Thursday, 17 March 2011


The cold grey dawn crept over the headland.  The one-eyed man drew his bearskin cloak around him and stared out at an empty sea.  Not a single sail broke the horizon.
Treachery, circumstance, or fate.  It mattered not.  The ships weren’t coming.
He stood, shrugged off the bearskin and stretched.  His breath was a thick white mist. 
A few short cycles of the moon... and it would have been over.  His pursuers cheated of their prey, his reputation enhanced by a year of victory after victory, the banners of his enemies hung in his hall.
But time had run out for Einar the Perpetrator.
The bleak, isolated promontory - intended as an escape route- had become a trap and everything would be decided here, today... the point of a sword.

Campaign Background:

This game formed the climax of an ongoing campaign chronicling the blood feud between two Viking Jarls : Gunnar the Aggrieved, and Einar the Perpetrator.
(editor’s note: First Encounter   Second Encounter)

In Viking law, a man with an outstanding accusation of murder against him could be hunted down and slain with impunity for a year from the date of the accusation.  If he could escape justice for that long, the Fates were assumed to have judged in his favour. 
Einar’s year of outlawry was almost over,  and he’d thrived on it.  At large and undefeated, this was to be his pursuer’s last attempt to have their vengeance.

The Rules:
We were using ‘Sword & Dagger’, our club rules, by Richard (AKA ‘Gunnar’) available to download from Tyneside Wargames Club website.
They’re 1:1 skirmish rules for Dark Age –High Medieval forces of around 40 men per warband/retinue.
The points system and army lists had been substantially revised since our previous game, with drastic results for our force composition!

Dramatis Personae:
 Einar (Norman D Landings)
A swashbuckling villain unashamedly modelled after Kirk Douglas’ character in “The Vikings”.
His retinue had always been based around a solid core unit of armoured hirdmen with two-handed axes – but the rules revision had introduced random rolling for different troop and weapon types, and I had lost almost all my hirdmen on the turn of the dice!  I fielded two units of spearmen (one my faithful Saxon mercenaries, who had distinguished themselves in the last outing) half-a-dozen Baresarks, a handful of archers, and a large mixed mob of raiders with swords and hand-axes in varying armour.

Guthrum (Mahotsukai)
Einar’s kinsman, therefore duty-bound to support him in the feud.  Truth be told, I got the sneaking  suspicion Guthrum disapproved of some of Einar’s more reckless exploits... but no-one could say he’d ever hesitated to take his place in the shieldwall!
Guthrum was leading a scratch force of locals – mainly spearmen with a handful of slingers and two wandering Bezerkers.  Presumably his own warband was engaged elsewhere.
(in game terms, Mahotsukai had to organize his force on the day  at short notice.)
Gunnar the Aggrieved (Herkybird)

Still whinging a year later... tch, I ask you.  If ‘Trisha’ was around in CE870, he’d have been on her show telling everyone how Einar done him wrong. Still, he’s a wrathful, hate-fuelled avenger in fine Nordic tradition, so it’s hard not to like the guy.  Oh, and since he went to Novogrod he hasn’t stopped wearing ridiculous baggy pants.
His force was composed of two solid spear units, with half-a-dozen slingers, a handful of armoured hirdmen accompanying Gunnar and his standard-bearer, and a handful of scouts.

Trygg Olafsson (Ian)
Gunnars kinsman, he had arguably suffered more in the pursuit of Einar than Gunnar himself, bearing the brunt of the combat in previous engagements – and coming out of it badly bloodied.  His brother Thorgrim accompanied the warband to avenge his son, (Trygg’s standard bearer) cut down in the last battle.  (to which Einar responded: “Take a number, and get in line....”)
Trygg fielded the surprise of the day – his core unit of hirdmen were all mounted, with the majority of the rest of his force being light skirmish types, with good numbers of archers and slingers.
The Terrain:

We played on a table roughly 4”x8”, with the long edges being N & S, the short edges E & W.
The terrain represented a low headland where Einar had been intending to take ship for Aengland, but had instead been trapped by Gunnar’s pursuing force.
The westward end only was the landward edge; the rest of the table was surrounded by sea.
The point of the set-up was to force Einar into an attacking strategy – a tough call, but only fair, since he had been able to dictate tactics in all the previous engagements.
As seemed to make sense for any headland, the ground rose from the sea to its high point in the middle of the table, then sloped back down again.  The low areas around the edges of the table were mostly salt-marsh, rough ground and reed-beds.

