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...All the companies were clad in iron, and all parts of their bodies were covered with thick plates, so fitted that the stiff-joints conformed with those of their limbs.
— Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman Historian, on a contingent of Persian Cataphracts

The origins for the Kataphraktoi can be traced back to Median and Persian times, where the native inhabitants of Central Asia were famous for their superior horsemanship. The Eastern Roman Empire later took the design for use. Later on, Byzantium took the concept of the Cataphract from rivalling Sassanids and upgraded them to make them proficient in every arena though still not as efficient as the Sassanid counterpart; Toxton bows and slings to compete with horse archers, lances to fulfil their role as shock Calvary, swords and daggers to allow them to be capable at melee combat along with other more specialised weapons. Often these forces were led directly by the Emperor, and their devastating charges were skill feared in both Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East. They were the most feared heavy cavalry of their time, superbly armoured from the top of their head with an iron or steel helmet to their feet with chainmail leggings. They were thrown right into the weakest sectors of enemy infantry, often resulting in early routs and complete, annihilating victories. Unfortunately as the Byzantine Empire declined so did the fortunes of the Cataphract, as these heavily armoured units became too costly to afford.

Battle vs. Winged Hussar (by El Alamein)[]

A Polish Winged Hussar rides his horse down the shore of a lake in a grassy meadow surrounded by a thick forest. It is mid-day but the light armor of the Hussar and a gentle breeze keeps him from overheating. His "wings" strapped on the back of his armor and the streamers hanging off of his lance give off an ominous humming noise. The Hussar's horse is used to this and trots along peacefully.

A Byzantine Cataphract approaches the Hussar, confused by the noise. The Cataphract's armored horse is hot and tired, and scared by the noise. It slows down and stops completely as the Cataphract urges his mount onward. The Hussar watches with mild amusement and brings his horse to a stop, ceasing the buzzing noise. The Cataphract raises the visor on his helmet and looks at the Hussar before he lowers his spear, closes the visor, and digs his heels into his horse, urging the beast forward. The Hussar is taken by surprise and takes the spear to his chest, but his steel cuirass deflects the blow and he is only pushed off of his horse. The Cataphract keeps riding off before he turns for a second pass. The Hussar quickly gets back on his horse and urges it forward, the lighter mount quickly taking off down the lake and away from the Cataphract. The buzzing noise again starts and the Cataphract’s horse slows to a nervous trot. The Hussar turns his horse back to face his opponent, lowers his lance, and leans forward, urging his horse forward. The Cataphract’s nervous horse backs up and the rider is unable to control the beast. The Hussar's lance shatters against the armor of the Cataphract but the Byzantine cavalryman is knocked off his horse. The Hussar is left without a rider's weapon and dismounts, aiming with his crossbow. The Cataphract struggles to his feet and takes a crossbow bolt in the breastplate. While it doesn't hit his organs, it knocks him back down on the ground.

The Hussar approaches the downed soldier with his war hammer, and he raises the weapon high for a powerful strike. The Cataphract raises an arm with his Spathi sword tightly gripped, and knocks the War Hammer aside. He rises to a knee and thrusts the short sword into a small unprotected section of the Hussar's thigh. While his Polish opponent doubles over in pain, the Cataphract slashes down at his exposed back but the cuirass stops the damage. The Hussar slams his war hammer into the Cataphract's knee, shattering the bone. The Cataphract yells in pain and makes another wild slash with his sword, deflecting an incoming attack from the hammer. Backing up, the Cataphract stumbles toward his horse for his other weapons while the Hussar loads another bolt into his crossbow. He fires right as the Cataphract takes his Toxoton bow off of a pouch on the saddle, and the bolt wedges into the horse's armor between the plates. The Cataphract's horse, already terrified by the Hussar's wing-noise and tired and hot, makes a feeble attempt to gallop away but stops after a few yards and collapses. The Cataphract is arrowless and throws the bow aside, limping in pain for one final attack.

