Friday, May 26, 2017

1066, Hastings Revisited

A Headless Body Production

Location:  Regency at Providence Community Center, Phoenixville, Pa
Event:        Providence Gamer's Game Knight
Players:     Philip Harry Gardocki playing the Saxon King Harold Godwinsn
                      Bruce William Potter playing Duke William the Bastard of Normandy

                      And yes, those are our real middle names.

Preamble:   In a world before Brexit, England was known for its multiculturalism and fierce independence.  Where strange men bounced around the countryside to blood thumping background music, their servants banging coconuts in their wake.   But there were those in Europe,  who looked upon England with envious eyes, and made their plans.   
(Oh, I know I used the same preamble in the Vikings vs. Picts AAR, but it works!)

Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, about 200 points per side.
Scenario:  European bureaucrats, armed with lance and bow,  propose a merger with the ruling Saxons of pre-Brexit England.
(Why break a theme now?)

The Forces:
Duke William the Bastard of Normandy (1028-1087), armed with a an order of excommunication from the Pope Alexander II, and escorted by a couple thousand glory seeking Knights, and a few thousand foot soldiers from Brittany and Normandy.
      6 Milites, Medium Knights, Impetuous, Elite
      6 Norman Heavy Spearmen
      3 Breton Heavy Spearmen, Armor
      4 Bowmen
      2 Gascon Scouts, Light Cavalry, Javelin
       Break point 22

King Harold Godwinson of England (1022-1098), arrives in field with a large body of armored fyrd, lead by his brothers and their own elite Huscarls.

      4 Huscarls, Heavy Swordsmen, Armor, 2HW, Elite.
      10 Anglo-Saxon Warriors, Heavy Spearmen, Armor
      8 Light Infantry, bows, javelins, slings
      2 Levey
       Break point 25

All generals in this game are Competent.  Just to keep things simple.

King Harold Godwinson has home-field advantage, and elects to defend in the forest.  He selects two gentle hills and two woods.  William selects a road and an impassable. 

The Heathfield-Hastings Road astride Senlac Hill.   Where King Harold cunningly paid a number of boys to go fishing in boats in the nearby watershed, leaving the Normans to think it was a lake and thus impassable.
However, the rest of the board is as smooth as a babies bottom.
Duke William is pondering his battle plan.
King Godwinson, after setting up his camp among the sacred stones deploys his battles.  His brother Gyrth is to the left of Senlac hill.  His other brother, Leofwine on the right.  While he remains behind the hill assessing the Norman positions.
William deploys is two infantry battles on his right, with the left battle of knights attempting an on board flank attack.

A close up view.
Turn 1:
The Norman Infantry battles advance at the quick march.  But William rolls a 1 for command points.  He splits his 2 points between his knights and his Gascon Scouts.

