Normans v. Saxons

9 July, 2009

This was one of the first games of DBA I played back in December 2007. It was with the newly finished Tabletop Normans and Saxons and is perhaps interesting mostly for the mistakes with the rules that I made. Hopefully I’ve learnt a little since then!

The Norman army encountered the Saxons drawn up on a low hill. Beside the hill, to the right of it for the Normans, ran a road. On either side of the field, midway between the two armies was a wood.

The Saxon king and his huscarls had drawn up on the hill, they had archers in support behind them. The fyrd was drawn up on either side of them, the majority on the road side and a few on the other side of the hill to prevent outflanking.

In game terms the Saxons had gambled on terrain that suited them and got the position they wanted. The battleline when it advanced to the edge of the hill was impossible to outflank without going through the woods.

The Normans drew up their knights in the centre with some Breton cavalry on the left flank and the spearmen on the road. On the right flank were the light infantry and light cavalry.

They advanced quickly, the cavalry as a line, the spearmen along the road and the light infantry into the woods with the light cavalry following alongside them.

The Saxons advanced to the edge of the hill (I wonder if that is still technically uphill?).

The Normans advanced the spearmen two deep almost into contact and moved the light cavalry and infantry and cavalry to give them flanking support (the cavalry to the left and the infantry to the right) . The knights continued to advanced steadily, but slowed to keep line as the Bretons entered the wood.

The Saxons waited.

The knights continued to advance; the spearmen made contact, confident of the impunity of their flank support. The flank support either recoiled or fled, as indeed did the spearmen.

At this stage the knights made contact as a line, along with the spearmen their supports. The spearmen this time destroyed the fyrd in front of them, as did the Norman general. Otherwise the attack failed, though fortunately with only one element of knights attacking fyrd on the hill breaking.

The Saxon huscarls and fyrd flanking the Norman general who’d advanced into the gap he’d created were able to attack his flanks—the knights flanking them had recoiled. On both the Norman flanks the Saxons saw an opportunity to attack knights that had recoiled into the woods and advanced on them. Aided by an overlap they succeeded on both flanks; the Normans were close to breaking.   The combat that really mattered, against the Norman general, however, was a stalemate.

The Norman general, flustered, was unable to issue many orders, beyond having knights advance on the huscarls he faced to give him flanking support. It was enough to destroy those huscarls.

The Saxon king, alone on the hill, saw a chance to attack some knights still regrouping after the first attack. Huscarls that had offered overlap support on the attack on knights in the woods now turned to flank these knights, whom the king charged into contact with. In a hard fought battle the king emerged victorious. The Normans broke, but it was a close fight and the Saxon king might well have fallen himself.

The woods proved crucial to victory, the hill less so. The knights’ charge uphill was pretty reckless, but it doesn’t take much for them to get lucky. However, as they advance they never gain overlaps, but in recoiling make things progressively grim!

They’d have been wiser to work on the flank, but Ieuan was in a hurry! LH are actually pretty deadly against spear, and came close to making a mess! I learnt about moving before this game—all group moves are either wheels or straight ahead. Very awkward. One tactic would be to flank the spear with knights and hope for it to create overlaps for the knights—they needed something to lift the odds!

A month later I added this by way of review:  there were multiple errors here: firstly overlaps due to pursuit, then turning to flank while in ZOC. Nice to see I’ve learnt a little.

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