Saturday, 4 February 2017

Blood is Spilt on the Battle Flats

Time for the next game in our 1066 campaign!

After seeing off Morcar and Edwin at Fulford Gate, Harald and Tostig await the arrival of hostages at Stamford Bridge (scenario rules here). But the Northmen are surprised by Harold Godwinson's rapid reaction. Looking up from his beer, Harald scowls at the appearance of Harold's Fighting Man battle standard.   


Rousing his men into action, Harald quickly forms a defensive Shieldwall. But his decision to allow his men to leave their armour back at the longships may soon come back to haunt him. Word is sent for reinforcements, but will they arrive in time?   


Harold's attacking force quickly overcome the light defences on the western shoreline of the River Derwent. But a lone Viking Warrior stands defiant on the bridge. 


A small unit of Huscarls charge forwards with their Dane Axes.   


Axes clash and a huscarl falls. But the Viking Champion also stumbles and is hacked down, his body pushed without ceremony from the bridge.   


The champion's last stand gives Harald the time he needs to organise his defence. Slingers advance towards the bridge and unleash a volley of stones. Two of the advancing huscarls are struck and killed!   


More huscarls and warriors rush across the bridge, leaping over the bodies of their fallen comrades.   


Meanwhile Harald reorganises his forces and edges away from the advancing Anglo Danes. Do the Vikings want to fight or flee? Ignoring their more cautious kinsmen, Harald's berserkers work themselves up into a frenzy and start to advance over a low hill. Seeing the danger, a unit of Anglo Dane huscarls unsling their Dane Axes and charge! The berserkers are cut down, but at what cost?

The Anglo Dane huscarls all lie dead around the hill.   


Anglo Dane warriors rush from the bridge and throw themselves at the Viking slingers.    


The levy are beaten and fall back, but only two warriors remain standing. Before them, Tostig's berserkers start to froth... The warriors look at each other and the fear of Loki sinks into their bones as they flee from the field of battle.   


Harold's personal guard and Ceorls finally get across the bridge and start to form a Shieldwall. But the Northmen still refuse to fight and continue to shuffle away from their camp.   


Harold and his remaining warriors stride across the bridge.   


As the Anglo Dane Shieldwall starts to form and slowly advance towards the enemy lines, a loud shriek is heard.   


Tostig's three remaining berserkers rush at the Anglo Dane Ceorls. Death and glory await...
 

Two berserkers are immediately sent to Valhalla. The attack dice are rolled and the Pagan gods speak! Seven warriors fall and the Shieldwall crumbles, but three warriors live to tell the tale of how they skewered the remaining mad Norseman.   


Another unit of Ceorls rushes the exhausted Viking slingers and survive a counter strike by nearby warriors. Suddenly, the reason for Harald's apparent reluctance to fully engage his troops becomes clear as Viking warrior reinforcements arrive on the Battle Flats.

 Whilst warriors from both forces clash shields, elsewhere Harold's personal guard charges Tostig's warriors. The warriors are hewn, but Tostig is uninjured. Seeing the huscarls waver, Harald and his Varengian guard fall upon the remaining hearthguard. The huscarl falls before the onslaught, but he takes two Hirdmen to the grave with him. 


More men start to pour across the bridge but as the light fades both forces look to their losses.

Harold Godwinson and his Earl are uninjured. But Harald and Tostig stand defiant. The Anglo Danes scored 26 slaughtering points against the Viking 29.

As he retreats to his longship with a Minor Victory, Harald Hardrada reflects on what may have been. His ambitions for the throne of England may have been thwarted, but the Skalds will tell stories of his victory at Stamford Bridge.

Harold Godwinson gathers his surviving men and heads back towards York. The Viking invasion has been repelled but there is a feeling of disquiet. As he enters the city, the local fyrd avert their gaze. When word reaches Harold that a Norman invasion force has landed on the south coast he sends out word for men to join him once again in battle.

But as Harold takes the road to Hastings, his call goes unanswered...     



***********


Another great game at Friday Night Firefight Club with big thanks to David, Dan and Mike for helping dish out the pain! Due to time constraints we had to play this game without some of the scenery elements I would normally use (hence the lack of road and simple river). It didn't spoil our enjoyment of the game though.

