Having a go at Hastings

 By Chris Hahn

Inspired by the March issue of Wargames Illustrated, I decided to stage a version of Hastings. By no means was my effort a historical refight. It was more of an exercise.

The forces, at least in terms of points, were fairly balanced. The Normans and their allies enjoyed advantages in cavalry and archers.

As things turned out, these advantages did not help very much. The burden of the attack fell on the “poor bloody infantry.” While limited successes were achieved and more than a few Saxons were slain, the Normans, Bretons, and Flemish could not push the enemy formations from their defensive line.

I briefly considered rallying and reordering my beaten-up foot units in order to launch a second assault. I also considered throwing my cavalry against the Saxon shieldwall.

(Photos below)

It’s fair to comment that my energy had been sapped by the difficulty of the first advance. It’s probably fair to remark that I am rather conservative as a commander of miniature troops. It’s also probably correct to suggest that this kind of scenario does not provide for a hugely exciting or enjoyable wargame.

Photo 1

Photo 1

Photo 1 depicts that general deployment and terrain prior to the start of the battle. The Saxons are on the right; the Normans and allies are on the left. To maximize the playing space, I used 2/3rds rules from my Armati collection when measuring Hail Caesar distances.

Photo 2

Photo 2

Photo 2 shows how bloody the Norman attack on the Saxon center was. The red markers indicate a casualty. Two of the three advancing Norman infantry units were shaken by the melee on the Saxon-held hill. The Norman archers (indicated by the light green open order markers on their edge) took some losses from the Saxon skirmishers. The Normans did not have support from either flank, as their allies were fully engaged by the enemy to their front.

Photo 3

Photo 3

Photo 3 depicts a lull in the Flemish sector. At no little cost, the Flemish attack has been repulsed. The Saxon slingers (the small unit just off the hill in the center left of the frame) have been annoying an enemy foot unit within their range. The Norman cavalry (dark blue counters) can be seen at the bottom of the photo. These “regiments” were not engaged.

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2 Responses to Having a go at Hastings

  1. Lone Wolf Warrior says:

    Hi Chris,

    An excellent example of a ‘what if’ if I may make so bold. You have clearly demonstrated that Harold had a good chance of winning the battle if his shieldwall had remained intact and had not gone chasing the broken Bretons.

    Best regards,

    Lone “Wolf” Warrior [aka THAT Graham Empson]
    “Be a seeker and speaker of truth for in that truth lies wisdom and the lessons to be learnt” Graham L Empson

  2. Chris Hahn says:

    Thanks for the compliment and post. A narrative (sans photos) was posted to the Medieval Message Board of TMP. Suggestions were made for a lull rule, to reflect the historical occasion of the Normans charging, failing to make a dent, and regrouping for another try. I do suppose that I could have engineered some kind of Saxons lose control rule for when the local battle goes their way . . . Again, this was more of an experiment than a proper wargame.

    It might prove interesting to retry this using IMPETUS. I’ve heard/read good things about this set of rules.


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