Painting in September

28 September, 2009

I’m not likely to get any chance to paint before the month ends, so I can look back at my progress with painting this month:

Painting Progress at the end of September

Painting Progress at the end of September

I’m really pleased, as I managed 64 foot and 6 horse for my best month of painting since March, though April and June weren’t far behind. I might have almost painted more than I purchased, if I hadn’t swapped some Museum figures for Essex ones; the Museum figures were subtracted in August, but the Essex ones arrived in September. If I can avoid temptation I might be able to paint more in a month than I buy next month!

The other target would be to get over half of my figures painted. 3/7th of them are painted at the moment, and if I bought no more I’d need to paint another 105 figures! After a month of keeping these records I reckon they are serving one of their purposes, that of motivating me to paint.

The Picts sail forth

28 September, 2009

This weekend I finally finished the Picts, and what I need for their opponents, so it was time for them to get into training for the competition next month. I’ve decided that the Picts will be led by Bridei mac Máelchú. He was converted to Christianity by St. Columba in the 6th century. Not long later, as the story now goes,  he decided to set out for Ireland for a spot of raiding, only to get sucked, along with his army into a peculiar temporal anomaly. Having heard rumours of voyages like that of St. Brendan, Bridei and his men were unfazed, deciding that perhaps they were having their faith tested.

In due course they came to an island where another similarly confused time-traveller had already arrived. This was a Norman adventurer called Patricius, who’d used his name to claim some highly dubious connection with Ireland and one of its saints. Setting out from a similar place in Scotland to Bridei, he took with him an army of Norman knights and scouts along with some Islemen who were keen on the idea of loot. These Islemen, in turn were supported by a proportionately large number of Galwegians and Irish mercenaries. A dubious observer might comment that the combined force bore a peculiar resemblance in troop-mix to an Eastern Patrician Roman army!

Patricius was not about to share this island, and the two sides drew up their battlelines to contest control of it. He got off to an ominous start, rolling higher to be attacker, despite a lower aggression, and then getting the edge he wanted. Bridei was forced to deploy side on to the two low hills and with a small wood in the centre of his line.

Bridei deployed with two blocks of three spear elements each backed by an element of skirmishers on either side of the woods. He placed the other skirmishers in the woods and both his light horse on the the right flank. He himself deployed behind the spear on the right flank. He chose to ignore the hill on the left flank as likely only to cause his force to be split.

Patricius responded to this by deploying in a line with all his light horse on the left flank to meet their Pictish counterparts. He deployed in the centre with the Irish between him and the light horse. On the right flank he drew up his Islemen and Galwegians with skirmishers on the outer flank. Bridei didn’t alter his deployment.

Bridei deploys on the left to meet Patricius

Bridei deploys on the left to meet Patricius

Bridei started well, with enough PIPs to get ahead of the woods. There was some initial inconclusive skirmishing between the light horse. The Norman light horse then retired to the hill behind them and the rest of the Norman battle line had the opportunity to line up (after the cavalry and Irish had got ahead of the slower-moving foot). Bridei had moved himself to the centre of the line, linking the two blocks of spear. He then got high PIPs and decided to pull himself out to move to the right flank, where he hoped to overpower the enemy light horse. One of his own light horse had also decided to charge the Irish, who had been left exposed by their own light horse hanging back. He succeeded in destroying the Irish as they had no room to recoil because of the knights next to them.

The Normans responded by attacking the victorious light horse with the remaining Irish and flanking it with one of their own light horse. The Picts shrugged this attack off. Their other light horse was less fortunate, being attacked and doubled by the other Norman light horse.

Bridei had wheeled his left flank backwards in an attempt to gain time for his attack on the other flank. He himself attacked the victorious light horse, but without doing more than forcing it back. Meanwhile, the Normans finally attacked the left flank with overlaps on each flank and Islemen facing the centre spear element. The hope was for these to knock back the facing spear and remove the skirmisher support for the other two spear, as well as leaving them overlapping on both flanks. The spear they faced resisted them manfully, scotching this plan. With skirmisher support the spear to the right fought the knights opposing them to a standstill, but on the left the spear went down to a wild charge of double-deep Galwegians.

Bridei, in desperation, sidled the skirmisher support across to face the Galwegians, and brought the other skirmishers out of the woods to take their place. These skirmishers had the potential to really upset the Galwegians, who were overlapped through their advance, but the dice allowed them only to feebly push the Galwegians back. The spearmen locked in combat with the knights forced them back.

The Normans returned to the attack on the left flank. The spearmen were now overlapped by the Galwegians against the Islemen and were forced back. This left the spear facing the knights in a terrible position and they finally broke.

