Big Abona - The Roman World at Bristol 2019
Vikings vs Ancients British
With a victory just squeaking under their belt, the Vikings refreshed themselves with a proper lunch of McDonalds (the drive-thru, not the Scottish clan forming their allied command) and then returned for the afternoon session to face the Ancient British.
The usual version of the Ancient Brits would be a large blob or two of Impetuous Medium Swordsmen supported with loads of skirmishers and some mixed-ability chariots - not a subtle army, but one which a solid wall of Heavy Infantry Viking Swordsmen should prove an intriguing opponent for as they could stand in the face of an Impetuous charge and neutralize the Brits Impetuous version of the Impact ability - but not their Furious Charge should they win!
The other way to field Ancient Brits is as a nearly all-mounted force, leading with Chariots and swarming the enemy's flanks as a sort of crappy pseudo-Mongol army with rubbish cavalry. This can work - as I had myself proved in a tightly themed one-day event a few years back - but it can come badly unstuck against anyone with decent numbers of proper shooting cavalry.
The lists for the Vikings and Ancients British from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Bristol can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
With the expectation of lots of Medium foot the Vikings had looked to minimise the amount of uneven and rough medium-foot-friendly terrain in their terrain picks, on the expectation that the Brits would deply loads of it themselves.
However, as it turned out the Ancient British army was the Chariot version of the army, and they also managed to remove some of the little terrain there was - leaving a playing field balder than the outfield of a village cricket pitch.
Even the Mongols from the first game would have been impressed by this setup, and the supposedly wide Viking army looked like it was suffering agrophobia as it deployed.
The British had kept all of their limited block of infantry hard on their right which left almost nothing on the left, other than a mixed command of Chariots and Light Horse.
The Vikings had dropped a bald hill on the flank as part of a pre-determined plan to try and tempt the opposition to try rush it with mounted troops - the idea would be that they would then find themselves assaulting the mixed Bowmen/Beserker part of the Viking army (and losing!), whereas a brush-covered hill would just be avoided!
But with no terrain anywhere else on the table the Vikings found themselves unable to extend their line that far, an opportunity which the Brits grasped with both hands and a block of Light Horse as well.
How is the Viking Army put together then?
Command 2 - Competent General
3 Viking Bondi Warriors; Heavy swordsmen Ordinary
2 Huscarles; Heavy swordsmen 2HW Elite
2 Archers; Bowmen Ordinary
2 Beserkers; Medium swordsmen impetuous Elite
1 Irish Warriors; Medium swordsmen Ordinary
1 Light infantryman; Light infantry javelin
This command is the most complex in the army, with a host of different components. It will sit on one flank under the typical plan that the army will implement, and has a two-speed Heavy/Medium infantry mix to naturally enable it to envelop and roll up an enemy flank whilst the Heavy Huscarl and Bondi component holds up (and beats up) the enemy's better troops.
The Heavy foot are also a good foil for enemy mounted troops, who will struggle to run them down as easily as they might do to the Medium foot - but even the Mediums in this command have some decent anti-mounted abilities with the combination of Elite Beserkers and a couple of Bowmen posing a problem at distance and in combat for anything lighweight and on four legs, which are the typical opponents you'll expect to find on a flank anyway.
The Beserkers and the Irish infantryman are also a pretty decent rough terrain force with the ability to threaten the types of enemy foot you could easily meet in such terrain. The command can work alongside the main Heavy Foot command on either wing extending the army out to the flanks.
With all of these disparate troop types the General needs to be decent quality, and he uses half of the command points of the whole army in being Competent. With so many different troops to lead in combat, move around, hold back and probably rally there was never any chance of him being included!
The Brits were fast infesting the woodlands
As the nudie Scots tried to find them to fight
But the enemy have plans of their own this fine day
and the Attecotti's evil scheme don't quite work right
They just don't have a target, well not one worth a charge
So their swords may still be unbloodied when the sun it sets tonight
The swirling British cloud of mounted and infantry skirmishers had screened off a huge part of the Viking army, and with naught on a horse to chase them down they could rain javelins from close range with total impunity onto the mass of Danish and Swedish and Scots warriors creeping inexorably toward them.
The battle was fierce, and many clutched their lucky charms made of fragments of Steffan the chicken-castrator's monstrous Longship!
The Vikings were already starting to calculate how much of the opposition they would need to force off the rear edge of the table in order to claim a victory (along of course with a bit of baggage looting along the way)
The open flank was, well, "open" as the Viking army failed manfully to be wider than it actually was. British chariotry rumbled ominously as they did their best PzII impersonations in an effort to blitzkreig through the undefended end of the mobile Scandic Maginot Line that made up both the Viking army and also the only visible Viking plan as well.
