Linlithgow Bridge: The Middle Game

In the header photo (above), The Earl of Glencairn has made a wildly successful attack across the Avon bridge and is rapidly securing a foothold on the eastern bank as more and more of his heavy pikes swarm across the bridge.

The bridge and the ford are significant obstacles to the large pike blocks deployed on both sides. Even without opposition it takes multiple activations to maneuver the columns comprising the block into position to cross on such a narrow front.

<All the following photos may be enlarged by clicking>

In a spectacular set of activations, Glencairn’s assault troops first defeated Arran’s small blocking force, removed the barricade and still then had the energy to go forward against the enemy gun covering the bridge. The first column of heavy pikes is already onto the bridge, while they are covered by hackbutt fire into the remnants of the defenders. To the right, Lennox’s guns are being positioned to bring fire onto Arran’s main position.
On the extreme right flank, the Earl of Lennox is still having a great deal of trouble getting his main force organized to cross the Avon at the Manuel Nunnery ford. His scouting force is finally in the water.
Glencairn’s initial light assault force was finally cut down by a flurry of arrows before they could achieve the enemy gun (whose stressed crew was having a major problem reloading). By turn five, Glencairn has most of his pikes across the bridge and is organizing into battle formation. To the left, Arran has moved his pikes forward to prepare to attack but to his great relief, the Earl of Angus has shown up with reinforcements! Angus has also broken off his bowmen to begin harassing Glencairn’s left.
In the center, Glencairn’s pikeblock (still short one column crossing the bridge) has overrun the gun and is preparing to hold the ground as more reinforcement come up. Angus’s bows are loosing steadily at Glencairn, but the heavy armor of his lead pikemen is drastically limiting the effect. The Earl of Angus has brought his pikeblock into attack position. Concerned by what is now happening upstream with Lennox’s main force, Arran has to hold on the crest of Pace Hill to allow him to commit in either direction. This exposed position is allowing Lennox’s guns across the river to begin inflection damage on Arran’s pikemen. In the distance, Lennox’s reserve force (under the Earl of Casillis) is now committed to extending the bridgehead.
In the midst of turn 7, Angus has fully engaged Glencairn (who still doesn’t have his third pike column in place) but, despite his advantages, Angus is getting rather severely mauled.
On Arran’s left, Lennox’s scout force has surveyed the ford and is dashing toward the burn to do the same. They are, however, receiving effective fire by Arran’s gun on the high ground. Lennox has decided to send his highland contingent across first to deal with Arran’s holding force on the hill top.
While Lennox’s scouting force is working as planned (surveying the burn and then cutting Arran’s line of observation to the south), his bad luck continues as the highlanders become completely disorganized at the ford (not helped by now being hit by cannon fire). It is imperative to his success that Lennox can make a credible threat to Arran’s left and he is becoming exasperated!
At the end of turn 7, Glencairn has decided to bring his skirmishers across ahead of Casillis to protect his left flank. Arran’s remaining scout force has been pulled back and he has taken the decision to detach a trusted captain to hold the high ridge crossing Pace Hill.

To win, Arran must prevent the possibility of the young king joining Lennox. At the end of next turn he will start drawing for the king’s arrival. It is imperative that the king not be given an easy escape path. Things will become very interesting if Glencairn manages to break Angus.

The basic rules engine for this game is To the Strongest! but played at a more granular level. Much of the pike versus pike fighting is using the tactical mechanism from The Flowers of the Forest which really matches by current understanding of the subject. I have added in some of my own rules for scouting and information flow. At this period in Britain the commanders are less the “battle managers” of the Italian Wars and more the front line soldiers of the medieval period, a situation that seriously messes with command and control.