The scenario worked pretty well. It was clear that the Vikings had decided to forgo achieving a Major Victory (they would have needed to kill Harold Godwinson) and were sitting back in the hope that their reinforcements would help save the day. And it worked! By managing their losses and tempting the Anglo Danes forward, the Vikings were able to achieve just enough slaughtering points to secure a Minor Victory. Harald Hardrada may never become King of England but he sails back to Norway with his pride intact. Although it's anyones guess what will then happen to Tostig!

Harold Godwinson defeated the Viking invasion, but at the cost of many English lives. Defeating William at Hastings will be a challenge and if men do not flock to his banner, the challenge may become too great...
 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Morcar Falls on the Hill

We played the first game of our 1066 mini campaign last night at the club. Morcar and Edwin formed their Shieldwall on a low hill in the marshes and confronted invading Vikings at Fulford Gate.  


Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson deployed their warbands on the opposite side of Germany Beck.  


The Vikings found negotiating the fords somewhat challenging. On the Anglo Danes left flank Tostig's forces approached the minor ford that was marshy but passable. Several skirmishes ensued with Edwin's warriors and the battle ebbed and flowed. But the Vikings had more men and eventually they managed to force their way across the ford.

Meanwhile Harald organised his forces on the right flank and put his levy to the fore. As the tide receded, the levy waded across the ford but found themselves fatigued and intimidated. A potential disaster was unfolding as Harald found his warband trapped behind his fatigued levy. Morcar tried to take advantage of the situation and sent forward a small unit of warriors. The levy rallied themselves and held firm against the assault. Morcar's warriors were overconfident in their ability to defeat the Viking peasants and were greatly surprised when the levy scored the same number of casualties in the ensuing melee. Falling back, Morcar's warriors looked on as the levy pulled themselves out of the mud revealing Harald and his fully armoured Varengian Guard advancing behind.

Tostig and his hirdman retainers trudged their way through the beck and found themselves facing Edwin's huscarls. Dane axes glittered in the afternoon light and when the cries of pain fell silent only the Anglo Danes remained standing. Tostig lay face down in the wet ground, his shield cloven.

But the battle was not over. Seeing Harald's men start to pour through the larger ford, Morcar's huscarls ran to meet the challenge. But they were cut down to a man by a rampaging group of Viking berserkers. The situation was now looking very bleak for the Anglo Dane Shieldwall.   


Viking warriors charged up the hill and with cries of Valhalla they fell upon the Anglo Danes. When the air had cleared, the Vikings were dead. But out of a 12 man unit of Anglo Dane warriors only three men remained standing. The fear of Loki overcame the Anglo Danes and they fled the field leaving Morcar stood alone. 

With grim determination Harald and his Varengian Guard set upon Morcar and cut him down. Pausing for breath Harald looked across the hill towards York. Was the city now within his grasp?   

But Edwin and his huscarls stood firm. Charging forwards the Anglo Danes threw themselves at the Viking King. Staggering back, Harald was forced to defend himself but to no avail as Dane axes hacked at his armour. Seeing the danger his guards threw themselves forwards and three fell defending their lord.

As the light of the day faded, Tostig's men started to scramble up the hill. For the Anglo Danes, the battle was lost. Edwin and what remained of his huscarls retreated across secret paths through the marsh towards York.   



We had a blast playing this game and it was surprising how such a small force could hold up so well. The tides made a real difference to the game and the Vikings nearly had a disaster when their levy clogged the larger ford. If I had used Lords of Battle the fatigue would have completely stopped Harald's advance. But I kept the dice on my board expecting the levy to be pushed back. Oops! Once Harald and the rest of his men had made a bridgehead the end was inevitable. The Vikings scored 28 slaughtering points + 4 points for units on the hill. The Anglo Danes scored 26 slaughtering points + 2 points for Edwin and his huscarls on the hill. Since Tostig had fallen and Edwin remained alive, the Vikings scored a Minor Victory. 

The only change we made to the previously published scenario was to define the ford widths as S for the major ford and VS for the minor ford. 

Great game and big thanks to Rob, David and Dan for the mayhem! 


