The Picts sail south

18 October, 2009

After defeating Madog and his Vikings, Bridei continued on his way, which was as far as he could tell westward. The process of island-hoping continued, and on the way they met a group of wise men (clearly monks!), who suggested that such bold warriors should make for a place called Konkwest, where they could match their skills against many other warriors. These sages were vague as to where this place was to be found, but suggested it might be in a southerly direction. Bridei altered his course accordingly and noticed that the weather became warmer.

Eventually they put in at an island that was noticeably tropical. Upon this island they encountered an army of hideous monsters. No diplomacy was attempted and both armies drew up for battle. Bridei finally was the aggressor. The goblins, for that’s what they were, put out the minimum of terrain, a small wood, two small marshes and a road. Bridei rolled 1 for his edge, but it made little difference.

The goblins were led by a monstrous giant. He flanked himself with trolls and ogres (El) and these in turn by giant spiders (HCh!). On each flank of these were archers (3Bw) and wolf riders (3Cv) and an element of close-fighting goblins (3Bd). the cynical observer might remark that they were attempting to impersonate Classical Indians.

Bridei met this deployment by putting his skirmishers to meet the giant and his companions and the LH to meet the spiders. On each flank of these were the spearmen, while he deployed behind the LH on the left flank.

Deployment before the goblins make two swaps.

Deployment before the goblins make two swaps.

The goblins decide to move the spiders to face the skirmishers and the ogres and trolls to face the LH. In the first two turns Bridei manages to swap LH and Ps to meet this change, though as a consequence the right flank falls behind. However, with 6 PIPs the goblins swap back again!

Turn 2: The goblin centre is back to its starting formation, though the flanks have fallen behind.

Turn 2: The goblin centre is back to its starting formation, though the flanks have fallen behind.

Bridei, in a panic, rolls one PIP. Unable to do anything to improve matters in the centre, he decides to move the right flank up to give overlap support if the goblins attack quickly.

The goblins, with 3 PIPs, finish their redeployment.

Turn 3: The battle lines are now very close.

Turn 3: The battle lines are now very close.

Bridei continues to lose his nerve (1 PIP), and decides that the best he can do is extend his right flank. The goblins decide that it’s best to attack before the Picts can sort themselves out. They destroy a skirmisher with the spiders on their left flank and a LH with the ogres.

Turn 4: The Picts are in disarray.

Turn 4: The Picts are in disarray.

Bridei has still not recovered from the shock of such a hideous array (1 PIP). He orders the skirmishers that fled from the giant to attack the ogres. However, despite the overlap support, they cannot beat the ogres. The LH facing the trolls fight bravely and are pushed back. The goblins also suffer PIP drought (2 PIPs) and this time the trolls destroy the LH, while the ogres push back the skirmishers again.

Turn 5: The Picts are on the point of breaking.

Turn 5: The Picts are on the point of breaking.

Still Bridei dithers, with his fourth consecutive turn of 1 PIP! He advances two spear against the isolated wolfriders on the right flank. These push the riders back, while the skirmishers flee from the ogres. Luckily, the goblins lose momentum too, and have only one PIP. The spiders attack the skirmishers but are repelled.

Turn 6: The Picts are advancing on the right flank.

Turn 6: The Picts are advancing on the right flank.

Finally in the eleventh hour Bridei galvanizes himself and orders a proper response (6 PIPs). The skirmishers return to attack the ogres, while he flanks them. The spear on the left flank shift to the right to contact the spiders, while the skirmishers support from behind. The spear on the right flank continue their attack on the wolfriders. And showing contempt for the spiders, a lone spear attacks them on the right flank. Out of this, the skirmishers fail yet again against the ogres. On the both flanks the spiders are driven back and the wolfriders are destroyed; at last they’ve drawn blood! Bridei is fortunate that the goblins can organize no serious response (2 PIPs). They draw the wolfriders and some archers into line with the spiders. The ogres are in a stalemate with the skirmishers.

Turn 7: The Picts awaken and on the right the wolfriders are driven from the field.

Turn 7: The Picts awaken and on the right the wolfriders are driven from the field.

Bridei is now buoyed on by desperate hope (6 PIPs), and advances on the left almost to within contact. He attacks the ogres yet again, and masses the spear on the right against the spiders. The ogres are resilient and push the skirmishers back again. The goblins remain bereft of idea (2 PIPs), though they finally decide that the ogres have nothing to gain from fighting the skirmishers and retreat them (I suppose it took so long because retreat’s just not in their nature!).

