The Viking Legal Team in Action

The Viking Legal Team in Action
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Monday, October 24, 2016

OHW #10, "Late Arrivals" w' Feudal Rules, P.1

After several months being very busy with the 1:1 scale Army, I finally had some time to sit down and return to my Feudal rules.  After a number of revisions and playtests, I tightened up many of the sections and simplified and clarified - a lot - especially sections that are always tricky, like making melee contact.  

As I am depicting battles of about 500 a side, rigid formations and movement rules largely derived from 18th C. wargames are anachonistic.  Each Unit is only 80-160 men, and they are mostly moving around a leader group that has a banner, perhaps a horn or drum, to get their attention.  Voice commands are possible in this scale, especially if one is not fighting the enemy. I also assume that the leaders have enough experience moving these loosely-trained soldiers around to get the results they need in the 5-10 minutes of a turn - usually.

Shooting is primarily Bowmen in groups large enough to shoot volleys to some effect. As shooting precedes movement, it is possible for support shooting to be followed by a charge if the enemy appears dismayed [i.e. Hits are high enough].  There are also Lights that have limited shooting and melee ability but move faster than foot altho slower than Knights.

As these are intended to play a full battle in under an hour, effort has been made to make the game physically easy to manage, with little fiddling and easily grasped concepts that often carry over into other aspects of the rules.  Limiting the period that the rule presents, and further limiting it to "playing the 90%" or the most common aspects of period battles -rather than the bizarre exceptions - results in mechanics and concepts that are simple for a table-top gamer with a bit of experience to grasp.

With this in mind, some final playtests are needed to see if these play clean. I'd been meaning to try #10 from One Hour Wargames for a while.  At first it looked uninteresting, then I thought it was lop-sided - but I was wrong on both accounts as you shall see below!  

As always, it is worth remembering that there is more going on with a set of NT rules and scenarios than you think, and that it doesn't take much to get a great game out of them.

So, on to battle!

NOTE: as my rules allow you to choose either a D6 or D5 [average die] for the game, I refer to the die rolled and value as Dx, since it is one of the two.  Personally, I prefer the D5 as more rewarding of good tactics and less on luck, but sometimes a wild ride of rolls is fun, also.  Dx+2 is the number rolled +2, Dx-2 is the same but -2, etc.

Below, the table laid out: Blue [table South] is defending the road at a bottleneck between a wood and impassible hill. Victory is preventing Red [table North] from occupying the town.

Below is the scenario and map.  Red's 6 Units arrive on the road, turn 1. Blue has two on the table up to two feet in, or in the wood.  Note that only Lights may enter woods.  Blue gets two Units Turn 5 and two Turn 10, entering the board from the South edge.  This is a pretty big help since they can charge on and the objective Town is touching the South edge.  Any Red Units that have a vulnerable flank can be charged by reinforcements..

I rolled two armies from my own lists - the main difference is that the heavy Units are Knights and Foot Knights [i.e. dismounted knights] who are "Men at Arms" renamed, and allow any Knight Unit to dismount before a scenario as Foot Knights - slow, but they only take 1/2 Hits due to their armor and protective, closely assembled grouping. This results in them only inflicting Dx Hits in melee as they have no shock value while Knights are Dx+2. Next are Serjeants [Levy in the rules] who are also slow and Hit Dx in melee, but with no armor benefit.  Bowmen shoot a Dx but melee Dx-2 and last are Lights who both shoot and melee at Dx-2, but are faster than foot; they shoot with "Javelins" during the move phase.

Blue rolled three Knights, two Bowman and one Lights.  Two Knights dismount to hold the gap and blocked it between the woods edge and the hill.  Also with the Unit to left is the Hero, William Marshal [Foundry figs] who gives +1 Hit in melee, and his banner which allows Dx-3 Hits to be rallied each turn, even if the Unit is in melee. Most of the figs are Old Glory Swabians from their Revenge series [a decrepit set of rules and mechanics but solid figs].

Below are the rest of Blue's force, a Unit of Knights, Lights and two Bowmen.  Figs are Old Glory Crusaders, Welsh bow, and Soldier and Sword archers. Basing is not yet completed b/c I wanted to be certain the "big based diorama" effect worked for me. The hills are just regular corrugated cardboard, the Welsh Lights have had their base given a first covering of wood filler [basically a thicker Elmer's glue] to see how it sets. I'm pleased so far!

Below is Red's force, four Knight Units, one Serjeants [Old Glory Welsh Spearmen] and one Unit of Bowmen [OG Welsh Archers].  They also have a Hero and a banner, forget his name, however!  Note that the Units are mounted in 2.5" x 5" cut pieces of flooring, which I covered previously in other posts [no pun intended...!].  The Front / Flank ratio is helpful, since it gives easy measurement parameters for the rules - one can use Base Depth [BD] and Base Width [BW].  Due to the need to advance quickly, take ground and attack, I left all the knights mounted.

