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Battle Scenarios

Battle of the Forth (560 AD)

By Tim Donovan

The Irish of Dal Riada had long been settling the numerous islands and headlands of western Scotland but became formidable around 500 AD when their King Fergus, under considerable pressure from his Ui' Neill enemies, quit Ireland and based his kingdom at Dunadd on the Kintyre peninsula. The Kingdom grew slowly at first but eventually evolved into a powerful military monarchy that may have been invited and allied to the British of the Clyde as foederati against the mighty Pictish Kingdom.

The first of the conquering Kings, Gabran, began in 540, a twenty year campaign against the Picts that saw his Irish armies overrun the southern Picts and establish colonies throughout their territory. It was a fortuitous time to attack as the Christian Southern Picts were locked in a deadly civil war with their pagan brothers to the North. Finally in 554 they began to regain their strength by observing a long neglected tradition of declaring a foreigner as their King.

Bridei was the son of Maelgwn, King of the North Welsh, the most powerful king in Briton at this time. While Bridei's older brother Rhun inherited the Welsh kingship the Northern Picts, tracing matrilineal inheritance through Bridei's Pictish grandmother, invited him to their throne. Initially their was opposition but in 556 his brother Rhun marched north with a massive Welsh host and all rivals and opposition to Bridei disappeared. Thus strengthened, in 560, he attacked and decisively defeated the Dal Riada Scots killing Gabran.

This scenario takes place at anytime during these turbulent years. A hillfort Broch or Dun is practically a necessity to battles between the Scots and Picts with the attacking army either one of Gabran's conquering armies or later part of the Pictish counter-attack of Bridei.

The Standard Scenario

The Armies: Scots-Irish (#61) vs. Pictish (#67).

Terrain: Standard DBA terrain rules or the proposed rules for DBA 2000. The defender should place compulsory terrain of 2 hills, 1 wood, 1 swamp or rough ground , and then 0-3 additional terrain pieces of hill, woods, swamp or rough ground.

Deployment: After the defender places the compulsory and optional terrain the attacker chooses the edge to invade from . The defender now deploys the hillfort and 6 elements. The attacker then deploys 6 elements. The defender finishes their deployment followed by the attacker. Dice for the initiative, high score has option of moving first or second.

Special Rules: The Hillfort is +3 garrisoned by camp followers. The attacker need not deploy a camp.

Rules and Victory: Standard.

The Expanded Scenario

I have always preferred Big Battle DBA as it allows for a more appropriate representation and balance of the armies. My expanded scenarios utilize either double or triple size DBA armies or most commonly 100 points of troops as per DBM. They are played on a larger battleboard of at least 2 x 4 for 15mm or 4 x 6 for 25mm.

The Armies:

  • Scots-Irish: 6 LCh or WB, 12 Wb or Ax, 6 Ps

  • Picts: 4 Cv or LCh, 4 Lh, 12 Wb or Ax, 4 Ps

Additional Forces: Players secretly roll 1D6 (save under a cup or such) and add these additional troops to their army:

1 2 Ax or Wb or Ps, must deploy at start
2 2 Ax or Wb + 1 Ps, may deploy at start, in ambush or flank march .
3 Any 3 elements from the list may deploy at start, in ambush or flank march.
4-6 Any 4 elements from the list, may deploy at start, in ambush or flank march.

Terrain Notes: The defender should place compulsory terrain of 3 hills, 2 woods, 1 swamp or rough ground , and then 0-3 additional terrain pieces of hill, woods, swamp or rough ground.

Deployment: After the defender places the compulsory and optional terrain the attacker chooses the edge to invade from . The defender now deploys the hillfort and 12 elements. The attacker then deploys 12 elements. The defender finishes their deployment and records any ambushes. Now the attacker deploys his remaining elements and records any flank marches. Dice for the initiative, high score has option of moving first or second.

Special Rules:

  • Hillfort: The Hillfort is +3 garrisoned by camp followers. The attacker need not deploy a camp.

  • Ambush: The defending army may elect to place their additional elements in ambush anywhere within their own half of the board provided that there is available terrain to provide concealment. The elements deployed in concealment and their location should be recorded secretly in writing. Terrain types eligible for concealment for any element are woods, bog or swamp, and the reverse slope of a hill. The terrain feature may only conceal as many elements as can physically fit within its area.

    Once deployed, an element or group in ambush may not move without revealing its location. The element or group of elements in ambush must be announced and placed on the table at the recorded spot prior to executing its first bound of movement.

    As long as it does not move, a concealed element need not be placed on the table until it falls within the unobstructed line of sight of an opposing element. Elements hiding behind a hill or ridge can be spotted by an observer with a clear line of sight at a range of 600 paces. Elements hiding in forest or swamp will be spotted by an observer at 100 paces. Spotting is automatic and does not need to be requested. It is the responsibility of the commander with troops deployed in ambush to monitor the enemy's line of sight and deploy ambushed troops when they are spotted.

    An element(s) may emerge from ambush at any point during its commanders bound and moves and engages in close combat or distance shooting normally.

  • Flank March: The attacking army may elect to send their additional elements on an off-board flank march. The flank edge and the turn on which the flanking command is expected to arrive should be recorded secretly in writing during the initial deployment. Troops designated for a flank march are not deployed on the table, but are held in reserve until their specified time of arrival. The specified turn of arrival may be turn three or turn two if entirely mounted.

    On the turn they are to arrive the player rolls the pip die as normal needing a 5-6 for the flank march to arrive. On the subsequent turn a 3-6 is needed, following turns they arrive on any roll other than a 1.

    One initiative pip is required to deploy each flank element or group of elements. Commands entering the gaming board via flank march deploy anywhere in the enemy half of the board except within one base element width of any enemy element. No close combat may result as a consequence of deployment.

Command and Control: There are 2 Generals for each army. Divide the forces so each general commands at least 12 elements. Each general rolls their own Pip die. Pip die scores can not be exchanged or given.

Victory Conditions: Standard, 6 or 7 elements destroyed depending on the number of additional troops. Generals count as 2 elements lost, the hillfort as 3.

Background Resources

The Age of Arthur, John Morris, 1973, Scribners
Early Medieval Ireland, Daibhi O' Croinin, 1995, Longman History of Ireland
Medieval Ireland, Michael Richter, 1995, St. Martin's Press
Arthur's Britain, Leslie Alcock, 1971, Penguin
Arthur and the Anglo Saxon Wars. David Nicolle, 1984 Osprey (#154)
Medieval Historical Battles 732 to 1485, Peter Sides, 1993, Gosling
The Celts, Nora Chadwick, 1971, Penguin

WRG
Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome, Phil Barker
Armies of the Dark Ages, Ian Heath,
Army Lists, Book Two, 55bc -1000 AD (for WRG Rules)
DBM Army Lists, Book 2 : 500 BC to 476 AD
DBA


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Last Update: March 17, 2000

My thanks to Tim Donovan for this scenario. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome. Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.