Thursday, 25 June 2015

Dark Age Sword and Spear Wargame

In my continuing struggle to find a good set of Dark Age rules with character I was led to trying Sword and Spear. This excellent set of rules we have played quite a lot lately but for late Republic Roman era (1st C BC) games and Medieval games between Crusaders and Seljuk Turks. So i should really begin by saying I am a huge fan of these rules .... but would they scratch my Dark Age itch?
 The images details a game fought between an Anglo-Saxon and Viking army from around the era of the Great Host - approx 865 AD. We initially thought the Vikings would simply roll over the Saxons but this was not to be. Our main reason for this assumption were the powerful Viking units especially the armoured two handed axemen. To match this the Anglo-Saxons out bid their opponent in the scouting phase and decided to line up their armoured units against the Bondi, hoping their Select Fird would be able to tie up the heavier Vikings.

The above image shows the leading left flank of the Saxon thegns bearing down upon the Bondi. The right flank was hoping to hold back allowing the Vikings to become mired in the marsh in the centre of the table. 

For not the last time in this battle plans went awry and farmers pressed into service were to beat back their opponents of the warrior class. In truth the plan of the Anglo-Saxons was flawed ... my plan ... as we should have held back allowing the Vikings to advance. Our advance past the level of the marsh placed us in a precarius position. We chose tto rely on turning a flank.
As the red numbers indicate, pressure was building on the Saxon units. With their leaders falling and their units on the flank making slow progress against elite Viking units (who not only refused to give ground but actually beat back their opponents) the Saxons looked in deep trouble. And then the tide or battle .... err dice ... turned. The Fird refused to let the pagan invaders overrun their land and inflicted blow after blow upon the Viking hirdmen. Both armies now tumbled toward their break points with the Vikings reaching it first. 
So did the Sword and Spear rules again produce a compelling and strategic game ... absolutely. Did it have the character I was looking for in a Dark Age game .... not really. Why? Well, I was hoping for something a little more character based ... maybe a cross between Saga, Sword and Spear and Dux Britanniarum. Am I asking too much? That is very likely. Well, it might be time for my own concoction. But I will be playing more Sword and Spear - in Dark Age Britain too. 

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