The Viking Legal Team in Action

The Viking Legal Team in Action
Snorri is unhappy about your bar tab - VERY unhappy...

Monday, February 23, 2015

More Dark Age, Viking Music Inspiration

http://mikkeller.dk/real-beer-for-real-vikings/  [nice page about beer pub, vikings, and running]

Everyone needs something to get them in the mood to paint or otherwise work at the hobby 'cause sometimes we just aren't feeling it but we are trying to move forward on a project, or it's just fun to get inspired.  Led Zeppelin is always pretty good, but folk metal by modern bands hits a good chord, and there's lots of this on the 'web if you look around.  The below links are not just specific to the bands but bring up handy related choices, including Celtic music and such.  Anyway, I've enjoyed listening to these even if they are probably not exactly what folk music would've sounded like back then.

This is by the band Wardruna:
Wardruna: Runaljod - Yggdrasil YouTube mix
Lots of inspirational moods, rythms, etc.  The lyrics are in some Nordic tongue, so cant' say anything about that.  I'd guess that there's translation somewhere on the web.  This particular video is over an hour.

Opening credits and theme song for HBO's "Vikings" TV series:
"If I Had a Heart" by Fever Ray
great mood, powerful imagery and the video is good too.  Some of the lyrics are too modern, but the spirit of greed and lust is in there.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Not so-Latest Dark Age Rules and Army Lists for One-Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas

A couple of playtests - one recorded in detail with the preceding post - and some proofreading have revealed several needed changes.  These will stand for a while now as a bunch of playtesting is carried out, especially of the lists in various scenarios.
EDIT - please give feedback by responses, indicate if you'd like the WORD document of the rules to use with an edit function.  Thanks!


DARK AGE WARGAME RULES
Grey Areas.  Any situation not explicitly covered in the rules, or a measurement that is “too close to call”, should be defined in “either/or” terms and resolved with a friendly roll off.

Units.  There are four types of Units in the Dark Ages rules, representing British types.
1.    Infantry are assumed to have some training and experience working together and adopting a protective shieldwall formation at need.  Due to this defensive posture, they move slower than other Units.  They may have large shields/short spears or small shields/long spears.
2.    Warband are wild fighters who attack with speed and ferocity.  Their lack of armor and individual style leaves them vulnerable to casualties.  Some are Raiders who use terrain to advantage. Others are Warriors prepared to stand together on open ground fighting with great determination.
3.    Cavalry represent household soldiers on small unarmored horses who use their mobility to hurl missiles with impunity until the enemy is weakened, then charge in to finish them off.  As professionals, some may have armor and helmets and be eager to charge into melee.
4.    Skirmishers are usually hunters/raiders w’bows & knives, or javelin-armed freemen w’small shields & short swirds.  They harass with missiles, preferably from difficult terrain, charging if they see an opportunity.  Some are aggressive household warriors with better weapons.

Figures & Basing
4-6 inch frontage per Unit with no prescribed depth, figure size or number per base.  Mine are two adjacent 6cm bases of 2-6 25mm figures [WRG standard], for a total of 12cm [47/8”] or 5 bases of 2x1” cavalry singles.  This makes all my Units about 5” wide, and 1.5-2” deep. 

Dice.  For more averaged results, I use a d5, which is the UK “average dice”, having pips of 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, eliminating 1 & 6.  If you want more extreme swings, switch to a d6.

Line of Sight.  LoS is measured from a Unit's front center point to closest visible part of target.  It is blocked by any intervening Units, hills, woods, buildings, etc. that are scaled over figure height.  
·         Units may see into and out of woods, but not through two sides of a wood. 
·         Units must have LoS to shoot or charge enemy Units at the time of the shooting or charge.

Play Sequence
A full turn has each player taking four phases:
Attacker  [player A]: 1) Movement, 2) Shooting, 3) Melee, 4) Routs and Rallies
Defender [player D]: 1) Movement, 2) Shooting, 3) Melee, 4) Routs and Rallies

1) MOVEMENT
Playser sequentially move their Units, with no corner exceeding the total distance rolled in inches. 
1.    Class 1.  Infantry                           move 1d5+2
2.    Class 2.  Warband, Skirmishers   move 2d5+2
3.    Class 3.  Cavalry                         move 3d5+2
To fit through a gap or move along a road, the two bases may be placed one behind the other, or the cavalry bases may move sideways or in a column of bases for appearances sake.  There’s no game difference for a “column” as the warriors are just flowing through a gap or along a road.


