The same Hungarian army which had recently suffered a defeat to the Mongol army in a club game was pitted against a War of the Roses Yorkist army. The terrain was pretty open in the centre of the field with a scattering of hills and small woods through which a road threaded between. Tony, Steve, Chris and young Alec took charge of the Hungarians and Dave, Gary and I the Yorkists. The Hungarian army had a small but important contingent of Teutonic crossbows, 3 mounted and 2 foot.
We Yorkists won the di roll for choice of table edge but we had to deploy first and move second. The terrain gave little advantage to either side, but the Hungarians had many more infantry units than the higher quality Yorkists which had 5 units of retinue longbow and the same number of retinue billmen. The Hungarian archers and militia units would surely struggle against these, but their 4 units of crossbow were equipped with pavisses and could certainly hold their own against the English longbow.
Our plan was to try and defeat the Hungarian cavalry first, especially the mounted crossbow, and deal with the infantry later. In the first moves of the game Tony and Alec sent the Hungarian cavalry against the Yorkist cavalry stationed on our right wing. The mounted crossbows made short work of one of our hobilar units and threatened to trap other units against a large escarpment. We became drawn into an epic cavalry battle in a fairly confined area, which I believed would decide the game. However, I don’t think Dave and Gary didn’t really agreed with this and as they directed their Yorkist infantry steadily forward in a strong line looked across to my side of the table where cavalry carnage was taking place!
The charge of the Hungarian knights had been pretty devastating and the mounted crossbows shooting from the wing dealt rather decisively with the ‘D’ class hobilars. Having already lost 2 units of Yorkist mounted men-at-arms, 2 units of hobilars, a unit of mounted sergeants and 2 of our 4 generals, in exchange for just 2 units of Hungarian knights! Much to the frustration of my fellow Yorkist commanders, I asked for help from Dave’s billmen in the centre and yet another one of our 2 remaining generals.
I think it’s fair to say that Gary and Dave by this stage were hardly impressed by the performance of my cavalry, or what little remained of it! For their part, Gary had used his longbow to consistently halt the large number of Hungarian militia units assaulting our left flank losing just one unit throughout the game. Dave kept a solid line of retinue billmen facing the opposing crossbow sheltering behind their pavisses, ready to advance, if and when, my cavalry catastrophe finally resolved itself on his right.
It was with great reluctance that Dave let me borrow his general and a unit of billmen to try and finally get the better of the Hungarian cavalry. Unfortunately, in the next round of hand-to-hand combat I managed to lose this general too! Dave was far from pleased! However, despite being now down to just one Yorkist general when the Hungarians still had 3, with the help of the billmen the last unit of Hungarian knights, a general, and mounted crossbows were now locked in combat. After yet more persuasion, Dave and Gary let me borrow our last remaining general to lead my last two units of mounted-men-arms in the charge which finally defeated the last of the troublesome Hungarian knights and their general.
We then had two units of heavy cavalry left, which we then used to assist the billmen in their attack on the now vulnerable Hungarian crossbows in the centre, our last general kept well back out of harms way! The Hungarian centre soon started to crumble and the Yorkist billmen started their slow, steady march to an extremely marginal victory!
Both the Yorkist and Hungarian army, especially with their Teutonic contingent, are really strong, balanced outfits and this was always going to be a pretty balanced encounter. The epic cavalry battle on the left was always going to decide the final outcome. This became a ‘game within the game’ and because it was fought in closer proximity to the Yorkist table edge and centre, the Yorkist infantry and generals were, at considerable cost, able to support and defeat the Hungarian cavalry. If the Hungarian cavalry had triumphed, which they very nearly did, I’m sure this would have resulted in a Hungarian win.