But, with neither army being exactly over-blessed with Command and Control capabilities, the Brits opportunity to push troops through a gap miles from the action was almost as limited as the Vikings ability to plug that same gap with Beserkers and bowmen. This door was more shuttable than perhaps it looked.
Ancient British Food
There once was a wood built for warband
With tattoos and bright clothes all dyed in woad
The adolescents set up raves in the clearings
And the grownups, they looked for a road
Which could speed their advance
Turned out there wasn't a chance
So their attack on the woodland, well, it slowed.
The Attecotti were getting impatient, and irritated by the contant stream of missiles being hurled in their direction by an enemy they seemingly had no real way of persuading to stand and fight.
This frustration, coupled to what looked like some over-ambitious and over-clever posturing by the British Chariot division to their front suddenly made up their minds.
This band of men, who let's bear in mind were not clever enough to have remembered to put on their trousers this morning, decided that they had come up with a plan to sow confusion and disruption in the enemy formation which the rest of the Viking army could then exploit.
As the maniac Attecotti just charged forward nakedly, looking to flatten everything in their path through sheer force of personality and a violent disregard for social conventions, the rest of the Scots command were being as cautious with their advances as they were with their money.
Hanging back (or gifting all of their command pips to the Attecotti more like) a number of units of Highland warriors were now starting to realise that the Brits intended to form up in the woodland and then come sweeping out onto the flank of the main body of Vikings as they advanced forward.
This looked like a plan even more obviously telegraphed than Boris Johnson's attempt to bluff the EU into believing that a No Deal Brexit was something the UK could implement and which he would then survive electorally some 1,300 years later, and the Jocks were wise to it immediately.
The Scots also quickly worked out that they were well positioned to outflank the outflankers, and started to move up to ensure the British warriors stayed pinned in the woodland.
There was a old Viking called Sven
Who formed up in a line with his men
They marched out 'cross the plain
Keen to inflict pain
But the problem was no-one knew when !
As the Vikings pushed forward on the right under the baleful glare of a wide empty sky the British continued to fall back, light horse evading and retreating as they drew the Scandinavians forward.
The battlefield was by now as smelly as Arshram the Turophobic's dog-bitten Viking undercrackers!
Soon the Viking line was stretched almost to the consistency of a 200 year old longship sail, ready to rip apart at the first sign of a concerted gust of good old British wind as Viking bowmen found themselves in the front line frantically unleashing archery against the chariots waiting before them
Having been sat revving their engines patiently for some time now, the Morris Minors of the British Panzer Division decided this was the ideal moment to spring into frantic action.
They lumbered forward, gathering pace and impetus as they sped towards a moment of destiny ploughing into the Viking archers.
Meet the Ancient British
All the bowman from Sweden shot fast
But their archery time soon was past
As the Panzers rolled in
Both sides diced for the win
While fear and farts left both armies well gassed!
The whole table was now starting to become too big for the Vikings and too small for the British.
The end zone was almost in sight as the Norwegian Linebackers stampeded towards any enemies they could see, but with no actual combat troops to speak of in line or attack the Brits were simply melting away and regrouping with their chariotry, teeing themselves up for some wheeled assaults on the potentially squishy elements of the Norsemen's line.
The only part of the battlefield where actual proper battle looked likely to be joined was the Viking left flank
This was where British warriors were yelling and screaming from the top of a hill at their Scandinavian opponents, looking for all the world like a tribe of half-naked ancestors of Mark Francois driven to apoplexy by the Vikings enthusiasm for exercising their right of free movement by longship through Northern England.
There were chariots speeding fast up a road
Redeploying, they would not be slowed
Medium foot were in range
So it sure would've been strange
To attack them, while painted with woad!
The forests of England were still thick with trees at this point in pre-medieval history, and under cover of the overhanging branches whole tribes of juveniles from both armies skirmished frantically seeking to prove their manhood with a well-aimed javelin striking home against the enemy.
Many years later youth of all nations would take up this tradition again, hurling plastic bottles full of pee at one another when packed together in the audiences of music festivals across the breadth of the European continent.
Finally the Brits decided to maintain the same position long enough for their continental (or, in this case breechless Scottish) opponents to finally get to grips with them, as the fast-moving Attecotti warriors hurled themselves into the attack a such a rate of knots that the Bodiccean Chariotry had little choice but to stand and take the naked assault like men.
On carts hand woven out of wicker, a bit like garden furniture is.
