Dave and Tim from the Forest Outlaws club ran a participation game at the Leeds show which pitted two large 350 point armies against each other. The Ottoman army was twice the size of the Hungarian in terms of units on the table, but a large portion of the Hungarian force consisted of expensive armoured knights, whereas the Ottomans had multitudes of cheaper azab archers, spearmen and Sipahis medium cavalry. The game was based on the forces which were engaged at the battle of Varna.
During the day, two games were played, each being played through to a conclusion in around about 2 hours. The table was approximately 7ft by 5ft with elevated and woodland areas on both flanks. This layout prescribed a head-on attack by the Hungarians to try and break the Ottoman defensive line.
Dave started the game for the Hungarians and other players joined both sides as the game gained momentum with the knights contacting the first line of Ottoman spearmen. Despite the instant carnage inflicted on the Ottoman infantry it wasn’t long before the bows of the azab archers started to stall the Hungarian charge. The restricted space and flanking woodland made it difficult for the knights – they soon received a cloud of arrows from both sides.
Hungarian knights followed-up recoiling Ottoman infantry into the woodland hexes and were themselves surrounded and defeated because they were fighting disrupted in these hexes.
After an hour of attrition, the infantry had taken a hammering but the Ottoman Sipahis medium cavalry waiting behind soon brought their bows to bare on the now stalled Hungarian attack. They were soon supported by Janissary infantry emerging from behind their line of stakes and the Hungarian attack started to disintegrate with no fresh units available to initiate a fresh charge. Hungarian generals engaged in hand-to-hand combat were lost to the casualty tray and the army soon had major command and control problems. The game was concluded with the acceptance that despite their heavy losses in infantry, the Ottomans had held their ground and effectively neutralised the Hungarian force.
In the afternoon game Tim and another chap set up the Ottoman defensive line once more. A number of players joined both sides during the course of the afternoon. Dave once more took control of the Hungarians and delegated dice rolling to various visiting participants to the game.
The Hungarian assault on the Ottoman line was this time focused on the centre and not the wings either side of the janissaries behind their stakes. This strategy not only brought the janissaries into the game earlier, but also pulled more Ottoman infantry into the open away from the flanking woodland. As a result the Hungarian knights efficiently dispatched multitudes of Ottoman infantry with little cost to themselves.
The closes phases of the game saw the Hungarian knights engage the Sipahis cavalry in greater numbers than in the morning game. With their higher morale class and combat value the Hungarians broke through the Ottoman lines causing the gradual disintegration of the army. This was never the less a hard-fought victory drawing up on the experience of the morning game.
Many thanks to all who took part.