Tuesday, February 20, 2024

A Grievance of Scots

A Headless Body Production

Venue: An Undisclosed Community Center
Event: Our continuing series of battles themed on the Norman Conquest.
Players: Garth and Steve running Normans
              The team of John, Bruce, Phil running the Scots
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 300 points per side.

The Forces:
The Scots, in the year 1070
The Scots commanders are MacGregor, Fraser of Lovat, MacCleod and Eric the Viking. All are rated as Competent
6 Thengns, Heavy Swordsmen, Impetuous, Armor, Elite
8 Scouts, Light Infantry, Bow
1 Scouts on Ponies, Javelin, Mediocre
1 Young warriors in training, Medium Spear
16 Mair Warriors, better nor than the Young Warriors, but nae as guid as Thengns
Heavy Spear, Mediocre
2 Huscarls, Heavy Swordsmen, Armor, 2HW, Elite
6 Viking Warriors, Heavy Swordsmen
Breakpoint of 40

The Normans, also in the year 1070
Commanded by Alan Fergent, The Count of Brittany, Eustace, the Count of Boulonge, Robert, the Count of Mortain, and Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux, yes, that Bayeux. All are rated as Competent
13 Medium Knights, Impetuous, half are elite
2 Light Horse with Javelins
9 Heavy Spearmen
2 Crossbowmen
4 Bowmen
3 light foot with Bow
Breakpoint 33

We are competent now... It's like saying everyone is above average.

Display Conventions: When you see a word bubble like "Ouch!" or "tha sin a' goirteachadh!" or "Douleur!"or "Mah poofy culur bahookie", this implies a disorder from missiles. Letters in parenthesis represent some value change for the specific unit. For commanders it is s for strategist, b for Brilliant, c for Competent and o for Ordinary, u for unreliable. For troops it is e for Elite, and m for Mediocre. Other abbreviations, Hvy Heavy, XB Crossbow, LB, Longbow, Jav Javelin, 2HW 2 Handed Weapons, B Bow, Kn Knight, HKn Heavy Knight, HC Heavy Cavalry, Md Medium, Sgt Sergeants, LC Light Cavalry, Chr Chariot, Cat Cataphract, Pa Pavise, LI, Light Infantry, HG Hand Gun, FKn Foot Knight, Hvy Spear, Heavy Spearmen.

Inappropriately capitalized words are used to highlight terms that are specific to the game. For example Brilliant, Competent and Ordinary have specific game values for the commanders.

"XX" implies a unit killed in that location on that turn.

Any inaccuracies and vagueness as to specific units is to be regarded as fog of war and part of the fun.

The Board:

The Scots win the initiative and steal the march on the Normans and confront them as they are camping near Loch An Eilein, deep in the dark heart of the forbidding Rothiemurchus forest.


The Normans deploy hurriedly, with a mixed force of bow and spear anchoring on the Loch.
Their knights formed up on the center.
Eustace's knights are not sure where they are going, and are in a column in case they have to redeploy rapidly.
The Scots deploy under the misconception that the forest would mask their movements.
Their anchor on the Loch are fierce men of the north.
Their center a large force of unmotivated spearmen
Their right is the regular army of Scots. Cue the Braveheart reference.

Turn 1:

For a 300 point game the board is 150cm, or 37.5 UD's. Between the coastal area and the forest, the clear portion of the board is narrowed to just 30 UD's. A comfortable fit for an army with 32 heavy foot.

The plan is simple. The Vikings kill their opposing force
While the spearmen tie up the knights.

And then, .... WTF???

Fraser and MacGregor hold a quick conference. And attempt to pull off a parade ground maneuver, attempting to switch their commands.

I have to admit, part of my decision tree, was to see how it would look for the camera.

And I realize now that we cheated a bit.

Page 34, second bullet point, Unmaneuverable troops, except cavalry, cannot make a third move. I don't think it would have mattered, as they simply would have made two moves on the turn 2.

This is not as bad a decision as it seems. The Normans only have one unit, a light horse, that can interfere with this exchange. Their knights an foot cannot advance fast enough.

The Normans respond by advancing.
Eustace is having problems with deploying from column to line.

Turn 2:

The Vikings close in on the Norman spear
Their flanks secure twixt the Loch and McCleods spear.
MacGregor orders his rear most spear to chase off the Norman lights.
The view from above.
The Bishop's forces close to charge reach.
The knights prepare to charge
Eustace's are still in redeploy mode.

