Sunday, August 28, 2011

Poitiers 1356

Several weeks ago, as it happens, I took Craig - owner of of the Leeds Wargames Centre - Through a game of Hail Caesar.  It was at the time my first solo flight with the rules and so I was trying to be reliant on my knowledge of the game mechanics from Black Powder, without confusing the key distinctions.

Anyway, I decided on a refight of Poitiers;  Being the smallest of the big three English victories in the Hundreds Years War, a chance to roll out some of my extensive medievals collection.

 The forces and battlefield were a fair reflection of the day and were as follows:

The English
Edward the Black Prince - 1 unit of longbowmen, 1 unit of men at arms, 1 unit of Gascon Lancers (Pike)
Warwick - 1 unit of longbowmen, 1 unit of men at arms
Salisbury - 1 unit of longbowmen, 1 unit of men at arms
Grially - 1 small unit of mounted knights, 1 small unit of longbowmen (in a reserve flanking attack)

The French

Clermont - 3 units of Mounted knights
The Dauphin - 2 units of crossbowmen, 2 units of spearmen
The Duke of Orleans - 2 units of men at arms, 1 unit of spearmen
King Jean - 2 units of men at arms, 2 units of spearmen 1 large unit of peasants

Deployments were initially as history suggested, with the English in three battles defending a line of hedgerows flanked by marshes, whilst the French came on in four battles in column.  On the day they were afraid the English were to slip away and so came on in something of a rush.

Craig took command of the French and tried to come on to the English, but struggled to make his many lines of men move in good order.  For the English there was little to do other than close the gap in the hedges; but a blundered order instead saw the Gascon Lancers march off to the left.

Instead the longbowmen laid down a withering fire on the mounted knights, goading them to the attack.  The Black Prince reorganised his lines as the French cavalry finally crashed into their lines.

It failed to break the sturdy English and the remnant s of the cavalry were force to withdraw.  Still the rest of the French lines were far away from the English.

The Gascon pike dared to advance beyond the hedgerow, trying to draw the French spear into a fight they would most likely lose.  But this was if anything, expecting too much of the French who were still struggling to for a cohesive line of attack.

By now, other English troops were crossing the hedges, eager to join the fight, and in the distance Grially appeared with his knights from behind  a hill to the French rear.  Now Jean was facing the enemy on two fronts.

Though at this time, the French had at last arranged their main attack, and they threw everything at the English line, putting it under pressure in a grand melee.

But in a desperate tussle to break through the gaps in the hedgerow, the French again came off worse, where several units broke.  And although the rear attack from Grially was being contained, the French could see that the battle was lost, and so began a general retirement from the field.

History, largely then, was reflected on the tabletop.  The English did an excellent job of holding their ground whilst the French were too tangled in their own deployments to make a conclusive blow to the enemy. 

I think Craig enjoyed it, and hopefully it is another potential player to the ranks of Hail Caesar.


  1. Very exciting looking game! I just played Hail Caesar this weekend myself. A large six player Punic War battle. Good time, nice rules!

  2. Excellent report. Very, very nice figures too.