Saturday, 21 January 2012


As you can see from the title, the conclusion of the SYW battle of Pfaltzig has been held over for another week. We decided to dust off the medieval figures and try out a scenario using the WAB Armies of Chivalry supplement. Prince Abel of Denmark had raised an army to extend the Danish influence within the borders of the Holy Roman Empire. Poptkopf Von Gissenheim had, at the request of the Emperor, assembled a force to resist this unwanted intrusion and this was camped under the walls of Pfalzdorf.
With the confidence of youth Prince Abel decided to attack. His force contained militia infantry raised from Kefeld, Wissemburg, Magdeburg, Speyer and Bartenstein (crossbows), plus some mercenary archers. In addition to a unit of knights led by his second in command Gottfreid von Alderhelm, he had a unit of mounted men-at-arms. Poptkopf had used the influence of the emperor's name to hire mercenaries from Bohemia (crossbows and foot) together with militia foot from Mainz and Hagenau. In addition to knights led by the warrior bishop of Wissengen, many minor gentry had responded to the imperial 'request' and so Poptkopf had two units of mounted men-at-arms.

The action opened with both sides advancing. Poptkopf, keen to exploit his advantage in men-at-arms, moved one unit to his left, by the town walls, threatening the Magdeburg militia on Abel's right flank. The archers to Magdeburg's left were busy responding to the fire from the opposing Bohemian crossbowmen and so were unable to fire at the advancing men-at-arms. Un-nerved by the approaching enemy the Magdeburg militia took to their heels opening up Abel's right flank. Fortunately, Gottfried was able to move his knights over to counter this threat and a prolonged melee began.

On the opposite flank the Krefeld militia advanced against Hagenau, whom they outnumbered 2 to 1. Hagenau's supporting archers were involved in the same sort of exchanges as on the other flank with the Bartenstein crossbowmen. As the two bodies of militia came together Hagenau managed to hold their ground and a slogging match developed.

In the centre Mainz and Wissemburg clashed and although the Mainz contingent had the advantage of numbers they too were held.

However, Abel had spotted an opportunity for his mounted men-at-arms. The Hagenau archers were blocking the advance of Poptkopf's second men-at-arms unit and were also vulnerable to attack. The archer's attempt to disrupt the men-at-arms advance with arrows was ineffective and the mounted men crashed home. In spite of 25% casualties the archers held, but Poptkopf could do little to help them in their unequal struggle. As the men-at-arms broke into the archers' formation order disintegrated and they broke. As the archers ran for the temporary security of the town Poptkopf's men-at-arms moved to oppose their victorious enemies.

On his right, Abel had managed to rally the Madeburg militia and now they advance to join in the melee between Gottfreid's knights and the men-at-arms. Initially they exerted no influence, but slowly they began to increase the pressure on their opponents and suddenly the men-at-arms broke. As they turned their backs Gottfreid's knights attacked with impunity and pursued the remnants as far as the town walls.

However, in the centre Poptkopf had had some success. Mainz had at last overcome the militia from Wissemburg and bishop and his knights had moved forward and attacked the militia from Speyer. The Bohemian troops had attacked the mercenary archers and although the foot had been pushed back, the crossbowmen had been very effective.

The battle looked evenly poised, but lady luck now played her hand. On Poptkopf's right, the Hagenau militia after a valiant fight, broke. His men-at-arms also broke and seeing this the Mainz militia fell back. On his left the remnants of the Bohemian militia were charged by Gottfried's knights and fled. This meant that he only had the Bohemian crossbowmen and the bishop's knights as functioning units. With enemy horsemen bearing down on him, Poptkopf sought the security of Pfalzdorf's walls; the day was Prince Abel's.

This action was very much an experiment with the WAB rules. They are fairly easy to follow and have their own distinctive feel. I found it odd that you can throw bucketfuls of dice and nothing happens for two or three turns. On the other hand if things go badly then they go bad very quickly. Both of Poptkopf's men-at-arms units lost their respective melees by only one casualty but then failed the command test and broke. The main cause of their demise was the low rout dice (a total score of 8 on 3 d6)which was fairly easily surpassed by their pursuers and resulted in the men-at-arms being overun and eliminated. On another day they may well have been a different result.

The town walls which feature in one of the photographs are from the collection of that well-known wargamer Phil Olley. Thanks very much Phil!

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