I have always been a bit of a war buff, and a fan of now-defunct series like Time Commander that required several people to refight battles of the classical era.

I think that it would have been, at the last, something to inspire creative writing rather than an interactive battle. It is just too big for meaningful interaction. In case anyone does want to follow up on this idea, I post some of my notes below.

Battle of Hastings in the Classroom:

Post to the TW community

Hello all,

I’ve been using these boards for a long time, but have yet to join the community. However, I’ve had a project that I would really like to do; namely bring TW into my classroom. Although I’ve been working on it for a fair while on and off, I’d really appreciate the expertise and advice of the senior members of this esteemed community to see how they’d go about doing it.

Essentially, these are my initial aims:

a) To fight the battle of Hastings in a classroom.
b) To engage all the students (between 14 and 32 in the 4 classes that I want to try it with) with creative writing/meaningful discussion and/or decision making.

So! While I’m happy to see if I can look at the kind of teaching value that I’d have to do to justify using it (frankly, I think it’ll be great fun,) I’m particularly interested to see how you think it might best be run.

The set-up will be the computer attached to a projector, so the entire class can see the battle unfold. My initial idea is this:

1) I’m thinking of having myself control the battle. Initially I’ll ctrl + a and right click Harold to show what happens without tactics.

2) After that, I’d split the battle into five sections. I’d pause the game prior to each section for class discussion. Then I’d fight it.

a) Killing Harold’s brother’s with the archers.
b) Forcing the Saxons to attack down one flank and making them rout.
c) Enticing the rest of the saxons off the hill.
d) Killing Harold.
e) Killing the remaining Huscarls.

3) I have already allocated descriptive writing tasks for each section (i.e. how would you feel with arrows firing at you?) But ideally, to get an experience of tactical discussion, I’d like the class to somehow discuss, and vote, upon an appropriate course of action: for example, how many troops to commit to section (b) when routing one flank. However, quite how that’ll translate into fighting the battle, I’m not too sure. I did initially think that the class would be allocated set units to control, but I don’t think that would actually translate into a tactically sound battle (i.e. keeping track of units etc. once the game is unpaused.)

Therefore, these are my questions:

1) Would you divide the Hastings battle into the sections I have described above?
2) Is there a way you get the Saxons to charge from their fortified positions? Nothing seems consistent to me.
3) What sort of tactical discussions would you want to encourage in the class? I think giving them multiple choice options of what to do in each section of the battle (and then comparing it to what might have happened in RL) might be a useful way to go.

Thanks very much in advance for taking the time to read and respond to this post.

Initial ideas
Students will, with guidance, write some history of the characters in their unit.

There will be 9 distinct units.

The three spearmen on the left
The three spearmen in the middle
The three spearmen on the right

Two archers on the left
Two archers on the right

Two cavalry on the left
Two cavalry on the right

Two remaining cavalry
King’s unit

The game will be micromanaged by me (too difficult to win, otherwise).
Options to play out the tactics will be offered to the general. There will be distinct stages.

1) Killing the leaders in of the Huscarl units.
2) Aiming to position troops.
3) Drawing one, or both, flanks off the hill. At this point, it is only the tactics that the students can choose. I will micromanage.
3) When the battle begins to become chaotic, I will ask the commander what he wishes to focus on. Each commander will be given advice.

2) Offering each of the commanders the decision to advise the general on what to do on either flank.
3) The general chooses the tactical option.

Students are to write a report on the battle with sentence starters etc.

– Students to write while archers shoot at the Huscarls, or the main troops, or at Harold?
All the archers now, or to hold one of the archers in reserve?

I think that these are the points of creative writing:

A soldier’s eye before the battle.
The Huscarls being shot.
What makes the soldiers dive down the first line.
How the soldiers feel after the first battle. Describing the battlefield.

Advice given to the soldiers. How do they cause the troops to stream down the hill? Calvary on the flanks in order to hit Harold.

Responses of community

Tactical choices for each section of the battle:

a) Killing Harold’s brothers with the archers.
– shoot archers from a distance
– shoot archers from close range
– shoot at shieldwall
– shoot at Thanes
– shoot at Harold (who is ‘hidden’)
b) Forcing the Saxons to attack down one flank and making them rout.
c) Enticing the rest of the saxons off the hill.
d) Killing Harold.
e) Killing the remaining Huscarls.