After the clobbering that the Saxons had received two weeks earlier we decided to pitch these large 250 point armies against each other in a re-match. Tim, Mark and I were in charge of the Saxons and Dave and Tony the Normans. Although the Saxons had 6 more units and an extra general, eleven of these units were ‘hordes’ of greater fyrd or as we sometimes refer to them as ‘the great unwashed!’ And, in the last game the greater fyrd units were quickly and efficiently demolished by the Norman cavalry. After that experience, the plan for this game was to keep most of these units on the wings of the central Saxon shield wall comprising housecarls and select fyrd.
We won the di roll for choice of table edge, but more significantly deployed the Saxon army second which enabled us to select the troops to confront the Norman cavalry. Opening moves saw the two armies slowly advance towards each other. Mark quickly occupied the large wood on our far left with Saxon greater and select fyrd and waited for the Norman infantry to attack. In the centre Tim’s 4 units of archers started to shoot at the Norman missile troops opposite. The Saxon infantry advanced in a tight shield wall stretching across the field. The Saxon battle plan was to slowly gain as much territory as possible and in doing so restrict the space in which the Norman cavalry could manoeuvre.
The expected charge of the Norman armoured cavalry didn’t materialise and instead they pulled back twice, which conceded more space to the advancing Saxon shield wall. This created an opportunity for the Saxons to charge some units ahead and engaged the Norman infantry line. On the left Marks Saxons were having a tough time against the superior Norman infantry but had locked one of the Norman generals into an epic struggle in the woods which kept him well away from the centre. By sacrificing a housecarl and greater fyrd units in the centre the Norman cavalry were forced to fight where they were and couldn’t use their greater mobility.
A deliberate push towards the Norman table edge in the centre by two units of Saxon housecarls and a general was a gamble that paid off, in that despite being surrounded – the Saxon elites held their ground! The hand-to-hand combat dice proved favourable to the Saxons at this key point of the game and the Normans were forced to try and ‘slog it out’ against ever greater Saxon numbers as more units piled into the fray.
Dave and Tony (the Normans), carefully studied the various options left open to them and reluctantly decided that defeat was unavoidable and conceded the game to the Saxons.
The Saxon commanders, or at least Tim and I remembered how the Normans had demolished our Saxons by seizing the initiative early and used the Norman cavalry to dictate the course of the game. This time the Saxons kept a tight advancing shield wall which gave the Norman cavalry no gaps to exploit. The Saxon missile troops performed well and the hand-to-hand combat dice worked for the Saxons when needed. Thus, the result was a complete reversal of the last time these armies met.