The Battle for Strathclyde (Pre-feudal Scots v Scots Isles and Highlands).

13 February, 2010

Well, it’s been a while since there’s been any progress on the King Magnus campaign, and it may continue to be patchy, but last Wednesday Joel came over for a game, and not bringing any of his figures we decided to fight the next battle of the campaign. This battle was between Gilledomman of the Isles and Angus of the Scots. Gilledomman hoped to add Strathclyde to his possessions, invading in spring with an army of Islemen (6x4Bd including the commander), supplemented by some Irish mercenaries (2xsAx) and some Highlanders (2x3Bw, 1x5Wb and 1x2Ps).

Angus met this force with a muster of his spearmen (5x3Sp(L)), his thegns (1x4Wb), archers (2x2Ps), his retinue (1x3Cv), light horse (1x2LH) and Galwegian allies (2x3Wb). Joel commanded the Islemen and I the Scots. As the defender I got to set the terrain, and it was here I made my biggest mistake. I set terrain appropriate to the last two battles (nothing like preparing for the last war!). There were two steep hills in diagonally opposite corners, a wood and a road (I would have been better to put terrain in the centre of the field, as became apparent as I deployed).

Gilledomman didn’t get the edge he hoped for. Angus opted to position his spear on a hill in front of the camp and the rest of his army next to the wood. Gilledomman deployed in a long line to meet them, with his warband opposite the spear and his bow and bonnachts opposite the woods. Angus didn’t alter his deployment in response to this.

 

Initial Deployment: Angus' Scots on the right and Gilledomman's Islemen on the left.

 

As the Islemen advanced, Angus sought to pull his right wing across to confront the Islemen blade.

 

Turn 1: The thegns begin to wheel towards their left flank.

 

Gilledomman brought his troops off the hill as Angus moved his cavalry to the left.

 

Turn 2: Gilledomman's troops watch in surprise as the Scots attempt to move to their right.

 

Gilledomman’s fastest troops, his bonnachts, advanced on the left, as the Scots continued their risky manoeuvre.

 

Turn 3: The Islemen get closer as the Scots continue to move to the left.

 

As the line of Islemen bore down on them Angus and his archers formed the right flank for the warbands that were still on the march to the left.

 

Turn 4: The Islemen get closer.

 

The Islemen now had the warbands pinned, but more surprising was the effectiveness of their archery, which destroyed one of the Scots skirmishers.

 

Turn 5: Ouch, the Scots' right flank gets shorter.

 

On the next turn the Islemen got ready to attack, but before their right flank could charge they were beaten to it by the warbands, who used all 6 PIPs to charge into contact. The first fight was crucial, if the Galwegians could drive back the Highland rabble, they would provide overlaps on the two Islemen blade; unfortunately they got a ‘stick’ result. The other two combats were very desultory (we both rolled 1s twice!).

 

Turn 6: A promising opportunity for the Scots comes to nothing.

 

With the Galwegians overlapped on both sides their future was not promising, and sure enough they didn’t stick around. The Scots were now 2 down and looking very ill. However, on the right wing their other archers were made of sterner stuff, getting a ‘stick’ against the Irish that attacked them.

 

Turn 7 (Gilledomman): Galwegians go home! The Scots are two down.

 

Angus retires his two surviving Wb and his retinue. His archers are forced back by the Irish.

 

Turn 7 (Angus): The Scots fall back on the hill.

 

Gilledomman continued his run of great PIP rolls (three 6s in a row). He boldly takes on the Galwegians single-handedly, while his Islemen flank the archers. the Galwegians fall back, and the gritty archers get another ‘stick’!

 

Turn 8 (Gilledomman): The Islemen close in on the Scots position.

 

Angus orders his Galwegians to attack Gilledomman’s household troops supported by spear, but they show a lack of passion and fade away (they rolled 1 to 3). It’s now 3-0 to the Islemen and Angus’ is wondering what army will be left to him for summer if the Islemen keep coming after him. Surprisingly his army doesn’t fold this turn, as those doughty archers shrug off their flankers and the Irish!

 

Turn 8 (Angus): Galwegians lack spark—yet again!

 

Now Gilledomman’s PIP luck changes (2 PIPs). He sends in the Highland rabble against the Scots spear, only to see them driven back. Even more surprisingly, the archers prove too much for the Irish, who decide to make a run for it (1-6).

