Welsh versus Saxons – An Arthurian HOTT Battle Report

Jamie fancied a bit of Dark Age gaming. So I dragged out my Welsh (Cymry) for Britannia 600 AD and more Fall of Rome figures to make a Saxon army for Jamie.

Hordes of the Things (HOTT) is fast becoming my go to rules for the Dark Ages so this was going to be a bit of Big Base HOTT. Or, more precisely, Arthurian HOTT.

Summary: Grindy dark age affair with lots of flavour. Bad going made the battle bitsy. Arthur took the day.


Table and Deployment

The table was fairly typical for HOTT. Bad going in the middle; in this case a couple of woods. For a bit of variation we had a rocky hill in one corner.

Arthurian HOTT 620 Deployment

Arthurian HOTT 620 Deployment

I was the defender and split my forces. Shieldwall (Spear and Cleric) on my left and mounted (Hero General “Arthur”, Knights, Riders) beyond a wood on the right.

Arthurian HOTT 623 Welsh Deployment

Arthurian HOTT 623 Welsh Deployment

Jamie kind of matched my deployment. Nobles (Knights) facing my mounted, shieldwall (Hero General, Spears, Hordes) in the centre

Arthurian HOTT 624 Saxon Deployment

Arthurian HOTT 624 Saxon Deployment


The battle

I wasn’t sure I wanted to attack with my mounted, or at least wasn’t sure I wanted to attack immediately, so shuffled them around a bit.

Arthurian HOTT 626 Welsh mounted reconsider options

Arthurian HOTT 626 Welsh mounted reconsider options

Jamie was more certain of his intentions and advanced all along his front.

Arthurian HOTT 627 Saxon wall advances

Arthurian HOTT 627 Saxon wall advances

Our shieldwalls were fairly evenly matched but Jamies had Hordes on his flank. This looked a potential weakness, but one I never managed to exploit.

Arthurian HOTT 628 Saxon hordes at end of the line

Arthurian HOTT 628 Saxon hordes at end of the line

With the Saxons advancing I decided to attack with my mounted. But it took a bit of rearranging to get into attack formation.

Arthurian HOTT 629 Welsh mounted mill about some more

Arthurian HOTT 629 Welsh mounted mill about some more

My determination to attack was because, unless he stopped, Jamie was going to have to break up his army to deal with the woods in the centre. And sure enough he started to split up his forces.

Arthurian HOTT 630 Terrain breaks up Saxon wall

Arthurian HOTT 630 Terrain breaks up Saxon wall

Seeing that I decided to advance with my all my forces.

Arthurian HOTT 631 Finally Welsh advance

Arthurian HOTT 631 Finally Welsh advance

Arthurian HOTT 632 Welsh shield wall

Arthurian HOTT 632 Welsh shield wall

It was long odds but I thought I’d deploy my ambush part (Lurkers) and have a go at the Saxon heavy infantry trudging through the woods in the centre. Didn’t go so well for the Welsh and the Lurkers fled off table never to return.

Arthurian HOTT 633 Welsh Lurkers challenge Saxon spear

Arthurian HOTT 633 Welsh Lurkers challenge Saxon spear

Meanwhile my army kept advancing.

Arthurian HOTT 635 Welsh advance some more

Arthurian HOTT 635 Welsh advance some more

Heroes are quite quick in HOTT and I used that to seize territory. I wanted to attacking between the wood and the rocky hill on the right. So I rushed Arthur forward to give me space to deploy.

Arthurian HOTT 636 Arthur is way out in front of the boys

Arthurian HOTT 636 Arthur is way out in front of the boys

Arthurian HOTT 637 Arthur challenges Saxon nobles

Arthurian HOTT 637 Arthur challenges Saxon nobles

However, today was not the day for a lone heroic charge and I brought my other mounted up to support Arthur.

Arthurian HOTT 639 Welsh mounted catch up to Arthur

Arthurian HOTT 639 Welsh mounted catch up to Arthur

Clearly intimidated the Saxon nobles pulled back.

Arthurian HOTT 640 Saxon nobles withdraw

Arthurian HOTT 640 Saxon nobles withdraw

By this stage we had a good idea what the rest of the battle would be like … bitsy.