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Godwinsons Ready for Battle

Harold, Gyrth and Leofwine are now finished. I'll also be painting a couple of banner figures using designs from LBM. In the meantime the fyrd will hoist the Draco that I have also managed to complete.  Looking forward to our first 1066 game this Friday!  

   

Battle of Hastings, 14 October 1066

Looking up at Senlac Hill, William sees the steely determination in the faces of the English shieldwall. If he is to claim the crown, Harold has to die.


Background
After defeating Harald Hardrada at Stamford Bridge, Harold Godwinson learns that William the Bastard has landed his Norman invasion force on the south coast.

With only a day's rest Harold marches south to London, collecting reinforcements and sending word that more men are needed.

William was a ruthless strategist and wanted to force Harold into an ill-prepared and hasty response. So having secured his landing force he promptly starts to lay waste to the local countryside.

Battling Vikings and marching from York has taken its toll and Harold's men were tired. Still, if Harold could trap William near the coast, the invaders would be contained. Upon arriving at Senlac Hill Harold formed his shieldwall and desperately waited for more reinforcements to arrive.

Having goaded Harold into battle, William took care organising the deployment of his army. Mounted knights stood behind his spear armed warriors and archers. The Papal banner fluttered in the morning air. Surely God was with him on this most fateful of days.


Forces
The attacking force includes 12 points composed of either two Norman warbands or one Norman warband and one Breton warband. One of the Norman warbands must be led by William (Hero of the Viking Age). If a second Norman warband is chosen, it may be led by Ivo Taillefer (Hero of the Viking Age).

One of the Norman warbands may include a Religious Advisor or Warrior Priest to represent Odo Bayeux. William's warband may include a Bard. One Norman warband may include one or more units of Flemish Mercenaries. If included, Flemish Mercenaries are not subject to the 'Foreigners' special rule and act as standard Warriors of the warband. 

The defending force is determined by previous battles fought at Stamford Bridge and/or Fulford Gate.

[If playing only this scenario, the defending force will either be composed of two 5 point Anglo Dane warbands led by Harold Godwinson (Hero of the Viking Age) and an Ealdorman whose name is lost to history (standard warlord) or two 6 point Viking warbands led by Harald Hardrada (Hero of the Viking Age) and Tostig Godwinson (standard warlord). Harald Hardrada may be accompanied by a Bard or a single unit of Gall-Gaedhill (Sons Of Death). Tostig's warband may include a single unit of Flemish Mercenaries.]

No other Sword For Hire units are permitted.


Layout
The game is played on a 36" x 48" table.

A hill (steep elevation) with a length that should exceed L and a width that must not exceed L is placed so that the majority of one length touches the northern long table edge. A small wood may be placed by the defender along the eastern short table edge (A). A medium marsh must be placed by the defender along the western short table edge (B). The wood and marsh may not be placed within S of the hill or within L of the southern table edge.

No other items of terrain are placed on the table.





Deployment
The defending force deploys first. Units are placed with all figures located within S of the hill. Figures may be placed in/on terrain where appropriate.

The attacking force deploys units with all figures located within L of the long table edge opposite the hill.   


Length of Game and Special Rules
The game immediately ends if Harold is killed. Otherwise the game continues for 8 turns.


Special Rules

Senlac Hill
Senlac Hill is a steep elevation. Units at a higher elevation roll defence dice as though they were in light cover when targeted by a shooting unit at a lower elevation (including by units in open terrain).

Storm of Arrows
The Norman battle board ability is modified as follows:

Discard these dice to immediately activate all of your units equipped with ranged weapons. They may only shoot with this activation. No unit gains FATIGUE for this activation. Targeted units at a higher elevation do not roll defence dice as though they were in light cover. Units armed with bows may reduce their range by M to target enemy units with no line of sight.

Fatigued Defenders
If the defending force has marched from York, some units may be fatigued. At the start of the game the attacking force rolls 1d6 for each defending unit in turn. For each result above the defending unit's armour, the defending unit suffers 1 fatigue (e.g. a roll of 6 represents 1 fatigue for a hearthguard but 3 fatigues for a levy). 

