Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Great Bacon Battle, Saxons vs. Vikings

Vikings steal the Saxon village's pigs after driving off the local Saxon force in the center of the village
 So, Steve V was requesting a Dark Ages skirmish on what could be his last gaming evening in awhile, so I threw together a quickie scenario. He wanted to try the format I'd used for my French & Indian War game at Advance the Colors last year. In this head-to-head format, I divide the table into one-on-one matchups using terrain. Players can move troops back and forth if they wish, and they make a collective decision on how to allocate their troops to the different scenarios. This version was much simpler, but still the same format.
Mounted on a stolen horse, the Viking commander chases down a Saxon
In the middle board, I faced off against Steve V. I was the local Saxon eorl trying to keep the Vikings from bringing home our bacon (pig pen). The board consisted of numerous buildings -- most from Acheson Creations -- and the centerpiece, a scratch-built pig pen with three stands of meat on the hoof. To my left, Keith was trying to prevent the Viking warband commanded by Mike S from stealing horses to raid faster inland. On my right, Allen was racing to prevent the Vikings from looting the local monastery.
Monks retreat to the chapter house and barricade the doors as the Viking raiders arrive. I think this is the first game my monastery made an appearance in...!
Each player commanded anywhere from 8 - 12 troops, including a leader. I modified the Song of Blades and Heroes rules to take out group moves. I figure that "units" don't exist when you're talking about so few men. It is a straight up, man-to-man skirmish at this level. I also eliminate the "Gruesome Kill" morale check rule. Honestly, this is the Dark Ages. ALL the kills are gruesome! And finally, I have warbands test morale each time they take an additional casualty once they fall below half. It doesn't make sense to me that units that troops might break when their casualties fall to half, but then ignore when they go to 1/3, 1/4, etc.
Help arrives in time for the monks as the local Saxon leader interrupts the Viking looting and a fierce battle erupts
The games went VERY quickly. Keith and Mike had an incredibly bloody battle and the Saxon lord chased the Vikings off from his corral. I had my usual failures with activation rolls when I play the "Song of Blades" system, and Steve V took it to my Saxons quickly. We fought back, though, and reached the stage where the next player to lose a man would have to test morale (and have their troops scattered, likely). Unfortunately, I was the one to be that next player, and the Vikings were able to bring home the bacon in the center.
Both commanders poured troops into the fray until the monastery was crowded with men fighting and dying
The battle over the monastery turned into quite the slugfest up amongst the monk's beehive huts and the stone chapter building. The Vikings go there first, but the Saxons arrived shortly after, preventing any looting. The battle degenerated into quite a wall-to-wall scrum, which the Saxon lord was able to win by entering the fray himself. Joel and Allen's game lasted longer than the others, but seemed like it was quite the battle royale.

The game got us pumped up for the Dark Age Britain campaign I'm planning on running for them once I get a few loose ends tied up here. The players suggested I modify what I've written to do games in this format, so I'll have to look into that. I think it is very doable, but I'll definitely need to change a few rules I've written.

As always, Song of Blades provides a fast, bloody game that is a good time.

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