October 24, 2012

SAGA Campaign: The raid on Wallei

Having discussed SAGA on mondays post I actually managed to get a game in. I usually play Warmachine via VASSAL with Owen from Farfaraway.org on a Tuesday evening but he made an excellent module so we could play SAGA. I tried out the Anglo-Danes and I was quite pleased. The scenario is part of a small narrative campaign we will play. The first battle involved the Viking attack on an Anglo-Dane force escorting their Lords daughters to his Hall while nearby the rest of the Vikings try to overwhelm the Hall.

In 901AD a band of Norse-Gaels under the leadership of Harald Hvitbeinn are 'gone a viking' in Northumbria. Travelling up the river Ribble and its tributary the Calder the Vikings are attempting to reach the monastery of St. Paulinus and the village of Wallei. Having left their boats moored at the village of Langho Harald moved through the Crow Wood to arrive at Wallei before anyone could be alerted to his presence. Travelling to Wallei at the same time the family of Ivar Trätälja stumbled onto the Vikings just before they reached the relative safety of the village. Ivar's three daughters had been sent from York once the Scottish raids across the Ribble had been stopped. The countryside had been subdued for the most part with the saxons accepting the leadership of the Anglo-Danes. Unfortunately for them nobody had anticipated the Viking raid. Harald had no choice but to engage the armoured escort. Splitting his force in two he engaged the escort while the bulk of his force moved into the village before Ivar's Hucarls could form a defence.

Harald's son Rorik advanced on the escort as they hurried along the forest path. His Hirdmen held the centre with Bondi at both edges of his shieldwall to hold his flanks. Egill, the commander of the escort, quickly dispersed his force amongst the rough terrain. His Geburs moved up to harry the Vikings with bow shot. His Ceorls moved out to flanks the viking shieldwall while the Huscarls advanced on the Hirdmen. The daughters knowing they were in mortal danger split up and attempted to slip around the Vikings when they were engaged. Battle was quickly joined to the right and a great slaughter ensued. Rorik's impetuousness however led to the left flank breaking completely. As the Bondi on the right became embroiled in the fight they were slowly shoved backwards. Seeing this and and looming threat of the Huscarls Rorik sent his centre into the fray. These bogged down in front of the Anglo-Dane shieldwall and when the Huscarls did finally engage they were overwhelmed. Again Rorik overcommitted throwing himself into the fight. The shieldwall was defeated but the battle was already lost. Egill had moved cautiously up the centre. As more and more the the Vikings were forced to the right he concentrated on the right. The Bondi on the right were suffering poorly the attention of the Gebur. The final reserve of Hirdmen moved to disrupt the Gebur bowmen and reinforce their beleagured comrades. Egill took the chance to commit to the combat personally slaying three of the Hirdmen and throwing the entire flank into disarry. Two of Ivar's daughters slipped through the rapidly disintegrating Viking line. The third daughter was less fortunate and was captured by Rorik.

The battle was a victory for the Anglo-Danes as they managed to get two of the three objectives off of the board. In the next scenario these objectives can be used to generate an extra SAGA dice, up to the usual maximum of eight. The next scenario will be the meeting of Ivar and Harald at the village of Wallei in a Clash of Warlords scenario. The historical facts mentioned here aren't historical at all. The locations are real however and the events are possible. Wallei is the old name of Whalley in Lancashire and there is evidence of an early church or monastery on the site, most likely founded around 628AD. This would be a very likely target for a Viking raid from Dublin or Mann. Three to four ships could easily enough navigate the Ribble though I am unsure if the Calder was navigable at all. Therefore the Viking ships are moored at Langho. The area was probably densely forested, even today it seems to be much more forested than usual.

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