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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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The Fondue Pass, 1428

The Age of Chivalry, Lion Rampant, 28mm

My apologies for not posting sooner,. It’s been ages. Gaming has suffered due to high winds closing roads and causeways, snow, and then car trouble. Still, things are slowly returning to normal. As I couldn’t get to the club, this little Hundred Years War game was played at my house, with my friend David commanding the French, while I led the perfidious English. Like all Lion Rampant games this was a ‘grand skirmish’, set in the petit guerre of the period. In this one, the English had been stealing cattle, and were on their way to their base – the fortified town of Camembert. First though, they had to get through the narrow Fondue Pass, and the French were on their heels. That’s the cattle thieves above – a unit of 6 knights, a unit of 12 longbowmen and another 12 billmen, plus a small unit of 6 bidowers, to drive the cattle. More English troops were in Camembert – more archers, billmen and knights. Things went well to begin with, with my cattle thieves herding their charges through the pass, until they were almost within sight of Camembert. Then the French appeared on the eastern short table edge – the English-held town was on the western one. The pursuers were led by Poton de Xaintrailles, at the head of a dozen mounted men-at-arms, followed by crossbowmen and pavisiers. The English had two choices – keep moving or stand and fight.Of course, I tried to have the best of both worlds. My archers and billmen formed up between the French and the cattle, while the knights led the cattle herders towards the town, and began hailing it, shouting for support. The French though, had a trick up their sleeve – two units which had worked their way ahead of the rustlers, and now appeared on the long table edges, between the pass and the town. This then, was going to be tricky. Meanwhile the veteran English longbowmen had pulled back into the pass itself, but when the French men-at-arms closed within range they started loosing arrows at them. Surprisingly  their aim wasn’t too good, and French casualties were light – mainly due to all that shiny armour. The French though, also had their infantry, which was now within crossbow range. So, for once the English longbowmen weren’t going to have everything their own way. The two sides shot at each other, but those big pavises helped protect the crossbowmen, and it was the English who lost more men. That’s when the French knights moved forward to launch a charge. The English though, deftly pulled back the archers, and so it was the veteran billmen who bore the brunt of the French charge.This was going to be a hard-fought little skirmish. Sure enough, the melee was fiercely-fought, but in the end losses were even, and surprisingly light – just two figures a side. So, while the French knights pulled back to regroup, the English billmen seized the chance to move further up the pass, and closer to the safety of Camembert. They were clearly outnumbered, but whatever happened next they needed to keep between their pursuers and their stolen cattle, which were still on the move. Meanwhile, as a unit of French spearmen headed towards the pass from one table edge, and a unit of mounted archers dismounted and began shooting at the English dismounted knights from the other one, the English cattle thieves finally got the attention of the garrison, and it sallied out, led by Sir John Talbot. This meant there were two fights going on – one on each end of the small, narrow pass – and right in between was that herd of stolen cattle. The dismounted English knights from the cattle column decided to take on the French dismounted archers, while Talbot’s knights headed for the French spearmen, heading towards the cattle from the other table edge. By then though, the English longbowmen had made it through the pass, and began shooting at the approaching spearmen, forcing them to halt their advance. That also bought time for Talbot’s knights to close with the Frenchmen.Meanwhile, back in the pass the knights charged again. this time the billmen had fallen back, and were caught on the hop, after being softened up by the French crossbowmen. The crossbow bolts had whittled the billmen down to half strength, and the charging French knights routed the remainder. They then tore into the longbowmen, and pretty much rode them down. By then though, the mounted men-at-arms were ‘battered’ too, and out of the fight.By then we were in the endgame. the French men-at-arms hid behind the crossbowmen for the rest of the game, who sniped at the English, but lacked the strength to turn the tide. The English dismounted knights who had led the cattle raid were battered too, but so were the French spearmen, and the dismounted archers, who promptly saddled up and pulled back. The English managed to bring the stolen cattle safely into Camembert, protected by the garrison billmen, knights and archers. the French, having shot their bolt, didn’t have the strength to stop them. SO, this hard-fought little game ended up in a win for the perfidious English. In the little slice of Normandy that’s Camembert, there’ll be Boeuf Bourguignon on the menu tonight!


3 Responses “The Fondue Pass, 1428”

  1. Martin Terroni
    1st March 2024 at 8:29 pm

    Great write up Angus

  2. José Manuel
    16th March 2024 at 9:39 am

    Great rules and great report!

    • 16th March 2024 at 1:53 pm

      Thanks! It’s a fun period too, albeit one that doesn’t get played very much.

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