24 December, 2009
There are a couple of special rules in the campaign:
- King Magnus’ huscarls are not QKed by knights; they are elite troops and have shown their mettle against cavalry at the Battle of Navenby.
- The 3Sp of the North Welsh and the Pre-feudal Scots are classed as Light Spear (LSp or Sp(L)).
- Defenders who have taken losses in previous seasons can muster hordes (7Hd) to bring their army up to strength. This is a single 7Hd and a 50% chance of a second (determined by dice roll). There are two exceptions to this; firstly defenders not in one of their initial three provinces only have a 50% chance of a single 7Hd; and secondly the Norse Irish get a 5Wb (rising out) as their first horde and a 50% chance of an additional 2Ps (kerns) instead of getting 7Hd.
- Anglo-Norse: 3x4Bd (1=cmd), 1x3Kn, 7x4Sp, 1x2Ps.
- Anglo-Normans: 4x3Kn (1=cmd), 5x4Sp, 1x3Cb, 2x2Ps.
- North Welsh: 1x3Cv (1=cmd), 2x4Bd, 6x3Sp(L), 1x3Lb, 2x2Ps.
- Norse Irish: 6x3Ax (1=cmd), 2x4Bd, 4x2Ps.
- Scots Isles and Highland: 6x4Bd (1=cmd), 2x3Ax, 2x3Bw, 1x5Wb, 1x2Ps.
- Pre-feudal Scots: 1x3Cv (1=cmd), 1x2LH, 1x4Wb, 2x3Wb, 5x3Sp(L), 2x2Ps.
These armies do not conform to the DBA lists in every detail. The ‘Anglo-Norse’ are mostly the Anglo-Danes, but with some knights that have settled in the kingdom, much as they did in the Scots one in real history; otherwise the 2Ps option of the Anglo-Danes can be a 3Bw if preferred. The Anglo-Normans don’t have the option of a 3Cv, 3Sp or Wwg and instead have na extra 4Sp. The North Welsh have some Ostmen mercenaries (4Bd). Likewise the Scots Isles and Highlands have some Irish mercenaries (3Ax) and some Highland Skirmishers (2Ps). Otherwise, the Pre-feudal Scots seem to have patched up relations with the Galwegians after the Battle of Ebchester and are fielding the 3Wb.
Declarations of War
I have to confess to having fudged this a little, as I read over the campaign rules in a hurry before the first battle; I had to pack two armies to take to my friend’s house, so rolled who moved first, and then realized that you’re supposed to declare war before this. Anyhow, King Magnus showed why it is his war by rolling a six and being the first to move. He declared war on the English and gained ally support from Angus of Scotland. Gruffudd of Wales decided that the English were better allies than an over-powerful Northumbria and sent allies to help William Rufus. The armies met in Mercia (report to follow). Otherwise, Turlough of Ireland declared war on the Welsh and Gilledomman of the Isles declared war on the Scots. These two had the luxury of seeing how the first battle played out.
23 December, 2009
I’ve already fought two battles in the first season of the King Magnus’ War campaign, and one of the hold-ups (among many) in writing them up is the lack of a map. I now have one. It’s not as pretty as I’d like to make on Campaign Cartographer 3, but it’s adequate, made more quickly using TextMaker:
Expect the first battle report of the campaign soon!
21 December, 2009
I got a number of phalangites from Mike Sanderson; some of these are Gladiator figures, and they’re not bad, except for their shields being flat. With the advice of members of Fanaticus, I have now been able to rectify this and it was so easy and the results looked so good I had to make a post of it:
The figure on the left is a Gladiator phalangite. Next to it is another one with green stuff on its shield to make it convex (not the two of them have different sized shields). Next to these are an Essex commander and a Minifigs phalangite (helpfully IDed by Fanaticus members).
What was involved was getting a small ball of green stuff and squashing it gently onto the shield so that it flattened evenly. This allowed me to leave a regular rim around the shield. Next I washed away any fingerprints with a wet finger and then gently flattened the bump somewhat with a plastic cup, which was the most convenient flat think I had. It had the merit of allowing me to see what I was doing as it was not opaque.
I’m now keen to paint these figures, whereas before making the shields seemed a chore that was putting me off. Making these shields, however, has been very quick and painless.