Reinforcements
From turn 2, the Anglo Dane ranks may start to be swelled by reinforcements. If Harold was undefeated at Stamford Bridge, at the start of the defenders' turn each of the defending warlords may roll 1d6. If the result is less than the current turn number, the defending warlord should roll a second d6 and gain fresh troops according to the following table: 

1-3 = 3 levy
4-5 = 2 warriors
6 = 1 hearthguard

[If Harold achieved a Major Victory at Stamford Bridge, each warlord may roll 2d6 and choose which one of the values to apply]

If possible, reinforcements must be added to an existing unit that is within L of the defenders' long table edge (following normal rules for armour and maximum unit size). If no suitable units are available the reinforcements slink off into the countryside and do not join the battle.

Norman and Viking warbands do not receive any reinforcements.

Order of Play
At the start of each turn all Warlords roll their SAGA dice together and complete their Orders phases simultaneously.

For Activation phases the order of play is determined by rolling 1d6 and adding the number of SAGA dice available to each Warlord. The highest score goes first.  


Victory Conditions
At the end of the game both forces earn slaughtering points for each enemy figure killed.

Anglo Dane Major Victory
Harold Godwinson remains alive and William is killed. Harold's rightful place as King of England is secured.

Anglo Dane Minor Victory
Harold Godwinson remains alive at the end of the game. As night draws in, the trickle of reinforcements becomes a flood and William is forced to retreat from the battlefield. But he remains an ever-present threat to Harold's crown.

Harald Hardrada Major Victory
Harald Hardrada remains alive and both William and Tostig are killed. Harald marches on London to take his rightful place as King of England.

Tostig Godwinson Major Victory
Tostig remains alive and both William and Harald Hardrada are killed. Tostig marches on London to take his rightful place as King of England.


Viking Minor Victory
The Vikings score more slaughtering points than the attackers. The Normans are forced to retreat from the battlefield. But who will become King of England?


Norman Major Victory (vs Anglo Danes)
William remains alive, Harold Godwinson is killed and the attackers score more slaughtering points than the defenders. William's cavalry rout what remains of the Anglo Danes. As castles start to be constructed across the landscape a new age of tyranny begins...

Norman Major Victory (vs Vikings)
William remains alive, Harald Hardrada & Tostig Godwinson are killed and the attackers score more slaughtering points than the defenders. William's cavalry rout what remains of the Vikings. As castles start to be constructed across the landscape a new age of tyranny begins...

Norman Minor Victory (vs Anglo Danes)
William remains alive, Harold Godwinson is killed but the attackers fail to score more slaughtering points than the defenders. The exhausted Anglo Danes are forced to retreat, but has William's endeavour been enough to secure his ambitions for the crown?

Norman Minor Victory (vs Vikings)
William remains alive, Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson are killed but the attackers fail to score more slaughtering points than the defenders. What remain of the exhausted Viking force is forced to retreat, but more longships are sighted off the coast. Has William's endeavour been enough to secure his ambitions for the crown?


Draw
Any other result is a draw. All surviving warbands retreat from the battlefield. England is in turmoil. Who will now be King?


Optional Rules

William
During the battle, William was reputed to have lost one or more horses from beneath him. A Saxon warrior also managed to get a glancing blow on his helm that resulted in some Normans believing him to be killed. To represent this possible loss of morale, players may consider including this additional rule: 

The first time William survives a melee attack initiated by an enemy unit the attacking player may roll 1d6 (before any surviving units disengage):

1-3 = William is struck! Non-warlord friendly units with at least 1 figure located within M of William receive 1 fatigue token.
4-5 = Panic! Non-warlord friendly units with at least 1 figure located within L of William receive 1 fatigue token.
6 = Rally! After units disengage, William may immediately be activated by his controlling player for a movement. This movement does not cost a SAGA die, does not generate fatigue but must not initiate melee. At the end of this movement all friendly units with at least 1 figure located within M of William immediately remove 1 fatigue.