Arthurian HOTT 641 Bad going leads to bitsy battle

Arthurian HOTT 641 Bad going leads to bitsy battle

Reinforced by the other Welsh mounted, Arthur charged. I put my riders onto the rocky hill to provide and overlap.

Arthurian HOTT 642 Arthur charges

Arthurian HOTT 642 Arthur charges

Arthurian HOTT 643 Bitsy battle continues

Arthurian HOTT 643 Bitsy battle continues

In the centre the Saxon foot were slowing making their way through the wood. It looked like they’d get out before I won on the flank (if I won).

Arthurian HOTT 644 Hmm those Saxons might actually get out of the woods

Arthurian HOTT 644 Hmm those Saxons might actually get out of the woods

On the right a big cavalry battle emerged.

Arthurian HOTT 645 Cavalry fight

Arthurian HOTT 645 Cavalry fight

In the centre I didn’t want my shieldwall to fight in the woods. So I advanced to the edge of the woods and waited for the Saxons to come out. They’d be at -2 to close combat factors and would take PIPs to move enough element. Odds I liked.

Arthurian HOTT 646 Welsh shieldwall mans edge of wood

Arthurian HOTT 646 Welsh shieldwall mans edge of wood

Slowly slowly the battle lines emerged.

Arthurian HOTT 647 Battle lines emerging

Arthurian HOTT 647 Battle lines emerging

With the Welsh at the edge of the woods Jamie had to form up inside the woods. But it would be a challenge to get his shieldwall into contact as a unit. A challenge that was beyond the command skills of the Saxons.

Arthurian HOTT 648 Saxons form inside wood

Arthurian HOTT 648 Saxons form inside wood

On the right the cavalry fight continued to swirl around.

Arthurian HOTT 649 Cavalry fight continues

Arthurian HOTT 649 Cavalry fight continues

Arthurian HOTT 650 Oops that did not go so well

Arthurian HOTT 650 Oops that did not go so well

A Saxon column was advancing between the woods so I pulled some spearmen back to defend that internal flank.

Arthurian HOTT 651 Welsh shieldwall gets nervous

Arthurian HOTT 651 Welsh shieldwall gets nervous

The cavalry fight raged on with charges in both directions.

Arthurian HOTT 652 Saxon Noble counter charge

Arthurian HOTT 652 Saxon Noble counter charge

But finally I broke the deadlock and Jamie lost two Knight elements.

Arthurian HOTT 653 Oops also did not go so well

Arthurian HOTT 653 Oops also did not go so well

So I got the mounted back together as a unit in preparation for finishing off the Saxon Nobles.

Arthurian HOTT 654 Welsh cavalry reform

Arthurian HOTT 654 Welsh cavalry reform

The Saxon infantry were trying to get out of the woods. Initially they were attempting this in an haphazard manner. More like a skirmish than a proper battle.

Arthurian HOTT 655 Skirmish in the woods

Arthurian HOTT 655 Skirmish in the woods

The Welsh mounted charged in again and Arthur got on the flank of the Saxon Nobles.

Arthurian HOTT 656 Arthur flanks the Saxon Nobles

Arthurian HOTT 656 Arthur flanks the Saxon Nobles

This was one of the most messy battles I’ve fought.

Arthurian HOTT 657 Battle surges across the field

Arthurian HOTT 657 Battle surges across the field

Finally Jamie got most of his infantry facing mine and out of the woods. Still not a formal battle line but getting there. Shieldwall-ish rather than shieldwall.

Arthurian HOTT 659 Clash of the shieldwalls

Arthurian HOTT 659 Clash of the shieldwalls

Arthurian HOTT 661 Shieldwalls not being very shieldwall-ish

Arthurian HOTT 661 Shieldwalls not being very shieldwall-ish

The Saxon Nobles were down to one stand and thoroughly outnumbered. How long could they last?

Arthurian HOTT 662 Welsh mounted outnumber surviving Saxons

Arthurian HOTT 662 Welsh mounted outnumber surviving Saxons

Back in the centre the infantry battle ground on. I’d moved my archers back through the woods to threaten the flank of the Saxon shieldwall.