In another world, another story, King Harold Godwinson was so distraught at the news that he was damned by God himself, that he did not leave his tent, nor issue any orders during the battle.  But that is not this world.  He extorts his troops to trot up Senlac hill.  His brother Gyrth hugging his left.  
His other brother Leofwine, who will have to contend with the Norman Knights, advances just enough to keep the gap between the battles to a minimum.
Missiles fly.  And Saxon archery proves superior.
Turn 2:
The Normans realize the danger that King Godwinson may have higher ground, and stop to shoot it out.  This will also give a more time for William's Knights to get into position.  Vital rallies his Bowmen, and they destroy a Saxon shooter. 
William rolls another 1 for command points.  And so his advance stalls.
Gyrth and Harold's commands do not delay and continue their march.  They are now within charge reach.
Saxon Slingers score against both their opponents.
So to, a Saxon archer.
Leofwine knows his role here.  His mission is to not be defeated by Norman Knights.  The longer it takes before contact, the better.
Turn 3:
The Duke of Normandy finally gets more then two command points together.  Three to be exact.  His knights are too far away to get within charge range, and too close for double move. 
With the knights still not in attack position, the Norman and Bretons continue to hold and attempt rallies.  Their words proved uninspiring as a series of 1's and 2's was rolled.
Gyrth and King Harold's forces charge down the line.  While the hills prove to be slippery slopes, see left of frame, the support provided by overlaps prove enough, as Norman foot down the line begin to falter. 
King Harold's charge may prove over eager.  His brother, Leofwine can only advance so fast and keep the flank secure.  There is a gap between the battle-lines now, and the Normans are in it.
Gascon Scouts are trying to get behind the flanks.  But Saxon Skirmishers so far have frustrated their efforts.
Turn 4:
The scrum on the left continues. The Saxon advantage of armor and 2HW makes itself felt as more Norman units are routed, but it is not totally one sided, as many Saxons units pick up multiple hits.
In the middle, Fergant exploits the gap between the Saxon Battles, and flank charges a Saxon unit.  Which narrowly avoids destruction.
The Norman Knights faced a problem. Two of the Knights could charge the Saxon line.  But the rest were out of range.  The Saxon units are armed with spear, so the combat would be +3 Saxon to + 1 Norman. To avoid being defeated in detail, William spends 3command points, to turn and march his knights away.
The Norman  right hand battle is largely destroyed, while the center battle takes serious damage.
Harold's right flank continues to hold.  Despite being flanked, they destroyed their frontal opponents, and then conformed to their flankers.  Harold sent encouraging words and they rallied to 2 points.  Thus narrowly avoiding defeat when the Normans managed to hit them again.
Leofwine has had enough of the waiting game.  He faces the Gascon Scouts with a combination of Levy and Lights, and rushes forward to clip the wing off of the Norman center battle.
The Satellite view of the battle.  Of the Norman right side Battle, only two units remain. 
Turn 5:
A cry erupts among the Saxon lines, "Nerian ân for ðâm ðe me"*
The Norman center holds the line.  William's Knights turn and it looks like they will turn Leofwine's flank at last.
The Gascon scouts are content to throw Javelins. As are the Saxons.
The Saxons surround and destroy the last of Vital's Battle.  This removes him from the field as well.
Leofwine matches the remaining Normans 1 for 1, and turns two Spearmen to face the Norman Knights.  If the Norman Infantry is defeated, the Knights will retreat. 
William has hard choices to make.  Impetuous Knights are really hard to maneuver. 

"A message for you sir!".  A blood soaked Saxon warrior approaches, breathing heavily from his run, and armed with only a knife and a piece of parchment.  It is an offer of good will from King Godwinson!  He offers to pay the price of the ferry back to Normandy for each of the Norman Knights, AND their horses.

Turn 6:
Saxon warriors take a breather, save King Godwinson's own Huscarls, of which he is personally leading.
Leofwines men have many advantages, but the Normans and their Breton allies fight like madman.  A Saxon warrior is routed. 
The Duke of Normandy ponders King Godwinson's offer.  But doesn't want his Battle to be defeated without having fought, and commands the Gascons to attack the Levy in their path.
Either the Gascons are dispirited, or the Levies embolden, this attack falters as well.
Gyrth rolls all the command points.  He assembles what forces he has to march on the center to support his brother and king.
King Harold (1022-1098), is seeing to the reforming of his lines as well.  Leofwine, embarrassed by this poorly performing line, redoubles his encouragement.  Destroying a Breton Heavy Spearmen, and turning the remains of the Norman line.
Alone, and unloved, the Levy destroy one of the Gascon Scouts.
Duke William (1028-1087) the Bastard of Normandy .  His knights finally in position for a thunderous charge, accepts King Harold Godwinson (1022-1098) of England's offer to ferry his troops back to Normandy.

What went right?  Just about everything broke for the Saxons this day.  The terrain, though "Forested" had one of the forests go undeployed due to fit issues.  Between Senlac hill dominating the middle of the board and an impassable swamp in the corner practically dictated where the Norman Knights would be.  Assigning a large force of spear to a refuse flank position (Leofwine's battle) effectively took the knights out of the game.

Then the Norman Knight battle rolled two 1's in a row for command points, limited their advance, giving the Saxon's a chance to engage their weaker Norman infantry counterparts. 

When overlapped Levy's win a fight, well, that just means it is time to buy some lottery tickets.

*"Save one for me!"

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