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.

It’s possible that the reason Gruffudd ap Cynan did not show up to support William in Mercia was reports of an Irish invasion fleet heading for Powys (that and the unseemly shortness of the battle!). Powys in this campaign includes what is actually Gwynedd (Gwynedd is Conwy = Gwynedd below the Conwy), otherwise it would have no sea access. As it is, it’s curious that Angelsey, often attacked from places such as Man, being part of the capital, can only be approached by land.

The reports were well founded. Turlough Mór O’Connor looked to restore Irish influence in Wales after a hiatus of some 500 years! With a bad-going army his options for where he could attack were a little limited, but the Welsh seemed a reasonably attractive proposition, and if successful, he’d secure one flank of his kingdom. There were no allies to be had on either side; on further consideration the English could have sent help to the Welsh, and probably should have, but Henry was still trying to establish his control over his kingdom. Otherwise, the Islemen had plans to attack the Scots, so were not free to weigh into the conflict (assuming Magnus let them pass through Man).

Turlough’s army consisted of 6x3Ax (1=cmd), 2x4Bd and 4x2Ps. He was met by 1x3Cv (cmd), 2x4Bd, 6x3Sp(L), 1x3Bw and 2x2Ps. This was the first outing of the new Light Spear.

Gruffudd met the invaders inland in Powys at Dinorben, the site of an old fort. The armies drew up with a road between them, two steep hills on opposite flanks as well as two woods also opposite each other. Gruffudd deployed himself flanked by his Ostmen mercenaries in the centre of his line. On the left flank he had three light spear and his archers and on his right flank he had the skirmishers and three light spear in two columns hoping to occupy the hill in front of them.

Turlough deployed with his Ostmen on the road with kerns as rear support, three bonnachts on the hill to the right of them and the rest of the army in a line stretching into the wood to his left. Most of the kerns were on this flank.

Initial Deployments: Turlough on the left and Gruffudd on the right.

Turlough started well (6 PIPs) and advanced two kerns forward to contest the hill on his left flank. Gruffudd reacted to this by sending forward skirmishers to contest the hill and advancing his light spear onto it. The combat between the psiloi was a stalemate.

Turn 1: Gruffudd skirmishers fight uphill against kerns on the hill.

Turlough, with 1 PIP, retires the kerns not yet in combat, while the other kerns are pushed back by the skirmishers downhill from them. Gruffudd moves his other skirmishers up in support of the others and continues to advance onto the hill. The rest of his line also advances.

Turn 2: Gruffudd seems to be gaining control of the hill on his right flank.

Turlough sees an opportunity to attack the skirmishers on the hill and attacks one with flank support. In a fierce fight these are destroyed.

Turn 3 (Turlough): Turlough inflicts the first casualties.

Gruffudd reacts energetically to this setback (6 PIPs), attacking one of the kerns with skirmishers supported by light spear. This is again a stalemate. He also wheels his central troops towards the hill (he used the road for the outside element in a manoeuvre that I’d later decide was not legal).

Turn 3 (Gruffudd): Gruffudd can't get traction against the kerns on the hill.

Turlough now moves his other kern up to support the one on the hill, with the advantage of being uphill they succeed in destroying the last of Gruffudd’s skirmishers (2+4 v 1+1). With this loss, Turlough kerns need only worry about the archers on the other flank and Gruffudd’s cavalry.

Turn 4 (Turlough): Turlough goes two up in what should have been an unequal contest on the hill.

Gruffudd, now feeling less confident (1 PIP), moves the rear light spear element accross to create an echelon effect on the hill.

Turn 4 (Gruffudd): Gruffudd is still wrestling for control of the hill.

Now it’s Turlough’s turn to run out of steam (1 PIP) and he attacks the front element of spear with his kerns in a fierce but inconclusive combat (2+6 v 2+6).

Turn 5 (Turlough): More fighting on the hill.

Gruffudd finally gets his spearmen into position on the hill and drives the kerns back. Unfortunately Sp(L) are not Ax and the best he can manage is to force some of them to flee.

Turn 5 (Gruffudd): Gruffudd can feel some satisfaction in ridding the hill of pesky kerns.

Next follows a period of manoeuvre, where the rest of the Irish start to advance and the Welsh left flank tries to catch up with the centre. On the hill on spear advances, hoping to flank the kerns next turn.

