Last week was my penultimate exam week for university, so with no study on the following weekend, I decided to treat myself to a game of Dux Britanniarum, using as the first scenario in a new Dux Britanniarum campaign, The Defence of Rhegin.
The scenario had Gaius Bosnius the Magnanimous leading a Romano-British patrol back home to a nearby watchtower, where the rest of the Romano-British army, under Tribune Marcius Alliminus The Powerful and Coalan ap Rlays, was deployed. Unfortunately for Bosnius, Aelfar the Impaler was out raiding, spotted the isolated British patrol, and decided to try and take him prisoner for ransom.
Seeing that Bosnius had a handy headstart, Aelfar decided to take some of his hearthguard in hot pursuit, leaving the rest of the battleline under the command of his heavy-drinking subordinate, Cyneheard.
Coalan ap Rlays rushed a unit of British levies ahead of the rest of the British forces to hold a position in front of a swamp, to give Alliminus space to deploy the rest of his forces. Unfortunately, the Saxons were far closer than Coalan realised, and he was soon swamped by a horde of pagan invaders, who slowly but surely pushed his men (who had forgotten to form a shieldwall) into the swamp. By the time Alliminus had arrived with the British army, Coalan’s troops were butchered and Coalan taken prisoner. Meanwhile, Aelfar’s hearthguard had caught up with Bosnius’ Numeri and were trying to break into the shieldwall. Bosnius doubted he could hold them off forever, but fleeing without his men never occurred to him.
Meanwhile, realising that the aggressive Saxon assault in the swamp had advanced so far that it was behind the British battleline, Cyneheard detached some warriors to pin down the British shieldwall before they could redeploy and protect their flanks. However, in a most remarkable display of martial prowess/dice rolling, Alliminius’ Comanipulares (Companions), trained to fight in the Roman style, slaughtered all six Saxons in the first round of combat for no loss.
Encouraged, Alliminius took some levy around westward to face Cyneheard’s flanking threat, and managed to make some headway against these Saxons despite their advantage over the levy in combat, primarily by a truly heroic display of martial prowess from Alliminius himself, who led his troops from the front.
The Saxon reserve ignored his sally and turned eastwards into the exposed Romano-British centre. Terrified by the ferocity of this unexpected assault, the British troops evaded desperately, allowing the Saxons to overcome the Companions that had withdrawn from the fighting to rally.
Meanwhile, Bosnius himself was overcome by sheer numbers by the woods to the far east, and with two nobles captured and three of five units dismembered, the battle was lost. Alliminius’ forces fled in disarray, but were able to avoid most of the Saxon pursuers, who had not expected such a sudden British collapse.
Alliminius withdrew, his army of 34 troops reduced to a measly 12. Aelfar’s losses were also heavy, losing 16 men out of his 34.
Packing up, I realised I had forgotten to deploy one of the British levy units, which is important because they should have three units of levy, two units of warriors, and one unit of Comanipulares to counter the Saxons three units of warriors and two elite Gedridht or hearthguard units. With even numbers the Saxons were able to use their qualitative edge and local superority of force to overwhelm the disorganised British defence. Ah well- c’est la guerre– I suppose the last unit of British levy failed to march onto the battlefield, a la Grouchy. Pity their poor centurion when Alliminius finds him!
As for the campaign, despite the loss of almost half his army, Aelfar had achieved a decisive victory, and he recuperated all his losses within a month as new men flocked to follow this new successful leader. He also gained considerable wealth from the ransom of Bosnius and ap Rlays, and he can now raid the countryside with impunity for two months (raising yet more funds) while Alliminius scurries for reinforcements. Soon, he will be able to shower his hearthguard with gifts, and they’ll declare him a great warlord (which will allow him to recruit more hearthguard and start capturing territory to rule for himself).
*Note: one of the advantages of playing solo is that you can change the rules as you see fit. Given I had disadvantaged the British from the start, I decided to give the Britons two months to refit their forces, instead of three to balance things out a bit. There was no Saxon player to persuade, because I was playing solo! Ah, the benefits of non-interaction.
Also, with a gaming mat, a scratchbuilt watchtower (see right), model trees, a road and properly based and flocked troops, this was the prettiest game I’ve ever played! I’m very happy to finally see my wargaming hobby starting to come together.