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.

2 Responses to “The Picts sail forth”

  1. Stephen Says:

    “Interesting” terrain to have to deploy in, too. There’s scope for lots of refights here, trying out different deployments and so on.

    • Mark Says:

      Yes, having to have bad going in two quarters of the board can lead to a small wood near one edge, but if the attacker makes that edge the defender’s one, it’s not a whole lot of fun! The Picts might have been better to put both the LH on the side with the hill and use it to their advantage. Still, I think I’d be better to plan better terrain placement as the defender (thought with aggression 3, I’m hoping the Picts will be attacking quite a lot).

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