For this ‘catchweight’ contest we pitched a Yorkist war of the Roses army with a fairly even composition of mounted men-at-arms, longbow and billmen, against a Korean army of spears, handgunners, heavy and light cavalry. Most of the point value of the Korean army was concentrated in the 6 units of very good ‘B’ class cavalry (4 light and 3 heavy). The Korean infantry was all ‘C’ class and although cheap in terms of points would be no match for the ‘B’ class Yorkists, especially the tough billmen. Therefore, with the very different relative strengths and weaknesses of the opposing armies, the terrain would be the key factor and we asked Andre to spare 10 minutes from his club game to choose and layout the terrain components for ours.
The terrain gave opportunities for both sides with Tony and Dave (Yorkist), choosing the table edge with a very defensible 8 hex escarpment. Chris and I (The Koreans), won the di roll for first move and used this to gain plenty of ground with our cavalry. Areas of woodland on both sides, and towards the table edges would restrict the areas in which the Yorkist and Korean cavalry could operate effectively, and as a result the ‘action’ would be destined to take place in the centre and centre left of the field.
In the Korean’s second tactical movement phase we sent our horse archers to attack the edge of Yorkist longbow line behind the escarpment. Unfortunately, our shooting was at best ‘very average’ and this level of missile performance was to continue throughout the game. The Yorkist longbow units pulled back to the open ground behind the escarpment and this restricted the amount of Korean bow units we could position against them.
The Yorkist billmen set out on a long march towards and eventually around our left flank. Chris and I knew that our Korean handgunners and spearmen would never win against the superior Yorkist infantry, but they should hold long enough for our cavalry to win the battle for us. The 5 units of Yorkist mounted men-at-arms moved back and forth behind their infantry as an ever present threat. We were never sure when and where their charge would occur and this psychological game was played very well by Tony! Dave’s billmen pushed our handgunners and spearmen back out of the woodland and eliminated two units. While this was happening my mounted bows were still not able to get the better of the longbow units. In frustration I sent 2 of 3 Korean cavalry units to assist. This weakened our centre and in which we were forced to now concentrate our spear units to guard against the anticipated Yorkist heavy cavalry charge. This in turn effectively sacrificed our left and rear to the onslaught of the Yorkist billmen.
At this point in the game I had little option but to throw caution to the wind and launch 2 generals with the Korean heavy cavalry at the Yorkist billmen and heavy knights, and to Chris and my utter frustration the Yorkist held their position on the escarpment. Units from both sides hit the casualty trays, but our precious bow-armed Korean cavalry were being sacrificed in hand-to-hand combat which was in reality an act of desperation. Meanwhile, the Korean left and rear was effectively broken and our spears in the centre who could certainly withstand a frontal attack were slowly being out-flanked by Dave’s advancing billmen.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again! We put another general with the third and last of our Korean heavy cavalry units and charged the stubborn Yokists holding the escarpment. Both armies had now lost 5 or 6 units fighting over control of this 8 hex escarpment, and the next round of hand-to-hand combat would decide the matter. The Koreans now needed a quick victory so that some of the remaining cavalry units could extract themselves from this local battle of attrition and support their centre. However, the Yorkist mounted men-at-arms and billmen were triumphant – two Korean generals were lost along with another unit of heavy cavalry. It was game over and Chris and I accepted a very hard-fought defeat.
The slow but steady onslaught of the Yorkist billmen was the key to the Yorkist win in that they gained too much ground from our retreating infantry which lacked cavalry support. The terrain, especially the 8 hex escarpment, prevented the Korean cavalry from using their bows quickly or effectively enough, and also I used their greater mobility quite poorly throughout the game. Instead, I squandered these potential game winners in a stubborn and ill-fated hand-to-hand combat battle.