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Tuesday 24 March 2009

Bretwalda Round 2: An Irish Tale and info for Round 3

Here is Grahame Middleton's Scots/Irish offering after the death in battle, and subsequent roll of something other than a one on the 'wounded character' table of his general Conn'Ann (the barbarian...groan....of Connaught)

Mighty Conn'Ann slips and falls in the blood of the slain and a groan goes up from the Red Shields of Connacht. Enraged they become and their blows are as a hailstorm upon the enemy as they slay their hated saxon foes without mercy - see how the Saxon prince turns to flee as his hearthtroop is cut down around him and watch as the craven cur is cut down as he runs. Their standard is taken and their booty is ours.
What is this? Conn'Ann rises as if from the dead, shakes his head and strides back towards his men - more beloved of them than ever before - surely they are now invincible!
Annals of Connaught

And here is the info for what we are doing in Round 3...

"After the battle there comes a time for the healing of hurts and making of alliances. Across the rivers, beyond the hills, beyond the Great Roman Wall, and across the windswept Western Sea, alliances are being made...warlords and warbands combining ready to recommence the campaigning season.

Does your warband dare face the future alone...unsupported...?? No, it is a time to place old feuds aside, to open up the mead-hall to your erstwhile enemies, making pacts and alliances over the feasting!! It is a time to share resources, to replenish the supplies, to heal the wounded and to gather strength for the struggle to come..."

Round 3 will see multiplayer games, comprising alliances of two players, each taking on another alliance, using multi-plyaer scenarios from the Bretwalda book.

For Round 3 alliances, you will fight alongside your opponent from Round 2, against an opposing alliance drawn randomly by my wife sometime this week!! You will find out which scenario you are playing days before Round 3 takes place and AFTER you have submitted your army list for Round 3.

Special Round 3 Alliance Rules:
Players should ignore the rules for selecting an overall general in any scenario in the book. The warlord who won last week's battle will be army general in the alliance, even if he has lower leadership than his ally!! This is because he won and is therefore boss!!!! In the event that Round 2 was a 'bloody stand off', then you can use the rules in the scenario you play for identifying who is the general. All other rules ref sub-generals, army standards, etc, are as the multiplayer rules in the scenarios in the book for all players!
In the lull between battles, warriors who were wounded have been well tended by those skilled in healing, both from their own and their ally's forces. This, and the good food and hearty drink of the alliance feasting, go a long way towards healing the warriors' hurts! At the beginning of the Round 3 game, after deployment and before the first game turn, players should roll a D6 for any unit or character who is suffering any type of wound from Round 2 that may affect their fighting ability (e.g. 'minor wounds' for units and any wound for a character.) On a roll of 4, 5 or 6, the wound has been healed and the unit/warrior fights at full capacity...Don't say I never do anything nice for you!!!! :-)

Hopefully the players will appreciate this and enjoy the new challenge of a multi-player battle!!

Hopefully, some pics after the next Round's battles, if I can get away from my own game and from umpiring the others!!

Thursday 19 March 2009

Bretwalda Round 2: A Saxon Tale

After my poetic (ish...and very heavily..ahem...'influenced' by an actual poem...) efforts, here is a belter of a poem from fellow cub member Carl Fisher. Carl (with his Angles) was fighting my variant of the Mt Agned scenario against Dan Phillips' Romano-British...

Read and enjoy...

The battle of Mount Agned - a fragment in translation:

In this way King Eni royal brother to Rædwald,
Lord of warriors and ring-giver to men,
Won eternal glory in battle with sword edges
The sons of Tytila of Anglia, befitting their noble descent.
Defended their land in battle against each hostile people,horde and home.
The enemy perished,
Christmen and Roman,fated they fell.
The field flowed with blood of warriors,
from sun upin the morning, when the glorious starglided over the earth,
till that noble creation sank to its seat.
There lay many a warrior by spears destroyed; weary, war sated.

