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Warheads Episode 011

After a slight delay, we return to our regularly scheduled podcasting. Our position as the Madagascar of wargaming becomes apparent as we discuss Nordicon, Ireland’s first (probably) Early War tournament and the halting steps of the regulars into a bright and glorious further past. Weird and wonderful lists mix with the best the internet can offer.

Contents

00:00- The Great Non-Flooding, a brief geography lesson and the plan for the episode.

09:44- We discuss Nordicon lists and make unfounded and brutal predictions.

38:32- The impact of terrain on tournament and frankly, joy and happiness in our hearts.

54:17- Brian is indulged in his disgusting habits and tells us about the Bolt Action Welsh Open.

Check out this episode!

Bolt Action Tournament Report: the Welsh Open, 2014

This past weekend Ulick, Tony, and myself headed over to the Welsh Open.  We had heard great things about this tournament from the previous year and the air fares fell the right way for us (€70 round trip).  This is a lengthy report for a blog post so I’ll break it into three acts:
Act 1: Getting there, venue, organization, ice-breaker tank game
Act 2: My tournament games
Act 3: Lessons learned, planning for next year
Act 1

Ever wonder what Maynooth, Ireland, looks like at 4:00 a.m.?

Our flight was at 6:15 a.m. so I caught the 4:00 a.m. airport hopper from Maynooth.  I met Ulick and Tony at the airport.  Security let us straight through and we were a bit hurt not to be given the opportunity to take out our models and explain the detailing and shading on the metal minis.  By 8:00 a.m. we were on a shuttle bus to Cardiff city center and we were at the door of Firestorm Games at 8:45 a.m.  Don’t you love it when modern air travel lives up to its reputation?
Firestorm Games is easily the best gaming shop I have ever experienced in terms of stock and facilities.  Only the original Dakka Dakka in New Hampshire, U.S.A., comes close, but it lacked a bar.  Ulick was particularly impressed by the Flames of War stock.
Table after table for Bolt Action, FoW, GW systems, Infinity, or any other system (with the possible exception of 6mm ancients).  There was an abundance of high-quality, varied terrain on hand too.

The tournament was a strictly Allies vs. Axis affair.  Each table had a specific mission tied to an actual World War Two battle.  A world map with the missions’ locations was a nice touch (“He’ll see the big board!!!”).
This table strewn with ruined 4Ground buildings was one of my favorite battlefields.
The players assembled for a briefing/welcome from Ian and we all got to work for the first game: the ice-breaker team tank battle.
Ulick and Tony played on a North African table

I played on a table with this awesome rail gun

 My partner played a U.S. list and I brought a T-34/85, SU-76, BA-64 DShK,tank riders, and my green squad in a truck.  The T-34/85 bagged a Pz-IV at long range, and the two other Pz. IV’s on the enemy team exploded much too easily on the next turn. 

My green infantry squad destroyed a Puma in assault, easily earning them “unit of the match” designation.
The only tricky moment came when My BA-64 fubared, but in what can only be described as the best spot prize ever conceived, I was handed a beer because I had fubared.
After the tank game we retired to the lounge/bar area of Firestorm Games and had more beer.

Act 2

I brought a 12 dice list:
1.  Senior regular lieutenant with friend (the +2 proved decisive at least 3 times).
2.  Kommissar with friend
3.  Regular SU-76i
4.  Regular BA-DShK
5.  Guards: 8 rifles
6.  Guards: 5 SMGs, 2 rifles (1 panzerfaust)
7.  Regular ZiS-3
8.  Regular truck with MMG
9.  Assault engineers (flamethrower, 6 SMG, body armor)
10.  Scouts (2 rifles, 5 SMG)
11.  Sniper
12.  Free green squad

My first game was against Steve who was fielding a German force with several kitted-out regular squads, a StuH, a pioneer unit with flamethrower in a transport and a few other bits and pieces.  The game got off to a promising start when my scouts assaulted and wiped a squad on Turn 2.

