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"First Dark Ages To the Strongest Battle" Topic


Medieval Warfare

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340 hits since 12 May 2017
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Mark Barker13 May 2017 3:51 p.m. PST

Took the plunge and ran To The Strongest with 4 new players (and my own first game !) at our club this week. Some intakes of breath – what are all these dots – where are the dice – what do you mean I don't need my tape measure ? but the game cracked along and was very well received by the players.
Game played to a conclusion in 2 and a half hours, including tea and yes – you can resolve an individual melee in 10 seconds …
Using the lists for the 1066 period I put together an 8 or so unit force per side (as Simon suggests for a first game), with two generals and two commands each. Rather than allocate a starting side for the entire game, we cut cards and the winning commander decided whether to activate a command or pass. Once the first player had finished, activation then passed to the other side. Activation and to-hit/save cards were left on the board until the end of the turn, maintaining the distribution of values in the card pack and leading to accusations of ‘using up all the good cards' and ‘this many aces would great if only I was playing Poker'. Also to the fore was Brucie's ‘Nothing for a pair, not in this game'.
Scenario was based on Tostig's raid of the Norfolk coast (possibly) and the Humber (more definite) with him commanding a mercenary force of veteran Flemish spearmen, Orkneymen under his previous thegn Copsige (Vikings, basically !), and Kentish buscarls pressed from his raid on Sandwich (or signed on for the 11th century equivalent of a booze cruise depending on which source you believe). The Anglo Saxon Chronicle records him pitching up with 60 ships and leaving with 12 after getting a kicking. I also gave him a contingent of light bowmen on a flank, mainly so we could try out the missile, ammo and light unit rules and to give some asymmetry to the forces to stop it being a simple shield push.
Edwin and Morcar are recorded as repelling the raid having raised the local fyrd, so I gave each a unit of Huscarls with 2-handed axe as personal bodyguards and the rest as raw shieldwall (i.e. general fyrd, with the more capable Select fyrd not having been summoned – someone has to keep an eye on the plebs). It keeps the VPs equal while giving the local force lots of deep units compared to the flexibility of their more professional opponents.
Tostig gets 8 Victory Medals (or Minstrels – the chocolate type, not musicians), Edwin with an extra unit and all of them deep gets 11. (interesting that the more raw force is the most resilient …)
I gave the fyrd a single Shock Missile token each to reflect the scene in the Bayeux Tapestry where they throw everything but the kitchen sink at the attacking Normans. Could not find a VP value for this in any of the lists, must have missed something.
In the event, these missile tokens had an unexpectedly important role in the game as 3 turns in to the game Tostig piled into a Saxon fyrd unit expecting an easy victory only to be disordered by the seaxs, maces and rocks on sticks coming his way. He subsequently failed both to hit attempts and then failed to save against the defender's strike back, so bouncing off with a Double Disorder and only 1 hit from losing the unit !
The raiding attack never really recovered from this (Tostig needing to transfer on two occasions after losing the unit he was with), and despite all the units on the Saxon left flank at one point being only a single hit from elimination most of them managed to rally at key points.
In the end, Tostig ended up throwing in the last Victory medals, having lost 8 Minstrels to the Saxon's 3, the greater durability of the Deep units carrying the day.
Very few rules queries came up. I'll post these separately for a response.
Mark Barker
West Sussex

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP14 May 2017 2:22 a.m. PST

Ah I see – read the other post first.

Shock missile- you could add that in a scenario, such as Hastings. I'd possibly give them a single javelin, though, for Hastings, with perhaps some additional ammo in the camp.

Minstrels – very appropriate for the dark ages! :-)

I'm glad it went well, and that Tostig got a pasting, bloody traitor! ;-)

Best, Simon

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