The Hussar sidesteps the Cataphract's first stab and pulls his arm out of the way before he makes a crushing blow on the Byzantine's back. Falling onto his bad knee and racked in pain, the Cataphract looks up at the only slightly wounded Pole and makes one final effort, hacking at the Hussar's ankle. The lightly armored limb is severed from the leg and a blood fountain meets the flinching face of the Cataphract. The Hussar falls in agony, dropping his weapon and instinctively grabbing at the stump of a limb. The Cataphract takes an enormous breath and lunges himself on top of his disabled opponent, stabbing his Spathi sword straight into the Polish cavalryman's face, through the nose and into the base of his brain. The Hussar goes limp and the Cataphract can only roll over under the sun, breathing heavily, and shut his eyes as the pain rolls back into his body. Looking up at the Hussar's horse, he decides to search the saddle pouch for any medical supplies that could be there. As he tries to move his leg, the pain causes him to black out.

WINNER: BYZANTINE CATAPHRACT

Expert's Opinion[]

It was close, so very close. The Hussar was quick and the horrifying noise made by the streamers on his lance and the wings on his back really shook the Cataphract's mounted game, and while the Cataphract's armored horse did allow the Cataphract to stay mounted longer, it also meant fatigue and heat exhaustion would kick in much sooner. The Polish crossbow was a poor choice for mounted combat, and the war hammer was much slower than the Spathi in close-quarters combat. If this is an example of anything, it's that when it comes to two very closely matched warriors, armor matters, and when it comes to mounted warriors, mobility matters. The Cataphract had armor and mobility, and had them in a way that really allowed him to wear the Hussar down. Simply put, the Cataphract's armor protected him and the Hussar's armor didn't.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

Battle vs. Easterling (by Kaiser of Metcalfer)[]

Battle: Easterling's: ///// Byzantines://///

Out on a group of grassy hills a group of Byzantine catarphact's wonder aimlessly while trying to figure out how they got there. "Tbirues do know where we are going" "no captain, I haven't seen anything like this in all my travels" "this is worrisome" "sir, look up there" each of the catarphact's look up at the top of a hill where five golden looking warriors rode on top of armoured horse's "they look like eastern catarphact's, they could be Muslim heretics trying reach Byzantium" "I do not believe they are Muslims, look at there banner" on the banner there was a large red eye surrounded by words that where defently not Arabic "they must be some pagan tribe from the north, they seem not to have noticed us, let us notch our arrows" on top of the hill five confused Easterling catarphact's where also wandering around the strange land they have been transported to, they all became startled when they heard a large shout and the whistling of arrows, instinctually they raised the shield's towards the noise, three of the five arrows missed but two hit a young easterling in the throat and right leg before he could get a shield in place.

 Easterling's: //// Byzantines://///

The remaining Easterling's look first at there fallen comrade then at the strange armoured men charging them up the hill on there horse's, with a series of shouts praising Sauron they charged down the hill, one of the easterling's jumped onto his feet on top of the horse notching a arrow into his bow, praying dark prayers to Sauron for his arrow hitting his target he let lose his at a Byzantine in front of him, to stunned by seeing the gold armoured warrior standing on top the horse could not react quick anoth to dodge to arrow which had gone threw his right eye killing him instantly, thanking Sauron with his shot he could not react quick anoth to stop a Byzantine spear going threw his stomach jolting him off his horse and crashing onto the ground.

 Easterling's: /// Byzantines:////

Another easterling witnessing his fellow warrior been impaled charged his horse straight to the closest Byzantine, hang lineing him with his shield breaking the warriors neck.

Easterling's: /// Byzantines:///

Filled with blood lust he charged the next enemy warrior armed with a mace, drawing his falcion he urged his horse faster until the enemy warrior threw his mace breaking the knee of the easterling's horse throwing him off and breaking his back against a rock.

