The Britons; A Tactical Guide
The Barbarian nations in Infamy, Infamy! are a varied bunch. In this tactical guide we will look at the Britons, but clearly some of what is included is appropriate for the Gauls and Germans too. That said, I am not going to let all of the Barbarian cats out of the bag in one go. The guide that follows is, as a consequence, focussed on how the Britons specifically can make the most of their attributes on the battlefield.
The Britons are possibly the quaintest force on the table in Infamy, Infamy!, in a ‘collectable tea pots and roses round the door’ kind of way. They hark back to an heroic age where combat was about personal bravery and style rather than the industrialised killings of the newcomers from Rome. However, that doesn’t make them a push over. The have a wealthy aristocracy who are well armed, armoured and, potentially, very fast moving in their chariots.
But how to beat the Romans? Firstly, like all Barbarians, identify your own strengths and unique skills. These are areas where potentially you have the edge over your Roman foe. Typically, your ability to ambush your opponent stands you in good stead as does the ability to generate, and attack with, Fervour. Let’s consider these.
Ambushing is not a universal panacea for the Britons. There is a risk that if you do Ambush your troops will not be at an optimal level of Fervour. Equally, where you can ambush might not be perfect for the demands of the scenario and the need for two Signa Cards (normally) may mean that the perfect moment could pass you by. That said, a well-timed ambush can be devastating, especially if your enemy presents you with an open flank or a small number of troops that have become separated from the main enemy body.
Fervour is key as it is an antidote to Shock that can be more effective than first glance many suggest. The relationship between Kills and Shock is quite a subtle one. Whilst Shock can be removed by rallying – and the Romans are good at that – any kills have the effect of reducing the level at which Shock becomes effective. Even the odd kill can make a significant difference as it makes it more likely that Shock will take its toll. For the Britons, the ability to attack and have the first four, five or six points of Shock inflicted on you cancelled out by Fervour can be a big advantage, especially if you can cause a similar number of points of Shock on your opponent. The Romans will start losing combat dice after two points of Shock, potentially, if your Group begins with 6 Fervour, they will only begin losing combat dice after a very significant eight points of Shock have been inflicted.
Fervour does, of course, provide another advantage: speed. A Group or Mob that has Fervour adds an inch of movement for each point, whether moving in a controlled or uncontrolled manner. That can be a big advantage and allows you to catch your opponent on the hop if they are not being mindful of the speed you can move at.
Selecting Your Force
As a Briton you are fortunate to have access to well-equipped nobles who are fast moving. Their speed, and their ability of all British Warriors to withdraw rapidly from action using chariot rallying points, is a key differentiator. That isn’t to say you should select chariots for all of your Warriors, but giving some the additional benefit will help.
Slingers are your friend and can really add the ‘tin opener’ you need to crack Roman heavy armour, whilst other light and skirmish troops are good at keeping up an unrelenting pressure on the enemy. British light cavalry may look weak in combat, with their likelihood to retire after just one round of combat but this is a self-defence mechanism rather than a penalty. It should allow you to make two or even three darting attacks on top of using their missiles, especially if they have a named Leader attached. What’s more, the cavalry will be good at screening your Ambush Points from nosy Romans if they come poking about.
When deploying onto the table, the Britons Should try to maximise their opportunities by minimising those of the enemy. Look to dominate the areas of terrain, especially woods, that will give you the longest reach and the most wide-ranging options; ideally with forces on the enemy flank at some point.
Ambushing, as mentioned can be a great option, but is unlikely to be the way to go for all of your force. Often refusing to deploy anything other than skirmish troops at an early stage, keeping your Warriors hidden, can be a good way to harass the Romans and try to get them to over commit. The nature of the card driven activation and variable movement means that keeping a perfect formation is never as easy as it sounds (quite rightly we think!) and keeping your troops off the table can give your opponent time to make errors that you can exploit.
Having said that, don’t forget the unique skirmishing skills that your Noble Warriors have from their chariots. These attacks, with five D6 per Warrior Groups can chip away at the Romans whilst also raising your men’s Fervour. Ambushing from chariots gives you no distance advantage over foot Warriors, so using them to precede the main action, hopefully drawing out the enemy to chase them off is a valid tactic.
