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In this scenario the army compositions were the same as the previous game, but the terrain layout was very different. A non-playing club member presented the 4 players with a layout dominated by central woodland areas. Chris and I had command of the Normans and Dave and Tony the Saxons.
The terrain was very much the dominant factor in this game. The woodland areas allowed the Saxons to pin down and fight the Norman cavalry on their terms and effectively neutralize their greater mobility. Although a draw was agreed, I think any points count would have probably favour a marginal Saxon victory – they still had more of their ‘good stuff’ on the table than the Normans!
The Saxons won the di roll for choice of table edge for deployment, deployed first and concentrated their ‘good stuff’ housecarls and select fyrd in the centre. The Saxons also won the di roll for first move, but this gave no advantage with the large forest areas separating the 2 armies.
We advanced our Norman infantry to within 1 hex of the woodland with the cavalry following behind. Chris had some open ground in front of his right of centre and was able to form a Norman shield wall. The Saxon advance was then swift as 6 stand hordes of fast moving greater fyrd to mass on the Saxon side of the central woodland. Missile troops of both sides closed on each other in the limited open ground, loosed their arrows at each other, but it was a very even contest and no side could gain an advantage.
Meanwhile the Saxon hordes with two generals now massed on the edge of the woodland facing my Norman infantry. The space between the woodland and our base edge was limited and I had become fully aware of the danger – there was insufficient room for the Norman cavalry to operate if the Saxons charged into contact. Which is exactly what they did! The Saxon hordes attacked and pushed back my out–numbered Norman infantry. I had little choice but to commit units the precious Norman cavalry against them.
On the Norman right Chris was beginning to advance with a Norman shield wall against the Saxon select fyrd. The Saxon housecarls stayed back in reserve behind the centre, represented a constant counter-attack threat. And our reserve, the cavalry, was already now fully committed fighting the hordes of Saxons in the very limited space between the woods and our base edge. When units of Norman cavalry forced their Saxon opponent to flee, they had no choice but to do compulsory pursuits which took them into woodland hexes where cavalry fight disrupted.
Large numbers of Saxon greater fyrd units were lost in combat, but so were a good number of Norman cavalry, squandered fighting with their backs against our table edge rather than using their mobility. Thankfully, the Saxon housecarls still hadn’t made a move forward from their reserve position towards either Chris or me. In my opinion, if they had done so I think they would have delivered a victory to the Saxons.
The Norman cavalry finally dispatched virtually all the hordes of Saxon greater fyrd, but not without considerable cost. In terms of points cost the losses were about the same for both sides, despite the much greater number of Saxons in the casualty tray. Chris and Dave’s lines of infantry having knocked seven bells out of each other for more than an hour began to separate as their depleted units recoiled disrupted away from each other. This separation heralded the end of the game. A draw?