Late Medieval Warfare in the heart of Central London - ADLG Spring 2017
Medieval Scots vs WOTR Lancastrian
The third Central London curry-tastic one-day ADLG event hove into view early in 2017, organised at relatively short notice and running on a rare major-sporting-event-free Sunday. The theme was Late Medieval, and having been thoroughly schooled on the art of Medieval stuff at The Worlds last year, but also being rather short on practice time to get my head round an Indian-type army with game-changing elephants I was dithering as to what to take.
But then, inspired by a crushing defeat to an Italian teenager in Belgium, and realising that the half-painted army that I had bought up in Derby the previous year was actually within reach of completion, the idea of taking Medieval Scots floated up to the top of the pile. My only concern then, other than painting it all in time, was whether Wee Jimmy Hannibal McHannibal would end up giving his normal excoriating critique of my performance as a result of my lack of practice, or whether the army would be simple enough for me to make it a first-time success?
Taking the army of Flodden to a competition where many of the opponents would be stuffed with English Longbows was perhaps not the most obvious approach, but it had the advantage of being simple to play in an event where I'd be doing the scoring as well. The lists for the Medieval Scots and WOTR Lancastrian from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Central London ADLG can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The Scots list was made up in a complex and deeply-thought-through way - I started with all of the units of Pike I owned, and then added some more stuff to it to make up the points.
Of course, my first game was against the WOTR Lancastrians. The Auld Enemy, all the way from Coronation Street with their flat caps and whippets - would it be another Flodden, or a Mel Gibson-esque Braveheart-like outcome in the first ever proper on-table outing for the huge and unsubtle McArmy of Museum Miniatures Pikemen?
With no practice I had started game 1 with a rather haphazard plan to narrow the table with some dense terrain and rush forward in a big solid line. My opponent, the WOTR Lancastrians also set out a lot of terrain, leaving the table so narrow that there wasn't even enough room to fit all of my Pikemen on table, never mind the command of French Knights, and so the mounted arm were sent on a flank march off to the right and the Pikemen stacked up deep in the narrow gap between terrain in the centre.
Och Aye! The devilish English had deployed something unusual - an artillery piece - which they supported with a line of longbow and bowmen who sat in the rough terrain which lined the left flank of my advancing pike wall. This made the advance rather tricky, as cannonballs and arrows rained down on an army which had already realised that it did not have enough (ie the maximum) LF to screen the Mediocre Pike.
Hoots Mon! In the open space, the advance was a little easier - the English had deployed with a refused centre and so the wall of pike would have to wheel to the right once they cleared the edge of the rough terrain covered hills on my right.
Och Aye! The Scots were so deeply stacked to fit into the open terrain that the Donnington Miniatures baggage of a knight mounting his horse with a pet falcon not looking on (due to the hood) were still close to the back of the deep pike formation as they staggered forward.
As the wall of Pike advanced into a sky-darkening shower of arrows from the massed Longbowmen they picked up markers of all colours - the probability of all of the Pikemen making it all the way into combat was already sinking faster than the Loch Ness Monster when a man with a camera walked by the loch shore....
The English had a strong reserve hidden away behind the terrain, but even as the Scots suffered multiple hits the English knights still didn't fancy their chances - seeing a situation in which your opponent realises that the best troops in his army to take on the enemy are unarmoured bowmen, and the Knights may not even be needed is not a good start to any new army's on-table career.
The Pikemen staggered forward as raking fire from the artillery slammed into the flanks of the ultra-deep McPhalanx, rather limiting my ability to execute a plan of leaving the front rank behind and bringing the undamaged second wave to the front later on in the game.
How well do these troops fight then?
Pikemen are expensive yet tough troops in ADLG. Their base factor in combat is a high +2 against everything, and they also have an additional +1 for Impact when being charged by any mounted troops other than elephants. They are however difficult to dance around with. Doing a 90 or 180 turn costs them their entire movement allowance - all other non-Impetuous troops only lose 1MU from their movement in a turn.
Turning also costs 2 AP, again more than for all other non-Impetuous foot, so basically you want them going forwards and having well protected flanks. These movement and turning penalties mean they will also struggle to exploit gaps and overlaps as quickly as other types of infantry - and in a game where flank attacks are deadly, that's quite a big deal
They are also less effective in terrain - taking a -2 for being in any terrain at all, compared to the -1 that sword-armed close order foot take in rough terrain.