You shouldn’t expect a lot from missile troops in Infamy, Infamy! Their effect is never going to be to see Romans falling like ninepins, but just reducing a Group of Legionaries by one man is a major win as this reduces the bar for Shock to take effect, as discussed above. Shock is relatively easily rallied by the Romans, but if your missile troops can oblige them to burn a Signa Card or two this will reduce their tactical nimbleness, even if only temporarily. Using your missile troops to get the Romans to put their shields up just before making an attack with Warriors will at least burn a Signa Card. Look for small tactical wins like this to sap your opponent’s command and control superiority.
As with Hannibal at Cannae, be aware that the enemy’s flanks are their weak spot. You cannot stand toe to toe with the Legion and win unless you have lots of men and lots of luck, so only do so when you have stacked the odds in your favour. This may be when you have whittled them down with missiles or it may be when you have manoeuvred them into a position which favours you. In the following image, the British Warriors have deployed from the village having seen the Romans approaching. The Leader raising Fervour is a real signal of intent and the Romans have wheeled round to face the threat. This, of course, opens them up to an ambush from the wood on their flank. In the cold light of day this is a pretty basic error, but this example is simplified to make the point. In the heat of battle we all tend to focus on what we can see and luring your Roman opponent into making a move that leaves them exposed to such an attack puts you in a strong position. A flank attack, even by one Group from the wood, would break the Roman Formation; follow that up with an attack from the Mob by the village and the Romans will have a real fight on their hands. Again, this is reinforcing the point that it suits the Romans to keep things in lines of battle, but chaos and disorder suit your style of fighting much more. Don’t think in terms of lines of battles; this is a skirmish.
Of course, the Romans are not always going to walk into your trap, so it could be that you need to accept a toe to toe head on fight with the Romans in the short term in order to get a flank attack in a more conventional fashion. The pretty obvious ambush from the left of the image below is a dream situation. However, the attack from bottom right is more achievable. It will take longer to achieve and it is unlikely that you’ll be able to add Fervour as speed will be of the essence, but warriors with ample Fervour should be able to hold the Legion for long enough to allow their comrades to manoeuvre round, especially if they have no supports close to hand. If the fresh Mob fails to make contact before the original one is defeated it will, at the very least, be able to make a fresh attack immediately, thereby keeping the Romans under pressure.
Of course, both examples above are extreme in that there are no Roman supports shown, but this only emphasises the importance of the other Barbarian tactics of destroying the low hanging fruit early on. If they can draw out the allies, Auxilia or cavalry and hit them hard without getting entangled with the Legion, this will severely dent Roman morale before the “First XV” get a game. That in itself can dent the Roman Force Morale but also the morale of the person playing the Romans. I know. I’ve been there!
Fervour is a huge advantage at the start of any Close Combat, but it is fleeting. By all means go toe to toe with the Romans, but once that Fervour burns off do not hesitate to use the Break Contact order to disengage and rally back. If you are using Chariots as a Rallying Point, position them so you can break off but allow other fresh Groups to continue the fight.
With the Roman ability to strip off Shock relatively quickly, it is critical to give them no respite. This doesn’t mean grinding your troops into the Ground. However, it does demand constant pressure on the enemy. When one Mob breaks off send in anything to keep up the fight. A darting attack from light cavalry with javelins and then a quick round of close combat can actually tip the scales in your favour, especially if you can then back that up with a charge from some fresh Warriors. As you pull Groups out of combat, rally off the Shock and get Fervour back on them. Even a couple of points gets them the additional dice combined with a Ferocious Charge and that is enough to see them get back onto the fight again. Your ten-man Groups give you the ability to take some damage whilst remaining above that 50% strength mark. Again, that’s something that the Romans don’t have.
Remember that the Roman player will be battling against Shock. Don’t worry about the kills, they take care of themselves, just look to mass up sufficient Shock to send the enemy running.
In a nutshell, the Britons need to harass the enemy to encourage them to make errors and over-commit their supports. If they can isolate the Legion and attack their flanks then the Romans are in trouble. Once combat is joined, ensure that the pressure is relentless but don’t expect any one Group or Groups to do all the heavy lifting. Keep rotating your fighting forces to make the most of Fervour.