The men of Ulster stood facing the Romanised British host. They knew the British king was young and inexperienced, and that their own swords were tried, tested, and thirsty for more blood. The coming battle was not going to last long. Behind the British lines, smoke tricked into the sky in thin wisps from the British village. The Irishmen could practically taste their new slaves.
Another game of Dux Bellorum, as always, too long since the last. This time my Irish faced off against a new foe, the Romano-British forces of Andrew. He'd not played before, so it was a learning game. He was aided in inexperience by Lee, also having never played before. The Irish were the aggressors, the Romano-Brits were the repellers.
From stage left, at the top, bowmen and three ordinary shieldwalls, the Romano-British king with his mounted companions, and three noble riders. From stage left at the bottom, two noble Irish warrioris, the Irish king and his warrior companions, two further noble warriors, a herd of sheep, a pack of war dogs, skirmishers with javelins, and a reserve of noble-but-treated-as-ordinary Irish riders.
With neither army appearing to have anything in the way of a plan, both hosts advance in line.
Just when all looked very linear, young Pádraig the shepherd drove his herd out in front of the Irish lines - running almost as if he withed to get away and seek shelter in the opposing lines. Behind him, the pack of Irish wolfhounds left the woods to fill the gap between the warriors and the woods. The javelin-armed skirmishers took up a position on the edge of the woods, trowing taunts at the opposing British horsemen.
Pádraig the shepherd runs at full speed into the British noble riders, waving his arms and shouting something in their incomprehensible Cymric. Fortunately, he scared off his sheep in the process and as they tumbled into the horsemen, successfully reduced their cohesion.
The line of Irish warriors gave a shout at the affects of their stampeding sheep and launched themselves forwards against the British foot and the king's mounted companions.
On the far side of the battle field, the furthest two bands of British noble riders, tired of the taunting Irish skirmishers charged straight into the woods. The Ulstermen scattered before them and started back towards the coast.
The Irish warriors were getting the better of the melee on the left. The British bowmen broke with little fuss, but the mounted companions were putting up more resistance. The Irish war-dogs also loped forward, into the noble riders who still milled about, stumbling on sheep carcasses. The coup de grâce was going to be the Irish riders charging at full speed into the British horsemen still stuck mostly in the woods. Unfortunately, the order the charge seemed to come as something of a shock and they failed their bravery test...
As the Irish riders geared themselves up to charge the British nobles, some of their opposites charged home against the wolf hounds. The Irish horsemen did finally manage to find some welly and charge in. What followed was every bit the victorious, thunderous, clash or arms that was expected. The British nobles turned and fled, but the hounds also lay dead or dying in the field.
Over in the infantry melee, the savagery and numbers of the Irish noble warriors continued to tell as British spearmen fell in numbers enough the glut the proverbial ravens. It was not wholly one sided, though, as the British companions managed to break one Irish warband before they themselves were overwhelmed.
And at that point, both armies simultaneously reached breaking point. The opposing forces drew back to count the living and compose songs about the dead.
Dux Bellorum is always a fun game. This one was technically a brutal and bloody draw but, as the aggressors, I suppose it is fair to say the Ulstermen lost. The British village remained in British hands, and no new slaves were to be had that day. The Irishmen did, however, recover the young shepherd boy, Pádraig, from beneath a particularly fat piece of mutton that had been felled in the British charge. At least he could be put back to work on his mountain when the lads finally got home.