Linlithgow Bridge: The End Game

The header picture is a portrait of Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, Chancellor of Scotland, husband to the dowager queen, Margaret Tudor, and guardian of his step-son, King James V of Scotland. Born 1489, Died 22 January 1557 4 September 1526.

The end game happed rather quickly over two turns. In turn eight the fight between Angus and Glencairn continued with Angus becoming weaker and more and more reinforcements coming up for Glencairn.

Arran remained between a rock and a hard place. Now cut off from any intelligence of Lennox’s advance on his left and seeing his Douglas allies being chewed up to his front he remained stationary to cover a breakthrough from either direction. This immobility, of course, made his pike block a perfect target for Lennox’s guns on the heights on Manuel Hill across the river.

<All the following photos may be enlarged by clicking>

Arran’s detachment covering the ford (the red line) has been cut off but still manages to resist Lennox’s crossing. Lennox is now out of useful line of sight and may maneuver much more quickly (the single pieces with blue markers representing entire groups). Lennox is extending his cavalry scouting well beyond the hamlet of Drum while his highlanders go forward to defeat Arran’s detachment on the high hill top (above).
An overall view (above) looking south which shows the extend of Lennox’s scout forces which are now providing useful information on what is happening on Lennox’s left. In the right foreground Arran’s pike block is receiving accurate and effective gun fire.
In Lennox’s phase of turn nine (above) Glencairn, his entire pike block now engaged, has killed the Earl of Angus and the Douglas forces have completely broken. Glencairn’s skirmishers have cleared the bridge to the west bank and Casillis’s reserve heavy infantry are nearly across as well. As a desperate Arran begins his phase, a random card draw has the king arriving which not only ends the game but allows the king to easily join Glencairn! History is well and truly reversed.

The game provided the difficult problem of getting large pike blocks through narrow passages and then getting them back into attack formation. Historically Lennox crossed the ford with his main army and, by all accounts, was heavily disorganized by the crossing. In the game the same thing generally held true but by managing two simultaneous crossings, Arran’s main force was held in a fixed position, not wishing to commit to one flank and be devastated on the other.

Two events won the game for Lennox. The first was the rapid and astounding success of his light troops in clearing the bridge and, second, Glencairn’s detailed defeat of Angus. The king’s timely arrival was but the icing on the cake.

Four significant rule modifications were tested (rather successfully, I think):

  • While still played on a grid, each grid is further subdivided into 16 squares (which need not be marked as they are easily discernible). Each piece now becomes discrete – this, coupled with dynamic grouping, allows a large number of tactical formations to be used.
  • Each command has a few pieces (which are marked with small flags) that may be broken into smaller pieces. This allows small delaying and holding forces to be deployed.
  • The concept of useful LOS (much more about this in future posts)
  • The use of small cavalry pieces for scouting and screening. These do such things as scout the best way through terrain features and extend a commander’s useful LOS and command range.

In addition to the above some modifications were made to melee, ranged weapons, movement capability and task activation.