The East-Saxons pushed onwardall day;
in troops they pursued the hostile people.
They hewed the fugitive grievously from behind
with swords sharp from the grinding.
The Angles refused not hard hand-play to any warrior
who came fated to fight.

Death came to many, horse and man.
Banners were broken over the whales back.
The hill too small to hold the dead entombed
Covered with the dead.

Running over the grass we sought them, slew them.
Front and rear we hewed then,
Hemmed them in and brought them low.
Death upon death, though arrows fell like rain.

They left behind them, to enjoy the corpses,
the dark coated one, the dark horny-beaked raven
and the dusky-coated one,
the eagle white from behind, to partake of carrion,
greedy war-hawk, and that gray animal
the wolf in the forest.

There spirits join the old ones on their stone road.
Trapped in death, watching the hill from afar.

Never was there more slaughter
on this island, never yet as many
people killed before this
with sword's edge: never according to those who tell us
from books, old wise men.

How cool is that???
Marvellous stuff and indicative of a mighty Angle victory!!

Round 3 will be different: It will be multiplayer games with Round two's protagonists joining forces to fight against another pairing. In this way, each multiplayer force contains a winner and loser from Round 2, thereby attempting some sort of balance to each Round 3 game. I also have an idea for some random events which may occur for Round 3 as well...

Still, I can't reveal too much yet as one Round 2 game is yet to play. That will happen next Monday, after which the draw for Round 3 will occur!

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Went the day well...??? Did it f***!!! :-)

Hmmm...yes....well... Round two of the Bretwalda campaign. My Welsh against my mate Phil and his Picts. Yes, this is the Phil that I've wargamed with for 15 years and have beaten about 5 times!!!!

So, I was present at his mighty victory and my Warlord was slain in a challenge. So, with the old adage, 'roll anything but a 1' on the post game sequence wounds table, what did I do???? Yup, you guessed it!! One dead Warlord!!!! Only one so far in the campaign...Great!! At least it proves that, as organiser, I'm not weighting anything in my favour!!

So, in true Bretwalda tradition... A Poem!!!! Borrowing heavily from the 6th Century Northern Welsh poem about the death of Urien Rheged, where a warrior returns to the kingdom with the head of his slain Lord, here is my lament to my fallen king, Cunedda, Dragon of Gwynedd!!!

A Lament for Cunedda

A head I hold in my hand

Protector of Cymri
Proud Lord of Gwynedd

A head I hold in my hand
Of Fair Cuneda,
Unflinching on the war-field

A head I bring upon my horse
Head of Cunedda the Dragon
Glutter of ravens black

A head I bear from the field of slaughter,
Upon his jaws a foam of blood
Woe to he who so struck my Lord

A head I bring to the burial place
From the field of woe and slaughter

Woe be to Gwynedd from this day

A head I bear upon my shoulder
He who slaughtered Saxon-kind
Now a litter-burden to the resting place.

Caer Leon saw his fall
In fierce combat with the Lord of the North
Now ravens feast on my Lord’s breast

Hail to Cunedda
Pillar of Prydein
He was the shield of his people

Deadened my heart
My soul is broken
To funeral field we bring our Lord

A gentle Lord’s body we bury today
A cairn we raise above him
Mighty hero of Gwynedd

The feast hall silent
The mead-song stilled

Now rest, Cunedda, brave Lord and king

So in Round 3 I have to elect a new Warlord from my retinue.

It was a bugger really, as I so nearly had the scummy Pictish blightas!!! Bloody stubborn due to bloody Pagan Priest and curse my inability to roll wound dice!! Three rounds of combat in a row I hit with all attacks in that challenge and caused only one wound in all three rounds of combat!!! Bum, bugger, Arse, Feck, etc....

Full battle write up later in the week if I can shake the hideous throat infection that has plagued me since Tuesday....

