The Norman host had come to yet another pitiful Saxon hamlet - at least this one had a church so a few of the horsemen leered at each other in anticipation of some small loot. The locals had barricaded themselves in their pathetic houses and their Lord suspected that the mouldy thatch of the church hid a few archers.
Riders eased themselves into their saddles as the trumpeter sounded the call to assemble into 3 battles. Leather thongs were wrapped around wrists and shields pulled into position. Rufus took position in the centre and ordered his crossbowmen to advance, he didn't feel as confident as his men that their enemy would be so easily routed from their defences!
The light was fading and he didn't want his men away from the protection of the hall they had made their own. Rufus didn't think much of the Saxons in a stand up fight but he'd be damned if he'd let them come at him unseen in the dark, a place of blood and nightmares. If they couldn't finish the job before dusk then what Saxons lived would be able to consider themselves lucky that his men would be denied their rewards.
The Harrying of the North - Turn 3
This was the scenario that I was most pessimistic about playing. I'd played the defender before and remember the game being pretty one sided, on top of which cavalry is not particulary adept at engaging well defended enemies. It was decided that Dogs of War, and in my case, Flemish mercenaries would be available for the winner of this campaign should we wish to continue it.
Normally the game starts with a bidding process to see who the defender should be, but the story required the Normans to be the aggressor. Phil nobly chose to take 4 points.
I had six turns in which to turf out the Saxons and to win the defender just required one model in a building at the end of six turns. It was a case of don't spare the horses and devil take the hindmost.
|The small buildings hold a unit of 8 warriors and the church 12 levies|
|Hardly seeing any action it would have been better to leave these guys at home|
|I was getting quite sick of all the photos of horses arses.|
The 'plan' such as it was, was to throw myself in successive waves at the buildings, wear the defenders down and sweep in to seize the central building. Foolishly I sent a unit too close to the archers and then proceeded to do nothing with them, thus letting them get shot to pieces.
My flank attacks were not very imaginative and consequently not very successful. Attacking units behind cover, even wattle and daub, was less than effective and built up tons of fatigue and losses.
The house on my left was taken more successfully but another unit appeared which threatened to re occupy it - cavalry can't enter buildings so I had no chance to deny it to them. However, a small target out in the open had to be neutralised before I could advance upon the church.
My opponents greatest weapon was in his refusal to spend my fatigue and in sacrificing an expendable unit he exhausted one of my own. They weren't going anywhere soon and it was turn 5!
|It became obvious there was no shifting these guys|
My warlord - unable to order his bodyguard to attack the church was left with only one target - the religious advisor who had been a thorn in the Norman side. It was going to be small comfort and no risk to skewer him.
Furious at his losses and seeing that victory was impossible Rufus was about to call his warriors back from their efforts when he saw a flash of a habit. Realising that his precious church was safe the Priest was about to skulk away back into the woods or perhaps even climb over dead Normans to seek sanctuary within its stone walls.
Spurring his horse and holding his sword like a spear he charged straight at the cleric. Remembering their last encounter he was determined that he wouldn't escape this time. He expected to see fear in those eyes as death rode towards him but with a casual flick of his staff the blow was deflected yet the horses momentum forced him to the floor. Hooves raised to stamp down but instead, with a whine, twisted away as the bowmen in the church fired to protect their leader. Pulling on the reins Rufus fled before they stuck him.
With the last rays of sunlight dissapearing, the trumpet sounded the retreat. Bloodied, humiliated and defeated the Normans conceded the field.