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:

https://hesperiana.wordpress.com/campaigns/king-magnus-war/map-king-magnus-war/

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) .