Gunnar & Trygg deployed at the Western edge – Gunnar toward the SW, & Trygg toward the NW.
Einer’s band ranked-up opposite Gunnar, and Guthrum opposite Trygg.

The Battle!

Turns 1-3:  All factions advance!

All commanders decide to ‘go with the flow’ and follow the path dictated by the terrain – Einar and Gunnar marching toward each other in the stretch of open ground along the southern shore, Trygg and Guthrum heading for the open ground to the north.

Gunnar’s two groups of spearmen form into a shieldwall and advance in purposeful order, 

 while his scouts and command group skirt the rougher ground toward the middle of the table.
(already, Einar thinks the spearmen look like a blocking force, intended to hold up his escape while the rest of his enemies close in... however, the only way to go is straight over their gutted corpses, so there’s no point worrying about it!)

As Gunnar’s scouts advance, his slingers split off from the main group, and head for a dense patch of rough ground.

 Einar’s raiders advanced in loose mobs, seeing no point in close-order drill while still so far from the foe.

Trygg’s initial advance sees his forces skirting some rough terrain.  His highly mobile warband flows easily around the broken ground and forms up facing the widest stretch of open ground on the table:  a potential killing ground for his cavalry and archers!

Guthrum, however, is no fool.  He slows the advance of his main body,

sending his archers into the dense reed-beds which border the open ground.

Turn 4: Form Ranks!

The general advance continues...
Einar’s warband organize themselves – his Viking raiders, best armoured of his men, will lead the advance.  His archers form the second rank of this unit, and he slows his advance to half-speed to allow them to move-and-shoot.  Although they score no hits, their shafts do make Gunnar think twice about leaving his men standing out in the open!

Turns  5 & 6: The Slings and Arrows of outrageous fortune!

 Gunnar’s men abandon their shieldwall and crowd into the margins of the rough ground to the North – their left.  In doing so, they cease their advance, content to wait for Einar to come to them.  Some shuffling in Gunnar’s ranks sees his slingers come to the fore, peppering Einar’s lead elements for a couple of Light Wounds.
His scouts press forward through some light woods and onto the slope of a small rise to Einar’s right.

Trygg has established his slingers in a dense patch of rough ground and continues to advance the rest of his men.  He continues to vex Guthrum’s scouts with hopeful long-range shots into the reeds, wounding a slinger in turn 5 and another in turn 6.

Guthrum continues to push forwards through the reed-beds, but has reached an impasse:  there’s no way to get any closer to the enemy without breaking cover.   He halts his men in some broken ground and rethinks his options....

Einar keeps pressing forward at a slow enough pace to allow his archers to keep shooting, taking a toll on Gunnar’s slingers.  Although this will allow time for Gunnar’s scouts to close from the north, there seems little point in rushing forward – no matter how fast the outlaws march, they won’t outrun the enemy horse!

(At this point, I, playing as Einar, discovered that my peasant archers have fallen foul of the new rules!  Viking peasantry are no longer allowed to be bow-armed in the revised army lists. A quick recalculation promotes them to Sergeants [the rules use generic medieval terminology]which increases my warband’s point total to 254 – still well within acceptable leeway for a 250pt game.)

Turn 7: Into the woods!

Gunnar decides to deploy for battle  in the rough ground.  His men, taking cover at its edges, are redeployed across it.  On Einar’s flank, Gunnar’s scouts come within range of the outlaws and their lone archer looses an arrow, scoring a Light Wound.

