A while back I painted up enough figures to be able to field the Scots Isles and Highlands army. I’d cannibalized it a while back for SoBH. It looks like it will get a better army list in DBA 3.0 and actually be quite a balance selection of troops.

Scots Isles and Highlands Army

The entire army.

I may need to do the standard again. It’s a bit bright, but it is, though probably anachronistic to this period, the standard of the Isles.

Another angle.

Another angle.

It has a solid base of six 4Bd. These are a mixture of the Feudal Castings Scots thegns and other less armoured Scots for variety.

The close order fighters — six 4Bd.

The close order fighters — six 4Bd.

Another angle.

Another angle.

This base can be supplemented with a number of different troops, giving flexibility in BGo and some archers to use against mounted.

The support — From left to right, 1x3Ax (Irish bonnachts), 2x3Wb (Galwegians), 2x3Bw (Highland archers), 1x5Hd (Highland rabble) and 1x2Ps (Highland skirmishers).

The support — From left to right, 1x3Ax (Irish bonnachts), 2x3Wb (Galwegians), 2x3Bw (Highland archers), 1x5Hd (Highland rabble) and 1x2Ps (Highland skirmishers).

Another angle.

Another angle.

This army has already had a few successful outings that I’ve yet to write up. They’ve visited the New World and put Aztecs to flight.

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.

For the second day of the competition I fielded my Komnenan Byzantines; they are probably the most competitive of my Book III/IV armies, and quite a change from the plodding armies I normally field. I used them at the Worlds, so I’ve had a fair bit of practice with them now.

  • Andrew Taylor (IV/82a French Ordonnance)

First up I faced Andrew; I’ve played him a few times now and am yet to win, but I fancied my chances with the match-up here. He didn’t lay down masses of terrain, and I felt my cavalry would be able to handle his archers, being able to concentrate on one wing before he could react.

Initial deployment against the French.

After the two swaps; the bow move sideways.

I set out to win on the right wing; unfortunately this involved the commander facing a round of shooting before I closed for combat. At 4-4, I figured the risk was OK, but once his archers moved into range it was 2-4 and more nerve wracking. Well, I rolled a 1 and it was game over, 1G-0, with first bit of shooting. Something of an anticlimax!

  • Jared (IV/66 Later Polish)

My second encounter was against a Polish army that was extremely mobile: knights, cavalry, light horse, a war wagon and some crossbowmen. Jared had only had a couple of games the day before, when he and his friend expressed an interest in playing as they were browsing the competitions.

Initial deployment, after the swaps aimed to get the archers facing his knights

I got off to a very lucky start on my right flank where my light cavalry, fired up by the sight of the camp, chased off both the Polish light horse and even managed to get rid of a cavalry. The game seemed assured, but the crossbowmen swung the balance, shooting up an element of cavalry and then an archer (on it rear rank, I think). Meanwhile, I’d lost two light horse against the Polish cavalry to give Jared a 4-3 win.

The final scene, as the massed crossbowmen break the Byzantine archers

  • Kees (IV/59a Post-Mongolian Samurai)

My last game before lunch was against a Japanese army. I was apprehensive about winning when he lay down a lot of terrain and deployed in it.

Initial deployment to get clear of the hills.

However, Kees chose to come out into the open and fight. I was still unpacking from column when we contacted, but in a reversal of my first game, I took out his general with my knights when he rolled a 1. Game over. A bit of an anticlimax in some ways, but more time for lunch!

The knights advance after breaking the Samurai commander (note the general's more conservative deployment!).

  • Andrew McGregor (III/77 Scots Isles & Highlands)

After lunch I faced an army I didn’t expect to be much trouble—massed blades without psiloi support against mounted should be a doddle! However, it’s never wise to underestimate one’s opponent, and I advanced too fast, trying to get my light horse away from his archers. He made contact and fled some of my light horse leaving my commander exposed. He closed the door on him and it was a 3G-0 defeat! I did help Andrew to the extent that I pointed out his options (as like Jared he was new to DBA), but my mistakes were all my own doing!

The Varangians and Normans never saw combat before it was all over on the right flank! What was the point of gaining control of the wood if I didn't sue it to anchor a flank?

  • Arne (III/74 Fanatic Berber)

In my last game of the day I faced Arne, making some nice symmetry, facing the same opponent for my first and last games. I was the defender against some insanely aggressive Berbers. It was an open board and the two armies were well matched.

