Sunday, June 19, 2011

Battle Report: Trouble Up North

Several years having past since I built the thing, my keep finally got its baptism on the table-top. The scenario: a fast and loose representation of an assault on the royal castle in York. The game length: 12 turns to burn the Normans back to hell. The rules: Warhammer Siege and Conquest. The players: Matthew and Guy versus the Unlucky General, all members of the Goulburn Wargames Group.

Matt threw together a slick scenario requiring a half-hearted Saxon uprising with a more substantial commitment from their recently landed Norse allies. It was a haphazard affair as none of us had properly read through the Siege and Conquest rules or prepared the game in our usual fashion but as long time WAB adherents, we reckoned on being able to muddle along. I took to the parapet as the defending Normans and their mercenaries whilst my fearsome opponents took charge of the sieging masses. They figured with two periers and as many onagers and rams, I just couldn't hope to slaughter enough of them before they breached the walls. With only two units of ten archers and as many crossbows and no artillery, I reckoned they were right.

With my crossbow Sergeants in the keep and on its curtain, I placed dismounted Milites in the inner bailey to put some backbone into the ever dodgy mercenaries. My archers took to the outer bailey walls, with my foot out of range but within reach to reinforce the walls. My considerable cavalry force was placed well to the rear as a last reserve.

Starting just beyond bow range, the assault began with some fairly ineffective artillery support. Guy's two onagers, when they weren't misfiring were straying way off target. Whilst taking out some Sergeants on the Keep itself, they never looked like knocking off so much as a splinter from my walls - and so it was to remain. It was to be a job for the grappling irons and a deadly climb to the top for the poor sods running for the motte.

The perrier barrage for the assault on the bailey was slightly less successful again, taking out as many of the attackers as defenders. Good shootin' Matt! As with the motte, those buggers would have to climb the walls too. The walls themselves are a tribute to Matt who practically knocked them up over night in time for the game. Pity he hadn't allowed sufficient width to stand most of our bases but hell ... beggars can't be choosers. Come to think of it, perhaps Matt just couldn't bring himself to ruin his own models.

When his rebel foot hit the bailey wall; however, they hit it hard and all at once. Over the course of the game my archers lost control of the walls, only to have them regained by my infantry. At the same time a ram was beginning an arduous hammering at the left flank section of wall. Thankfully, both rams were brought in too late in the day to break through the reinforced walls in time. The defence of the outer bailey walls was dogged, my Normans giving ground in most rounds - one corpse at a time. Facing Ulfhednar and what seemed an endless army of Berserkers, they lost far more combats than they one. But with only a one figure width, the Normans were able to hold the bailey walls loss after loss, thanks to the leadership of the Bishop with one unit and King William with the other.

Meanwhile, back at the motte, things were not going so well. I had simply failed to garrison the keep and curtain sufficiently. Once at the base of the walls, I had not enough men to cut the ropes and repel the Viking hordes. Racing to the battlements, the Milites took up the fight, dispatching first the Berserkers and then fighting off one of three large warbands. But it was not enough and with no reserve within reach, it was only a matter of time before the Unlucky General failed a crucial morale role and witnessed the flight of the Milites. Worse still, the plodding knights were caught in the rear by a blood-thirsty pursuit and all cut down. Fortunately, this was only after we had agreed to run the play to a thirteenth turn to see what happened - the Norman forces of King William having already held its ground once more conquered! All that was left was to start the harrying in the morning.

POSTSCRIPT

We are notoriously slip-shod when it comes to the rules and none of us were as familiar with Siege and Conquest as we perhaps should have been. Still, we worked through it and reckon them to have worked well. At first we thought it too easy for grappling hooks and ropes to achieve figures on the walls. Then again, when properly manned, they are easy enough to cut and repel - my best rolling throughout the game. So, it seems to have balanced out. Whilst this time the Unlucky General was not so unlucky, I think we can safely put that down to the tight time frame for victory and the habit of Matt and Guy to forget to move before their eagerness to start shooting got the better of them. If they could have stuck to the turn sequence I think I'd have lived up to my tag. Nevertheless, the motte curtain was achieved even though the bailey was secure. I think I'll put it down to a draw.

Oh, and one more thing. Whilst the motte was designed with a fair gradient to stand figures on (especially when based in fours) Guy's troops were based singly and in those ugly movement trays. He was unable to place them on the approach without a domino effect wreaking greater havoc than my archery ever did. There's a lesson there I think. Down with movement trays!

7 comments:

  1. Ever one for Propaganda, William the Bastard (unlucky General) lives to fight another day!

    My true Version of the battle will be posted on
    http://stormandconquest.blogspot.com/2011/06/trouble-up-norththe-real-story.html

    cheers
    Matt

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  2. Lovely Motte and Bailey fort! - long time since I have seen a good fortress assault game - Thanks!

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  3. That's a great fort there. Sounds like good fun.

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  4. That some seriously impressive modelling!!

    Christopher

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  5. Thanks Gents - hopefully we won't wait as long till the next game as see if we can't master the rules.

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  6. Awesome keep there and it sounds like a fun game!

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  7. The Whole set up is great...I really like the castle!!!
    Cheers
    paul

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