Tony took generalship of the Chinese and James the Koreans. Tony, the vastly more experienced Hordes & Heroes player had both the ‘new’ army to manage and also the most challenging terrain features in front of his deployment area. With the steep slopes of an 8 hex and a 4 hex escarpment facing him and areas of woodland in close proximity beyond this was a very challenging position from which to try and launch any attack. For James, the inexperienced player, this was a great opportunity to gain greater knowledge of the system and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various units within each army. Tony, and to a lesser extent myself, gave James ongoing advice and guidance which, as the game progressed, was needed less and less towards the end as his experience grew.
Opening moves saw James use his very fast light cavalry to secure control of the left escarpment and 4 hex hill with his infantry and cavalry following up behind. Tony, with the notable terrain issues to his front decided to organise his Chinese crossbows into a shooting line to counter the Korean bow armed light cavalry. He also sent his 4 units of Chinese mounted crossbow on a wide flanking manoeuvre around the 8 hex escarpment to attack the Korean right wing.
The 2 armies exchange arrows and crossbow bolts for a few game turns, suffering the loss of a few stands but with neither side gaining any tactical advantage. However, the flanking Chinese cavalry loosed their arrows at the Korean spear units causing casualties and disruption. This prompted James to respond by committing his Korean bow armed heavy cavalry to the task of chasing these irritants away. This they achieved without loss but the Chinese cavalry escaped successfully through the gap between the escarpments.
With the shooting battle failing to dislodge the Korean light cavalry, Tony next launched an assaulted on the 4 hex escarpment with his infantry with some success, but James had deployed his Korean handgunners on the edge of the woodland beyond and their shooting halted the advance. The Korean heavy cavalry then charged in to destroy the last unit of Chinese armoured infantry that had successfully crossed the escarpment.
The shooting match then resumed once more with the Chinese crossbows gaining the upper-hand for a while before James committed 2 units of light cavalry to shore-up his extreme left wing and deliver halting fire upon the advancing Chinese infantry and medium cavalry. The persistent Chinese attacks did finally wrestle control of the 4 hex hill from the Koreans, but the still defended woodland beyond proved to be one obstacle too far and again the Chinese were halted.
The relative positions of the two armies to the main terrain features at this point of the game had made the escarpments into a ‘water-shed’ and when units successfully crossed over they were quickly overwhelmed by the more numerous enemy on the other side. Only Tony’s flanking light cavalry had managed to circumnavigate around the escarpment and attack from the side, but this option was now gone as these mobile shooters now formed the backbone of the Chinese central defence.
It had by now become obvious that the game would be decided by the battle for control of the road which passed between the escarpments in the centre of the table. This area had been a difficult bottleneck for either side to try and break through. The Korean heavy cavalry forced their way through the gap only to be shot at by the concentrated Chinese crossbows which destroyed one unit of Korean heavy cavalry and a general. Both sides had now lost 1 of their 3 generals and to try and force a way through would certainly require risking the remaining generals. Time was now pressing and so the game was concluded in what can only be described as a very bruising but entertaining draw.
This one-to-one game with its input from the side-lines and ongoing discussion of tactics throughout I believe gave James a deeper understanding of the H&H system and its nuances. With the terrain layout working against Tony, this did have a levelling effect in this scenario which gave James the opportunity to try things out without risking a swift defeat. Also, Tony was more focussed on giving James a positive experience of the game system than trying to actually win the game.