Easterling's: // Byzantines:///

The Easterling captain then charged the man known as Tbirues, Tbirues did not stand a chance as the easterling captain swung his halberd at Tbirues face breaking his lower jaw and knocking Tbirues off his horse, dismounting from his own horse and then began walking to Tbirues who was currently rolling ground screaming in pain, the easterling begun mocking the man before stabbing the spear end of the halberd into the man's chest ending his screams, the man's friend saw his friend die and wanted revenge, he then charged screaming in anger towards the easterling captain swinging his sword around his head, once he was at the enemy warrior he swung his sword at him who expertly dodged it and used the hook on his halberd to pull the man off his horse, getting back onto his feet agin he charged the skilled warrior screaming like a lunatic waving his sword around, the easterling used his halberd to block the sword, upon his halberd braking he threw the two parts of the halberd at the enraged Greek, the Greek warrior swung again and again at the easterling, each time he dodged the blade until he grabbed the mans sword arm breaking it with a well timed swing of his fist to the elbow, he then silenced the screaming man with a armoured elbow to his face breaking his nose then finishing off the man by redirecting his sword into his stomach killing him.

Easterling's: // Byzantines:/

The easterling captain turn's to see his last man fighting the enemy captain, both trading blows until the Byzantine captain get's a lucky shot lacerates the Easterling's throat.

Easterling's: / Byzantines:/

After watching the dead man slump off his horse, the Byzantine turns his head to see the last Easterling standing with Tbirues and Basil laying dead at his feet, with a kick to the side he sends his horse on towards the enemy captain, the easterling captain then picks up Tbirues spear and throws at his enemy, knocking him off his horse, picking him self up the captain hears the easterling draw his falcion which he replies by picking up his sparthar and round shield then issuing a challenge towards the easterling, the easterling understands the gesture and the charges the Byzantine with both his hands on his falcion. The two exchange blows for the next six minutes until the easterling captain manged to get behind the Byzantine and swung his sword at the back of the chain mail covered neck, breaking the man's neck.

Expert's Opinion[]

TBW

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

Battle vs. Samurai (by SkullinBones1)[]

The Bushi rode along, all 4 seated upon their horses and ready to fight. They were deep scouting for their army, the bulk of which was miles behind them. They road along, soon coming up to a small sandy hill. They road over, climbing over and coming to the top of the hill. They looked out across the desert field ahead of them. But as they all looked over, they saw 4 figures in the distance. These men almost shimmered in the sun, being as if they were dressed in ray of golden light. They carried spears, with swords and maces of their belts.

"Miyamoto, do you recognize these men" one of the Bushi asked his commander in Japanese men. "these men are the warrior elites of the empire were invading" the leading Bushi said in reply. The leader look onward for a moment, thinking of what to do. "Prepare your arms brothers, we fight" the leader dictated with great vigor. The men the grabbed their bows, with the leader taking up his Naginata. With the a visible hand gesture, the men rushed forwards.

"Captain! enemies on the horizon" one of the Cataphracts grunted in Greek. "Dear god, Prepare for attack" the leader grunted back. The Cataphracts took up their spears and kicked their horses into action. The 2 groups went galloping at each other, weapons at the ready.

The Bushi drew back their bows and loosed a volley of arrows. The Arrows came down, falling like meteors down upon the Greek warriors. One arrow fell short sinking into the ground. One arrow struck a Cataphract in the head, it deflecting off his helmet. One arrows struck a Cataphract clear in the should, it punching into his shoulder. "Agh!" the man shrieked out. The 2 rode by each other. The Bushi scattered, dodging the spears of the Byzantines and going off in odd directions. The leader however did scatter riding through the mob of his enemies. One spear flew by him, only just being deflected by his naginata.

He galloped by and came back around, the Greeks doing the same. As the Cataphracts came rushing forwards, a razor arrow came flying through the air. The point lodged itself in the mans neck, knocking him to the side and ending him life. He hit the ground in a heap. But this didn't stop their charge. The remaining 3 rushed the Bushi. The Bushi swept his naginata out, blocking the strike of one of the spear. But as he blocked, another Greek spear shot towards him. The point glanced off the front of his armor, it only being a glancing blow. But this didn't stop the shaft from striking him in the chest. He was thrown back off his horse.

He got to his feet, dazed by the blow. He saw a Cataphract coming towards him, his spear ready. But as the man rode by, an Arrow struck him in the side. By now, the Bushi came riding in again. While weakened, the Man kept at it. He thrust down hard, stabbing at the Bushi. The Bushi jumped back, slashing at the spear shaft. the spear was cleft in half, the haft being thrown away. He rode by, no longer able to keep up his attack. he Fell from his horse the wound to his shoulder and side causing him to fatigue and bleed out. He died here there on the ground.