Trygg’s tactics seem to be working.  He leaves his skirmishers to whittle down Guthrum’s advance elements, and inclines his column of horse south – to his right – toward the impending clash between Gunnar and Einar!

Guthrum has also made the decision to head south – but Trygg’s forces are still too close to ignore.  He sends some light troops to the south, into rough terrain, but his main body use the round to redeploy with the stronger warriors to the right, to counter the threat of a charge.
Einar presses forward!  Continued archery from his advancing ranks forces a morale test from Gunnar’s slingers – they fail dismally and scatter!

Einar diverts his Viking spearmen to charge Gunnar’s scouts. Although they pose no major threat, the narrow front on which Einar and Gunnar’s forces will meet means there’s no advantage to be gained by everyone getting there at once – therefore, nothing to be lost by a small diversion!  Gunnar’s scouts, predictably, choose to evade the charge – only just managing to do so.

Turn 8: Finally, the Clash of Arms!
Realising that Guthrum is slipping his net, Trygg turns the screen of light troops which was holding him into a very orderly column, which follows his cavalry’s trail to the south. 

Eager to make up for lost time, Guthrum’s scouts rush through the broken ground to harry the flanks of Tyrgg’s column!

Back at the southern edge of the headland, Einar’s spearmen again charge Gunnar’s scouts, this time, caught against the edge of a thicket, they have little choice but to stand, and battle is joined.  The melee is inconclusive, with Gunnar’s archer the only casualty.

Turn 9: The Main Event!
Gunnar’s spearmen launch their attack from the rough ground, against Einar’s large mixed unit.
The combat is absolutely brutal!  The dice are merciless and wound after wound is dished out!

Einar’s men respond by charging in their turn – the Saxon mercenary spearmen charge Gunnar’s command group, pinning them to prevent them joining the main fight, while Einar and his Berserkirs pitch into the flank of Gunnar’s spearmen!

Trygg’s column rides toward the sound of battle, with Guthrum’s skirmishers still worrying at their flank; while Guthrum’s main force presses on some way behind.

Turn 10: Einardammerung!
In the press of melee, Gunnar finds himself face-to-face with Einar!  And, like many before him, has second thoughts when it comes down to it!  He steps aside and waves his archers forward – such arrant cowardice comes to naught as Einar parries with his shield.
Einar, too, has archers at his side – but he is made of sterner stuff!  Einar charges into single combat!
(It may seem reckless, but there is, in fact, a cunning plan: Stab Gunnar in the face ‘til he dies!)

But the Gods of battle have other plans.
Not for Einar the straw death!  In the face of the outlaw leader’s onslaught, Gunnar’s greataxe strikes home

and again!

After a year of constant pursuit, and repeated failure, on this bleak, marshy headland, Gunnar the Aggrieved has become Gunnar the Avenger.
Even in death, Einar manages to cheat Trygg, who seethes at missing the kill!
Guthrum has won renown for standing by his wayward kinsman against all comers.

The warriors of rank from both sides of the feud gather as a Viking funeral is prepared, and flames leap into the grey sky to Wagnerian strains!

Today’s victory belongs to Gunnar... but all present know that as long as this tale is told, men will know it as Einar’s Saga!

Gunnars version of events can be found Here

Pictures by Lawrence (Mahotsukai)
Commentary by Phil Hope (Norman D Landings)

Thursday, 3 March 2011


Welcome to the Eclectic Expanding Empires of a wargaming butterfly, in here you will see a little bit of this and probably a lot of that.

The first thing I have for your delectation and delight is a write up of a game played at the Tyneside Wargames Club last Saturday. Richard(herkybird) was working and Ian was sick.

So that left Phil (norman d landings) and myself (mahotsukai) to work something out.

and this is what we did...

