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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Annals of Linnius Chapter 3: The Watchtower

It is now late summer in the 472nd year after the birth of our Lord and Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ. These are the words of Publicus Librarius, scribe to his most noble majesty King Mascuidius, ruler of the fair kingdom of Linnius and with these words I do provide a record of the Dark Days that heralded the coming of the Saex to our lands.

"It is now three cycles of the moon since the dreaded heathen Saex did despoil the fair Chapel of St Cadwyr and did cause grevious hurt to the noble Maximus Minimus. By God's grace, the Decurio has used the fair weather of our summer to bring himself to full fitness and is once again in the service of the Tribune Lord Andrucius.

At this time, the noble Tribune had tasked Maximus with garrisoning the watchtower on the Northern border of our fair land. This the Decurio had accomplished without incident, maintaining patrols of milites into the borderlands by the great river while continuing to train the militia.

On this particular day, the Tribune was paying visit to the Decurio to gain reports of the movements of the Saex, for more raids were expected into our kingdom at this time. Indeed this visit was well-timed, for in co-incided with the return of Decurio Geraint's patrol, an event that would normally be celebrated, but not this day!!

Coming hard from the West, a force of bestial Saex did set upon the forces of our kingdom, attempting to waylay the patrol as it returned to the tower. Summoning the levy and his Comitatus, the noble Tribune Andrucius did marshal the force for battle, hoping to draw the enemy away from the outnumbered patrol. In this he was at first successful. He did launch an instant attack on the brutes closest to the tower, recognising among their ranks by dint of the foul stench and raucous barbarian battle-song the same drunken oaf who had hitherto sacked the fair chapel of St Cadwyr.

The tribune's attack was pressed hard against heavy odds, but caused enough damage to the barbarians to allow the diminutive noble, Maximus Minimus, to fully atone for his disgraceful defeat at the chapel. In a furious flurry of spears, the militia took the revenge on the Saex, sending many to their heathen gods and the rest withdrawing from the fight. This noble action by the Decurio has been recognised by his majesty the king and the young man's name is now much reverred in the kingdom.

At this point, the nobel Tribune and the Decurio consolidated their defence, being unable to reach their fellows under Geraint, who found themselves beset by the Saex Lord's hearthguard. Despite valiantly trying to rally his shocked warriors in the ambush, the Decurio could not bring them to close with the Saex and the barbarians' subsequent assault destroyed our noble band. The last seen of the Decurio Geraint was his ignominious flight into the woodland, pursued by the enemy. A search of the ground later revealed no sign of a body.

This calamity has caused much distress in the kingdom. His majesty King Mascuidius has decreed seven days of mourning for the brave warrior who is now presumed lost to us. Oh, darkest of days!"

Postscript to Chapter 3: It is now early autumn on the 472nd year since the birth of our Lord and Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ.

"Word has reached his majesty King Mascuidius that the noble Decurio Geraint lives! Praise be to God!

Dispatches from the Tribune Andrucius at the border tower indicate that a few short weeks after the skirmish, the Saex Lord did appear from the trees at daybreak. He sought parley with the Tribune and did negotiate with him the release of the Decurio Geraint who had been taken captive in the woodland after the flight of his warriors during the skirmish. The Saex Lord did request gold for the return of the noble decurio, whom the Lord Andrucius noted had been surprisingly well treated during his time in captivity.

The Lord Andrucius did also note that the Saex Lord seemed somewhat more than an uncouth barbarian during the negotiations. His champion did speak Latin with less trace of an accent than one would expect and it has been noted that, in translating the words of his Lord, he did assure Lord Andrucius of the courage of the noble decurio both during the latter stages of the skirmish and during the period of his captivity. Naturally, this has been dismissed as flights of fancy by our noble king, who remains fully convinced that the enemy are nought but uncouth barbarian scum.

Nonetheless, the Tribune seems to have gained a new-found measure of respect for the enemy Lord, a view echoed by the decurio Geraint. The decurio has some knowledge of the Saex tongue and has informed his Lord that the Saex need gold to pay taxes unto the Warlord Wulfhere, in whose lands they now reside. This information has caused the Tribune some concern, for in doth indicate to him that these Saex are mayhap intent on more than mere plunder and occasional blood-sport. No, the Tribune fears that they may be intent on conquest and that their frequent raids are but a precursor to a concerted attempt to take our kingdom from us. In this, I fear, he may be right. However, we take heart from this: The decurio Geraint doth inform us that the Saex were sore hurt by the fight at the tower. For this reason, we must assume that we have been fortunate. For while we rebuild our own strength after the fight, we have suffered but one farm burned by the heathen and that in the last two days.