Initial deployments.

Arne advanced two psiloi into the wood behind my horse, forcing one of my cavalry to shield them and prevent them from going after the camp. Meanwhile, I soon lost my knights and got my light horse into quite a jam ahead of the army (the general was still with the bow thankfully). However, I had the PIPs, and Arne didn’t have many for a while, to retire my light horse out of the mess they’d got themselves into. Arne sent his knight against the cavalry guarding the woods. I was very lucky to survive being overlapped by them, but with light horse support I destroyed the knight. Meanwhile my archers started to shoot up his light horse. I’m a bit hazy how it ended now. I think I retreated one of his elements into the rear of one of mine making it 4-4, but I managed to get one of his to win a very close game.

Finishing on a win was a good way to end, but given that I’d had two very quick games that were over almost before they had begun, it was good to finish with a really close and interesting game.

I need to be a little more cautious with the Komnenans; the Varangians never saw combat, which is suggestive of my not really working out how to use all 12 elements; the archers did see action in a couple of games, but in others I rushed into action without them. I’m better at not getting the LH into a fix with wild moves (though it was only luck against the Poles that saw them survive), but getting them to work with the archers is something I’ve not really sorted out.

All in all, it was a great two days. I enjoyed playing all my opponents. It reminds me why I like DBA; whereas other competitions at Conquest had awards for good sportsmanship, such an award for the DBA one would be redundant, as there was not a backdrop, whether only implied or not, of dodgy players to make such an award meaningful! A big thanks to Keith for organizing the competition and soldiering on through it despite being under the weather.

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.

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.

Scots Isles and Highlands Army

27 September, 2009

Today I finished 4 more 4Bd for the Scots Isles and Highlands army. It’s now good to go, using my modified army list, that is.

Scots Isles and Highlands Army

Scots Isles and Highlands Army

The figures are all Feudal Castings. the Islemen themselves are a combination of the Scots Thegns (M1a), the Scots command pack (MS6), Scots Axemen (MS2) and Scots Spear (MS1). Two of the Scots Spear figures have been modified to use axes; they had a spear two-handed and a shield slung on their backs (one is the furthest Isleman on the left in the front. I may yet get more thegns and spear and make 3 more elements so that I can field a regular army.

Big Painting Session

20 September, 2009

This weekend I surprised myself by getting two batches of figures painted, some 6 mounted and 35 foot. The first lot were started on Thursday, I think, inasmuch as I’d done their flesh, but I finished them totally Friday night. These were figures for my Pre-feudal Scots army: 2 figures for light horse and 7 figures for spear. I’m planning to use them as Picts at Conquest,  a wargames competition in Christchurch next month, so I need an extra 2LH and 2 more 3Sp. I’m now waiting for a few figures from Feudal Castings, so I can finish the spear.

The next day I spent the afternoon and evening on armoured infantry—mostly metal, so relatively easy. These were 12 dismounted knights and 12 Islemen.The knights are now based and waiting for their magic wash and flock, while the Islemen need 4 more figures from the Feudal Castings order before I can base them. I also painted 4 feudal scouts (2x2LH). These were figures I got by trade from Paul Potter through a chance post on the Fanaticus Forum. I swapped Museum Miniatures figures that don’t scale well for me for some Essex ones.

Figures painted this weekend in array: on the left are the pre-feudal Scots and Islemen, in the centre are the knights and on the right are the feudal scouts; behind them are Macbeth's witches waiting to be based. On nails are the next batch, some Irish. Right behind them is the set of drawers with all the unpainted lead. On the far left the Pre-feudal Scots are trying out used business card holders as storage for their trip to Christchurch.

Figures painted this weekend in array: on the left are the pre-feudal Scots and Islemen, in the centre are the knights and on the right are the feudal scouts; behind them are Macbeth's witches waiting to be based. On nails are the next batch, some Irish. Right behind them is the set of drawers with all the unpainted lead. On the far left the Pre-feudal Scots are trying out used business card holders as storage for their trip to Christchurch.

In the next few weeks I’ll be trying out my ‘Picts’ against various assortments of Normans and others to get practice against probable opponents at the competition. In particular, I want to see how they go against Patrician Romans and Classical Indians (for which I’ll need to use my HOTT Bh as El!).