Turn 8: The giant and his mates bumble in the centre, while on the wings the Pictish spear starts to look dangerous.

Turn 8: The giant and his mates bumble in the centre, while on the wings the Pictish spear starts to look dangerous.

Bridei has 3 PIPs, enough to attack on both flanks. On the left he destroys the other wolfriders and drives back the bow and spiders. On the right he destroys the spiders, and suddenly the battle is in the balance! Finally, sensing things are slipping away from them, the goblins get 6 PIPs. They reorganize on the left to bring the goblin blades and archers into line with the spiders and they send the trolls to sack the camp.

Turn 9: The battle in the balance with the goblin wings crumbling.

Turn 9: The battle in the balance with the goblin wings crumbling.

Bridei has 3 PIPs again and attacks the ogre yet again, as well as sending the spear into the left flank again. On the left flank the archers are destroyed, there is a stalemate against the spiders and the blades are forced back. And against the ogres the skirmishers finally figure out how to destroy them. Bridei wins a remarkable victory, 5-3, after all appeared lost!

Turn 10 (Bridei): Victory for the Picts!

Turn 10 (Bridei): Victory for the Picts!

  • Review:

The PIPs in the middle game almost defeated Bridei, but the decision to bring up the right flank proved crucial. Whereas much of the goblin army was out of range of the battle, what survived of the Pictish one was ready to get stuck in when Bridei recovered his nerve (actually it was on turn 7 that I realized I’d been abbreviating him as ‘M’ instead of ‘B’, when I corrected this he came to life! Such is fortune!).

This is the first time that I’ve faced ‘elephants’, and the decision to advance fast to prevent them redeploying was fairly sound, as it lead to them outdistancing their infantry. Once they start pursuing different base depths they have real trouble sorting themselves out. They’re also very deep-based, so it’s not easy for them to turn sideways. One option was for the trolls to attack the spear to their side, except that if they had to recoil, they’d have done so into their commander—messy!

The battle was an object lesson in not assuming things are hopeless until the game is actually lost. After four straight turns of 1 PIP I was sure the Picts were doomed. I was really only hoping that they could go out with a bit of respect. I had no idea they’d make such a come-back! However, it’s possible that, as with the ‘Marian Romans’ last time that their victory owed as much to my inexperience in handling the elephants as anything else.

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6 Responses to “The Picts sail south”

  1. TWR Says:

    This actually reminded me of a mythical legend of the Irish fighting multi-headed monsters (Romans) in the DBM army lists or Alexander’s expedition to India.

    It is also good to see you have managed the art of rolling a “Theban One”. In recent games this skill is cost me two games. Complete victory turned to defeat in both cases. However, there is not much time for practice games now, with Conquest so near, so I would suggest you hold some of those low score PIP die rolls for our game…

    • Mark Says:

      Good point; one could also speculate as to what and how much the Picts were drinking before the battle. Their descriptions may have been coloured by it. It also might explain the run of low PIPs—until Bridei sobered up! Still, confusing chariots for giant spiders would take some doing!

      Yes, not much time now. This might be the last battle before Conquest. Hopefully the Picts have got all the ones out of their system!

  2. TWR Says:

    I plan to finish my army for Conquest this evening. However, in contrast to yourself I haven’t had any practice for Conquest. I can only hope that this army works better than the Syracusans did at Tagcon even if they come across elephants, chariots and exploring Picts!

    • Mark Says:

      You’ve got to watch out for those wandering Picts! You never know where they’ll show up next!

      I’m glad I’ve got in the few practice games that I have. As much as anything I’ve learnt a little more about my own army, possibly more than I’ve learnt about any potential opponents. I miss not having any knights or warbands with the Picts. I like elements that win or lose spectacularly, but the more I play with spear, the more I’m coming to respect it. It may not be flashy, but it’s seldom a walkover.

      Although the Picts lack shock troops with panache like Kn and Wb, they do have a reasonable amount of light troops and cavalry (compared to most of my armies, anyway!).

  3. Stephen Says:

    I hope this was as much fun as it looks. Perhaps the goblins also assumed that the battle was won too soon, rather than spending some PIPs to consolidate?

    • Mark Davies Says:

      Thanks, it was a lot of fun, as the Goblins looked rather splendid. You’re right, I think they did think it was won after knocking off 3 of the Picts army, but they also had a bit of PIP drought at that point too.


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