en masse on the infantry line, either there are targets for the crossbows or we can begin to prepare for a flanking action. Which will it be?




    Soderino: Wait, that's the enemy general!! Get your lances ready for the charge.

    The flank it is. No, wait. As the Roman Kaiser Fritz fell, pierced by many lances (and many more broke on this armor) suddenly -




    The Romans began to run for their lives.




    They didn't make it. They lost them.




    As Kaiser Fritz died on the field, stuck full of lances like a boar, the last thing he saw was the backs of his men who were being taken apart by the pursuing Pisans.




    Soderino: I have prepared for you the men and supplies you asked for. Will this really be enough?
    ____Aa: They will meet supply groups coming up.
    Soderino: I am going to get my men back after they complete the mission?
    ____Aa: Oh certainly, they will rejoin the first reinforcement convoy from Pisa coming up to you.


    I look around the camp (we returned to Speyer after the battle) which is currently very large due to the fact that it now contained a cordoned-off section with all the Romans she had asked for. The entire camp (including the Romans) were the the middle of preparing or eating dinner. Our Lady was looking over the camp as well, though she seemed particularly interested in all the Romans which we had gathered up on her command.


    Soderino: Ahem. Alright then. I've picked out a capable Captain who will be able to do anything you require of the task force.
    ____Aa: That's good. I want them to set out tomorrow morning, so make sure that everything is made ready tonight for the journey.
    Soderino: Very well.


    The next morning, the First Army set off to Trier on their way to continue the offensive, while the captain and his men set off in the opposite direction with his Roman wards. As they will be traveling along already-secured roads, first east then south back to Italy and then on to Pisa, I expect them to return with full numbers in due time. But by then we might have taken the other two points of the Roman Triangle.
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 02:40 AM.

  5. #45
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-2

    The continued growth of Pisa's empire is impressive, as are your screenshots and the explanations of Pisa's formations and tactics.

  6. #46

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-2

    You have indeed built an expansive realm! It seems that the Holy Roman Empire is crumbling under your might, but I wonder if it will always be so! Looking forward to the next post! Perhaps you'd like to enter the MAARC? Also, would you like to create a library in the Inkwell? It's a good place to list your works, and also to advertise them to other potential readers.
    Last edited by Rabbit55821; December 02, 2016 at 11:14 AM.

  7. #47
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-2

    I should have guessed that Pisa would be spreading its reach further and further while I wasn't here! Glad to see this hasn't died in my absence - and, I have to admit, I'm also kind of glad there's still some territory left for Pisa to conquer, so that I haven't missed everything!






  8. #48

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-3

    Dreadbolt: The Promised Land
    Ch III-3: The Black Pyramid



    (Captain Marco's PoV)

    The soldiers under my command are capable "second-rankers" who occupy important parts in the rear of the frontline infantry. However, after the victories at Speyer and Trier, Podesta Soderino pulled my men out for "special tasks" which apparently even he didn't know at the time. But it's an escort quest.

    As we made our way back to Pisa, I couldn't help but feel a little agitated by our lack of speed. This is not due to my men, but is the fault of the Roman children traveling with us. Or rather, that we're traveling with.




    When we meet a convoy coming up from Italy, we refill our supplies as necessary, and relieve them of any empty carts and wagons. Trying to cram all the children onto them helped a bit but it's still slow going even compared to an easy march. News from Italy reaches us in the same way.

    For one, a humanitarian pause in the fighting with the Romans. While the Romans with us seem to have hope that their pope will see them return to their lands, we Pisans know different.




    The fact is that old fights between the Roman Empire and the Circle are coming back to roost. It's only a matter of time until Roma finds some way to look elsewhere. And news of what is going on in Roman lands is not leaking out, so many of the surrounding kingdoms don't realize just how precarious the Roman position is.

    There is one good thing though, the Podesta gave me a secret letter which confirmed the division of spoils from our brief part in the Roman campaign thus far. It's secret because, especially where land is concerned, the divvying up is usually done afterwards. Soldiers tend to want to leave as soon as possible if they get land allocations, after all.




    For example, I heard that while preparing for a resumption of hostilities, the Roman heir-elect Konig Steffan suddenly turned up dead in the middle of his castle! Now, how could I know this? It's quite simple really.

    At some point (and the Podesta warned me explicitly about this) Our Lady started showing up as our march south continued.




    Although not particularly traditional, advances were being made. Advances that I had been hoping to lead my men as a part of...

    While I was thinking about this, we reached our destination. In front of our little marching column was a small town sitting next to a tall mound of earth and black stone, the as-yet-unknown still-in-construction Black Pyramid.