However, a poorly judged outflank cost me the game.  Steve had his pioneer squad in outflank, and I had my assault engineers outflanking too.  My error was to bring them on first.  They drove on, wiped an infantry squad but were then wiped by Steve’s pioneers.  I scrounged a point for holding the secondary objective and another for a tertiary objective.

My next game saw my Soviets head to South East Asia to engage another German force on this lovely airfield table:

My opponent, Rob, fielded a Pz. IV, heavy mortar, 222 recon car, MMG, air observer, and a decent amount of infantry.  Smoking hot dice for me proved fatal: my sniper killed the MMG and the mortar.  A lucky turn 1 shot from the SU-76 eliminated the air observer before he could call in the strike.  My ZiS-3 and SU-76 hid from the Pz. IV and by the end of the game it was just about all Rob had left.  I was able to claim three points for the win, and two extra points for the secondary and tertiary objectives.

For my third game I faced off against James and his fantastic looking japanese force.  We played the race-to-Arnhem table.  He had four infantry squads, a light tank, a light AT gun, two snipers, a light mortar, three suicide AT guys, and officer.  The mission was hold until relieved.  My assault engineers were absolutely lethal.  They roasted two infantry squads and a sniper.  Combined fire and successive assaults killed James’s other two infantry squads.  One of the buildings brewed up and James’s officer was caught in the conflagration.  This was another five point win.  The dense table really helped me get my units in close to the objective and assault range unmolested.  A sniper had one chance to kill the engineer’s flamethrower but failed to wound.

My fourth and final game was against Rich H’s Finnish force.  A win required one of us to hold the objective in the middle of the table–a large house.  A german officer in the woods (at the top of the photo below) provided the secondary objective.  Looking over Rich’s veteran list and the large LOS-blocking objective I concluded there was no way I could prevent him from contesting the objective.  I decided to play for the draw and try to rack up the extra points for the secondary and tertiary objectives.

The fighting around the house was cagey but unforgiving.  Rich pushed hard but he couldn’t draw LOS to shoot consistently.  I shuffled my scouts and a Guards squad around and used ambush orders on my SMG squad to discourage assaults.

On my left flank a rifle squad spent three turns trekking through a mushy field to capture the German officer and my heroic outflanking assault engineers flame-throwered Rich’s sniper and his deep recon squad (but only after it had killed my feckless ZiS-3).

By the end of turn six I had two attrited squads contesting the center building and Rich’s veterans and flame-thrower team (which had already killed my lethargic SU-76) were closing in.  I caught a break–finally for my rolling in this game–and ended the game on turn 6 with clutch roll.  I would have been hard pressed to contest the house for another turn.

 I ended the tournament with two wins, a draw, and loss, but I managed to claim two bonus points in each of my games so I finished with 16 out of 20 points.  I was surprised to learn that this put me towards the bottom of the allied table!  The games were enjoyable and it was great to put some names to faces.

Act 3

The combination of venue and organization made for a fantastic tournament.  The prize support was neck deep.  Twenty-two people traveled from far and wide to Cardiff for this event and it’s easy to see why.  I’m looking forward to the event next year.

