Tony and Tim took Generalship of the French, Chris, Dave and James the English, while I played to role of onlooker! The French army was divided into 2 forces; one would appear on the road leading to the bridge, the other on the road leading through the forest. Once the French appeared 5 hexes along either road the English army was triggered into action.
Chris was given the challenging task of racing to prevent Tim’s French crossing the bridge. He had 2 units of mounted men-at-arms (knights), 4 units of mounted sergeants and a general with which at maximum speed he managed to reach a small 3 hex hill overlooking the bridge but not block the bridge. As an aside, I remember thinking at this point that enlarging the game might just make the French mission somewhat easier!
Tony continued to file the other French force containing the bulk of the French cavalry along the road through the forest as the English longbow advanced to close the gap between them. The option for the English longbow to pick up the wooden stakes from the perimeter of the English camp was not taken – this turned out to be a key decision! The English dismounted men-at-arms followed behind the line of longbow.
At the bridge Tim’s infantry had the time to gain a foothold on English side of the river before Chris’s English cavalry could reach them. French cavalry headed along the river bank but they were shadowed by the English mounted sergeants. The English mounted me-at-arms fought their way to the bridge destroying and pushing back units of French infantry.
James and Dave established an extended line of English longbow backed up by dismounted men-at-arms to confront Tony’s French which were now deploying just in front of the river. No contact was yet made which was in stark contrast to the battle that was going hell for leather at the bridge. Although out-numbered, now that the French had been forced back to the river Chris’s cavalry were successfully holding their ground. Tim, in response moved his cavalry units to out-flank the English along the river bank and force another crossing. Chris didn’t have sufficient units to respond and Tim’s cavalry and a general made it across.
Meanwhile the English longbow line advanced to within 3 hexes of Tony’s French. Tony had patiently been organising his cavalry in readiness for a mass charge against the English. He had pushed French infantry into the woods to protect his left flank and it was now time for the all or nothing cavalry charge. When it came it was decisive – 6 units of French mounted knights charged against the English longbow line and only one was recoiled through bow shooting. As a result, the centre of the line was smashed with many longbow units either destroyed or broken and fleeing.
The three English players took stock of their situation and decided to concede the game to the French in order to allow time to set up for a re-run of the scenario.
For the second game the English generals remained James, Chris and Dave, but they insisted that I swap with Tony and join Tim on the French side. Tony would play the role of umpire. I think that because my French had been decisively beaten by Alex’s English in the Skype version of this scenario, I would therefore prove to be an asset to the English! Thanks lads!
Tim and I in our brief pre-game discussion decided that this time I would send my cavalry as fast as possible along the road to help Tim’s French force secure the bridge before turning to face the bulk of the English army.
This time the English players advanced their dismounted men-at-arms forward while the longbow took time to pick up the wooden stakes from the English camp before following on behind. This game would be all about timing! How long would it take for our two French forces to combine at the bridge and defeat Chris’s English cavalry? The option of charging a line of English longbow deployed behind a wall of stakes wasn’t really on my ‘to do’ list!
The French plan for the combined attack on Chris’s English cavalry went well, in that, by sheer force of numbers and generals despite notable French losses the English were defeated at the bridge and this cleared the way for the French to cross relatively early in the game. However, my cavalry were so far ahead of the infantry that James’s English dismounted men-at-arms were able to engage and defeat most of my French infantry units before I was able to turn my knights around and come back along the road to offer any assistance.
Behind the English men-at-arms the line of longbow planted their stakes and established a shooting line extending two thirds of the way across the table, dog-legging back on itself where it faced Tim’s French units which were now crossing the bridge in force.
I was relieved to see this shooting line planted where it was. Just one or even worse 2 hexes further forward and it would have left no room for my cavalry to manoeuvre as it attempted to turn back engage James’s now victorious English men-at-arms. Even so, in this restricted space it was a tough fight. All but 2 of my French infantry units were destroyed. Three English longbow advanced from behind their line of stakes to demolish a unit of French knights before returning to their position. By the time my French knights had defeated the English men-at-arms, as well as the French infantry losses 3 of my 6 units of knights plus a general were also gone.
Tim’s French lead by 2 units of French knights were now able to attack the left flank of the English longbow. The English bowmen put up a tough fight but with only one English general remaining it was only a couple of game turns before he was caught in hand-to-hand combat and lost.