Harold
Of course Harold's unfortunate encounter with a Norman arrow has become almost mythical. Whether true or a fable invented by the Norman's intended to represent his divine punishment for oath breaking is still a source of debate



If players wish to include the possibility of Harold being shot in the eye within their game they may consider including this optional rule:

The first time Harold Godwinson survives a shooting attack by an enemy unit the attacking player may roll 1d6:

1-3 = The King is down? All friendly units (including Harold) with at least 1 figure located within S of Harold receive 1 fatigue token. 
4-5 = Smitten in the eye! All friendly units (including Harold) with at least 1 figure located within M of Harold receive 1 fatigue token. In addition, the number of SAGA dice that may be rolled by Harold is permanently reduced from 3 to 1.
6 = Protect the King! All friendly hearthguard and warrior units may immediately be activated by their controlling player(s). These activations do not cost any SAGA dice. All units activated in this way receive +1 fatigue upon completing their action.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Stamford Bridge, 25 September 1066

A lone Viking champion stands upon a wooden bridge. Sunlight glimmers on the blade of his axe and on the armour of the approaching English army...


Background
Harald  Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson defeated the English fyrd at Fulford Gate. Although many of the English were cut down or drowned in the marshes, a few managed to escape. Morcar and Edwin both survived the battle and retreated back to York.

Rather than risk losing more men and damaging the city they coveted, Harald and Tostig agreed to receive hostages at the nearby Stamford Bridge. The hot September sun beat down upon them and having destroyed the local fyrd they chose not to exhaust themselves and left most of their armour with their longships. Some armour was also piled in other camps across the Battle Flats.

Upon hearing of the Viking invasion Harold Godwinson had to make a choice. Stay in London and prepare for battle against the expected Norman invasion, or march north to relieve the City of York.

Whilst feasting and drinking in their camp on the Battle Flats the Northmen looked to the distant ridge expecting to see the arrival of hostages. Instead they saw a fully armoured English army, headed by Harold Godwinson. Light forces west of the Derwent were quickly overcome by the advancing English. As Viking stragglers hastily retreated towards Harald's camp, a lone champion remained stood on the bridge, with nothing but his axe and courage to hold back the attackers.

Meanwhile in Normandy, the winds had changed.


Forces
The attacking force includes two 6 point Anglo Dane warbands led by Harold Godwinson (Hero of the Viking Age) and an Ealdorman whose name is lost to history (standard warlord).

The defending force is composed of two Viking warbands led by Harald Hardrada (Hero of the Viking Age) and Tostig Godwinson (standard warlord). The composition of the defending force is determined by the previous battle fought at Fulford Gate.

[If playing only this scenario, the Viking warbands should be composed of two 6 point warbands. Harald Hardrada may be accompanied by a Bard or a single unit of Gall-Gaedhill (Sons Of Death). Tostig's warband may include a single unit of Flemish Mercenaries.]

No other Sword for Hire units are permitted.

One of the Viking warbands may replace a single available hearthguard figure with a Warrior Priest representing a Viking champion (this is a free upgrade that follows all normal Warrior Priest rules but is worth only 1 slaughtering point if killed).


Layout
The game is played on a 36" x 48" table.

The River Derwent is placed within L of one long table edge by the attacking force. A road crosses the river across a small wooden bridge that the attacking force places within L + M of the eastern short table edge (A). The river is impassable along the remainder of its length.

Starting with the defender, each force alternates placing an elevation (B) on the Battle Flats until three terrain items have been placed. Each item of terrain must be placed more than M away from any other terrain (including road, bridge and river).

After terrain is placed, the defending force places tokens representing Harald's camp on the Battle Flats. The tokens must be placed within L of the middle of the long table edge opposite the river. One token should be designated as the centre of the camp (C). Suitable tokens for the camp could include boxes, crates, small tents and of course, several barrels.




Deployment
Each Warlord in the defending force chooses one of his units. This unit forms reinforcements and is not deployed at the beginning of the game.

The Viking Champion is deployed on the bridge (A).

The two defending Warlords (and any accompanying Bard) are then placed within S of the centre of the camp (C).

Starting with Harald, each defending Warlord deploys their remaining units with as many figures as possible located between S and L of the centre of the camp.

The attacking force then deploys all units within M of the road (D). No attackers may be deployed on the defender's side of the river or within S of the bridge.


Length of Game and Special Rules
The game immediately ends if both Harald and Tostig are killed. Otherwise the game continues for 7 turns.

