Saturday, 31 January 2015

Ivar Sveinson and the Battle of Red Hill

Shield wall ahead, levy ambush to the left - it's a trap!
On midsummer's day in the year 809, Ivar Sveinson once more led his men ashore to begin the conquest of Rheged. In the far distance, shimmering in the haze of the summer heat, lay the well protected prize - the town of Tunnocellum.  

After defeat in the last battle, Ivar decided that alcohol did not stiffen the sinews, but more likely dulled the minds, so urged his men ashore with great haste. The Saxon defenders formed up in shieldwall on a low ridge, with a contingent of levy hidden behind a small copse to spring a flank trap. It had worked in the last battle, but this time Ivar was more wary. He sent warriors into the wood to flush out the levy.

Left flank secured, form up to attack the shieldwall.
The viking warriors fought fiercely and, though outnumbered, pushed back the levy flanking force. Ivar gathered his main force at the base of the ridge, preparing to assault the shieldwall at the crest. It was a formidable task. Warriors in shieldwall can absorb more casualties - they ignore the first kill of any combat, so the odds are stacked considerably in their favour in a straight fight. Countering this, Ivar played a handful of fate cards, so his men could hurl axes as they rushed up the hill, and with an aggressive charge too (giving +1 to hit bonus). If this didn't shift the Saxons, then nothing would. The axe damage caused shock, but then his lines faltered as they scrabbled up the slope - at this point I had a 2 dice roll to charge 3 inches, and made the classic double 1 roll!

Shieldwall clash
In a daring move, the Saxons moved downhill into the viking line. The two forces clashed, but despite the overwhelming odds, the vikings held firm, then pushed the Saxons back up the hill. After a brief pause, the vikings rushed uphill again and once more the two lines, now thinned considerably, met in deadly combat. Shields smashed and blood flowed, both sides fought to a standstill. Bodies littered the ridge, but still neither side would yield. Something had to give. Suddenly Ivar and his depleted band of warriors dashed back down the hill, the Saxons jeering at their seeming retreat, but unable to pursue, held on the ridge by a handful of Ivar's finest warriors. The Coward was on the run again.

Saxon shieldwall hold the ridge, Ivar rushes downhill
When he had caught his breath, Ivar put his plan into action. The band of viking warriors on the left flank that had previously fought off the Saxon levy were now called to aid their leader in the main action. They joined Ivar as he charged back up the hill with his reinforcements. The Coward was Cunning perhaps. His line now bolstered, he steadied his men and surveyed the tattered Saxon lines. Though they held the higher ground, they had suffered great casualties. Only a handful of warriors remained clustered around the Saxon Lord and his nobles. Surely, the day was lost and they would retreat.

Outnumbered, outflanked, the Saxon Lord charges to his doom
In a reckless moment of madness, the Saxon Lord ordered the attack once more. It was a fight he could not win. His men were exhausted and could offer no resistance. They fled, leaving their liege overwhelmed. In a final act of brutal victory celebration, the viking warriors hacked him limb from limb. Dozens of dead and dying lay all over the hill, stained red in the gore of the day. The vikings cheered and saluted their warlord. The prize lay in their reach. With the Saxon defenders butchered or scattered, they set about the siege of Tunnocellum. It was a well fortified town and it would be a long task, but the conquest of Rheged had begun.

2 comments:

Stuart Ziarnik said...

I've really enjoyed reading these battle reports, despite not playing Dux B, Saga, or anything remotely historical. Very engaging and character-driven, as a good battle report should be!

Weird question, but which model is Ivar?

Old Fogey said...

He's stood at the back, directing his troops. He does generally get involved in the fighting. I need to re-photograph the vikings at some point and show them off a little better.

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