I’ve been getting a fair bit of wargaming in lately…A fair bit for me anyway. My son was watching my friend Ian and I play out some of the Quatre Bras game as a play-test. Naturally he asked when we would get to play “…and not the Hobbit again.” he said. Not that he didn’t like The Hobbit but that he wanted to try something on a bigger scale, or so I supposed. So, I put together a One Hour Wargames Dark Ages battle. Essentially, we ended up with Britons vs more Britons. I setup the first scenario in the book “Pitched Battle.” Essentially, the battlefield consists of a hill at the center of each baseline and flat plane everywhere else. The armies were 6 units strong. He had a cavalry, 4 heavy infantry and a skirmisher. I had a cavalry, 4 heavy infantry and warband.
I suspect I had the advantage but opted to charge straight ahead. he charged straight ahead in the same fashion. The cavalry and infantry were all locked up by turn 4 and formed 6 little struggles all over the battlefield. The skirmishers managed 2 shots during the game but scored no hits. They did considerably better in hand to hand combat. I rolled many 1’s (I was playing a 7 year old after all!). He managed the first kill on my Warband. As it was near the flank, he opted to maneuver to the flank of my cavalry and charge it a turn later. He then had 2 units running free. He charged into the flanks of my heavy infantry units in the center. He then destroyed the one fighting his other heavy infantry unit in the center. My other heavy infantry unit finally destroyed first his skirmishers and then turned and destroyed his cavalry. On or about turn 8 he finished me off by destroying one of my heavy infantry units on the right straight up. The other unit was destroyed by a flank charge.
My son’s impression of the game was not favorable. He said that it was too boring. “How do you mean?” I asked. Units just get stuck and nothing really happens except die rolling he said. To translate, I suspect he means there were not enough tactical decisions to be made. He did say, “I think these guys with bows should be able to retreat from combat after the enemy attacks them.” Came up with that all by himself and it is not really a bad rule. 7 years old and already tinkering!
My impressions were a bit different. I thought it worked pretty well for Dark Age warfare. You can form a shield wall and go at it while trying to gain that little edge that might win you the battle. The battle will turn based on what happens in the first few turns. Had I really been playing, I would have ignored his skirmishers and doubled up one of his heavy infantry units. Even with my poor die rolling, it would have been a much closer game that way. The other possibility would be to have my warband go after the flank of one of his heavies while isolating his light infantry on the other side of the line.
The warfare of the period is just a simplified version of classical warfare and to this point, the game delivers. So, this may not be the game for him. I also have “Throw me a 6” on my “Old School” page. It has a few more intricacies and even has some retreating as a combat result so maybe that will be more to his liking. Maybe.