My first armies were Anglo-Danish and enough Normans to become along with some of the Anglo-Danish two Anglo-Norman armies. I got these rebased a few weeks ago and they really do look a lot better. You can see more pictures on their page on My Armies.

Morphable Normans.

Morphable Normans.

On the Painting table

23 March, 2014

When I last wrote, I said the next project would be to paint seven 4Pk for my successor armies. Well, they’re over half done, but others have jumped the cue.

  • Rebasing

The biggest project has been to rebase all my old armies. I had started this before I went to Adelaide, and a lot of my HoTT elements were all but done, just waiting for the flock. The impetus to restart this project was a desire to see how knights and spears compared under DBA 3.0. This got me redoing my first two armies, the Normans and Anglo-Danish. I also flocked the HoTT elements while I was at it.

Next, I rebased the Welsh, Irish and Vikings. This has taken quite a while, and is now almost completed. I’ve innovated by using No More Gaps to hide the bases. It adds more time to the job, but is worth it.

In the process of rebasing I got enthused with my Dark Age armies and the potential to use them for HoTT. I’ve now got the Scots Isles and Highland army complete again (it was demobbed for SBH figures. This started with the plan to create a Thegn general for the Prefeudal Scots so that they could have a 4Wb general with rear rank support and flanked by pike, something that’s likely to tear holes in most lines of foot. When I learned that the Scots Isles and Highland army is going to have a lot more choice in DBA 3.0, I decided to paint up the four elements of 4Bd I needed to get this back on the table. I’ve also painted a few more archers in mail to make their 3Bw more imposing. I also repainted the 5Hd.

So that’s some of what’s been jumping the cue for painting. I’ve also done a few HoTT elements, some Prefeudal Scots and Irish Lurkers — skirmishers on a 40×30 base along with a dog each. Finally I did a Cleric element — three medieval monks. Magicians and Heroes will follow.

  • Song of Blades and Heroes

I’ve also been painting a few figures for SBH, actually quite a few. I’ve now finished thirty foot, and three mounted knights and a Hippogriff rider are close to being done. Most of these are Essex early medieval figures, dismounted Norman knights and Norman spearmen and archers. This adds some useful variety to my SBH range, but also is a way of getting started on painting some of these figures for an Essex Norman army. The rest are six halflings, two mailed Highland archers and a Druid from the Tabletop range. I’ve got more figures from Tabletop’s fantasy range. They’re a little larger than most of my figures and are very much ‘adventurers’, as they all have backpacks and other equipment. The wizards won’t quite look right in HoTT, but will be useful for SBH.

A halfling crossing the new bridge over the new stream with some of the assorted terrain additions doted around.

A halfling crossing the new bridge over the new stream with some of the assorted terrain additions doted around.

The other big activity for SBH is making terrain. I made a river (or a stream) using No More Gaps on a T-shirt. I rounded this out with a small bridge and then added a few tokens for treasure — chests, barrels, etc. I’ve done a tent and a small hut. And I’ve also made some hedges using Scotch Brite on iceblock sticks. The next stage for SBH is really dungeon tiles when I get a chance.

Another angle.

Another angle.

He hasn't seen the two dragons, though!

He hasn’t seen the two dragons, though!

REally just seeing if the timer makes a difference with the camera. I think it does.

Really just seeing if the timer makes a difference with the camera. I think it does.



  • Plans

Those seven elements of pike should be finished next. Then I suspect I’ll be working on HoTT stuff: heroes, wizards, but also a dwarf and an elf army. More fantasy SBH figures may get done as well. I’ve started putting together a 3Cv for my Welsh; the North Welsh can have a South Welsh ally, who has to include the general element. I find this a bit odd — Welsh with two 3Cv seems too much. I might also work on the Normans, but I reckon the elves and dwarves will be more attractive.

Recent Gaming

23 March, 2014

I’ve not kept up with reporting games I’ve played. Part of the reason for this is because I’ve only got a camera that is not all that satisfactory. I’ve taken better photos with my phone than with the small camera I’ve tried to use. The tripod is broken and can’t support the large camera I’d used for my gallery shots.
The other reason I’ve not been active on the blog is that I’ve been too busy painting (more in the next post). Anyway, I’ve played quite a lot recently, and had some very good luck. Here are some photos that aren’t too blurry.