    ===============================================================



    (Soderino's PoV)

    When the Roman kaiser perished in battle, it was obvious that our conflict had escalated greatly from the expectations of our neighbors. There was a moment of panic in the various capitals and the pope forced our hand by declaring that hostilities must cease under threat of excommunication.

    My First Army was in Trier preparing to march north to siege another ripe Roman city when this news broke like a sudden cold storm. However, Our Lady ordered us to proceed anyway and we crossed the border in anticipation. Trespassing isn't hostile!




    And just as we reached the Roman walls, so did news that the new Roman Kaiser had been excommunicated for some reason or another. What a coincidence...

    We were about to lay siege when abruptly I was told to return south with all haste. Perhaps the Romans were counterattacking?




    Our might is unmatched, and better yet, it is all being applied to the Romans. They can try their little tricks, but their days are limited.

    As long as the pope doesn't come in to save them again...




    We entered Trier rather cold and disappointed, but with full numbers. It soon became obvious what the threat was. The French, who had been happy to watch us take apart their rival Romans, now wanted to take a bite out of our pie!

    If they thought we would be overextended though, well actually they were right. A sticky situation indeed, especially as they outnumbered us twice over and had cut ff the two main routes out of or into Trier.




    However, one of their generals fell and had a "fatal accident" in the snow. Which resulted in a broken neck, what a pity.

    ===============================================================



    (Marco's PoV)

    In the north, the cold was quite bitter, and we found ourselves having to divide up the nearby timber into firewood and siege equipment. Fortunately my men worked with a will and we had plenty of both.

    The Romans in Hamburg had hoped to use the winter against us, while sheltering themselves safely within their Fortress. My men wanted in and were prepared to warm themselves up with a little use of force.






    We spent the deepest days of winter warmly, inside Hamburg's thick walls.
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 02:42 AM.

  9. #49

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-4

    Dreadbolt: The Promised Land
    Ch III-4: Chivalry vs Dread
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    (Soderino PoV)

    In addition to the French army laying siege to Trier, scouts reported that a second force had taken up position to the east, blocking the way back to Italy. However, neither force is particularly well-composed.

    While we have supplies for the moment, nothing will change if we wait, in fact it would be ideal to attack before the enemies are able to dig in to protect themselves from the cold.




    The officers begin preparing the men for a sally. We will be vulnerable exiting through the main gate, so a number of the elite crossbowmen are stationed to provide overwatch support from the walls. As the men are forming up behind the gate for an orderly deployment into the field, there is time for a few words.


    Soderino: I hope you have warmed up and slept well since we returned to Trier.
    Soldiers: (positive shouting)
    Soderino: It seems the enemy think they can waylay our reinforcements and supplies coming up from Italy.
    Soldiers: (sound of booing)
    Soderino: The French is just made their way to us through the snow... while I would rather let them freeze, let us kill them before they can ambush our friends.




    The enemy who had initially formed up to oppose us quickly retreated back up their camp at a slightly elevated position to the north of Trier. We followed at a cautious pace but they did not seem willing to actually attack us.

    Until some of the crossbowmen spotted the banner of the French prince and started shooting at it!




    Although they charged us directly, our front line held firm and the French knights practically bounced off and to our right. Immediately I had my own Italian horse attack him while the bulk of the French army tried to move forward under our crossbows' barrage.




    I even had the signals given to order a general right-flank attack (even though both armies were on a narrow flat strip of land) in order to help provide some cover. But before that happened, someone lanced the French Price Aubert of his horse.

    His body went rolling down the slope and armor or not, it was obvious that he had broken his back on the way down.




    We then broke the backs of the other French. One army down!






    After the events of those few days, the French began to refer to Podesta Soderino as the Mauler.




    Raoul de Valois had expected to be mostly fighting the cold on his mission. As a result he was rather enthusiastic when his scouts reported Pisan flags headed towards him from Trier. Immediately he ordered his men to form up into a good order.

    Raoul: The Italians must not know we're here. The Prince's army would be just behind them.
    Officer: This must be a divine chance for glory!
    Raoul: I know that. We just need to surprise them right on this road. Let us move off and wait for them to get closer.




    French skirmishers who had been watching the Pisan "marching column" were taken aback and taken by surprise when suddenly the spearmen shot bolts at them! No wait, it was just crossbowmen behind the spearmen in the Pisan formation.

    Seeing this, Soderino ordered a general halt and for the formation to shift to a battle stance.


    Soderino: If the crossbows are shooting French then the main force can't be far away.
    Scout: Men are approaching from the side. The French are attacking!
    Soderino: Excellent. Quickly now, have the infantry wheel about. Crossbows keep shooting!




    Thinking that he had the advantage of surprise, Raoul had his French attack the Italians immediately. His skirmishers were glad to retreat behind the line of his massed infantry who were advancing confidently.




