Norman Cavalry

Xarepunk
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:16 pm

Norman Cavalry

Postby Xarepunk » Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:12 pm

Today I played against an introductory game against a player new to Swordpoint with his Norman army with my Anglo-Saxons and we encountered a query regarding Norman mounted knights, although I am not sure we played it correctly (so please comment):

6 bases of knights charged my 6 bases of Thegns/Fyrd and got stuck. The Normans had 5 dice (3 + 2 for shock) against 6 Saxon dice.
Saxon got +2 on the CRD (+1 CO, +1 Depth) while the Normans only got +1 (Shock) because they are Open Order.

He argued, that this mechanic would encourage only taking 3 base knight units as you do not get a depth bonus, therefore making the historical use of the knights in larger units as a hammer unit unattractive. In later armies this is solved by the barding option, but Normans do not have this.

We agreed on giving the Norman knights the depth bonus. What do you think about this?

Paul Lawton
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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:42 pm

Re: Norman Cavalry

Postby Paul Lawton » Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:58 pm

A unit classed as mass cavalry get the Close order bonus and in the first round of a combat would get the depth bonus, but Norman knights fought in a much looser formation during this period than earlier cavalry types such as Cataphracts. Battle accounts from the battle of Hastings state that Norman cavalry rode up to the English shield wall to throw their spears, not a tactic that could be used with massed cavalry.

Taking three bases would mean that the unit would become unformed after losing a base and therefore unable to charge and would have to take cohesion tests when charged by a formed unit, most experienced players would not do that, especially against an opponent that has a modicum of shooting bases.

You can defeat infantry with cavalry frontally but not very often and really difficult against good infantry such as the Anglo-Danish, so a reasonable general will not risk frontally assaulting them, especially if they are in shieldwall and armed with 2 handed axes. You would use your infantry to occupy your opponents infantry and use your cavalry on the flanks. Close order infantry are not very mobile.

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Wayne Richards
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Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:44 pm

Re: Norman Cavalry

Postby Wayne Richards » Sat Feb 22, 2020 11:45 am

I've played plenty of games with Normans, usually running 3 units of mounted knights, each with a commander. Unless I catch an open order unit unsupported, I don't expect to frontally smash through close order units in line of battle. As Paul suggested, it's more about exploiting the manoeuvrability of the cavalry to turn a flank.
Hopefully your friend will stick with the Normans and see their benefits once they have a few more games under their belt.
Cheers W.

MartinG
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2016 8:48 am

Re: Norman Cavalry

Postby MartinG » Sat Feb 22, 2020 11:56 am

I think another point is that it is certainly better to use the knights in a single rank wherever possible, so many players leave them on their 3-wide, 2-deep movement trays at all times and you can exploit this, especially against other cavalry, by going 4 or 5 wide for the extra dice.
"No one ever achieved anything without making a few mistakes along the way"

Xarepunk
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:16 pm

Re: Norman Cavalry

Postby Xarepunk » Sat Feb 22, 2020 2:16 pm

Thank you all for your fast replies. THis issue really concerned me last evening.
I re-read the rules and some accounts of the Battle of Hastings and absolutely agree with Paul's interpretation.

My friend also had 3 units of dismounted knights, but he used them to hold a defensive line while sending two units of mounted knights (with commanders) plus Breton skirmishers out on the flank similar to a tank spearhead. The skirmishers soon ran away, one knights got distracted and the last charging knights positioned badly, so only to bases got to fight. Probably not the best tactic...
Also we had to much terrain on board (8 pieces).

But in general I got him hooked on Swordpoint, just like myself ;-)
Next time it might be a more open battle and he'll probably rather use a combined arms approach and coordinate with his shooters.
I also think, that instead of getting stuck in melee with heavy infantry (a 4 turn stalemate!) disengaging for a new charge might be wise for Norman knights. The notion about widening the front rank for extra dice is very helpful, indeed. Hadn't thought about it like this.

Paul Lawton
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:42 pm

Re: Norman Cavalry

Postby Paul Lawton » Sat Feb 22, 2020 5:52 pm

Always disengage from infantry after a round of combat with lance armed cavalry if you have the space as you can only use you lance modifier when you charge into combat which is the only way you will break infantry as the +2 modifer will cancel most defence factors and that is your only chance of removing a base if they are in shieldwall.


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