Bridei had good PIPs in a turn that would probably be his last, and returned to the attack on the light horse that he faced. He also peeled off an element of spear to give flank support in another attack by his light horse on the Irish. And in a desperate roll of the dice he sent the other two spear against the knights that had as yet not seen combat. The dice continued to scorn him and his light horse were destroyed by the Irish (2+1 v 1+6)! He continued the mediocre form of the Scots command element and only pushed back the Norman light horse. However, some pride was restored by the spear that had charged the knights succeeding in destroying one of them.

Bridei and his men took to their ships and found another island where their strength was miraculously restored,  ready to continue their voyage.

  • Review

Besides having a lot of bad luck in getting such an unfavourable location to set up in and then in the ensuing combats, Bridei should not have tried to redeploy himself, as he left a hole in the battleline, and there was not enough time before the Norman attack came for him to make the difference he was looking for. He hoped to win on the right flank, but short of getting lucky against the opposing light horse he had no special advantage there, and yet he had weakened the left flank to this end.

Anglo-Norman Dismounted Knights

27 September, 2009

I’ve now finished 4 elements of dismounted knights to allow my Anglo-Norman knights to dismount:

Dismounted Knights

Dismounted Knights

They are largely Essex figures, but the front element on the left has two Feudal Castings spearmen. The other spearmen and the two-handed swordsmen I got from Paul Potter in a trade. They mix well with the other knights and command figures that I’d already got.

I was particularly pleased with the flag, as it was small and folded and I was sure I’d make a mess of it. However, I noticed that a VVV roundshield transfer was actually a cross, and of the sort I was going to try to paint. all I had to do was paint the centre! I think it came out very well.

The Knights' Flag

The Knights' Flag

I also finished two elements of Essex Norman light horse. These will be useful in allowing me to create non-historical armies to represent probable opponents in the up-coming competition. I’ll use them tonight, hopefully, in a contest between my ‘Picts’ and some Eastern Patrician Romans represented by a mixture of Normans, Irish and Galwegians!

Norman Light Horse

Norman Light Horse

I should add that the ‘Picts’ are now complete, as I finished three more elements of Pre-feudal Scots spearmen; this means the Pre-feudal Scots are also finished. I only painted six figures this weekend, and converted two to being axemen, but I was able to base 7 elements and flock 13 elements (most of the painting was done last weekend).

Scots Isles and Highlands Army

27 September, 2009

Today I finished 4 more 4Bd for the Scots Isles and Highlands army. It’s now good to go, using my modified army list, that is.

Scots Isles and Highlands Army

Scots Isles and Highlands Army

The figures are all Feudal Castings. the Islemen themselves are a combination of the Scots Thegns (M1a), the Scots command pack (MS6), Scots Axemen (MS2) and Scots Spear (MS1). Two of the Scots Spear figures have been modified to use axes; they had a spear two-handed and a shield slung on their backs (one is the furthest Isleman on the left in the front. I may yet get more thegns and spear and make 3 more elements so that I can field a regular army.

Big Painting Session

20 September, 2009

This weekend I surprised myself by getting two batches of figures painted, some 6 mounted and 35 foot. The first lot were started on Thursday, I think, inasmuch as I’d done their flesh, but I finished them totally Friday night. These were figures for my Pre-feudal Scots army: 2 figures for light horse and 7 figures for spear. I’m planning to use them as Picts at Conquest,  a wargames competition in Christchurch next month, so I need an extra 2LH and 2 more 3Sp. I’m now waiting for a few figures from Feudal Castings, so I can finish the spear.

The next day I spent the afternoon and evening on armoured infantry—mostly metal, so relatively easy. These were 12 dismounted knights and 12 Islemen.The knights are now based and waiting for their magic wash and flock, while the Islemen need 4 more figures from the Feudal Castings order before I can base them. I also painted 4 feudal scouts (2x2LH). These were figures I got by trade from Paul Potter through a chance post on the Fanaticus Forum. I swapped Museum Miniatures figures that don’t scale well for me for some Essex ones.

Figures painted this weekend in array: on the left are the pre-feudal Scots and Islemen, in the centre are the knights and on the right are the feudal scouts; behind them are Macbeth's witches waiting to be based. On nails are the next batch, some Irish. Right behind them is the set of drawers with all the unpainted lead. On the far left the Pre-feudal Scots are trying out used business card holders as storage for their trip to Christchurch.