  • Battlecry, 16 Feb 2014

Last month I got along to Battlecry for a day of demo DBA games. We got a bit of interest and should be running a competition next year as a result of this. We played DBA 2.2, as noted earlier on MEDBAG.
My first game was against Joel, a historical matchup of my Early Seleucids against his Classical Indians.

Early Seleucids face Classical Indians.

Early Seleucids face Classical Indians.

The Indians up close (some are hidden behind the trees.

The Indians up close (some are hidden behind the trees.

The Seleucids.

The Seleucids.

I should have been in serious trouble as the Indians came around my left flank in large numbers. However, they were obviously unfamiliar with scythed chariots, as mine proceeded to tear them to pieces. I came away with a lucky victory.

Chaos on the left flank.

Chaos on the left flank.

Next I faced John, who’d just finished his Celtiberians. I used my Gauls.

Gauls v. Celtiberians.

Gauls v. Celtiberians.

View from the Celtiberian camp.

View from the Celtiberian camp.

I managed to meet his warband with my cavalry and used this to my advantage in a battle on a narrow frontage.

Gallic cavalry triumphant.

Gallic cavalry triumphant.

I then faced Mike, who used my Carthaginians. I took my Syracusans. As we are both littoral, this involved a waterway, which ended up to my back. Mike went for a littoral landing.

Syracusan v. Carthaginians.

Syracusan v. Carthaginians.

I hurried to advance to reduce the potential for the littoral landing party to make trouble. I was able to sack his camp (the crucified Syracusan was a provocation!) and used my longer line to outflank his elephants. Another victory.

The Tarantines return from sacking the camp.

The Tarantines return from sacking the camp.

I think we played some more games that I didn’t take pictures of. The last on my camera was my Syracusans against John’s Celtiberians. I don’t remember for sure if I won, but I think my luck was pretty strong, and I used my advantage in cavalry to compensate for the vulnerability of my spear to his warband.

 Syracusans v. Celtiberians.

Syracusans v. Celtiberians.

Unrecorded is our final BBDBA game of Carthaginians and Celtiberians against Romans and Spanish. This was officially a draw, but I’m sure the Romans had the edge when we stopped.

  • Auckland City Guard

Since then, I’ve mostly played DBA 3.0. Joel’s visited after work a few times, and I’ve got to the City Guard again. We’ve had a lot of fun trying out his Aztec hordes of doom, and we tried out a number of permutations of knights against spear.
From memory the time before last we played: Normans v. Anglo-Danish, Early Crusaders v. Comnenan Byzantines, Aztecs v. Prefeudal Scots and Vikings v. Anglo-Danish. I think there was an Aztec v. Early Crusaders too.
Last weekend I took some photos:
Our first game was his Aztecs against my North Welsh.

The Aztecs meet the Welsh.

The Aztecs meet the Welsh.

The Welsh with their South Welsh ally.

The Welsh with their South Welsh ally.

The South Welsh cavalry got in the way of his archers and the spearmen got flanked; however, the Welsh had been making progress against the important Aztec elements.
Next we played Ptolemy against Lysymachus. The Ptolemaic army was quite different from what I expected. I tried a littoral landing of three auxilia in a line with side edge contact with the waterway. It seemed legal and threw Lysimachus’ plans to meet this treat. I got a narrow victory in this battle.
We then tried Carthaginians against Gauls.

Carthaginians drawn up against Gauls.

Carthaginians drawn up against Gauls.

Carthaginians with a random stack of skulls next to their camp.

Carthaginians with a random stack of skulls next to their camp.

The Carthaginians won in a battle stacked in their favour (though elephants don’t quick kill warband any more). Our final battle was the Carthaginians against Aztecs. I didn’t take any pictures of this. The Carthaginians took only one elephant, I think. They were lucky in a battle between their two 2LH and the Aztecs two 2Ps. I killed both of them, but had I not, my back was to a wood, and I’d have been very much at a disadvantage.

No sooner had Harold sent the Norwegians packing, after a hard fight, than he got news that William of Normandy had landed in the south. Without hesitating he marched his forces to meet this challenge to his sovereignty. He was able to recover one element of the fyrd he’d lost at Stamford and he brought his force up to strength with some hastily raised levies of dubious worth. Hi s force to face the Norman invader was, 3x4Bd (huscarls), 6x4Sp (fyrd), 1x2Ps (skirmishers) and 2x7Hd (fyrd dregs). The huscarls acquitted themselves so well at Stamford that I decided to give them a bonus; they can only be killed by knights if they’re doubled. This was a variant rule I saw in Slingshot 263 (“The Normans in Italy”). It seems eminently reasonable to make these elite troops the steadiest in the army against knights rather than some of the most vulnerable.

