The farms of Dihangfa Dan Cadwch Yn Glir had been a regular target for Saxon raiders since Cyddic had declared his Kingship of the Middel Seaxe. Small raids to seize livestock and wheat had kept the local Levy busy through the summer of 476, yet now there came a greater threat. Cyddic himself had raised his new standard and now stood at the head of his army with a sworn oath to the God Tiw to destroy all Britons who stood before him.
From Verulamium came the forces of Calchwynned, the Kingdom of the Chalk Hills, with Gaius Ambrosius, the last of the Romans, at its head. A body of Velites and archers preceded the main body who rushed forward to take their place amid the buildings of the farm.
Cyddic’s men came forth, with Wulfstan hurling back the Velites and driving them from the field. Brythnoth, the deceiver, came from the left while in the centre Cyddic’s force ran swiftly.
As the Britons faltered, their shieldwall not yet formed, Cyddic seized the moment. With a yell he hurled forward his axe, splintering a British shield. His men followed suit, some goading their foe, others leaping forward to clash with the unformed Britons. As the line crumpled Gaius Ambrosius stepped forth and joined the fray, his sword ended the yelps of many Saxon dog and Wulfstan fell back before him.
Yet now came forward Brythnoth’s leading his Kings Companions, and now the Britons fell before their knixes and axes, the ground wet with blood of heroes. First one group of Britons they bested, then another.
Now was the moment for Cadwalladr the Bold to lead his Numeri into battle. Farmers and peasants all but marching with the step of the Milite, for Cadwalladr had trained them well and with shields locked they came forth.
Ready to die for their land stood the Britons, and die more would, for the vengeance of the Saxons was terrible, yet for all their violence and cries to vile Gods they too lost men on the spears and blue blades of the Britons.
As Gaius joined the Shieldwall the Saxons tide broke on the British rock and Cyddic knew that his Gods were not with him that day. Standing firm the Britons could but watch as the plague which blights our fair island was seen to retreat and withdraw to return to their stinking halls.
A famous is Pyrrhric victory for Gaius Ambrosius. A terrible error nearly cost the Britons the battle, their shieldwall running forward to gain as much ground as possible before forming into shieldwall was caught unformed and the Saxons slaughtered the majority of the British Commitatus and Milites, leaving the Numeri of the Levy to try to stop them. Gaius had intervened in the initial debacle, wielding his sword in the front rank and momentarily throwing back Wulfstan and his men to allow a few soldiers to escape the killing. These he now used to bolster up his weak line.
However, even such bravery appeared to be for nowt as Gaius and his few survivors were routed and the Saxon hearthguard came on to meet the levy. Unbelievably the shieldwall held, rallied first by Cadwalladr, then joined by Noggin ap Nog and finally Gaius who had managed to disentangle himself from the rout. Three times the shieldwall was on the point of collapse, three times it was rallied. Cyddic was wounded twice, Wulfstan once making command difficult, and finally a wound to Brythnoth was sufficient to make the Saxon cause a lost one.
Hilariously Biffo playing the British was almost weeping openly as his plans were shredded by the initial Saxon charge, and he then spent the game wailing and gnashing his teeth and predicting impending doom at any moment. Then he won.
A really great game, full of tension, excitement and a colossal narrative factor which made for a brilliant evening. The Saxons really did come on in a howling, baying mob and their use of the Fate cards was superb, allowing them to break up the Romano-British line by goading here attacking there. The British desperately sought to stabilise the line, with personal intervention from their warlord saving some men, and finally better quality overall leadership, even with lesser quality troops, saving the day.
Velites, or javelin armed skirmish troops, were the newcomers for this game. They harassed the advancing Saxons, but in this game were simply overwhelmed by the ferocity of the Saxon advance and fled the field very early on. Hopefully they’ll do a bit better next time out.
I’ve been working on the Chain of Command campaign supplement today, only vaguely diverted by the arrival of some new toys from Perry Miniatures (lovely stuff) and the usual end of year accounts nonsense. One of the great bits of finalising a project is that there is always an excuse to have a quick game,