A couple of educational flash games from BBC History Channel presenting two important battles from English history – the Battle of Hastings between the Normans and the Anglo-Saxons under King Harold II and the Battle of Waterloo pitting the forces the Duke of Wellington against Napoleon Bonaparte. Both games allow you to exprience the battles from either side and the possible outcomes if either side had fought differently at critical points during each battle.
The Battle of Hastings : The Normans have infantry, archers and cavalry whereas the Anglo-Saxons is primarily a infantry based army.
A Norman victory (top) and an Anglo-Saxon victory (bottom)
The Battle of Waterloo : The heavily outnumbered French army has powerful artillery and better cavalry than the more numerous Seventh Coalition army comprising Belgian, Dutch, Hanoverian, Brunswick and British troops under the Duke of Wellington.
A Seventh Coalition victory (top) and a French victory (bottom)
Below, I present some of my findings after playing both games several times to discover all possible choices and outcomes.
While both battles took place in different eras, the same basic principle of preserving a mobile reserve to reinforce a successful breakthrough of enemy lines or to bolster a faltering defence or seal critical gaps in defensive lines is readily apparent.
Tactics of course vary according to the prevalent weapons of day. In the Battle of Hastings, the bristling spearpoints of the English shield wall provide an effective counter to Norman cavalry charges whereas infantry of the Napoleonic era form into equally immobile squares with their musket bayonets to deter enemy cavalry.
© Osprey Publishing
Above is Wayne Reynold’s illustration of the effectiveness of a solid shieldwall from the 11th December edition of Osprey Publishing’s “Advent Calendar”. Another shield wall is depicted by late Angus McBride on the 1st December edition.
These two battles still involve armies arrayed in formation against each other before the actual commencement of battle since massed infantry did not possess accurate ranged weapons to inflict substantial damage to their opponents during those times. This probably explains why the artillery were emplaced in front of the French infantry in the battle of Waterloo and the resulting disaster during the early days of WWI when armies attempted to use similar Napoleonic tactics in the face of vastly improved ranged weapons like rifles and machineguns.
The same lack of accurate long-ranged weapons could also make a heroic charge by leaders and their heavily-armored and armed bodyguards exemplified in the Battle of Hastings as a viable way of transforming a crisis into sure victory. A similiar valiant attempt would be pure suicide in today’s wars.
It’s apparent that tactical units have become smaller through the ages probably due to advancements in communication and signalling methods as well as the increased tempo of battle. The increased accuracy and destructiveness of artillery as it evolved over time was possibly a important factor too.
MORE @ THE DOWNLOAD MUNKEY:
Osprey Publishing’s Military Art “Advent Calendar”
War and Game – Military History Blog
Wayne Reynolds’ Paizo Pathfinder Wallpapers
Legion Arena Review
Legion of Man Demo Impressions