    French lines were spread out to allow space for all their infantry, in contrast to our shortened frontage created by deploying infantry in the box formation.

    This is probably why Raoul thought that were in a marching formation than one for battle. Obviously he couldn't see the crossbows were i




    From our position on a slight height above the French, we crossbowmen could see it all and put a bolt into it.

    Many bolts into it.




    The French infantry condensed into a dense center that tried to break though our center. However, their lighter spearmen were not able to make much of an impression on our frontline.




    Neither did their cavalry attack on our flanks. It could not really be called a determined attack, compared to what the Romans had tried before.




    Wait, who is that?!

    Raoul thought his men had broken through the side of the Italian force but actually all his men had died on the way in and now he, alone was facing down a large number of crossbowmen.




    From his elevated position on a horse he... made an obvious target.






    One moment, a mass of French pressing the attack. The next, a mass of French trying to run away from our hungry swords.

    To their credit though, there were a lot of them, it took a while to liquidate them all even when they were not fighting back at all.




    In the end, both French armies would freeze. Being dead corpses, they froze a lot faster than they would have if allowed to live.

    Not only would our supply trains from Italy be surprised by all the corpses littering the battlefield later on, but the one that Raoul had been tasked to ambush, well -




    They were greeted by a lineup of "snowmen" at the place were the ambush was to have taken place.

    And this is how the tradition (celebrated in the later Italian settlements in the northern lands) began...




    Soderino: Hardly how I expected the Army of Chivalry to turn out on the field.
    Officer: Indeed, two armies in two weeks, and with minimal casualties. A glorious pair of victories.
    Soderino: Well, chivalrous or not, I would still have killed them all.

    Soderino: Kill them all.
    Officer: I have an idea...
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 02:46 AM.

  10. #50

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-5

    Dreadbolt: The Promised Land
    Ch III-5: No Surrender



    (Marco's PoV)

    A group of Roman reinforcements had tried to assist in the defense of Hamburg, but were not able to prevent its fall. Freezing and starving to death, they attempted to cross the bridge north of Hamburg to reach friendly Roman lands but were captured by our brave watchmen. It seems they had held together because their leader, some Roman noble, had been fortunate enough to survive their previous engagement with us (otherwise they would doubtless have disbanded).

    When the prisoners were brought out of the cold outside Hamburg into the cold within Hamburg, I happened to be inspecting the walls and discussing the campaign progress (excellent, by the way) with Our Lady. My Second Army had completed all the main objectives, and with my Father's First Army taking the plains and cities to the south-west, there was only some "small tasks" left.




    When news of the captured Romans reached our ears, I thought of something.

    Marco: "In a couple of hours something interesting might happen. If you feel like being around to see it."
    ___Aa: "Oh? Well I can make time for that. In three hours then."
    Marco: "That is plenty of time."


    In three hours time, I was back on the wall with a Pisan infantry pennant (according to tradition, mounted on a long spear, complete with functional spearhead). When my guest returned, I gave the order to a waiting soldier who rushed down. Soon the gate was opened and the Romans began leaving, each carrying a small amount of supplies. After the gate had closed behind them, I handed her the flag.

    ___Aa: "What should I do with this?"
    Marco: "If you wave that, when the 'something interesting' will happen."
    ___Aa: "What showmanship. Very well."




    Lifting the flag up to clear her head, she waved it in the air twice. A few seconds later, a the sound of a couple hundred Pisan crossbows loosing their bolts from the walls of Hamburg. Caught by surprise, some of the Romans turned around, but the bolts soon reached them, with devastating effect.

    Our Lady laughed lightly as the gate soon reopened and some Italians ran out into the gently deepening darkness to examine the fallen Romans.


    ___Aa: "That's a waste of crossbow bolts."
    Marco: "Oh no, it's an experiment on the performance of bolts against different types of Roman armor."
    ___Aa: "You've thought it through then."




    Marco: "Honestly, at this point, I wonder why anyone even surrenders."
    ___Aa: "Well they only do so just at the point of death anyway."
    Marco: "Actually, they usually try to run don't they? It's all the same to a crossbow bolt though."




    ___Aa: "Actually, most armors are less protective in the back."
    Marco: "My chosen horsemen know that all too well, we only seem to fight enemies to their back and not their face."
    ___Aa: "Even if you were to have them charge, it should ideally be into the enemy's backs."
    Marco: "Not even that, I was thinking of routers."
    ___Aa: "Hmph. There's a reason why these armies have less than 200 mounted men but over 600 to 900 crossbowmen."

    ===============================================================



    Although the conquest was, as I said, going very well, the maps would imply otherwise. Who assigns these "provinces" anyway? A lot of them are attached to random towns.




