Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Hardraddas last battle

On Saturday David hosted a dark age game at Ugley Hougemont. We fought a "what if?" scenario. What if Hardradda and his Saxon ally Tostig Godwinson had crushed the rightful King Harold at Stamford bridge, then made their way south to see off the Normans. We used Warhammer ancient Battles 2 and lists from the Shieldwall supplement. 3000 points of Normans led by David and his son Sam in the guise of William and Odo, faced off against Pat leading 1500 points of Saxons as Tostig and myself representing the great man Harald Hardradda with 1500 points of Norwegians. The scenario was pitched battle using hidden deployment. The battlefield was a pretty open affair with a huge hill on our extreme right flank and a few pieces of rough round on our left. Pat and I came up with the plan of taking and holding the large hill with the Saxon shieldwalls, whilst my hairy hirdmen sat in reserve ready to attack the Norman knights in the flank as they fought uphill. Obviously this ruse depended on Dave and Sam thinking it was a good idea to crash against the solid Saxon shieldwalls.... So we set up all our strength on the right and right of centre just leaving a few skirmishers on our left flank to harass the enemy. One of these skirmishing units were my Jomsvikings. Expensive to retain but great fun to play with! Our deployment would hopefully mean that the enemy would be strung out across the large field of battle so we could pick them off at will. Usually when Dave plays Normans he will have an army of lance armed heavy cavalry supported by 100s of crossbowman. Jomsvikings So imagine our surprise when dawn broke and we could only see one mounted knights unit. The Norman army consisted of mounted milites lead by William, Odo and an army standard bearer. 3 large units of heavily armoured dismounted milites each lead by a comes. Supporting these was a large unit of skirmishing liberi and a few units of slingers. The Saxons comprised of 3 units of huscarls and ceorls in mixed formation and what must of been over 100 skirmishers armed with a mix of bow and sling. The Norwegians army was bulked out with 2 units of hirdmen including berserkers a unit of bondi with thrusting spear 2 small bow armed bondi and a 7 man Jomsviking contingent to put the fear of Odin in the enemy. Dave and Sam on the left look pleased with their deployment, Pat is still fiddling with his little man, i mean men... A freshly painted liberi unit prepares to try their luck against the jomsvikings. The Anglo/Norwegian battle line.Ralph the timid discussing the best way to leave the field of battle without anyone noticing The heavily armoured Norman line. The skirmishers start to move forward to harass the enemy line. Dave had historical names for his comes leading the dismounted milites. This one was lead by Ralph the timid. I hoped i would be facing that one!! Turn 1. Opened with Hardradda and Tostig sending forward the huge screen of skirmishers. the Saxon shieldwalls headed for the hills in a fast march formation, hoping to claim it before the cavalry reached it. The Norman infantry crept forward in their heavy armour whilst the cavalry raced for the hill. Turn 2. Every skirmisher in range of the powerful mounted milites unit opened fire. after rolling many many dice Pat seemed quite happy with himself as many knights were toppled from their saddles. Dave rolled for a panic test not worrying to much as his general was leading the charge. But the dice Gods are fickle and he rolled an 11!! So off they scarpered back down the hill with jeers ringing in their ears. Luckily(for the Normans) they rallied at the start of the next turn before they were lost for good. Clouds of arrows seeing off the Norman elite Headless Sam tries to redress the depleted knights formation as the heavy foot move forward at a snails pace. the next couple of turns saw the Saxons dig in on the hill whilst the Normans moved steadily forward with what was left of their knights now on the right of their battle line, maneuvering for a charge on the Vikings. This was obviously going to happen soon, so i whispered in Pats shell like that it is time for the Saxons to be bold and come down from the hill to hit the Normans in the flank. Pat said they would but first they seemed to be having a tea break. So without further ado my impetuous Vikings lead by their impatient general surged forward into the Norman ranks. Sadly this is where i got caught up in the fighting and neglected my camera. After 3 rounds of withering combat, which included Hardradda getting injured the mounted knights charged the hirdmen. Hardradda lept forward into the melee only to slip on some poor souls spilt intenstines and get kicked in the face by a horse. Not the most fitting of endings for such a renowned warrior..... With the Norwegians well and truly buggered the Saxons decided to pour out another cup of tea and watch the butchering from their vantage point. Hardradda was now dead. Tostig seemed to be chuckling from behind his spangle helm. maybe it was his plan all a long...? He could now contest for the English throne, but just not today. Well it was a great fun battle, A well won victory for the Normans. My Vikings fought well but were really up against it with the Saxons uncommitted. Most of the Vikings are now living at Davids, after a post battle defection. WAB2 seems to be a slight improvement on the original not that there was anything broken in the last version. The longer thinner lines look better, i need a few more games to get used to the differences after playing version 1 regularly for about 10 years... Hopefully some more games soon!