Below, Turn 1.  Having given the scenario a trial run, I know better than to allow the Red Knights to be in charge range of the foot, a max of 8" [I use a Dx value as the base move. If charging or avoiding proximity to enemy, a bonus of 3", 6" and 9" is given to Foot Knights/Serjeants, Lights and Knights respectively]. It helps to get the charge and first Hit in, if you can. Note the Bowmen are not obstructed by the knights, needing a BD to shoot and to see of the Target, the Foot Knights on the right. As for Blue, with no charge opportunity William Marshal's Foot Knights grimly wait.

Turn 2, below. The Red Bowmen rolled a '2' which was halved to 1 Hit thanks to the Foot Knight's armor. Two Knights then charged while the Serjeants moved up in support. The Knights to right roll a 4 +2 [Knights] +1 [Hero] x 1/2 for a net 4 Hits.  For Blue, William Marshal's retinue inflicts '5' back [the highest value on D5] equaling the totals. To left, the Knights roll a 5+2=7 x 1/2 for 4 Hits, taking only 2 back. Marshal's banner ends the turn by rallying off a Hit despite the melee.

On Turn 3, the grind continues as the Red force tries to break through to the town. Blue is giving as good as it gets, the Foot Knights are tough! Both Banner's fail to rally any Hits off - the din of battle prevents their battle cry from being heard?

Turn 4, more of the same, but time is passing - next turn, Blue gets two more Units! Nearly all Units are reaching a critical point, since they break at 15 Hits. Red Hero's retinue is at 14, Marshal is at 12, the left Hit dice have been poorer so less Hits there. Red's banner fails to rally [3-3=0] while Marshal's rallies off a single Hit. Next turn will see a decision in the gap!

Turn 5. Low dice to the left leaves the melee still slogging. The right sees Marshal's retinue break, covered by a Unit of Knights that have arrived. I put the Blue Knight Unit on the left to impede the advance - putting them straight in front would give Red both an advance and a charge. Now they must deviate from their advance or face a flank charge. Blue Bowmen occupy the town. Being within it, they take 1/2 Hits. With their two Front corners touching the edge, they count as lining the edge of the town [must adapt to the shape of base and town].

Turn 6 below sees the Red Hero retreat his Unit to do some rallying. Any Unit that doesn't act - Move, Shoot or Melee - may rally off 1-3 Hits a turn. Once a Unit goes past 10 Hits however, it may not rally to below 5 Hits [hence the red dice].  This represents casualties and fatigue that just can't be recovered in such a short battle. In addition, the Banner allows a Unit to rally Dx-3 Hits a turn regardless of any activity. Not much, but in a 3-5 turn melee, a couple of Hits can mean the difference between victory and defeat! 

The left Red Knights finally finish off the Blue Foot Knights, but have 12 Hits themselves. The other Red Units advance. I allow my single-base Units to form a 'column' by moving sideways. It costs a Turn and I mark the new "Front". On Blue Turn, Bowmen advance 3" to get in range of the Red Knights, while Blue knights on the left charge the damaged Red Knights, sending them packing! This leaves them vulnerable to the flank, but I wanted to plug the gap far away and destroy one Red Unit. I'm hoping that some solid Hits from the Bowmen will damage the Red Knights enough that their attack on the town will fail. This may not be a good idea, but I felt it was better than taking a charge from 1-2 Red Knight Units.

Turn 7 below. The Red knights easily roll enough inches to strike the Blue Knight Unit on the flank, while the Red Serjeants charge the Front. inflicting 10 and 2 Hits respectively! Flank Hits are doubled. Rallying for the Red Hero goes slow thanks to poor rolling. Blue Bowmen roll a measly 2 Hits. Altho the Blue Knights are nearly spent, the clock is ticking...will they delay the Red force long enough?

At the halfway point, I'm pleased with the way the rules are going. Everything has been clean and quick, with clear, simple decisions available for the player that seem realistic given the limited possibilities of warriors that are - by modern standards - usually not very well trained or disciplined. 

I took a calculated risk throwing the Blue knight in, trying to buy time with blood. Eight more turns is a lot more to go, however, and it is disappointing that both Foot Knight Units failed to destroy their opposing Red Knight Unit. If even one had gone down, it would've cost Red another turn to organize a solid advance. As it is, They'll only lose one Knight, and it is costing me a Blue knight.

Next post will see the dramatic conclusion!


  1. Great write up, thank you!

    I'd be interested to know how the battle with your rules differed from your experiences with Neil's original rules for this scenario for this time period. Did you post that prior, perhaps?

  2. Hey Mike,
    when I first got started with NT about a year or so ago, I did some detailed write-ups of the rules, including critiquing areas where they just had to be added to [like Hand to Hand contact - how is it actually done? Line of Sight - no rules at all]. If you follow back on the topics listed with this post, you should find them. Also, I did some concept sharing under game design topic.

    The bottom line is the OHW rules are fine for friendly games where both players are ready to work out "house rules" for the way things should be settled. It's when you don't agree that things get complicated.


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