    I was mopping up one of those towns when suddenly the Danes decided to attack. Really? You see the Romans being wiped out and you think to yourselves "I really want to attack the victors now!"

    Am I going to have to kill everyone around here?

    ===============================================================








    In the south, my father moved again on Collen. Their brief reprieve (at the cost of two French armies) over, the Roman citizens soon discovered for themselves the performance specs of Italian steel.

    Excellent cutting ability.

    ===============================================================

    Spoiler for Liubice - Large Town





    I did take Liubice, now to deal with the Danes. I hear they like axes and javelins....


    Spoiler for Regensburg - Large Town





    In the south, Ugolino de Gorgeto took another town from the Romans.

    ===============================================================



    Another French general died somewhere. The assassins have started leaving little Pisan flags near any place where such a targeted killing occurs (if they can, anyway).

    I wonder if the French regret trying to snatch some border territories from us yet.

    ===============================================================



    This map now shows some of our supply lines. As you can see, the vast majority of Roman lands are separated by the area being held by the First Army.

    Don't forget that the Third Army under Simone is somewhere at the very south of the southern Roman holdings.

    ===============================================================





    We will bury you.

    ===============================================================



    A large conference of Pisan priests (along with our Cardinals) was taking place near Roma, with a special agenda...
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 02:49 AM.

  11. #51
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-5

    Great updates! It looks like Podesta Soderino's nickname is well-earned. You have a good eye for screenshots, I particularly like the one which shows how Raoul de Valois became an obvious target. The line about the enemy "trying to run away from our hungry swords" is nicely done. I enjoyed Marco's observation about the map, 'Who assigns these "provinces" anyway?'.

  12. #52

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-6

    Dreadbolt: The Promised Land
    Ch III-6: Crossbows and Topography



    Marco: Hey, are you Danes trying to invade us?
    "Angel": Of course not!
    Marco: Then why are you laying siege to my castle?




    "Angel": Uh, well actually...
    Marco: Shoot them all.




    Crossbowmen: *starts shooting*


    By the way, though these units have only been created in the Pisan army and are named after Genoa (where the first rich soldiers put together this kit), in fact the first models of improved crossbow were produced in Venezia.

    The custom crossbow (as opposed to standard crossbow) industry next expanded to Roma and then Palemu & Milan, by the way. Coming to a Large City near you!




    At this point every modern unit is wearing some form of a coat of plates though Coat of Plates hasn't actually occurred yet. Actually earlier on people were wearing suits of heavy mail (the now outdated Urban Spear/Crossbow Militia units) though Heavy Mail hasn't happened yet either!

    However "horse armor" technology is still a ways off from more widespread adoption.




    Anyway the Danes were somewhat small in number, not heavy armored and shielded, and worst of all for them, didn't really try to close. In these cases you can score a clean victory.

    Or it would be except they broke really fast so actually the crossbows didn't do much.




    Taking note of the day's events, Marco began working on a Hamburg defense plan. It seemed unlikely that the Danes would leave us be unless they were laid to rest.

    By the way, if you're a Dane walking up to a Pisan position, take care of those little Pisan flags you might see placed around. They are range indicators so if you walk past one someone is probably about to put a bolt in you.




    Actually, some of the crossbowmen can shoot a decent bit further than that, but it's not uniform at all since they are using custom crossbows in the first place, so performance varies.

    And yes, some of the Danes were used for range-finding and weapons effectiveness experiments!

    ===============================================================



    Now for a more instructive tale about Ugolino and the Hill.

    Crossbows can shoot over the heads of infantrymen placed to defend them, however there are some restrictions on such things. In general, good selection of terrain means that there are surprisingly few places enemies can "hide" even if they close in to melee.




    Conversely, a bad choice of terrain means that the crossbowmen might be completely useless unless they instead move to flank (keep this remedy in mind).

    If you look at this image here, you might be able to see that nearly all of the Roman army is in fact in a "safe zone" where they will not be punctured by large numbers of Pisan bolts.




    Ugolino happened to site his forces on a hill that really didn't give him many options once the lines were engaged, as his own infantry were blocking the crossbowmen.

    Unfortunately Dane archers could still shoot up at us, which leads to the opposite situation (which we saw in Africa, actually)...




    In this African engagement, the enemy had the heights, but in order to close to melee (or even to shoot at range) they were caught in a wide area which was clear shooting.

    With slopes of particular curvature, it is possible to place a great deal of terrain under danger of crossbow shot.




    In this case, even if the enemy descends on us, the infantry can be shot on their way in, and then we can still target their ranged units and especially their mounted units and flankers.

    Of course flat lands are also a safe option.