If memory serves, there was a lot of low command rolls for the Normans.

Turn 3:

With a great ululation, the men of the north charge.
MacCleod's spear hold. Fraser's spear complete their redeployment. MacGregor (blue chip) splits his force and advances to within a blond wankers reach of the Norman bow exposed from in the forest.

The Rothiemurchus forest. Remember the Rothiemurchus forest? This battle is supposed to have taken place in the Rothiemurchus forest. <<I'll stop here>>

The battle by the Loch is rapidly going pants for the Normans.
But heavy foot is not the Normans strong suit. Alan Fergent's knights charge down the line. Losing 3 and winning 2 fights against the Scots spear, and threatening the Viking flank.

Eustace's knights advance. Only 4 wide at the moment, but enough to support Fergent's horse.
Turn 4:
The various Norman missile men have been routed.

While the knights got off to a slow start, they are beginning to show their elan.

Fraser pushes his spearmen forward. MacGregor charges a bowman.


A troop of knights destroy a viking warband, and pursue into another.
One knight has been routed.
Better late, than never. Eustace's knights charge, and charge well!. Winning 3 of 4 battles.
Robert's spearmen pause before MacGregor's Thengns. These are the best Scotland have to offer.

Meanwhile, the Norman ambush had been revealed, and was charged out of the woods.

The waters of Loch An Eilein begin to redden. The Norman count of the dead is at 22
The Scots are at 14

Turn 5:

The Vikings turn the flank of the remaining Norman Spear. A Scot's spear breaks off of the main line to take a knight in the rear, routing it from the field.
The battle of knights on spear continue. A spear unit is routed. But there are reserves ready to fill the gap
Eustace's knights are having better luck.

MacGregor's Thengns close to charge reach.

The count is now 24
To 17
The Bishop of Bayeux is down to his last effective unit.
Fergent's knights rout another spear.
Eustace's knights are having a better time of it. Despite being later, they have routed 3, and almost have a 4th spear to their count.

The difference between elite and ordinary cannot be more glaring here.

Alan Fergent's knights engaged on turn 3 and are struggling. Eustace's elite knights charged a turn later and are cleaning up. 

Dusting off my Combat Calculator.  It is written in VBA on Excel, and is not trademarked or patented.

First the baseline.  Assuming ordinary Knights against ordinary Heavy Spearmen.
The Knights  will edge out a win 53% of the time.  The Heavy Spear  get a +1 for Impact on round one, while the Knights  get Furious Charge and Armor.  After that it is straight up rolls with the Knights having armor.

Upgrade the Knights  to Elite , and they win 74% of the battles against ordinary spearmen.

For this games matchups, the spearmen are all mediocre.  Against ordinary Knights , the Mediocre Heavy Spear  lose 74% of their battles.  An exact match as Elite Knights vs Ordinary Spear, as in Knight  Elite  get a +1 at the low end of the dice, and the Spear Mediocre get a -1 at the high end of the dice.

And for Knight, Elite  against Spear, Mediocre, the Knights will win 93% of their battles.

It was asked what if Eustace had managed to match the command shift of the Scots, and placed his Elite Knights against MacGregors Thengns, all of which were Heavy Sword with Armor and Elite.

The Knights win 62% of the fights.  But it takes longer.  As the Thengns have matching Elite status and Armor.  Of note, when the Knights do win, they win quickly.  On average 3.3 rounds total.  Which means they will be more quickly penetrating the line of swordsmen and gaining support advantage and flank shots sooner.

In almost all the other matchups discussed above, the average number of rounds to a conclusion is about 4.4.  Meaning, don't count on an quick win, regardless of the matchup.

On the far flank, MacGregor's spear-in-training have been marched to deal with the Normans that have worked their way through the woods. The Norman bowman turn to face this new threat.
The bodies continue to pile up in the Loch.

The Normans are 6 away from demoralization. The Scots 19.

Turn 6:

As what happens when a big force of heavy foot win, they have a shortage of targets afterwards to exploit it. Only 1 or 2 can effect the rest of the battle.
There is chaos in the center command. Spearmen have been routed, but knights have been flanked.
MacGregors troops finally get into this fight.
With the final point secured by the newly trained medium spear.
Taking the Normans beyond their break point
But it was bloody hell for the Scots as well.