16 December, 2009
Given the strangeness of the North Welsh having 3/4 of their army unable to operate in bad going (BGo), which is especially severe as their terrain type is ‘Hilly’, forcing them to lay down steep hills, I decided, after discussion on Fanaticus, to trial a new troop type for the King Magnus’ War campaign. It’s called Light Spear = Sp(L)
It is basically Spear with two differences: -1 vs. foot and no BGo penalty. As far as what is written in the rules, the following additions are needed:
- Apart from the two following exceptions, all references to Spear includes Light Spear (Light Spear moves as Spear, gets rear support as Spear and has the same Combat Outcomes as Spear.
- Combat Factors: as Pikes (Knights, Pikes, Light Spear or War Wagons).
- Tactical Factors: -2: If any but Auxilia, Light Spear, Bow, Warband or Psiloi and in close combat in, … bad going …
The effects of this are that Sp(L) can make use of BGo, making them able to face cavalry in both GGo and BGo. The downgrading against foot has a number of repercussions: they can no longer face Sp in the open on equal terms, but they can meet them at superior odds in BGo; they meet Bd in BGo at equal odds, but they would be fairly nervous against Wb. Otherwise Bw and Ps are more of a threat (and I think that’s quite reasonable with Bw).
All 3Sp in the King Magnus’ War campaign will be Sp(L), which will affect the Pre-feudal Scots as well.
This is also now on Fanaticus at:
16 December, 2009
The King Magnus’ War campaign has a number of battles that create the alternative history for it. These were not fought in sequence, so here they are in their ‘historical’ sequence.
‘The first one was the Battle of Dunsinnan Hill in 1054, which saw Macbeth fight off a challenge to the throne of Scotland from Malcolm, the son of Duncan. Macbeth remained king of the Scots and English influence did not increase. The next was the Battle of Stamford in 1066; Harald Hardrada was defeated by Harold Godwinson, but was able to retreat to Norway with the core of his army. Harold Godwinson was in turn defeated by William of Normandy at the Battle of Hastings soon after.
Harald Hardrada, learning of Harold’s defeat, returned to Northumbria and proclaimed himself king of the Northern earldoms. His rule was not left unchallenged for long, as William rode forth and met him at the Battle of Navenby in 1070. William was sent packing with a bloody nose, and Harald’s control of the north was made secure.
In 1084, Máel Snechtai, the nephew of Macbeth, attempted to extend his influence into Northumbria. He was met by Harald Hardrada’s son Olaf at the Battle of Ebchester and defeated.
Over in Wales, Gruffudd ap Cynan decisively rebuffed the advances of Marcher Lord influence in Powys at the Battle of Trefaldwyn. Buoyed on by this, in the following year he challenged Rhys ap Gruffudd for control of Ceredigion (the Battle for Ceredigion) and emerged triumphantly as the leading political figure in Wales.
16 December, 2009
I announced this battle three months ago, but I only got to fighting it this week. With it fought the King Magnus campaign is now ready to go. This was a battle fought between me and Steve, of Small Sagas fame.
Gruffudd ap Cynan acquitted himself so well against Earl Robert the other day that I felt he deserved a shot at leading the Welsh in the up-coming campaign. Therefore, in the summer of 1103, fresh from his victory over Earl Robert, Gruffudd ap Cynan decided to challenge his son-in-law, Gruffudd ap Rhys, ruler of the South Welsh, for control of Ceredigion.
The North Welsh army was totally in line with the list: 1x3Cv, 8x3Sp and 3x2Ps. The South Welsh one was more varied: 1x3Cv, 2x3Wb, 2x4Bd, 1x2Ps and 6x3Bw. The blade were Wexford Viking allies.
Thing went Gruffudd ap Cynan’s way initially, as he found local noblemen sympathetic to his cause; this meant that Gruffudd ap Rhys was the attacker, trying to regain control of the region. Gruffudd ap Cynan used this situation to his advantage, bringing his rival to battle on a very flat field. It was intersected by a road and had a smallish steep hill in one corner and two small woods in opposite corners. Gruffudd ap Cynan even got the edge he wanted (more correctly Gruffudd ap Rhys got the one he didn’t want). Gruffudd ap Rhys deployed with his archers massed on one wing and his close-order troops and retinue on the other. Gruffudd ap Cynan met this by deplying a group of three spear and supporting skirmishers on the road. They’d use it to get clear of the wood. He deployed the rest of the army in line to meet Gruffudd ap Rhys’s close order troops.
