Monday, 28 November 2016

The Second Battle of Moytura

The Second Battle of Moytura is an epic struggle chronicled in the Irish mythological cycle, 'The Book of Invasions'. 'The Book of Invasions' purports to give a history of the various peoples that settled Ireland, their heroes and gods and their conflicts with each other. The battle was fought between the Tuatha De Danaan and what seem to be the villains of the cycle, the Formorians. 

I put together a couple of HOTT lists for the battle many years ago:

Tuatha De Danaan

Hero General @ 4AP
(Lugh Long-Arm in chariot)
Hero @ 4AP
(Nuada Silver-Hand in chariot)
Magician @ 4AP
(Sorcerors, witches, druids and satirists)
Knights @ 2AP
(Lesser heroes, such as Ogma in chariots)
Blades @ 2AP
(Lesser heroes on foot)
Hordes @ 1AP
(Other warriors)
Options: Behemoth @ 4AP (The Dagda)

The Tuatha De Danaan had more heroes in their army than can be adequately represented by a 24AP HOTT army. Lugh is classed as the general, as although not the king he seemed to inspire the army in battle. Nuada Silver-Hand was the king, so is included as the other Hero, although other named characters could be substituted instead. The Tuatha De Danaan made much use of offensive magic to disrupt the Formorian army, so include a Magician element. The ordinary warriors are classed as Hordes, as part of the De Danaan victory was attributed to the work of Diancecht, Credne and others in repairing weapons and healing the wounded. Thus, their warriors were able to return to the fray.
The Dagda perfromed prodigious feats, many of which were associated with his tremendous size. He may be included as a Behemoth if desired.


Magician General @ 4AP
Blades @ 2AP
(Formorian Heroes on foot)
Spears @ 2AP
(Formorian Warriors)
Warbands @ 2AP
(Islemen Mercenaries)
Options: Riders @ 2AP (Scythians), Hero @ 4AP (Bres)

The Formorian warriors are classified as Spears, rather than Warband or Hordes, as at one stage attacking their army is described as like hitting one's head against a cliff. Spears gives the army this 'immovable object' characteristic that other troop types lack. None of the Formorian heroes seem to have shone in this battle, indeed few are mentioned apart from Bres, so they are relegated to Blades. Bres may be upgraded as an option, but there is no mention of any battlefield prowess on his part in the account of the battle. There appears to be no reference to Formorian chariots, so none have been included. Balor led the Formorian army, and is described as having a single eye, the gaze of which could slay whole armies. The lid was so heavy that four men were needed to open it, using a pulley and handle system. He slew Nuada Silver-Hand with this eye, but was killed by Lugh with a sling-shot.

The Formorians marched with mercenaries from the Isles and beyond. These wilder, less civilised folk are classed as Warband. The account also mentions Skythians, so these are included as an option.

I put together the Tuatha De Danaan force as well, although experience in playing it over the years suggested that the Lesser Heroes were best represented by Warband rather than Blades, and that's how I run them now.

I took the Tuatha De Danaan away on my camping trip this weekend, along with a few other HOTT armies. When setting up a game for them I realised that I had the necessary bits to actually try a game based on the battle. For the Formorians I took a lot of artistic licence and used my Fishmen. The myths suggested they were monsters in some parts, so it wasn't too much of a stretch. For the Islemen mercenaries I used some of my wilder-looking Elves. Cthulhu stood in for the Formorian leader, Balor of the Evil Eye. In the above list he is a Magician, but these days I would be inclined to run him as a Behemoth instead  In fact I even considered Artillery.

So here are the Formorians: a Behemoth general, six Spears, two Blades and two Warband.

And the Tuatha De Danaan: Hero general, a Hero, two Warband, two Knights, one Magician and four Hordes.

The Tuatha De Danaan defended, and I ended up with the following terrain.

Opening moves; the armies advanced towards each other, Both forces had the generals out on a flank, and effectively opposing each other. As the lines closed there was some shuffling of troops, with the De Danaan Knights trying to avoid being matched against the Behemoth Balor. In the background the Islemen closed with the De Danaan lesser heroes.

And that was the first contact; Warband against Warband. For several bounds it was a shoving match, until the Islemen scored a 6-1 combat result and wiped out their foes.

On the other flank the De Danaan troops solved the problem of Balor by committing their Magicians to the fight.

Nuada of the Silver Hand swept out in his chariot to engage the Islemen.

Meanwhile Lugh led the De Danaan heroes in an attack on Balor and the Formorian heroes ...

... with mixed results. Balor fled, but so did one base of chariots.

The Islemen were out for blood, driving Nuada into some woods where the advantage of his chariot was nullified.

Balor returned to the fray.

Nuada died amongst the trees, and the Islemen charged towards the De Danaan stronghold.

Meanwhile the bulk of the Formorian army was advancing on the hill defended by De Danaan's warriors.

The Islemen attacked teh stronghold, but failed to take it.

The Formorian and De Danaan lines met ...

... but the hill was insufficient advantage and the De Danaan warriors were scattered, breaking the army.

A victory for Balor!

The armies seemed to match up nicely, and I enjoyed the game a lot. The Tuatha De Danaan had quite  run of bad luck; some 6-1 combats and low PIPs meant that they were on the back-foot for a lot of the game, trying to find an opening. But it could have so easily gone the other way.


  1. Your Formorian / Fishmen army looks great! I enjoyed reading your notes about these army lists.

  2. making the Tuatha Hordes is a great idea !

    However, I can't find any mention of scythians or mercenaries in the only account I can find online What reference did you use ?


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