Saturday, January 28, 2012

The SAGA of Halfdan the Dane

Lots and lots of SAGA today. Or rather, my 'Week in SAGA'. It began the Monday before last, where Halfdan clashed twice with some French Git with a double-barreled name in 'Clash of Warlords'. Then the Thursday at the club, I took on Ray's Vikings in 'Battle for the Fords'. I liked that so much that I gave Chris two games on Saturday (I'm only chronicling one here, the other was using Ragnar) in - again - a 'Battle for the Fords'. That is a scenario that I liked so much that I made a river on Saturday, just to play it. Halfdan's Warband is always: Two points of Hearthguard, three points of Warriors and One point of Levies. I tended to mix up the way I allocated these into units a bit. I have to confess, I am not entirely sold on Levies in general.... but I love them for the Anglo-Danes. Enough chatter though - there are Viking (and sub-Viking) skulls to be cloven by Haldan's Great-Axe!

Everyone knows painted troops fight better.
January 16th,  The Year of our Lord 1066. That cold Monday Eve, Lord Halfdan strode forth to give the Norman 'Conquerors' a bloodied nose. His goal was to slay the enemy Warlord and in order to do so, he sought to claim a nearby ruin so that his archers could feather the Norman Horses with arrows. Then they would be wallowing about in the snow and frightened without horses between their legs and we Danes would march forward and take their heads with our Great Axes.
My Lord, there do seem to be rather a LOT of Knights...

It did not go to plan. The Danish Fyrd failed completely to evict the Norman Crossbow (mere peasants, surely? For they bear the weapons of such...) from their tumbledown lodgings. Halfdan's loyal Huscarls fared little better. The Norman cavalry rode them down for little loss.

Don't worry, we'll use the 'tactical withdrawal line...

At the end, Halfdan decided to withdraw rather than fighting further and see if he couldn't must some reinforcements to force these Frenchmen out of England.

Whoops, Normans get first turn, AGAIN!

January 16th,  The Year of our Lord 1066. Lord Halfdan, after his daring mission to slow the Norman advance, has now rallied the Fyrd to assist his Huscarls in stopping them here. We sent some peasnats into a nearby ruin to bait the enemy forward and the impetuous Knights took the bait.

Peasants have last laugh.