Terrain
There are two terrain types, Linear and Area.  Linear are 6-12” long x 1-3” wide.  Area are 6-12” per side or diameter.  Building or tree models are only decorative – move as needed to position Units.
·         Villages.  Area. No movement effect.  Defensive bonus when inside.
·         Hills. Area.  No movement effect.  “Uphill” must be defined by center point, crest or plateau.  Defensive bonus when fighting  from uphill.
·         Woods, Marsh.  Area. Only Skirmishers and Raiders may enter.  Defensive bonus when inside.
·         Lakes.  Area, impassible.
·         Rivers.  Linear, impassible. Any Unit may cross at a bridge, a ford, or if shallow.
·         Walls, Gullies. Linear. No movement effect but defensive bonus.
·         Roads. Linear. Units get a 3” bonus moving entirely on a road, neither Charging nor Turning.

Interpenetration
Only by Skirmishers and any Unit, and vice-versa.

Turning
Units Turn by rotating on their center or center front up to 180°. Turns are not movement and not measured.
1.    Warband & infantry may Turn once, at the start OR end of their move.
2.    Skirmishers & Cavalry may Turn twice, once at the start AND once at the end of their move.
3.    Any Unit in melee contact with enemy Unit(s) that are not on its front facing may face one of the Unit(s) with its front.  It turns a full 90° or 180° and bases of enemy Units are adjusted to maintain contacts. 

Charging
Charge moves end with the Unit in Contact with an enemy Unit.
1.    The target Unit must be within 45° of the charging Unit’s front and in its LoS to be charged.
2.    Contacting the flank or rear is only possible if the entire charging Unit is past an imaginary line drawn along the Target Unit’s Flank or Rear Facing respectively.
3.    Contact may be made by only one attacking Unit per facing; front, rear and either flank.
4.    Contact is made by moving along the shortest line from the Charging Unit’s Front Facing to the center of any Facing that is not already in a contact, maximizing the amount of edge to edge Contact, if any, and minimizing any gap using all available movement to do so.  It then stops moving.  
There is no additional free movement to achieve fully aligned edge-to-edge contact [the so-called “closing the door” of DBA and other rules].   Any gaps are assumed to be filled with fighting men!

Moving Shots
Units with javelins may perform a Moving Shot in their Movement Phase, either before or after their move.  Skirmish bows may not shoot if they move but may if they only Turn [which is not considered movement].

2) SHOOTING
Skirmishers and javelin Units may shoot at a single Target within range and within 45° off their front facing.
·         They must have a clear Line of Sight to an entire Facing.
·         Bows may not shoot if they moved during the Movement Phase – Turns are not movement.
·         Javelins may not shoot if they performed a Moving Shot in the Movement Phase.
·         Fulfilling the above restrictions, they may shoot into a melee.
·         Range is 12” for bows and 6” for javelins measured from the closest points of the Units.
·         Bows and javelins have three shots.
Roll 1D5 and subtract 2 if the Unit is armed with bows, or 1 if armed with javelins.  This gives the number of Hits against the Target Unit, modified as follows:
o   Terrain.  Units defending woods, villages or walls halve Hits [round up].
o   Shieldwall.  Infantry Units assume a Shieldwall formation against any threat, so they halve Hits [round up] from shooting at their front or flank facings.
o   Unshielded or unprepared. Double Hits from Units shooting at the rear Facing.
o   Stacked Modifiers. The max defensive benefit any Unit may receive is ¼ Hits [1/2x1/2].

3) MELEE
One-Sided Melee.  Units only inflict casualties during their own player turn.
Roll 1D5 for the Unit, only modifying with +1 for Warriors, -1 for javelin Skirmishers / javelin Cavalry, and -2 for bow Skirmishers.  The final result is the Hits against the Target Unit, modified as follows:
·         Terrain. Units uphill or defending woods / river bank / gully / wall halve Hits [round up].
·         Shieldwall. Infantry Units halve Hits [rounded up].
·         Unshielded or Unprepared.  Double Hits by Units attacking on the flank or rear facing.
·         Stacked Modifiers. The max defensive benefit any Unit may receive is ¼ Hits [1/2x1/2].
There is no dividing of the Hits a Unit inflicts upon multiple Units attacking it [one enemy Unit may attack each facing; front, rear and either flank, for four total Units].  Units only fight melee combats to their Front, attacking a single enemy Unit in contact with their Front Facing.  Melee concludes with the elimination of one of the sides, but Units in melee may turn to face attackers [see movement].