Special Rules

Armour
Following deployment, a number of armour tokens equal to half of the combined starting number of defending non-berserker hearthguard and warrior units are placed on the Battle Flats by the attacking force. Tokens may not be placed within M of another token. Tokens may be placed on elevations, but may not be placed in/on any other terrain. Small piles of shields etc make suitable tokens.

Each defending warrior and non-berserker hearthguard unit starts the game with a -1 armour penalty. Units may recover a +1 armour bonus by ending their move on an armour token. Armour tokens recovered in this way are removed from the table.

Reinforcements
The defenders have sent word to their ships that they are under attack and fresh armoured troops may arrive to reinforce them as the battle progresses. From Turn 5 onwards each defending Warlord should roll 1d6 at the beginning of the defenders' turn. If the score is more than the armour value of their off-table unit, all figures within the unit are placed within M of the defenders' long table edge.

Fatigue
The attacking force has marched from London and troops may be somewhat fatigued. Following deployment, the defending force rolls 1d6 for each attacking unit in turn. The attacking unit suffers 1 fatigue if the roll is higher than its armour value.

Viking Champion
If the Viking champion is killed, each unit in the attacking force may immediately be activated once to move. These movements may not be used to initiate melee. The movements do not cost any SAGA dice, but normal rules for movement and multiple activations apply.

Order of Play
The attacker has the first turn.

Each defending Warlord may roll three SAGA defence dice.

At the start of each attacker/defender turn both Warlords roll their SAGA dice together and complete their Orders phases simultaneously. They then proceed to complete their Activation phases simultaneously.


Victory Conditions
At the end of the game both forces earn slaughtering points for each enemy figure killed.

The Viking Champion earns double slaughtering points for each enemy figure killed on the bridge.

Anglo Dane Major Victory
Harold Godwinson remains alive and both Harald Hardrada & Tostig are killed. The Vikings are routed and most of their longships are destroyed. Whilst recovering in York, word reaches Harold that William has landed on the South Coast. The Anglo Danes take the road to Hastings. Harold's victory over the Northmen invigorates his troops and men rally to his banner. When rolling on the recruitment table at Hastings, each Anglo Dane warlord may roll 2d6 and choose one the results.

Anglo Dane Minor Victory
Harold Godwinson remains alive and the attackers score more slaughtering points than the defenders. After pursuing the remaining Vikings to their longships, Harold returns to York. Whilst recovering, word reaches Harold that William has landed on the South Coast. The Anglo Danes take the road to Hastings.


Viking Major Victory
Harold Godwinson is killed and either Harald Hardrada or Tostig remain alive. Whilst the Vikings replenish their supplies, word reaches their longships that William has landed on the South Coast. The Vikings take the road to Hastings!

Viking Minor Victory
The defenders score more slaughtering points than the attackers. Battered and bruised but with their pride intact, the Vikings make an orderly retreat to their longships. Whilst recovering in York, word reaches Harold that William has landed on the South Coast. The Anglo Danes take the road to Hastings. Harold's lacklustre performance does not inspire confidence. Neither Anglo Dane warlord may gather recruits at York. Nor may they roll for recruits at Hastings.


Draw
Any other result is a draw. The Vikings disband and after learning of the Norman invasion, the remnants of the Anglo Danes take the road to Hastings. Although they are unable to recruit from the local fyrd, both Anglo Dane warlords may roll on the recruitment table at Hastings.


The Road to Hastings
The force that takes the road to Hastings is subject to the following special rules:

Warlords 'killed' during the game are only injured. They automatically start the next game with 1 fatigue and always fight with 1 less die in melee (to a minimum of 1 die).

Other troop casualties follow the rules described in Age of the Wolf.

Each Viking Warlord may immediately recruit 1 hearthguard, 2 warriors and 3 levy. Where possible, these figures must be added to an existing unit (following normal rules for equipment and maximum unit size). If no suitable units are available the recruits return to their longships and are not added to the marching warband.

If the Vikings were defeated, each Anglo Dane Warlord may immediately recruit 1 hearthguard, 2 warriors or 3 levy. Where possible, these figures must be added to an existing unit (following normal rules for equipment and maximum unit size). If no suitable units are available the recruits return to York and are not added to the marching warband.