Arthurian HOTT 663 Infantry grind continues

Arthurian HOTT 663 Infantry grind continues

I wasn’t confident about the infantry battle and thought I’d bring Arthur over to help. Even if this was just to make the Saxons a bit nervous.

Arthurian HOTT 664 Arthur threatens to intervene with infantry

Arthurian HOTT 664 Arthur threatens to intervene with infantry

The cavalry battle wasn’t going as I expected. Clearly three to one odds did not daunt the Saxons. The bounced the Welsh Knights in the first bound even with two overlaps.

Arthurian HOTT 665 Surviving Saxon Nobles hold off the Welsh

Arthurian HOTT 665 Surviving Saxon Nobles hold off the Welsh

Finally, after quite a lot of skirmishing, the shieldwalls were starting to actually look like shieldwalls.

Arthurian HOTT 666 Shieldwalls starting to look like walls

Arthurian HOTT 666 Shieldwalls starting to look like walls

And the shieldwalls clashed together.

Arthurian HOTT 667 And the scrimmage continues

Arthurian HOTT 667 And the scrimmage continues

And again.

Arthurian HOTT 670 Infantry fight getting very gritty

Arthurian HOTT 670 Infantry fight getting very gritty

Meanwhile the Welsh mounted charged again. For the final and decisive time.

Arthurian HOTT 671 Welsh mounted go in again

Arthurian HOTT 671 Welsh mounted go in again

In the centre the Saxon Hero General died in the shieldwall. Attacked from the flank he had to turn and this prevented him recoiling.

Arthurian HOTT 672 Saxon Hero General defeated by Welsh spears

Arthurian HOTT 672 Saxon Hero General defeated by Welsh spears

End game.

Arthurian HOTT 673 End game

Arthurian HOTT 673 End game


Observations and conclusions

We enjoyed the game. It swung around and could have gone either way. And it had a nice grindy feel to it that seemed appropriate for the Dark Ages.

I’ve been trying out a lot of rules for the Dark Age and I keep coming back to DBA and HOTT. If anything I think HOTT is even better for historical contests than its historical counterpart. For straight up fighting it tries to be less clever. Something that I appreciate and certainly fits this period.

I’ve already posted about my Arthurian and Reconquista Christian Elements for Big Base HOTT. Heroes, Clerics, and Strongholds really add flavour to historical games in the Dark Ages. In particular a Hero General is awesome in HOTT and nicely simulates the significance of named personalities from the period. And I really love my Religious stronghold comprising massed praying monks, very historical for the period.

I don’t really go in for it myself, but the fantastical elements of HOTT can add even more Dark Age flavour. In this battle we opted to go 100% historical.

There are some oddities about using HOTT for the Dark Ages and this game highlighted one of them. Because there is no light infantry in HOTT I took my Welsh skirmishing archers as Shooters. However, the capability of Shooters is based on Elves from Tolkien. So my Welsh light infantry gained the firepower of massed Elven archers; and they are no slouches in close combat as well. Impressive to behold but not super historical. We now joke about the Elven archers in the Welsh army.

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

  • A lovely looking game. Dark Ages HOTT does work very nicely; I used to use HOTT as an alternative to DBA v2.0 for the period. We’ve found that DBA 3.0 does give a nice grindy game now though.

    Fun HOTT Fact: That Lurker deployed early on could have appeared on the flank of the Spear, forcing it, and the Hero behind, to turn through 90 degrees to face. Even if they won there would have been a couple of bounds of arseing about with PIPs there to re-establish the original column.

    • Steven Thomas

      Hi Alan,

      I’m happy with both the look and feel of Big Base Dark Age HOTT.

      I’m not a fan of DBA 3.0. DBA 2.2 has some silly troop types and DBA 3.0 adds more silliness. In my not so humble opinion.

      I knew the fun HOTT fact. But I was worried about being flanked. Of course, the bit I had forgotten is Lurkers flee if defeated so being flanked is irrelevant.

      By the way, your own blog is one of the few I follow religiously.

      Steven

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