There are a few ways this event could be improved.  These are minor suggestions and I’ll be doing my best to attend next year even if the event is a straight repeat!
1.  Missions?
The Axis players got absolutely beat to death.  Just about all of them finished in the single digits.  This suggests that they got the short end of the stick on the missions.  Some will say the more experienced tournament players go for the Allied lists because they are stronger, but that doesn’t explain the pounding inflicted on the Axis players.  The tables were fantastic, and I’m a big fan of having a mixture of heavy, medium, and light terrain tables.  Even though the desert table was bald it had two massive hills to block LOS.  My suggestion would be to keep the themed tables but use book missions with players rolling off for attacker/defender as normally.  The secondary and tertiary scoring system was great and I wouldn’t change that at all.
2.  Down with that sort of thing?
Something that left a bad taste was to see a few players reverse-moving recce units towards the enemy.  This is a well-known RAW exploit (the rules demand that a recce move be in reverse, but a wheeled recce unit can make two 90-degree turns before moving).  Certainly nobody in our gaming group has the chutzpah to do this.  My suggestion would be for the TO to knock this on its head either in the rulespack or at the player briefing.  There were a few other instances of WAACism–a player denying LOS from unit A to B but then claiming LOS from unit B to A with one of his dice.
3.  Comp?
In addition to missions, the TOs might want to look at the relative strengths of the Allied and Axis lists from the tournament as a possible explanation for the crushing Allied victory.  There was a good bit of recce-spam in the Allied lists, and none in the Axis lists.  Flamethrowers were much more prevalent on the Allied side of the table too.  Thankfully I don’t think anyone brought a vehicle flame-thrower.  We’re a big fan of the Australian 2014 Cancon tournament rulespack.  It is fairly straightforward:
1.  No dice limit.  2.  Single generic platoon only.  3.  No vehicle flame and 0-1 infantry flame.  4.  Inexperienced indirect fire requires a 6 then a 6 to hit on their ranging shots, then 6, then 5, etc.

These are minor suggestions.  This was the most fun I’ve had at a tournament in a long time.  The atmosphere was great, the venue fantastic, and the organization was flawless.  A big thanks to Ian, Jack, Dave, Rich and the rest of the organizers for a great weekend.

Warheads Episode 010

Look, we’ve reached double digits. We manage to hold the podcast close to our intended content for the initial two-thirds but discipline completely breaks down towards the end. Enjoy!?

Contents
00.00: Brian lays out the plan and we pine for the loss of the Ryanair bikini calendar.
02.00: The rugged highlands of Wicklow host a second tournament, we all attend and compose thoughful tournament reports.
32:51: The Irish tournament scene takes a step into the future (further past). We say goodbye to Late War and greet the dawn of Early War.
42.33: We discuss the merits of getting your Koch out.
45:30: A good-faith attempt to wish Brian luck in the Welsh Open degenerates into squabbling, almost instantly.

Check out this episode!

Unit/Model Review: Warlord Games Soviet Maxim MMG

We recently received a Warlord Games Maxim MMG as a gift from a well-meaning spouse devoid of any concern for or knowledge of optimized list building.  It’s available here.

[note: ignore the HMG designation.  This appears to be an error.  The only Soviet HMG is the DShK which currently lacks a Warlord Games model.  The Maxim above is a MMG]

We’ll be conducting a review of this unit and model.  It’s our fourth in the series where we attempt to provide an all-around assessment of a purchase both in terms of its gameplay characteristics as well as a model to be assembled and admired.  We evaluate:
1.  Functionality
2.  Kit characteristics
3.  Value (a judgement which considers the price in reference to the unit’s funtionality)

1.  Functionality
The maxim is a MMG.  As such it has a range of 36″ and a rate of fire of 4.  It is a team (3 crew), fixed weapon.  A maxim rated “regular” comes in at 50 points and a gun shield can be added for an additional 5 points.  As a MMG the maxim has no damage bonus.  It cannot damage or pin fully armored vehicles.  It will struggle to destroy soft-skins but is quite good at adding a pin to such vehicles.

2.  Kit characteristics
More fantastic sculps from Warlord Games.  Assembly is straightforward, although our crew did require a bit of tidying.  The mmg itself goes together without any trouble.  No base is supplied, but embrace the freedom this gives you as a hobbyist.  Build up a nice rubbled window-sill for your maxim; or perhaps you want to surround it with downed trees to use as cover!