Have at Ye Jimmy, the French Knights hae' arrived! A roll of 6 saw them imminently lumber onto the table, greatly putting the wind up the pie-eating English Longbowmen who had been retreating from the advancing pike back across what was a dry river - they were now caught between the two offensive elements of the Scots army.
The first Pike unit to be entirely whittled away by shooting was removed from table, taking 4 fan-dabee-dozee hits in the advance!
How well do these troops fight then?
Pikemen have a "protection" factor of +1 against shooting, with MF bowmen and longbowmen starting on a zero. However, troops targeted by Longbows deduct 1 from their "protection" factor, making this a straight dice roll to see if the Scots take a hit each round
The Scots are also, unfortunately for them, "Mediocre" and so deduct 1 from any natural die roll of 4, 5 or 6. Most of the English Longbows are "Elite", so add +1 to any natural die roll of 1, 2 or 3.
So, plenty of hits...
The shooting on the left was starting to become painful, and the Scots were trying to get their own two longbowmen into a position when they could inflict some damage against the enemy without being outnumbered and outshot. One of the many kiels of Pike therefore charged forward to soak up the arrows of part of the Lancastrian firing line, whilst the Scots mercenary longbows concentrated on the English in the rough terrain.
The English Longbows on the other flank were shuffling furiously as they tried everything in their power to avoid any actual combat. Each turn the advancing Scots had fractionally failed to get into pinning distance as the Sassenachs retired, leaving the devious Northerners with the window of opportunity they needed to wriggle away like the cowardly dogs they undoubtedly were.
With the army running out of counters, at least some of the as-yet un-mars-bar-battered Pikemen were on table in a position where they could get into melee - they charged home against the Lancastrian Men at Arms, and promptly suffered a dramatic reverse, losing a unit at impact! This was not going well...
As the sands of time flowed away, the Scots and Bonny French Knights closed in on the now-hapless Longbowmen from all sides, the dried river bed proving to be no obstacle for the Gascons.
But the attack on the Red-rose-wearing Men at Arms was already over - the English brought usually-roadkill Medium Spearmen out of the terrain and into the flank of the Scots formation as it struggled to break through the Men at Arms, and evaporated a couple of whole Glasgow neighbourhoods worth of Scots Pikemen at a stroke!
With that, time was called, saving the Scots from a well-deserved defeat. The sun was now over the yard arm, and in the absence of any Tennents Super the most Celtic option for refreshment needed to be taken to steel my shattered nerves.
The Result is a caber-tossing 'nul' score for the Scots.
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Wee Jimmy Hannibal McHannibal
Post Match Summary from the Medieval Scots Commander
It's hard e'en for me to say this was a success, but as we say in Auld Reekie, Failing means you’re playing, and at least we got these new troops on the table almost as soon as the paint was dry - and so that is something I think is clearly a great success.
Having concentrated so much on getting the troops prepared and onto the table, I may have been guilty of underthinking how they might well work in practice, and looking at this there was, I admit, too much terrain on table to allow my many men a chance to get into combat
It is usual to think that if there had been more time I would have won, but here in this game the clock ticking over probably saved me from defeat
Learning as you go along is one way to improve, and I think I will have learnt much from this game.
Wee Jimmy Hannibal McHannibal's Post Match Analysis
You sir are a hapless idiot, in fact you’re all bum and parsley, with not a thought in your head save plodding for'ard to your doom.
It was obvious to anyone that this list is badly put together, with nothing to screen your Mediocre Pikemen from shooting. They may as well have their pikes pointed towards each other from the start, it would at least save the enemy the trouble of wasting even a single arrow to knock that factor from your combat prowess.
This army can have 4 LF with bow, just 4. Why do you not start your list with them, and then work out from there?
Or, even, improve the list by taking it as Low Countries - the basics are the same, but you can also upgrade the Pike to Ordinary if you wish, greatly improving their resilience to the debilitating affects of archery. And all of this is before we get onto discussing your abysmal choice of terrain in which to fight. I am sure we will have time to revist that error again in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition