The turn starts with both Leaders inspiring their armies; in Dux Bellorum, players allocate Leadership Points (LPs), which allow unwilling troops to be moved, spur spearmen on to perform better than expected in close combat by attacking with greater vigour or by forming defensive walls with their shields, and so on. Leadership Points are a key feature of Dux Bellorum, as they allow you greater control over your army’s tactics. Northumbria are led by Oswald who has 7 LPs to spend this turn, and Rheged are led by Urien, whose has just 6 LPs. Rheged has some spiritual guidance in the form of a unit of monks, which gives the Rheged army 2 more LPs so long as the Monks remain in play (they’re going to be a target for the Northumbrian player, no doubt!).
LPs are laid alternately, with the Repeller (defender) going first. Urien begins by laying 2 LPs on the table next to one of his units of Noble Riders, as they’re likely to move into close combat this turn. Oswald goes next, committing LPs to a group of four units of Shieldwall – they’re far enough away from the enemy to mean they won’t fight or be shot at this turn, so Oswald allocates just the 1 LP in case they need help passing their Bravery test for movement. Back to Urien, who decides to place a chunky 3 LPs – the maximum allowed – behind a group of his Mounted Companions and Noble Riders, whom he’s hoping will crash into the enemy this turn (and use those LPs to boost their attacks or cancel out hits on themselves); that’s 5 of Urien’s LPs allocated already – what a generous warlord when it comes to dishing out inspiration!
If Urien had been smarter, he might have held back on allocating these 3 LPs until later in the turn, as Oswald can now see the Rheged units most likely to launch an attack during this turn . . . accordingly, as LP placement moves back to him, Oswald places 3 of his own LPs behind the Shieldwall unit he’s expecting the Rheged Companions and Noble Riders group to charge at – that’s going to balance things up a bit if the expected attack happens! Urien has 1 of his own LPs plus the Monks’ 2 LPs left, and he allocates all 3 to his group of three Warrior units; they’re close enough to a Northumbrian Foot Skirmisher to launch an uncontrolled charge whether Urien wants them to or not, and he’s thinking the 3 LPs will help him to keep his over-eager Warriors in check (he doesn’t want them charging about the battlefield out of control). Urien has now allocated all of his LPs, and can only watch as Oswald lays down his remaining 3 LPs: 2 with the group of 2 Irish Warrior units who might well make their own uncontrolled charge, and the last 1 with Oswald himself, as there are some Rheged Mounted Skirmishers close by who he fears will throw some javelins and then scuttle away (he could use the allocated LP to cancel out a hit on himself, if those javelins are thrown accurately). In the allocation of LPs, Oswald has played the cannier game, keeping some LPs back to spend after the impetuous Urien has spent all of his.