The Age of Chivalry, Lion Rampant, 28mm
The Orkney Wargames Club meets in the St. Magnus Centre, a sort of very posh church hall, only with several rooms as well as the main one, and a self-serve cafe. We usually play our games in the main hall, but once a month we get bumped by the flower arrangers, who, it seems, have an unmoveable booking. So, we get shunted into one of the other smaller rooms. Our favourite is the tiny library, which only has space for a 6×4 foot table, but at least we don’t have to share the room with the Magic the Gathering crowd, or the BO and noisy shouts of the zombie role-players. That means a skirmish game, which is why this week we went all medieval. In this game, set during the Hundred Years War, Gyles supplied the English, while I brought along my French. Most of these figures, by the way, are Perry plastic ones. In Lion Rampant terms we each had about 40 points or thereabouts. So, we divided each side into two “battles”, with Mally and I taking the French, and Gyles and Sean commanding the perfidious English. We played on a 6×4 foot table. There wasn’t much in the way of original tactics on display here, but we did have new technology. The English fielded dismounted men-at-arms, some mounted archers, several units of spearmen, a unit of wild Gascon allies, and a couple of units of veteran longbowmen. For our part we had a mix of mounted men-at-arms and sergeants, a unit of dismounted men-at-arms, a couple of expert spearmen units, a unit of crossbowmen with pavises, some Francs archers and a bombard. Yes, we’d delved into Dan Mersey’s online bolt-on rules to field this cutting edge piece of kit. My Foundry gun and crew were the only metal pieces on the table. Inevitably, the action centred around the church which stood beside the junction in the middle of the table. This was an advance to contact kind of game, with no objective other than to kill the enemy. So, we came on along one long edge, and the English appeared opposite us. The small village with its church lay between us. On our side of the table there was also a small wooded hill. That, of course, is where we set up the bombard. It was a pretty useful toy when it got to fire (needing a 7+ on 2D6) – you got 12 dice, and cover was ignored. The trouble was, you then needed a 10+ to reload. So, we fully expected it to be a one-shot wonder. Inevitably, we both headed towards the church. Thanks to a couple of failed activation rolls the French got there first – or at least close enough to it to form up a defensive line. The onus then was on the English to attack us. This of course is exactly what they did. They led the charge up past the church with a unit of veteran foot sergeants, followed by dismounted men-at-arms. That was where the gun came in. Mally fire it, and wiped out a swathe of English spearmen. The unit failed its morale test, and fled the field. Undeterred the men-at-arms pressed on in the face of a storm of crossbow bolts. They actually made it into contact with the waiting French spearmen, but their casualties were just too heavy, and soon the English survivors were racing back down the road. So far the French line had held, and we hadn’t taken too many casualties. In the background though, the French bombard crew kept trying and failing to reload. In fact, the crew never got their act together for the rest of their game. Still, they’d done their bit. Meanwhile, the English tried probing forward with their unit of mounted archers. I think the idea was to appear in the flank of our spearmen. However, the French mounted sergeants charged them, and the Englishmen failed to evade. So, the mounted archers were chopped up. That though, was all the French cavalry could manage in the game. They just spent the rest of it riding around and looking cool, and failing their activation rolls. At that point the action switched to the left flank. Gyles had moved his Bretons up, so I sent my Francs Archers forward. This proved to be a bit of a mistake. The ploughed field I’d counted on to slow down the English advance didn’t delay the Bretons for a second. They launched a Wild Charge, and as fierce foot they didn’t get slowed down by the terrain. So, they slammed into my archers and chopped them up. Worse still, following up behind them was another unit of English dismounted men-at-arms. Well, I plugged the line in the nick of time. First off, my crossbowmen whittled down the Bretons, and when they charged my own expert foot sergeants I hid my unit behind a hedge. This gave me a slight edge, and in the end the Bretons broke and ran, after losing nine of their twelve figures. by then though, Gyles had moved up some English longbowmen, and of course his men-at-arms were still plodding forward across the ploughed field. That was the Bastard of Orleans’ moment My leader counter-charged with his own dismounted French men-at-arms, after making sure the crossbows had taken their toll a bit, and the English knights were down to half strength. The melee was a real hum-dinger, but in the end the English were wiped out, and Gyles’ leader the Earl of Brighton fell at the Bastard’s feet. Allez les Bleus! The English were on the ropes – it was now just a matter of finishing them off. That though, wasn’t as easy as it looked. The English had some mercenary crossbowmen with them who plugged the gap by the church, and then hid behind the building, daring the French to winkle them out. At that point the game sort of degenerated a bit, as both sides kept failing their activation rolls. Still, general we kept on advancing, and taking casualties from English bows and crossbows, while they pulled back into a defensive ring.So, that’s where we ended the game. We still had all our cavalry, and all our foot but that one archer unit. By contrast the English were depleted, but still in the game. However, when we counted up the points it was clear that the English had been pretty badly stuffed. One more unit broken and they’d have lost the game. As it was, we gave the French a win on points. Now Gyles is busy painting up another box of longbowmen, as he found them pretty useful. I’m tempted by novelty handgunners, seeing as my mounted men-at-arms never managed to get into the fray all game. The system though, is flexible enough to let us indulge ourselves in all sorts of medieval madness – which of course explains wasting four points on a rather useless but highly-entertaining bombard!