Turn 6: The Irish begin to advance

The Irish continue to advance, while Gruffudd, struck by indecision (1 PIP), decides to advance the spear up the road to support his centre.

Turn 7: The battlelines get closer.

While the Irish move closer, Gruffudd decides to charge. He manages only one casualty, an element of Bonnachts unable to recoil. Turlough had foiled his plan to remove the psiloi support on Turlough’s command element by shifting it in behind Turlough. The commanders met at equal odds.

Turn 8: The Welsh charge, and succeed in destroying one element.

Turlough, however, fights back and his Ostmen cut down an element of light spear. Turlough himself forces Gruffudd and his retinue to recoil.

Turn 9 (Turlough): The Irish have the Welsh on the point of breaking.

Gruffudd can really only hope to get lucky against the Irish commander, but fails again, being forced to recoil before a hail of javelins.

Turn 9 (Gruffudd): Gruffudd is driven back again.

Turlough now finishes off the Welsh when his Ostmen destroy their counterparts who are overlapped on both sides. The Welsh break and run.

Turn 10: Viking mercenaries fighting for Gruffudd are the last of his casualties before the Welsh break.

  • Aftermath

Gruffudd retires to Gwynedd with his battered army. He will be hoping Henry of England sees fit to support him if the Irish attack again. Turlough’s army is largely unscathed and he will be looking to finish the Welsh off in the summer. Henry and some knights could really change the complection of this encounter, and assuming he wants Welsh support against the Northumbrians, there are good odds he will try to help his ally.

Gilledomman of the Isles will take note of this battle and hope that he can win against the Scots, as he fully expects to see Turlough’s army in Antrim before long.

  • Review

Gruffudd lost the battle in his reaction to the advance of the kerns onto the hill. He rushed to attack them, when he could have waited for the light spear to get into position against them and used the skirmishers for flank support. He also put himself at a disadvantage by advancing his centre (that illegal road movement when he wheeled was not to his advantage!). If he’d waited to gain control of the hill his centre would have been able to wait for the Irish to advance at a disadvantage; the battle in the centre was at long odd for him.

Light spear will take some getting used to. They have no advantage against the Irish, who have no mounted and they are weaker than regular spear in GGo. Still I would attribute Gruffudd’s loss to them, but to some poor tactical decisions.

This was the first battle in a while that was decided by the clash of the main battlelines. The last two have been won before they met.

King Magnus’ ambition to be ruler of all the British Isles led him to declare war on William Rufus’ Anglo-Norman kingdom in the south of England. Magnus challenged William for control of the province of Mercia, a challenge that the Norman accepted. Magnus’ voyage from Man was uneventful, as was that of his ally Angus of Scotland. His forces consisted of his huscarls (3x4Bd), household knights (1x3Kn), fyrd spear (7x4Sp) and archers (1x2Ps). Angus came with 1x3Cv, 1x2LH and 1x2Ps.

William met the invaders at a place where a road forded the river Avon, a place called Stratford. His army consisted of knights (4x3Kn), spear (5x4Sp), crossbowmen (1x3Cb) and archers (2x2Ps). In addition he had the promise of assistance of Gruffudd of Wales, who hearing that the Scots were assisting the Northumbrians, elected to help the English lest the Northumbrians grow too strong. He came with 1x3Cv and 2x2Ps.

The battlefield was level, apart from the river and the road and a wood and a low hill that faced each other across the road. Due to pre-battle manoeuvring, Magnus managed to meet William from the direction he desired, securing the hill to his own advantage. William deplyed his entire army on the right of the river with his spear in the centre and knights on each flank. The archers and crossbowmen were in reserve.

Magnus deployed with his huscarls in the centre, the knights in reserve and the fyrd on each flank. He expected the Scots to arrive from the same direction as him, while the Welsh would arrive on his right flank.

Initial Deployment: William on the left and Magnus on the right.

On the first turn Magnus’ entire host advanced in a line, while the English army, lacking direction (1 PIP) could only advance some of their army. Neither of the allies arrived.

Turn 1: the two lines start to close.

On the next turn it was Magnus’ turn to lack PIPs (1 PIP); therefore he held back the knights, who were going to be used on one of the flanks. William was more active (5 PIPs), and contracted his line on the right to let the knights advance. Both sides continued to wait for their allies.

Turn 2: William's knights move to the front.