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Getting 'In The Spirit' of our Arthurian campaign

Here are a couple of poetic renderings, by myself and by a fellow club member Pete Irving following our round 1 games. Pete plays with Romano British and composed a very 'Heroic' missive about his game against a Saxon warband playing my very own 'Drustan and Essylt' scenario, where the objective of the game is to capture the lady Essylt and her serving maid...

"Lo, wreaking red-ruin upon the Saxon dogs who had defiled his true love, yea, did he slay one band of a hundred, breaking them before his fury and shattering his first beaten sword, yea did he slay a second band of a hundred, breaking them before his rage and shattering his second beaten sword, yea, did he challenge the third band and ripped out the vile Saxon Warlord's spleen with his bare hands, and he slew another hundred in his anger but three hundredth-and-first's dagger found his back and Lord Castus fell upon a mound of enemy before the gates of his true love's hall. And she, held by a kinsman, lamented for the loss of her lord.... the brave Artorius Artorius (so good they named him twice) Castus. "
(Pete Irving)

And here is my own, written in the style of a Welsh poem of late Antiquity (a la 'Y Gododdin', etc) Note the...ahem....'heroic' twist I managed to put upon what was in essence an uneventful game!!!! Sheer genius, I reckon... :-)

Cattle Raid

And the Lord Cunedda,
Dragon of Gwynedd
Did come unto the fight
Protector of the land
Of Cymri and their cattle
Blades bright, banner flying, men of Gwynedd come to the war-field
Saxon slaying follows the mead-hall song

Lo Dogmail,
Of sword bright, of mind cunning
Did draw the enemy on by feigning flight
Thrice cunning, thrice running
Yet turning
To take up again the fight

And Cymri youth
Too poor for the sword-song or spear
As David to Goliath did their storm of death fall
Saxon Hearthguard bleed and die
Death falling from the heavens

Now Cunedda,
Shield-splintering dragon of the West
Calls his Teulu
Forward to the foe
Saxon Hearthguard bleed and die
Caught in mighty onrush

Now wounded and in pain most mighty
Cunedda’s anger knows no bound
Swords flash
Spears fly
Shields splinter
Saxon Hearthguard bleed and die
Flee in mighty terror

Hail to the Lord Cunedda
Warlord victorious
Dragon of Gwynedd
Protector of the land
Of Cymri and their cattle
(Andy Hawes)

Expect more as the campaign continues... :-)

Monday 2 March 2009

Just Started My Arthurian Campaign

Well, it finally happened...the start of my Arthurian campaign entitled 'Bretwalda' at my wargames club.

The campaign is a 'skirmish' affair consisting of 800pt warbands using Paul Leach's (of WI mag articles fame) 'Character-Heavy Skirmish warbands' idea. I have tweaked it slightly and have popped it below for your perusal:

· Each army (called a ‘Warband’) is 800 points.
· It must contain 3-5 characters chosen from your retinue (9 characters, up to 700pts, basic costs paid only: up to 1 priest character and up to 1 bard character allowed in the retinue). You may take as many of each type of character as you can afford for the battle. The army must be led by a hero (Romano-British Magnate or Tribune; British/Welsh Tiern; Saxon Atheling; Pict Mormaer; Scots-Irish Curadh.) This hero will be referred to as your Warlord. Those armies where the warlord character has Leadership 8, may pay an extra 25pts to give the Warlord Leadership 9. Please note that you don’t have to field the original named warlord in every game, but you must field one character as a warlord who counts as ‘army general’ for that game.
· You may field one of your heroes as an Army Standard Bearer to represent your Warlord’s personal standard. Any character who is upgraded in this way must pay 15pts to do so as per the army lists. Please note that only character types allowed to upgrade in this way as per the army lists may be chosen as an Army Standard Bearer.
· Up to 550 points may be spent on units. A unit may number between 5 and 20 models. Units may have a leader and musician if they pay 5pts for each as indicated in the army lists.
· Units may have standards (5pts each as normal) under the following conditions: With the exception of the Romano-British (they get standards for free to represent their supposed more 'military' as opposed to 'warbandy' nature), the number of standards in the army is limited by the number of Tiern, Atheling, Mormaer or Curadh models in the army. You may have one unit standard for each of the afore-mentioned heroes. Please note that an army standard does not count towards this maximum.

