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Subject: First Chevauchee, second game of Battlelore rss

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T.W. Man
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Santa dropped Battlelore (including a Hill Giant and a Earth Elemental!) under our Christmas tree. And somewhat surprisingly, my girlfriend enjoys this game!

Being unfamiliar with the C&C system, we're going through the scenarios in order, trying not to forget any rules. The rulebook is good, the rules are simple enough, but sometimes, in the heat of battle, it's easy to forget if a particular unit is bold, entitled to battle back, how many dice to roll and if the unit is entitled to pursuit. It doesn't really detract from the flow though, as questions are easily answered. In short, we're having fun with the game.

The first game we played was of course the Agincourt battle, where I played the English. Having drawn "Darken the sky" in my opening hand, I saw I had a good chance to win. Not willing to let the dastardly French to retreat too soon, my initial move was a small one, moving some archers to a better position. The French recklessly advanced one of their heavy cavalry units and the time was ripe: the sky ran dark with flight after flight of arrows, the ground ran red and all French heavy cavalry was no more. The French position never recoverd from that.

The next game, a few days later, we played scenario number two, the First Chevauchee. I played the Standard side (Charles of Blois), my girlfriend the Pennant (John of Montfort).

First, a picture of the starting situation is warranted; fortunately, an independent chronicaller by the outlandish name of Grildensnork provides us with one:

The battle started slowly, with some manoeuvering for the high ground and I was trying to position the archers in the woods on my left flank while also providing some support to my melee forces on the hill next to it. I also moved one of my cavalry towards my left flank, all the while ignoring the odd arrow flying towards my forces.

John of Montfort kept that side of the line closed though, using the time to move all forces into a compact two line formation where all the troops were comfortably supported by allies, while also sending a minor probing force down my right flank.

Refusing to be distracted, I engaged in a skirmish om my left flank. It, however, proved disastrous! Montfort's archers found their aim to be true when it mattered, and my melee units were losing men fast. Worse still, Montfort could easily engage into battle with bold forces, the skirmish being so close to the solid line. And truly, within the span of a few minutes, my left flank was desperate.

It was time for a crucial decision. I could attempt to rally my left flank by committing my centre fully and hope for the best, or I could sacrifice the flank while opening a new front elsewhere. I decided on the latter.

I used what few orders I had left on my left flank to buy me time: I moved infantry on the hill, cavalry behind it, keeping my archers in the wood and leaving one poor unit covering the retreat. Their job was simply to gain as much time as possible.

Then, I ordered my melee units in the centre (regular horsemen and footmen and one full unit of seasoned veterans) to advance on the raiding party Montfort had sent earlier in the battle.

I was in good fortune, for I had saved many messengers for my right flank and put them to good use. Quickly enough the raiding party was sent into complete disarray.

Meanwhile, my left flank held... barely. Though little comfort to their mothers, the footmen covering the retreat fulfilled their mission with honour, slowing the advance even as the last man fell. The archers in the woods were still at full battle strength, but the men on the hill were also whittled down to the bare minimum to be considered a fighting force and the horsemen were cowering behind the hill.

Montfort was almost able to extract two units from the raiding party to the safety of the main line, when fortune struck again: my footmen found renewed spirit and a true onslaught followed as they surged forwards as one! The cut off the way to safety and annihilated the last units.

Suddenly, the tide had turned in a dramatic fashion: while my left flank had crumbled completely as an attacking force, it stuck together as a holding force, albeit in a shaky fashion. I had miraculously only lost one complete unit on that flank. On the other hand, I had managed to trap and destroy the raiding party on the right flank and four units were completely lost to Montfort.

And thus, I advanced my forces steadily, occupying the two hills overlooking Montfort's main line, thinking of a way to tackle that hard clump of forces. And then, a full unit of footmen of Montfort bravely marched towards the hill. However, they didn't realise that their brothers in arms weren't following them as fully as they wanted, leaving them oh so slightly exposed. Seizing the opportunity, I had two units rush down the hills, beating down on the brave men, my grizzled veterans, however few there were left, first to capitalise on this moment. As the dust settled, the unit was lost and Montfort's men were completely demoralized. They struck their colours and the day was won!

On reflection, I thought I had lost the day when my left flank skirmish turned into a disaster. I was lucky that my girlfriend wasn't able to follow through and make it stick fully. I knew my only chance would be a truly decisive action on the right and I had just about the right cards for it with the Foot Onslaught the decider on that flank. After that, it was mop-up action only. Ironically, my girlfriend only started to draw big order cards on the left flank (my right flank) after that. Still, the main line was mostly intact for her, so I still had to ponder how to crack the tough nut of seven units with mutual support, keeping in mind that two units had "insta-kill" status, one of them within archer range. My attacking force coming from the centre-right was battleworn, her troops were fresh. So I was fortunate when one unit left the mutual support position onto an exposed edge of the formation. This settled the battle.

Lessons learned:
First off, it's risky to send in a limited skirmishing force without easy means of backup. Lost banners count heavily!

Second, even a lost force has value: if it can't be saved, make the opponent use up as much time as possible to take it down while opening a new front. It leaves the opponent with the choice between responding to the new front or mopping up your stragglers. Even better, your stragglers still remain a minor, well, not threat, but more of an annoyance as long as they are within striking distance.

Conversely, try to follow through when you have the initiative locally: a task force of all one figure units or a completely wiped out task force makes a lot of difference on the strategic level (every banner won counts against your VP goal), even if on a tactical level both situations can be relatively similar ("threat eliminated").

Lastly, if you have a good formation, be careful what happens to morale when you move one unit. In this game, it made my job so much easier when it created an unsupported unit within striking range.

Edit: mostly typos
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