Saturday, 8 February 2014

Men of Harlech

I've always liked the song 'Men of Harlech' ever since I saw the film 'Zulu' and the last iconic battle scene. In fact the whole film is superb. The film version is one of many based upon a Welsh 'air' and quite by chance I came across the following Youtube version . Whilst listening to the lyrics (below) I thought they would make a wonderful 'background' for a game of Dux Bellorum:

Lyrics written by John Guard
Verse 1
Tongues of fire on Idris flaring, 
News of foemen near declaring, 
To heroic deeds of daring,
Call you, Harlech men.
Groans of wounded peasants dying,
Wails of wives and children flying,
For the distant succour crying,
Call you, Harlech Men.
Shall the voice of wailing,
Now be unavailing,
You to rouse, who never yet
In battle's hour were failing?
This our answer, crowds down pouring,
Swift as winter torrents roaring.
Not in vain the voice imploring,
Calls on Harlech men.
Verse 2
Loud the martial pipes are sounding,
Every manly heart is bounding,
As our trusted chief surrounding,
March we, Harlech men.
Short the sleep the foe is taking;
Ere the morrow's morn is breaking,
They shall have a rude awakening,
Roused by Harlech Men.
Mothers, cease your weeping,
Calm may be your sleeping,
You and yours in safety now,
The Harlech men are keeping.
Ere the sun is high in heaven,
They you fear, by panic riven,
Shall, like frightened sheep, be driven,
Far, by Harlech men.

Scenario: Dawn Attack
So suitably inspired I came up with the following background 'fluff' based upon the above and the standard scenario from the Dux Bellorum rulebook:

Sea Raider Warband 32 Pts
Hrothgar the Dane and his warband had made a successful raid on an isolated hamlet in a Welsh valley near to the coast. With night falling they decided to make camp and leave in the morning with their spoils.

1 x Foot Warrior Companions
4 x Foot Warrior Nobles
2 x Foot Ordinary Warriors
1 x Foot skirmishers (Bow)

Welsh Warband 28 Pts
Lord Derfel Cadarn and his warband had been alerted in the night by survivors of the raid. A plan of attack was quickly agreed upon and they set off in the night to arrive at the break of dawn to launch a suprise attack on the Sea Raiders whilst they were still sleeping.

1 x Foot Warrior Companions
2 x Foot Warrior Nobles
3 x Foot Ordinary Warriors
2 x Foot Skirmishers (Bow & Javelin)
+1 LP

So with the above sorted it was onto the game. I added more scenery than was required for the game purely on visual grounds. Both warbands were deployed as per the scenario rules.

