The Dark Ages, Dux Britanniarum, 28mm
We played another Arthurian game this week, so that we could get a better handle on the rules. This time we really think we know what we’re doing! The scenario was another raid – my Saxon warband led by Athelwald has just raided a British village, and is making off with the livestock. Lord Brennus and his Britons (played by Alan Bruce) are in hot pursuit, and battle is joined before the Saxons could make it back to their ships. Herding cattle is a frustrating business. One of my Saxon warrior groups was detailed off to escort the livestock to safety, moving 2D6 a turn. After two good moves the cattle decided to slow down to a crawl, munching grass and so forth – just when the Britons were closing in. The damned beasts just refused to be hurried!Anyway, the Saxons were about a third of the way down the 6×4 foot table when the Britons appeared, led initially by Brennus and his elite Comipulares, plus a group of slingers. they appeared to the left of the Saxons, which was fine, as the bulk of my force were deployed ahead of the cattle, as I was anticipating the Britons to appear somewhere in front of us. I simply moved the bulk of my force to the left, to head Brennus off. Then the rest of the Britons appeared almost directly behind the raiders, charging after them as fast as their die rolls would allow. It was the Saxon noble Healfwulf (that’s him above in the grey cloak above) who had the tricky task of escorting the cattle to safety, leaving Athelwald and his sidekick Wyrmwalch to hold off Brennus’ men.The battle began well for my Saxons when Wyrmwald charged Brennus’ Comanipulares with two groups of Saxons – one elite hearthguard, the other warriors. The Britons were routed, and a wounded Brennus and his champion fled with them. The next turn the battle turned around again when the approaching British levies charged Wyrmwald in the flank, playing a “Carpe Diem” card to successfully prevent the hearthguard from turning to face this new threat. Wyrmwald’s men were cut down, and the remaining Saxon warrior group pulled back towards Athelwald, whose remaining two groups had formed a battle line.Over in the centre of the table the British warriors led by Vortigen charged the cattle rustlers, and routed Healfwulf’s men. Another group of British levies led by Caractacus dispersed the Saxon archers hanging around in the wings, and then made off with the cattle. This meant the Saxons had effectively lost the raid. Still, Athelwald had a trick up his sleeve. He now had three groups under his direct command – one of them elite hearthguard, the rest warriors, one group of which were Wyrmwald’s men. the Saxon Lord charged the British levies, who by now were under the command of the wounded Brennus, having rejoined the battle. The Saxons played their own “Carpe Diem” card, and a run of others. This all helped them smash through the British, routing one group and forcing the other to retreat. While all this was going on the British slingers were having a field day – killing an average of one Saxon casualty a turn from their long-range volleys. They were major pain in the neck, and caused four Saxon casualties throughout the game – as opposed to none inflicted by my own rather useless Saxon archers. The battle had now reached something of an impasse. The raid was a failure, as the Britons had recaptured the livestock. Both sides had now taken 14 casualties each – enough to count as “moderate losses” if we were playing this as a campaign game. Almost by mutual agreement the two sides parted, and called off the fight. Both groups of combatants had several routing or badly battered units, and although the Saxons did have a big block of spearmen in the centre of the table the Britons had spirited the cattle to safety.Alan and I both thoroughly enjoyed the game, which for some reason ran much more smoothly than last week. I suppose having a better handle on the rules seemed to help! Dux Britanniarum is an excellent little set of rules, and the random leader activation helps keep things interesting. So too does the Fate Card system, where both players have a poker hand of Fate Cards, which they can play offensively or defensively – if they have the right cards – and which really add excitement to the game. I think we’re now ready to have a go at tackling a campaign game – the fight for control of a small British kingdom, somewhere on the Saxon Shore.