Armoured cavalry 4 units
Unarmoured cavalry 5 units
Armoured spearmen 3 units
Unarmoured spearmen 4 units
Norman Archers 4 units
Total 247 points
Housecarls 4 units
Select Fyrd 7 units
Greater Fyrd 11 units
Archers 4 units
Total 249 points
This was a large 250 point per side club game with 6 players. The 6ft by 4ft terrain layout was chosen by Steve and had an 8 hex and a 4 hex escarpment with spaced areas of woodland and a useful road. We let the dice decide who was on which side, choice of army, table edge, first deployment and first move.
The Saxons, Dave, Tim and I moved first – we had a useful 4 hex escarpment on which Tim placed his 4 units of archers and the rest of the army with housecarls, select fyrd and greater fyrd units selectively mixed advancing to take up position either side. The Normans, Steve, Chris and Tony, deployed all nine units of their cavalry on their left with the infantry charged with occupying the centre and a large area of woodland and the 8 hex escarpment on the extreme right.
From my perspective on the left wing of the Saxon army it seemed that the Norman dispositions have been pretty favourable to us in that; our centre was secured by our four bow units ensconced on their escarpment; our right wing was protected by a 3 hex wood which was a major obstacle to the massed Norman cavalry deployed against it; I had the necessary forces on my left wing to assault and take both the escarpment and the large woodland defended by Steve’s Norman infantry.
The Saxons advanced quickly along the road towards the wood and up the closer edge of the escarpment. In response, Tony shifted his armoured Norman cavalry from the left wing to the centre to attack our infantry which were protected by Tim’s Saxon archers on their 4 hex escarpment. At this point the game seemed to be proceeding in accordance with our quickly discussed Saxon battle plan! However, once any battle begins, plans tend to go out of the window, which is exactly what happened in this game!
Dave’s Saxon infantry on our far right were attacked by units of Norman unarmoured cavalry. In the centre where we needed to shoot away the attack by other units of Norman cavalry and infantry, much to Tim’s utter frustration, his archers perfected the art of missing! The resulting hand-to-hand combats effectively stopped our central advance and recoiled a number of Saxon units backwards. All this wouldn’t have mattered too much if my attack against Steve’s archers on the escarpment had succeeded. My select fyrd lead by a general attacked his first of 2 Norman bow units. Steve needed a score of at least 3 x 8’s from his 4D12 shooting dice to stop me – he scored 4 hits recoiling and disrupting the unit and general leaving the supporting greater fyrd units without any command and control. This effectively stopped me taking the escarpment and to add even more insult to injury, Steve’s infantry occupying the woods held their ground against my housecarls and select fyrd units trying to take the woods from them.
All across the width of the table the hand-to-hand combat rolled on. At this point of the game for the loss of just one Norman cavalry unit the Saxons had by this stage lost six! Despite this, the Saxons still had all 5 generals and housecarl units on the table and went into many hand-to-hand combats with a 60/40 advantage and just about lost them all! A unit of unarmoured Norman cavalry took the central 4 hex escarpment scattering Tim’s archers who still hadn’t learnt how to shoot straight. Steve’s 2 bow units were able to shoot down from the 8 hex escarpment onto the Saxon units below, their position now unchallenged.
By this stage the Saxon plan had changed from ‘advance to victory’ to ‘just stay in the game somehow!’ A unit of housecarls finally managed to fight its way into the woodland only to be surrounded and destroyed by greater numbers of Normans. The following round of combat saw the loss of 2 Saxon generals with their units. A quick look across to the expression on Dave’s face on the other Saxon wing indicated quite clearly that he was ready to throw in the towel! And, so after just an hour and 25 minutes the Saxon army had been pretty much demolished.
Where did it all go wrong for the Saxons? We simply failed to take and hold any of the key terrain objectives. Steve’s 2 units of archers dominated the escarpment and effectively neutralized the Saxon left. The Norman cavalry used their greater manoeuvrability to very good effect. The Saxon archers forgot to bring their bow strings, and the roll of snake eyes (Double one), in a crucial must win combat just about summed up the abysmal Saxon hand-to-hand combat performance!