Figures painted this weekend in array: on the left are the pre-feudal Scots and Islemen, in the centre are the knights and on the right are the feudal scouts; behind them are Macbeth's witches waiting to be based. On nails are the next batch, some Irish. Right behind them is the set of drawers with all the unpainted lead. On the far left the Pre-feudal Scots are trying out used business card holders as storage for their trip to Christchurch.

In the next few weeks I’ll be trying out my ‘Picts’ against various assortments of Normans and others to get practice against probable opponents at the competition. In particular, I want to see how they go against Patrician Romans and Classical Indians (for which I’ll need to use my HOTT Bh as El!).

Viking Army

20 September, 2009

The Completed Viking army

The Completed Viking army

Earlier this week I finally finished the Viking army. I had redone all the shields of the Huscarls a few weeks back and started on the rest of the Hird. I finally finished them this week: 5x4Bd and 1x3Bd (Freelance raiders).

The completed army consists of:

6x4Bd: Huscarls (arrayed three deep next to the command)
6x4Bd: Hird (arrayed either side of the Huscarls; I’ve got too few of these compared to the Huscarls, but the difference between them is fairly slight)
1x3Wb: Berserks (on the front left)
1x3Bd: Freelance Raiders (behind berserks)
1x2Ps: Skirmishers (behind raiders)

I’m not sure when they’ll get to fight, as what time I’ve had for gaming recently I’ve spent painting—an enthusiasm not to be wasted while it lasts!

While I wait for figures to arrive from Feudal Castings to complete the armies for the King Magnus’ War campaign, I decided to refight the battles from which this alternate history stems. There’s a risk, of course, in doing this: the history requires one outcome, but that’s tempting fate, and the dice gods!

Malcolm, the son of Duncan, had grown up in the English court after Macbeth killed his father. In 1054 with the support of Earl Siward of Northumbria he sought to contest the throne of Scotland. Earl Siward is the commander of an Anglo-Danish army that  in place of one 4Sp has one 3Cv representing Malcolm and his supporters.

Actually, most historians do not think that it was this Malcolm at the battle between Macbeth and Siward, but possibly a leader from Strathclyde, but I’ve chosen to follow the popular historical tradition. The battle in which Malcolm defeated Macbeth, at Lumphanan, was some three years later and not much more than a skirmish. The one between Siward and Macbeth was a major battle, so it’s more satisfying to stake the fortunes of Scotland on an encounter between two large armies, than on a skirmish.

These invaders were met at Dunsinnan Hill, in Perthshire, by King Macbeth with a standard Pre-feudal Scots army, complete with fierce Galwegians.

Macbeth had let the Northumbrians advance a good way into his realm before meeting them, but when he judged the time was right he took the initiative (6+1 v 1+1 for attacker). The battlefield was along a road that had nearby a pair of low hills and a small woods. Macbeth succeeded in approaching Siward so that the wood was in the middle of where Siward was deploying and the road ran between them. After deployment Siward shifted his cavalry and his skirmishers to the right flank, moving fyrd into their place.

Initial Deployment: Siward on the left faces Macbeth on the right

Initial Deployment: Siward on the left faces Macbeth on the right.

The battle opened slowly as both sides advanced and tried to extend their battlelines.

Turn 1: Macbeth's Galwegians surge out ahead

Turn 1: Macbeth's Galwegians surge out ahead.

Turn 1: Macbeth 5 PIPs, Siward 6 PIPs.

Turn 2: Malcolm threatens the Galwegians

Turn 2: Malcolm threatens the Galwegians.

Turn 2: Macbeth 3 PIPs, Siward 3 PIPs.

Turn 3: Siward's troops trundle forward

Turn 3: Siward's troops trundle forward.

Turn 3: Macbeth 2 PIPs, Siward 5 PIPs.

Turn 4: Macbeth retires a little to straighten his line

Turn 4: Macbeth retires a little to straighten his line.

Turn 4: Macbeth 5 PIPs, Siward 1 PIP.

Turn 5: Siward confronts the Scots with one unbroken line

Turn 5: Siward confronts the Scots with one unbroken line.

Turn 5: Macbeth 4 PIPs, Siward 4 PIPs. Macbeth sends the light horse to the right flank.

Once he had his battleline in position, Macbeth gave the order to charge. With only two PIPs he was able to order a general advance and get the light horse to flank Malcolm and his cavalry. He was counting on the right flank to create a ripple of death, or at least recoils to set the warbands up for success. The Galwegian advance down the road on turn 1 had brought the warbands into perfect proximity to the three elements receiving skirmisher support, and two of these were blades as well (not very bright!), so they’d need all the overlaps and a lot of luck to succeed.

