The Battle of Mandua Pass (Week 1 South)
No extensive photo report this time I'm afraid, since my camera is still MIA and the battery on the cameraphone died immediately after taking this initial battlefield layout. As you can see, the first two bodies of the Royalist army heading up the road, with the third just faintly visible in the shadows off table. The Baron's ambushing force was alert and ready, but their deployment was determined randomly. Once in play, there were no real decision points for the Baron, every action they took was an absolutely obvious response to the situation.
The Queens forces started by trying a fast push up the road, moving all three bodies and bringing the third body onto the table. The lead body reached the front of the large hill before the Baron's force moved up to threaten them. I then decided, rather impetuously, to go for a quick cavalry charge against the opposing infantry - the lead body included one unit of knights (AC4, REP4, Shock) and two of the Queen's Crimson Guard (AC4, REP4, Elite) making it a decent cavalry force. But although they scored several hits, the infantry stood firm so all three cavalry units were forced to retire, taking an extra hit each. When the juggernaut of the heavy infantry rolled up into the now spent horsemen, they routed.
The Royalists brought up the second body of troops to rendezvous with the men-at-arms from the first, and this newly combined unit continued up the road to threaten the Baron's heavy infantry. Meanwhile the archers and one surviving Crimson Guard unit faced off against the two units of the Baron's Knights who had taken a position atop the big round hill. The knights charged, the Guardsmen countercharged and the archers stood and loosed their volley. This time the Royalist forces held, but only just, with the horsemen locked in combat and the archers managing to repel the knights albeit at the cost of several hits.
Meanwhile the Baron's heavy infantry were unimpressed by the Royalist foot and the two bodies met in a bloody melee along the main road. This time the Royalist infantry not only held, but actually started to push the enemy back, routing one enemy unit and forcing the others to give ground. They pressed their attack, expanding their battleline as rear ranks wrapped around the enemy flanks and everything was looking promising...
..right up until they rolled a double six for the post-melee reaction check. The units in the centre, their REP boosted by being surrounded by friendly units, held, but the less secure flanks who had also taken a couple of hits reducing their REP, were ignominiously routed.
Things were looking grim for the Queen. The scenario stated that for victory, 60% of the force needed to pass through the forest. For a sixteen unit army that equated to 10 (9.6 rounded up) units and at this point of the game, they only had 11 left.
Not for much longer. The Baron's knights continued their melee with the Crimson guard on the side of the big round hill. The knights no longer had their Shock bonus, whereas the Guard still gained the Elite bonus. But the knights' heavier armour made it that much harder to score a hit on them, whereas the number of hits the Guard accumulated made their rout almost inevitable. The Royalists had ten units left.
Finally the other unit of the Baron's Knights charged back at the bowmen who had repulsed them. The bowmen, having taken two hits in the previous melee, rolled another double six on their "Receive Charge" Reaction Check and routed.
The Royal Host, caught unprepared along the road, were utterly smashed to pieces by the Baron's forces (6 units routed to 1). Incandescent with fury, the Queen rode for the town of Pritsum Wells to regroup and reequip.
There you have it. Another exciting battle courtesy of Rally Round The King and the first reverse for the Royalists. The rules had a big impact on this game, particularly the inability of units in RRTK to manoeuvre in the face of the enemy. On a couple of occasions I had damaged units that I would have liked to pull out and protect from further casualties, however in RRTK a unit facing an enemy within charge distance can only move forward or halt. I feel this is more realistic - once a unit is commited to the battle line the general should pretty much lose any fine control over them.
With hindsight, going for the quick kill at the start was a mistake. I think a better tactic would be to try to form a decent battle line around the area of the Royalist starting position between the two small hills. I'm still not sure they'd be able to perfect their position before the Baron's forces reached them, but at least the forces would be more concentrated and better able to bring up reinforcements from the third trailing body.
So at the start of Week 2 of the Novembre Civil War, the dispositions look like this.
Both the Archbishop and the Queen have been pushed back towards their home bases by their enemy's allies. But in the Midlands a jubilant Viscount Silcropton is tipping the balance in the Royalist's favour.
We're nearly a week behind schedule but I'm hoping to make this up with games on Saturday and Monday, starting with a return to the Grim North.