Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Battle Report - France 1355, Part 1 of 3

The day after Thanksgiving, Dave, Ryan and I got together for a fairly impromptu Hundred Years War game using Saga's Medieval Warfare Rules. I have played the rules at conventions and like them a lot. I have never taken the time to learn them as thoroughly as I should, however, as it is easy to let the gamemasters at the cons lead you through things. One of the main purposes of this game, other than to get together and push some figs around, was to work on getting us up to speed on the rules, with the hope of bigger things to come.

As an aside, thanks to Jeff Ball, Bruce Taylor, Perry Gray, and the late Terry Gore for all the wonderful games at the HMGS shows over the years. I would strongly urge gamers to support Saga - good games and good guys!

I decided that we would do a Hundred Years War battle between the English and the French. For purposes of this as a learning exercise, I made the scenario a meeting engagement, which would probably be unusual for the period, but would work well for our intended purpose. My thinking was that it would be good to have a few turns where Dave and Ryan were getting used to the basics of the Orders system and maneuvering their units around without having to worry too much about the combat mechanics. Dave would command the French, Ryan would command the English, and yours truly would assist Dave by commanding the French cavalry (which would consist intentionally of marching my cavalry onto the battlefield and hurling them at the nearest English with no prep or planning - hey, what could be more historical!).

The initial set up is shown below, from the French side. A French infantry command is moving onto the field to the right, and a second infantry command is moving through the village in the near center. The third French command, under Audrehem, Marshal of France, would be composed almost entirely of mounted men at arms, and would arrive in the following turns left of the village. The lead elements of the English army, under command of Edward Prince of Wales, crown prince of England, "The Black Prince", can be seen moving to occupy the central hill in the middle distance.

Situation end of turn 1, from the English side, is shown below. The French, showing blatant disregard for English archery, are pouring onto the field as quickly as possible in column. Mercenary crossbowmen lead the advance of the French left (from this view), while more crossbowmen and pavisiers pound up the road in the center. Dave is gambling that the mass targets of being in single stand column are worth the risk in order to contest the central hill as soon as possible. English longbowmen deploy to cover the hill while Scots spearmen move up in support. In an occurance that will become comically repetitive before the night is over, English archery is ineffective.

Situation end of turn 2, from the English side, is shown below. English longbowmen have begun forming a battle line anchored on the central hill, while the Italian mercenary crossbowmen in French employ advance in swarms, pavises in tow. French infantry support in the form of dismounted men at arms and pavisiers continue to pour onto the field. The lead elements of the French mounted nobility, led by Marshal Audrehem himself (yay me!), can be seen approaching from the upper right. The Duke of Suffolk, commanding the English advance guard, sends word to the Black Prince to advance with all haste. English archery is ineffective, to Ryan's chagrin.

Situation end of turn 3 is shown below (English to the left). It is clear that the battle for the central hill will dominate the attention of both commanders. The English have formed a solid line, while the French have their hired crossbowmen at the fore, pavises in place, to try to duel with the longbowmen. The French foot continue to arrive and form up for the inevitable mad rush at the English. The lead elements of French men at arms hurl themselves wildly at a large block of Scots spearmen, with predictable results. Pointy sticks 1, horse riding tin cans 0. Ryan shoots again and...misses...a lot. A unit of English men at arms can be seen at lower left.

Situation end of turn 4 below (English to the left). At the bottom of the picture, the French men at arms insist on continuing to charge everything in sight, regardless of the wisdom of doing so. Results are predictably bloody to both sides, but more so to the French (this was actually intentional insofar as it was both historical and really fun!). In the center, the French foot mass for an assault on the hill, a fight that will take many lives in the ensuing turns. French crossbowmen continue to peck away at the English, while the English longbowmen continue...to miss everything in sight. A clear pattern has developed at this point that Ryan will win every close combat random die roll and continue to be unable to hit ANYTHING while shooting.
I will post part 2 of 3 as soon as I can. In retrospect, there were some things that I was intentionally skipping over in the rules in order to simplify things, and some things that we clearly did wrong (or just didn't know better). I will recap all of this at the end. The important thing is that me, my brother and my nephew were having a few beverages of choice and having fun spending some quality time together.
Maybe in part 2, the English will be able to hit the broad side of a barn while shooting. Or maybe not, Ryan...
On reviewing this post, a few things are obvious. First, I need to finish the bases on these stands - simple green paint looks ugly in good resolution photos. Second, the flags carried by many of the English units, from the Flag Dude (see favorite links), are so much nicer than my French flags printed off the internet. Lastly, I need a backdrop for photos so that you don't see the mess that is the other half of my gaming table...yuck. Amateur hour!

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