Andre chose and placed the terrain and we let the dice decide; who was on which side; army allocation; choice of table edge; first deployment and first move. This ‘dice-off’ resulted in Chris, Tim and I having the Tudors and Dave and Tony the Yorkists. The terrain layout, however, would prove to be the key element and Andre’s layout with central areas of woodland a 4 hex area of broken ground would dictate the position of the cavalry elements for both sides. There was little doubt that on balance the terrain favoured the Tudor army with its greater number of bill-armed infantry and useful cover from longbow shooting.
The dice for first move was won by Dave and Tony’s Yorkists, which, from the Tudor perspective was bad news because we knew that we would lose the race for the spine of central woodland. The cavalry of both sides, as expected, was deployed facing each other in the more open ground on the Tudor right.
Chris advanced the bow and bill units of the Tudor left wing against Dave’s extended line of longbows occupying the central spine of woodland and broken ground. Tim advanced his infantry in the centre while I positioned my cavalry units to his right ready to receive any charge by Tony’s cavalry.
For a Tudor victory we needed to take the central woodland from the Yorkist longbow. This was going to be no easy task, but if achieved would negate the Yorkist cavalry advantage and we did have the large numbers of bill units to do this. The Yorkists had to play the shooting game and hopefully launch their cavalry into a decisive action once the Yorkist longbow had done their damage.
Chris launched attack after attack against Dave’s longbow defending the woodland and the consistently good shooting from the Yorkists repulsed him back each time. Any successful attack in the Yorkist centre by Tim’s infantry would need support from Chris and I, his ‘wing men’, and at this stage of the game we were making no progress at all against very stubborn well organised resistance.
On the right wing I was hoping Tony would try and use his cavalry numbers in a charge against my waiting cavalry. Tim had the bill units in position necessary to support my out-numbered cavalry once they had received the initial charge. However, Tony was well aware of this and was playing the long game, letting the Yorkist longbow fight the battle of steady attrition before launching his potentially game winning cavalry into the action.
The longbow units of both sides continued to engage in a prolonged shooting match in which the Yorkists inflicted far more damage on the Tudors than visa versa. Yet another assault by Chris’s infantry was repulsed and I decided to risk all and throw my cavalry against Tony’s forward cavalry units. Tony counter-attacked and the resulting hand-to-hand combat was quick and brutal. As Tony’s cavalry gained the ground they came into contact with Tim’s central longbow and bill units which evened things up for a couple of rounds of hand-to-hand combat in which both armies suffered very heavy losses.
Dave started to pull his longbow units back towards the centre away from Chris’s infantry which had finally gained parts of the woodland. But in the centre Dave advanced the Yorkist bill units against Tim’s already hard-pressed infantry. The heavy cavalry of both sides had inflicted equal losses on each other, but the extra 3 units of Yorkist mounted-men-at arms finally tipped the balance with the help of Dave’s bill units. Despite some rewarding local victories and very temporary reverses, a Yorkist victory was guaranteed at the point at which the Yorkist cavalry successfully counter-attacked. The accurate and consistent shooting of the Yorkist longbow throughout the game had sucked away the strength of the Tudor army before the brutal hand-to-hand combat had really started to suck in reserves.
Andre’s terrain layout certainly favoured the Tudor army with its large number of bill armed infantry, but the Yorkist first move gave them the opportunity to establish an unbroken line of longbow units along the central woodland. The consistently good shooting in the defence of this line established a battle of shooting attrition which was decidedly won by the Yorkists. The Yorkist deployment with their bill in the centre and more numerous cavalry on their open left confronted the Tudor commanders with a very challenging defensive line which we continuously failed to break. Tony didn’t press home his cavalry advantage until the Tudors were sufficiently weakened by bow shooting. This patience, caution, and deliberate tactic of playing for the ‘long game’ worked well and delivered a decisive Yorkist victory in little over 2 hours.