Swords for Hire units may never recruit.



****************

Update:

I decided to modify the victory conditions a little. The changes mean that there is a penalty if the Anglo Danes do no achieve a significant victory over the Vikings. This penalty will affect Harold's ability to recruit extra men when he is in York and also when facing William at Hastings.



Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Godwinsons on the Paint Table

Of course if I'm going to undertake a SAGA based retelling of the monumental events of 1066, I will need to fill out my Anglo Danish force...    
 
   

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Battle of Fulford Gate, 20 September 1066

A small English force stands on a low hill in the marshes. Will their shieldwall be enough to stop the invading Vikings from sacking the City of York... 

Background

When Edward the Confessor died on 5 January 1066, Harold Godwinson rushed to London to be crowned king. But others also desired the crown, not least his outlawed brother Tostig. Tostig and his Flemish mercenaries fled to Norway and convinced Harald Hardrada to sail to England and restore Cnut's Viking lineage to the throne. The Vikings sailed into the Humber estuary before turning north up the River Ouse. Leaving their fleet at Riccall, Harald and Tostig travelled overland to Fulford, just outside York.

The earls Edwin of Mercia and his brother Morcar of Northumberland were expert tacticians and after rallying the local fyrd they gathered their forces to defend the city of York. Rather than risk the city being sacked, they set up their defences on a low ridge in a nearby marsh.

Meanwhile, across the English Channel William was also gathering his forces, but the northerly winds that had helped Harald were now hindering his own invasion plans.


Forces

The attacking force is composed of two six point Viking warbands led by Harald Hardrada (Hero of the Viking Age) and Tostig Godwinson (standard warlord). Harald Hardrada may be accompanied by a Bard or a single unit of Gall-Gaedhill (Sons Of Death). Tostig's warband may include a single unit of Flemish Mercenaries.

The defending force includes two Anglo Dane warbands led by Morcar, Earl of Northumberland (standard warlord; 3 point warband) and his brother Edwin, Earl of Mercia (standard warlord; 4 point warband).

No other Sword for Hire units are permitted.


Layout

The game is played on a 36" x 36" table.

All terrain is placed by the attacking force.

Germany Beck is a tributary of the River Ouse with a width no greater than M that is placed within L + M from the southern side of the table (A). Germany Beck is impassable except by way of one major ford with a width no greater than S (B) and one minor ford with a width no greater than VS (C). Fords may not be placed within M of each other.

A small or medium marsh is placed between the two fords with one side touching the northern bank of Germany Beck (D).

A low hill (standard elevation) with a length that should exceed L and a width that must not exceed L is placed with one side touching the northern edge of the small marsh (E).

A small or medium marsh is placed opposite the major ford, touching the northern edge of the hill (F).

A small or medium marsh is placed opposite the minor ford, touching the northern edge of the hill (G).

No other items of terrain are placed.




Deployment

Morcar is placed on the hill opposite the major ford (H).

Edwin is placed on the hill opposite the minor ford (I).

The defending force then deploys their remaining units with as many figures as possible located within L of their respective Warlord. No figures may be placed within S of Germany Beck or either ford.

After the defenders have deployed, Harald is placed on the southern side of Germany Beck between S and L of the major ford (J).

Tostig is placed on the southern side of Germany Beck between S and L of the minor ford

Each attacking warband then deploys half of its remaining units with as many figures as possible located within L of their respective Warlord. No figures may be placed within S of Germany Beck or either ford.

Remaining units are deployed along the attacking force's table edge at the start of turn 2. If available space prevents units being placed, they should be deployed at the beginning of the next turn as appropriate.

Length of Game and Special Rules

The game immediately ends if both Morcar and Edwin are killed. Otherwise the game continues for 7 turns.

Special Rules


Germany Beck
Germany Beck is only passable at the two fords. Local tides mean that the fords may become marshy or even impassable.