    With only a few units of infantry (all being engaged by the Danes) Ugolino decided for a cavalry-based tactic as moving the crossbowmen was not particularly feasible.

    In this, you take all your cavalry and swing out fairly wide, if you can lure out the enemy cavalry to a place where they can be shot (or else just surrounded and defeated in a cavalry engagement) then the next part is fairly obvious.




    Get around the back, clear their archers and then strike the enemy battle line from the rear to shatter them. Collect the routers.






    Ugolino's earlier victories over the Romans had made excellent use of the heights, which allowed his crossbows not only a great deal of coverage but also led the enemy into a futile rush upwards which they could not sustain.

    However, as we see today, higher is not always better. With a hill like this, he should have deployed further back, allowing the enemy to actually crest the hill straight into the bolts of his crossbowmen. Furthermore, in cases like this, the bolts become very deadly due to being able to travel nearly parallel to the ground.
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 02:53 AM.

  13. #53

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-7

    This might be messed up, isn't showing correctly for me. III-7 below:
    Last edited by Alavaria; December 31, 2016 at 04:52 PM.

  14. #54

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-7

    Dreadbolt: The Promised Land
    Ch III-7: Tough



    Podesta Soderino the Mauler. He's tough on trade. Ask all of our merchants on Sicily. Because all our merchants are on Sicily trading Sugar.

    The Podesta is also known to be tough on invaders who try to steal away bits of the land which Our Lady promised to our fathers to give to their children after them, an eternal possession throughout our generations.




    Soderino looked over the French forces that Robert Capet was arranging opposite him, the third major French offensive force in less than a year. It was clear that this move had been carefully planned out, though it had not borne fruit thus far against his First Army.

    As with the other times, the French had gathered together a massive horde of Spear Militia, but this time it was even less well-rounded of a composition than before. No skirmishers at all.




    Two lines of spears approached each other at a slow march. With the usual timing, the Pisans stopped first and dug their heels in as Soderino ordered a volley from his crossbows. The French did not take kindly to this but could only respond by charging in.

    Charge in they did, or rather they charged knights right into our spears, which was most helpful. Seeing this fail, we were heartened but nevertheless braced ourselves for the approaching infantry.




    The melee was very one-sided. Most of the French were lucky enough to have some padded armor and a decent spear, however they faced Pisans with surprisingly complete metal armor protection and our new Dory spear which devastates such light targets with every thrust.

    Rather conservatively, the French held back a good portion of their infantry in reserve, perhaps not sure what to make of our deliberately short frontline. However, time was not on their side, as our own rear units were crossbowmen capable of attacking the French freely. A few of the elite crossbowmen spotted the French general and began shooting at him, which probably didn't help his tactical ability either.




    Keeping our horse on the left, where the French were massing, Soderino took his own unit swinging out to a clear right flank.

    Seeing how badly the French reserves had been by our storm of bolts, he was about to turn about and order a flanking attempt on the right when something pre-empted him.




    A bolt found a gap in Robert Capet's excellent armor and took him out. In fact, his unit of elite knights had not done anything but die under the attentions of our many deadly bolts. It's no wonder that so many enemies of Pisa thought that the crossbow was such a deadly weapon.

    In truth though, they would also try to copy such tactics, it was simply that they didn't know how to apply the weapon to the problem.








    Capet, having joined his fallen men, would be joined by even more fallen men as his force was completely wiped out.

    Another enemy army was dumped into a mass grave before the sun they had seen rise earlier in the day had set.

    ===============================================================



    More Roman knights appeared, for some reason many of them were dismounted. Perhaps there was a serious shortage of warhorses, since after all, we had killed so many in Roman armies before...




    Of course the mounted Romans immediately threw themselves onto our spears, taking a couple volleys of bolts on the way in. The results were predictable - though in the very front people were being thrown back and trampled by the horse, the Pisan line hardly budged.

    The men kept a good order and delivered straight thrusts into the riders. Some of the horses turned and ran away, although a few were felled in the line itself and dropped on top of unlucky Pisans.




    Coming down the hill to see the corpses of their allied being kicked forward as we reformed our battle lines, the Romans began marching downhill confidently. Unfortunately for them, being on the hill meant they were easy targets for none other than our crossbowmen, who started picking apart their formations.

    To make things worse, the ground actually leveled out in front of our lines, so they didn't gain any real advantage from the hill, in fact climbing up the other side had tired them out somewhat.




    Still, these were knights with all the armor protection and discipline that implied. Keeping together and using their shields, they made their way towards our waiting spears. But then with a loud shout Podesta Soderino's lancers came bearing down on them. Immediately the unit under attack wheeled about to face him (though with swords it wasn't the best prospect for them).