William had brought with him plenty of cavalry (7x3Kn and 1x2LH) with some spear (2x4Sp) and archers (2x2Ps). It was a toss-up whether to deploy the archers as skirmishers or in formation, as the formed-up archers could have a lot of fun with the hordes, but then so can the knights.

William had the first piece of luck as he was able to set the terrain, and he wasn’t about to play fair! He managed to meet Harold on a road with only a pair of small woods in opposite corners to break up the flatness. This was that flat bit on the way to Senlac Hill, which is clearly where Harold was heading! This is the battle of Hastings where Harold doesn’t get to that hill.

There was little to choose between the various edges, but Harold got the road running between them and the smallest hill on his left flank. William deployed with his spear on the road, hoping to use it to help them keep up with the knight. He them put his light horse and skirmishers on the right flank, hoping to move quickly to contest the wood with the Saxons. Otherwise his knights formed up either side of the spear.

Harold met this with a block of psiloi-supported spear flanked by himself and his huscarls and a two-deep block of spear on the right flank. He tried to give the hordes what little protection they could by placing them near the woods, hoping to delay the Norman light troops with them. He kept some fyrd in the camp in case the LH got through to it.

Initial deployments; William on the left, Harold on the right.

On his first turn Harold moved his horde out of the woods to stop the Norman light horse getting around it to the camp and he advanced the line (not needing 2 PIPs to move hordes on the first turn is handy!).

With 4 PIPs William opted to send his light troops forward quickly.

Turn 1: The Norman light troops advance quickly.

On the next turn Harold wheeled his line and brought the horde on the end out to anchor it. William with 6 PIPs got clever and advanced his spear along the road and broke up his knights as they chased along after.

Turn 2: The Normans rush forward.

Harold, excited to see the Normans in disarray, rushed forward, moving his horde around to ZOC the enemy skirmishers. William paid the price of his rashness with only a single PIP, which he used to try to get the spear across to face Harold’s spear.

Turn 3: Harold gets closer and William's line is not yet organized.

Harold continued to advance. Now he had the enemy ZOCed. It would be harder for them to manoeuvre. William was still in a dither with only 2 PIPs. He used these to support his spear as best he could.

Turn 4: Harold's bold advance looks to catch the Normans in disarray.

Harold didn’t hesitate and on the next turn attacked William’s left flank before it could properly deploy. He succeeded in destroying a conroi of Norman knights with spear that had overlap support (6-3) and drive back some knights with his huscarls.

Turn 5 (Harold): First blood to the English as the knights on the right flank break.

William has better PIPs now (4) and starts to organize a response, but it’s not easy with the enemy already so close. His skirmishers attack the end of Harold’s line forcing the fyrd to turn to react, and William gets a better line to face Harold on his left.

Turn 5 (William): The Norman skirmishers force the Saxons to turn to face them.

Harold now throws his army into the attack before William can outflank it. It’s a disaster! Despite being two-deep, the spear on the right flank are routed (3-6). Any chance of an advantage against William with his huscarls is lost and they are forced to retire (had I not made them special it would have been game over!). The huscarls to the left of Harold seem disheartened too and are forced back, destroying any chance against the Norman spear, who are fought to a standstill.

Turn 6: Harold's luck fails and his right flank is blown away.

William responds by flanking Harold’s huscarls and throwing everything he has against the Saxons. The hordes remain unfazed by the Norman light horse supported by skirmishers and throw them back. Elsewhere there are three stalemates, including the beleagured huscarls and the fight between the two commanders.

Turn 6 (William): The Saxons hold firm against the Norman charge.

Harold can do little to put pressure on the Normans beyond straightening his battleline and fighting bravely. Sadly this was not to be a repeat of Stamford, and this time his huscarls are destroyed. Nevertheless, he throws back William’s attack on him, and his other huscarls, heartened by this, rout the knights in front of them (5-2).

Turn 7 (Harold): The right flank continues to collapse, but elsewhere Harold's huscarls are victorious.

William now gets 5 PIPs and flanks his rival for the throne. Clinically he straightens his line, extending the spear to cover for the lost knights. His skirmishers advance to ZOC the spear on his far right again. No heroics here, he’ll wait for English right flank to collapse under the weight of knights opposing it. He is victorious. Harold’s huscarls fight bravely, but flanked they go down in a close fight (4-4). Legend has it that Harold was killed in single combat with William, who was able to lift the crown of England from his head.