Over to you Phil.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Cardoza Jailbreak – July 1867

“He never once introduced himself, come to think of it. But the Mexican he rode with called him ‘Joe’, and if that wasn’t his name... well, he didn’t bother correctin’ nobody. Didn’t bother with much of anythin’... just set hisself at the bar an’ kept one eye on the jailhouse... almost like he knew what was comin’...”
Short a couple of our usual complement of players, Lawrence and I played a session of 2-hour Wargames’ “Six-Gun Sound”.
The rules we used were the 1st edition – based on 2HW’s ‘Mayhem’ skirmish system. We played the basic system with none of the advanced or optional rules.
Lawrence rolled up a character – a professional gunfighter with a Combat Value of 5, and Coolness of 4. His choice of profession gave him a constitution of 6.
Characters in 6GS have the option to recruit sidekicks and gang members, who are randomly generated from appropriate tables. The advantage of numbers is offset by having to share your victory points; the fewer the men, the greater the glory! Lawrence’s gunslinger chose to ride with one sidekick, a pistolero named Chico, CV4, Cool 4.
6GS campaigns begin in the summer of 1867. We randomly determined the locale (The Southwest) and the scenario – jailbreak!
The game contains a town layout plan, but since Lawrence had been busy making some Whitewash City card buildings, we set the town up according to what we had.

Cardoza (‘Card’, geddit? See what I did there? Tch... suit yerselves.) boasted one main street which angled across the tabletop.

North of the town the ground rose steeply and became broken, rocky foothills with a scattering of Scrub Oak and Chaparral. Among the high ground north of Cardoza sat the town’s clapboard church and its dusty graveyard.

We assigned occupants to buildings according to what we had available. (the figures we used were a real mixture, from Warrior, Dixons, Grenadier/Mirliton, Artizan and Old Glory.)
A nattily suited gent was appointed bank manager... the general store got a cantankerous one-legged proprietor and a customer, the saloon got a bartender, a saloon girl, and a thirsty cowhand, the hardware store got a respectable-looking owner and a customer, and the Sheriff’s Office was staffed by a sturdy peace officer and his deputy.
(The townspeople would be run as a single faction.)
We began the scenario with the villain of the piece -Tomas ‘Tequila’ Torres, scourge of the Four Corners territory- behind bars in the Sheriff’s office, having been brought in by two bounty-hunters.
These sinister types were now lounging around the saloon, hoping that Tequila’s gang would attempt a jailbreak, and hoping to profit from the mayhem.
The Sheriff started inside the office, while his deputy stood watch on the stoop outside.
The Torres gang approached from the north, led by Tequila’s formidable right-hand-man, Jorge.
Their stats and weaponry were randomly generated:
Jorge: CV5, Con6, Cool4. (Trapdoor carbine)
Enrique: CV4, Con5, Cool5. (Pistol)
Jaime: CV3,Con4, Cool4. (Shotgun)
Xavier: CV4, Con5, Cool4. (Trapdoor Carbine)
A competent and well-armed bunch!

TURNS 1-3:
They assembled behind the church an hour before sundown and dismounted.

Leaving Xavier to guard the horses, the other three bandidos began to close in on the sheriff’s office under cover of the broken ground.

The Gang acted unopposed for these three turns, with none of the other characters having any chance to spot or reason to activate. They crept toward Cardoza, keeping behind a shallow ridge.

The gang’s movement takes them to the edge of the broken ground, and into the deputy’s line-of-sight... he rolls to spot, but notices nothing.

An instant later, Jorge ‘pops up’ from behind the ridge, and puts a .45-70 round through the deputy’s chest as casually as if he were putting down a snake-bit mule.

(In game terms, Jorge rolled 2D6 as he drew a bead on the deputy, and, with 2 successes, neither flinched nor rushed his shot. In 6GS, men who can keep their heads in a gunfight are lethal!)
The deputy topples off the boardwalk, dead before he hits the ground.

Enrique dashes across the open ground at the end of the street, intending to pass a gun through the jailhouse bars to Tequila!

Joe & Chico get a chance to react to the gunshot – both men pass 2D6, and get to act.

Flattening themselves in the saloon doorway, they see Enrique run across the end of the street... Joe tries a snapshot with his Henry rifle, but hesitates ... and only manages to wound the running outlaw.

