Thursday 14 July 2022

Pre-Feudal Scots

These were recently added to the collection and hopefully they will deliver a migraine to my Normans. The figures are Feudal Castings, still available from Thistle & Rose (USA) and although their website is still in production, they do have a FB presence from where you may view their line. 

These are clean castings with minor variations of poses. Organised in a similar manner as the earlier Picts, the army is bolstered with a small number of mounted and thegns for support.

Before painting the plaid designs, I tested colour combinations of ground and colour of stripes that would work well together. Six colours where chosen and I experimented with different but complementary colour for stripes.  

Clothing for command and thegns were given a brighter shade of colour, possibly a Norse influence. The entire collection represents two commands including options, giving a total of 28 elements. Of the eight enemies listed, I lack the Anglo-Danish and Scots Isles and Highlanders. 

The banners are conjectural and could fit for the period of the 9th to 11th century, these are the Celtic cross and a few animal motifs for conservative leaders. Extra banners were made as these can be exchanged.

Additional detail. 16-07-2022

Looking at the photos, I decided the plaid designs needed an improvement. With thinned white paint and my smallest brush, I highlighted the plaid. This tightened the design of the plaid. 

Thursday 7 July 2022

DBA3 - the double size command.

Many of our recent games we have enjoyed using 24 elements for a command, replacing the standard 12. Increasing the number elements and using one die for pips, approaches closer to what we read in history; opening skirmishes, concentration of effort against a particular point, shifting the attack to another area, a lull in battle to regroup or reform lines.

Rather than offer another battle report, I will use a recent game between the Fatamid and Zirid Berbers in Sicily (1067), to illustrate some of the finer points of DBA24. 

The look

Firstly, the game table is one and a half times larger, resulting in fewer discarded terrain pieces. In fact, an allowance is mode for an extra optional terrain piece to be selected by the defender. 

The army

The number for each troop type listed is doubled, this also allows for two commanders; a general and one subordinate general, how the latter functions is explained here in detail. The number of elements forming an allied contingents are also increased.    

In this particular battle, the generals (Cv with flags) can be seen in the second line. Both sub-generals were lost in game one, creating a critical moment for both commanders as many troops found themselves beyond command distance. That error was rectified in game two. 

Zirid army

1 x Ayyub ibn-Tamin (Cv), 1 x sub-general Ali ibn Tamin (Cv), 2 x Berber lancers (Cv), 6 x Berber light horse (LH), 3 x Berber javelinmen (3Ax), 3 x Black slave spearmen (Sp), 2 x Arab archers (4Bw), 6 x Berber javelinmen (Ps).

Sicilian Muslim army

1 x Ibn al-Hawas (Cv), 1 x sub-general (Cv), 6 x Berber lancers (Cv), 2 x Bedouin cavalry (LH), 4 x archers (4Bw), 6 x abid al-Shira (4Bd), 4 x Berber archers (Ps).

One die used for pips

Some may find this strange, however, due to the increased number of turns to reach a decision, good and bad pip scores balanced out. On average, these games were finished after an average of 8 or 10, twice that needed for a standard 12 element game. There were some exceptions, such as that of Clovis versus the Alamanni, both warband armies, which finished in 4.  

Deploying 24 elements

You will discover, moving 24 elements as one groups will become unwieldy, better to deploy your army into smaller groups, for example a centre, two wings and a reserve. Even with a bad pip score, one or two of these will maintain the momentum of your assault. Experience has demonstrated the folly of too many single element moves, these may become inert as subsequent pips will be needed elsewhere. 

More melees

I can recall a few standard games were my opponent lost four elements in one bound, thus ending the game. As armies become locked in combat, the increase in the number of melees will not necessarily mean more casualties, often more recoils and even scores will be the result.

This is the moment when the loss of a general can become critical, as the momentum of an attack grinds to a halt. 

Renew an assault or look elsewhere? 

We have seen many assaults die as a general could not sustain the momentum, supporting elements were too far away to be of any use or they were never deployed. Preparation is key; and moving reserve troops in a timely manner is equally important as moving front line troops into a subsequent combat. Even better is to use a low pip score to move a general before troops move beyond command reach. 

In our second game, both sides profited from the previous battle to form fewer groups. The generals were also better positioned to maintain control over their troops. 

Regrouping scattered units

Approaching the final stage of the battle, it will become beneficial to regroup scattered elements and form groups. Reformed troops can improve their chances to renew combat or maintain the position serving as a deterrent.  

On turn nine, the Zirid army (on the left) used all 6 pips to reform scattered elements to improve their position and capacity to renew an assault.  

Depending on the mix of troops types, a game can be completed in +/- 45 minutes or two in an evening.