Last Sunday I had the most pleasant opportunity to try out Dux Britanniarum by Two Fat Lardies.
A new friend - Antti - met at Ropecon gave me and his another friend Heikki a demo of the game: my Vikings were to loot a Saxon village before the Saxon army arrived. DB is actually designed for Arthurian time, but Antti had adapted it for later Dark age... Excellent work!
To play a nice game for couple of hours we needed a modest amount of miniatures. My warband consisted of following troops:
So I played the attacker and after setting up the table (as per rules of the scenario) I rolled for how many rounds I would be allowed to move my invaders before the alarm was raised: 2 (only). Movement is randomized by rolling 3D6 so this could lead units becoming too dispersed... Game rules also include a command system (similar to Hail Caesar & Black Powder), where one gives a command for the unit and then it tries to fulfill it as good as possible. Doing this wisely could keep the battle line intact. Movement order of units (most of them combinations of 2 or more groups, often mixed like Elite + Warriors or Warriors + Leidang) was raFndomized as per the order of the hero cards being turned from the deck. As the actual movement range is randomized, this can also lead to trafic jams and chaos, as moving through other units is not allowed. So some planning is needed...
My Raiders needed to find 2 two loot items from 4 buildings. A group could search once per round, when commanded to do so. D6 result of 6 would yield the prize and result of 1 would indicate, that there's nothing left worth taking in that building.
Free moves phase (first two rounds)First sight of Viking raiders...
My raiders viewing the prize, miniatures from both my collection (snow on square bases) and Antti's (round 25mm bases with grass).
First two rounds of "free movement" accomplished. Main army is rushing towards the village to loot & pillage, while formation of two leidang groups led by a noble headed towards the woods and the flanks of where our scouts had reported the Saxon army should arrive from. Their job would be to hinder the enemy long enough to allow my main army to gather enough loot.
Round 3. Saxon protectors sightedHeikki rolled for each Noble (or group / formation?) would they arrive and half of the Saxon warband arrived: one group of freeman warriors, archers and a formation of two Leidang groups.
But would did they arrive early enough to save the village? My main force had now reached the village grounds and a group of warriors had bashed their way in to the first building (entering to buildings via doors only, very polite!)
First blood was drawn, when Saxon archers opened up with their bows, this would not be enough to stop my large formation of surprisingly determined Leidang... Combat fatique is presented in the game as follows: when unit takes hits either from missiles or from melee, it could lose models as casualties or gain shock points. Each shock point reduces it's move by 1 inch and when shock points exceed the number of models left in the unit (or group) it spells doom for them. They will probably at least retreat or rout, when the shock points amount double the count of the models left.
Rounds 4. & 5. Drastic movesMaybe the Saxon freemen were over confident as they didn't even bother to turn to face the threat poised by my Leidang formation. I gave them the command to charge the flank and rolled my 3D6... I was left 1" short! Damn! Order of cards next round would decide the faith of these units...
Odin was clearly guiding my hand in shuffling the deck of command cards for Round 5. as the card for my noble leading the Leidang came up before the one for the Saxon noble. My charge hit home to the flank of the Saxon freemen. In order to actually hit the flank, I needed to play a "Carpe diem" -card from my hand (a player can have 5 cards hand to boost their units as per card effects), that I duly did. The CD-card also allowed me to play more then one card on this charge and I played "Aggressive charge" -card to give me +1 to hit and an extra dice. Hitting the enemy in the flank didn't give me over powered bonuses: one more extra dice and only 4 of the 6 freemen would join in on the first round of combat as 2 models were too far. I chose not to engage my Noble, as he would be needed to keep the Leidang in the battle after this battle (rallying to remove shock points). I still had 12+1+2 dice from the cards and flank charge and I'd be hitting on 3+...
Withelding my Noble obviously angered the (dice) gods and score of hits was less then statistics would have given,,, Anyway I won the combat and few Saxons fell bloodied in the ground. Then as per game mechanics, the Saxons turned to face me and another round of melee was fought immediately. I kept slowly grinding the Saxons to dust.. Their noble could not join the fight, he needed his command card to come up.
This was better for him as all his men were soon dead and he managed to escape...
My brave Leidang had performed well in taking a superior enemy unit out. They were only allowed a short breather as more Saxons were pouring into the battle field!
Soon my Leidang were charged and as they were already quite tired, they retreated from the fight after few exchanged blows, but not before they had caused quite a few shock points to the enemy, effectively paralyzing this enemy unit for the rest of the game. Job well done lads!
Decisive battle in the villageIn the meanwhile Saxon elite fighters were steadily approaching the village, where they could hear the Vikings rummaging in the buildings looking for hidden valuables - nothing had been found yet!
Villagers and their priest dashed to the Saxon elites and pleaded them to save the village - "Vikings are there my lord!"
Saxon elites hesitated no more and two shieldwalls clashed with a great clamor. Blows were exchanged and the professional elite soldiers took the upper hand, but my warriors held their shieldwall together and only took few steps back... luring the Saxons in to the corridor between buildings - now it was time to sprung the TRAP!!!
My Warlord and his elite retinue of Hirdsmen had been waiting for the right moment and now they moved out of the largest building, BEHIND the Saxon elites, whom soon found themselves sandwitched between Viking warriors and hirdmen. Outch!
Saxon champion sacrificed himself in order to save his Lord, but his death only delayed the inevitable: soon all Saxon elites were cut down and their Warlord overwhelmed - do you yield?
In the meanwhile Viking warriors in the front most building had also looted enough valuables and with their Warlord captured and only 1 fresh group of warriors and some Leidang left, Heikki yielded the battle and the Saxons retreated, watching in frustration as the raiders gathered the loot, women and SHEEP and headed back to their ships.
Loot and women being carried to ships
End of the game video.
- Clear victory to vikings: two loots found, Saxon warlord captured and 2 / 3 of Saxon units decimated!
- My plan worked well; expendable Leidang performed well in their surprise assault against better troops and gave a serious blow to Saxon force. And even more important, slowing them down significantly.
- This lead to the Saxon elites wandering into to the village by themselves and ending up trapped in the midst of Vikings - GAME OVER for Saxons
- I really liked the game mechanics: card activation, boost cards in your hand, random movement and the feel of the period in fighting - shieldwalls grinding against one another¨
- Antti had done a superb job in creating cards for the viking era
- I do look forward to participating in a campaign - which is the essence of good wargaming and Dux Britanniarum system.