That’s New York State to us!
I had a very nice email yesterday from my old chum Jon Davenport, resident of New York State and all round good egg. Jon and his group have been preparing their Dux Britanniarum armies and terrain for some time now, including some rather spiffing buildings by their resident builder in miniature, Howard Whitehouse. So, how did it go? Let the Annales Novo Eboracum tell all!
“It is the year of Our Lord 425. The Legions have left us and, although they have been gone less than the short span of a man’s life, a scourge has swept the land. From East to West, like the snows of winter, the Saxons have come. Any day we expect them in Pandemoniun.
The Saxons will come to plunder our village, Pandemonium, which lies at the ford on the old Roman road from the East and is the site of the Shrine of Saint Tibulus and repository of the Holy Stone of Clonrichert. The church of Saint Tibulus and its parish are tended by our gentle priest, Father Maynard, who serves God and his Bishop, the living saint, Sanctimonious, whose villa lies a short distance west of the village. Sanctimonious is reputed to have a horde of the gold dedicated to the shrine by the poor pilgrims who come to pray to Saint Tibulus on the Stone of Clonrichert to relieve their suffering from the endemic plague of halitosis to which Tibulus died a martyr.
Some say that the Saxon chieftain, Hectic, has heard tell of this meagre horde and, with the coming spring, perhaps today, will come to claim it. Hectic and his henchmen, Heretic and Septic, though well-born, lead a desperate band of Germanic thugs who will spare no one in their pursuit of plunder. All have prodigious appetites for the good things of life – Heretic is a great lustful beast and Septic has a liver of iron. These men seek not only gold but repute in their mead halls, slaves and livestock. No woman, sheep or pig is safe from the predations of these monsters particularly Heretic and Hectic’s champion, Pubic.
There are few to defend the shrine, the men are away with King Caractacus, Y Mae ei Merched a Basiwyd Gan [Whose Ladies had just passed by], with his main army to the north. The village and shrine fall in the bailiwick of the king’s lieutenant, Superfluous, Last of the Romans. Superfluous was born far to the east of Pandemonium, the son of King Cirrhosis, whose lands were lost to the encroaching Saxons, invited here by the fool Vortigen, when Superfluous was a mere boy, fifteen years since – the year the Legions left us – dispossessed, the last of his line. Superfluous came West where he swore allegiance to Caractacus and eternal enmity to the Saxons. At the court of King Caractacus with the gentle teaching and guidance of Sanctimonious he has become the man he is. Even more dedicated to Sanctimonious and the new religion is Rictus the Devout, Caractacus’s son and Superfluous’s boyhood playmate, who is now his right arm. They are joined by the massive warrior Crapulus on whom many hopes rest and the Champion Acrimonius.
Our only hope rests that the headman of our simple village, Roger the Shrubber, can alert Superfluous’s forces as soon as we know the Saxons approach.”
So wrote the bard and so, as predicted, came the Saxons. [It was one of our all too infrequent Friday evening game nights in my basement and I took the opportunity to introduce Dux to the group – Dennis, Tom, Roger and Howard. Dennis was Superfluous (most apposite as it turned out); Tom was Rictus, assisted by Crapulus; Howard was Hectic and Roger was Heretic.]
The Saxons came in the early hours after dawn while the good people of Pandemonium were gathering for their weekly market, Brother Maynard was leading an early service and Roger the Shrubber was working on his shrubbery. Inexplicably, the Saxons milled around the ford trying decide on their best approach to the village. [The Saxons rolled a 1 and so only got one free move towards the village.]
As a result, the Romano-British troops were alerted and sprang to the defence of the village. [The Britons rolled a 6 and do came on half way along one side with every likelihood of being able to cut off the Saxons advance before it had even crossed the ford. Therefore I offered the Britons the option of bringing on some of their troops at the opposite end of the Roman road – they took the option which, frankly, turned out badly.]
Rictus with the cream of the Romano-British force [the Elite and Warriors] sprang to the fight; Superfluous, with the levy and the archers, not so much.
By this time, the Saxons had got themselves organised [Roger and Howard very quickly got the hang of the cards and, by keeping their force concentrated, were able to move quickly towards Tom’s Britons] and lunged, en masse, towards the approaching British quality troops. The sheep fled and the ladies of the village ran towards the dubious safety of Sanctimonious’s villa.
Seeing the oncoming rush of the Saxons, Rictus [Tom], formed his troops into a shieldwall to face the onslaught.
Superfluous wended his gentle way towards the villa. Like a crashing wave the Saxons tore towards Rictus’s force, baying for British blood. They sought the shieldwall’s flanks seeking to shake the brave British defenders. Knowing that retreat was useless, Rictus took the only sensible action and charged into the Saxon mass before him. [Tom knew he was flanked by a group of Saxon warriors; half a d6 backward wheel wasn’t going to protect him and a Saxon carpe diem card would leave him completely lost.]
Initially, the Britons did well, killing several Saxons and driving back two of the three Saxon groups they faced but numbers were against them and eventually this told, especially as the flanking Saxon warriors were able to charge into the rear of the Britons as they surged forward. The Britons smashed two Saxon groups but all three of their groups eventually “misplaced their amphorae” and withdrew.
All the while, Superfluous [Dennis] made his slow way with the levy toward the village and it was at this point we had to end the evening with all the British elite and warriors lost and two Saxon warrior groups reduced to three and two men respectively – they could not have fought but could have searched the villa and church for treasure. Quite how the levy would have held up will have to wait for next time. The Saxons particularly were very good at using their nobles to coordinate their groups into a winning position.
All told, everyone had a great time and went home happy – even Tom who had had his forces decimated and Dennis who had ponced about and been awarded the Order of the Chicken – shades of “Brave Sir Robin.” The game played magnificently and, as Howard observed, “everything that happened made perfect sense” and you can’t really say better than that for a set of wargames rules.
Altogether a fantastic game and we’re all looking forward to the next run out.
All the figures were Gripping Beast, painted by me, with Little Big Man shield transfers; the houses are 4Ground and the villa and church were scratch built by Howard who, I am sure, for a small fee could knock something similar up for anyone.
Thanks to Jon for his super report. As a small footnote I received another email from Dennis who took the role of Superfluous who said “Apparently my skill doesn’t include rolling dice. If the rules require high rolls, I’ll roll low, if low is needed, I roll high. As we discovered last night, even a braced shield wall can’t save you if you consistently roll 1’s against when you opponent rolls 6’s! Thanks for coming up with these rules, they are very enjoyable.”
Dennis, I am sure we call sympathise with you there!
So, happy Duxers all round. I must say that I am very jealous of Howard’s building skills which have made such a contribution to giving Jon’s table the feel of a pastoral sub-Roman scene; ideal for the Saxons to seek rich pickings!
As part of the development of Dux Britanniarum I have been wanting to get a force of raiders, essentially these can be Picts, Scotti or Irish who in the campaign system are only there for the craic and the loot (actually the Irish get a bit more involved on the west coast, but I am