    Soderino's unit pulled up a little short as the Romans began taunting him. However, the response came instead from our rear - more bolts, now hitting the Romans in the back.




    As our cavalry came up behind the Romans, some tried to run but in a couple of places they closed ranks and prepared to fight to the death.

    Exposed as they were on the hill, we shot all the holdouts to pieces. They and those who had tried to run were all buried together.




    A ways away to the west, Pierre Capet listened sourly to the news of his brother's (and his brother's entire army's) demise. Dismissing the messenger who had relayed this up to him, the knight turned to look out of the window towards the lands that he now held sway over.

    Only a few seconds after that, Pierre Capet was falling from the window, and it would be another Capet who would be responsible for overseeing the loss of the Capet lands.


    ===============================================================



    Frankfurt was in a pinch. Even the unexpected but welcome French forces (who only a few years ago would have been killing Romans) were not able to stop Soderino's First Army.

    In the middle of now hostile lands, it was only a matter of time until this last major Roman city was attacked directly.




    Our position is excellent despite the sudden entry of the French.




    Our many priests landed in Africa and began preaching about the need for all to take up an armed pilgrimage to the Promised Lands north of Italy. In less spiritual developments, surveyors had began searching for good locations where new colonies could be established.

    However, it seemed likely that these would end up being used as expansion areas when population centers like Tunis outgrew their walls. After all, any Italian looking for more living space could journey north and enjoy some newly liberated Roman land!
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 02:56 AM.

  15. #55

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-8

    Dreadbolt: The Promised Land
    Ch III-8: Dead and Dying



    Friedrick von Staufen was inspecting his men as the winter snows were beginning to melt. As bad as the news of Pisan advances, somehow, during the winter might be, they would surely be at the walls of the city of Frankfurt sooner or later. The soldiers looked good as usual, but a lot would depend on the experimental crossbow militia that would have to shore up their missile capabilities. Deep in thought, he left the balcony for the warmth of the heated interior when suddenly he heard the sound of ceramics smashing against stone floor. Instinctively he drew his sword and ran inwards.

    As he entered he saw one serving girl standing near a broken jug of wine, but more importantly, another "servant" was running out through the opposite door. Friedrich gave chase immediately while shouting for the guards.




    The assassin jumped out of a window and was about to make good his escape when a nearby guard shot him with a crossbow, dropping him immediately. Friedrick and his men immediately ran over, hoping to capture and interrogate him, but it was too late. Turning back Friedrick waved the crossbowman over. "A good shot, soldier." The guard looked ruefully at the dead man before replying, "I had hoped he wouldn't die that easily."

    Friedrick had his men drag the corpse back to his governor's house in order to begin questioning anyone around who might have seen him before the attempt on his life.


    As they were stringing up the corpse (to display it more easily) Friedrick glanced to the side at something behind a small plant near the door. Stepping over, he picked up a small Pisan flag that had been left there earlier. Laughing, he turned to his soldiers and waved the little death-sign at them cheerfully as they laughed.

    Just in that instant, a crossbow bolt shot out from one of the buildings in the city and pierced Friedrick's chest. It was a mortal wound and he died soon after.


    The second assassin was never found.

    ===============================================================





    Soderino: Captain Marco! I'm glad to see you and your men again.
    __Marco: We've just returned from Pyramid City*. Our Lady's construction project is going well.
    Soderino: Never mind that for now, the French attacked us and we need your men urgently.
    __Marco: I heard... the French, huh.


    *More stories of Pyramid City to come




    Soderino: With the death of Kaiser Reinhard in his hideout of Basel, the Romans will doubtless be un-excommunicated. However, the war is still on.
    __Marco: My men will prove themselves against Romans or French alike.
    Soderino: Excellent, I will call the officers together and we can integrate all the new soldiers you brought from Italy.

    ===============================================================



    On the other front, Marco (the heir and general leading the Second Army) was sizing up the Danish attack force. Despite being rather light in composition, their nerve in laying siege to Hamburg needed to be met with a heavy response.

    Even a small garrison could cause problems for the attacking force, with that in mind, Marco began to deploy his men...




    They came up right behind the Danes as the assault was about to take place. Although approaching though a forest, Marco had made sure to find some open terrain near the Danes from which his crossbowmen would be able to find clear shots.

    He intended to crush these invaders against the walls of Hamburg to deter any future Danish adventures southwards.






    Seeing something suspicious in their rear, Frederick Svendsen went to take a look. He was not prepared to be met with a wave of Pisan lances, and was skewered before he realized what was happening.

    Perhaps most perplexity, the rest of the Danes did not even notice that their general had been killed! Let us assume they were too busy pressing the assault.




