Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Saga of Olav the Bored

 I wrote a narrative mini-campaign for DBA last year that I've finally got around to playing (thanks holidays). It involves a Viking contingent, led by Jarl Olav the Bored, invading England and fighting it's way through to establishing a kingdom. Olav invades for something to do. He can't sit still for long. The script is as follows:

Olav the Bored in full battle cry!
DBA narrative campaign
A Viking lord is raiding the English coast with an eye to setting up his own kingdom there. Because the Vikings are on the offensive and aggressive they have a higher breakpoint than the locals, until they lose a game.

1.       First Battle: The Landing = Terrain is littoral. 6 elements of Viking Blades vs 6 elements of Anglo-Saxons, consisting of 1 horde, 1 blade, 1 psiloi and 1 spears. English breakpoint – 2 elements: Viking breakpoint 3 elements. If the Vikings lose this battle, they pack up and go home.

If the Vikings are successful:
2.       Second battle: Local counter-attack = Terrain is littoral. Vikings occupy BUA Hamlet. Now with 7 elements of blade as reserves arrive. Anglo-Saxons attempt to retake the town with 2 blade and 4 spear elements. A-S breakpoint = 2,; Viking breakpoint = 3

If Vikings are successful in game 2:
3a. Third battle: Conquest = Reinforced as news of their success spreads, the Vikings move inland. They encounter more resistance. Terrain is arable. Viking army now has 8 elements of blade. Anglo-Saxons advance with 6 – 1 horde, 1 blade, 4 spear.  A-S breakpoint = 2; Viking breakpoint =3.

If Anglo-Saxons are successful in game 2:
3b. Third battle: Regrouping = Just holding on, the Vikings defend their foothold. Terrain is littoral. Viking army is whatever was left at the end of battle 2. Anglo-Saxons have 7 elements – 4 spear, 2 blade, 1 horde. Viking breakpoint =2, Anglo-Saxon breakpoint= 2. If successful refight battle 2. If unsuccessful the Vikings pack up and go home.

If Vikings are successful in battle 3a:
4a. Fourth battle: For a Kingdom! = More Vikings appear to reinforce success. The local English have decided that this is serious and muster all available forces to oppose the invader. Terrain is arable. Both sides have 12 elements. Normal breakpoints.

If Anglo-Saxons are successful in battle 3a:
4b. Fourth Battle = Same as Battle 2, except both sides have 6 elements and the Viking breakpoint reduces to 2.

If Vikings win battle 4a – Congratulations.  A new Viking kingdom in England.

If Anglo-Saxons win battle 4a – play battle 4b.

If Vikings win battle 4b they retire to their ships with plunder, but no new kingdom.

If Anglo-Saxons win battle 4b the Viking force is wiped out and a great victory is celebrated in England.

Such was the plan. As you will see from the play-through, I will need to revisit the forces involved as the Vikings never look like being beaten at any stage.

Deployment: Olav chooses the closed ground as their point of invasion to deny it to the defending Anglo-Saxons.
The Anglo-Saxon plan - rush forward and meet the Vikings near the bad going so they don't have the opportunity to deploy from their columns and outflank the Aenglish!
The Viking plan - Rush Forward!
It's hard to fulfil your plans when you roll 1s. Not a Viking problem however...
Contact Olav uses the greater fyrd for axe-chopping practice.
Next turn and the Vikings gang up on the poor little archers. Viking bridgehead secure!
Not happy with this a local lord comes to liberate a captured coastal village. But the news of Viking success has started to spread, and reinforcements have arrived.
The Vikings move up to the woods and deploy into line. The Anglo-Saxons also deploy into the woods.
Olav divides his force and attacks into the woods. He hopes the Anglo-Saxon left will advance and be outflanked.
The fight in the woods begins to go against the Anglo-Saxons.
With a spear element down the Anglo-Saxon line is looking shaky.
Now the Viking right loses patience and leaps into battle.
But it is in the woods where the decisive moment occurs. Viking victory.
Moving inland the Viking Horde is confronted by more local defence forces.
Viking tactic - charge!
The battle-line bows with the Olav punching hard into the Aenglish line.
'All shall fall before my axe!'
Now he's done it. The Anglo-Saxon King brings forth a full army. Luckily, Olav has also picked up some more followers.

The lines advance slowly. Everybody is rolling ones. And so a psiloi skirmish erupts on the side of the battle.
The lines close up.
The psiloi grudge match swings back and forth.
The Anglo-Saxons charge first. The battle-line fragments.
On the left of their line the Vikings destroy the greater fyrd.
In the centre an element of Anglo-Saxon blades breaks through. Olav and the Anglo-Saxon king go head to head.
The Vikings who destroyed the fyrd now swing around and take two select fyrd spearmen in the flank. They turn - and recoil into the rear of an enemy formation. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Vikings win the psiloi battle and the great fyrd on the far side is also destroyed. Battle over, and although the Anglo-Saxon King survives, he can't stop the establishment of the Kingdom of Olav the Bored!

I didn't realise that the last photo had come out so blurry. Too late now, I've packed the battle up...

This campaign took more than an afternoon only because I had to stop and go out. It could easily have been played to a conclusion in a couple of consecutive hours. But I would make some changes for next time which would be to give equal or greater numbers of Saxons in the first three battles. The Saxons are at a command disadvantage in having to move hordes, so need something to compensate for it if they are to have a realistic chance of winning battles. I'd look at one more horde element in battle one and a horde and a psiloi in battle 2. An extra horde and an extra blade in battle 3a.

As it was, it felt like a bit of a walkover for King Olav, although their were moments in the last battle where things might have gone either way but for some unfortunate Anglo-Saxon dice rolls. Definitely worth a play-through again with the amended numbers. And of course, the uncertain nature of teh terrain set-up might also favour the Anglo-Saxons in a another game.



  1. A great looking game with splendid troops, well done!

  2. Fantastic stuff Nate! Looks great too.

    1. Cheers Rodger. It's been good to get so many games in while the holidays have lasted.

  3. Four Six by Six games in one post! Or do you want to make the challenge a true challenge and count this as a single entry? ;-)

    1. I think we can treat it as one entry. I'm pretty sure there will be more dba this year!