Soon, the season will turn. Already, the hours of darkness lengthen and the chill of the winter doth threaten our land. This year's campaigning season is therefore over. We expect no further trouble from the Saex until next spring. By then we will have rebuilt our forces and will be ready once again to face them."

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Pics from last night...The Defence of the Chapel of St Cadwyr

As is now customary, here is the second of the batreps from last night, this one with piccies!!

I was really glad we rolled for the 'raid the church' scenario, as it allowed me to use my recently purchased PMC games Dark Age church (now with 'lift-off-able' roof!!)

Here is the table at the start of the game after an uneventful set of terrain rolls... peaceful... Monks blissfully undertaking morning prayers, tending the animals, totally unaware of the mayhem about to unfold...

Here are a few pics during turn one. The Saxons only got one turn of movement before I arrived. However, only 2 groups could actually be brought on as the British vanguard... Luckily, most of the Saxon movement was slow in the first turn, giving me some time to organise a hasty defence!

This time I tried a different tactic: 3 formations.... The first had the commanipulares and a group of milites; the second, a group each of milites and levy and the last (under his noble tinyness, Maximus Minimus - cue fanfare!) of two groups of levy. This latter group woul;d take the long way round to the chapel while my main force fought off the key Saxon threat in the centre. I knew Mike had sent 'Leofric the somewhat inebriated' to sneak along the neutral long table edge nearest the chapel intent on some serious plundering, but I also knew that the mass of Gedriht in the centre couldn't be ignored (or left to anyone other than the best of my troops, so that was why my main force fought in the centre leaving the 'crap' to try to head off the looters...

Here's my advancing warband at the close of turn 2...Maximus Minmus front & centre for your viewing pleasure!

My strategy was to attack the Saxon centre early, as I was fairly confident that Mike didn't have too much of a card hand. I was holding 'aggressive charge' so knew I could at least apply that in an early assault on the Saxon lines. Here I am shaping up for the attack...

...while Maximus Minmus keeps sneaking round the back.

My strategyu in the centre was working well. Mike seemed unsettled by my aggressive tactics, evading my charge in the first instance, although ending up being caught by the 'Aggressive Charge' card next turn. He was clearly worried at having only 2 groups of Hearthuard facing 4 of my groups, as the milites and levy under Geraint ap Urien was by now in position to join the attack, so I understand his concern. Alos, when my attacks went in, the initial 'Aggressive Charge' didn't do me many favours. However, in subsequent turns, I was aided by some of the most atrocious dice rolling I have ever seen on Mike's part. It pretty much could have lost him the game there and then, as groups suffered excess shock and then misplaced amphorae all over the place, plunging his force morale dangerously low.

Where HAVE all the Saxons gone???

at this point, however, it finally came together for Mike! He FINALLY rolled the second '6' he needed to successfuly loot the chapel, just as Maximus Minimus formed a rather flimsy shieldwall on the neutral table edge (it was as far as he could get, bless 'im!) Typically, mike had by now amassed a killer carpe Diem hand and the Saxon charge totally obliterated the Britons in two round of combat, with poor old Maximus receiving a wound!! At this point, with his characters running to escape the battle (they had escaped from their routing units) and with my best units largely intact, Mike opted to exit the table with the loot via the neutral edge and risk the  extra casualties...

Below, Leofric 'the permanently bladdered' with his looted barrel of communion wine, shortky before exiting for home!

I was glad Mike won the game, as I made a couple of errors early on with movement in shieldwall and with forgetting to reduce combat dice due to shock on one occasion. This may have made little difference due to Mike's abysmal dice rolling, but nonetheless, I felt bad about it and was happy to lose by 1 point, suffering moderate casualties (that final Saxon charge tipped it over from 'light casualties'). However, Mike had suffered 'heavy casualties', so at least next time he comes for us, we'll be ready!!

