Monthly Archives: November 2014

A Battle in Darkland

The armies that we used for this Medieval battle are those belonging to Jay Stribling – your esteemed correspondent. They are divided into an army for each of two fictional kingdoms, Circumference (the rounds) and Parallelogram (the Squares). The figures are individually mounted, a holdover from the days when we (Jay Stribling, Erice Teuber and Robert Whitfield) first began to raise these forces. That was back in 1985 or so.

Additionally Jim Pitts has some medieval/fantasy forces that “slot into” the larger armies of Square and Round. Jim’s forces form the basis for a third Kingdom that can ally itself to either side.

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For this battle – games on November 15, 2014, our scenario was as follows: The Dark Family has refused to let tax collectors from Circumference into their land. They reside in a fortified tower (seen above) in Darkland on the border of Parallelogram. The King of Circumference has sent forces to besiege the Dark Tower. The King of Parallelogram, while having no love for the Dark Family will do anything to irritate Circumference. So, the forces of round and square meet at the Dark family’s home, the Dark Tower.

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At the set up, the ruined abbey, part of the defenses of the Dark tower, were occupied by the two units of Dwarf-knights. This view from the west was taken by Jim Pitts.

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The above photo shows knights of the Parallelogram army riding to meet the forces of Circumference on the east side of the Dark Tower, seen in the background. All photos not specifically credited to Jim Pitts are by Jay Stribling.

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These are the reserve knights of Parallelogram, moving west and about to cross the stream at the marked ford where it could be crossed without penalty. The stream was fordable with a movement penalty anywhere else. The river, seen in the background, could not be crossed except at three marked fords, with a movement penalty even at the fords.

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This is the advance guard of the army of Circumference. These Knights and Mounted Yeomen have begun the battle on the southern side of the river and formed the right flank (west flank) of the Round army.

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The Reserve of Circumference rides out of their camp to cross the river and reinforce the advance guard, on the western flank. The figures are by Essex except for their leader (in Gilt armour) who is a very old Minifig.

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Two units of peasants occupy a cornfield guarding the river crossing to the east of the tower. These sturdy lads (and some old geezers too!) are part of the army of Circumference, which elected to try to defeat the oncoming Parallelogram army on the southern side of the river – the Dark tower was under siege by Parallelogram just to the north of the river. In the rules that we use for our medieval battles – Rules by Ral circa 1985 – only peasants can occupy wooded or rough terrain such as the cornfield.

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A unit of foot knights of Parallelogram defend the eastern end of the works around the Dark Tower. These are not real castle walls and represent small defenses to keep wandering cattle penned up and hasty works erected by the Dark family when the King of Circumference’s ire at them became known.

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Another view of the defended perimeter of the Dark tower. The archers on the roof were given double range (it’s a pretty tall tower guys!) and would have been virtually immune to shooting from below. They would have been less well able to defend the tower if enemy melee troops had reached the entrance (on the side facing the river) but that never happened.

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This view, looking north shows the defenses of the Dark tower from the rear or river side. Note the Dark ogre occupying one of the ruined outbuildings. Placed there by Jim Pitts, without the sanction of the game-master (!) no one attempted to defend or attack that particular ruin. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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Knights and archers of Circumference move between the cornfield (on their right) and “Haunted Hill” on their left, about to melee with the leading knights of Parallelogram. One of the peasant units has already been forced from the cornfield because of bowfire casualties.

Units in the army of Circumference have round labels on their bases, with letter codes for knightly units and numbers for yeomen or peasant units. Units in the army of Parallelogram have (you guessed it!) square labels.

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On the extreme right flank of Circumference, to the east of “Haunted Hill” Knights from both sides meet at lance-point, while a round archery unit (old Ral Partha figures) fire at a barely visible square unit. “Haunted Hill” was the name that I gave to this hill, with the warning that “If you try to go onto haunted hill, a bad thing may happen”. In reality, I had no mechanism in place for “Bad things” in this game. My reputation as a game-master for allowing “Bad things” to happen in previous games was enough to keep both sides off the hill for most of the game.