Things got off to a good start when Malcolm, outflanked against spear, was destroyed (4+4 v 2+4). However, the spear next to them were unfazed and stood firm (4+2 v 3+3). This stopped the ripple. Macbeth tried to restart it on his flank, but was repulsed (4+2 v 3+6). It now all fell to the Galwegians facing the fyrd to get lucky, so that the thegns were not totally unsupported against Siward. They failed (3+5 v 5+4); the other Galwegians were now in a difficult situation and were lucky to be only forced back (2+3 v 6+2). Such luck was not with the thegns facing Siward, who, overlapped on both sides, were put to flight (1+4 v 7+3). The first of the two elements of skirmishers fled from the spear they faced (1+2 v 4+6), but the second, despite being overlapped on both sides, only recoiled (0+5 v 4+5).

Turn 6 (Macbeth): the Scots charge is thrown back

Turn 6 (Macbeth): The Scots charge is thrown back.

Siward ordered a countercharge into the wreckage of Macbeth’s attack. His 3 PIPs allowed him to advance in three blocks, allowing for the difference in depth of recoil. The attack started well, with the element of Galwegians facing his huscarls breaking (6+2 v 2+1). The other Galwegians, however, retired fighting (4+5 v 2+5). The fyrd facing Scots spear forced back their opponents (3+5 v 3+2), but the huscarls facing Macbeth were fought to a standstill (3+1 v 2+2). The skirmishers continued to fight bravely, but were this time forced to flee (4+6 v 0+5).

Turn 6 (Siward): The Galwegians join the thegns in flight

Turn 6 (Siward): The Galwegians join the thegns in flight.

Macbeth’s position was looking very tenuous, but he didn’t panic. With 6 PIPs he ordered his light horse to advance on Siward’s camp (2 PIPs). The two spear on the right flank attacked the fyrd opposite them with the advantage of having flanked them (2 PIPs). With the remaining PIPs he retired himself and ordered the surviving Galwegians to do likewise. The battle on the right flank went well (3+4 v 3+3), and Siward was now two elements down. If Macbeth could sack the camp before Siward could inflict more damage on him he could steal a lucky victory from a messy position.

Turn 7: the light horse make for the Northumbrian camp

Turn 7: The light horse make for the Northumbrian camp.

His luck held when Siward, suddenly aware of how exposed the camp was, panicked (1 PIP). He decided against trying to catch the light horse by chasing them down the road and order his spear onto the Scots spear nearby (I thought his spear were Huscarls at the time, oops!). The fight changed little, forcing the Scots back (4+5 v 4+4).

Turn 8: the light horse are repulsed

Turn 8: The light horse are repulsed.

It was now Macbeth’s turn to be flummoxed (1 PIP). Fortuitously he was just in command range of the light horse and ordered them to attack the camp. The camp followers, however, resisted bravely (2+4 v 3+6).

Siward, nevertheless, continued to dither (1 PIP again). At a loss for inspiration he ordered the fyrd (who he still thought were huscarls!) to attack the Scots spear. They were forced back (4+2 v 4+4).

Macbeth recovered his composure (4 PIPs) and ordered the light horse back against the camp (2 PIPs) and prepared his right flank to deal with the lone element of fyrd facing them. This time the light horse, driven forward by the promise of booty, broke into the camp and sacked it (2+5 v 3+1).

Turn 9: The light horse celebrate as they pillage the enemy's camp

Turn 9: The light horse celebrate as they pillage the enemy's camp.

Macbeth secured a lucky victory. Later accounts of the battle, which took due note of the crucial role the light horse played, claimed that Macbeth himself was actually fighting with them. Other accounts gave credit to his son Lulach as the commander of the light horse. Despite being routed in a flanking manoeuvre, Malcolm made good his escape, continuing to be a thorn in the side of Macbeth and his successors. He made sure he kept out of the way of Siward, who had to come to humiliating terms with Macbeth in order to extricate his army from its predicament.

  • Review

Well, I’m somewhat of a novice with the use of 2LH. They won the battle pretty much. I was also not aware how easy it was for 2LH to capture a camp. If I’d known, and I should have paid more attention to the Battle of Koi, then Siward could have kept an element of 4Sp in the camp. It might also have been sensible for him to have kept the 3Cv as a reserve, which would have stopped the 2LH making for the camp.

Macbeth’s warbands faced the stiffest possible odds; it really was a gamble. I wonder how they could have found some nice unsupported spear to attack. The advance of the Galwegians along the road was really rather foolish, as it took them right into alignment with the huscarls. As warbands are an element that seem to rely to a big degree on luck I’d decided that the Galwegians’ recent poor form was because they didn’t like being two-deep. That didn’t prove the cure to their problems!