Sunday, February 18, 2024

An Engagement with the English

A Headless Body Production
Venue: An Undisclosed Community Center
Event: Wednesday Knight Bash
Players: Phil Gardocki running Scots Isles and Highlanders
              The Bruce Potter running Feudal English
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side.

The Forces:
Scots Isles and Highlanders of 1182
Commanded by 3 Competent leaders, MacLeft, MacCenter and MacRight
14 Islemen Heavy Swordsmen 2HW, 4 Elite, 2 Mediocre
1 Wee bairnes, Light Infantry Bow
2 Levy Levy
4 Highlander Archers Medium Swordsmen Bow
2 Irish Mercenaries Medium Swordsmen 2HW
Breakpoint of 24

Feudal English of 1200
Commanded by King John, the Brilliant, The Duke of York, the Ordinary and Gloucester, the Competent
6 Medium Knights, Impetuous, Elite
4 Mercenaries, Heavy Spearmen
2 Militia, Heavy Spearmen, Mediocre
2 Welsh with Longbow
2 English with Crossbow
2 Random Folk with Bow
1 Welsh, Medium Spearmen
2 Light foot with bow
1 Sherwood Slingers, Light Infantry, Sling
2 Light Horse with Crossbow
Breakpoint of 24

Display Conventions: When you see a word bubble like "Ouch!", "Och!", "ó ghabhar!" or "O y Poen!", 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 English win the initiative and elect to defend in the plains. Normally a knight army would want to attack, but the Scots home turf is only mountains, which is largely regarded as not good terrain for knights.


King John takes the right side battle with his best knights, arrayed with their finest pennons. 
The Duke of York holds the center with a collection of mercenaries and hastily raised militia.
The English left consists of a strong force of missile-men of mixed nationalities.
The Scots Islemen break out in another gratuitous set of quotes from Braveheart.

There will be nor more Braveheart references, I promise.


MacCenter's array of battle follow a convenient road.
MacRight leads from the front with is Highlanders and Irish allies.

Turn 1:

The Scots left and center battles cant left and advance.

OK, now no more Braveheart references....

In response the English pretty much move straight forward.

The English were hoping to get their light horse around the Scots flank, but MacLeft pretty much closed that gap.

Turn 2:

A warband charges the light horse, which evade back to the main line.
MacCenter's battle advance.
The Scots Hielanr's advance and loose arrows to good effect.
John's quotes are from a poet not yet aborn for nuxt 400. His knights, with their pennons in full array, present are quite the spectacle.
Despite York's attempts at encouragement, his spearmen advance at half speed. All the Scots have 2 handed weapons, which give them quite an advantage in melee.

How much of an advantage does 2 handed sword have over spear?  The main advantage is they win ties.  which will be about 16% of the dice-offs.  In a full combat, from contact to one side routing, the +1 additional damage will occur, on average, twice.  My combat calculator adds up the total number of times that 2HW adds an extra hit.  In a thousand complete combats, it counted 2030 extra hits.

If both units are ordinary, the 2HW will win 64% of the battles in an average of 3.3 rounds.

For the English spear which are mediocre, the odds go to 83%

It's the same odds for Elite Heavy Sword against Ordinary Spearmen.

And there will be one matchup, where the the Scots have an Elite unit against a Mediocre Militia, where the odds are 95% in favor of the 2HW.

The exchange of arrows continues.

Turn 3:

MacLeft evens out his lines.

MacCenter continues to advance on an angle.

MacRight holds and rallies his troops.

King John knows that if he just charges straight in, his knights will be flanked, so he orders brace of knights to charge the corner. The Scots, however resist the initial charge.
York's spearmen hold their ground.
Massed archery disperse a Hielan archer.

Turn 4:

MacLeft feeds more men into the melee.

MacCenter charges the English line of battle. His left wins well, but his right falters in the charge.

The arrow exchange continues.

John releases the rest of his knights. 2 of his knights falter on contact, but 3 of the Scots warbands are about to collapse.  I actually ran out of '3' hit markers with a red die!

MacCenter has punched a hole in the English line, but 3 of his warbands are about to collapse as well.

A pause in the shooting to recover arrows.

Turn 5:

On the far left, a warband attempts to chase off the lights, but they stand and resist it's charge.

Also on the far left, the young barnes (mediocre sword) are now behind the flanks of the knights. But with the eminent collapse of the half this battle, will they be soon enough?

English spear rout half of MacCenter's command.

MacRight has had enough of fannying about and orders his Highlanders forward to charge.

He should have done this two turns ago.

Blood flows into the River Tyne. The Scots dead and wounded count is 19

The English demoralization level is 15.

The Scots are only 5 away from breaking, the English 9. But the Scots have two large holes in their battle lines.

Two knights are routed. But so is another Scots Warband.

But the English now have two knights flanks exposed.

In the fight of the center battles, the English turn the Scots flanks first. The Boys from Stafford (orange flag), an Elite unit, take a hit, but hold.

The English spear conform one spearmen onto the Irish Mercenaries. With support from another spear, and send the Irish fleeing.

The Scots demoralization level is at 22 of 24.

The English are at 16. Despite having 2 knights routed, they also had a couple of units rallied.

Turn 6:

A disastrous turn for the English. Clan Ramsay (green banner), with help from the Young men destroy one knight. Clan MacLyre (middle, white(ish)) takes another knight in the flank, then pursues into the another. A third knight (Red XX, far right) flees in terror from the claidheamh-mòrs of a nameless clan. The last, remaining knight is surrounded.

But in an unlikely turn of events, a Scots warband (Far left) is routed by King Johns Light Horse.

An English spear is flanked and destroyed, the Boys from Stafford turn to face their foes.

MacRight charges. A bit too late, and of little consequence. His efforts disorder one additional Welsh archer. Taking the English demoralization level to 23 of 24.

While the Scots are at 26, 2 over their break point.

The English victory is pyrrhic at best. Losing 80% of their knighthood is a disaster. Setting back the conquest of Scotland for another generation at least.

To create a knight is a major investment in capital. But a Scots Isle-man just takes unskilled labor to create :)

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