Turn 7: (William): Harold falls surrounded by his huscarls. The heart of English resistance collapses with him.

With their commander gone all resistance collapsed and the Norman cavalry was able to carry out a terrible pursuit. Only the hordes got away. They melted into the woods and claimed to be innocent truffle-collectors. The Normans, being partial to these, were surprisingly fooled!

  • Review:

There was no Senlac Hill for Harold, unlike at Stamford. For all that he gave the Normans some anxious moments. Had the right flank not folded, the odds against the rest of the knights there would have been in his favour. William was still really getting organized, and it could have got even worse. Surprisingly the hordes were not the weak link. Harold’s bold advance gave William no time to organize a real attack on them, and they performed their duty of guarding the left flank very well.

William would have been better to have moved his spear as part of his reaction to Harold’s set-up. If he could have got them opposite Harold’s psiloi-supported spear he would have been able to drive it back and attack the remaining spear with knights at even odds and a quick kill. That was his plan part way through his advance. They were certainly better against spear, but the manoeuvre threw his line into disorder. It was luck that brought down the Saxon’s right flank and gave him the battle. Harold’s plan was really as good as it could get in the circumstances. Waiting to be attacked would only have made the hordes a target and allowed the camp to be attacked.

  • The outcome of the battle:

Well, I can let out a sigh of relief. I was worried Harold might create another upset. And what if he wasn’t killed himself? What if his hordes and a few fyrd were destroyed? There might have been yet another battle!

With Harold dead, William set to securing the south of the kingdom. Harald got wind of this victory and returned to claim the north of England for himself. Neither were keen to attack the other that summer, and in the next season, when William advanced north he was met by Harald at Navenby and given a bloody nose.

The only battle remaining to be fought before the campaign can begin is the battle between Gruffudd ap Cynan and Gruffudd ap Rhys to see which represents the Welsh in this campaign.

I think I’ll give the same status to Harald’s huscarls that I gave to Harold’s. They certainly showed it at Navenby! This means that the Anglo-Norse will get 3x4Bd (huscarls), 1x3Kn (Norman adventurers), 7x4Sp (fyrd), 1x2Ps or 3Bw (archers). Now that I’ve finally painted enough archers for them to have more I’ve decided not to use them!

Well, I finally fought the battle between Harald Hardrada and Harold Godwinson that was the main point at which the alternate history for the King Magnus campaign branches from regular history. I decided not to make it a close refight of the battle of Stamford Bridge, but rather make it a regular DBA encounter between the two armies. I was thinking it’d be a walk-over for the Vikings as they out-classed the bulk of the Anglo-Saxon army (Bd v. Sp), but it proved to be an enthralling encounter.
Harald had defeated the Northern earls at Fulford and was advancing on Harold when the two armies met near Stamford. Harald had 11 blade, of which 4 were his huscarls, 6 were hird and one was an element of tag-along raiders (for variety!). He also had some berserks. Against this Harold met him with 3 elements of huscarls (4Bd), 8 elements of fyrd (4Sp) and an element of skirmishers (2Ps).
Harald was the aggressor and Harold met him along a road where two low hills faced each other. To one side of them was a wood. Harold was fortunate in getting the edge he wanted and deployed so that the fyrd would be able have the advantage of the hill. He deployed between the hill and the woods with his huscarls and anchored the line with his skirmishers in the wood.

Initial Deployment

Initial Deployment: English on the left, Vikings on the right.

Harald saw a number of ways of attacking this deployment. He opposed the fyrd with himself and his huscarls along with the berserks. He hoped to get around the hill with the berserks. He then opposed Harold and his huscarls with his hird. He hoped to be able to flank and destroy the skirmishers in the wood and turn the line on Harold.
Harold in turn could not see anything he could do but wait and try to strengthen his left flank. For the first four turns the Vikings advanced while Harold wheeled the fyrd to occupy the hill.

Turn 1

Turn 1: Harald advances; Harold wheels the fyrd onto the hill.

Turn 2

Turn 2: The advance continues.

Turn 3

Turn 3: The Vikings rumble closer.

Turn 4

Turn 4: The Viking huscarls wheel to face the hill and the hird continue to advance.

On the fifth turn the berserks attacked a lone group of fyrd guarding the flank, but were repulsed. On the next turn, with only one PIP, Harald detached some of his huscarls to support the berserks. Meanwhile, Harold deployed a second fyrd to strengthen this flank.