On the first turn Gruffudd ap Rhys had enough PIPs to order a general advance and get clear of the woods. Gruffudd ap Cynan had 6 PIPs and advanced his column up the road, advanced his line and used the psiloi ability to make multiple moves on the first turn to bring the psiloi on the left flank to the right.
On the next turn, Gruffudd ap Rhys continued to advance, while Gruffudd ap Cynan managed to get his troops out of column, something of a rarity for me when using roads!
Gruffudd ap Rhys advanced with some caution, while Gruffudd ap Cynan, like some latter-day Leonidas against Persians, ordered his spear to charge the opposing archers. The archers forced the wings of his formation to recoil. Not feeling confident about facing Gruffudd ap Rhys’s heavy troops, Gruffudd ap Cynan opted to wheel his right wing and anchor it with light troops on the hill.
Not dissuaded by the shooting (in fact the second time round it was totally ineffective), on the next turn Gruffudd ap Cynan’s left wing closed with the enemy. If the centre won its combat the wings would have tasty odds of 3-1. However, the archers proved tougher than expected and the centre was driven back. The other two combats were now at even odds, and Gruffudd ap Cynan was perhaps fortunate not to come to any grief, recoiling one and having a stalemate with the other.
At this point Gruffudd ap Rhys had the chance to ruin the Northen attack, flanking both sides of the formation. The left element was destroyed, but the right one very nearly destroyed his attacker (2+3 v 2+6).
Gruffudd ap Cynan is now feeling less confident; putting on a brave face he sends his spear back into the fray, and tries to extend the line with the skirmishers. His right flank continues its advance. His spear is again driven back, as are the skirmishers from archery.
Concentrated archery fire caused no serious damage to the left wing and Gruffudd ap Cynan responded by having his spear turn to face the archers that had earlier flanked them; these were supported by an element of spear from the right flank. Heavily outclassed these archers were put to flight.
Gruffudd ap Rhys’s archers now turn on the northern skirmishers, a tasty target, but fail to do any serious damage. In response, Gruffudd ap Cynan sends his spear and skirmishers into combat with the archers on his left wing. He is driven back in the centre, but on the wing, his skirmishers put the opposing archers to flight (1+3 v 1+1).
The tide is now turning on the Southerners. The combat on their right wing has sucked up their PIPs while their heavy troops have not managed to get to blows with the enemy. In their turn they fight the spear in the centre to a standstill.
Finally Gruffudd ap Cynan sees a chance to end the battle and personally leads the attack on the now depleted archers. In some tough fighting two more elements are broken and Gruffudd ap Rhys abandons the field.
Spear against Bow in the open ought to be a fairly unfair fight, but Gruffudd ap Cynan made it a close run affair, which might be expected when three spear take on six bow. However, had that initial combat gone his way, it might have been all over much quicker. I doubted the wisdom of Gruffudd ap Rhys’s deployment; two blocks of archers might have worked better. He needed to get his blade and warband in amongst the spear, where they would have had the edge.
With this victory Gruffudd ap Cynan gained control of Ceredigion and would lead the Welsh in the King Magnus campaign. I was a little disappointed by this, as I felt the South Welsh would have been more interesting, as they’re the only army with lots of archers, while there are a lot of spear armies in the campaign already.
However, I have to admit that Gruffudd ap Cynan is a more impressive historical figure, and this battle provided the impetus for me to create a troop type that, in my opinion, better reflects the North Welsh spear: it’s crazy that their home terrain of ‘Hilly’ forces them to deploy steep hills that they can’t fight on effectively. Therefore, in this campaign the Welsh and the Pre-feudal Scots 3Sp will be Sp(L) .
14 December, 2009
After getting a heap of Corvus Belli figures last month, and trying hard not to get any more until I’ve been a good boy and painted what I’ve got, I’ve come across some Corvus Belli Celts I can’t believe I didn’t see earlier:
These are the perfect antidote for the popular image of Celts as New Age tree-huggers! I’m going to have to get them, not sure when or how, but I must have a pack!