AGINCOURT is a tactical simulation of the famous battle between the English Army, led by King Henry the Vth, and a much larger French Army, under Constable d’Albret, near the French village of Agincourt, on 25 October, 1415. The game lasts 8 game turns and the English player always acts first. The map scale is 50 yards per hex.
The Battle of Agincourt, at least in the English-speaking world, has attained an almost mythical position in the long history of English arms. For many who are unfamiliar with the actual history of the battle, it is still comparatively well-known because of its connection with William Shakespeare’s play, “Henry the Vth.” Young King Harry’s “St. Crispin’s Day Speech” (thanks to the Immortal Bard) is today widely considered, and rightly so, to be one of the truly great inspirational speeches of all time.
The actual battle at Agincourt was typical of many of the medieval clashes that characterized the fighting during the Hundred Years’ War. A French army of some 25,000, composed primarily of men-at-arms and mounted knights, deployed in three lines (called "battles") against the English force of only 5,700. Henry’s choice of defensive ground was the key to his plan of battle. The particular patch of terrain where the young English King had chosen to make his stand funneled the attacking French into his prepared positions; this deployment largely neutralized the numerical advantage of the French while it masterfully played to the strengths of his small combined-arms force.
On the morning of the battle, Henry could only field about 1,000 knights and men-at-arms; fortunately for him, however, he also commanded over 4,500 archers, all of whom were armed with the deadly English long bow. And small as this army was, events would prove that his outnumbered force was more than equal to the task that lay before it. The contest, interestingly enough, did not begin immediately; instead, having drawn up his "battles", the French commander was content to sit and wait. It was only when Henry ordered his archers to move their firing positions forward and to loose a flight of arrows against the closely-packed mass of French men-at-arms and knights that the Constable finally signaled for the first "battle" to charge the English position. The French, supremely confident of victory, advanced straight towards the English line of battle. Unfortunately for the French, when the attacking knights and men-at-arms attempted to close with the smaller English army, they were rapidly shot to pieces by the massed fire of the English bowmen. Casualties among the attackers quickly mounted; the French assault stalled and then collapsed as dead and wounded men and horses from the first French "battle" piled up on the muddy ground in front of Henry's position. A second French assault only added to the carnage. Confronted by what had rapidly degenerated into an obvious military debacle, more than a few of those French knights and men-at-arms who had not yet engaged the English line, chose "discretion as the better part of valor," and abandonned their fallen comrades and the battlefield to the victorious English.
The Battle of Agincourt produced one of the most lop-sided victories in military history. The French lost over 8,000 (including the Constable) killed, and another 2,000 taken prisoner. The English losses, given the French casualties, were unbelievably low: only 400 killed.
A PERSONAL OBSERVATIONAGINCOURT, unlike many of GDW’s Series 120 titles, is actually a relatively simple game, both to learn and to play. Unfortunately, it is almost too simple: French options are few, and the game dynamic is actually somewhat boring. On the positive side, the AGINCOURT game system is intuitively logical and the actual mechanics of play are uncomplicated. The counters are clear, although visually disappointing (actually pretty ugly); the game map is, to be charitable, also a bit bland, but it too is not really off-putting, just very, very dull. The rules, however, are a shambles. In keeping with Marc Miller's penchant for shoddy rules-writing, the actual instructions for the play of AGINCOURT seem awkwardly, even hurriedly written; in fact, they almost give the impression of having been randomly cobbled together to meet a publishing deadline.
Still, for those players interested in a very simple, relatively fast-playing simulation of the battle, I suppose that it is just barely possible to do worse. My own advice for those who have a real historical interest in this battle, however, is to purchase the SPI game on the Battle of Agincourt, instead. Finally, for gamers who are not familiar with this collection of GDW titles, the Series 120 games were designed to use no more than 120 counters, and to be played to conclusion in 120 minutes or less.
- One 17” x 22” hexagonal grid Map Sheet
- 120 ½” cardboard Counters
- One 8½” x 11” Rules Booklet
- One 9¼” x 12” Ziploc plastic Bag