Sunday, 20 April 2014


I promised Thomas and some friends that they could play a battle during the spring holidays.  As it turned out, only one of them managed, mainly because there's another batch of chicken pox doing the rounds here at the moment.  A prior request had been made for the Scots-English wars, and so off we went:
What the small Scots army looks like to the photographer of Edward II.  Not a problem, according to his nobles.
What the English look like from the vantage of point of Robert Bruce.  Not a problem, he thinks.
An angled shot of the Scots on their nice safe hill.
And an angled shot of the much larger English army.  Knights at the front, followed by infantry and then Welsh archers.  Thomas and Robert ran the Scots while I made up some automatic rules for the English, and Cate rolled their dice.  I decided that this would be the fairest way to play the battle.  The English are very constrained, while the Scots have some important choices to make.  Besides, I've learned from previous experience that this is the best way to run a game for our younger compatriots - it's less noisy if they aren't fighting one another.  Instead, they can just gang up on me.
An aerial shot of the entire field, probably taken from the vicinity of Falkirk.  There's a big wheel there, you know.
The English army rumbles forward.  They expect to be able to form a crescent formation around the hill, shoot a bit and then have a leisurely ride over what's left of the small Scots army.  So I make the various units roll to see if they do anything more intelligent, and unfortunately for the English knights, they don't.  The modifier for rashness works against them, and on they come.  It's about this point that they realise that the soft ground has been made worse by pit traps and such like things already put in place by the cunning Scots, ably advised by one MacBaldrick.  No impetus for these knights, then.  And just to make matters worse, the Scots come off that hill.  Utterly unexpected.  The Knights now have nowhere to go and their massive army is getting in its own way.  Traffic jams ensue and just to add insult to injury the Ettrick archers cause three hits on the centre enemy unit as it struggles through the mire.  They can only take fourteen...
Two of the knightly forces make contact.  Their infantry, however, have a bit more about them, and one of them does the correct thing by wheeling to their right to try to clear the logjam of units.  The worst thing that could happen is for the infantry to bunch up too closely behind the knights, because once the chivalry are skewered the morale effect might just be a bit too much for the rest of the attacking army.
With nowhere else to go, the central unit of aristocrats goes straight up the hill.  The only way the English can win this now is to make massed wave attacks.  Surely their numbers will tell?
However, Robert has foreseen this as well, and commits the sma' folk hiding in the woods.  Dastardly Scots bounders are not playing fair!
The English knights do their impression of a horse kebab.  Two down, only one to go.  Fortunately for the rest of their army, the infantry have been a little more circumspect and largely manage to avoid a disastrous morale cascade.  The problem, though, is that they have mostly been unable to get out of that crook in the river, and so the Scots have local superiority: five units to three.
No more knights left.  What a shame.
With the English already at half of their army break point, the Scots press forward.  Three more units destroyed will see the rest turn and run right into the river...
The Welsh archers ain't daft, boyo.  Lurking at the back is the safest thing to do in this fight.
Large gaps now exist where English infantry used to be: a rare shot from behind their army.
Robert insisted that I take some atmospheric shots of the moment of victory, from the English perspective.  Above, Edward II looks on forlornly.  These rough northerners are a tad nasty, he thinks.
The same moment, from the Scots hill.  Robert didn't even need to use his lone unit of knights!
Robert took the final two shots himself from behind the Scots army.
A comprehensive Scottish victory, then.  They did, however, have to fight harder than seven hundred years ago, mainly because I wanted to give the English a chance to do something other than bunch up and then panic once the knights were destroyed.  The Scots did take some nasty losses to their units, and one of the central blocks of foot only just managed to hold it together long enough.  The figures weren't quite right: too early for the Scots and a bit too late for their opponents, but who cares, the boys seemed to have a good time.

As a scenario, it seemed to play well.  The small Scots force is bolstered by the folks in the woods, and the gunge in the centre helps to cramp the English style.  I think I'll run these games like this from now on.  After all, it only seems sporting that I should be gloriously defeated by a couple of eleven-year olds!  Next up in this occasional series will be a refight of Hastings, which will be the third outing for that particular game.  Around the beginning of June, methinks.


  1. Nice game Paul, and a good batrep with piccies to boot.

  2. Lovely looking Bannockburn Paul! Sounds like everyone enjoyed it.

  3. Very cool! My buddy just mentioned the use of outdoor carpet, and this looks great.

  4. Wow, nice looking game and beautiful armies, the mass effect is really impressive!

  5. Thanks for looking, folks. I must admit that I was lucky with the grass mat - one of the Ayrshire gamers gave a mate a large offcut, and he passed it onto me. He didn't like it because it has a habit of shedding, but my games room has good quality laminate flooring, and I don't mind using a brush and dustpan!

  6. Looks like great fun - and I like the mat too. Just a thought though; you know that in the main engagement (24th June) the Scots did the attacking?

    1. Yes, I know - the lads were a little bit cautious when playing this one. They initially won the initiative, but elected to allow the English to move first to see what they would do. Having said that, though, it was still a major Scots victory once they came off their hill.

      Thanks for looking!