Robbed by Covid of two games that I had fixed up this week with friends, I got my Saxon and Welsh armies out of the loft and set-to with a solo game. Once again, I’m still play testing my own Midgard rules. The game revolves around Reputation, represented by a pair of goblets full of tokens (one for each side). As heroic deeds are performed, Reputation is gained, but it can be lost by cowardly deeds and running from the battlefield. This time out, I was experimenting with a few extra ways to gain Reputation, with a special bonus for a hero leading the first charge of the battle. This would prove decisive in the game!
Having organised my venerable but beloved Saxon and Welsh armies onto suitable unit bases, I drew up a couple of forces for my favourite period, the 7th Century. (Midgard works on a standard 120mm frontage, although as long as both armies have roughly the same unit frontages, it doesn’t matter. Base depth is not relevant to the game.) The scenario was a raid into Mercia by Cadwaladr of Gwynedd with an attempted repulse by one of Penda’s thegns, Aethelwine, and his sidekicks, Osfrith and Ceonwulf.
The forces looked as follows:
3 x Heroes (Cadwaldr, Brochmael and Belyn of Lleyn)
2 x Teulu (Comitatus)
7 x Spearmen (lightly armoured but swift)
3 x Skirmishers with javelins and bows
3 x Heroes (Aelfwine, Ceonwulf and Osfrith)
2 x Gedriht (Comitatus)
8 x Spearmen
2 x Skirmishers with slings and bows
Having lined up both sides in a plausible battle formation (two units deep where possible as supporting units are critical in Midgard), the scenario started with a challenge to single combat. (You can turn these down in Midgard, but you lose Reputation – something neither of our warlords were ready to do, I decided.) Osfrith of Mercia and Belyn of Lleyn took up their mightiest spears and went at it hammer and tongs, blades clashing and splinters flying (well, they threw everything at it but their dice rolling was appalling! That’ll teach me to play solo.) Both heroes gained Reputation for their struggle as the armies watched eagerly.
The single combat ended with both heroes wounding each other on the third round. By this point, the commanders had had enough and Aethelwine ordered the impatient Saxons forward. Osfrith and Belyn were swept up in to their units and the battle was on!
The Saxons’ impetuousity was a disadvantage though, as poor Command tests held back the far left and right flanks. When Brochmael decided to push forward his Welsh warriors to force the issue, the Saxon left flank under Ceonwulf found itself stranded and unable to support Aethelwine in this centre. Although Brochmael himself would fall under Ceonwulf’s blade, the lack of support for the Saxon commander would later prove decisive.
In true heroic fashion, warlords Aethelwine and Cadwaldr clashed in the centre. This single combat turned out to be a lot more decisive than the one that opened the battle: Aethelwine just got the better of it, striking down the Welsh warlord on the third round. However, in a gripping turn of events, Cadwaldr got in a dying blow that mortally wounded the Saxon thegn. Both warlords dead on Turn Two!
On the left flank, Ceonwulf’s luck had just run out. Despite putting up a good fight with his warriors, the wounded Saxon thegn took a stray blow in the scrum of shields as he rolled a 1. Fortunately he had saved a Might Point to reroll it, although he lost Reputation to do so (it’s bad for the warriors’ morale to show weakness) and promptly rolled another 1…exit Ceonwulf stage left. By this point, there were only two heroes (out of the original six) remaining – quite the bloodbath.
Osfrith and Belyn now found themselves facing each other once again on the Saxon right. Belyn’s men rolled some incredible dice and held off the Saxons, killing Osfrith in the process. By now, Saxon Reputation was teetering, with the loss of all three leaders.
Although Saxon units had broken through on both flanks, the advance was piecemeal. Finally, Ceonwulf’s Gedriht were destroyed – despite their resilience, they ended up fighting virtually alone against the Welsh centre. Strength in numbers, lads.
This was the end for the Saxons – despite taking a heavy toll on the Welsh leaders, their goblet of Reputation was empty and they fled back to Mercia. Clearly Penda will need to get involved!