Thursday, 24 September 2015

865 AD Dark Age Wargame

865 AD ... The Vikings have directed their warrior host at the weakened kingdoms of England. One force, led by Halfdan, has chosen to aim its fury at Mercia and the earls of the Saxons had gathered a force to oppose this advance .... before the Vikings could amass their full force the earls hoped they could delay just enough for their envoys to return with help from the West Saxons.

The Saxons drew up their best troops, including thegns and select fyrd, to face the onslaught of the Norsemen with the less trained fyrd at the rear. A quick loss of these troops would rob the Saxons of vital command dice they could use in combat to boost their fighting ability. Woods flanked the battlefield and each genral tried to use their light troops to drive off their opponents and turn the flank of their enemies line. 

Halfdan ordered his better armed and armoured huscarls to mount a frontal assault quickly advancing to use the woods to guard his flanks. He relied on his two handed axemen to break the line nd hopefully kill the Saxon earls commanding the force. The loss of a commander is crippling in sword and spear and usually leads to defeat as that segment of the field is no longer able to move effectively. The large axes of the Danes would render the Saxon shieldwall useless. Aginst this the Saxons could rely on their courage and the help of the pious monks who uttered constant prayers to garner divine help from the pagans. 

In response to Viking aggression the Saxons chose to rush to control the high ground. This, however, played into Viking hands. The Saxons hastened the battle and used command dice to speed the advance that may well have been used to move moreof their units. As it was the Saxon fyrd were largely left behind. 

The above image shows the now lonely fyrd. 

With good fortune, perhaps from liberal libations to Odin before the battle, the Vikings were able to reach the high ground before it could be dominanted by the Saxons. The remainder of the battle was far too bloody for further photography as the Viking advantages, especially the two handed weapons which sliced through the Mercian's mail easily, led to defeats along the line. A small victory was won on the Saxon left helped by a unit of javelinmen who turned the flank of the Vikings. The result of the battle was the death of most of the earls who oposed Halfdan and with them their brave thegns. Without aid from the West Saxons all Mercia was certain to fall and the Danelaw might well grow to encompass all of Britain. 

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