4) ROUTS AND RALLIES
·         Any Unit with 15 or more Hits is removed from the table.
·         Any Unit eligible to rally off Hits due to an Optional Rule does so now. 

OPTIONAL RULES

PERSONALITIES
These come in several types to give an army some more “personality”.  For every three Units in a force, a player may pick a suitable personality figure.  All personalities function as a Unit upgrade that may transfer to another Unit within 6” at the start of the friendly Movement Phase.  If in a Unit that is in melee they may not leave it, sharing its fate if destroyed.
·         Hero.  This is a warrior with personal fighting skill, or frenzied pagan shaman.  Inspiring others with their skill and eagerness, Heroes give a +1 bonus in shooting or melee combat.
·         Leader.  This is a campaign veteran, such as a Roman Centurion.  He knows that maneuver will win the battle more often than personal valor, and demands discipline from his men.  A Leader gives a Unit one additional Turn that may be used at any time during its movement.
o   Banner.  This is an upgrade to either personality above.  The Banner is a prestigious symbol of the personality and his people.  It allows a Unit that is not in Melee, and has not moved or shot, to rally off 1-3 Hits [halve a d5 roll, rounding up].  A Banner counts as one of the permitted Personalities for the side.
·         A Christian Priest rallies off 2-4 Hits [halve a d5 roll, rounding up, then add 1] since he has a suitable holy relic, standard, great exhortations, etc.
·         RALLY VARIATION: Once a Unit has taken 5 or more Hits, it may not rally to below 5 Hits.  This represents fatigue, fleeing, injuries and deaths unrecoverable during a short battle.

INITIATIVE
Battles often began with one side as the aggressor, making a series of attacks until fatigue or enemy resistance caused them to lose momentum.  To simulate this, the scenario attacker has Initiative and goes first each Turn [if no clear Attacker, roll off].  But at the start of Turn 2 - and every Turn after - roll off adding +3 for the Initiative Side.  If the Initiative side loses the roll, Initiative changes to the other side and they start going first each Turn.  Note this allows the side seizing Initiative to go twice in a row as the turn order changes, which could be a critical moment in a game.  While it is possible for Initiative to switch a couple of times, it is likely to only change once.  Additional options:
·         For more likelihood to change use +2 for the side holding Initiative, for less go with +4.
·         Subtract '1' from the players dice rolls for each of their Units that have routed.

VARIABLE QUALITY
For each army of six Units, allow one Unit to be Elite, but one must be Levy to balance things out!
Elite / Stubborn troops = 18 Casualties before routing.
Levy /Nervous troops etc = 12 Casualties then routing.

FORCE MORALE
The 1HW scenarios have 6 Units per side as the norm.  This conveniently comes to rolling a d5 each time a friendly Unit is destroyed, attempting to roll higher than the total number of friendly Units destroyed to keeping fighting. If you roll equal or less your force routs and the game ends.  With a three or four Unit army, roll a d5 halved [round up].  As this shortens the game a lot, you can roll TWO d5 and keep fighting if EITHER roll beats the number of Units lost.  You could also get a +1 to your roll if your opponent has lost more Units, emboldening your force to greater efforts

In a campaign game, allow the opposing side to get one last free attack as they rout.  For more "period flavor", consider fun ways to gain a bonus point or two on the die roll, like winning a pre-game challenge, praying to God [or 'the gods'], fatigue from force marching to an objective, etc.