Turn 5 (Harald)

Turn 5 (Harald): The berserks are repulsed.

Turn 5 (Harold)

Turn 5 (Harold): Harold brings more fyrd to face the berserks.

Turn 6

Turn 6: Harald supports the berserkers with some huscarls.

On turn seven Harald attacked. While he and the huscarls waited at the foot of the hill, on the right flank the detached huscarls and the berserks tore the opposing fyrd to shreds. The huscarls rolled 6-1 and the berserks 6-2 (I’ll just give the dice rolls, attacker-defender)! On the other wing, however, things did not go so well. The skirmishers repulsed the hird (2-6) and Harold nearly destroyed the hird opposing him (1-6).

Turn 7 (Harald)

Turn 7 (Harald): The Saxon left flank is swept away.

Harold in reply advanced on the hird, but despite recoiling the enemy he destroyed none (had he not retired the skirmishers to prevent them getting flanked, however, with their overlap he would have!).

Turn 7 (Harold)

Turn 7 (Harold): Harold and his household troops force the Viking hird back.

On the next turn Harald finally assaulted the hill. With the end fyrd flanked he had a good chance of destroying another element, which he did. Otherwise he forced the fyrd to retire up the hill. However, on the left Harold, despite being overlapped on both sides, fought to a stubborn standstill, rolling his second 6 in combat. The fyrd in the centre also fought to a stalemate. Significantly, Harald had committed to this fight the hird that had been hanging back in the centre to stop flanking attempts on either half of the Viking battleline.

Turn 8 (Harald)

Turn 8 (Harald): Harald assaults the hill. Note how the central element of hird has been pulled into the battle.

Harold was staring defeat in the face: the fyrd on the hill was on the point of collapse. Nevertheless, he launced himself into the fray and destroyed the hird in front of him (his third 6!).

Turn 8 (Harold)

Turn 8 (Harold): Harold fights back, making it 1-3.

Harald, low on PIPs (2), could only react to Harold’s attack on the fyrd, but with the skirmishers having fled, he was able to flank Harold’s huscarls. These, however, proved stubborn and fought to a stalemate (4-5).

Turn 9 (Harald)

Turn 9 (Harald): Harold's huscarls stubbornly fight off a flank attack.

With this reprieve, Harold was still hanging on. He was now able to flank the hird in the centre. This resulted in another element of hird being destroyed. He continued his ferocious form rolling another 6, but the hird in front of him only recoiled, rolling 3. Better still, the huscarls that were flanked threw back their attackers (3-1).

Turn 9 (Harold)

Turn 9 (Harold): Harold's turn to flank! Now it's 2-3.

Harald continued to have low PIPs (2 again), and decided to end things by sending the berserks against the fyrd on the hill. It’d make a good spectacle from his vantage point. This used both his PIPs. Unfortunately, these fyrd, buoyed on by what they saw their king doing below them, completely routed the berserkers (1-6)! Suddenly the battle that had looked to be all over for the Saxons was in the balance!

Turn 10 (Harald)

Turn 10 (Harald): Harald has a grandstand seat of his berserks getting routed. It's now 3-3

In contrast to Harald’s dithering, Harold was all action (6 PIPs). The element that had flanked the hird last turn now rounded on the huscarls, while he moved the fyrd on the hill and the skirmishers to shore up his flanks. Harald’s huscarls proved as tough as Harold’s, though fortunately it was a stalemate (5-5), as otherwise the flankers would have recoiled into their own men! However, on the other flank it appears the hird were losing heart against Harold’s household professionals, having failed to break them when they were flanked. Harold rolled his fourth 6 and broke the hird in front of him (who rolled a 1). Remarkably the huscarls that had fought off their flankers repeated the exercise (6-1)! Harald’s hird was in flight and he was forced to retire from the field surrounded by his huscarls.

Turn 10 (Harold)

Turn 10 (Harold): Victory to Harold (5-3) as his huscarls show their professionalism.

  • Review

What a remarkable battle! I really thought the English didn’t have a hope, and I wasn’t happy with their plan, which was to sit and wait. When the flank on the hill crumbled, there was nothing they could do about it. In hindsight it was the committing of the hird that was ZOCing the two fyrd at the corner of the English line that was Harald’s undoing, but he was also handicapped by poor PIPs and some very dogged fighting by the English huscarls. It was quite neat to see how the huscarls on both sides fought—on both sides they shrugged off flank attacks. Otherwise, Harald’s gamble with the berserks only confirms the essential solidity of spear; they’re no walk-over.

