Welsh versus Picts – An Arthurian HOTT Battle Report

I recently transferred my Dark Age figures for Hordes of the Things (HOTT) to Big Bases. Magicians, beasts, clerics, hordes, that kind of thing, making Big Base HOTT. This included my Strathclyde Welsh (Northern Cymry) for Britannia 600 AD.

To celebrate the big basing, Chris Harrod and I had a game of Arthurian HOTT. Chris brought along his Picts and we used sabots to give him big bases.


King Arthur and a Welsh army

For a start my “Strathclyde Welsh” are actually Romano-Spanish. And “Arthur” is actually Santiago Matamoros (St James the Moor Slayer). But, for the purposes of this game, lets pretend it is Arthur leading his Welsh subjects.

Yes, I’m one of those who believes Arthur was Welsh. Welsh in the sense that the majority of people in the UK before the Anglo-Saxons arrived were Welsh (of course, the Irish and Picts were around too). Britons by another name. But Arthur probably lived in Wales. In fact, he was likely the hereditary King of the Silures in South Wales. An argument presented quite thoroughly by Chris Barber in his book “King Arthur”:

Barber, C. (2016). King Arthur: The mystery unravelled. Pen & Sword History.

The book is available from Amazon USA, UK, and Canada:


Initial Moves

Arthur was on the right of the Welsh with some nobles. Arthur was, of course, my Hero General. The nobles were Knights. Round table and all that.

01 King Arthur advances on right

01 King Arthur advances on right

Part of the Welsh shieldwall was next to Arthur. You can see the rest of the shieldwall to the rear. Yes, I took a calculated risk and split up my battle line. Not super sensible in DBA/HOTT but can get results.

09 Welsh Shieldwall

09 Welsh Shieldwall

Priests joined the fray to exert some spiritual support, in the front line, extending the shieldwall.

10 Welsh Clerics

10 Welsh Clerics

In the centre I had spearmen and war dogs, positioned some distance from Arthur and his force. The war dogs are Beasts under HOTT. I’d taken them because the defender is obliged to place difficult near the centre of the table (Chris chose two steep rocky hills) and Beasts are difficult-terrain-friendly.

03 Welsh Spear and War dogs in centre

03 Welsh Spear and War dogs in centre

I had a kind of symmetrical line up because on my right I had the Welsh Campion (a Hero) and more nobles, matching the Hero (Arthur) and nobles on the other flank. Again these were some distance from the nearest support guys.

04 More Welsh Nobles and the Champion on the left

04 More Welsh Nobles and the Champion on the left

In HOTT Chris likes a combination of Hordes and Shooters. He couldn’t get his preferred balance between he was using big bases, but none-the-less, he got sufficient bases for his Pictish horde to stretch for miles. Almost table edge to table edge.

02 PIctish horde stretches for miles

02 Pictish horde stretches for miles

In the centre Chris had a Hero and Cleric. I quite like the Dark Age thing where both sides have priests claiming that god is on their side.

05 Picts roll forward

05 Picts roll forward

Of course, we’re talking Picts here. Clearly they are only barely Christian since they choose to fight naked.

Picts display their naked enthusiasm

06 Picts display their naked enthusiasm

For some reason the Pict Crossbowmen are more modest.

07 Pictish Crossbows

07 Pictish Crossbows

As are the noble cavalry (Riders)

08 PIctish Riders

08 Pictish Riders


The Game

What could I do, I attacked.

11 King Arthur advances on right

11 King Arthur advances on right

12 Welsh Spear and War dogs in centre

12 Welsh Spear and War dogs in centre

13 More Welsh Nobles and the Champion on the left

13 More Welsh Nobles and the Champion on the left

Chris chose to wheel in his line from the centre to the flank on my left. One big door with a hinge. That was good for me as it opened up his flank. So I decided to pin Chris on my right and in the centre, and attack properly on the left.

14 Welsh Champion charges the hordes

14 Welsh Champion charges the hordes

It should have been easy. Hero versus Horde. And then later Knight versus Horde. But clearly these northerners had not read the manual on correct Horde-like behaviour in the face of rampaging nobles and heroes.

15 Picts recoil

15 Picts recoil

18 Welsh Nobles join the Champion

18 Welsh Nobles join the Champion

Chris held his left flank back so I advanced mine in echelon. As I said above, the goal was to pin him.

19 Welsh right in echelon

19 Welsh right in echelon

Then I pulled back. A bit of a dance in front of his battle line.

20 Welsh pull back the right

20 Welsh pull back the right

On my left the all too even fight was continuing. These hordes just would not die!