IDEAS FOR UNIT TYPES
This is just to show how well the game mechanics can represent historical types [or myths!].  The internal mechanics are more nuanced than they appear. Relative values between fighting Units are very important.
Roman Militia.  These are Infantry who melee at d5-1.
Roman Cavalry.  These better-equipped cavalry on bigger horses shoot & melee at d5.
Arthur’s Cavalry.  As above, but are d5+1.  If “Roundtable Knights”, let them fight d5+2.
Mounted Servants. These fight with javelin but at d5-2.  If Arthur’s cavalry is in play, they may also be upgraded.  In this case, a second Unit must be downgraded.
Irish Nobles. These javelin Skirmishers fight at d5.
Scots Nobles.  These Determined Warband fight at d5+1 with 18 Hits.
Viking VeteransAfter deployment choose to fight as Infantry OR Warriors.
Generally speaking, even a small change is bit in this game.  Give a single Unit a couple of upgraded abilities and you will quickly find yourself with the super-unit problem that plagues fantasy rules – so less is more!

FALL BACK!
Skirmishers and cavalry may make a full move directly back out of melee to Fall Back [FB]:
·         IF they are from a higher movement class than all enemy Units in the melee
·         AND no enemy are in contact with their rear facing. 
If an enemy Unit is in frontal Contact with the FB Unit, dice-off their movement distances – if it wins the enemy Unit makes a free attack before the Skirmish or Cavalry Unit moves the amount it rolled.

MISSILE SUPPLY
Any shooting roll of a natural ‘5’ results in the Unit having used the last of their missiles with that shot.  This replaces the three-shot limit.  Statistically, this will result in more shots by a Unit.

DECLARED MOVEMENT
The player indicates a Unit, states the intent of its move, rolls the dice and then fulfills the intent as much as possible.  Units move the full distance rolled even if farther than desired.  They may however stop alongside a Unit with a banner, at a terrain feature that gives a movement or combat bonus [e.g. road, hill], and must stop at any Unit they may not interpenetrate, Contacting for Melee if an enemy Unit.  Warband must contact an enemy Unit if they roll enough distance. 
Note, this section is the one most open to disagreements, so use with caution!  A Personality with a Banner suddenly becomes essential if you use this rule.

ARMY LISTS
Army lists - people love them, people hate them.  Bottom line is that they are as useful and beneficial as gamers and game masters let them be.  They certainly help newbies get started with a game, a benefit that cannot be underestimated in a fast-play set that will likely attract newer players.  The trick is to not let building killer lists become the game’s main strategy.  Altho optimizing a list is OK, the list needs to typify the warriors of the time, not be some strange amalgamation of fantasy and competitiveness.

Historical context is somewhat absent from the force matrix on p. 64 of Neil Thomas "One - Hour Wargames". It's worth noting that he has d6+2 Warband as 0, 1 or 2 Units max in a force based upon random rolling [you can’t pick the force] and an Infantry norm of 3-4 Units out of six.  In my blog posts, I have been invading Strathclyde with a force of five Warband and a Skirmisher, which probably explains some of the problems I've had fending them off!  Ergo, here's some lists that are closer to the RAW for those who want to try them out for pickup or historical match-ups, but with a bit more historicity.

Points and Unit values are not a part of the matrix as they are unnecessary.  I did design a cost matrix of Unit abilities, and basically found that they are all about the same in value, strengths and weaknesses.  Certainly in some scenarios certain Units are more valuable than others.  Over the course of a small campaign or series of battles, it should even out.

Design notes for these lists.  I've toned down Warband from +2 attack to +1.  Overall, they were a bit overpowered usually overcoming even the solid Infantry Units in a straight fight.  This is balanced by allowing any list to have a Unit upgraded by +1 and allowing Personalities. Thus the NT result is obtained, but we’ve some historical troop types that can be deployed in larger numbers.  Using their speed, Warband can still often get onto a flank, especially if they pick good Skirmishers as options – Skirmish Units are essential.  Preventing super-units nor super-armies, a sin to which most gamers are prone.

Also, I've switched the definitions to d5 average dice from the original NT d6, as the swing of results was a bit too extreme - it was often more important than good tactical play.  All Units above the underline are required. All shooting has a 3-shot limit or optional ammo supply rule in effect - part of the Dark Ages supply and organization problem.  If you want unlimited ammo, go get yourself civilized!

Unit Definitions
Warriors are Warband who attack at d5+1 and have same terrain limits as Infantry
Raiders are Warband who attack at d5 and can enter terrain like Skirmishers
Cavalry and Infantry attack at d5
Cavalry, javelins and Skirmish, javelins attack at d5-1
Skirmishers, bows attack at d5-2

Late Dark Age / Early Medieval Britain Armies
There are six Units in every army list.  Most start with 3 -4 of the six being Infantry.  Then they can round off their force with additional required Units and at least one choice. They are directly based upon the force matrix on p.64 of the 1HW book that I've fit into likely historical counterparts.  However, you can always use Allies or rename a list if you feel it represents your understanding of the history better!  

