This was the first outing for Picts in a club game. We have no Picts figures currently, so we improvised and used our Barbarian army, which seemed to look quite acceptable as Picts when they arrived on the table on mass! The ‘Pictish’ warriors were treated as ‘B’ class, aggressive hordes which meant that they would automatically charge at any enemy units that came within their 2 hex move range. Their opponents were the Romano British which seemed appropriate from an historical perspective.
The terrain layout was fairly open (chosen and positioned by another club member), with a scattering of small areas of woodland and an 8 hex hill and escarpment located towards the centre of the table. Tony Mark and Dave took charge of the Romano British and Chris and I took a somewhat more limited control of the Picts – the spontaneous charges of the aggressive warrior hordes saw to that! The Picts deployed first, centrally along our table edge up to the normal deployment limit of three hexes in. In response the Brits concentrated their army facing our left, their three units of chariots plus cavalry to the front.
Chris and I won the di roll for first move, and we used this first tactical move of the game to shift our 2 units of chariots and cavalry along behind our massed warriors to hopefully confront the British chariots. Many of our warriors on the extreme right of our line had no opposition, so Chris initiated a flanking manoeuvre against the left wing of the Brits. To counter this Tony positioned his three units of bowmen on the ridge of the 8 hex escarpment, which in turn forced Chris’s warriors to take wider and therefore longer route around the British flank.
One of the Pictish hordes soon came within 2 hexes of their opponents and made a compulsory move into combat. Soon the opposing chariots and cavalry charged each other and the warriors followed-up into contact. We, the Picts, had decided to commit three generals into the chariot and cavalry confrontation on the extreme left of our table edge. This was a gamble, but we needed to neutralise the threat from the British chariots by winning 3 of the 4 resulting hand-to-hand combats. The odds of achieving this were pretty good but we only won 2, and the wrong 2 at that! This meant that our 2 victorious units followed-up their vanquished opponents into very vulnerable positions. And in the next British tactical move they were surrounded and punished!
Although our cavalry and chariots had been pretty well beaten on our left our warrior hordes had done much better in the centre. This didn’t fully compensate for the loss of a general, 2 chariot and two cavalry units, but our warriors were now poised to punch into the heart and centre of the British force. Only one 6 stand unit of British warriors held their ground on the slope of the 8 hex hill.
The next round of hand-to-hand combat and in particular the defeat of the unit of British warriors on the hill would either confirm the Picts impending defeat or cause a significant reversal. Unfortunately for the Picts, against all odds, the British warrior horde stayed put on the hill and in so doing prevented the advance into the British centre.
By this point Chris’s flanking force of warriors had finally made contact with the flank and rear of the British force pushing units backwards. We then had another opportunity to turn the battle in our favour by squeezing the Brits across the length of the escarpment from front and rear. They had 2 disrupted generals and units and few hexes in which to recoil. Again, we failed to capitalise from this hard-fought for opportunity – the Brits fought well, the dice gods were with them and the Picts last grab for victory was over.
We pulled our three units of Picts archers back into a defensive firing line, but the British cavalry and remaining chariots stormed into our remaining warriors in the centre. At this point Chris and I were well beaten, out-fought and out-manoeuvred. Game Analysis
This was a very fast moving and absorbing game in which after a severe early battering, our brave Picts created opportunities to reverse the early crunching at the hands of the British cavalry and chariots. Mark and Tony played a better tactical game. They used the terrain well to secure their vulnerable left flank and always had their ‘good stuff’ in the right place at the right time to stop our Picts determined attacks.