The game was arranged between four of us on Friday afternoon just before New Year. Unfortunately, one of the players was delayed due to the fact he was flying back to Auckland from a Christmas visit to Wellington, from whence he hails. So, we had to start with a two on one scenario, and add in John as reinforcements for Nick, when (IF!) he arrived. Mind you, the forces were not too unevenly balanced - Nick had a total of 28 units whilst Julian and I had 36 between our two commands.
The game was based on a battle between King Henry 1 of England and his brother Robert, in Normandy in 1106 - following is courtesy of Wikpedia:
The Battle of Tinchebray (alternate spellings Tinchebrai or Tenchebrai) was fought 28 September 1106, in Tinchebray (today in Orne département of France), Normandy, between an invading force led by King Henry I of England, and his older brother Robert Curthose, the Duke of Normandy. Henry's knights won a decisive victory, capturing Robert and imprisoning him in England (in Devizes Castle) and then Wales until Robert's death (in Cardiff Castle).
Henry invaded Normandy in 1105, taking Bayeux and Caen. He broke off his campaign because of political problems arising from the Investiture Controversy.With these settled, he returned to Normandy in the spring of 1106. After quickly taking the fortified abbey of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives (near Falaise), Henry turned south and besieged Tinchebray Castle, on a hill above the town. Tinchebray is on the border of the county of Mortain, in the southwest of Normandy, and was held by William, Count of Mortain, who was one of the few important Norman barons still loyal to Robert. Duke Robert then brought up his forces to break the siege. After some unsuccessful negotiations, Duke Robert decided that a battle in the open was his best option.
Henry's army was organized into three groups. Ranulf of Bayeux, Robert de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Leicester, and William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey commanded the two primary forces. A reserve, commanded by Elias I of Maine, remained out of sight on the flank. Alan IV, Duke of Brittany, William, Count of Évreux, Ralph of Tosny, Robert of Montfort, and Robert of Grandmesnil also fought with Henry. William, Count of Mortain, and Robert of Bellême, 3rd Earl of Shrewsbury fought with Robert Curthose.
The battle only lasted an hour. Henry dismounted and ordered most of his knights to dismount. This was unusual for Norman battle tactics, and meant the infantry played a decisive role. William, Count of Évreux, charged the front line, with men from Bayeux, Avranches and the Cotentin. Henry's reserve proved decisive. Most of Robert's army was captured or killed. Those captured included Robert, Edgar Atheling (uncle of Henry's wife), and William, Count of Mortain.Robert de Bellême, commanding the Duke's rear guard, led the retreat, saving himself from capture or death. Most of the prisoners were released, but Robert Curthose and William of Mortain spent the rest of their lives in captivity. Robert Curthose had a legitimate son, William Clito, whose claims to the dukedom of Normandy led to several rebellions that continued through the rest of Henry's reign.
It seems like we did not get the composition of the forces quite right - oh well! Julian and I commanded the combined forces of King Henry, whilst Nick was the elder brother Robert - John would be some historically unidentified reinforcements arriving when he made it to Julian's house! The map below summarises the initial deployment and subsequent movement of the forces
Both forces were composed of Norman and Anglo Norman (in our case) cavalry and infantry. On the right flank of Henry's army, I commanded one unit of bowmen, several of heavy infantry, two units of light (javelin armed ) cavalry and two of heavy cavalry. Julian had approximately the same on the left with perhaps one additional heavy cavalry unit. Roberts forces under Nick may have had slightly more cavalry but had significantly fewer infantry, although twice as many bowmen. However, the smaller number of over all units meant Nick was unable to cover his entire front without spreading his forces dangerously thin and this gave me the opportunity to swing around his left flank with my two units of light cavalry.. On our left wing, Nick initially charged forward with three or four units of knights but became embroiled in a slow paced slogging match with Julian's cavalry, who, although they did not seem to get many hits in on Nick, were stubbornly staunch in the defence and proved frustratingly hard to damage.
In the centre, after the usually ineffective missile fire provided by the "To the Strongest" rules, there was a general advance by both armies infantry. Nick also threw in his remaining heavy cavalry on my wing of the field but failed to break through the stubborn shield wall of my Anglo Norman foot. Meanwhile, as I forced his cavalry to retire to regroup, my light cavalry flank movement came to fruition, just in time for......John to arrive and usher in the arrival of reinforcements for Nick in the shape of another five units of cavalry! We did a simple 1,2,3 its this side, 4,5,6 its that side - and of course, he arrived right behind my nicely deployed light cavalry attack!
There was a general ebb and flow over the next couple of moves but fortunately for Julian and me, John had arrived probably one or two game moves too late (thanks Air New Zealand!), and we were able to whittle down Roberts (Nicks) remaining army morale points before John was able to do too much damage to my wing of our army. So it was off to an enforced seaside holiday in Wales for Robert, and total domination of England and Normandy for King Henry!
Initial deployment on my (right)wing of Henrys army. The coins next to the cart are the simple method of keeping track or army morale - when you are out of coins, you have lost the game!
My heavy cavalry command behind heavy infantry shield wall
Nicks beautifully painted figures - here William the Bastard substitutes for his right wing cavalry commander
Roberts army with the four units of bowmen in the front line
Julian's cavalry on our right wing/Nicks left wing.
Nicks initial cavalry charge had one success and destroyed a unit of light cavalry but thereafter this combat continued without resolution for almost the entire game
Another view of the left wing cavalry clash
On our right wing, my light cavalry have executed the flanking manouvre
My wing - Nicks heavy cavalry charge the shieldwall
Meanwhile on our left wing, Julian and Nicks cavalry stoush continues
A different angle on my flank movement
The same wing a move later, Nicks heavy cavalry attack on the shieldwall has failed - one unit destroyed and one driven off. My light cavalry have occupied the position of the unit they defeated.
And here comes John! - Robert (Nick) receives cavalry reinforcements - my second light cavalry unit can be seen ahead in the top left of the picture - time to move methinks!
On our left wing the cavalry stalemate continues - the heavy infantry on both sides advances
A view of the right wing of our army from behind my rearmost units of heavy cavalry
A view of my wing - Johns cavalry have maneuvered into position to drive off my light cavalry and pursue them the length of our line, but they were unable to kill them off.
The reinforcements meet up with the survivors of Nicks cavalry charge against my shieldwall behind Nicks left wing
My light cavalry continued their flight right along the line of battle - Henry to the left of them, Robert to the right of them - but they made it back to our lines eventually- here they are adjacent to the ongoing cavalry tussle on our left wing
The final position as the game came to an end when Nick lost his final coin. Both forces still look in reasonable shape but we had certainly inflicted significantly more casualties on Nick than he had on us. John suffered no casualties but had arrived too late to make a significant difference although his intervention put off the inevitable for two or three more game moves and caused me to lose two units.