The other 3 Bushi, now reformed into a unit, came riding back. The 2 Cataphracts came riding in, spears ready for the attack. The Bushi loosed a volley, the arrows striking the shields of the Cataphracts. The 2 groups closed again. But unlike before, the Bushi failed to scatter. The spear struck into one of the armored chest of the Bushi. The Spear struck hard and pierced the O-yoroi. The Bushi fell from his horse, his limp dead body hitting the group. The other 2 pulled away, both flocking too their leader. But as they rode, one pealed off to the side. One Cataphract followed, chasing him off to the right.

The Bushi spun around and shot an arrow at the Cataphract. The arrow sunk in, but he didn't let up. Another arrow sunk in, but he didn't let up. the Cataphract lashing his horse, giving him and burst of speed. He jabbed his foes horse in the rear, causing it to rear back. The Bushi fell backwards, hitting the ground. He then jumped from his horse, pulling out his mace and crawling over to his fallen foe. He then rose up his weapon and smashed in the face of his dazed foe. He fell backwards, coughing up blood. He leaned onto his back, seeing his vision blur and go black.

The Final Cataphract rode in, Lance ready. His foe was ahead of him, but he could only keep at range for so long. He closed in, lashing his horse to speed up. As he closed in, the Bushi pulled away to the side. The leader Bushi stood their, his naginata at the ready. He slashed at the horses legs, wounded them badly. Both the Cataphract and his horse fell to the ground. He was tossed forwards, tumbling across the ground. He stammered to his feet, seeing the Bushi coming at him. He drew his sword and hefted hi shield. The Bushi thrust and slash at him, bringing his naginata down from high angles. The Cataphract parried the blow, and shouldered forwards. He knocked the Bushi back, knocking his naginata from his hands.

The Bushi drew his sword, grabbing in tightly in 2 hands and slashed wildly. The strikes came in on wide angles, hacking at the shield and chest of the Cataphract. The Cataphract brought up his shield, letting his foes blade sink into the edge. He then twisted his arm and pulled the blade from his foes hand. He then shouldered him hard, pushing his foe back. But before he could take one more move, he felt a sharp pain in his back. An arrow sank into him, causing him to fall to the ground. He winced in pain, coughing up clots of blood. He fell backwards, hitting the ground. The Bushing grabbed his Tachi and pulling it from his shield. He then with the blades tip flicked away the mail covering the Cataphracts mouth. He then brought his blade to the dying warriors throat and plunged down, killing his foes in a single move.

"Miyamoto" the other surviving Bushi shouted, riding over to his ally. "Are you hurt" he asked. "No. But I don't think Hanzo or Kiwa will be going getting back up" Miyamoto said. "Indeed. We should move the Bodies" The Other said. "Yes. go collect the horse. I'll go and get the bodies" Miyamoto said. The 2 men parted, getting ready to collect the bodies of their fallen brothers.

Expert's Opinion[]

While the Cataphract were tough bastards, they were outdone by the Bushi on all. Neither groups armor sets could in my opinion effectively take solid hits from their main weapons. But when considering the fact that the Bushi was a ranged foe, it made them Bushi much more fatal all in all. This added to the fact that the Cataphract was less mobile and agile in his armor, making him more nimble and agile on foot when compared to the Cataphract. So while I think that the Cataphract aren't terrible and could give the Bushis grief, the Bushi are going to win just about every time. So in the end, the Bushi are going to win.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

Battle vs. Emishi Horse Archer (by Pygmy Hippo 2)[]

Wiehen Hills, Germany

The Byzantine Cataphracts had been sent to the western Roman Empire to help them defeat a new enemy who had just invaded their lands from the far east, the Yamato army had prevailed against the Emishi Horse Archers and found a use for their former enemies in a new conflict. It was these two events that led to ten men on each side running into each other, one was there as allied soldiers to protect the area and the others were there unwillingly as conscripts who had just gotten away from their tyrannical rulers. The two sides didn't say anything before pulling out bows and firing arrows at each other in an attempt to earn some early kills which saw some success on each side.

