Mid and Late Medieval at Roll Call 2019
Lancastrian WOTR vs Swiss
Having squeaked a win by the narrowest of possible margins in the first game against an almost all-mounted foe, a quite different proposition faced the Men of Lancaster in the second round in the shape of a matchup against the Medieval World's peerless uber-pedestrians, the Swiss.
The lists for the Lancastrian WOTR and Swiss from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Roll Call can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The Swiss are - of course - all about the Pikemen. In combat they will almost inevitably be better than anything else in the period or out of it, but that frontal ferocity comes at quite a cost.
Individually they are pretty much the most expensive infantry in the game, and the rest of the army has little else to mitigate this and bring the unit count up to something respectable. So, get the pikes in cleanly and quickly and hope the rest of the team can keep their flanks relatively clear of interruption whilst the pointy sticks do the business.
With the Swiss seeking to narrow the table the playing surface ended up festooned with terrain - a waterway ensuring that the battle would be played on the shores of a Swiss lake and a host of forests, hills and patches of uneven ground scattered themselves across the rest of the board with gay abandon.
With this layout the Swiss deployment wrote itself - a block of pike were to advance along the waters edge protected by a skin of skirmishers and lighter troops on either flank.
This was as obvious to the Lancastrians as it was to the Swiss, and immediately the Border Horse made a dash for a position from which they could watch and wait as the behemoth of infantry advanced towards a date with destiny against the main Lancastrian formation.
With enough uneven terrain to carpet a small canton, the Welsh and Retinue Longbowmen of the Lancastrian army also had an obvious place to go and hide
Soon they got busy setting themselves up for some serious shooting all the while hoping the Swiss didn't have all that many Medium Foot halberdiers floating around to come and dig them out either..
We don't know if Swiss Pikemen
enjoyed a good fight.
No-one ever managed to give them one.
The main tactic of the Lancastrians was to unleash multiple rounds of long range cannonade fire as the Swiss Kiel inched towards them.
As cannonballs slammed into the densely packed ranks of colourful Cantonese (erm?) soldiery, sub-standard halberdiers from the Wirral, Oldham, Blackburn and Preston moved up swiftly to threaten the flanks of any Swiss overcome by an urge to advance wantonly towards their tormenting gunnes.
Suddenly the Lancastrian commander realised that the odds of his Mediocre Halberdiers doing any damage worth even mentioning to the flanks of the Swiss were rather long, and would fall to zero if the Swiss simply advanced and slid to their right once they got past the hill.
With a sharp turn about the Northerners decided that ignominious retreat was the better part of valour - they headed back to their baseline much to the bemusement of the advancing Swiss
Ow do mate! As the militia halberdiers fell back some dismounted Lancastrian knights inched forwards, calculating mentally how many rounds of shooting their sole cannon might get in before the Swiss slammed into them.
A line in the tablecloth had been drawn and the fight would surely be coming to a crescendo soon, and nearby.
Swiss Mercenary Life
With the main Swiss Kiel advancing on the gunnes and halberdiers, the second formation had become acutely conscious of the possibility of swathes of Lancastrians sweeping round and into their flank should they extend the line of advance yet further.
At a pre-arranged signal the immense pike block started the gradual process of wheeling about, lining up against the suddenly impotent Lancastrians as if daring them to be man enough to come and take the fight to the gaily clad pike wielders in the open.
With the Swiss still inching forward surprisingly slowly under the telling shelling of the Great Gonne of Stockport the rest of the Lancastrian infantry decided that they all probably were best off delaying fighting for as long as possible - especially now that some Elite Swiss Halberdiers had emerged from the woodlands to extend the line of Swiss advance much closer to the waters edge.
Faced with a multitude of targets the Longbowmen were somewhat spoilt for choice.
Detaching a unit to aid the long range gunners of the artillery the formation broke up and proceeded to launch volleys of arrows pike-ward. The Swiss barely flinched.
The Swiss had simply been waiting for the light to be right for the beauty parade shot before launching their attack
They were eager to get into battle, but the opportunity to demonstrate that Foundry figures are still great looking chaps even in this age of plastic Perry wonderment was simply too great to ignore.
Small things make base men proud.
(Suffolk, Act 4 Scene 1)
A line of toothy grins spread like wildfire along the front rank as in unison they all yelled out 'Emmental" to please the photographer.
On the far left of the Swiss line their inch-wise advance had inevitably resulted in some exposure for their skirmish screen, an opportunity which Impact-capable Lancastrian border light horse could not resist trying to take advantage of.