Enrique takes a “Shot At” test for coming under fire. He passes one dice, and must “Duck Down”. Out in the open, that would plainly be suicide... Enrique about turns and throws himself back into the broken ground!

Jorge takes a “Got a Shot” reaction test because, although the bandits aren’t the active party, Joe & Chico have entered his line of sight. Passing both dice, he coolly levels his carbine and fires... incapacitating Chico!

The townspeople get a chance to react to the mayhem outside... the Sheriff fails to spot that his deputy is down, and keeps his gun on Tequila.

The customer- who had just left the Hardware store when the shooting started -dashes for the corner of the saloon to take cover.

While Mr. J. C. Forester, proprietor of the hardware store, grabs his Sharps Cavalry Carbine and heads for the street.

Winning initiative, Joe bursts out of the saloon doorway and throws himself into more solid cover behind a stack of lumber outside the hardware store, Jorge firing – but missing- as he goes.

The gang act next... cursing Enrique for a coward, Jaime sprints toward the jail in a second attempt to pass Tequila a weapon.

Both Joe & J.C. Forester get a “Got a Shot” reaction test... and both pass! Two bullets kick up dirt at Jaime’s feet.

Failing his “Shot At” test, Jaime cowers round the corner of the jail... unfortunately for Tequila, the wrong corner.

Jorge takes a deep breath and does his best to blow Joe’s head off – missing again.
The Gang win initiative, and Jaime spends another fruitless round attempting to pass a gun through the bars of Tequila’s cell, but being driven back round the corner by near-misses from Joe and the West’s hardest hardware merchant.
In their respective actions, Joe and Jorge try to shoot one another, but succeed only in increasing the lead content of the local topsoil.
Meanwhile, at the far end of the street, both the owner of the general store and his customer have decided enough is enough, and prepare to defend the town. Unfortunately, neither has a long-range weapon (shotgun & handgun respectively) and both are out of effective range.
Again, Initiative favours the gang.

Jorge turns his gun on J. C. Forester and shoots him down like a dog.

Jaime again exposes himself to Joe’s fire, this time holding his nerve, and passing a pistol through the jailhouse window.
(The Sheriff gets a roll to spot this, but fails!)

It’s Joe’s action next, and Jaime’s luck has run out. As the bandit stands reaching up to the window, he makes a perfect target... Joe shoots him dead.

The tide of battle has turned against the forces of law and order!

Winning initiative, Jorge fires another shot at Joe – who drops like a stone!

Is this the end for our hero?
Meanwhile, we roll to determine Tequila’s course of action... will he back-shoot the Sheriff, and take the chance that he can shoot the lock off the cell door? Or will he try to force the Sheriff to release him at gunpoint?
He tries the latter, cocking his pistol to get the Sheriff’s attention: “The key, gringo... eef joo won’ to leeve!”
We give the Sheriff a reaction test... uncharacteristically for such a stalwart character, he fails – and turns his gun on Tequila!
It’s a “Draw” reaction test... both men roll 1D6 & add their CV: the Draw... is a draw!
The character with the highest Coolness will fire first.
A hammer falls.

Tequila slides down his cell wall... his pistol falls, forgotten.

During the drawing of cards for initiative, a 10th Court card comes up... 6GS’s mechanism for determining nightfall.
We’re near to a conclusion and decide to play out the last moves, with suitable penalties to range and spotting.

The Sheriff eases open the back door and peers around the corner of the building.