    Marco's army began marching up into range and slowed down as the crossbowmen began their attack. However yet again the Danes were overly preoccupied with their siege engines and only a few units here and there turned around.

    Many others were just shot in the back and died without having accomplished anything.




    The Pisans were not quite sure what to make of this, when the Danes suddenly began running towards Hamburg. It seemed a ram had taken down the fortress' outer gate. Even so, Marco didn't race the Danes since he knew the garrison would still have the second set of inner walls.

    A cornered enemy might be dangerous so it was best to keep to the plan.




    Caution, however, did not prevent the cavalry from running up and killing some Danish skirmishers. Amazingly the rest of the enemy force did not pay any attention to what was going on behind them.

    The Second Army secured the other walls of Hamburg. The trap had closed shut.






    Their only hope was now to somehow take the inner walls of Hamburg and hold it against us... The Danes all tried to scramble up a set of four ladders, all of them.

    Pisans were waiting with spears at the ready.






    Meanwhile down below, as the Danes waited to get on the ladders, the whole thronging crowd was being shot full with crossbow bolts.

    The effect is about as devastating as one might expect. (Remember in SSHIP, missiles like arrows and bolts are actually area weapons...)




    This is not the Danes turning around to charge the crossbowmen massacring them.

    This is actually the Danes routing and being shot and stabbed by the crossbowmen, completing the massacre.




    A delightful treat, minced meats made into a flat round shape and eaten with bread.

    The Hamburg-er.






    ===============================================================



    As his men removed the Danes (well their corpses) from his fortress, Marco was chilled not by the now warm summer breezes, but news of a critical betrayal. Poland. Remember that his wife was Polish.

    More critically though, the Poles might well cut his supply line which ran though multiple ex-Roman castles back to Italy. These same castles were likely the target.


    __Marco: I need to talk to Our Lady about this, prepare the men in case we need to move.
    Officer: We will be ready for your command!
    __Marco: And bring me a lamb if one is to be found anywhere.
    Quatermaster: I'll look for one...
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 03:00 AM.

  16. #56

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-9

    Dreadbolt: The Promised Land
    Ch III-9: Danes of Desperation



    Looking southwards, Marco decided to reallocate some of his scouts towards providing information on the supply lines back to Italy. Though not starving, any Polish attempts (in concert with the Danes or otherwise) to bite into his lifeline back home could be disastrous.

    His quartermaster was still looking for that lamb, apparently there were none to be found.




    As this graph shows, the Romans and French had bled heavily without preventing Pisan territorial gains.

    At the same time, we were not only keeping up with attrition but also growing in military strength.




    Roman lands, now for the Italians. Long live the Pisan Empire!




    Albertino brought in Alberico. Alberico will be our empire's first "chivalry governor" who will be leading efforts at settlement planning, especially in the ex-Roman lands.

    Ironically enough, Albertino is super Dreadful and is living in Africa, using his maximum dread to keep Tunis in order.




    Marco has 4 children who are all in Italy, separated from their father by a long stretch, broken up by some castles, and now under threat from the Poles.

    Well, at least Simone might have children, though it is complicated (you cannot get princesses from other factions to marry non Faction Leader/Heirs by just sending a diplomat with tons of cash).

    ===============================================================





    Marco went out to take more lands from the Romans. In the town of Bremen, he found the lamb he had been searching for.

    After the battle, the army returned to Hamburg with haste.

    ===============================================================



    The Danes had made another play for Hamburg, and Marco arrived just in time... or did he?




    While some of the enemy were caught outside of the walls, most of the Danes were already within Hamburg's outer walls.

    Although there was a larger garrison than before, this still wasn't looking good for them as...




    This time the Danes had brought a ram instead of four ladders. They had been working hard, and by the time Marco arrived, the inner gate had given way to the assault.




    Their huskarls began cutting the garrison up. Captain Brunaccio's men withdrew to the square and prepared to meet the Dane horde head-on.

    However, their heroism was not to be to the death.




    As the defenders were about to be overwhelmed, they could see over the heads of the attacking Danes a multitude of Pisan flags coming up from the broken-through gateway.

    Marco had arrived just in time!





    (I misclicked)


    Marco: This isn't tenable, holding out would be troublesome enough, but I rather not be pincered between Danish axes and Polish axes up here.
    Marco: Quartermaster, bring up that lamb!
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 03:05 AM.

  17. #57

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-10

    Dreadbolt: The Promised Land
    Ch III-10: Danes Won't Stop Us



    ___Aa: What are you panicking about?
    Marco: The Danes are coming at us from the north, and I hear news that the Poles are about to come over the border.
    ___Aa: Oh, don't worry about that, your Second Army has priority for reinforcements, but it will take them years to march up here.
    Marco: That's not very heartening. Will you stay for dinner?
    ___Aa: Sure, why not.

