a scenario for the board wargame Battles for Prydain: Heroic Combat in Dark Age Britain 450-650 AD
In the previous part 3 we went through the Field Combat and Heroic phases of the Saxons player ( first player ).
After those phases, including Rallying shaken and disorganised troops, are concluded the sequence passed to the Britons player ( second player ). It was now that my opponent announced that the reinforcements were coming from the South thus, as per Scenario rules, entering in this turn.
Arthur and his horse troops ride hard from the South. Some troops in the hill can see their banner in the distance. Voice erupt in encouragement – “Hold fast men of Prydain, Arthur is here !”
Horsemen can move fairly fast due to both phases of Movement and Reaction and albeit being in different turns a player can plan ahead how to best use it. In a sense it represents well the momentum of mounted troops but is not without its problems as cavalry has its own rules of control, including pursuing enemies, becoming uncontrollably engaged. Is not something ground breaking in terms of mechanisms, it just feels good for the warfare being represented.
Britons had to hold through the barbarian violence of Heroic Combat in their own phase. Wasn’t their best moment, mostly because we corrected the rules and cohesion disintegrated fast and entire bodies of troops just disappeared under the savagery of combat. Gladly for the Britons the Saxons also suffered and being able to provoke as much delay as possible and keep the Saxons pinned was the only chance for a victory.
Barbarian class troops may be able to repeat combat rounds but are easier to destroy and have, on average, lower rally values. This is an important factor to recover cohesion.
After the Briton combat rounds were done the Rally phase gave the possibility to recover some crucial gaps in the line… but to no avail. The troops were all locked in Heroic combat where there’s no recovery. It is either victory or death !
In Turn 3 the Saxons, first player, immediately make a decision that would prove disastrous in hindsight. Two warbands separate from the main body and cut off the approaching horsemen that can be seen closing fast.
The decision to send them to the South and delay Arthur as much as possible was not a bad one and it would play on the assumption that the barbaric abilities would do away with the Britons clinging to the hill. With the Field and Heroic combat phases to resolve the odds were high.
The northern end of the line is short of destroyed with only one group of troops still steady and locked in combat.
But the Heroic combat did not go as smoothly with the Britons managing to keep fighting in all noted three locations. Both sides with ever deteriorating cohesion and troops routing.
Arthur orders the troops to hit what would be in front of them and if possible to bypass and go help the foot troops engaged. They would be in position to influence all the combats henceforth.
It appeared as if the dice simple knew what the narrative was and kept with the pace. The Britons troops seeing Arthur and his “knights” charging the enemy, took hear and the Heroic combats turned on their favour and numerous enemies were put to rout and cut down.
The Panic level of the Saxons rose to very dangerous level, the Rally phase was horrendous for both sides with barely a single warband recovering some degree of organization and given the battlefield situation the Saxons had the worst end of it even if they played through Turn 4.
Only 5 points away from Army Rout score the Saxons player called it a Briton victory. In a situation where we would zoom out and make it part of a campaign, maybe it is a Pyrrhic victory but the Saxons could not achieve their objective while the Britons managed to accomplish at least part of theirs.
The end “screen” showing the Panic scores and the two remaining Heroic battles at the end of Turn 3. If the game went through Turn 4 the cavalry would just sweep and with only 5 points to spare it is almost certain the Saxons were not going to recover.
A superb game, played with good spirit and given we aren’t proficient with the rules had to live with the mistakes done.
If we had to change something to the scenario it would be that Arthur and the reinforcements entering on the South in turn 2 is the best option. Post battle we thought about what would be the benefit of having them enter in the North or West, in turn 4, but the delay would be too much.
Having the cavalry riding and forcing the Saxons to make the decision to try and delay them with some of the troops, that could’ve been used to reinforce the combats, might have sealed the deal while if only on turn 4 those same units would’ve reinforced the combats.
Is a scenario we will repeat in the future whenever we get together to play again.
In the meanwhile I will continue to play through the scenario book and play both sides and get more apt with the rules.
Highly recommended game if you have the inclination for narrative wargames in boardgame format.