21 March 2011

Another Bright Day in the Dark Ages

The fellahs came over for some Dark Ages carnage today, and it delivered everything it promised - loot, plunder, bloodlust and fun!  The Lad and I ran our small Viking warbands (Gizar the Ironic and Rollo the Frenzied respectively) , Ken and Steve attended to the Saxons, and Pete was the generic GM.  (click pics for bigger versions)
The Lad gets into character as Gizar the Ironic - ready for battle!
It was an otherwise ordinary morning in a non-descript hamlet in northern England. The locals were doing their thing, hanging out, getting water from the well, paying homage to their gods etc.  Then two warbands of Vikings set upon them from the East, intent on looting and destruction (you know, the usual fun).  Before the Saxons knew it, the raiders were upon them (they failed an opposed dice roll and failed to detect the Vikings approaching) intent on killing and scattering the defenders so they could loot, pillage and burn the hamlet with impunity.
...meanwhile the Saxon hamlet lies sleepily unaware of the approaching danger...
Initially, the Saxon plan (as it turns out) was to withdraw behind the river and form a defensive line using the treeline as cover, but the rapid Viking advance precluded this.  The rearmost Saxons were caught near the village well by Rollo's charging men and hacked to pieces, but this bought time for the others to withdraw.  The initial clash saw Viking challenges for duels go unanswered, one Saxon ran away from the terror of a charging Berserker, and the Saxon Hero was set upon by three Northmen, one of whom was hacked down from behind.  Ultimately, the entire Saxon rearguard was lost.
Rollo's boys arrive, tearing into the village without warning
The Saxon plan was deviously simple - Run Away!
...but it turns out Vikings can run pretty fast

Gizar the Ironic's lads arrive on the scene, out for fun!

but it was Rollo's boys who got first blood, hacking from behind without mercy
Chop, hack, slice...see you in Valhalla!
Where did everybody go? Suddenly, the Vikings are without opponents
There was no mercy even for Wally, once he was found!
The second Viking warband (belonging to the Lad) now came past, forded the river, were joined by Rollo's men and saw more Saxon reinforcements arrive from the next village.  The combined Saxon host then formed a large shieldwall at the foot of a large hill, supported by some archers atop it.  The Viking warbands similarly formed a shieldwall, anchored their right flank on the river bank, and began to advance.

Stop whinging Hlod - its not that cold...

The Viking Shieldwall assembles: 'No Svend I don't care if Vikur smells like old haddock - just bloody well stand next to him!'
The shieldwalls get closer...
Somewhat intimidating: The Viking shieldwall from the Saxons' perspective

Once in range, The Vikings had a critical decision to make - a slow, steady advance in a shieldwall with greater protection, or a wild, impetuous charge with more power.  They went with the later (they ARE Vikings after all) and battle was joined.  We found that the Vikings typically won most of the combats, but could not inflict wounds because of the extra protection the interlocking shields provided.  However, the force of the Viking charge and these single combat victories pushed back the Saxon shieldwall which became ragged and broke.

The shieldwalls crash together
The sound of battle rings out across the fields

Disrupted by the Vikings' charge, the Saxon shieldwall looses formation and disperses

Giving thanks to Odin for their Victory, the northmen collected their spoils:  20 food, 3 slaves, 6 misc loot and 1 valuable item. 3 Vikings were wounded and we have yet to see how/if they recover.  Ultimately though the Warbands of Gizar the Ironic and Rollo the Frenzied were victorious this day and have gained enough silver to fund their next expeditions.

Terrain Notes
I really enjoyed the setup of this game, especially as I have been working recently on the various bits.  A few more things are needed to finish off the village, including another building, and I'll start work on them now.  The Nordic alpine trees were Pete's and really fit the scene.  The river was an old one I made about 13 years ago as a trial and have never gotten around to replacing so it was quite a nostalgic addition to the battlefield.

We tried out a new rules set- Age of Blood (2nd Edition) which worked really well, and was why we had a GM for everyone's first time out (we wont use a GM again in the future).  The warbands need some time to setup properly, but the mechanics flowed more smoothly and I really the opposed die roll mechanic to keep everyone involved.  So I really recommend the rules and the price was really good (ie free - you can get the rules here: http://www.rebelpublishing.net/resources/Age_of_Blood_2nd_Edition.pdf).
 A few observations:

- A lot can hang on winning the initiative so next game we intend to trial simultaneous movement based on the order chits.

- The Saxon players, knowing that the Viking heroes would get extra experience from winning duels, refused to engage in any single combat - their ancestors obviously died of old age, not a hero's death with sword in hand!

- Playing Saxons wasn't nearly as much fun as playing rampaging Vikings (apparently) so we are going to utilise the reaction charts from "Pony Wars" to automatically run the Saxons, so we can play raiding parties.  We need to tweak those rules a little though to make it work.

Ancient Kelly Gang? Saxon improvised head protection


  1. Excellent report, great scenery and figures and rampaging fun was had my most except for the Saxon's obviously.

  2. I've enjoyed reading all of your viking related posts lately. You've certainly given me the urge to try my own warband. Reading the battle report only fuels the fire. Nice work!

  3. Another good report...the kelly gang guy LOL!

  4. Thanks gents, yes it was a blast. The new rules worked well and we have learned a few lessons for next time too.

  5. Excellent report - your lad in full battle stance is a priceless image! The terrain collection is very nice

  6. Very enjoyable, terrain looks great

    -- Alla

  7. Thanks gents, more to come soon - Gzar and Rollo are planning a weekend away with the Lads in Norway next!

  8. This look like fun, you really have a good set up there to.