Tides:

Turn 1 Major ford impassable. Minor ford flooded but passable as marsh
Turn 2 Minor ford open. Major ford flooded but passable as marsh
Turn 3 Both fords open.
Turn 4 Minor ford open. Major ford flooded but passable as marsh
Turn 5 Major ford impassable. Minor ford flooded but passable as marsh
Turn 6 High Tide. Both fords impassable
Turn 7 High Tide. Both fords impassable. Darkness, movement lowered by 1 movement band

At high tide all flat ground not otherwise identified as terrain becomes boggy with movement restricted to S.

At the start of each game turn, any figures stood in impassable terrain are immediately removed as casualties.

Marshes
Any unit ending its movement with at least one figure in a marsh (including flooded fords) immediately receives 1 fatigue. At high tide, units must also roll 1d6 for each figure in the unit. One casualty is removed for each result less than the unit's armour value.

Order of Play
The defending force has the first turn.

The attacking force may not roll any SAGA defence dice.

At the start of each attacker/defender turn both Warlords roll their SAGA dice together and complete their Orders phases simultaneously. They then proceed to complete their Activation phases simultaneously.


Victory Conditions

At the end of the game both forces earn victory points (vp) as follows:

1 slaughtering point = 1vp
Each unit with at least half of its remaining figures stood on the hill = 1vp


Anglo Dane Major Victory
Either Morcar or Edwin remain alive and both Harald Hardrada and Tostig are killed. The small English force has crushed the Viking invasion and Harold Godwinson is free to confront William at Hastings without the burden of first engaging in battle at Stamford Bridge. Harold's army is not subject to the fatigue special rule at Hastings.

Anglo Dane Minor Victory
Either Morcar or Edwin remain alive and the defenders score more victory points than the attackers. The Viking invasion has been repelled. Caught between the northern shieldwall and Harold Godwinson's marching army, the Northmen flee back to their ships. Harold does not loose men in battle at Stamford Bridge, but his army is still subject to the fatigue special rule at Hastings.

Viking Major Victory
Harald Hardrada and Tostig remain alive, Morcar and Edwin are killed and the attackers score more victory points than the defenders. Triumphant, the Vikings regroup and then march on York but instead of sacking the city they agree to receive hostages at Stamford Bridge.

Viking Minor Victory
Harald Hardrada or Tostig remain alive and the attackers score more victory points than the defenders. The Vikings forfeit their opportunity to regroup as they hastily march on York. Instead of attacking the city they agree to receive hostages at Stamford Bridge.

Draw
Any other result is a draw. The Vikings forfeit their opportunity to regroup as they hastily march on York and rather than risking further casualties they agree to receive hostages at Stamford Bridge

York

If the Vikings march on York they are subject to the following special rules:

Warlords 'killed' during the game are only injured. They automatically start the next game with 1 fatigue and always fight with 1 less die in melee (to a minimum of 1 die).

Other troop casualties follow the rules described in Age of the Wolf.

If the Vikings achieved a Major Victory each warband may immediately recruit 1 hearthguard, 2 warriors and 3 levy. Where possible, these figures must be added to an existing unit (following normal rules for equipment and maximum unit size). If no suitable units are available the recruits return to their longships and are not added to the Viking force.

Swords for Hire units may never recruit.


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UPDATE
Initial playtesting revealed that canny Viking players had no real incentive to fully engage the Anglo Danes. Fighting would result in loss of men (including potentially both warlords) and since the Viking players know they have to face Harold at Stamford Bridge this could result in a rather gamey situation that makes for a very dull battle.

I've therefore modified the victory conditions to ensure that in order for the Vikings to progress in the campaign they must not be defeated by the Anglo Danes.

The low ridge on the marsh was a strategic feature on the battlefield. Therefore, as well as earning slaughtering points for killing enemy troops, both warbands also earn points for occupying the hill at the end of the game.

At the beginning of the game, the Anglo Danes will be in control of the hill. The Vikings must therefore attack if they are to have any chance of winning. A minor victory for the Vikings will see them get to Stamford Bridge, but they will need to achieve a Major Victory if they are to recruit troops from their longship.

With this change in mind I have also decided to make the previous Optional Deployment Rule the default. The Anglo Danes now have the first turn and the Vikings roll no SAGA defence dice. But if the Anglo Danes move off the hill to attack a weakened enemy that is not fully deployed, they may be risking losing men and victory points for not better defending the hill. Decisions, decisions...