Chris and Jamie are coming over and I wanted to use my new “El Cid” Feudal Spanish for Big Base DBA. So, of course, I’ve gone crazy and devised a A Big Battle Big Base DBA (BBBBDBA) Scenario for the Battle of Sagrajas 1086. I’ve only gone for 24 elements per side (not 36). We only used the historical context to give a bit of flavour for the pick up game, but I have included suggestions for a more historical simulation at the end.
At the Battle Sagrajas (Friday 23 Oct 1086) a combined Murabitun (under Ibn Tashufin) and Andalusian (under Al-Mutamid, King of Seville) army beat the Castilians (under Alfonso VI) (Reconquista Timeline: Fanatic Berbers 1086 – 1250). Before the battle Yusuf ibn Tashfin offered three choices to the Castilians: convert to Islam, to pay tribute (jizyah), or battle (Wikipedia: Battle of Sagrajas). The Christians chose battle. The battle was bloody on both sides. In later times the Arabs called the battleground az-Zallaqah (“slippery ground”) because the great quantity of blood spelt made the footing dodgy for the fighters. Only 500 Christian cavalrymen survived out of an army of about 3,000. The Muslims also suffered heavily losing 3,000 of perhaps only 5,000.
Map / Table / Terrain
“Big Battle DBA” uses a double width table. Normally Big Base DBA is fought on a 4′ x 4′ table. So a Big Battle Big Base DBA (BBBBDBA) game would be on a 8′ x 4′ table. But as I’ve only increased the orders of battle from 12 to 24 elements, not to 36, I’m going with a 6′ x 4′ table.
I have counted the Christians as the invader and the Muslims as the defender. So the Muslims place terrain which for Arable is:
1-3 Compulsory Features: BUA* or Road
3-4 Optional Features: River*, Steep Hills, Gentle Hills, Woods, Road, Waterway*
- At most one BUA, River, or Waterway (marked with a *)
- At most three terrain features of the same type
If you want some inspiration then check out the map for the more historical simulation at the end.
Order of Battle
In “Big Battle DBA” each side has 36 elements and three generals. One general of each side is the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C). Each general must command six or more elements. Each side has one camp plus one extra camp for each allied command.
However, in this scenario each army consists of 24 elements and two generals.
Muslim Order of Battle
According to The Battle of Sagrajas/Zalaca, 1086:
Numbers – through much varying analysis which obviously cant be written here, the authors conclude a numerical advantage of about 5 to 3 for the Almoravids and Al Andalus allies. They would have around 1000 Andalusian cavalry, 1500-2000 African light cavalry and around 2000 infantry of various sources (mostly African). It is often referred that the Almoravids could not tell the Al-Andalus cavalry from the Christians because of the similar heavy armour.
Note: Al Mu’tamid ibn Abbad of Seville, Umar ibn Muhammad al-Mutawakkil of Badajoz, Abdallah ibn Buluggin of Granada, Ahmad ben Muhammad of Almería, Tamim of Málaga were all present and supplied forces. However, Mu’tamid of Seville was the most prominent in the battle and I’ve made him the commander of the Andalusians collectively
In Big Battle Big Base DBA that equates to two commands under:
- Caliph Yusuf ibn Tashfin. C-in-C. Commander of Murabitun
- King Al Mu’tamid ibn Abbad of Seville. Commander of Andalusians
Yusuf ibn Tashfin chooses a 12 element army from the list DBA III/74 Fanatic Berber 1039AD-1529AD:
DBA III/74 Fanatic Berber
Arable. Ag: 4
- 1 x Berber Cavalry (3Cv or 2LH) (Gen)
- 3 x Berber (2LH)
- 3 x Lamtuna or Hintata Spearmen, Black Guard, Other Berber or Black Spearmen (4Sp)
- 3 x Berber or Black Archers, Berber or Black Javelinmen (2Ps)
- 2 x Berber (2LH)
- or Camelry (3Cm)
Al Mu’tamid ibn Abbad of Seville chooses a 12 element army from the list DBA III/34b Andalusian 710AD-1172AD:
DBA III/34b Andalusian 766-1172AD
Arable. Ag: 1
- 2 x Arab Cavalry (3Cv) (Gen)
- 2 x Andalusian or Berber Cavalry, or Horse archers (2LH)
- 6 x Archers, Slingers or Berber Javelinmen (2Ps)
- 2 x Andalusian Spearmen
The Muslims get two camps, one for the Murabitun and another for the Andalusians.
