Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Non nobis, Domine...

I finally had a chance to try out the Crusader Historical Miniature rules. I've had them for some time now (although they are currently misplaced), but I never played them until tonight. Chris Craft has been using them for his Hundred Years' War games, using his beautifully painted 28mm armies of Perry Miniatures' excellent Agincourt to Orleans range.

Chris hosted a game at The Panzer Depot pitting two English commands versus three French commands. The French had several units of dismounted men at arms, three units of mounted knights, three units of crossbowmen, and some brigans (basically armed rabble). Against this the English had three large archer units and a fourth smaller veteran archer unit, two units of dismounted men at arms with a third unit of household men at arms, and a small gun.

The French mass looked daunting, but we English stood up with archers behind stakes and the men at arms positioned in gaps between archer units or forming a second line. Fortunately, too, we had woods protecting our flanks, just as Henry V did at Agincourt. Our first bow shots were desultory. Long range bowfire against heavily armored knights isn't much of a chance. However, as they moved in the odds got better and we inflicted some damage. On the right, where my troops were, a unit of Breton mounted knights charged impetuously into my veteran archers. The fire they took coming in as well as the stakes stymied the charge and the archers threw them back. It was the first of a series of charges the Bretons would attempt, all to no avail. The archers held until finally bowfire and gunfire finished off the hapless Bretons near game's end.

On the English left and center, the initial attacks were repulsed, although the two units of French crossbowmen on that flank were doing serious damage to our leftmost archer unit. The French right wing commander had some trouble getting his two units of mounted knights into action. They were stuck behind the rabble and had to do several turns of maneuvering before they could get a free charge at the archers. When they did charge—a single unit in column—it was a disaster for them.

After their first attacks went bust, the French persisted. Their second attacks had better luck and the English left was hard pressed. We ultimately lost an archer unit and had another badly mauled with 50% losses. The men at arms held up well and the archers on the right, and the gun, were able to hold back or repulse any renewed French attacks.

French overall losses were severe and the "royal fellowship of death" piled up as lost stands at the edges of the table. The English lost about 11 stands total, while the French lost about three times that amount (or more?). By the time the French players threw in the towel, the English were about to counterattack with massed bowfire against their shattered units followed up by men at arms.

I thought the game played well. My only complaint being that I didn't have my camera to take pictures of Chris' very well-painted figures. The mechanics of the game were pretty simple and it was easy to catch on without any trouble. The Crusader rules are suitable for all periods of the ancient and medieval period. The game has me thinking about options for a lot of ancients figures I have sitting about. I acquired a large number of Greek and Macedonian figures from Foundry some years ago. I've been slowly painting them in bits, but I haven't really found a set of rules for them. I think Crusader may be it. You can have a good game with only a few units and can always expand the armies as time goes on. Chris has been working on his Hundred Years' War armies for some time and he's still expanding them. The Crusader rules may also be perfect for the Sassanid and Late Roman figures I have piled up, too.

Now I just have to find where I've put them.

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