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Wednesday 30 March 2016

The Annals of Linnius Chapter 12: The White Stag!!

Early Spring in the year of Our Lord 476AD. These are the chronicles of the kingdom of Linnius, recorded by myself, Publius Librarius, scribe to his Royal Majesty King Mascuidius.

“Heathen superstition, nothing more.” Bishop Augustine did snort  with derision at the council fires that night. His Royal Majesty King Mascuidius had called the council to order at the shortest notice following the reports of a shepherd boy that a great and mighty wonder has been seen in the kingdom – The Great White Stag of Stames Ford! Verily this creature was thought by many to be a myth, but here was the shepherd boy, eyes wide with wonder (or maybe with fear, what with him being dragged into the council chamber of the king!) swearing on the most holy of relics that his words were the truth.

“Heathen superstition…witchcraft! Brought upon us by the shamen of the heathen Saex no doubt! ‘Tis a demon sent to ensnare us!” The bishop’s voice did tremble with his anger (or maybe also his fear, as he did repeatedly make sign of the cross in his ranting!)

Anyway, his Royal Majesty would not be swayed, stating that the sight of the White Stag could only be a good omen and that it must be sought out. He who brings down the stag doth gain mightily in power and reputation, so the tales tell, and the King would wish that honour only onto himself. ‘Twas also most evident that he was concerned that the stag might fall to the Saex. This he was not prepared to allow.

And so it was that, for the first time in many years, his Royal Majesty did don the mail-shirt and buckle on the great sword of his ancestors and lead the warband out to the field. Lord Andrucius did remonsatre with him most mightily, stating that the Saex are abroad and the kingdom cannot risk the death of its king. Verily he did beg His Majesty to wear the Tribune’s own cloak, cuirass and helm, while he, Lord Andrucius would array himself in the arms of a nobleman. With some reluctance, His Majesty did agree.

Verily Our Lord must have been with us that day! The Great White Stag was sighted on the wold not many miles from where the shepherd had first spotted it. ‘Twas a most magnificent creature!! No demon could ever wear raiment of such beauty!! It did lead us a merry chase and the warband was most strung out along the wold, when the cry went up that Saex warriors had been spotted on the Eastern horizon!! At once, the order was sent out for the troops to converge, the stag almost forgotten in the heat of pre-battle nerves! Credit for this must go to the Tribune, for it was his order sent via the signal of the great red Chi-Ro banner that pulled the troops together just in time, as the Saex warlord’s hearthguard did appear in battle array on the slopes of the hill. Immediately, the shieldwall did form, with the diminutive decurio, Maximius Minimus bringing a small group of levy to the enemy flank and there the lines did halt, while archers and warriors from both sides did vie for being the first to bring the stag down. But it was not to be!! The stag did run far, fast and free, a solitary Saex arrow staining his magnificent hide red.

Howling in frustration, His Royal Majesty did order the charge and the Hearthguard and warriors did strike the Saex Hearthguard, smiting them with many blows but then, horror of horrors, the blow of a Saex spear did pierce the hauberk of the King!! His Royal Majesty did stagger back from the fray as a mighty blow from Lord Andrucius did smite his assailant. For a moment, the Briton line did waver as fear sent icy whispers through men’s hearts. However, at that very moment, the levy under Maxinus Minimus, reinforced with others of their bretheren, did crash into the Saex flank, breaking their battle array and smiting with spears that turned bloody red. The banner of the grey wolf did fall into the mud as the Saex did fall in droves!! Sensing utter defeat, the Saex Lord did pull his men from the bloodbath and withdrew the field. Our own men were themselves exhausted from their great endeavours and did not pursue.

However, across the wold, all had not gone well with Geraint and the remainder of the force. Caught by the Saex while pursuing the stag, they were handed bloody defeat and the decurio himself did receive a wound, the stag escaping the field while warriors from both sides did withdraw to lick their wounds!!!

A bloody day and a bloody stand off!! Truth to tell, there was no victor this day, though the felling of the Saex banner did no doubt prompt His Royal Majesty’s claim to victory – a somewhat hollow claim, when one considers the sight of the pitiful remnant of Geraint’s command stumbling back to the camp after the affray.

And the stag did escape! But it is still out there, somewhere. We shall find it yet!

The diminutive decurio Maximus Minimus did this day also receive the Garland of Bravery for his mighty assault on the Saex flank. This young man’s prestige doth grow daily!

This was the first play test of a new scenario written by Mike Whitaker for the upcoming Dux Compendium. It played really well, giving us a host of real 'head scratching' moments where tactical decisions were genuinely very hard to make. It needs a few tweaks, mostly to wording, the stag's random movement and to deployment rules (and the stag was maybe a tad hard to kill) but the core scenario works. The deployment (no formations allowed and groups coming on in random places), though fiddly, meant that we had to work really hard to get our forces into a situation where they could actually fight, which meant careful use of characters and ordering un-commanded troops at the end of each turn of cards. This  is what caused the tactical decisions... Definitely a keeper!!

Here are a few pics...

Hmmm...a bit outnumbered here... Luckily, two of the 3 Saex groups in the bigger formation broke away to chase the stag...

View from behind the Saex lines on the 'hill of doom'... near, but so far away!! The stag activated first and what you can't see is the mass of Saex threatening this formation at top left... 

Aahhh... Now you can see them! The stag, sensibly, is now heading for safety...

The Saex try to tempt the Britons to attack. They succeeded!!

Flank charge!!!! The levy pile in with a Carpe Diem card so this was a flank assault that slaughtered every last warrior in the nearest Saex group. Both hearth guard formations are in trouble here as all groups are heavily (in fact excess) shocked before the levy even started...

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Kings of War

Well, last night I played my first game with the new edition of Kings of War. I used my Arthurians to create a Kingdoms of Men army. I played against a chap at the club who had Twilight Kin (dark) Elves, using a list that wasn't in the rulebook. Despite having a significant numerical advantage, I got my arse handed to me on a plate due to not really understanding how the army lists work, but it was good fun.

For those who haven't played, it's buckets of dice, elements based (units can be troops, regiments or hordes...some can even be legions) with each type having its own number of hit dice, wavering limit and rout limit, e.g. my shield wall foot can be a troop of 10, a regiment of 20 or a horde of 40. Base size is more important than number of models on it, so you can use fewer models and model a nice diorama on the base. There's no casualty removal either, which is different to most games I play.

The hardest thing to get used to is the fact that you only do anything in your own turn! In WFB, WAB, well...EVERYTHING else I play, you are interacting and doing stuff in both our own and your opponent's turn. was odd! Odd in a good way though. I enjoyed it! It's fast and bloody and I suspect that it's an ideal tournament set, as there are definitely tricks in army design! I learned that hordes of nasty cavalry are cool and that fireballs are a pain in the ass!!!

Seriously though, it was fun! It won't become my most favourite game, but I'll certainly join in the club campaign and won't refuse a game if someone offers. It also gives me an excuse to buy the rather lovely war mammoth from West Wind to be my 'beast of war!'

One rather good thing is that, although Mantic do their own ranges of models and I guess will be expanding the army lists, pretty much any models will work! A Kingdoms of Men army could be made with anything from ancient Greeks to 15th century Swiss (albeit with wizards, and maybe the odd monster thrown in) so you can use anything! NO 'GW-esque' only use our models crap here!!!

Watch this space as I'll definitely play again and next time I may even be able to take some pics!! Last night I was too busy trying to remember rules and watching my arse being served on a plate to get the iPhone out!!!