Tuesday, March 24, 2015

War on Two Fronts Played - Orchies 1341

And so here we are with my own interpretation of the War on Two Fronts scenario.  As we are about to play a large refight I felt it would be good to refresh everyone on the rules of Hail Caesar and the period flavour we were going to need; so transposing the scenario to the Hundred Years War was the choice of the day.

The forces matched those in the scenario, with the Blue forces naturally enough being the French, whilst the Red forces were English in zone E - well provisioned with bowmen and infantry - and Flemish in zone F, distinctively armed with pike and some short bow armed skirmishers.

Deployment was trotted through, but without the recourse to maps, there was some wriggle room for both sides to tweak broad positions as their opponents' deployed.  But both sides stuck to a principle of not repositioning a unit by more than an inch or so once placed - just shuffling!

The field of battle in full
The English to the East did not have enough space to fully deploy and so placed some of their bowmen to cover the angle, as if in the midst of redeployment, whilst their melee infantry advanced on in column, to the West the smaller Flemish force had enough room to deploy for battle with their right supported and skirmishers to their left.

The French faced two of their three main battles to face the English, with an infantry battle facing the Flemings.  The Kings Elite knights were held in reserve in the centre, whilst the peasants and artillery took to the fields and outskirts of the town.  The French skirmishers in the small wood to the West.

The French as seen mid morning from the English lines

The English bowmen exude confidence - Pauls' superb painting on show.

The Flemish seen arriving in the distance, faced by a small battle of French infantry.

The French main lines, cavalry heavy...
 I took a support role as the leader of the French town levy and the troops facing the Flemish, whilst James T (hereafter JT) took the main kings force.  He decided to open the engagement with a a full charge of the French knights into the English bowmen before they could deploy.

Paul, commanding the English  looked pensive and asked after his stakes, but given the need for immediate action they'd had no time to deploy any such defences.  Still as the French came in they laid down a withering fire, so much that one retinue of knights failed the charge.  In the ensuing melee, the supported English outfought the disordered and disorganised French, and so the first wave of attacks for the French achieved nothing.

After the attack, the French consider their options.
 Meanwhile the Flemish failed to advance for the first two turns of the day, and James S in command of them (hereafter JS) could only look on as the French infantry slowly advanced to check his position.  The English archers formed an orderly line, but the fringe of the forests (off the table) made it impossible for their infantry to deploy.

Both sides eye each other up from their new lines.
 The flower of French nobility charged again.

The little orange flashes tell a sorry tale.
 The solid English line proved more than up to the task, and the French were thrown back once again.

This time the English were able to follow up the success and began to envelop the French infantry.  JT was still up for another charge, but a blunder saw the freshest of the knights divert their attack from the bowmen towards the English Men at Arms on their right.  A tangle of infantry and cavalry made contact impossible.

Disorder in the the French lines continued.
Paul's Men at Arms couldn't resist  charging, and in a last brave act the French countered, but the English made the better fight of it and already worn Frenchmen retreated in the face of solid English force.  JT attempted to get infantry in position to shore up the gap but instead the exposed themselves to a follow up attack, retreating in kind.

However they did not have it all their way, and rallied French finally managed to break the English bowmen on Paul's' right.  Troops from the town finally advanced into the flank offering support if not actual action.  But by now it was almost too late.  JT's knights were now a broken brigade, and obliged to retire in the face of advancing English, his infantry were offering a hail of bolts on the advancing English foot, but they were in a precarious position indeed.

English knights pursue the French hard
 Meanwhile to the east the Flemish finally made contact with the French.  Thick walls of pikes made their mark of weakly armed and unwilling crossbowmen.

Out of sight the lowlander skirmishers had outflanked French peasants massed in the fields west of the town, JS wanted them to charge and it was agreed they would need 3 orders to do.  In the last command roll of the game he blundered and cursed his luck, until a subsequent 6 saw them eagerly vault the hedgerows and lunger into the peasants.  The final melees saw the pikes break through the French infantry.

As time was beating us we drew to a close there, but it was apparent that nothing short of a miracle would stop the English and Flemish connecting in their next turn.  The French were spent by three charges against the English lines and the Flemish had ultimately made short work of what troops were committed to facing them.  We were in agreement then that the game was an allied victory.

As to the rules used, as stated it was Hail Caesar, but with modifications to suit the small scale of the available table.  The Headingley club is so popular that a 6x4 foot table is all the space we can spare for a figure game.  To that end we used 2/3rd sized units and halved all movement and firing ranges.  To avoid unbalance in a small game I disallowed the 'Follow Me' rule; and I think this was a good idea.

Overall it was a cracking little game, and I think at least, the scenario bore up quiet well.  My thanks to the players, and onto the big game...


  1. Well done Aki! I still wanna try it out for a WW II battle. I still think it would work.

    Good write up!


  2. Colourful armies enjoyable report. Currently painting a new army I'd like to try this with.

  3. A great looking game, beautiful armies and pictures, very colored...