So, standing on garden furniture basically. Garden furniture being pulled by tiny little ponies.
Racing with Garden Furniture
As the Brits were running out of room on the Viking left, the Vikings in turn were running out of men with which to adequately occupy the wide open spaces on their own right flank.
Even with the rub of the green in the sporadic combats which had taken place the trickle of losses for the Norsemen was leaving huge chasms in their patched-together so-called battle line which the enemy chariotry were even now exploiting with great glee.
I ride my furniture whenever I'm able
I care not if it's chair, or it's table
Pulled by ponies? Yeah that's right!
We're so up for the fight
I'm Bouddiccia, so please don't call me Mable!
Exploiting gaps in the enemy line was exactly what the Ancient British Panzer Division had been invented to do.
Phil Barker's historic vision was at long last being fulfilled in this new generation of DBx-inspired wargaming as the chariot force descended on the hapless Vikings from all sides.
Command and control had all but broken down for the Scandinavians as they spread themselves over far too wide an area for their commander to issue orders and the garden furniture riding warriors took full advantage, quickly skittling over the isolated enemy infantry in a flurry of flank and rear charges.
As the pressure mounted the British baggage started to sweat profusely.
Being captured was something of an occupational hazard for an encampment in an army with little of any solidity to sit in front of it, but this time the Vikings seemed set on capturing the herd of oxen with the rather unusual implement of Heavy Foot.
Some of the slowest moving troops in the game had just marched fully across the board in the hunt for loot, and the British army would soon apparently be 4 units down with their prized possessions being processed for additional post-Brexit customs clearances in order to be shipped back to Scandianvia!
Everywhere along the frontage the Viking assault was drying up and crumbling into dust.
Too few men had been tasked with covering too much table, and with huge numbers of British warriors still cowering in the safety of the forests there were nowhere near enough opponents on table to see a path to Scandic victory.
The clock was fast ticking down, and as the Viking army frayed and eroded the balance of probability quickly tipped towards either a British victory or a hard-fought draw.
And in the end, even with the Viking Heavy Infantry clattering into the British baggage, neither side could quite make it over the parapet of success and deliver a win for their army.
In the final reckoning, the British Chariots were just too fast for the slow-moving Vikings to catch on the open plains, but in the more closed terrain and on the flanks the British infantry bottled it, and despite many of them having their cojones on full and public display they decided that that they lacked the frontal grunt to take the risk in trying to frontally overwhelm the Norsemen quickly enough to tip the Vikings to defeat. An honourable and hard fought draw.
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 Hannibal
Post Match Summary from the Vikings Commander
Well, whoop-de-doo, what a jolly little runaround in the countryside that turned out to be. I can't understand why these funny little British people want to be out of Europe when it appears that their army is perfectly suited to playing on a wide open level playing field! How yawningly boring must it be to have to exist on a platform of ill-made mobile patio furniture as well!
If only, like, yearh, like they'd been up for a proper fight I'm sure the game would have ended in a more decisive fashion somehow. You know, scrambled egg on the carpet, and red wine stains on the sofas all across the house really.
My brave boys did as well as could be expected in such circumstances, and I'm like really really hoping that they have managed to loot some lovely jewellery or some nice throws and rugs from the British camp as otherwise this seems to be a missed opportunity against a nicely painted bunch of semi-naked incoherent savages to rack up some pointy point points
Victory McVictoryface must perhaps be left to the, like, u-huh, next game tomorrow. Between then and now I need to go for a deep facial to get this tedious English rain and dreadful stench of roast beef out of my hair. Viking ladies need something more substantial if they are to lead their menfolk onto battle methinks.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Hapless wench, how little thought went into your deployment and anticipation of the enemy ! A mere second or two roaming the handful of other tables before the end of the previous round would have illuminated the obvious fact that these Brits were using lots of chariots and allowed a wider and wiser general than you to plan better for this inevitable bowling green battle
You yourself in another guise have even used this army in victorious fashion in competition, so it is hardly a surprise that it performs much as it did when you were in the driving seat - or patio chair to be more truthful. Perhaps actually packing a river or waterway for an army of infantry who need to go wall to wall might have been an idea perchance?
The amazing thing is that you managed to hang on in this game and score some points out of it - you really had nothing to win it other than a vague hope a highly mobile enemy would just line up and let you push them off the table! How likely was that - lets be honest, not at all Matron.
I do wonder if your opponent had been braver with - or more prepared to sacrifice and absorb losses from - his proper infantry that might well have been enough to tip your army to defeat? We will never know, and we will also not know if you are learning anything from this simple minided linear army until the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition