Monday, 30 November 2015

Brother against brother - Saga campaign part 3

In the grim darkness of the Viking age, there is only war!

We played another game in our Saga campaign today. It was a bitter internecine showdown within our Viking alliance with my warlord, Jarl Einar, challenged by rival warlord Ivar the Irate. We're playing as part of the same faction in the campaign, but each faction has to have a top dog, right?

"Clash of Warlords" seemed like a suitable scenario to settle our differences. The only objective was to slay the enemy's warlord. My Viking warband consisted of a unit of 8 hearthguard, two units of 10 warriors, a unit of 4 warriors and a unit of 12 levy archers. Ivar's Norse-Gaels brought to the field a unit of 8 hearthguard with dane-axes, two units of 10 warriors with dane-axes and a unit of 12 warriors with javelins. Ivar was also followed by a bard who would undoubtedly spin his own fancy tale of Ivar's exploits.

Ivar's throng

Ivar himself, lurking at the corner of a building

Einar's host

Einar, always leading from the front

Ivar started the battle by rushing his javelinmen forward and pelleting Einar's archers with their projectiles. The archers lost but one man, but this was enough to unsettle the craven thralls. Several volleys were fired back, but these dropped only two of Ivar's men.

Einar scoffed. It was a mistake bringing the archers; this battle would be resolved man to man. Not a man of patience, Einar led the warriors on his right flank in an assault on the enemy javelinmen. A brave, albeit foolish, enemy champion strode forth and issued a challenge to Jarl Einar. The man was no match for the Viking lord, but was stubborn enough to take a lot of hacking before he would die. We fought several rounds of challenge combat after which both Jarl Einar and the Norse-Gael warriors were greatly fatigued. After the demise of their champion, the remnants of the Norse-Gaels crumpled easily and withdrew from the combat exhausted and with only half their number. They would be out of the fight for a long time.

My original plan had been to withdraw Jarl Einar and his warriors after this ordeal, but due to the extraordinary amount of fatigue markers generated by the challenge I was reluctant to do this, as it would leave Einar exhausted (4 fatigue markers) and the warriors vulnerable. Instead, I moved more warriors and hearthguard forward to support the mêlée on the enemy's next turn.

Norse-Gael javelinmen rush forward

Jarl Einar leads his warriors to thrash the javelinmen

The javelinmen withdraw in disorder

More Viking warriors move up

Ivar weighed the odds. Jarl Einar was within striking distance and an all-out attack just might be enough to fell him, although it would be risky should it fail. Fortunately for Ivar, the Norse-Gaels rolled a good combination of Saga dice and got quite nasty boosts as a result.

The unit of Norse-Gael warriors with double handed axes led the charge. Their objective was drive back Jarl Einar's warriors and thus leave the Viking warlord vulnerable to attack. However, the foolish and arrogant Norse-Gaels had not reckoned on the prowess of Jarl Einar's Vikings! The defending Vikings threw back the effeminate attackers with ease, felling half of them to boot!

The situation looked dangerous for Ivar the Irate, whose attack was in danger of floundering. The warlord had one last card however: his hearthguard. Ivar commanded his bodyguard to attack the jeering Vikings, himself retreating to the rear in case the attack went sour. Fortunately for the craven Ivar, his bodyguard proved unstoppable. There was little the fatigued Viking warriors could do to stop the hearthguard's onslaught and they died valiantly, taking a few of the enemy down with them.

Ivar's hearthguard followed their success with one last assault at the exhausted Jarl Einar. Jarl Einar felled the first Norse-Gael that came at him, but there were simply too many of the foe. Einar's faithful hearthguard rushed to protect their beleaguered lord, but it was all in vain. Einar's bodyguard died in a ring around their lord whilst Einar himself, struck to the back of the head with the shaft of an axe, collapsed and was taken prisoner.

Einar's warriors are beset by Norse-Gael axemen

The first wave of Norse-Gaels is repelled, but they are soon followed by Ivar's bodyguard

Jarl Einar is felled by Ivar's bodyguard

Later that evening, Einar would have to confess to the gathered warriors that Ivar was the greater warrior and mightiest warlord of the Viking alliance. This seemed enough to appease Ivar, who was by this time roaring drunk and boisterously recounting the tales of his own valour. However, this was not enough to quieten the murmurs of Ivar's own men regarding their leader's craven ways. Few could forget, that while Jarl Einar had boldly led his men from the front, Ivar himself had finished the battle hiding behind the back of his bard.

From this day forth, Ivar had earned an additional byname: Ivar the Ignoble.

Ivar the Ignoble - cowering behind his bard at the end of the battle

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