As the scale of the game is approximately 1/10, most of these little "nations" and their warlords would be hard-pressed to raise more than a few hundred specialty warrior types on their own, altho all would have some sort of full-time followers - the richer and more famous the patron, the more warriors he'd have in his personal household. These lists are meant to represent a "typical" force for this sort of common, small-scale fight of 400-700 men on a side.  This is big enough to really make trouble and steal a lot of stuff, but small enough to move quickly and live off the land.  Probably this would be 95% of the fighting a warrior would do in his life.  A large battle with several thousand men was an event a typical warrior might only see once or twice!


Variations for All Armies
o   Upgrades. One Unit made Household [+1 to D5 attack] OR Determined [18 Hits before routing], AND,
o   Downgrades. One Unit made Levy [-1 to D5 attack], OR Reluctant [12 Hits then routing]
Units may only get one change, and cannot be upgraded past +2, or downgraded past -2.  Units in italics may not be changed.  Each list may select ONE upgrade and MUST then select a downgrade, also.

Allied Forces
You may field 1-3 Units as an Allied force from another list’s required Units.  
  1. If 1-2 Units, then if a natural '2' is rolled for Movement it will not move while the leaders debate what's in their best interest.
  2. If 3 Units, a Personality may be taken for the Allies, in which case they will not need to roll as in #2 above.  This Personality counts against any total Personality limit chosen by the players for the battle.
  3. Personalities may only affect or attach to Units of their own list, Host or Allied.  


Anglo-Saxons
4 Infantry
1-2 more Infantry
1 Warriors
1 Cavalry
If six Infantry are taken, may get two upgrades and two downgrades instead of one each.

Strathclyde
2 Infantry
2 Cavalry
1 Skirmishers, bow or javelin
1 Infantry
1 Skirmishers, bow or javelin

Welsh
2 Infantry OR 2 Raiders
2 Skirmishers w' javelins or bows
1 Cavalry w' javelins
1 Raiders

Scots
3 Infantry
1 Infantry OR 1 Raiders
1 Skirmishers w'bow
1 Cavalry
1 Cavalry w'javelins
1 Warriors

Viking Invaders
1 Warriors OR Raiders
4 Raiders
1 Skirmish Bow OR
1 Raiders

Danelaw Norse [“Settled” Vikings]
4 Infantry
1 Warriors OR Raiders
1 Skirmisher, bow OR
1 Raiders

Barbarians
These may be mercenaries, raiders, an area plunged into civil strife and banditry, fallen Romans, whoever has lost the vestiges of civilization, clan, tribal or otherwise.  Note that this is NOT an option from the 1HW lists, but should work if the Warband are mostly Raiders.
4 Raiders
1 Skirmishers with javelins
1 Cavalry w’ javelins
1 Skirmishers with bow



"One - Hour Wargames": Dark Ages d5 Batrep, #8 Melee

Needed to do a test run with the d5 mechanism.  While the theory sounded right, had to see it in practice.  By eliminating '1' and '6', the rules help Infantry.  The least amount of damage they can do is now two Hits. But Warband if +2 only get half as many chances to do four Hits by eliminating the '6'.  They can only do so on a '5' [5+2 = 7/2 = 3.5 rounded up].   As I've made them +1 instead of +2  the chance is reduced to nil, as the highest they can roll is a '6' unless they are upgraded to Household or have a Hero attached.  In that case there's about two Units that _can_ roll a '7' total, about what NT had originally in an army, but they still have half the chances to roll up to 4 Hits.  So we'll have to see about that. Does d5 weaken them too much? Remember that all of the Units need to be useful in all the scenarios, altho they may not be _equally_ useful in every scenario.

To get to some hard fighting, I chose "Scenario #8: Melee", which seemed like it would reduce the maneuvering by having one clear objective, control of the central hill in the scenario.  Below is the board with the initial setup.  While each side has 6 Units, they come in on different schedules.  The Defenders start with two on the hill, and therefore possession of the victory condition, with two Units each arriving on  Turns 3 & 6.  The Attacker starts with three Units arrive Turn 1 and the other three on Turn 4. A nice pace, a good scenario.