Quite what these mosquito-like attacks hoped to achieve other than soaking up some Swiss pips was severely questionable, but anyway the first proper attack from the House of Lancaster had been launched, with their least potent troops taking the initiative.
It's a mistake I tell you, it's all a terrible mistake..
Loins were being girded furiously as both sides got into serious staring distance as the moment of true reckoning beckoned like a thick wad of oil money being waved at Pep Guardiola from the highest row of seats in the Ethiad.
The Great Gonne of Stockport had been busy too, spreading its cannonball shaped love eggs as widely as possible among the Swiss infantry as they advanced towards it.
None of the Swiss were in serious danger of being killed off entirely, but pretty much all of them were looking down the barrel of a 1-factor combat degradation as a consequence of the repeated rounds of firing.
L'Art de la Guerre hint -Gunnes can aim at any target within a 5 MU arc (2 MU either side of straight ahead) as long as the distance between them and their target is sufficient. This allows them to spread their fire and force the enemy to decide whether to halt and try to make multiple rally attempts or to commit to combat at a disadvantage across a large part of their line. This is often a better tactic than trying to hammer a hole in one part of the enemy line.
The mosquito attack of the Northern Light Lancers (soon to be a short lived and ultimately unsuccesful indie band from the Rusholme district of Manchester) had indeed come a right cropper, as the enemy halberdiers they had caught in the rear shrugged off their puny attack, turned about and started setting about the horsemen with long sharp sticks and a violently aggressive attitude.
Can we outrun the heavens?
(King Henry VI, Act 5 Scene 2)
Lancastrians furiously consulted the break-off section of the rule book as the Swiss pike looked on with wry smiles.
With the Swiss now closing fast the time for gunnery was almost over.
The Lancastrians stepped up as sharply as one can when clad in full armour and clutching a greatsword and formed a line of their own to try and stem the brightly coloured but mostly red and white tide. Sorted!
Charles The Bold's Army
Eee By Gum!
Elsewhere a standoff had manifested itself, with neither side seemingly keen to blink first
The bold attempt to outflank the second Kiel with Light Horse had faltered so the Lancastrians were stalled.
Equally the Swiss seemed understandably reluctant to advance into terrain to clear out the Northern Longbowmen.
Ineffective volleys of arrows and javelins were not contributing much either at this stage.
As the Swiss closed on the main line of Lancastrian foote next to the lakeside, they paused and conducted a highly successful round of rally attempts, almost totally negating the repeated firings of the Lancastrian Gonne.
Now it would all be down to bravery in hand to hand, and quite possibly the extra width of the Lancastrian formation... provided their poor quality centre could hold on long enough for the flank attacks to actually have some effect.
Lancaster's household Knights were spittin' feathers as they ended up as the first to charge home - accepting the downside of the odd overlap for the tradeoff of keeping their Mediocre levy halberdiers out of combat for maybe another turn.
This was not about chewing through the Swiss frontally, it was about locking them in place so other Lancastrian soldiery had time to flow around the Kiels vulnerable and partly exposed flanks to do the ultimate damage. Nice one!
Charles The Bold's Family History
The battle quickly escalated as both sides fed more and more men into combat.
Even if the pikes meant that the bases weren't as close as they perhaps should be no-one really cared as frankly it still looked way more cool than of the pikemen had raised pikes and had been in march formation. Sound.
In the centre the second Kiel was also called into action, as an unwise Longbowman had inched out of the terrain for another shot, and then failed to secure enough pips to turn and fall back in a subsequent turn.
That's bobbins! This should not take long....
The smallest worm will turn being trodden on.
(Clifford, Act 2 Scene 2)
The main line of battle was ebbing and flowing as both armies struggled for supremacy on the pedestrian combat scale.
Al'reet? The Foot Knights of the Lancastrians were however well chuffed, as they were the ones striking the first decisive blows, whittling away the left hand end of the Swiss block as their combination of better armour and 2HW - and overlaps - proved too much even for the hard wearing Swiss infantry.
Suddenly the massive Kiel was not quite as massive anymore.
With a mighty battle cry of "Vive Le Tax Haven!" the Swiss redoubled their efforts and punched a hole right through the heart of the reserves-free Lancastrian infantry line.
But, dramatic as this was, it paled in significance to the dramatic events at the end of the Swiss formation, where fully armoured foot knights were taking advantage of the gap they had carved to charge at pace and with great momentum into the Swiss flank!
