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Saturday, 25 May 2019

The Raider's Escape - A "Dark Age Rampant" Battle...

First game of 2019 - hopefully there will be others...

While my son was on Easter break from University I decided it would be a great opportunity for a wargame. I invited my old friend James to join us at the table - he & I are veterans of many games going back to 1984.
I wanted to give my 28mm Anglo Saxon collection a good outing, fortunately I have enough figures to provide forces for both sides. The rules used were basically Dan Mersey's "Lion Rampant" with a few tweaks of nomenclature & a slightly less dramatic turn flipping on a failed command roll. The scenario I chose was adapted from Neil Thomas's "One Hour Wargames" book - Scenario 13: Escape page 90. Because this involved timed arrivals I decided that flipping turns on the first failed command roll would throw too much of a spanner into the works of what is already a challenging scenario. If a player failed a command roll they would simply move onto the next unit in their warband & test for that - in essence this is not much different from rolling for how many orders one gets each turn in a game like Battlegroup.
I opted to be umpire to help keep the scenario moving along & let players know when & where their forces would arrive - this seemed to work well & I still had lots of fun.
My son took the West Saxons led by their Thegn Wulstan, with James taking the Mercians under their Thegn Godric.
I find the years from the early Anglo Saxon kingdoms up until about Athelred the Unready a fascinating period. It presents the Dark Age enthusiast with opportunities for conflicts not only with remnant "British" kingdoms, Irish, Scots, Picts, Vikings, but also for battles & raids between rival Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
The scenario we played was a fictional raid by West Saxon Thegn Wulfstan into disputed territory in the Mercian/Wessex borderlands, with the Mercian Thegn Godric attempting to stop him before Wulfstan could escape with plunder and "one up" on the Mercians. Wessex must exit 3 units from the tabl via the trackway on southern table edge - failure to do so gives Mercia the victory. Bonus points if Wessex gets a loot marker off the table attached to a unit, also bonus points for slaying the enemy warlord.

A quiet corner of the hamlet where battle is about to ensue....

Warbands laid out in readiness...

An overview of the battlefield seem from the Eastern edge...

Mercians pre-deployed this unit of Upper Class Spearmen to act as an initial blocking force against the onrushing West Saxons...

All six units of Wulfstan's men appear via the trackway on the northern edge of the hamlet. Note the loot marker of barrels, chests & sacks.

Wulstan leads out with his two units of foot companions. Centre left of picture is Wulfstan , in red cloak, attached to a unit of upper class spearmen

Wulfstan in red cloak..


Mercians move forward...



Mercians await the onslaught & the arrival of reinforcements...



Mercian Foot Companions arrive on Turn 2 from Easterly direction...

with them a unit of skirmishers...






The Mercian skirmishers, unhindered by rough terrain, seek to circle around to the rear of the Wessexmen...


Wulfstan pushes forward, placing skirmishers on his right flank & lower class spears on his left, while the foot companions move on in the centre..

Godric, (big fur cloak, blonde hair & beard) , appears in turn four with  two units on Western edge...












Wessex Foot Companions about to clash with Mercian upper class spears...

Turn six, a unit of Mercian lower class spearmen appear on southern table edge...

Godric's companions & a unit of Lower class spears seek to move in from the west, all that hinders them is a unit of Wessex skirmishers...




Mercian shieldwall holds...

Skirmishers retreat across the hamlet gardens in the face of overwhelming odds...


Mercian foot companions about to slam into the Wessex lower class spearmen...



Mercian shieldwall holds on valiantly against attacks from two units of foot companions...


Mercians have thrown back Wessexmen in the East...

Mercians press in from all sides while Wessex attempts to press forward...

Alas! The Mercian shieldwall has finally broken & flees the field...


The battle is conceded. The Mercians have inflicted heavy casualties on the West Saxons, however they were unable to prevent them exiting three units from the table via the trackway on the southern edge.

Mercians drive the lower class spears back toward the cross...






The Mercians also defeat the Wessex skirmishers...




The West Saxons were able to claim victory by exiting their 3 units, or certainly bringing the game to a point where it was impossible for the Mericans to prevent this from happening. The men of Wessex paid heavily in casualties though, basically escaping with their three heavily armoured units. Wulfstan  kept his distance from Godric, not wanting to receive a challenge to mortal combat :-)

In post battle discussion it was decided that the scenario could do with a slight tweak to bring the Mercian reinforcements on in a due East/due West position, as the NE/NW nature of their arrivals didn't give enough time to enter the fray.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and the report. Thanks so much to James & Ben for a great game.

All the best,

John.

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