The Danes were camped to the North of the old Roman road, unaware of the threat coming down from the Welsh hills towards them...
Hrothgar surrounded by his loyal Nobles and men.
Derfel cadarn with his standard 'Idris' and warband about to burst forth onto the unsuspecting Danes.
Welsh 7LPs vs Danes 1LP. The Welsh move to a man to avenge theit kinsmen whilst the Danes start to form a battleline after being roused from their mead induced slumber.
Welsh 7LPs vs Danes 2LPs. The Welsh rashly send forward their Javelin men to induce a charge by the Danes, which ends not unsuprisingly in the demise of the skirmishers.
The Welsh continue their resolute advance whilst the Danes are a bit sluggish still in getting formed up. The archers on both sides were somewhat ineffective.
The Welsh feel confident in the face of a ragged Danish battleline.
Welsh 6LPs vs Danes 3LPs. Once again the archers are ineffective but battle is joined. The Danish right flank is somewhat reluctant to join the fray...
The Welsh get the better of the combats, pushing the Danes back in two places. On the Welsh right flank a Danish unit stubbornly matches the Welsh blow-for-blow (one of the crucial areas of the battle it would turn out).
The Welsh and Danes locked in combat.
Welsh 6LPs vs Danes 4LPs. The archers finally find their range and cause some loss of cohesion. Once again the Welsh win the battles and cause further push backs, apart from the lone stubborn Danish unit on the right flank! On the Danish right flank two units once again refused to join the fray (another crucial area of the game).
The fighting breaks up into a confused melee as the battlelines are broken up as a result of units being forced back. Lord Derfel Cadarn moves to protect his left flank.
Welsh 6LPs vs Danes 5LPs. The Welsh archers see of their Danish counterparts, whilst the battle takes its bloody toll as the Danes lose 1 x Noble Warrior unit and the Welsh 1 x Ordinary Warrior unit.
The lone Danish unit continues to hold up the Welsh right flank, but at last the Danish right flank swings into action.
Welsh 5LPs vs Danes 3LPs. The Weslh archers cause 3 points of Cohseion on a unit of Danish Ordinary Warrios who promptly roll a Double 1 to enter the fray! The battle continues its bloody slaughter as the Danes lose 1 xOrdinary and 1 x Warrior unit to the Welsh's 1 x Ordinary unit.
The battle lines start to thin as the loses mount on both sides.
Finally the stubborn Danish unit is no more. At this point the Welsh start to feel confident as the Danes are close to breakpoint.
Welsh 4LPs vs Danes 1LP. The Welsh move in for the kill and finish off another unit of Danish Ordinary Warriors. This puts them on a Rout test which all of the remaining units pass with ease!
With the Danish left flank turned surely it is only a matter of time before they are defeated?
Welsh 4LPs vs Danes 0LPs. The fighting now reached fever pitch with the Welsh and Danes losing a Noble Warrior unit each. This put the Welsh on a rout test as well...
... which the Welsh promptly failed but the Danes once again passed! So by some miracle the Danes snatched victory, albeit a Pyrrhic one, from the jaws of defeat. So the Welsh were unable to avenge their kinsmen but the Danes had too few men left to carry off their spoils of war (the Gloucester Old Spot pigs to make Danish bacon).

Once again another cracking solo game of Dux Bellorum. I really enjoyed this game which I set up the night before and played in the morning, so it wasn't too rushed. So a few thoughts from the game:

  • The Welsh would have benefited from some cavalry so that they could get some attacks in quickly whilst the Danes were still half-asleep and trying to form a battleline. Fortunately I have some on the painting bench and some fresh lead that has just arrived from Pendraken, so this will be rectified on the not too distant future I hope.
  • Having that extra LP from the off was very useful for the Welsh, especially with the Danes only starting off with 1LP, which increases each turn by 1LP.
  • The high number of Noble units in the Danish warband meant that they were a hard nut to crack in combat.
  • The stubborn unit of Danish Ordinary Warriors really slowed up the Welsh right flank, preventing them from joining the fray at an earlier stage. This was offset by the Danish right flank being somewhat timid about entering the action until the very end.
  • The Welsh sacrificed their javelin skirmishers too quickly and should have held them back so that they could have at least contributed some missile shooting before combat was joined. Lesson hopefully learnt!
Now that I have got the 'Age of Arthur' sourcebook, my plan is to come up with a mini-campaign using some of their scenarios combined with the ones from the Dux Bellorum rulebook. Also I want to come up with a bit more historical background information for each warband, as well as add in a few more units, mainly on the Welsh side. But as always finding the time is the difficult part, but I'm very much in the Dark Ages groove at present so hopefully it will not be too long before things get going on the campaign and painting front.


  1. Glad to see you received your AoA. very inspirational isn't it? game sounds like a real fun blood bath. I'm still ploughing on with the saxon warbands but the conversion job on the mounted lord left me a bit stretched on focus.. By the way do you have a copy of Dux Britanniarum from too fat lardies. There's a lot of really great ideas you can adapt from them.

    1. The AoA book is just lovely and very inspirational as you say Robert. Certainly the game was very bloody and the Danes passing their rout tests without a failure was incredible! After that it was almost gauranteed that the Welsh would fail almost to a man.

      I hadn't thought of Dux Brittaniarum but will check it out.

  2. Very nice AAR ! Good looking game !

    best regards Michael

  3. Wargaming at your leisure, that sounds like fun.

    1. Rather unusual Stu I must admit. But after a few 'rushed' solo games at the tail end of last year, I decided to get things set up and wait until I was in the mood and wouldn't be distracted too much by the family. Worked rather well I must admit:)

  4. It looks as though Dux Bellorum is the quick game to play these days.
    What do you need for a solo game, any special rules or is it built into the rules?