The Viking Legal Team in Action

The Viking Legal Team in Action
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Monday, September 18, 2017

09/13/17 One-Hour Wargames Medievals: #8 Melee

Welsh Marcher Lord practicing encroachment...

Turn 1 of Scenario #8: Melee. English sit tight [having no Brigans / Skirmishers, they have no one to enter the woods, a good T1 Red move in #8]. Welsh force enters the Board via the road.

Yes, it's time for a classic scenario with this slightly more streamlined latest version. I rolled up two forces on the regular force matrix in the book. Based upon what I have ready for the table [more or less] I ended up with a Wales Border Lord attacking an English neighbor. The key to the encroachment is the hill, as it overlooks both the main road and contested lands. 

The Red defender has 4 Knights, a Serjeant [Men at Arms], and a Freemen [Levy].
The Blue attacker has 3 Knights, two Bowmen [Archers], and a Serjeant.
The key here is a test of how useful Bowmen are on the attack. In this Feudal version, they are quite useful, inflicting Dx Hits a turn [1-6 on D6, 2-5 on D5, I offer a choice], but not the mesmerizing machine guns of the original rules which has them shooting D6+2 with unlimited ammo!

This is actually the second play of the rules. The first scenario went great, with a decisive result in well under an hour. The Red defense of a Freemen [left] and Serjeant [right] were attacked by a Knight and two Bowmen. However, this was way too slow an attack, and Red reinforced quickly and the Blue flank attack led by two Knights was narrowly defeated, resulting in the hill assault fizzling out.

This second play I kept the Red defense as-is, since it appears to have no weaknesses. My newest decision is to lock down the right flank against the board edge, and leave the coverage gap towards the center where it can quickly be filled by reinforcements. This is my new go-to defense for this scenario. BELOW you can see the rules mechanics at work giving decisiveness to the Red player's setup decisions [a key aspect of this approach to rules is to return decisiveness to the table]. My OHW rules requires a gap of a Base Width [BW=5"] for regular movement between two obstacles [Units or Terrain in any combo], but only a Base Depth [BD=2.5"]. The space between the woods and the Red right flank is too big to not have a flank open somewhere, so I've chosen the center, hoping reinforcements will arrive quickly enough to plug the gap. Blue of course hopes he can exploit it first!

Above. BD between board edge and both foot Units, but a charge Gap to the center.

Turn 1. Red doesn't move, Blue advances three Knights onto the Board. The first two get a BW + a BW for a Fast Move, not being within a BD of any enemy Units [my take on a ZoC rule]. The third moves 2BW+BD up the road, giving an option to cover front or move left.

Turn 2 below. Red stands, Blue advances, pushing the 3rd Knight left to reinforce the attack.

Turn 3 below. Red reinforces with two Knights near the road. Blue attacks or positions to attack. The Serjeants are tough, taking 1/4 Hits on the hill. With a D5, this results in 1-2 Hits a turn, a slow slog. The Freemen take 1/2 Hits on the hill, putting them on parity against the Knights. Rolling up fractions results in 2 Hits on the Serjeants...13 more to go!

Turn 4 below. Red positions a Knight to hit the hill, covering the Serjeants left, and moves the other down the road. Blue hits the Freemen with a Knight but rolls a '2' [phbbbb!] while the third Knight charges the Serjeants open flank. They can't see the Red Knights due to the hill crest, anyway, and they need to get into that flank while they can. They will also be uphill of the Red Knights, taking 1/2 Hits for that, altho x2 for being hit on Flank, so a wash. A tough decision, but I didn't see the situation getting any better, so it had to be done. They roll a 4+2 for 6, doubled for Flank but halved for uphill and halved again for Serjeants armor, resulting in 3 Hits for 7 total - halfway there! [arguably, the Serjeants aren't uphill...but it could go either way so I gave it to them since Blue did get a flank].

Finally, Blue reinforcements enter, posing an unpalatable and unmanageable force to the lone Red Knight - they will be shot to pieces or hit on a flank the turn after they charge.

Red Turn 5, below. Things heating up...Rightmost Knight about-faces and dashes away to get some space. Red's dice hit solid for 3+2,x2/2 for 5 on the Blue Knight, 5 on the center Blue Knight, and 4 on the left one.

Blue turn 5 below. The slog in center continues. The Serjeants are at 10, but a '2' by the flanking knight really hurt, made much worse by the center knight also rolling a '2'! They advance the infantry full forward to push on the road, but are just over a BD away so won't be slowing down the Knight, in any event. One Bowmen advances to help the hill slog.