As this battle raged, peace had practically broken out on the opposite flank as the lightweight arm of the Lancastrian army swiftly fell back to regroup in relative safety.
Ey up, cock! The second Swiss Kiel suddenly found itself with no opposition.
Charles The Bold's Exhibition (from Berne)
Wot you skennin' at? The main line of scrimmage was turning into a full blown ruck and maul with Swiss halberdiers now arriving from the reserves to try and shore up the rapidly eroding pike block.
The Lancastrians were now at risk of stuttering their lines even having done so well to engineer the flank position as a Swiss counterattack threatened to spoil their carefully laid plans by outflanking the Lancastrians own outflanking force!
As the Swiss carved an even bigger hole in the centre of the weak Lancastrian line the knightly warriors of North East England chopped their way deeper and deeper into the very heart of the Swiss Kiel.
Both sides were seeing huge wins, but while each Swiss victory saw the elimination of a bigger and bigger part of the Lancastrian armies fighting power, as the men of Bury went piling forwards all they seemed to meet were yet more indomitable enemy troops ready to continue the fight.
Now their pikemen were fully committed the tide of battle was swinging the way of Switzerland for sure - to almost no-ones surprise.
Seeing the small but tough Swiss army still some way from its break point, yet also conscious of horrific losses their own infantry had taken in being crushed and trampled underfoot by the Swiss Phalanx the formerly evasive Lancastrian flank command returned with a vengeance, racing forward yet again to unleash volleys of arrows at the somewhat bemused and irritated Swiss.
This time however those arrows struck true, causing a cascade of hits all along the line and in the process pushing the Swiss fractionally closer towards the valley of defeat.
Where once two solid lines of men had stood and fought toe to toe, now only isolated pockets of survivors were left, each swirling about the other in a desperate struggle for supremacy.
Grim-visaged War hath smoothed his wrinkled front.
(Richard, Act 1 Scene 1)
Every combat had huge stakes, and not of the kind carried by the Lancastrian longbowmen - this was now a life and death struggle for both sides.
As time was called, the Lancastrians were on the very edge of destruction - the Swiss had been staggered and bloodied by the Lancastrians shooting and hand to hand prowess, but in the end less than half the Swiss army had come agonisingly close to inflicting a defeat on the entire Lancastrian force.
A sobering reminder of the ferocity of a properly aggressive pike block in the medieval era.
Wot's the scran? The Result is a losing draw.
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from Lord "Chuck" Norris of Weatherfield, the Lancastrian WOTR Commander
Jolly frightening that was - it was even worse than when Roy Cropper got a ding on the head from a badly secured frying pan at the corner cafe and ended up thinking he was Roy Batty from Blade Runner for a good fortnight.
There are probably many things he's seen that you would not believe, but there are certainly no attack ships massing on the A57 bypass through Salford Quays on a normal Wednesday evening when the rest of the world is playing darts in the Rovers.
Combat wise I really though we had this won and done and dusted for a long part of the game, but in the end the Swiss were more resilient than a stone wall in the proper side of the Pennines, and it was our lads who crumbled just short of the line like a Ole Gunnar Solskjar team in the weeks and days after he was made permanent manager.
Perhaps this time we were lucky there was no "Fergie Time" or otherwise the Swiss might well have walked away with the keys to the Old Trafford trophy cabinet - although to be fair, they've probably been lost in the years since they were last needed.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
This was a pummelling of the highest order, and you gratefully stepped up practically demanding to be smacked about the face and chops with the sense and grace of a village idiot looking for beating.
The Swiss are by definition the acme of toughness, so by declining to fight them you were actually attempting to do something vaguely sensible - and even I must admit that the gunnery was working well right up until the point that you realised that your yeoman soldiers were probably not even good enough to fight injured and cannon-ball-washed Swiss pikemen anyway.
Once they sat still for a turn and rallied off many of your carefully engineered hits, the game was then immediately up - you were as good as fighting at the same odds as you could have started the battle in a straight fight. The failure that even a child could see here was one of not pressing the attack on the only open flank the Swiss possessed with more vim and vigor - this was the route to victory and it was a route you simply declined to try to take.
Whether you will make such an obvious mistake in the next game is always a moot point with a dullard such as you. My bet is that you will not, but this will not be down to learning, more than you will find even bigger and more imaginative mistakes to unveil to an expectant world.
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition