Wednesday, 4 January 2017

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.

2 comments:

  1. Another excellent scenario! Seems very detailed and well thought out; I'll be interested to hear reports of games played.

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    1. Thanks Hugh! I've put quite a bit of thought into the three scenarios to try and capture the flavour of the real battles, whilst adhering to the constraints of playing using SAGA. I'm sure some situations will crop up when we are playing that will require a few tweaks. Hopefully I've caught most of the big ones already though.

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