A bit of a departure this week; our first departure into the medieval period for some time. Usually the games are based on the constant battling between Prince Abel of Denmark and the forces led by Erasmus Potkopf. On this occasion, the figures were representing the armies of England and Scotland at the battle of Byland Moor in 1322. Neither of the commanders knew which battle was being represented. The English commander knew that his outposts had been surprised by a Scottish force, but the bulk of his force was still in camp. The infantry would be available after two moves, the knights required to beat a die roll to get moving.
The small English force tried their best to delay the Scots advance, but were heavily outnumbered, particularly in cavalry; those on the left disintegrated almost at once, but those on the right resisted to the end. The archers inflicted casualties on the approching Scots foot, but again those on the left were unable to stand, they were overwhelmed by a greater number of archers. The English were not helped by the slowness of the English knights in getting into action. The English foot were no doubt cursing the lack of support as the Scots knights fell on them with enthusiasm.
Restricted by the tents and baggage, the main body of the English force attempted to advance, but the missile foot straggling forward suddenly found themselves confronted by Scots knights and fighting for their lives. On the other flank the commander of the missile foot decided to head for the flank of the Scots force and take advantage of some wooded terrrain. Unfortunately, it was at this point that the last of the covering force of cavalry was overwhelmed and the second force of Scots knights thundered forward scenting easy prey. This force of missile foot was destroyed before it could fire a shot.
At last the English cavalry began to get moving, just as the second Scots force appeared on the English right. This was composed of more Scots knights and the pick of their infantry. Battle was joined just outside the English camp as the English commander struggled to move reinforcements to his right flank. As the two forces of knights hacked at each other with little effect the Scots crossbows and foot knights advanced on the camp. A scenario rule was that any pillaging of the camp, or burning of tents inflicted a morale test on the nearest unit. The only occupants of the camp at this stage were the second battle of English foot, who were struggling to advance to their right and the Bishop of Durham together with his loyal bodyguard. The bishop, who had just finished morning prayers was shocked to see enemy crossbowmen firing on the camp and even more shocked to see that they were advancing in his direction. He sent one of the pages for his coach and instructed his bodyguard to watch to their right as he moved quietly to the left. Even before the tents were torched the bodyguard took to their heels. They could see the effect of the crossbow bolts on the packed ranks of English foot as they struggled to deploy. They also noticed that the Bishop was not waiting to see how things went. Joining the growing number of carters, drivers, cooks and other camp followers, the bodyguard ran. They quickly outdistanced the bishop who had become bogged down by his heavy vestments and tangled in tents and baggage. Then the first tents were torched.
English foot began to look over their shoulders and sense that their only hope lay in flight. Here and there small groups made their way to the rear. The rest fought on desperately, but their flanks were threatened and the English reserve of knights had been spotted in their flank move and charged by the Scots second in command and his bodyguard.
In a last desperate move the English commander advanced his centre hoping to crush the Scots to his front. Although initially successful, his lack of cavalry meant that his flanks were in the air and marauding Scots light cavalry moved in for the kill. The day was lost, the Scots flank attack was overunning the English camp, their foot were dead or surrounded and only a few knights remained.
The result of the game was in line with historical events. The English were surprised and heavily defeated; paying dearly for very poor scouting. They were totally unaware of the presence of the Scots army.