  • Where now with the King Magnus’ War campaign?

I knew it was tempting fate to fight this battle. Still, Harald’s still alive and it’s reasonable to think he could retire from the field with his huscarls in good order. He would then retreat back to Norway, leaving Harold to meet William. As Harold has fought so valiantly it’s only reasonable that he get to refight this battle. If he loses (not a forgone conclusion by any means) I’ll assume that the Battle of Navenby that I fought a while back was Harald’s return to the North and rallying of the fyrd there against William. The campaign would then be back on track, assuming that Harold does as he’s supposed to against William!
I’m not sure what to do about Harold’s casualties. Do I allow him to make good the loss of the 3 fyrd, or do I fight this like a campaign with him down 3 elements? Alternatively I could give him some hordes to make up the numbers (though I’d have to paint them!). While I’m at it, I should really repaint Harold’s standard! The St. Andrew’s Cross dates back to when he was going to be a Pre-feudal Scot!

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!

Normans v. Saxons

9 July, 2009

This was one of the first games of DBA I played back in December 2007. It was with the newly finished Tabletop Normans and Saxons and is perhaps interesting mostly for the mistakes with the rules that I made. Hopefully I’ve learnt a little since then!

The Norman army encountered the Saxons drawn up on a low hill. Beside the hill, to the right of it for the Normans, ran a road. On either side of the field, midway between the two armies was a wood.

The Saxon king and his huscarls had drawn up on the hill, they had archers in support behind them. The fyrd was drawn up on either side of them, the majority on the road side and a few on the other side of the hill to prevent outflanking.

In game terms the Saxons had gambled on terrain that suited them and got the position they wanted. The battleline when it advanced to the edge of the hill was impossible to outflank without going through the woods.

The Normans drew up their knights in the centre with some Breton cavalry on the left flank and the spearmen on the road. On the right flank were the light infantry and light cavalry.

They advanced quickly, the cavalry as a line, the spearmen along the road and the light infantry into the woods with the light cavalry following alongside them.

The Saxons advanced to the edge of the hill (I wonder if that is still technically uphill?).

The Normans advanced the spearmen two deep almost into contact and moved the light cavalry and infantry and cavalry to give them flanking support (the cavalry to the left and the infantry to the right) . The knights continued to advanced steadily, but slowed to keep line as the Bretons entered the wood.

The Saxons waited.

The knights continued to advance; the spearmen made contact, confident of the impunity of their flank support. The flank support either recoiled or fled, as indeed did the spearmen.

At this stage the knights made contact as a line, along with the spearmen their supports. The spearmen this time destroyed the fyrd in front of them, as did the Norman general. Otherwise the attack failed, though fortunately with only one element of knights attacking fyrd on the hill breaking.

The Saxon huscarls and fyrd flanking the Norman general who’d advanced into the gap he’d created were able to attack his flanks—the knights flanking them had recoiled. On both the Norman flanks the Saxons saw an opportunity to attack knights that had recoiled into the woods and advanced on them. Aided by an overlap they succeeded on both flanks; the Normans were close to breaking.   The combat that really mattered, against the Norman general, however, was a stalemate.

The Norman general, flustered, was unable to issue many orders, beyond having knights advance on the huscarls he faced to give him flanking support. It was enough to destroy those huscarls.

The Saxon king, alone on the hill, saw a chance to attack some knights still regrouping after the first attack. Huscarls that had offered overlap support on the attack on knights in the woods now turned to flank these knights, whom the king charged into contact with. In a hard fought battle the king emerged victorious. The Normans broke, but it was a close fight and the Saxon king might well have fallen himself.

The woods proved crucial to victory, the hill less so. The knights’ charge uphill was pretty reckless, but it doesn’t take much for them to get lucky. However, as they advance they never gain overlaps, but in recoiling make things progressively grim!

They’d have been wiser to work on the flank, but Ieuan was in a hurry! LH are actually pretty deadly against spear, and came close to making a mess! I learnt about moving before this game—all group moves are either wheels or straight ahead. Very awkward. One tactic would be to flank the spear with knights and hope for it to create overlaps for the knights—they needed something to lift the odds!

A month later I added this by way of review:  there were multiple errors here: firstly overlaps due to pursuit, then turning to flank while in ZOC. Nice to see I’ve learnt a little.