Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Hagar Meets Harrold at Stamford Bridge

A Headless Body Production

Venue: Upper Providence Meeting House
Event: Wednesday Night
Theme: 1066, Stamford Bridge
Players: Phil Gardocki, Garth Parker running Anglo Danish
              Bruce Potter, John Forscythe running Viking

Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 300 points per side.

The conversation went something like this.  "What do you want to play next week"?  Silence.  We could play L' Art de la Guerre.  I haven't played my vikings in years.  (Covid restrictions being what it was)  OK, I'll whip up an army of Saxons then.  We can do Stamford Bridge.

After the game was played out, I read the history for Stamford Bridge and found out, it is a town, not an actual bridge.  Sure there was a bridge involved, some berserker went nuts and held it to all comers for a while.  But that wasn't the actual battle.

The Forces:
The Anglo Danish.  In the ADLG book, the army that defended Britain is listed as Anglo-Dane, and not Saxon at all.  Led by the King, Harold Godwinson, his brother Leofwine Godwinson, Ulf the Earl, and an unknown commander.  All were run as Competent
8 Huscarls, Heavy swordsmen, 2HW, Armored and Elite
16 Select Fyrd, Heavy Spearmen, Armor
3 Great Fyrd, Heavy Spearmen, Mediocre
1 Levy
Led by Hagar the Horrible, the Ordinary,  Eric the Eliminator, also Ordinary, Tostig, the Brother, also Ordinary and Sven the Savage, and Ordinary.
7 Huscarls, Heavy swordsmen, 2HW, Armored and Elite
10 Heavy Swordsmen
7  Bondi, Heavy Spearmen,
8 Scots, Medium Swordsmen, Impetuous
8 Light Infantry, Bow
The Anglo Danish went fully armored and had a quality advantage, while the Vikings only armored their Huscarls.  This was near historical. The Vikings had not expected a real battle and had left their armor on ship, about 30 miles away.  That lack of armor was an important consideration in the battle.  Note the Viking fleet was not on the languid River Derwent as implied by the dragon ship near their camp.  Consider it a messenger boat...

Display Conventions: When you see a word bubble like "Ouch!", this implies a disorder from missiles. Letters in parenthesis represent some value change for the specific unit. For commanders it is s for strategist, b for Brilliant, c for Competent and o for Ordinary, u for unreliable. For troops it is e for Elite, and m for Mediocre. Other abbreviations, Hvy Heavy, XB Crossbow, LB, Longbow, Jav Javelin, 2HW 2 Handed Weapons, B Bow, Kn Knight, HKn Heavy Knight, HC Heavy Cavalry, Md Medium, Sgt Sergeants, LC Light Cavalry, Chr Chariot, Cat Cataphract, Pa Pavise, LI, Light Infantry, HG Hand Gun, FKn Foot Knight, Hvy Spear, Heavy Spearmen.

Commanders are rated s for Strategist, b for Brilliant, c for Competent, o for Ordinary and u for Unreliable

Inappropriately capitalized words are used to highlight terms that are specific to the game. For example Brilliant, Competent and Ordinary have specific game values for the commanders.

"XX" implies a unit killed in that location on that turn.

The Board:
Hagar the Horrible wins the toss and elects to defend in the plains.

Mid October, 1066. 
Historical inaccuracies abound.  Upper Helmsley, nee Hamelsec, was renamed sometime after the Norman conquest.  Spoilers...  Lower Catton was established in 1866.  And the less said about the A166, the better.

The viking right has a strong force of swordsmen. Hagar has most of his huscarls just right of center.

Tostig commands the Bondi Spearmen to the right of the Hagar's command.  They are bolstered by a unit of huscarls.  Sven is doing his best to keep his Scottish mercenaries quiet in the town.
More anachronisms.  Scotland did not adopt (note adopt, not invent) the bagpipe till after 1380.
Also, Bruce was not a common Scottish name until after (spoilers) the Norman conquest.

Harold and Ulf deploy nearly identical commands on the left.  Each with 2 units of huscarls and 4 units of select fyrd.
The figures are a mix of my Anglo-Irish Galloglaich's representing the huscarls, and German/Gallic heavy foot representing the fyrd.

