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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The Annals of Linnius Chapter 12: The White Stag!!

Early Spring in the year of Our Lord 476AD. These are the chronicles of the kingdom of Linnius, recorded by myself, Publius Librarius, scribe to his Royal Majesty King Mascuidius.

“Heathen superstition, nothing more.” Bishop Augustine did snort  with derision at the council fires that night. His Royal Majesty King Mascuidius had called the council to order at the shortest notice following the reports of a shepherd boy that a great and mighty wonder has been seen in the kingdom – The Great White Stag of Stames Ford! Verily this creature was thought by many to be a myth, but here was the shepherd boy, eyes wide with wonder (or maybe with fear, what with him being dragged into the council chamber of the king!) swearing on the most holy of relics that his words were the truth.

“Heathen superstition…witchcraft! Brought upon us by the shamen of the heathen Saex no doubt! ‘Tis a demon sent to ensnare us!” The bishop’s voice did tremble with his anger (or maybe also his fear, as he did repeatedly make sign of the cross in his ranting!)

Anyway, his Royal Majesty would not be swayed, stating that the sight of the White Stag could only be a good omen and that it must be sought out. He who brings down the stag doth gain mightily in power and reputation, so the tales tell, and the King would wish that honour only onto himself. ‘Twas also most evident that he was concerned that the stag might fall to the Saex. This he was not prepared to allow.

And so it was that, for the first time in many years, his Royal Majesty did don the mail-shirt and buckle on the great sword of his ancestors and lead the warband out to the field. Lord Andrucius did remonsatre with him most mightily, stating that the Saex are abroad and the kingdom cannot risk the death of its king. Verily he did beg His Majesty to wear the Tribune’s own cloak, cuirass and helm, while he, Lord Andrucius would array himself in the arms of a nobleman. With some reluctance, His Majesty did agree.

Verily Our Lord must have been with us that day! The Great White Stag was sighted on the wold not many miles from where the shepherd had first spotted it. ‘Twas a most magnificent creature!! No demon could ever wear raiment of such beauty!! It did lead us a merry chase and the warband was most strung out along the wold, when the cry went up that Saex warriors had been spotted on the Eastern horizon!! At once, the order was sent out for the troops to converge, the stag almost forgotten in the heat of pre-battle nerves! Credit for this must go to the Tribune, for it was his order sent via the signal of the great red Chi-Ro banner that pulled the troops together just in time, as the Saex warlord’s hearthguard did appear in battle array on the slopes of the hill. Immediately, the shieldwall did form, with the diminutive decurio, Maximius Minimus bringing a small group of levy to the enemy flank and there the lines did halt, while archers and warriors from both sides did vie for being the first to bring the stag down. But it was not to be!! The stag did run far, fast and free, a solitary Saex arrow staining his magnificent hide red.

Howling in frustration, His Royal Majesty did order the charge and the Hearthguard and warriors did strike the Saex Hearthguard, smiting them with many blows but then, horror of horrors, the blow of a Saex spear did pierce the hauberk of the King!! His Royal Majesty did stagger back from the fray as a mighty blow from Lord Andrucius did smite his assailant. For a moment, the Briton line did waver as fear sent icy whispers through men’s hearts. However, at that very moment, the levy under Maxinus Minimus, reinforced with others of their bretheren, did crash into the Saex flank, breaking their battle array and smiting with spears that turned bloody red. The banner of the grey wolf did fall into the mud as the Saex did fall in droves!! Sensing utter defeat, the Saex Lord did pull his men from the bloodbath and withdrew the field. Our own men were themselves exhausted from their great endeavours and did not pursue.

However, across the wold, all had not gone well with Geraint and the remainder of the force. Caught by the Saex while pursuing the stag, they were handed bloody defeat and the decurio himself did receive a wound, the stag escaping the field while warriors from both sides did withdraw to lick their wounds!!!

A bloody day and a bloody stand off!! Truth to tell, there was no victor this day, though the felling of the Saex banner did no doubt prompt His Royal Majesty’s claim to victory – a somewhat hollow claim, when one considers the sight of the pitiful remnant of Geraint’s command stumbling back to the camp after the affray.

And the stag did escape! But it is still out there, somewhere. We shall find it yet!

The diminutive decurio Maximus Minimus did this day also receive the Garland of Bravery for his mighty assault on the Saex flank. This young man’s prestige doth grow daily!

This was the first play test of a new scenario written by Mike Whitaker for the upcoming Dux Compendium. It played really well, giving us a host of real 'head scratching' moments where tactical decisions were genuinely very hard to make. It needs a few tweaks, mostly to wording, the stag's random movement and to deployment rules (and the stag was maybe a tad hard to kill) but the core scenario works. The deployment (no formations allowed and groups coming on in random places), though fiddly, meant that we had to work really hard to get our forces into a situation where they could actually fight, which meant careful use of characters and ordering un-commanded troops at the end of each turn of cards. This  is what caused the tactical decisions... Definitely a keeper!!

Here are a few pics...

Hmmm...a bit outnumbered here... Luckily, two of the 3 Saex groups in the bigger formation broke away to chase the stag...

View from behind the Saex lines on the 'hill of doom'... near, but so far away!! The stag activated first and what you can't see is the mass of Saex threatening this formation at top left... 

Aahhh... Now you can see them! The stag, sensibly, is now heading for safety...

The Saex try to tempt the Britons to attack. They succeeded!!

Flank charge!!!! The levy pile in with a Carpe Diem card so this was a flank assault that slaughtered every last warrior in the nearest Saex group. Both hearth guard formations are in trouble here as all groups are heavily (in fact excess) shocked before the levy even started...


Matt said...

Huzzah! Good to see a return of DB action to your blog :o)

Mike Whitaker said...

There is, of course, no truth in the rumour that Andrusius wouldn't have MINDED if the King died...