Battle of Hastings under Twilight of the Sun King

Lately I’ve been thinking about how to apply my Twilight of the Sun-King rules outside of the War of Spanish Succession. I’ve also recently developed a preference for big bases. It happens that this battle report by Tom Loback and Vincent Tsao, submitted on the Yahoo Forum, combines both. It applies a variant of Twilight of the Sun-King rules to a Medieval setting, the Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD, using units that are effectively big bases comprising four DBx elements in a group. I’ve put the battle report together with the photos. Both words and photos are Vincent’s.

We played a game of Hastings last night, using a variant of the TSK rules. Each side had 7 units and a general. Tom played Harold Godwinson and I was William the Bastard.

Orders of Battle

Tom had two units of huscarls, armored heavy infantry. One was elite. He had four units of fyrd, close order undisciplined infantry and one unit of skirmishing bows. I had two units of close-order bowmen, two of armored defensive infantry, two of aggressive armored cavalry (one elite) and one unit of Breton cavalry. Senlac Hill was flanked by creeks and bad going on both sides.

Special Rules

Aside from minor tinkering with morale test modifiers and action tests, the main addition to the rules is disorder, a temporary condition. I figured the slight increase in complexity was offset by the smaller number of units. We were using units of 4 DBA stands each, double ranked. We could have had more small units but it looked nice. We also used 2D6 for morale tests. Heavy infantry took 4 hits, cavalry 3 and skirmishers 2 before routing. Elite troops took an extra hit instead of having morale modifiers. If levy were present they would have taken one less.

Battle Report

I marched forward. I moved the bowmen as though they were loose order troops – a mistake, since they were close order types. Tom proceeded to roll poorly on his first morale test and a fyrd unit on his right center took a hit. He pulled his right flank back and put the rest of his line into shield wall.

Behind the Norman left

Behind the Norman left

On my right, where my knights were massing, the bowmen had no effect. On my left the Breton horse charged up the hill and put a hit on the fyrd. Then the Bretons took a hit and came back down the hill at some speed. Saxon bow skirmishers traded arrows with my left center bow unit. Hits slowly accumulated. The skirmishers eventually broke.
Saxons give ground on left

Saxons give ground on left

On my right, a unit of knights charged up the hill and hit the flank fyrd unit. The fight continued for while. Then the neighboring fyrd unit started wheeling to threaten the flank of the knights. The knights broke contact and ran. The fyrd failed a pursuit test and came charging down the hill after them. William led a unit of knights into them and caused a hit. William’s knights took a hit in return and fell back with the fyrd in pursuit. I decided the knights should be disordered, though I need to clarify how and when this happens.
Eager Fyrd pursue off hill

Eager Fyrd pursue off hill

The first knight unit had recovered and charged the fyrd, putting another hit on them. Tom now decided that with my cavalry engaged on both flanks he should attack in the center. The Saxons poured down the hill. One shot up fyrd unit opposite my right center bow unit refused to charge. But my left center bow unit was charged. I noticed there was no modifier for missile troops in melee and added -1. The fight in the center went on for a number of turns. My left flank bow unit routed. The shot up fyrd unit finally charged my other bow unit and soon put them away. A huscarl unit chewed through one of my spear units.
Breton cavalry climb Senlac Hill again

Breton cavalry climb Senlac Hill again

William finally got his squadron back in order and in position to aid the other squadron of knights. The fyrd unit gave ground but was then attacked by both squadrons of knights and routed. My last spear unit, threatened on the flank fell back but was hit by a fyrd unit and a huscarl unit and collapsed. I had lost 4 of seven units, against two routed Saxons. I rolled for army morale and failed, so Harold Godwinson kept his throne. My Normans failed a number of action tests, possibly because I kept giving orders from Hank instead of William. The little tin guys notice stuff like that.

Wrap Up

Norman losses were about 2,000 to about 750 Saxons. It was closer than that seems, since the Norman knights had finally broken the Saxon left and were about to start rolling up the line. We played 18 turns in less than 90 minutes, averaging about 5 minutes per turn. This represented 4 and a half hours of actual combat. We both thought the game was pretty good. It needs some tweaking. I am thinking of having variable results from morale failures, based on troop quality. I am also thinking of allowing cavalry and skirmishers to be slightly more nimble than other troops. I’m thinking of slightly adjusting command rules for this period, since a lot of leaders were the equivalent of “heavy weight champ” of East Dogpatch rather than skilled leaders. This calls for a category of zero leaders who only serve to lead in combat. Then you could have zero, one and two leaders.

This was the maiden game for Saxons and Normans. I painted them up a while back and then ran out of enthusiasm for any of the ancient/medieval rules we were using.

3 comments to Battle of Hastings under Twilight of the Sun King

  • Mart

    I enjoyed this report thanks. I use 6mm and sword and spear rules. I have tried a re-fight Stamford Bridge (produced a historical result) and two of Hastings (one small scale 7 units a side and one larger one 14 units a side). The first one Harold won the day, the second ended up a long fought draw with both sides really hammered.
    A really interesting era to wargame, refights seems to suggest if the Saxons had stayed on the hill (and Harold hadn’t been killed!) they would have won.

    • Steven Thomas

      Mart, Thanks for commenting. I’m tempted to try Sword & Spear. I have even downloaded the free downloads. Unfortunately, I have had an unfortunately ordering experience with Great Escape Games … until they resolve that I’m disinclined to risk more money with them.

    • Steven Thomas

      And I agree, if the Saxons had held their ground they would have won. But that is way William (supposedly) lured them off the hill.

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