The armies were not historical ones, just whatever cardboard bases I had cut out and labelled and could lay my hands on. So here is the order of battle:
1 x 3Cv (Gen)
2 x 3Cv
1 x 2LH
4 x 4Pk
2 x 3Ax
2 x 2Ps
1 x 3Cv (Gen)
4 x 3Cv
1 x 2LH
2 x 3Bw
4 x 4Bd
I let Isaac choose the terrain and layout of the battle field. Below is a simple representation of the map. The white squares show the two camps…mine at the top and his at the bottom.
My son's deployment was fairly simple. He formed his blades in a column on the road (blades facing off against the pikes). Near the river bank opposite the hills he placed his bows and then lined out his cavalry and liight horse opposite my mounted troops. He spread wider across the plan to me and so had listened when I had previously explained that overlapping your enemy was good.
I deployed the Cavalry in my centre the the general on the right hand side of that formation and the LH on the far left flank. My pikes formed a column on the road and The auxlia set up between the camp road, encroaching a little into the woods.
Before we started I asked my son what his plan was (I wasn't going to use it against him but wanted to see that he was thinking about tactics). His plan was simple enough. The bows were to cross the river and head to the hills, the mounted troops to cross the river and stretch out to engage my mounted units in the plain and have his blades make their way up the road to cross the bridge and attack my right flank. I was satisfied that he had thought about what he wanted.
And so we took to the field of battle.
The pips were tight early on for both sides. I managed to advance my pikes well enough. I wanted to catch his blades as close to river as I could, so I let them have their head and charge up the road. I could advance the cavalry a little but the pips were coming in 1s and I didn't get to be in line with the hill before we would find trouble. We just couldn't get enough command pips to move the reserve forces ahead to support any of the troops.
Isaac forded the river with ease, finding it offering no impediement to his forces. The bows made it to the crest of the hill quickly enough and he positioned one element at the fron o the hill and the other ar the rear. His cavalry too made the journey easy enough and were well positioned befside the hill to engage my forces. His blades thugh had issues with getting orders right and struggled to get going (the curse of the low command pips), and only just managed to reach the other side of the bridge before coming face to face with the advancing pikes. His blades managed to spread two units across for a small front before they were engaged.
And so combat came. Isaac's bows on the front of the hill did well, nailing my general's cavalry and driving them back twice under a hail of arrows. He then engaged my line of cavalry and LH and at first all held their ground.
My pikes smashed into his blades and there was some movement, I forced one of his blades back to the river bank, but they were not done. The battle on the bridge was fierce and our small lines exchanged momentum, and soon it was clear that this part of the battle was probably fast heading to a stalemate. Finally the dice spoke and one of his blades were crushed and I now held an overlap on his forces on the bridge. He couldn't get off the bridge and I was able to hold him off, but I couldn't get the killer blow.
In the meanwhile on the plain, I had some luck in the centre on the battle field and I broke his line of mounted troops. The cavalry next to his general broke and were crushed. But his bows continued to pester my general who was recoiling every time he made contact with the opposing cavalry (the dice was cursed I tell you!) and then when he wasn't enganged he was peppered by the bows in the hills. I didn't want to charge them up the hill to take on the bows and so I was struggling to make the best use of my general. My auxillia had started to move and I thought that they might be able to prove the difference if they could get to the hill and take out the bows. But again after a start the pips dried up and I was forced to use up my quota each turn to keep my line straight with the cavalry.
It was now 2 - 0 to me and I was hopeful I could get to those bows to silence them.
But then the tide turned suddenly and dramatically. While my command pips were drying up, Isaac's were starting to flow freely. His cavalry line now in two groups enganed my line and he got hold of my LH and swept them away. My left flank was now vulnerable and he wrapped his LH and one Cav unit around the side and hit my flank. Another Cav folded under the onslaught from the left and suddenly we were at 2 units each.
Back on the bridge Isaac's blades again sucummbed to my pikes and I had the chance to press the advanatage and try to get a win, because I was getting the sort of sinking feeling on my left. He had two blades elements left but I would have to forgo my overlap and press onto the bridge to take him on. (It was 3-2 to me at this point and that was the plan).
In the plain I thought it best to divert my general out of the range of the bows and towards the attack on the flank. And then the pain came….
Isaac got a great roll of 6 for his pips. He pressed his blades forward to engage me on the bridge (still giving me the overlap I thought he had made a mistake that would give me the game). Then his rear bows unit came down from the hill and hit my pikes flank…I just didn't see that coming. He got a good roll and forced the recoil, and with the flank contact destroyed my first rank of pikes. 3 elements lost each now and again I understimated the speed of the LH unit on my flank. My general was met head on by the opposing cavalry as the LH wrapped around the flank, and again the dice spoke. My general fell and the army was routed. Isaac had won a tight battle.
I think it is useful to look at each battle and to understand what I can learn from the experience.
First up, was the effectiveness of bows against mounted units. I knew they were effective but thought it would be OK with my general being the target.
Second, never underestimate the importance of command pips. I was starved all game to be able to do what I wanted to do, leaving my reserve foreces helplessly watching the battle unfold before their eyes.
Third, I totally underestimated the usefulness of LH on the flank, this was probably the killer blow for me.
Fourth, I need to stay on the lookout for the unprotected flanks. If not for those bows racing down out of the hills my pikes could have won the right.
Finally, I reacted too slowly to a few key moments. I should have moved my general out of the bow fire earlier and sured up one of the flanks.
Lots learnt and plent of fun had, and I think I might just have hooked my son.