On the right, another two nearly identical commands to the first.
A levy unit replaced one great fyrd, to align up the points to exactly 300.  And I wanted the army to be user friendly for my partner.  If all the commands are the same, then there will be little confusion as to what the units are.
Turn 1:

And they are off.  The Anglo-Danes advance on the double, shifting left.

The third command wheels towards Harold's huscarls.  Anonymous to History's command shifts left to support.  And avoid the town.
Harold's plan is to engage two of the viking commands with 3 of his.  Leaving Anonymous, who he didn't really know that well anyway, to engage the third viking command, and the town.
The Vikings pull their reserve units out and advance onto the A166.

lightly armed bowmen advance, and find niches in the great fyrd's armor.

 Turn 2:
The advancing viking bowmen force Harold's line to slow down.  Leaving about 5 UD's between the main lines.
Ulf tries to line up his command, and doing a lousy job of it.
Anonymous parses off his levy to watch the town.
 The cotton on the levy is, to quote papa Barker, to simulate late arrivals and early departures.
Not trusting the footing of the pothole strewn A166, the viking shield wall advances on level ground just beyond.
But still out of charge reach of King Harold's forces.
But they are lined up perfectly. 
Turn 3:
It has now been about 1.5 hours.  Mainly due to inexperienced players.  Other than army design and initial deployment, there has not been a lot of thinking going on here.  Just two hits from some lucky bow fire.  All this is about to change. 
Harold's main battles approach to charge reach.
Hagar's plan is to punch through the center, then crush the Godwinson's army from the middl.
Ulf's and Anonymous's commands all line up. 
So we are going to have a mighty crash.  All but one of the Viking heavies, 23 of them, are in the shield wall facing 24 of Harrold's heavies.
On the far right, the music is going to a lower key, the plot is about to thicken.
It is the Vikings that launch the mighty charge.  Leofwine's command does well, disordering 3 of 5 attackers.  Harold wins 3 of 6, losing only 2 to the Hagar's huscarls.
Ulf didn't fare as well.  Losing 4 of 7 battles, only winning 1.
Anonymous did a bit better.  winning 3 and losing 2 of his engagements.
Pouring out of the village, more anachronisms! 
Holy crap!  8 units of impetuous Scots.  That brings the Viking break point to 40!  That was quite a surprise.
Turn 4:
Leofwine's command turns the flank.  His huscarls punching through the line.  King Harold also makes a hole.
But Harold's command also ha been broken through.  The same for Ulf's command.
Anonymous largely ignores the ravening horde behind his flank.  One of his fyrd has been routed, but a huscarl has punched a hole as well.
Down the line we go.  It is actually over as a tactical game, it's pretty much down to the die rolling.
Hagar's huscarls have broken through in multiple locations.  But their shield wall has been penetrated as well.
It's a matter of who can gobble the fastest.
The Scots shout out their anachronistic battle cries (Girnigoe was built late 1400's, While Loch Moigh was not the chief seat of Clan Mackintosh until the 1300's)   
 The levy's early departures rapidly increased, the unit dissolving almost before contact.
In a turn and a half, the Viking demoralization score went from zip to 19.
The Anglo-Danes from 2 to 18.
 Turn 5:
Leofwine has turned the flank in two spots, and routed and pursued three times. 

King Harolds command is giving as well as gotten.  Ulfs command has had a couple fyrd routed.  Ignore that center line.  It is a Viking pursuit from last turn. 

Cry Havoc.  A double envelopment by Ulf's and Anonymous's huscarls.

But two Great Fyrd to hold back the Scots.

That and their being unmaneuverable, with an ordinary commander.

The Viking demoralization has climbed to 29. (out of 40)

The Anglo-Danish are at 21 of 28

On the left, the Viking sword command is almost hard pressed.  The left most is wiped out, the rest have had their flanks turned.  Center-left, Harold Godwinson's forces are sorely pressed and about to fail.

Center-Right, the Viking Bondi have also penetrated and turned the flanks.

The Scots have crushed another Fyrd and are now wandering the field looking for targets.

Taking King Harold's army past it's demoralization level of 28.

But it was a bloody battle.  The Vikings declare a win while losing only 31!  The were-guild payout is going to break the war leader Hagar financially.

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