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