Sunday was the ‘Medieval’ day, with armies chosen from books 3 and 4. I fielded my Early Hungarians for the day. The organisers arranged the draw so that the first game of the day was against someone we hadn’t played before, with an attempt at a historically accurate opponent as well.
In my first game of the day, my Hungarians faced Stephen Malone’s Later Crusaders. I was the attacker in that game, which was a little unusual as my army had quite a low aggression value. Stephen placed a lot of terrain – a steep hill, his compulsary waterway, and two woods, one toward the centre of the battlefield. I ended up with a wood in the middle of my deployment area and without thinking I set up my camp on one side of it, and my army on the other. I used most of my pips in the earlier turns moving some mounted troops around to cover the camp, but in doing so one of my knights strayed a few paces too close some Crusader archers that Stephen had moved onto his hill as a blocking force. The bow killed the knight with a 4-1. My auxillia meanwhile were on their way through the wood looking to see what mischief they could cause. With the loss of my knight I was suddenly worried about that flank, so I moved one of the auxillia off sideways, hoping to ZOC Stephen’s knights in the narrow defile they had to pass through. Stephen was then forced to use most of his spear and bows as close fighting infantry in the wood, but although individually weak there were enough of them to overwhelm my light troops. In the end after a fighting retreat I went down 4-0.
David Batchelor’s Free Company were my next opponents. The Hungarian Plains are no place to meet an army with knights, bow, and artillery, and I spent much of the game wondering how to get close to it. I’m particularly hazy on the details of this battle, but I held David to a draw with him losing 2 elements and me 3.
I then met an Early Burgundian army under Paul Reynolds. Paul was beating me up quite a bit on my right flank and he sent a knight around some rough terrain and made a run for my camp. Late in the game I put together an attack on Paul’s right flank and I was doing pretty well, but meanwhile Paul’s knights were still closing in on my camp. I made a tactical error in trying to interspose my cavalry between the knight and my camp, rather than creating a situation where the knight was ZoCed. My cavalry had no recoil room so they were promptly recoiled into the camp and destroyed. In his next turn Paul took my camp, so I lost 2 (plus camp) to 2. It was a great game – from memory we only had about 6 elements in groups between us, the rest were all single elements.
The first game after lunch was another encounter with the Early Burgundians, this time under Connor McCartney. Connor’s PiP rolls were vastly superior to mine, and he diligently set about redeploying his army. I tried to take advantage of that by catching his knights while they were in a rather narrow formation, but Connor’s bow were in the way, and pretty soon I was down a knight and a cavalry, while Connor had lost a knight. I sent a light horse around each flank to try and buy some time. The one on the the flank with the bow was killed immediately but in doing so Connor had to swing a bow element around. Meanwhile my general had unfortunately recoiled one of Connor’s knights, so he was surrounded. Connor closed the door on my general using his general, but he lost that combat and his general recoiled into the bow element I mentioned earlier and was destroyed. In my next turn my light horse captured his camp. Although I destroyed Connor’s general and camp it was a very close run thing.
Kieran Ford’s Later Swiss were up next. Kieran had both his knight and his artillery on one flank, so I sent a light horse to hang around there and threaten them. On the other flank I had my two other light horse and cavalry. Keiran had deployed his psiloi in some rough terrain but he bought them out into the open, perhaps feeling a little safe because I had light horse as a front rank. I used a few PiPs to widen the formation and bring my cavalry into the front rank and they put the psiloi to flight. My bow and psiloi did a good job of breaking up the line of Swiss pikes and I managed to kill a couple of them by peeling off the rear rank, giving me a 4-0 win.
My last game of the competition was against Greg Kelleher’s Pre Feudal Scots. He would have had an Early Polish army, which would have been an interesting and a historical matchup, but sadly that army was stuck in an earthquake damaged hotel in Christchurch. I made an attempt at getting some light horse out around Greg’s left flank but they were hemmed in by some rough terrain, so in the end they turned around and rejoined the battle line. Meanwhile on the other flank my auxillia were fighting Greg’s warband. I lost one to a 6-1 but the other won. My battle line was made up of 3 spear, 2 knights, and 3 light horse. A couple of the light horse fled but I’d made enough of a mess of Greg’s line to allow me to put together successful attacks toward the flank where the warband had been, giving me a 4-2 win. My other casualty was a light horse which in turning to avoid my cavalry, which was in reserve, ran into my camp. Re-reading the rules they could have turned to avoid that – it’s only water features that hold a fatal attraction to light horse – but it made for an amusing incident in the game.
I chose the Hungarian and Lydian armies because I thought they were fairly similar, so I wouldn’t have to use two different styles of play over the weekend. But my results were very different between the two days – on Saturday I was 16th and on Sunday I came 6th. I did seem to have better luck on the Sunday – there were no enemy elements defying the odds. I did a better job at putting supported attacks together on the Sunday as well – so I made my own luck in places too. I was also a lot less nervous on Sunday. Perhaps the Hungarians having the ability to put together a block of three supported spear as well as having a couple more foot gave them an advantage over the Lydian army’s 4 Sp or Ax and 3 Ps, but the armies I was facing were pretty different between the two days as well, so I’ll record an open verdict about my army choice – more to do with luck and human factors!