3.  Value
Would you take a maxim over a medium mortar?  Would you take a maxim rather than a truck with MMG?  There is, in short, a lot of competition for the 55 points you’ll spend to field a maxim.  We do not classify the maxim as an optimized unit.  Normally we like to use a unit at least six times before we make even a tentative judgement.  However, in the case of the maxim MMG we must admit that we have never played a game with it.  On its face we never considered it a good use of points (knowing the truth of something without having to experience it is called a priori knowledge).  As such, we’ll conclude with a few thoughts regarding how we intend to use it in the next few weeks:

1.  When you need a pin.  Leroy Hoard, a running back for the Cleveland Browns once said, “Coach, if you need one yard, I’ll get you three yards.  If you need five yards, I’ll get you three yards.”  And so it is with the humble but reliable maxim.  It has a long range and four shots. Even shooting at distant concealed targets it has a good chance of landing a hit.  It might not kill much, but it can be relied upon to put a pin on a unit.  Later in the game when units are attrited that extra pin from a maxim could make a big difference.  Sure it’s not going to red mist infantry squads like a medium mortar, but it will perform more consistently if less spectacularly.

2.  Ambush.  Four shots with a 36″ range can make an effective ambushing unit, particularly against outflanking team weapons.  For example, our own nosediver loves to outflank a flame-thrower team in universal carrier.  The carrier drives on 9″ with an advance; then the flame-thrower team debuses with an advance order, moves 6″ and roasts a squad.  A maxim set to ambush would stand a decent chance of killing one model, maybe both, in that unit (remember, moral test if you pop one member of two-strong infantry unit).  In addition, if it is able to take advantage of hidden deployment the maxim has a good chance of living until turn 3 or 4.

3.  Harass recon units.  Many recon vehicles are open-topped and thus vulnerable to being pinned by the maxim.  If targeted by a maxim the player controlling the recon unit will have to decide if they really want to burn their one recon move to dodge a MMG.  This frees up your AT assets to go after other units.  The 36″ range means the maxim will always have good table coverage too.  Now unfortunately this strategy demands that the maxim receive an early order dice.  Tactically this may not always be a good idea.

Conclusion
This is a great model and as a unit we’re going to give it a few games.  We would certainly recommend it as a necessary addition for any collector. It’s only €9 and looks damn good.  Here’s our maxim painted up and eager to prove its value:

Unit/Model Review: Warlord Games ZiS-3 divisional gun

The unit/model under review today is the Warlord Games ZiS 3 divisional gun.  It is available here.

The Soviet Union produced over 60,000 of these guns.  They played a decisive role at the Battle of Kursk where they formed the backbone of anti-tank strong points.   Versatile, rugged, and beloved by its crew, from 1942 until the end of the war the ZiS-3 was a key ingredient for the success of the Red Army.

We can assert apodictically: this unit belongs in any Soviet list.  Nevertheless, propriety demands that we conduct a formal review.  This is our third Warlord Games model review.  We previously reviewed the Warlord Games SU-76M and their 2 1/2 ton truck.  As before, our goal is to present the reader with a guide to assess a model in terms of gameplay, hobby elements, and value:

1.  Functionality
2.  Kit characteristics
3.  Value (a judgement which considers the price in reference to the unit’s functionality).

1.  Functionality
In Bolt Action the ZiS-3 is a medium anti-tank gun and light howitzer.  It has a gun shield and follows the rules for fixed, team weapons (4 crew).  A ZiS-3 with a regular rating costs 80 points.  The gun is a good source of HE (d6) firing either directly or indirectly.  It can fire smoke, and its medium AT gun has a range of 60″.  It is not immobile and this affords it protection from repeat indirect fire as well as giving it the chance to deploy on to the table from reserve.  The gun takes an artillery slot and is a nice compliment to another AT asset.  Bolt Action tracked vehicle rules allow for only one 90-degree turn with an advance order.  In addition, the front armor arc is significantly narrower than in Flames of War.  Thus, with two anti-tank assets carefully deployed you can make it difficult for an opponent to keep his front arc facing all the AT threats.

2.  Kit characteristics
This is a metal kit.   For an experienced hobbyist assembly is straightforward but not easy.  It contains a number of thin and spindly pieces: the gun barrel, two towing trails, and gun shield.   Beginners will have to be careful straightening any pieces that may be bent.  The pieces may also need to be cleaned up with a hobby file.  There are three metal crew figures.  These are outstanding sculpts.  Interestingly, Warlord Games crew models appear to be unique for different guns (or at least the four–ZiS-3, 81mm mortar, 45mm anti-tank gun, and maxim MMG–that we possess).  This is a real mark of class.  Our only complaint is the lack of a supplied base.