On the third turn Magnus wheeled his line on the left and extended it on the right. William went to investigate the river, discovering that it was paltry. Angus arrived and deployed on the left flank, on the other side of the river. Gruffudd seemed close behind (5 PIPs), but William had to keep waiting.

Turn 3: the Scots arrive as William crosses the Avon.

On the next turn Magnus dithered (1 PIP), opting to continue his advance. William brought all his knights over the river and sent forward archers to delay the enemy’s advance. Angus, keen for a scrap (6 PIPs), sent his light horse forward to delay the king and hurried after them. The Welsh still did not show.

Turn 4: Scots light horse face off against the English king.

Then suddenly it was all over. Magnus continued his advance, recoiling some archers, and William decided to attack the impudent Scots horse. The odds seemed very good (1/3 chance of destroying them, with only a 1/12 chance of being destroyed), but these Scots were in a fell mood and William, advancing ahead of his men, was unhorsed and killed by the quick-moving Scots (5+2 v 2+6). His household troops fled and the battleline began to waver and retreat. In the retreat two elements of 4Sp were destroyed (reflecting the casualties caused by the loss of a C-in-C).

Turn 5: Angus' light horse crow over the body of the English king.

  • Aftermath

The Scots earned 2 prestige points for their victory. The English, in disarray, retreated from Mercia, which the Northumbrians took possession of. They then sent for William’s brother, Henry, in Normandy and prepared for more fighting in the summer.

The Northumbrians could advance on England proper in the next season, but they would be without the support of the Scots, who can only support within two moves of their army. There was a bit of a diplomatic incident over the body of William. It was reported that it was decapitated and the Scots would not give it back. The Normans said this was barbarous and unchivalrous behaviour. The Scots denied this and said it was typical of the Normans to make such claims, reminding them that on the contrary the Scots had been a Christian people for a good deal longer than the Normans, whose ancestors were not long ago committing pagan atrocities across Europe. Such a barb, however, got at their allies the Northumbrians, not long Christians either, and all round tempers flared.

Stories abounded as to why William had crossed the Avon; one that gained a good deal of credence was that he’d spotted a fine looking hind, and being a keen huntsman had set off in chase of it. The Scots got to it first and an argument ensued over whose catch it was. Versions vary as to how William was killed; some claim he was struck by a stray crossbow bolt!

  • Review

An interesting start to the campaign. Henry steps into a difficult situation. William could claim, with some justice, to have been very unlucky. Yet, there is a certain amount of risk in committing one’s general so early. Had he won, however, he was set to give the Scots a good mauling. As in the previous battle (for Ceredigion), victory was decided without the close-order infantry coming to blows.

The campaign is now ready to start. It has a map and the background battles have all been fought.

  • Special Rules:

There are a couple of special rules in the campaign:

  1. King Magnus’ huscarls are not QKed by knights; they are elite troops and have shown their mettle against cavalry at the Battle of Navenby.
  2. The 3Sp of the North Welsh and the Pre-feudal Scots are classed as Light Spear (LSp or Sp(L)).
  3. 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.
  • Initial Deployments:

The initial deployments are shown by the flags on the map above. The initial campaign armies are:

  • 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.

Map of King Magnus’ War

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!

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.

The Battle for Ceredigion

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.

Initial Deployments: Gruffudd ap Rhys on left, Gruffudd ap Cynan on right.

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.

Turn 1: Gruffudd ap Cynan's column takes care not to advance too far.

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!

Turn 2: Gruffudd ap Cynan's column is now neatly deployed.

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.

Turn 3: Gruffudd ap Cynan's spear are forced back by a hail of arrows.

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.

Turn 4: The charge of the Northern spear is ineffectual.

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).

Turn 5 (Gruffudd ap Rhys): The Northern attack on the left is in trouble.

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.

Turn 5 (Gruffudd ap Cynan): The spear still cannot make headway against the archers.

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.

Turn 6: Gruffudd ap Cynan gives the southern archers some payback.

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).

Turn 7: Success for Gruffudd ap Cynan as more archers fall.

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.

Turn 8 (Gruffudd ap Rhys): Gruffudd ap Rhys's Ostmen and spearmen look on as the archers do all the fighting.

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.

Turn 8 (Gruffudd ap Cynan): Gruffudd ap Cynan lead the attack that sees the southern archers fold.

Turn 8 (Gruffudd ap Cynan): Gruffudd ap Cynan, looking suspiciously Scottish surveys the feild he now controls.

  • Review:

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) .

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!