The lists are basically very similar to those in Age of Arthur, but simplified so that there are less choices , e.g. there are two types of Saxon army, one of Welsh, etc. I also added a point of toughness to the Romano Brit decurio to make him more survivable in the 'challenge-fuelled' environment of the battles.

The scenarios are adapted from Age of Arthur and Siege and Conquest, (except for one I wrote myself based on the legend of Tristan and Iseult) but set on 4x4 foot tables. There are multi-player scenarios for 2 players each side and these come direct from Age of Arthur except for the one I wrote which won the recent Scenario competition at Warhammer Historical.

Basically, we will play 7 campaign rounds. Each round has 6 campaign points up for grabs - mighty victory = 5 pts/1pt; close-run victory = 4pts/2pts; bloody stand off 3pts each. Each week, players are randomly drawn against each other, with winners always being drawn agianst winners and losers ahgainst losers to give every player a decent chance of winning each week.

At the end of each battle, there is a 'post-battle sequence' which gives bonuses to winning/surviving characters and units and penalties to losing/dying ones. Also, this is where character advantages are gained. You can't pick them in basic lists in this campaign.

So far, we had round 1 last week and, apart from some arguments afterwards via email about one players very cunning tactics, and it being 'not fair' it went very well!!

If anybody wants the players' booklet, I have it on PDF and am happy to email it out to fellow WAB forum users for personal use or internal wargames club use only. No publishing it anywhere!!!!

So, over the next few months, I will let you know how I get on. Although I'm organising it, I'm playing as well - there's no danger of me winning so I may as well join in!!!

My round 1 was a variant of 'Cattle Raid' from Siege & Conquest, where one has to basically escort a load of cattle off one's own table edge while avoiding the enemy.

My warband consisted of 2 Tierns (gen and ASB) and 2 Uchelwyrs. I had 13 Teulu on foot, plus 16 Combrogi, 14 combrogi and 6 sling armed pagenses - a fairly typical sized warband. My opponent fielded late Saxons and had 2 Athelings (gen and ASB) 2 Thegns, a unit of Gedriht, 1 of Duguth, 1 of Geoguth and a few javelinmen. So actually, we were very evenly matched!!

The whole battle was one of frustration... the cattle in their random movement proceeded to spend all game in the way. We couldn't get round to drive them off the table and couldn't attack each other cos they were in the way. My opponent had a mega round of javelin fire which caused my Uchelwyr 'Dogmail the Bright Sword' and his unit of combrogi to panic and flee (he'll be re-named 'Dogmail the Yellow Bellied' for the next game!!) They failed to rally for 2 turns before their 'run for the woods' made them succeed at what would have been their 4th round incapable of rolling 7 or less on 2 D6!!!

My moment of 'glory' came when my slingers shot the crap out of the Saxon gedriht, leaving my Teulu with a fighting chance of beating them...which they did in the ensuing combat (despite the Saxon Atheling inflicting a wound on my general who had challenged him and failed to wound despite having the charge!!!), but I didn't pursue, as doing so may have exposed my flank to the Duguth...except that the bloomin' cattle wandered across blocking the charge...

At close of game, I'd won, but only a close-run victory putting me solidly in mid-table obscurity. I didn't do any better in the post-game sequence, rolling mostly 'no effect' for my troops and characters...this won't do me so well in the next game when I'll be facing armies who gained some far better stuff...

Round 2 happens on the 16th March... I'll post some pics of my warband when I get a mo, as it contains a few figures you've not seen and I've re-painted some shields on some of my troops to give them a more 'Welsh' look - am especially pleased with the spiral designs on my foot Teulu!!!