Saturday, 17 January 2015

More adventures with Ivar Sveinson

The vanguard hold up the Saxon patrol, while
Ivar rushes to join the action
The second half of the year AD 808 was filled with adventure for Ivar Sveinson the Coward. Kidnap, ransom, looting and revenge.....

In the month of July, AD 808, Ivar Sveinson was facing a dilemma. He had now amassed enough coin to be declared a warlord and could lead his men into battle, to win and claim territory. But if he lost, he would be penniless and at the mercy of his liege lord, who was unlikely to show leniency. Pondering these choices, his scouts reported they had sighted a small Saxon patrol heading south to the safety of the border tower, but still some distance away and within easy striking distance. Sometimes, fate makes the decisions......

The scenario we rolled was Border Tower - a Saxon noble and two units had to march from the north edge down the length of the table to the safety of the tower garrison at the southern end. On from the west came the vikings, a lone unit in the vanguard, followed by the rest of the force. The objective for the vikings was to overwhelm a noble in combat, capture and ransom him. Could the Saxons evade the northmen and reach safety?

I thought I had lost the scenario when I rolled a 1 for the number of units in my vanguard, and another 1 for their advance move! But I dashed across anyway, eager to slow the Saxons before they could mass together at the garrison. The Saxons split their force, perhaps hoping to confuse the vikings, but this just made it easier for the northmen as they swung their axes and felled half the lone unit. Realising his error, the Saxon noble sent in his other unit to stiffen their resolve, while he slyly ran away to get help. And they call Ivar a coward! It was no use. The bulk of the vikings had rushed across and intercepted the patrol while the main garrison force practised shieldwall drill, obviously unaware of the unfolding kidnap. A very quick victory for the vikings, a reward of just 2 coin for the ransom (well, would you pay any more for such a pathetic specimen?) and the chance for a second game in the session.

What do the fates hold in store?
The next scenario rolled was a raid on a village, the vikings had to make two successful looting rolls and abscond before the Saxons could stop them. Ivar's men quickly established that one of the hovels was empty (a roll of a 1 signifies no loot to be found), and soon afterwards struck lucky in a nearby hut (a roll of a 6). So there was just one house left to search, Ivar was attempting to hold off the incoming Saxons in the village, while one unit trudged back to the ship with sacks of loot. This would be a close call.

The last house was searched with no effect, while the Saxons sent men in to protect the village. The Saxon Lord himself strode into the village centre to repel the vikings, while some of his men peeled off to hopefully prevent any further looting. Fighting was fierce in the village, but the Saxon Lord's sword shone brightly that day and he vanquished many a northman. Time was running out for the vikings, they were pushed out of the house and fought to a standstill. With one last effort they charged and scattered their Saxon tormentors, poised to resume the search, but then the horn sounded the retreat and they limped back to the ship. One sack of loot had been secured, but with a high cost in blood.

My force morale took a real beating in this scenario. I had started low and then suffered as two units were routed from the centre of the village. The final search was interrupted and even though the vikings eventually fought off the Saxon rescue and could have resumed the search, I decided to sound the retreat as casualties were mounting at an alarming rate. Looting scenarios often rely on luck - trying to get that 6 - and the best way to do it is to keep the enemy at bay. Once the searchers are interrupted, well it's difficult to pillage with a sword in your gut.

With the higher level of losses in this raid, Ivar would need two months to recover his strength, bringing the first campaign year to an end. I would have liked to have ended the year with a battle then settled down to a winter seige, but it was not to be. As he sailed back to his homeland, his ship laden with loot, he was already planning his next year's campaign. Those Saxons would learn to fear the Coward.

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