3.  Value
This model costs £16/€20/$26.50.  A relatively pricey blister, the sting is lessened by quality of the crew models and the utility of the unit; the ZiS-3 is an “auto-include” for the Soviet player.  For a mere 30 points more than a medium mortar you get a unit that can fire indirectly or directly using either AP or HE, possesses a gunshield, and cannot be one-shotted by a sniper. Soulless monsters can use the Seelow Heights theatre selector to construct a list with four of these potent guns with plenty of points left over (the War Altar fully endorses the use of generic, single platoon forces for tournament games).  A ZiS-3 combined with a SU-76 provides two sources of direct-fire d6 HE as well as two medium anti-tank guns for a mere 210 points.  Add a medium mortar and you have three units that can fire d6 HE–that’s going to red mist a few infantry squads!  Below is our assembled and painted ZiS-3.  Next week we’ll review the Soviet maxim MMG.

Unit/Model review: Warlord Games SU-76

Today we are reviewing the Warlord Games SU-76.  It can be found here.  The SU-76 was the second-most numerous AFV produced by the USSR.  It was easy to produce, light and fast, and possessed a versatile gun.

We’ll be conducting a holistic assessment just as we did with our review of the Warlord Games 2 1/2 ton truck.  We’ll thus consider
1.  Functionality
2.  Kit characteristics
3.  Value (a judgement which considers the price in reference to the unit’s functionality).

1.  Functionality
In Bolt Action the SU-76 is has a damage value of 8+ (light tank).  It is open-topped and comes equipped with a forward-facing light howitzer (that’s d6 HE).  A five point upgrade removes open-topped and another ten points allows it to fire both AP and HE rounds.  An enclosed, dual ammo SU-76 with a rating of “regular” costs 130 points.  With the ammo upgrade this tank can thus fire d6 HE either indirectly or directly, or shoot as a medium AT gun, and even fire smoke.  We are impressed with the versatility of the main armament, which is good because it does not come with any machine guns.

In game terms, we also find that it is better to go big or small with points spent on tanks.  For 130 points this SU-76 has a good chance to penetrate medium tanks that cost 235 points, and it’s d6 HE will decimate veteran squads.  At 130 points, it doesn’t hurt quite as bad when an American air observer calls in a Thunderbolt to obliterate it.  The light armor and lack of machine guns means that you’ll have to play this tank defensively.

Finally, at just 130 points for a medium AT gun this vehicle can potentially be “spammed” in the new Tank War games.

2.  Kit characteristics.
This a fine kit.  It come as a resin chassis with metal components: gun, tracks, and crew.  The quality of casting and the level of detail is impressive, as we’ve come to expect from Warlord games.  After a wash with a mild detergent the kit was assembled easily.

3.  Value

This model costs £22/€28/$37.  Although we find this to be on the pricey side, we also think this unit has great potential on the table top.  In an effort to more rigorously quantify the utility of the model in terms of its points value and actual price we appealed to our very own Maynard to devise a formula.  We’re happy to say that he has provided us with a straight forward formula to discover theta, θ, of any given unit.  The formula uses a sum totaling model over all n, where n is each count listed.

Unit Weight, x

Reiteration Congruence, µ
Unit Cost Production, a
Unit Impact, ζ
Painting and assembly Weight, ψ
Using the above you can see that the SU-76 greatly outclasses the T-34/85 especially if used in a army list of 12 or more dice.  Below is a photograph of our assembled and painted SU-76.  It may soon be going into battle at the Welsh Open.

Warheads Episode 009

Beloved listener(s), welcome to Episode 9. We had a plan, we wandered off-message but as you only half-listen while painting anyway, you’ll never notice.