One Byzantine managed to hit an Emishi in the throat with a composite bow shot before his iron mail skirt was penetrated by an Ebisu Yumi shot giving him the same fate, another arrow hit one of his comrades in the side before the two groups started riding. The soldiers chased after the Warriors with their Kontarion lances out except for one archer who got a lucky shot in the spinal column of a fleeing warrior, only for his fellow to fall over dead from wolfbane poison and another was knocked off his mount by a similar hit to helplessly struggle on the ground in agony. The Cataphracts were getting closer which made the Horse Archers draw their Kumayari throwing spears and toss most of them at their pursuers which wound up bouncing off most of the time or just causing shallow wounds with one actually sinking deep enough in between the iron scales to cause a mortal wound.

The Emishi were devastated as the lances made contact, two men being run through outright through the sheer force and toppling backwards with gruesome wounds that went past their iron lamellar before another was unfortunately still alive for a little bit after the impact before a horse stepped on his head. The warriors who barely avoided death began to ready melee weapons except for one who took a shot at a passing soldier with his bow, the Kontarion barely missed his torso but the Yumi hit its mark in his foe's neck. The Horse Archers quickly swung their Tsurugis to destroy as many lances as they could before the Cataphracts could draw their Spathions and the two started duelling on horseback with some utilizing their shields as well.

The Byzantine's sword cut through the Tate with ease while the Tsurugi boinced off the Skoutaria and the Emishi then tried to hack at the horse who whined in pain but it didn't give him enough time to react to the Spathion coming for his throat next. The soldier was pleased with his enemy's death but now he he had a wounded horse and turned to get a Kumayari thrusted at his chest which luckily didn't do much damage, however, it also sent him falling off his mount and down a steep hill. Two men were trying to have a meal as a Horse Archers attack sent a Cataphract plummeting down towards them with the impact clearly ruining lunch as 88 pounds of iron and a carcass laid on it.

The man in a silk kimono with two swords on his waist and the man in ivory armor with a spear on his back looked at each other before walking away, Miyamoto and the Inuit could meet somewhere else where there wasn't Byzantines and Emishi fighting. Back above, another soldier had stabbed into a warrior's face before a Tsurugi stabbed through his mail skirt to reach his neck and another of his fellows was hit from two sides by a spear and sword which both punched deep into his flesh before the sword's owner was sent flying by a Kontarion lance hit. The Cataphract then knocked the other Horse Archer off his horse with a shield bash and turned around to finish the job as another horse was slain by a lance going right through it's chest.

However that Emishi had an easy shot with his Ebisu Yumi as he got up to see the Byzantine struggling to free his polearm from the dead mount, all he got was an arrow that went past his armor and into his face. The other warrior desperately dodged the soldier's charges as he attempted to run him down and got support from his fellow firing upon his opponent. The Horse Archer's shots bounced off the iron scales or missed and the Cataphract was just driven into an even greater fury with the projectiles pelting him and the annoying foot soldier who refused to die.

The Byzantine lost his patience and went all in for a Spathion swing which the Emishi didn't just dodge but slashed the horse's neck open with his Tsurugi in response, making the cavalry crash to the ground. The soldier got up in pain with several broken bones and extremely slowly thanks to his heavy armor and only got the warrior's sword puncturing his throat for his troubles and collapsed to a knee. The Emishi Horse Archer watched his foe for a moment before yanking the Tsurugi out and letting the Byzantine Cataphract's body fall before greeting his fellow and walking back over to his horse so that they could continue their escape.

Winner:Emishi Horse Archers

Expert's Opinion[]

The Byzantine Cataphracts were far better protected and had the devastating Kontarion Lance along with superior training but the Emishi Horse Archers had them beat with better weapons at short and long range with the Tsurugi Sword and Ebisu Yumi Composite Bow. It didn't hurt that the Emishi's tactics directly countered the Byzantine's tactics either and they had comparable experience despite fighting less variety in foes.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

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