He spots Jorge (and the useless Enrique, who, lacking a long-range weapon, couldn’t contribute anything to the firefight from his position.)
Jorge sees only the gathering darkness.
He waits. The town is silent. Tequila doesn’t appear.
Both he and Enrique get reaction tests every round to determine their actions.
Predictably, after a couple of rounds, Enrique starts to get antsy and slides away.
With a final glance at the darkened jailhouse, Jorge follows.
Joe & Chico both survive, incapacitated rather than killed.
Joe earns 120 campaign points for a scenario victory – halved because he ended the scenario out-of-action, halved again because the victory points are shared with the Cardoza Sheriff’s Office.
He splits the points with one sidekick, but earns 10 solo points for a gunfight kill (Jaime).
Joe: 25pts, Chico: 15pts.
Because the scenario played out in... well... about two hours... we had time for a quick:
Joe & Chico both spend a month’s campaign time recovering from their wounds.
(6GS uses 1-month time intervals)
The next month of campaign time turns up a ‘Capture’ scenario.
Anything for an easy life, we have the Cardoza County Sheriff receive word that the surviving members of the Torres Gang are holed up in an abandoned Mennonite Mission in the badlands.
Joe & Chico agree to help, but decline to be deputized... Deputies don’t get bounty!
(Speaking of which, the Sheriff does have a new deputy... looks a heck of a lot like the old one, too.)

The Mission building sits on a low rise in the middle of the table, surrounded by a broken terrain of hills and arroyos.

I randomly determined who would be inside, who would be on guard, and where they would be positioned.
Lawrence nominated his preferred table-edge for set-up and approach, and we diced for it: 1, 2, & 3 – the other table edges, 4, 5 or 6 – the chosen side.
With a roll of one, the posse approached from the East, leaving their horses out of sight and approaching on foot.

The group split up, with the peace officers inclining toward the front of the building, and the gunfighters toward the back.

Initially, luck was with them. Enrique, standing guard, was on the far side of the building.

So their first moves went unnoticed.

The fearsome Jorge, however, was on-form as usual.

Having randomly determined his position in the building, he had a line-of-sight to the peace officers... and he’s not the sort to fail a spot roll!
Reacting, he broke the nearest window with the butt of his carbine – which alerted Enrique, who began to race around to that side of the building.

Rounding the corner, Enrique finds he has a shot at the deputy, and takes it... only to find the lawman was j-u-s-t out of range! (Neither he nor the deputy could have known that, so we let it play out.) The wasted shot turned out to be deadly enough, though, as the deputy lost his nerve and headed for the hills!

Never one to let the chance of a good old back-shooting pass him by, Jorge put a bullet between the fleeing deputy’s shoulder blades, killing him outright.

(If there’s a third brother in that family, I’m betting he doesn’t go into law enforcement!)

Joe & Chico took advantage of the activity on the side of the Mission to creep up to the rear unnoticed, and positioned themselves – Joe by the window, Chico by the door.

The first the bandits knew of their presence was the bang as Chico kicked the door in, fanning his pistol as he burst into the church.

(In 6GS you can fire up to three pistol rounds at up to three targets – providing they’re no more than 4” apart.)
Chico had decided to fire twice at the nearer man – Xavier – and once at the farther – Jorge.
His bullets threw Xavier dead across the pews; but missed Jorge.
Joe, too, had declared Xavier as his target... that right there is one dead bandido!

Jorge’s reaction, though, was devastating – despite penalties for being attacked from behind, he passed his reaction test and shot Chico clean through the heart.

Enrique chose that moment to burst into the mission, eliciting a “Got a Shot” reaction from Joe, who blew him right back out of the door again – dead.

At close range, Joe and Jorge blazed away at each other... and for the second scenario running, Joe was incapacitated by Jorge’s deadly-accurate fire.

Enough was enough, though. Jorge had no way of knowing who was out there, and decided to make good his escape, grabbing his saddlebags and heading for the gang’s horses.

He was almost there when a shot from the Sheriff’s revolver sent him sprawling in the dust.

The ‘Code of the West’ is all very well... but Jorge was just too darn dangerous to take any chances with.

Again, Joe had survived, and if he hadn’t exactly won, at least been on the winning side.

More recovery time lies ahead... and after that, perhaps a rethink about how many sidekicks to take along on a job!
Pictures by Lawrence (mahotsukai) and Richard (herkybird)
Commentary by Phil Hope

Rules: THW’s 1st edition Six Gun Sound.