Overall, a few errors aside, we played with much less reference to the rules, despite it being at least 3 weeks since the last game. We still got a bit confused over multiple group combat, but are happy that we resolved the queries sensibly. Both of us agreed that we'd been waiting for this game for days and have agreed to reconvene in 2 weeks for the next game. It really is seriously addictive and we are loving every minute of it - I'm sure that come across from our batreps!!

Look out for more in a couple of weeks...

Monday, 8 October 2012

The Annals of Linnius: Chapter 2: The Defence of the Chapel of St. Cadwyr

It is now late spring in the 472nd year after the birth of our Lord and most Blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ. I, Publicus Librarius, scribe to his most majestic King Mascuidius, do record the events of these days that witness the coming of the dread Saex.

"It is now two full cycles of the moon since the Tribune Lord Andrucius did, with God's help, successfully repulse the foul heathen raiders from their onslaught at Bleddig's farm. In this time, the tribune has brought the army back up to full strength and has recommenced patrols on the borders close to the Saex lands in the North and along the coast of the German Sea. Thes patrols have not been in vain, for it was through the vigilance of the watchers on the coast that the Tribune was made aware of the heathens' second assault into our fair kingdom.

The Tribune's force shadowed the enemy as they advanced. It soon became clear that the target of the heathens' attack was to be the fair chapel of St Cawyr, home to a small but most holy order of priests verily renowned for their skill in the keeping of bees and in the production of the wine that is used in holy worship.

Such was his horror at this most blasphemous act, that the Tribune's own men outstripped the advance of their fellows and arrived at the Holy Chapel as the Saex began their advance, However, restraining his most righteous anger, the Tribune held forth from attacking the enemy until the remainder of his men arrived.

The fight was fierce and most brutal. The Tribune's force fell upon the ememy with extreme vigour, cutting the enemy hearthguard down in droves for but trifling loss. The Tribune has since reported that many of the Saex seemed to lack stomach for the fight, often evading the British charge or disnegaging from the clash of brutal blades. This was clearly due to the fear that loosened their bowels as the Lord our God did lend fire and brimstone to the Britons' assault in reprimand for the heathens' assault on His most Holy of places. Tis said that the Tribune's sword did burn with righteous fire as he slew the heathen and forced their bravest and best men from the field.

Yet despite acts of great valour from the Tribune, his commanipulares and his milites, the Saex managed one act of triumph. The Decurio, Maximus Minimus was charged with taking hgis levy to the chapel and ensuring that the remaining Saex were not able to loot it of the Holy Treasures. However, in attempting to undertake this most noble and worthy of tasks, the diminutive noble was found wanting. The Saex raiders did burst from the chapel and, in a furious flurry of steel, broke the Decurio's shieldwall, routed the militia and, in so doing, did inflict a wound upon the young warrior. It is said that his Majesty, King Mascuidius is most displeased with this poor service from the Decurio, although it must be noted that a handful of militia dragged him to safety, where the surgeon has revealed that all the young man's wounds are to his front and that no shame should befall him or his family.

Also, it is told by the surviving militia that the severity and power of the Saex onslaught from the chapel was in no small measure due to the monster of a warrior who led the charge, brandishing a sword in one hand and a half-empty barrel of communion wine in the other, roaring his battle-song and laying about him right and left with utter abandon. Clearly, the copious amounts of wine that he had swilled had loosened from this fellow a demon from the depths of whatever foul dominion his heathen gods inhabit. Against this demon, the noble Decurio and his milita, were, sadly, powerless.

And so, despite suffering severe loss of life, the Saex withdrew to their  safe havens, carrying with them the Holy Knucklebone of St Cadwyr and numerous gold chalices and platters looted from the Holy Chapel. This loss is grevious, but we must yet take heart. The heathen have been most sorely hurt and it will be at least three cycles of the moon before they can trouble us again, by which time our own losses will have been made good. The surgerons also report that, God willing, the Decurio Maximus Minimus will make a full recovery from his injuries in short order.

We must also take heart from the mighty actions of the Lord Andrucius, who the people are already calling 'Saex-Bane'. His majesty the King, however, is less generous with his accolades, though it is said that he too is privately greatly pleased at the Tribune's martial prowess and his ability to send the Saex to meet their gods, yet he is also worried: the Tribune could all too soon become quite a hero to the people....a hero and, mayhap, a threat to the throne of Linnius..."