"Not a chance", He muttered. "My Lord?", his trumpeter, thinking that he had missed a command, asked nervously.
"The men are in position?"
"They are, my Lord. And eager too." A grunt was all the reply he received. After such a successful start to the campaign things hadn't been to the Norman warlords liking. Many Saxons had been slain and their homes burnt but the flame of rebellion hadn't been extinguished, and Rufus, ruing his failure to take the head of Warrior-Priest had become more irritable and demanding of his men.
"Signal the attack. Let us end it this day" The Plan was simple. Thin the lines with archery, overwhelm the rear and lead the charge into the panicking enemy.
So, that was the plan. Hummmmm.
To fit the narrative of our campaign it was clear that the Normans had to be the aggressor yet the rules state that the player who bids the lowest number of rounds required to fulfil the victory condition of annihilating the enemy, should take that role. It seemed unfair for me to say '10' so I thought '6' was a reasonable number.
I started off by placing two warrior units to the Saxon rear, and hearthguards and archers to the front. My idea was to load up on shooting abilities and use the warriors to 'give the old one, two'. The problem was I think I did this for three rounds! Progress against a well stocked Saxon battleboard was slow and I failed to exploit the thinning front rank. On top of this I had elevated the lightly defended stone building on my left flank into some kind of impervious bastion following my less than stellar performance in the homeland game.
Normans are an aggressive force and I didn't play to this strength. I was way ahead on Slaughter points so there was little chance that Phil was going to catch up on that score so all he had to do was keep some defensive abilities available and bide his time.
By the time I changed my tactics it was almost too late. The aggressor has the Endless warband rule so I didn't need to worry about running out of men. Having taken the mighty fortress on my left I was left with the remnants of one warrior unit and the snarling Hearthguard plus the proto-turbulent priest.
The Hearthguard unit were left with one man standing - bugger! And I was mauled bloodily for my trouble.
An outright victory was almost at hand - the Priest and about 4 guys were left to face the full weight of my force, yet there was no 7th round. Saxon win.
However, as far as the campaign went, it was a Norman victory with a wide margin in Slaughter points which will probably result in the rewarding of a free unit of my much missed Flemish mercenaries to feature in a future campaign.
The roar of anger could be heard above the screaming of the wounded men and beasts. His grip of iron and flesh had closed in and all that had been left to do was to crush the last life out of the Saxons. He cursed and spat at his men but he knew the fault was his own.. He had underestimated the rabble before him and had given them the time that had eventually saved them.
For arriving on the crest of the hill was a small Saxon force. Small but fresh. And seeing the slaughter he had wrought, they were hell bent on retribution. Warriors were dismounting and forming up quickly whilst more damned Priests were blessing the foul smelling and hairy ranks of men. Scarcely believable Saxon reinforcements had come. Pausing briefly to wonder from where they had been sent Rufus shouted for a skirmish line to cover the collection of the Norman wounded.
With shields unbattered and unbloodied approaching in good order and looking at his fatigued men and blown horses Rufus snarled curses and ordered them home. Surveying the field one final time he saw the Black Priest accepting the adoration of his acolytes whilst the bravest of the Saxons waved their great axes in mocking invitation.
Alan Rufus will return..........