Saturday, 22 January 2011

Alternative 1066 Scenario

As you'll know if you've been reading my recent posts, I've got a Viking army on the go at the moment, and a friend of mine is steadily painting up a Norman starter force from Pendraken (~1000pts).

I'm quite keen to get a battle together at some point between our two respective "Dark Ages" forces, and so I decided to write a simple scenario for an alternative 1066 battle. The premise is Harold was never pulled North to fight Harald Hardrada's invading Vikings and instead fought William's Normans first. As in the real Battle of Hastings, he lost and the Norman conquest was underway.

However in this alternative reality Hardrada did still land in Yorkshire and, as in reality, was able to secure York. His army then began to push South and William marched his forces up to meet this new threat. They eventually clash somewhere in the Midlands (where we would likely be playing the game in real life!).

Contenders for this hypothetical battle site are (from the Doomsday book): Quenintune - Quinton, Escelie - Selly Oak or Nortune - King's Norton. We'll decide based on whose house we fight at.

The battle will likely be 1750pts, with a few simple special rules to represent the historical combatants, these are noted next to the entry, otherwise units are as per WMA rulebook:


Duke William - 120 (*1)
Eustace II, Count of Boulogne - 80 (*2)
Robert de Beaumont - 80 (*3)
Odo, Bishop of Bayeux - 50 (*4)

6 Knights - 660
4 Retainers - 240
8 Spearmen - 360
4 Archers - 160 (*5)


*1 - General with William upgrade from book - portents with +1 cmd bonus
*2 - Is pictured on the Bayeux tapestry urging William to retreat during a particular phase of the Battle of Hastings (see left) - Leader, If he rolls a blunder on a 5 or less count as "our foe is upon us" (no points adjustment)
*3 - Historical Leader, no special rules
*4 - Commissioned the famous tapestry, which surely has nothing to do with the heroic role assigned to him throughout it! Generously counted as "Hero" from the Homeric Greek list, I.E. subordinate with +3 attacks, rather than standard +1 (+10pts) 
*5 - Roughly corresponds to the 3:2:1 ratio in historical sources for  the mix of Horse, Foot and Archers at Hastings


Harald Hardrada - 110 (*1)
Tostig Godwinson, Earl of Northumberland - 80 (*2)
Eystein Orri - 80 (*3)
Paul Thorfinnsson, Earl of Orkney - 40 (*4)

Varangians - 85 (*5)
Hirdmen - 75
Berserkers - 50
4 Archers - 160
4 Skirmishers - 120
13 Bondi - 650
8 Flemish Mercenaries - 280 (*6)


*1 - King of Norway, name means "Hard Ruler" was renowned for brutally putting down rebellions and for prosecuting several semi-successful, or unsuccessful wars, correspondingly given the "Dictator" rule from WMAA - can re-roll failed orders, command drops by -1 for every unsuccessful re-roll.
*2 - King Harold's brother, defected to Norway and persuaded Hardrada to invade. Not reckoned much good as a battlefield leader, either before defection in Northumberland, or as part of the Norwegian force. Leader, if he rolls a blunder command value drops by -1
*3 - At the Battle of Stamford Bridge he was left with the rear-guard by the invasion fleet. Force marched his armoured troops to join the battle so hard some reportedly dropped dead of exhaustion on reaching the battlefield. Leader - Ignores the first -1 for issuing a consecutive order to the same unit/brigade once per turn (i.e. 1st order - +/-0, 2nd consecutive order +/-0, 3rd consecutive order -2).
*4 - Subordinate, also remained with the ship rearguard at the Battle of Stamford Bridge
*5 - Before successfully claiming the crown of Norway, Harald spent many years in exile including fighting with the fabled elite infantry of the Rus, The Varangian Guard, where he rose to a command position. I have generously given one unit of Hirdmen the Bodyguard rule for +1 hits per stand (+10pts) to count as a unit of Varangian Guard. Although not a rule as such, it would be appropriate for the Varangian Guard to remain as a reserve, and should they get into combat for Harald to join them to either lead them to victory or die a heroic (or futile!) death in the manner of legendary Vikings!
6* - Tostig had numerous "Flemish Mercenaries" in his pay, which was his contribution to the invasion force. I haven't been able to find a great out about them, other than they were obviously professional mercenaries, and were renowned for being a source of dissension in armies. At Battle of Stamford Bridge they fought with shields. Additional entry to the Norse list: I have been assigned as medium infantry (3 attacks, 3 hits, 6+ save), with the unreliable rule. In addition should they be brigaded with other troops there is an additional -1 command penalty, to represent them sowing discord and distrust.


The Vikings have the superior numbers, but the Normans are likely to be able to run rings around them given their better commander:brigade ratio. The knights obviously remain the greatest danger. As the battle goes on the Viking's ability to manoeuvre is likely to get worse due to special rules *1 and *2, but as at Stamford Bridge Orri's ability to move men quickly could be key to rescuing a sticky situation. Again as in history, Tostig and his Flemish Mercenaries make up a substantial and unpredictable part of the Norwegian force.

Frankly, the Norman combined arms should carry the day and Tostig and Hardrada will likely end much as they did in history, with just the foe and the location different.

I did a breif search for other alternative scenarios of 1066, but I couldn't find any; let me know if you have played or seen something similar (with a link if you can).

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