    Having thus lured her with a delicious Italian lamb roast and some other things, Marco tried to get as much information as he could. It seemed that the empire's patron had been pulling quite a lot of strings in the background to set up everything for a solid wave of expansion.

    She did let slip that the Danes were not part of her plan. Thankfully a new force was already being raised and would be racing towards them, so it was a matter of avoiding a disastrous defeat until more force arrived for what else but a counter-attack.




    Although their general was missing for some reason (odd that) the Danes had brought up a great deal of heavy infantry. Indeed, this was their greatest showing to date, while on the other hand the Pisans were not at their full strength. Thankfully spies (and a few remarks by Aa the night before) revealed that there was not any more serious Dane strength left.

    This would be a decisive battle, if the Pisans won and maintained enough strength such that the Danes could not mass enough before reinforcements arrived, victory would be theirs. If not, they would have to retreat south and Hamburg would be abandoned, to be retaken again later, doubtless at a high price.




    Although they lacked any ranged capabilities beyond thrown javelins, we had learned that in many ways, javelins were potentially more effective than crossbows on our heavily protected troops, especially when massed. And the Danes had certainly massed javelins.

    Despite that, our lines held firm as the Danes sent a furious initial infantry charge of axemen directly into our center. The clash was deafening and the axemen were soon making their lethality known among the Pisan spear ranks.




    Rather than wait any longer, Marco decided on a bold change of tactics, moving his horse out early. To some extent, this was not particularly risky as the Danes did not have cavalry or long-range missile units. His intent was to draw off small parts of the Danes to the side or perhaps force them to respond in a place where his crossbowmen could efficiently take them out. It also turns out that axemen do not do well against lancers.




    The Danes were pushing our lines hard but we held firm. And then at some point the sound of crossbow bolts in flight stopped. There was a brief pause in the fighting as both sides wondered what it might mean. Then the sound of a charge being called and horses running over the surviving Dane skirmishers came from their rear.

    It was quite a bold move, but timely. Despite their advantage in the melee, the Danes were wavering. Marco and his men ran about in the rear cutting down the small groups that tried to run, and movements on the flank only made the situation worse for the axemen still fighting.




    In the end, a group of huskarls were the last to break. Marco saw them standing together with their long axes and initially made to charge them (a lance outreaching a two-handed axe) but instead he changed his mind and pulled away.

    What happened to the Danes? Crossbow bolts of course!






    Of course, run or stand you will die either way, but an enemy router can always hope I guess....

    ===============================================================



    Marco: Well, it seems we can hold on a bit, thanks to these new mercenary corps we have hired. I hope those reinforcements get here soon though!




    Because further to the south, Ugolino and the Fourth Army were marching upwards, there was no real need to worry about being caught between Dane and Pole.

    In the west, Soderino and Simone would handle the remaining Romans and the French.


    Those were our main fronts at the moment.



    By the way, those axemen may look (on their unit card) and be described like militia, but they are heavily armored and have a deadly attack rating. They really chewed up my spearmen to an extent that was rather frightening. Good thing I never depend on the infantry to win a battle. They're actually the Dane equivalent of the "Sworded Mailed Foot Knight" or whatever the really awkward name for this unit is.
    Last edited by Alavaria; June 30, 2017 at 03:06 AM.

  18. #58
    Socrates1984's Avatar Decanus
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    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-10

    I simply can't get enough of this Alavaria! Well done, nice pictures, live narrative and many great battles and tactical choices. Well done!

  19. #59

    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-10

    Awesome narrative Alavaria! i love that you face against danish huskarls! the next step is betrayed byzantines muajajaj fourth crusade is coming...hahahaja
    THE MORE YOU SWEAT NOW,
    THE LESS YOU BLEED IN BATTLE!!!



    Sign the petition to remove hardcoded limits for M2TW

  20. #60
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
    Content Director Patrician Citizen

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    Default Re: (SSHIP-Pisa) Dreadbolt: The Promised Land, III-10

    Great updates! The moment when Podesta Soderino's lancers charge the rear of the Roman knights who have walked down the hill towards the Pisan spearmen is a dramatic one. I like the heroic stand of Captain Brunaccio, hopelessly outnumbered and hoping that Marco's reinforcements will arrive in time. I like the way that you include 'zoomed out' screenshots to show the 'big picture' of how the armies clash, and also 'zoomed in' shots, showing individual units in action. I also like the way that you comment on the compositions of different armies (providing a possible explanation for the lack of Roman cavalry in one battle, observing the Danes using massed javelins and noting the effectiveness of Danish axemen against Pisan spearmen, compared to their effectiveness against Pisan lancers).

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