When building the two armies for this encounter I deliberately gave the Ottomans a 2 to 1 advantage in missile troops to balance their ‘C’ class troops against the smaller but mainly ‘B’ class War of The Roses Lancaster opponents. The Ottomans also had 2 units of artillery; bombards and large field guns and 7 units of bow-armed cavalry. The Lancaster army had 4 units of mounted men-at-arms, 3 units of hobilars and 7 units of retinue longbow and 5 units of retinue billmen. Although the Ottomans had 5 more units than the Lancastrians, they could not match the English force in hand-to-hand combat and would need to shoot their way to victory – the terrain would therefore be the key factor in the game.
Andre was given the task of choosing and laying out the terrain and he nearly emptied the box! A virtually un-broken line of woods, hills and escarpments snaked across the centre of the table before dog-legging towards one table edge. This was WOTR Lancaster friendly terrain with a very limited open ground for the Ottoman Sipahis and Akinci bow-armed cavalry to do their nasty work!
Chris and I won the di roll for choice of army, table edge, second deployment and first move! The dice gods were certainly showing bias towards our Lancastrians before the figures even hit the table!
Tony and Dave, with the dog-legged forests, hills and escarpments creating a water-shed in their deployment zone deployed most of the Ottoman cavalry against our right and the infantry centre and left against Chris. In response we kept our heavy cavalry centrally behind the forest and 8 hex hill with the hobilars positioned on the extreme wings and the mixed longbow and billmen thinly spread between them.
Tony’s cavalry were soon in action against my left flank, shooting and disrupting a unit of hobilars. The open ground on the right-hand side of the board was ‘good cavalry country’ and I had no choice but to pull most of the English longbow across to block the Ottoman cavalry from getting behind our centre. The mobility of the Spahis and Akinci gave my Lancastrian longbow major problems as they couldn’t form an effective shooting line before their opponents moved their threat elsewhere. As a result we committed 5 of our 7 longbow units to my right flank leaving our centre devoid of these precious missile troops. Chris was left with just 2 longbow units on our left wing to deal with the advance of the massed Ottoman infantry.
Our mounted men-at-arms and billmen waited in and behind the woods and 8 hex hill in the centre as the battle raged on both wings. Chris’s 2 longbow units did a sterling job of holding back the Ottoman infantry from behind an area of broken ground. Meanwhile on the other wing Tony’s cavalry were still giving me the run around. I had lost a unit of hobilars and decided that the only way of stopping the Ottoman cavalry from shooting down on my longbow from the 7 hex escarpment, was to attack and occupy this strategically positioned hill. This turned out to be a very costly exercise. Within 3 game turns I had managed to sacrifice a longbow unit, a bill unit, a unit of mounted men-at-arms, a general and was about to lose a further longbow unit and a unit of mounted sergeants. The escarpment now firmly in the possession of the Ottomans, I had no choice but to pull back my remaining 3 longbow units back out of danger along with their general.
Meanwhile, Chris, on the other wing, for the loss of just one unit of hobilars had managed to halt the advance of the Ottoman infantry and put the billmen into an ideal position to attack the Ottoman centre over the 8 hex hill. A very stubborn unit of Lancastrian billmen had held their position in a small wood for 4 rounds of hand-to-hand combat against up to 3 units of Ottomans. This created 1 hex of free space between the woods and escarpment through which Chris and I launched our three remaining heavy cavalry units to support the attack by the billmen. What followed was an epic round of hand-to-hand combats after only one unit of billmen were stopped by shooting, form charging into contact against a unit of azab archers. Then the Lancastrian dice gods looked down upon the game from the heavens and produced a set of results in favour of the Lancastrians, which in all fairness was perhaps not really deserved! The following round of hand-to-hand combat in which many Ottoman units were already disrupted broke the Ottoman centre with the loss of 2 generals. The watershed of impenetrable terrain would prevent the victorious Ottoman cavalry of their left wing coming to the aid of their already demolished centre and so a Lancastrian victory was declared.
In a game where the terrain, choice of table edge, and first move all favoured the Lancastrians, credit must be given to Dave and Tony in the way they used their army in a very unfavourable scenario for the Ottomans. Until the last 2 rounds of combat the Ottomans perhaps had the upper-hand and with more favourable combat dice could have pulled off a very notable victory.