Given the terrain, I chose an Infantry Unit to hold the hill [Hits against it are quartered due to the combo of shieldwall and uphill] and Skirmish bow to hold the woods as they are key to the position, actually.  If enemy Skirmishers control them they can charge out onto flanks almost certainly.  Since they get half Hits defending the woods, even the bows should be able to hold it effectively [remember, only Skirmishers may enter woods].  The Attackers having 5 Warband and 1 Skirmisher javelin my only choice was bringing in the Skirmishers on T1 or T4.  As I felt the Warband assault on the hill would take time to effectively set up before the Defender's reinforcements arrived, I opted to bring in the Skirmishers on T4. 
Turn 1, the Stratchclyde Infantry occupy the hill [1/4 casualties while on it!] and their Skirmish bow occupy the woods.  As none of the approaching Warband may enter the woods, they are effectively in a fort.  Two Warband break left including the lead one which is +2 Household with a Hero and Banner [net d5+3].  Warbands 2 & 3 following and going up the road are regular +1 Warbands.  The road Wb is trying to intercept the reinforcements or outflank the hill/woods.  We'll see... 

End of Turn 2.  The Household Unit manage to - barely - get out of the 45 degree charge arc of the Skirmish bow.  The following Warband are ready if they charge out, but are also positioned to turn hard left and try to outflank the Infantry on the hill.  Warband 3 is dashing up the road.  The bowmen shot a '4' [-2] and did 2 Hits to the Household Warband.

End of Turn 3, things get interesting.  Reinforcements arrive for Strathclyde, a Cavalry and another Infantry.  The former dash in onto the flank of the Warband an throw javelins for two points of damage.  The Infantry added a couple more, both underperformed as average would be 7 total. Warband 1 charges up the hill lead by their fearless Hero.  Warband 2 works around the flank since the hill is after all the objective.  Note that the Cavalry are positioned to charge into the flank of Warband 3 or dash to help the hill.  Warband 3 clearly doesn't give a damn!  Skirmish bow 1 is out of arc to shoot.  

End of Turn 4.  The hill melee continues, with the Infantry putting the smack on the Hero and his pals, with a 4-7 Hit count respectively thus far.  The Cavalry have decided to fight for the objective and leave Infantry 2 on the road to handle Warband 3, which seems the right idea given the numbers.  Warband 4 & 5 head for the hill and up the road respectively, while Skirmisher javelins head to take on the bowmen in the woods. Note that the defending bow will halve Hits for defending the woods against the approaching javelins.  As it was my opinion that the woods represented the key support point for the position and the win, I didn't divert the bowmen towards the hill melee as it seemed to be going well.  I did turn them a bit so that the option for shot was there if needed. This will prove to be an important choice.

Top of Turn 5.  Both the Cavalry and bow shoot at Warband 1 rolling a '4' each, with the -1 and -2 respectively, that still adds 5 Hits, nothing to sneer at.  Then Infantry 1 rolled a natural '5' and the party ended up there!  Warband 1 runs with 16 Hits, the Hero and his banner falling on the field.  Still, he did fall fighting forward, so I guess he gets to go to valhalla or hel, or wherever Satan collects his killers.

Bottom of Turn 5. With few options, Warbands 2 and 4 head for the hill, while the Skirmishers charge the woods doing a mighty one Hit.  The Cavalry defend the hill crest getting half casualties at '3' Hits, and the Infantry are not worried.  The road melee is going poorly but Warband 5 decides to cut left and stay focused on the victory hill.

End of Turn 6. Slow progress against the hill and woods doesn't discourage the Warband. Skirmishers and Cavalry are not strong Units in a stand-up fight, but the defensive positions are helping a lot.  While the Skirmishers bow have missed every time, they have only taken 3 Hits.  Also, approaching from the top left are the last two reinforcements, a Skirmishers bow Unit and Infantry 3, with their hard-praying monastic hurrying with them.  The Christian Priest can serve a critical role here by rallying Hits off friendly Units that can get out of melee and rest. Even saving a couple of Hits and one Unit can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

End of Turn 7.  This is a tense moment on a critical Turn.  The Skirmishers bow 2 have nicked the flank of Warband 2 and could hurt it if they roll up.  Altho Warband 4 broke Infantry 1 with a flank attack from Warband 5, Infantry 3 is Household, fresh and in a good position to fight for the hill.  Warband 5 is in a position to challenge them, while Warband 4 threatens the Cavalry with a flank attack.  The woods is still bogged down with little progress altho the javelins are clearly winning.  On the road, Infantry 2 has defeated Warband 3 and is now a flanking threat despite the 10 Hits it's carrying.  Who will win??