 

Turn 9 (Gilledomman): Angus' troops hand on grimly, heartened by the brave example of their archers.

 

Angus’ lines his spear up with the thegns and with their overlap support attacks Gilledomman himself, hoping to meet him in personal combat. The Islemen fall back before his charge.

 

Turn 9 (Angus): Gilledomman falls back before the Scots cavalry.

 

Now Gilledomman’s PIP luck changes definitively (the first of three 1s), helping to keep the Scots’ hopes alive. He opts for caution as he aligns his household troops with the Highland warband.

Angus, heartened by his army’s first success, has 5 PIPs and uses them to line himself and his archers with the main battle line. He also sends his light cavalry around behind the line to try to take the Highlanders in the rear.

 

Turn 10: Angus stabilizes his line and sends his light horse behind the enemy's line.

 

With only one PIP Gilledomman decides to line up his blade with the Highlanders. Angus has another 5 PIPs, which he uses to attack the warband with his horse and continue to lengthen his line to the left. The result against the Highlanders is a ‘stick’.

 

Turn 11: The Scots light horse fall on the Highlanders, but a stalemate eventuates.

 

With his one PIP Gilledomman sends some Islemen to chase off the archers, but do you think they’ll go! The Islemen retire in confusion. The Highlanders, however, force the light horse to recoil.

 

Turn 12 (Gilledomman): Go Scots archers! They won't give up.

 

Angus has two PIPs, renewing the attack on the Highlanders and lining up his spear on the hill. The warband had enough and forced back onto the Scots spear disperse. It’s now 3-2 to the Islemen, and their right wing is looking very unwell.

 

Turn 12 (Angus): At last, the bane of the spear is put to flight.

 

Gilledomman gets 2 PIPs and tries to push those archers out of the way. They get yet another ‘stick’! Angus has 3 PIPs and launches an attack on the lone Isleman facing the thegns. These get a ‘stick’; the archers at last are forced to flee.

 

Turn 13: The archers at last are forced to flee.

 

Gilledomman’s PIPs improve (3). He flanks Angus and his retinue, but is driven back. He also forces back the thegns.

 

Turn 14 (Gilledomman): Flanked, Angus drives back his attackers.

 

Angus pulls out the stops on the Islemen facing the thegns, sending in the light horse. This finally gets them, and the score is now 3-3. He brings up the archers to ZOC the Islemen that flanked him and he attacks Gilledomman himself, flanking him with spear, but the roles are repeated from his turn, and he’s driven back.

 

Turn 14 (Angus): The second time a flanked commander fights off his attacker.

 

With 6 PIPs Gilledomman ZOCs the spear that had flanked him and attacks the light horse, forcing them to flee through the thegns.

 

Turn 15 (Gilledomman): The light horse are chased off.

 

Angus has only 1 PIP; he advances the thegns to align with the spear.

 

Turn 15 (Angus): On a knife's edge. Can the Scots last long enough to get that one more casualty?

 

Gilledomman has 4 PIPs. He decides to work on those pesky archers. He moves his archers across to support his right flank. Then it’s all over. His archers, the same ones that shot the Scots archers, shot the Scots spear (6-1). The Scots archers, however, don’t give up, only recoiling.

 

Turn 16 (Gilledomman): The second distance shooting of the battle causes more casualties.

 

  • Aftermath

What looked like being a massacre was a hard-fought victory for the Islemen. Whether they feel strong enough to follow up their attack in summer is now uncertain. The thegns, remembering how poorly the Galwegians fought at Ebchester, placed the blame for the defeat squarely at their feet. As it was, with the Galwegians all put to flight and their territory now cut off from the Scots by the Islemen in Strathclyde, their defection was hardly surprising.

The Islemen will now get Galwegians instead of the Highland rabble and one of the Irish. The Scots will get some Orkney Vikings to replace them (2x4Bd).

  • Review

I was lucky to force the Islemen so hard after that peculiar deployment. Having said that two of his victories, both by shooting, were freak shots. Worse still from my point of view, I reminded Joel both times to do the shooting! On the balance, this was evened out by the Scots archer’s stubbornness. However, the fact that the Scots have 3Sp(L) was what allowed that second shot to succeed. I’m yet to use them well. At deployment I should have swapped one of the 2Ps for a 3Sp(L) so that it could have neutralized that warband.

Turn 3: The Islemen get closer as the Scots continue to move to the left.
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