Contents
00:01:12: We announce the winner of the competition. But only after debating the terms of the competition and considering whether we should just keep the prizes.
00:08:22: Our brief look at the ETC runs a little long and wildly off-topic but what harm? Nerd Olympics ahoy!
00:32:36: Our after-action reports deal with our recent painting and the joys of decals.
00:46:35: A chat about upcoming projects morphs into a chat about that awesome FoW Cold War fan-mod: Stopping the Red Tide.
00:50:45: Childhood traumas are laid bare as we discuss the joys of NetEpic.
00:56:57: We discuss our generic gaming since the last podcast and indulge in a brief hate.
01:10:11: The joys of three hour round tournaments are exholled in reference to Nordicon.

Check out this episode!

Bolt Action Review: Warlord Games ‘Deuce’ 2-and-a-half ton truck with .50 cal MG

The model under review today is the Warlord Games ‘Deuce’ 2-and-a-half ton truck with .50 cal MG (http://store.warlordgames.com/collections/us-army/products/deuce-2-and-a-half-ton-truck-with-50cal-mg).

The U.S. produced over half a million trucks during the war.  They shipped thousands upon thousands of these to their allies as part of the lend-lease program.  Indeed, two-thirds of all trucks used by the Soviets were of American origin.

We’ll be assessing the model using the following categories:
1.  Functionality
2.  Kit characteristics
3.  Value (a judgement which considers the price in reference to the unit’s functionality)

1.  Functionality
This is soft-skin transport.  In Bolt Action as a regular U.S. truck with a HMG it will cost 76 points.  As a truck with MMG it’s 66 points.  I’m using it as a regular Soviet lend-lease truck with MMG for 54 points.  It is an important and useful addition to a Bolt Action force.  First, it contributes a relatively inexpensive order die.  Crucially, though, it delivers my unit of Assault Engineers with body armor and a flame thrower 12″ onto the table with an advance or 24″ with a run.  This works fantastically when deploying as part of the first wave in a mission using the last/first strategy.  Try to give the truck the last order die out of the bag so it can come on at a safe spot away from enemy big guns, then give the transported unit the first die out of the bag the next turn.  Finally, the pintle-mounted MMG provides either my medic or kommissar with a useful purpose (forgive me).

2.  Kit characteristics
Once assembled this is a solid chunk of resin.  The War Altar approves categorically of two things: resin vehicles and metal infantry.  The cab and chassis form the two main components of the kit.  You glue these together easily enough and then glue on the metal wheels.  The canvas cover is also resin.  The mudflaps, steering wheel, lamps, and other details are impressive.  The only fiddly bit is the frame for the pintle-mounted MMG.  It was easy enough, however, for even my caffeine-riddled hands to manage.  All told, the vehicle was assembled in under an hour.

3.  Value
The Deuce costs £20/€25/$34.  The War Altar is torn about spending money on transports.  In general, the editorial team resents paying for models that spend little time on the table-top.  Yet we also recognize that they are essential for some broken units (e.g., 12 M3A1 scout cars with .50 cals at €9 a pop to pull 12 ZiS-3 guns in Flames of War).  The truck which provides essential transport for slow units and allows a medic to blast away with a MMG is an “optimized” unit in terms of list building.

Conclusion
  This is a great model.  It was a pleasure to assemble and paint.  There are other units you may wish to consider before spending the money on a transport.  For example, I’d recommend purchasing a Warlord Games ZiS-3 (review forthcoming!) before getting a truck.  Nevertheless, we recommend this vehicle as an addition to a collection that is already well-rounded and intended for use in a competitive setting.

Here’s the truck completed and ready for action:

Warheads Episode 8

Episode 8 is upon us. We wander all over the hobby discussing our own plans, dreams and hopes and how best to crush the plans, dreams and hopes of others. There was a plan, we did wander on topic at times, great success.

