Friday 15 August 2014

Bouvines 1214 Refight

So six players from the Canberra Games Society including yours truly got together to fight one of our series of historical refights - this year using battles ending in '14. This time, Bouvines, 1214, with the French taking on the might of the Holy Roman Empire.

The battle was refought using DBMM version 2 from WRG. Still our favourite ancients big battle rules. Six players were available, Dave, Michael, Jon, John and Me. Peter was held up by family commitments, but as one of the Imperial contingents was represented by a 'Delayed Command' (in DBMM a group of elements or bases that is off table when the battle starts, arriving later). In DBMM terms this was a big battle, armies are normally fielded at between 350 - 450 Army Points (AP) - in recreating the historical order of battle, the French fielded just over 500 points, and the Imperials about 600. The troop density meant there was little manoeuvre on an open and flat battlefield.

I took the French left - with my main strikeforce a group of French feudal knights. In DBMM terms these were 'Irregular' Knights graded as 'Superior' (or at least with a real confidence in their own superiority...) supported by a motley bunch of Spearmen, crossbowmen, peasant scum and some sergeants. All the French commands (in DBMM each army is split into 2-4 'commands' that are each under a single general) were broadly similar. Opposing me was John with a slightly larger number of 'Ordinary' Knights supported by a large number of badly equipped and motivated pikemen.

In the centre - Our French Commander in Chief was Dave, opposed by Michael with two commands of Imperials, and on the French left Jon was facing thin air as the last of the Imperial commands had not yet arrived.

So to battle! - in each of the big battle games it has been interesting how you get tunnel vision for your own part of the battlefield, and often the game can be won or lost elsewhere while you are narrowly focused on your own struggle. It's quite revealing of how armies failed to coordinate or missed opportunities. So I apologise in advance for focusing on the French right where I was.

Table viewed from the French right. French are on the left. In the distance - the French left is aiming at thin air.  The French right wing commander (me) has rolled low command dice (1) - and the French knights have advanced through their own infantry.

View from behind the Imperial right, the Imperial centre has echeloned back to prevent being flanked before their right wing command arrives.

The French right. Knights clash, and while my general has been pushed back into his own infantry, the Imperial Knights have lost three of their number, including the general, and are in trouble. Some gallant Heerban horde now stand in the gap in front of the rampant French. Poor French command PIPs prevent me form taking full advantage though, and the French cannot swing round to attack the neighbouring Imperials in the rear.

The hand of God - or Michael - the centre sees another confused knight melee while the infantry trade a few arrows and crossbow bolts, but are largely onlookers. Here again, the French superiority in troop gradings has kicked in, and the 'Ordinary' Imperial knights have come off badly. 

The Imperial CinC is isolated and the casualties are building...

Two Imperial generals, trying to count up whether their losses have now disheartened or broken their commands.

French centre, with the infantry throwing handbags at each other...

The Imperial army breaks in their own bound. For fun we rolled the dice to see what would have happened if the French had one more turn. Unlike his historical counterpart, who fled the field, our little lead Emperor was caught flank and rear by the French and suffered fatal consequences.


  1. The antepenultimate photograph - is that the commander calling for more reinforcements?

  2. trying to calculate whether their army was fighting on... it wasn't