21 Meanwhile Champion continues fight on left

21 Meanwhile Champion continues fight on left

To add insult to injury they took our half my noble cavalry. How embarrassing.

22 PIctish hordes kills the Nobles

22 Pictish hordes kills the Nobles

This enabled Chris to turn on my Champion and get him in front and flank. But the Champion fought like a thousand men and drove the Picts back.

23 Welsh champion surrounded

23 Welsh champion surrounded

Clearly fighting alone works for my Champion so, after escaping from being surrounded, he calmly cut down the horde in front of him.

24 Champion finally breaks his horde

24 Champion finally breaks his horde

My distributed deployed now looked very, very thin on the left and centre. Only one stand in each area.

26 Welsh are very thin on the left and centre

26 Welsh are very thin on the left and centre

In the centre I had one stand against Chris’s three. I had the war dogs (Beast). Chris had a Cleric, Spear, and Horde stand on the steep rocky hill. All at -2. My war dogs were on the flat, but was unfazed by difficult terrain anyway. So, even with overlaps, it was only a factor of 2-1 in Chris’s favour. I might survive.

25 Welsh mastiffs engage Picts on hills

25 Welsh mastiffs engage Picts on hills

My Champion, of course, had a good chance against a lone horde, and despatched it pretty rapidly.

27 Another kill for the Welsh Champion

27 Another kill for the Welsh Champion

And then the Welsh Champion came to the rescue of the war dogs. That peeled away the Pictish horde in the centre and left the war dogs facing only two stands. The factors were now 2-2.

29 Champion charges the flank

29 Champion charges the flank

To the immediate right of the steep hills, one of my Spears had been fighting it out with the Pictish Hero. The matter got decided when the Welsh Cleric got on his flank.

30 Welsh Nobles and Cleric get the Pictish Champion

30 Welsh Nobles and Cleric get the Pictish Champion

The confused fight in the hills continued.

31 Battle over the central hills

31 Battle over the central hills

Having the Pict Cleric partially in difficult terrain allowed me to spring my ambush (deploy my Lurker).

32 Welsh launch lurking ambush

32 Welsh launch lurking ambush

The Welsh Champion then took another Pictish horde. It took him a while to warm up but when he got going the got quite a score.

33 Champion takes another horde

33 Champion takes another horde

Chris countered my Lurkers with his own. But the dice were on my side.

34 Welsh lurkers kill Pictish lurkers

34 Welsh lurkers kill Pictish lurkers

While the battle was being decided in the hills the opposing armies on my right flank just stared at each other.

35 Meanwhile the main battle lines just stare

35 Meanwhile the main battle lines just stare

The combined war dogs and Lurkers kill the Pictish Cleric.

36 Mastiffs kill the Pictish priests

36 Mastiffs kill the Pictish priests

Embarrassingly, my Hero got pushed off the hill. I guess he doesn’t like -2 to his factors either.

37 Picts push the Champion off the hill

37 Picts push the Champion off the hill

The reason Chris likes hordes is that they are inexhaustible. And he is quite disciplined about bringing them back on table. So, to my distress, three hordes appeared back on table.

38 Picts bring on more hordes

38 Picts bring on more hordes

I chose this moment to go for broke. Attack before Chris got his reinforcements back into the battle.

39 Welsh line advances

39 Welsh line advances

40 Welsh charge

40 Welsh charge

I did well in the first contact. Four recoils and a kill.

41 Picts fall back

41 Picts fall back

Chris closed the gap with spearmen but I just opened another hole. Where the hordes had been.

42 Welsh clerics kill more hordes

42 Welsh clerics kill more hordes

And that was enough to give me the game.

43 End game

43 End game

Summary

An enjoyable game. Nice to have the Dark Age boys on table again, including Chris’s Picts. I’ll have to encourage Chris to rebase onto Big Bases.

I still like HOTT for historical battles.

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References

Barber, C. (2016). King Arthur: The mystery unravelled. Pen & Sword History.

2 comments to Welsh versus Picts – An Arthurian HOTT Battle Report

  • Dick Bryant

    Wheu!! For a minute there I thought that you went to the Dark Side (Fantasy/Sci Fi)!
    A good thing about the Picts fighting naked (didn’t they have a lot of blue tatoos?) is that you know who there best man is. ;>O

    • Steven Thomas

      Yeah, I admit, despite being a HOTT game, there wasn’t very much fantastical about the armies. Heroes and clerics were the sum total difference from the DBA equivalent armies. But I like that difference.

      re tattoos, yeah, Chris originally painted the Picts in a hurry. He never got to the woad. But, in time, I expect we’ll see naked blue men, as it is only right and proper for the northern lads.

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