Thursday, 30 October 2014

A medieval bash with To the Strongest!

Last night I mate Ian and I had another play-test of the eponymous rules with medieval armies. Lacking any suitable minis, we used "Battlelore" plastic figures tacked to cardboard bases and the game was no less enjoyable, for this, although it does invite comparison with this rather more aesthetically pleasing play-test run by Scrivs and Mog.

In the above deployment one can see that the terrain is relatively sparse- the English (top, red) have managed to position a couple of small woods on either flank, and a low hill behind them, but the French (bottom, blue), deploying second, have placed most of their cavalry on their wings with the intention of passing around the outside of these.  The English have deployed in depth so as to be ready to counter any outflanking move.

The French move first (above) and charge forward with their knights (unfortunately the right flank stubbornly refuses to move, after playing an Ace which their general replaces with another Ace). In the centre, though, the Dauphin rashly charges into contact with the English archers and on the extreme left the knights flank the English line.  The French bows and crossbows advance, cautiously.

The English line fragmented as they attempted to respond to the flanking threats.  The required movement prevented several of their longbow units from shooting.  Above is the situation at the end of the French second turn. The round blue markers indicate disorder, and the larger wooden discs indicate planted stakes. The smaller round discs are ammo markers.

Above, the French left-hand flanking force almost cut its way through to the English camp, before retreating in the face of superior English numbers. The English left is hard-pressed by a mass of French chivalry.

Above, the English left is crumbling under the pressure of the French knights, but the yeomen still have some arrows left and, below, destroy two units of French noble knights and seriously wound the Dauphin, who is carried from the field. The French wish they had some cavalry who could exploit the wide gap in the centre of the English line. At this point the game is very close, with the French having but three victory medals left, and the English, two.

Finally the low-status French archers in the left foreground below (New fangled longbows? Pah! Zee old ways are zee best), firing off the last of their arrows, are able to kill the disordered English bowmen opposite them, and the English surrender.

The game lasted around 90 minutes, and was very different to last week's test.  The swiftness of the French charge forced the English to redeploy and consequently their archers weren't able to deliver the clouds of arrows that cost the French the last battle.  The lack of terrain was a real issue for the English as the French were able to utilise the greater mobility of their mounted knights and attack on both flanks, in a double envelopment.  The French Heroic Generals passed very many saves!  It was an enjoyable game, as was the Brunello di Montalcino we drank whilst playing it.

I'm now less that three weeks from releasing "To the Strongest" into the wild, initially as a pdf, of which more, anon.

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