Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Alfred the Great - The Great Heathen Army 871 AD, May Turn Thirteen

So here we are in May 871 AD and the Great Heathen Army is astride the Temes with boats arriving as I write this report bringing in more Pagan warriors set on rape and pillage and the destruction of Wessex and the dream of a united England under one King.

The men of Wessex brace themselves for the final onslaught as the Viking hoard prepare to move on Wiltunseir.

There really isn't much Aelthelred can do in this situation with the two options of sallying forth and offering open battle or worse still attacking Readingum, both of which offer total destruction with an uncertain return in taking many Vikings with them or, the preferred option, to hunker down behind the walls and get ready for the Vikings to make a mess of one of these assaults which they so far have got away with. Their luck must run out at some stage!!

So to reinforce the front line under immediate threat, fifteen warriors from Wintanceaster join the King at Basengas.

Our game enters the last three turns and with the Vikings in a very dominant position, just needing a further two victory points in captured areas, and looking very likely to gain a minor victory at a minimum; needing to kill the two Saxon Royals and take Wintanceaster to snuff out Wessex altogether to claim a major victory. So careful play by the Saxons is still the order of the day.

What did I say about careful play is the order of the day?

So the Viking army with two moves each left has dangled a big hook with a chunk of bait on it right in front of King Aethelred and his large army in Basengas.

So dear reader, you have an opportunity to share your thoughts on Aethelred's next move based on the situation.

In summary, each force currently holds 20 VP/RSP of town/fortified hex areas. The most likely result is a Viking points victory in towns held as they need to kill both Saxon Royals and take Wintanceaster to grab a major victory which is unlikely.

The Viking main army outside Basengas consists of three kings, eight jarls and sixty-one warriors, with a reserve force behind it in Readingum of  two kings, eight jarls and a further thirty-one warriors.

In Basengas, King Aethelred commands three earls, and fifty warriors, with the nearest support being the garrison at Wintanceaster of one earl and a further twenty warriors.

The next and last supply phase is Saxon, so before any action Aethelred can reinforce any of his five garrisons with a minimum of twenty warriors.

If Aethelred sits tight and bolsters his garrison with more men this forces the Vikings to most probably assault the town with the bulk of their two armies and bring on a battle within if they can breach the walls, as a siege will take too long. You will have seen how assaults go, but with Aethelred present all the Saxons will hit at 66% of the time instead of the 33% they were causing in the previous fights.

Off course Aethelred could throw caution to the wind and attack the main Viking force before him with another forty warriors (if we include the garrison from Wintanceaster) and probably die in the counter-attack by Guthrum, but with a 66% chance of possibly taking a fair few Vikings off to Valhalla, leaving King Guthrum facing off against King Alfred and not much time to seal the deal on a major victory.

So the obvious safe approach would be to stick a load of warriors into Basengas and blow raspberries at the Vikings inviting them to come and get us, but that wont look as good in the chronicles as the heroic death in battle following a failed but daring surprise attack which dealt a death blow to The Great Heathen Army.

Ragnar has walked out into the open, in front of his massed warriors, and is staring up at you on the battlements of Basengas and as that unblinking gaze makes eye contact with you and seems to study your every thought, you know what he's thinking;

"So what you have to decide punk is, do you feel lucky? Well do you!!?" - only in Norse.

I have a feeling Ragnar will keep his council until I make a decision, so please feel inspired to share your thoughts.

Viking Comments Turn Thirteen

The Saxons bring up fifteen reinforcements into Basing which is a bit annoying as he has left a sizable force still in Winchester. A siege is out of the question as he can attack any of my six besieging forces with his whole army or a significant part of it and drive me off, one thing I am not sure on is where these forces would end their move, presumably in the combat hex which on first sight looks good for me but it still leaves the problem of getting into Basing and or defending the other towns.

So let’s set a trap, in fact several traps, some for this turn and some for the next, all of which could go horribly wrong.

I move the main army to sit directly in front of Aethelred , 3 kings, 8 Jarls and 61 Warriors. Now as they can move around me and attack Reading (unlikely ) I leave 2 Kings , 8 Jarls and with my re supply this turn , a total of 31 warriors . I also push out another warrior to occupy Clere. Now its 20 points each.

Now, what will he do, If he combines everyone in range then he can get 1 King, 5 Earls and 90 warriors (including re supply) to attack my main army. This is a possibility, and I might lose up to 36 warriors in return for around the same, of course either side could miss on any of their combat rolls and that is something that cannot be calculated however you can retreat after one turn of combat.

He might try and take Reading but will be split in the defence of two key towns.
If he does nothing and just re positions his troops from farther away to get involved for the last turn then that might be interesting and is not what I want him to do.

What you have to understand, is that my putting the army where it is isn’t the real plan. 


  1. I think you should gamble everything on one big battle , either that or be indecisive. Enjoying the game so far , thanks for sharing . Steve MadeupName.

    Alternatively you could just wimp out of making a decision and hope someone else will do it for you.

  2. I think that is known as "Viking goading"

  3. Just remember the old adage "don't get out of the ****ing fort".

    As Harold Godwinson was reputed to have said to Harold Hadrada's offer of peace for a third of the kingdom "Tell him he can have six feet of English soil or such extra measure as he is taller than other men".

    Just let him stick his head over the wall....


    1. As you will see, I was rather inclined to your way of thinking Vince. And as you will see, he didn't fancy putting his head over the wall!

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  5. i cant believe Aelthelred is still alive, he never gets past turn 4 when i am the Saxons,it will depend on "victory points" .

    1. Hi Mark, well I was rather disinclined to lose Aethelred too early as his kingly battle effects are rather useful in allowing two decent Saxon battle groups to operate rather than one, and a kill rate of 66% versus 33% without him is quite a potent loss even with a "killer" King Alfred on the loose.

      The Vikings can afford to be a bit more extravagant with the king led offensive action having five of them roaming the board.

      Fun game and I am looking forward to 876 AD preceded by some thoughts about play on this game from Steve and myself on what we might have done differently.


  6. very good point on Aethelred, shame you couldn't get prince Alfred and as many Earls as possible into Basengas, give the Vikings a juicy target at a Major victory, but 1 or 2 missed breaching attempts and the tide would turn quickly, even if they did breach and won the battle inside they still have to attack and take Wintanceaster which would has an Earl present and would be difficult...........