End of Turn 8.  Critical decisions made, the Strathclyde pull back the Cavalry to save them. The Skirmishers bow 2 manage to barely break Warband 2.  Warband 4 advances onto the hill to threaten the flank of Infantry 3 as well as threaten the Cavalry with their speed.  With Infantry 2 approaching and nothing to intervene, it's a tense moment.

 Turn 9 end.  The Warband try to break Infantry 3 risking their own flank.  Infantry 2 closes in...slowly.  The Christian Priest rallies off 3 Hits from the resting Cavalry.  The Skirmishers 2 turn to face and threaten the hill Units.  The javelins continue to beat up the bowmen in the woods, who've only managed to do a single Hit on them so far!

Turn 10 end.  The flank charge of Infantry 2, along with the desperate attack by the Cavalry and Skirmish bow 2 have locked down the hill and broken Warband 4.  The end is in sight!

And the last Warband breaks upon Turn 11 with 19 Hits.  The Skirmishers bow 2 manage to not roll junk and even a couple hits a turn adds up.  With all the Warband broken, the javelins are in no place to contest anything, plus with a second Skirmisher Unit at hand in good shape, relief for the woods is in sight!

A few lessons learned with this playtest.  First, with the d5 Warband are too weak at +1, so will have to be returned to d5+2.  This leads me to the desire to differentiate between close and loose-order warbands as in other rules.  I'm thinking that d5+1 should move as Skirmishers but have no shooting ability, while d5+2 Warband should remain as they are - open terrain troops.  Only question is should they slow down to d5+2" of movement, same as the Infantry.  It's true they aren't using shieldwall, but they must be moving more deliberately?  Or not.  Have to think about it.  Perhaps the terrain restrictions are enough there.

Second, the d5 works really well with the movement rates.  There's still the occasional difficulty of not rolling high enough, yet with an everage of 3-4 rolled it helps make a fatter bell curve rather than the extremes.  I think most leaders have some idea how fast their men move, and can roughly judge it.  The friction of some uncertainty is enough.

Third, Skirmish bow should at least be able to Turn freely and not have it count as movement.  As this also works with the "Archers" Unit type in the Ancient rules of this book, and melds well into the rules as I've been working with them, this'll be a change, also. Skirmish bow will be able to Turn and shoot while Ancient Archers will not due to their larger, closer formation.  One question still remaining is should they be able to shoot in the movement phase like javelins?

I've been working with two armies for a while to get a feel for them.  The only change this time was replacing the Skirmish bow with javelins on the barbarian force.  They certainly seem like the right choice for an Attacker with their better shooting on the move, and not really needing the extra distance for the shooting.  After all, they're moving in close, anyway.

The mechanic of Turns is working perfectly.  Restricting formed Units to one Turn at the start or end of move and giving two Turns to Skirmish and Cavalry has just the right feel. For better trained Units that we will see with the continental version of these rules, all I need to do is add one Turn to each type and suddenly they'll be Roman or Byzantine trained troops.

So time to make these changes and update the rules again!  As I've also made some more corrections to them, it is time to do it anyway.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"One - Hour Wargames" Dark Age Army Lists


"what do you mean my army list can no longer have Viking berserkers!!??"

Army lists - people love them, people hate them.  Bottom line is that they are as useful and beneficial as gamers and game masters let them be.  They certainly help newbies get started with a game, perhaps get interested at all.  The trick is to not let building killer lists be the goal.  Altho optimizing a list is OK, the list needs to be typify the warriors of the time, not be some strange amalgamation of fantasy and competitiveness.  In that light...

Have been tinkering with the rules a bit as you'll have seen.  Trying to find some balance with the RAW forces in the Neil Thomas "One - Hour Wargames" force matrix on p. 64 to put it in an historical context.  It's worth noting that the powerful d6+2 Warband are 0, 1 or 2 Units max in a force.  I have been invading Strathclyde with a force of five Warband and a Skirmisher, which probably explains some of the problems I've had fending them off!  Ergo, here's some lists that are close to the RAW for those who want to try them out for pickup or historical match-ups.

