After their crushing victory in March, the Saxons returned to Ardentium in May, this time with the intent of conquering the area for the newly-crowned warlord, Aelfic the Impaler. Having only just replaced his losses from the last engagement, Alliminius scurried out to meet the heathen invader in open battle.
I completely forgot to take any photos because the game was incredibly enthralling. The battlefield was split by a small river running east-west, with open farmland to the south, and in the north, a hill with a forest lying on the far side to the river. The British deployed in the west, on top of this hill, while the Saxons deployed in the east, on the northern side of the river; ensuring that the battle would be fought for the clearing on the hillside between forest and river.
Before advancing against the British shieldwall, Aelfic attempted to enthuse his men by shouting them all a drink. The men became enthused alright, and a little drunk. Conversely, Alliminius ordered his entire army to pray to God; which also infused the men with great courage. Then Alliminius offered a duel between his champion and Aelfic’s; only for his man to be badly bloodied by a drunk barbarian with an axe. The champion survived, but he took no further part in the day’s fighting.
The Britons quickly seized the crest of the hill. Alliminius exploited the Saxons’ intoxicated state by playing two Bibamus cards from his hand, one to draw Aelfic’s right-most unit of hearthguard into charging the entire British shieldwall alone, and a second one to give his men an advantage in the following combat, which of course the British won, leaving three Saxon hearthguard and Aelfic’s victorious champion dead on the hilltop, the rest fleeing the field.
Realising that their entire left flank was on the verge of collapse, Wulfric outflanked the British levies on the Saxon right, and repulsed them violently with great loss of life. As devastating as Alliminus’ tactic was, it probably would have been better used on the weak British left, with the levies.
Meanwhile Alliminus was pursuing the fleeing hearthguard and Bosnius was grinding his way through the Saxon centre, eventually reducing it to a rump of hearthguard with Aelfric and Cyneheard sheltering in the centre., Bosnius was slain just before this rump collapsed under overwhelming numbers. Aelfric and Cyneheard fled to the Saxon right, where the last of their forces remained.
Declining to pursue ap Rhys’ fleeing forces, Aelfic turned his troops around and charged down on Alliminus’ disorganised centre. His Numeri were sent careening backwards while the Compulares were forced to retreat as the tribune desperately tried to rally them.
The Compulares defended themselves ferociously, but were being forced backwards when Alliminus finally had the luck run his way. At the start of his turn he drew a Carpe Diem card, allowing him to play a combination of card from his hand including a “Hero of the Age” card which doubled his impact in combat (and his chances of being wounded; which would have been the last straw for the flailing British morale). Alliminus gathered his men, and launched one last devastating charge against the Saxon onslaught, bringing in the remnants of Bosnius’ command against the Saxon flank.
The Britons’ desperate last charge was devastating; Wulfic was killed and the Saxons lost several men, while their ranks became frayed and disorientated. Just as they were about to break, ap Rhys appeared from behind Saxon lines (having escaped the wreckage of the British left) and joined the British centre, leading one final push against the Saxon ranks which routed one unit and killed the other. This ended the game, the Saxon morale breaking and the Britons too exhausted to pursue. The Britons had lost 23 men and a noble, the Saxons 25 and a noble.
Shortly afterwards, Alliminus was promoted by the king to Praefectus; Alliminus used this position over the coming months to erect watchtowers along the entire Ardentium coastline. He also recruited another unit of Numeri, which I’ll need to paint up and should give him a huge numerical advantage over the Saxon force.
It’ll take Aelfic eight months to replenish his losses; he will not trouble the Britons again until the following spring, when campaigning resumes after winter. He’s also broke, having had to pay taxes to his liegelord over the winter. If he can’t get any profits from raids or battles next year, then he will be declared an outlaw for tax avoidance, and his career as warlord will be over.