Red turn 6 below. The right Red Knights pull way back using the road. Two more enter board to reinforce, one heading to the far left flank and the other to the hill. They inflict solid casualties on the Blue Knights, which are now up to 10 and 12 Hits, so about a turn to live...

Blue turn 6 below. The two Knights finally break the Serjeants holding the hill, getting exactly 15 Hits. The Freemen to left are losing by 3 Hits, and a Bowmen Unit is moving up at bottom right to plug the gap left by a destroyed Blue Knight. The Blue Serjeant and Bowmen advance down the road, keeping the pressure on Red Knight Unit.

Turn 7 below. The Red Knights charge down the road and hit the Bowmen rather than take shooting Hits, and counting on support from reinforcing Knights to discourage the Serjeants, but they decide to take the chance and flank the Knights anyway, rolling poorly...On the hill, Blue Knights to right are destroyed, unsurprisingly. Center Blue Knights charge the flank of the Freemen to clear the hill, figuring there's little chance to rally Hits with two Red Knights just over the crest.
Mid-Game Sitrep: Red's lost hill control and two Units, with a third in bad straights. Blue's lost only one Unit, but another Knight is almost dead and fresh Red Knights are moving up. Anyone's game at this point, in my opinion, altho positioning and Hit levels are critical.

Turn 8 below. Red Knights advance up hill. Center Blue Knight is destroyed while the other prepares to charge Bowmen below, who shoot for 4 Hits. Blue Knight retaliates by charging open flank of left Red Knight but can't destroy them even with a '5'. To right, the Red Knight is destroyed while the Bowmen and Serjeants are damaged; the Serjeants are also in a bad position that the Bowmen can't help much with, needing to reposition to shoot or melee.

Turn 9 below. The Red Knights on hill are destroyed, but only because they rolled a '2' on their turn, leaving Blue Knights at 14 Hits. Center Red Knights put 7 Hits on center Bowmen, while Serjeants and Bowmen have nearly zero chance to survive against rampaging Red Knight on the right, due to math working against them.

Turn 10 below. Serjeants die, Bowmen shoot on the Right. Blue Knights prepare to intervene in center as Red Knights chew up Bowmen. The 1-turn delays of the Blue Knight intervention - one in destroying the Red Knight, the other in getting on the hillcrest for LoS, will result in the Bowmen being destroyed. Here we see that Bowmen are a bit weak.

Turn 11 below. Both Bowmen are destroyed, if only barely. In turn, center Red Knight is charged on rear and destroyed. Remaining are a Blue Knight with 14 Hits, and a Red Knight with 7. At best, the Blue Knight would have parity after 3-4 turns of Rallying, which they can't get due to the mandate to hold the Hill. Seems hopeless, but I play it out to test the game mechanics and see if I may have overlooked something...

Turn 12 shows that there's just not enough space for Blue to recover some Hits.

Turn 13 ends with Red Knights inflicting 3 Hits despite the uphill position of Blue Knights.

Wow, that was super-close, but of course there was no hope for the final Blue Knight, since Red's infantry didn't do enough damage to it before disappearing.

I think this game deserves one more play, but the frontal attack on the hill should be all infantry, while the flank should be all Knights, attacking the T2 Red Knight reinforcements very aggressively. Aside from this, I don't see how to crack this hill defense within the time allotted and the force available. 

Bowmen discussion. It may be that I'm not using Bowmen well enough, or that they are just a bit too weak. Either could be possible, but I found them way too powerful in the original rules [English Longbow devastating] when they shot d6+2. Granted, they still only had D6-2 in Melee, but with unlimited missiles they were like a machine gun platoon! It may be that for game balance, I need to make them D6+2 since I have given them a 3-shot limit. However, I've found them to be relatively easy to foil due to maneuver limits. It is always possible to hide beyond a hill crest and deprive an attacker of shooting opportunities. Another solution would be to allow a substitution for the scenario attacker of a Freemen for any Bowmen.

Scenario balance, as always, is the most difficult thing to achieve!

I'll be giving this one more try with an infantry attack on the hill and Knights straight up the road.


  1. Nice report with beautiful figures!

  2. Thanks Phil! 25mm is the smallest I can see these days, they're the new 15mm for me!

    Done a lot of work with OHW rules, about to come out with a small battle / big skirmish modified version of OHW that will be challenging, dramatic and fun, yet still fast.

    Au revoir!


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