The Knights  rode the peasant down of course. What they did not realise was that these were the fastest runners in the region. Even the Norman horses were exhausted after they were forced to chase them in circles, through the snow drifts.
Wedge formation.
Meanwhile, we sent the select Fyrd around the woods and caught their crossbowmen by surprise. The melee was short and bloody. Halfdan then pulled his men back and his plan became clear to the Norman Count. One unit of Knights was exhausted and far away, the Saxon Fyrd and Huscarls were in a solid shieldwall, with woods shielding their flanks from the cavalry; and the Anglo-Danes meant to wear the Normans down a unit at a time.
Brave, or foolish?
In the songs recounting that battle, they say the Norman count was a rash fool. But I was there - I say that he was brave, and no fool. Seeing one last chance to take Halfdan's head before he properly organised his line, the Norman took his opening. Yelling to his Sergeants to give way, he galloped through. Only two of Halfdan's Axe-wielding Huscarls managed to block his way. For a moment, it seemed that he would have his chance. But in  the end, it was not to be and he fell to a heavy Dane-Axe.
We fight for Britain, on a round table.
January 19th,  The Year of our Lord 1066. In a reversal of the Harald's ill-fated defense of our land, we marched North to fight the invading Vikings, after seeing off the Norman threat... for now. We caught them at a tributary near Stamford and Halfdan yelled at the invaders across the water: "Six feet each you shall have of our land, and no more!"
Attack of the Clones
The Vikings didn't respond, instead they sent the first of their blonde Clone-Army  to take the leftmost ford. It was grim butcher's work but we held the line and sent the Nords back, stumbling and tired.
This is very tiring.
It seemed that we fought a hundred waves of Vikings that day. I hope not, lest Halfdan had given away half his master's Earldom with his brash boast. In the end, they broke our shield-wall and slew the Fyrd.
May the better shield win!
Vikings live for glory and their Warlord charged across the ford to duel Halfdan with his sword dripping red. Halfdan managed to prevail at first, though it was a clumsy effort. In the end, the Viking's incredible endurance sealed Halfdan's fate and he fell there, defending the ford.
Anglo-Danish Huscarls for the win.
However, while his Huscarls had failed in their duty to protect their Lord, they did survive to ensure Halfdan met his end winning the battle and will be forever glorified in song. They stormed over to the Viking side and claimed victory for the Anglo-Danes!
That river looks almost narrow enough to jump...
January 21st,  The Year of our Lord 1066. Earlier this day, a riever by the name of 'Ragnar' stormed across the ford and sacked a couple of Churches. However, My lord Halfdan has arrived with his Huscarls and means to block his escape on the English side of the fast-running river.
That went well.
Ragnar is a wiley opponent, and fierce. He had beat the Anglo-Danes once already this day and was confident he could repeat that feat. He feinted an attack on the left ford while his Berserks worked themselves into a battle-fury, cried out so the Valkyries would notice them and charged the line on the right. Somehow, despite the presence of the Huscarls, some of the Berserks survived and they slaughtered the Anglo-Danes. It was not enough though, the select Fyrd were not dismayed, shook of their fatigue and pressed back. They advanced slowly but first the Berserks, then the Bondi, fell before their shieldwall. 
If you want something done right.
Ragnar meanwhile spat at the snow and railed at the gods at the unfairness of Saxon warriors advancing somehow completely unscratched. He was making better work on his side though and carefully cut down selected parts of the Anglo-Dane defense. Then he charged in. Halfdan met him bravely but had only a single warrior to take his side, as the nearby peasants fled the scene. Ragnar gleefully took his head and left him dead in the snow. The Viking Warlord, almost alone amongst his men, had cut his way across and his escape was clear!
The equal of a dozen, lesser, men.
But it was not to end well for him. The unscathed unit of Saxon Fyrd forced marched around the river and charged as one. The Norns laughed at Ragnar then, he had slain the enemy warlord, he was about to make off after another successful raid, and at the moment of his triumph a dozen Anglo-Danes swarmed toward him and cut him down. At least he died sword in hand.

Halfdan Speaks: Well I think that went well. Sure I took an ill-timed trip to the after-life but out of four clashes to defend English soil, I emerged victorious three times. That's a better batting average than that Harald Godwinson managed!

The key thing for the Anglo-Danes is to not stick our neck out too far and always be willing to leave dice sitting on the Battle-Board. You are pretty much guaranteed a 'Lords of Battle' each turn and even Peasants fight well when you have that. Wear them out with things that don't matter then you have them. 

Ragnar Speaks: Don't get too puffed up Baldy. You got crushed beneath Norman hooves in the first outing. While you claim that thing with your peasants in the second round was a clever stratagem, we both know that they got caught with their pants down trying to steal a march on that building and you were improvising. If You didn't keep bodyguards handy, 'Count de Count' might be the one getting toasted in Meadhalls and you'd be speaking French that bit earlier. I'll give you the third one. Though I take a certain grim pleasure in noting that both times you went up against us proper Vikings, your Huscarls weren't around to save you and that didn't go so well for you, personally, did it? In fact, we both know I was robbed last time out. A child could have held that Ford were the cackling Norns to gift him a dozen Saxon Warriors with impervious mail-shirts. And finally, Peasants as the cornerstone of your strategy? Says it all really.


  1. It looks like a lot of fun Jamie


  2. Thanks guys, it was a lot of fun.

    Unexpectedly, I find myself favouring the Anglo-Danes. I might have to get myself a proper Warlord figure. The one I have keeps dieing on me.