After talking up Vikings the last few weeks we finally got our first game in. I don't have mine painted up yet, but Bob had plenty of figs to go around. Enough figs in fact, that the Viking wagon train stretched the full length of the ten foot table! Bob's authored the Might of Arms rules, large scale ancients battles, and for this game we played a modified version he's been working on called Clans and Companies, using a much smaller scale (relatively) and focusing primarily on the Dark Age and Medieval eras. In fact, most of the text for this writeup came from him as well, I just tweaked it here and there.
Vikings have been raiding along the east coast of northern England for several years. The new (and extremely energetic) local Count Gaston has decided to put together a defensive rapid deployment force. He couldn't stop the initial raid, but there is a chance of recovering some booty. (Was the late attack on purpose? He could use some booty of his own.)
He catches the Vikings with nine wagons laden with goods, a herd of cattle, nine pack animals, a herd of horses, and a smattering of sheep strung out in a loose column. Some hills and woods provide cover for the attacking force. Only it bogs down quickly. The Vikings have a mixed force of shield men, archers, and the famed shield maidens, six units in all. The count also has six units, but of poorer quality except for his household heavy cavalry.
At the head of the column is a group of shield men supported by archers that emerge from the nearby woods and attack a similar Viking force at the fore of the column. The two combating units edge towards each other, trying to soften each other up with arrows before closing in for the kill. The English troops broke the standoff first and charged into the viking shield wall. After the initial melee, both sides broke off, regrouped and charged into one another once more with the archers of both units hanging back. Unbeknownst to the English archers however, Viking general (in fact, leader of the entire Viking forces) Frømund had flanked the archers and emerged from the very woods they ambushed from, attacking the group of men singlehandedly. With no where to run they were cut down by his sword and axe.
On the other side of the column, the Count Gaston's crossbow men exchanged shots with Viking archers without doing much damage to each other. Both units of missile troops seemed content to keep their distant and try to whittle the other down. A brave Viking champion, Ornolf, did charge the English crossbowmen singlehandedly, but was cut down before reaching his mark. His feint allowed Viking foot troops to advance and engage the crossbowmen however, and they pressed the weaker foes in melee.
The English side had the support of a hill giant...
The vikings weren't without their own larger-than-life warrior...
Count Gaston's personal following of heavy mounted cavalry charged the Viking archers in the middle of the column. After an initial volley, which surprisingly took down one of the mounted troops, the archers retreated through the column of wagons and cattle to safety.
Viking archers scatter through the herds...
Artemis takes aim from her wagon's vantage point...
The going was slow for the heavy cavalry as they had to negotiate their mounts through the scattered and panicked livestock. They could see the unit of Viking archers retreat further, then wheel and begin to form ranks again, ready to loose another volley towards the cavalry. Meanwhile, a lone Viking champion, a former shield maiden named Artemis, stalked the battlefield with her mighty composite bow. She found her mark, the Count himself, and began peppering him with bow shots from what seemed an impossible distance. His vantage point was not as safe as he originally thought.
The count has connections with a remote family of hill giants. They owe him a favor, don't cha know? So they sent along one of their big brutes who gets distracted coming out the woods, smelling the daisies and drooling over the fine feat before his eyes. [Basically he was forgotten about for a couple of turns, there were a lot of troops to keep up with! -mik] Finally he notices the shield maidens and goes charging in, not having time to soften them up first with his hurled boulders. The shield maidens held their ground surprisingly well and they repulsed the hill giant round after round. Although a handful of their numbers were killed during the exchange, it could have been much worse. [Here we have a classic case of incredibly bad dice leading to an unexpectedly cool story element. -mik]
On the other side of the column, one of the Viking leaders, Ulfrik, darted out seeking carnage, which the Vikings call "glory". He charged into a bunch of scrawny louts with nothing but javelins. Surprisingly they stood their ground and cut him down in the end. He deserved better.
The slain Ulfrik was accompanied by the Viking champion Magnus, a full eight feet of muscle and giant axe, said to have been handed down by Baldur himself. The leader of the English javelin-armed louts was disdained by both his followers and his peers. He decided to get some respect by taking on Magnus. He was crushed so quickly, it probably wasn't even any fun for the Viking hero who went on looking for his next "glory".
Meanwhile, group of English javelin-armed cavalry skirmishers came up from the tail of the column and annoyed the shield maidens with their missiles. The cavalry then charged the shield maidens, who were in a shield wall after a brief respite from their melee with the hill giant. The cavalry pushed the shield maidens back, who recovered quite handily. The cavalry withdrew and stood waiting for an easier victim.
Count Gaston rode forth, looking to charge down and trample the harassing Artemis beneath his warhorse's hooves. Two broken arrow shafts emerged from his shield, with a third embedded deeply in his shoulder. Artemis could no longer evade the count, and she knocked one last arrow before getting ready to draw her slender blade. As the count charged in, spurring his horse on recklessly, Artemis' final arrow found purchase in the center of Count Gaston's chest, punching cleanly through his mail armor. The count's warhorse stumbled on the uneven ground and fell forward in a heap, the corpse of the count remaining in the saddle, and plowed a short path in the dirt, coming to a final rest at the feet of Artemis.There you have it, I hope you had at least half as much fun reading this batrep as I did playing it! It's got me inspired to hurry up and paint my troops too! Though, seeing so many laid out for this game was pretty intimidating, haha. My favorite part is that thee forces, though largely historical in nature, had "just a touch" of saga!
The attack started late in the day and both parties broke off fighting at sunset. The Vikings pushed on to the coast, their contempt for the fighting quality of the locals justified once again. Count Gaston's men went home boasting to all about how they prevented the Vikings from making another raid, ignoring the fact that with more booty than they can load on their ships, the Vikings aren't thinking about another raid right now. The news of the count's death is not unwelcome to the count's younger brother however.