Design notes for these lists.  I've toned down Warband from +2 attack to +1.  Overall, they were a bit overpowered and deserved the +1 if in large numbers.  This is balanced by allowed certain lists to have two upgraded to +2 through the combination of a single upgrade to Household, and the second having a Hero attached. Thus the NT result is obtained, but I end up with a troop type that can be deployed as an entire army without being overwhelming.  Using their speed, they can still often get onto a flank, especially if they pick good Skirmishers as options - I'll eagerly playtest this out of course!


Part of the desire is to stay within the spirit of the rules and allow neither super-units nor super-armies, a sin to which most gamers are prone.

Also, I've switched the definitions to d5 average dice from the original NT d6, as the swing of results was a bit too extreme - it was often more important than good tactical play.

Unit Definitions

Warband attacks at d5+1
Cavalry and Infantry attack at d5
Cavalry, javelins attacks at d5-1
Skirmishers, javelins attacks at d5-1
Skirmishers, bows attacks at d5-2
All shooting has a 3-shot limit or optional ammo supply rule in effect - part of the Dark Ages supply and organization problem.  If you want unlimited ammo, go get yourself civilized!

Late Dark Age / Early Medieval Britain Armies

The assumption is that there are six Units in every army.  All start with 3 -4 of the six Units being Infantry, whether Picts, Scots, etc.  Then they can round off their force with additional Units. They are directly based upon the force matrix on p.64 of the 1HW book, which has no historical designations to them.  I've fit them into likely historical counterparts.  However, you can always field an army using another group of figures that better represents it in you opinion, of course.  Or you can just ignore this altogether!  

As the scale of the game is approximately 1/10, most of these little "nations" and their warlords would be hard-pressed to raise more than a few hundred specialty warrior types on their own, altho all would have some sort of profesional warband of personal followers - the richer and more famous the patron, the more warriors he'd have in his personal household. I'm working with a "typical" force for this sort of regular, small scale battling between 400-700 man forces.  Big enough to really make trouble and steal a lot of stuff, but small enough to move quickly and live off the land.

Variations for All Armies
  1. One Household Unit [either 18 Hits or +1 to D5 attack]
  2. One Levy Unit [either 12 Hits or -1 to D5 attack]
  3. Those in italics may not be upgraded in quality.  
  4. No Unit may be up graded past +2, or downgraded past -2.
Allies
  1. You may field 1-3 Units of an Allied force from another list.  
  2. If 1-2 Units, then every turn, you must roll a d5 for each Unit and on a natural '2' it will not move while the leaders debate what's in their best interest.
  3. If 3 Units, a Personality may be taken for the Allies, in which case they will not need to roll as in #2 above.  This Personality counts against any total Personality limit chosen by the players for the battle.
  4. Personalities may only affect or attach to Units of their own list, Host or Allied.  
Anglo-Saxons

4 Infantry
1-2 more Infantry, OR 1-2 of below:
1 Skirmisher with bow
1 Warband
1 Cavalry
Quality Option: If six Infantry are taken, may take two each of Hearthguard and Levy.

Strathclyde
3 Infantry
1 Cavalry, javelins
1 Skirmishers, bow or javelin
1 Cavalry, javelins OR
1 Skirmishers, bow or javelin

Welsh
3 Infantry
1 Cavalry w' javelins, OR
2-2 Skirmishers w'javelins or bows

Scots
4 Infantry
1 Cavalry w'javelins
1 Skirmishers w'bow

Viking Invaders
3 Infantry
2 Warband
1 Skirmish Bow OR
1 Infantry

Danelaw Norse "Vikings"
4 Infantry
1 Warband OR Infantry
1 Cavalry OR
1 Skirmisher, bow

Barbarians
These may be mercenaries, raiders, an area plunged into civil strife and banditry, fallen Romans, whomever has lost the vestiges of civilization, clan, tribal or otherwise.  Note that this is NOT an option from the 1HW lists, but will work if the Warband are only +1.
4 Warbands
1-2 Warbands, OR
1-2 Skirmishers with bow or javelins