Christian Order of Battle
According to The Battle of Sagrajas/Zalaca, 1086:
The Castillians would have around 2000 ‘caballeros’ and around 1000 infantry – this last is just an intelligent guess, it is never referred to but there must have been men looking after the supply train, men without horses and footsoldiers etc.
But according to Wikipedia: Battle of Sagrajas
Alfonso VI of Castile reached the battleground with some 2,500 men, including 1,500 cavalry, in which 750 were knights, some of whom were Jewish, but found himself outnumbered.
In Big Battle Big Base DBA, I ignore the ratio of forces, so the Castilians get to two commands under:
- King Alfonso VI. C-in-C. Commander of main body.
- Álvar Fáñez. Command of vanguard.
Both Castilian commands are selected from the Revised El Cid DBA Army List – III/35b Feudal Spanish 951-1200AD:
Revised DBA III/35 Feudal Spanish
Arable. Ag: 2
- 1 x general (3Kn or 4Bd)
- 3 x hidalgos (3Kn)
- 1 x caballeros villanos (Cv or 3Kn)
- 1 x javelin light horse (LH)
- Or foreign crusaders (3Kn)
- 1 x spearmen (Sp)
- 2 x spearmen (Sp)
- Or javelinmen (3Ax)
- 2 x archers, javelinmen, or slingers (Ps)
- 1 x archers, javelinmen, slingers, or crossbowmen (Ps)
- Or crossbowmen (3CB)
- Or bowmen (3Bw)
The Christians get one combined camp.
- Christians choose a long table edge
- Muslims take the side opposite
- Muslims deploy both commands*
- Christians deploy both commands*
- Muslims exchange 0-2 pairs of elements**
* Each element must be within 1200 paces of its command’s general unless the element is in a BUA or camp.
** The exchanges can be for a pair of elements in different commands.
More Big Battle Rules
Here are bunch of rules for Big Battle DBA:
- All commands roll their own 1d6 for PIPs. Ignore the normal Big Battle DBA rule of allocating the highest to one command.
- Once per game the C-in-C can add an additional +1 to any combat score, after the score has been calculated.
- At the start of a bound a command is demoralised if it has lost its general or 1/3 of its elements. A demoralised command can use PIPs to hold groups in place, hold elements in place, or turn elements. Other elements not in close combat immediately flee directly towards the nearest point on the army’s base edge without first recoiling, but making an initial turn if necessary. Elements deduct -2 in combat unless in a BUA or camp.
An side wins if the other side becomes demoralised. A side becomes demoralised at the end of a bound when either:
- The C-in-C’s command is demoralised
- It has lost 1/2 its elements
More Historic Option
There are a few things missing from a Sagrajas inspired wargame (the above) that we, more or less, know about the battle. A quick look at the map from The Battles of Sagrajas and Las Navas de Tolosa reveals these. I’ve made my own version customised for Big Battle Big Base DBA.
To make a better simulation I suggest:
- The battlefield is 4′ wide and 6′ long
- Terrain is a paltry river in front of the Christian deployment zone and a gentle hill in the Murabitun deployment zone
- (Optional) Aside from the general elements, the Christians can organise their 24 elements into the two commands in any way they choose; both commands must have six or more elements
- The Christian main body command deploys behind the Vanguard command
- Similarly with the Murabitun command deploys behind the Andalusians
- If the Andalusian command becomes demoralised they flee in the direction of Badajoz i.e. the table edge marked Badajoz; other commands flee towards their base edge as normal
- A demoralised command has one chance to rally in the game. Collect any elements that flee off table in a reserve. A rally from demoralisation is only possible once all elements from this command are either destroyed or have fled off table. Once this occurs the player and start rolling to rally the command at the start of any friendly bound; they rally on a 6 on 1d6. On the bound they rally the elements that previously fled are deployed on the table edge from which they fled. The command is no longer demoralised and the number of elements that return are the size of the command for morale purposes. If the command’s general was previously destroyed, one of the returning elements is nominated the general; if possible this should be a type that the normally be a General for that army.
- An general’s element can voluntarily pursue an demoralised enemy command off table. The general can take elements of their own command within them on the pursuit. Each pursuing element removes one element from the enemy reserve (player that owns the demoralised command chooses). The pursuing troops return in the same way as a demoralised command; i.e. 6 on 1d6 at the start of a friendly bound
Note: the rally and pursuit rules are to simulate Álvar Fáñez leaving the battlefield and then returning later.