Contents

00:00 We inaugurate the “No Brian” intro to much rejoicing.
01:10 In the first section of our AAR, we discuss our Early War games and the hard-won knowledge gained in our first bumbling steps into the era.
10:45 Tying into the previous section, we run through new Early War army plans and argue plastic vs metal.
18:40 A celebration of Hail Caesar rapidly derails into a chat about historical gaming.
21:33 We run through our experiences in the Warheads Summer League, warmly congratulate the winner and discuss some pitfalls we encountered.
41:06 Floody gives a review of the Remagen book that is, in no way, totally biased.
58:03 We remind ourselves of the imminent Nordicon and briefly pine for Tankfest/The Hobby Shack.
59:51 The glorious day arrives, we have a Competition! You, yes, you, can win two boxes of PSC PzIIIs by doing the thing we mention in the podcast!

We’d like to thank Plastic Soldier Company for donating the prizes for the competition and for the ease of our listeners, here’s a link to the thread: http://warheads.ie/index.php?topic=633.0

Check out this episode!

Hail Caesar: First Battle of Holchester

The Romans had long assumed that their holdings in Britain were safe but a great barbarian conspiracy has proven otherwise. Near-simultaneous invasions from north, west and east have broken the back of the Roman defenses as Saxon, Pict and Irish raids devastate the colony. Worst again, many “loyal” tribes have seized at renewed hope and risen against our rule. Roman Britain is utterly shattered by a year of conflict. Those surviving Romans and loyal Britons are trapped in fortified settlements awaiting assistance from the mainland. Outside those enclaves, the land teems with invaders, raiders, bandits and deserters.

The great manor at Holchester avoided the initial wave of attacks and its local militia, leavened by the survivors of several legions, have created a safe haven. Unfortunately, the peace has proven fragile as a large Irish raiding force has been sighted in the area. The magistrate has requested the assistance of the field army and they have dispatched what forces they can spare.

(I’d open with an apology for the quality of the pictures but as the game wasn’t intended to be a battle report, my remorse is limited.)

Records indicate that the armies clashed at dawn, near an unnamed and unlamented village of hovels. The scribes do indicate that the Church of Saint Elesbrius the Inconsiderate was nearby but burned in the conflict. The small northern wood acted to split the battleground into two portions.

On the right flank, near the village, Holchester’s militia units and heavy infantry march against an outnumbered sub-clan. The veterans march to the fore as the less-trained men follow close behind. Their Irish enemies are a mix of regular warriors and a core of nobles.

In the centre, the field army’s heavy cavalry and scratch cavalry formations aim at the heart of the Cuachraige force and their general. This is the primary enemy clan and a heavy blow here could eliminate most of the ruling order and spark infighting amongst the raiders.

On the isolated left, Saxon mercenaries of the Hendrica tribe and their bow-armed “minders” prepare to sweep west of the forest. The second Irish sub-clan lurks ahead on the hillside.

The opening blow falls on the centre as Roman horse crash into into the middle of the Culraige. The heavy cavalry roll over the first line of Irish infantry with relative ease. However, the nobles waiting in the second line coolly close into melee as their kinmen rout past them.

Below the church, the Saxons begin to test themselves against an entirely new foe, the Irish.

The right sees only brief skirmishes as both sides slowly advance. A plucky units of skirmishers manage to rout and disorder two units of militia before drifting behind the lines. Both sides haltingly move against each other but the forces have barely clashed before the Roman commander orders a fighting withdrawal.

The cause of his concern becomes clear as despairing horns sound in the centre. The cavalry have bogged down in a mass of infantry and are being slaughtered in a swirling combat. The few, ragged, survivors ride free and start to make for Holchester as quickly as their blown horses will allow.

The left has degenerated into an utter bloodbath. Both sides, driven by thoughts of honour, pride and presenting a brave face to new foes, slaughter each other in waves. Commander after commander lead their men on fatal assaults and fall. Their subordinates step forward only to die in turn. By the end only the Irish remain standing. They are exhausted and every man of note is dead or wounded.

The Irish take the victory. They have been bloodied but their men are undefeated. Even if exhaustion slows their advance, they can be expected to renew the attack. On the other hand, the Roman forces are badly reduced. The militia have managed to extract themselves, some of the regular cavalry have survived but the Saxon mercenaries have been entirely eliminated. They won’t need paying but they will be missed.

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