Thursday, 15 March 2012

And now for something completely different!

As you can see, we eventually decided to spice things up a bit. We thought to post a battle from our most recent campaign. We humbly think we have managed to improve the visual quality of our battles, even though we used simple tools: a piece of brown felt, a floor proofing material painted and coated with sand and some cotton for snow. We recently discovered a great method for hill-making: a simple foamy material, shaped into a hill and then placed under the felt. It creates really natural looking soil formations. When units approach it, you can push the felt and feel where it ends for gaming reasons. It should be trickier with metal or plastic figures but it is still worth trying.

This is our current campaign, playing the Scots common army against the Vikings (III/40b) (in between we played a more experimental campaign mode with Alexandrian Macedonian vs Later Achaemenid Persian with great success but that's for another time). This one was a very long battle on Scottish soil with a difficult river making our lives miserable... In the end it was kind of a massacre (10 casualties in total) but full of excitements and turns! This is the third season of our campaign, which ended up with the invading vikingr setting foot on north-eastern Scotland in full force (12 elements), near the village (and river) of Brora. The Scottish garrison are defending with a ten-element army, without their general (Kn) to command them.

We should note that we used the map from the We all go a 'Viking' campaign by  Check their website, it's truly worth it.

The steadfast Scots are deploying in front of the beach. They got news of the viking invasion and came from every coast settlement nearby. They form their schiltrons and prepare to throw the norsemen back to the sea.

A horde of vikings rush out of their tents when they hear of the Scottish threat on the other side of the river Brora. Are they too drunk to fight after their pillaging? Well, they would say they fight better drunk!

The two armies converge on the river. After a few tries, the norsemen discover it is a difficult one and, although it is freezing-cold, it is not frozen... The Scots are slowly marching towards the hill on their side.

The Scottish light units (a couple of highlander warbands and a psilos) take over the steep hill, while the pikemen are moving towards the river, always wary of their opponents.

On the other side, the vikings are preparing to cross the river. Not afraid of some chilly water, they slowly form lines and get ready to charge with axes held high.

Almost there... The two armies measure each other from across the river. The Scots are deploying defensively, ready to repel the norsemen back to the river. The vikings are deployed in a long, thin line and cry out "Til Valhall"!

Swordsmen start to cross the river across the hills. The highlanders come down the slope to repel them.

Highlanders and vikings meet with a thunderous clash! The Scots push back the norsemen but then become surrounded and are cut down. More vikings are following from behind.

A unit of pikemen approaches from the flank to support the already pressed highlanders. The ferocious Scottish psiloi manage to rout a unit of swordsmen, holding the tide.

Alas, another warband of Scotsmen is down and things are looking grim for the defenders. The vikingr renew their offense and send more troops across the river.

On the other side, several units have crossed the Brora, finding the Scottish schiltrons waiting for them with sharp pointy sticks (twice as long as a man :) in their hands! Another unit of norsemen is brought down, impaled by pikes.

An overview of the battle. Most vikings are across and the hill seems to be theirs. A lone psilos is maneuvering in and out of combat trying to keep them busy. On the Scottish left, the pikemen are holding steady, not letting the norsemen secure their foothold on that side. In the center, two separate melees have broken out.

This battle is turning into a bloodbath with no army taking the upper hand. Another unit of vikings is pushed into the river by pikemen who are constantly gaining ground.

Two viking units manage to cross the river on the Scottish left. Is it too late though?

The two schiltron formations have marched all the way to the river bank, while the fights on the other side are still on. The psiloi are immovable from the hill, and a couple of pikemen units are keeping the other blades at bay. An isolated engagement is ensuing between an element of bersekers (Wb) vs a lonely pike on the right. The battle is on!

The Scotsmen are pushing more vikings into the river in a fierce fight on the scottish left.

New deployment maneuvers from both armies. The pikemen are slowly forming into a square, back to back. The vikingr are trying to push from all sides. (Please ignore the hecklers appearing in the far right... They are up to no good.)

The Scots are bloodied again! The first pike is down and the norsemen are coming from all sides.

The vikings are trying to form a line and help their trapped comrades behind the schiltrons.

The Scots surround the isolated swordsmen who seem doomed. The other blades are still forming.

Valhalla awaits these norsemen as well and the viking army is being depleted.

The second pike is chopped down and the vikingr are screaming for more blood. The Scots are not intimidated, this is their land!

Time has become essential. The schiltrons are moving away from the gathered vikings, towards another isolated unit on the sandy beach. On the right, the psiloi skirmish with the berserkers and another isolated blade, which was heading for the Scots' boats, is being surrounded.

Double kill! Both isolated units of vikings are slain and the invasion is over. Steadfast beyond doubt the Scots, while the vikings proved to be impetuous to the point of hotheadedness...

The dead of the two armies. Six blades for the vikings and two pikes, two warbands for the Scots. A clarification in case of any confusion (we have probably explained this before but no harm): we are using a customized casualty system, where we first divide the army elements by four to decide the casualty margin. When that margin is reached (e.g. 3 for an army of 12), the player with most casualties rolls the die and must roll more than the difference to keep on playing. If he rolls less, his army flees.

Wow! What a battle to begin our campaign. A truly epic one, sending the remains of the norsemen back to scandinavia. And there we were, thinking the viking might be boring to play with. Interesting experience playing these two armies. Managing the mass of blades needs to spread them a lot to exploit their individual strength. On the contrary, the Scots need to stick together and create anchors as not to get flanked. The river was decisive for the vikings by being difficult. As attackers they had to cross and some of them were killed due to no recoil into the river (after rolling poorly...). It is certainly not an easy task holding back any blade army, with the Scots having a difficult job as well, especially playing with only 10 elements.

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