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A view from the roof of the Dark tower, showing the attackers and defenders. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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The household troops of the Dark family (as opposed to the Parallelogram forces aiding their defense) were represented by two 12-figure units of Dwarves from the army of Jim Pitts. We classified them as foot knights (very tough) for this game and they performed well, till caught in the flank/rear by the mounted guard of Circumference.

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The mounted guard of Circumference have turned away from the river ford, and from their mission to aid the round advance guard forces on the southern side of the river, to help defeat the dwarf knights of Darkland who sortied out from the defenses to drive off an attacking round unit.

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One of the defending units has broken and is falling back from the wall. The head of the Dark Family – Baron Occluded
(the Dark Lord) is shown, mounted, to the right of the image.

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Lord Oval, commander of the main body of Circumference pushes more forces into the melee on the left, between the cornfield and “Haunted hill”. Note that all of the round peasant units have been forced from the cornfield. Without cover of some time, peasants are not too effective in our games.

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A slightly fuzzy image of the battle on the eastern end of the Dark tower’s defenses. The defending unit has been reduce to only seven men, while the attacking unit is almost fresh. All of our foot units start with 12 figures and take a substantial morale penalty when reduced to half strength. The mounted units have 9 figures at the start and must be reduced to only 4 survivors before they lose a morale step.

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The dwarf-knights who sortied from the ruined abbey (part of the defenses of the Dark tower) are fighting back to back against the mounted guard of Circumference (the knights to the rear of the image) and yeomen and foot knights to their front. The leader of the dwarf-knights (in red, with pointy hat) gestures imperiously, but the grim look on his face shows that he wishes they had never come over the wall.

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Sean Pitts (in center) and his father Jim Pitts (on right) commanded the main army of Parallelogram in this battle. They are shown adjusting forces and removing casualties from the struggle between the cornfield and “Haunted hill”. Jay Stribling commanded the detached forces of Parallelogram assisting in the defense of the Dark tower.

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Another view of the scrum between the cornfield and “Haunted hill”. Sean Pitts has moved archers onto “Haunted hill”. Every time one of his units fell back from the melee, the archers would fire, inflicting casualties on the forces of Circumference and then Sean would charge back into the melee with a fresh unit. These tactics, combined with the fact that a large amount of the round army was attempting to storm the Dark tower, led to the army of Circumference conceding the day and raising the siege.

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A view from the southern table edge as Sean Pitt’s Parallelogram forces win the battle between the cornfield and “Haunted hill”. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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Jim Pitts (on left) points out another casualty while Ed Sansing (center) reaches to remove it. Russ Schnieder (on right) watches intently to make certain that Jim is not inflating the casualty count. Ed and Russ commanded the forces of Circumference in this battle.

Note the figures on the right, beyond the tented camp. This is the graveyard. One advantage of individually mounted troops is that no casualty rings are necessary, one just removes the little men. As Russ might be saying “They’re dead Jim!”

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A rare view from the West, looking toward the Dark Tower. Jim Pitt’s forces, in the foreground, are moving to the left, against the round troops under Ed Sansing. Photo by Jim Pitts.

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A similar view a bit later in the game. Jim’s forces are driving Ed back. This photo is also by Jim Pitts.

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Lord Quadro, leader of the Parallelogram Advance guard fights with his men on the extreme right flank of the square forces. He is pushing them back towards the eastern battlefield edge, watched by the Circumference commander, Russ Schneider (in checked shirt). This is late in the game, when Sean Pitts commanding the Circumference forces in this area had won superiority over Parallelogram. Photo by Jim Pitts.

We played about (I can not remember) four turns in this game from 10:00am to about 12:45pm. At that point, the King of Circumference had enough. He whined a bit about not having enough superiority of forces to carry the tower. The game-master (who had, it must be admitted, fought on the Parallelogram side) whined back that there was no need to even assault the tower, that the victory conditions were to kill the enemy, and that the possession of the tower only counted as two dead enemy unit…

After lunch, supplied by Ed Sansing, we played a very fun board game of Risk – Godstorm using our own BHOF variant. A good time was had by all, especially this writer who won that game by strategy and hot dice!