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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Battle of Brunanburgh - Hail Caesar Game Report

Last Sunday Craig, Bern, Gary and I played a Hail Caesar refight of the Battle of Brunanburgh 937 AD, the Saxons fighting a Viking, Scots and Welsh alliance. We played the scenario as described on pp.154-161 with the only modification being a reduction in the size of the units. We didn’t have enough painted figures between us to field the massive sizes used in the book! The venue was at Good Games, a GW style gaming shop with plenty of tables, located in the suburb of Conder, in Tuggeranong, south Canberra.

There were four commanders and divisions a side and so we took two each. The Saxons commanders were led by King Athelstan, with his brother Edmund, Egil’s Vikings and an Eorl leading the mounted thegns. The Viking commanders were Olaf Guthfrisson King of Dublin, Eric commanding mercenary Vikings and Men of the Isles, Constantine II King of the Scots and Owen I King of Strathclyde. Most of the units featured combined formations with half thegns and ceorls on the Saxon side and half hird and bondi on the Vikings side.

Gripping Beast plastic Thegns
The game started with a double move for the Vikings which was a good thing as two divisions failed to move at all and the Welsh under Owen rolled a blunder and promptly fled off the table! This was the high point of the Welsh contribution - they were obviously keen to return to their sheep and home. Eventually they were able to return to the table and actually advanced towards the Saxon line but needless to say, failed to make contact for the rest of the game. Subsequent moves saw the Viking line advance and engage the Saxons. On the Saxon side Egil’s small unit of Vikings supported by mounted thegns put up a tough fight against a large unit of Scots who were also supported by friends. A helter skelter follow me order from Constantine saw a unit of Scots engage and then break the Saxons on the extreme left flank of the Viking/Scots line.

More plastic Thegns

The Viking right flank
Foundry -The Men of the Isles
Gripping Beast - King Athelstan
Foundry - Beserkers

Edmund, sensing an opportunity to exploit gaps in the Viking/Scots line, advanced off the hill and leading from the front, threw himself fearlessly into the fray. As part of the scenario, commanders in combat had an increased chance of being killed and this reflects the high mortality rate among the commanders in the actual battle. Meanwhile on the right flank Olaf and Athelstan were fighting it out and cracks were starting to appear in the shield walls, units on both sides were becoming shaken and disordered and eventually broke.

Back on the left Edmund’s large unit with supporting mounted thegns broke successive Scots units killing Constantine. They then broke the Men of the Isles, also killing Eric in the process. Tragically Edmund himself was killed in this final melee, although the unit remained relatively unscathed. The Saxon revival however was not universal and in the centre Egil’s Vikings and mounted thegns were broken by the Scots and a further Saxon unit broke before the marauding Scots had time to charge them in the rear. On the right a final melee between the remaining Viking and Saxon forces of Olaf and Athelstan saw the Saxons finally broken.

The Vikings/Scots had won a hard fought victory which could so easily have swung the other way! Despite many turns of combat and the large number of units involved the entire game probably took about three hours to fight and a half hour, of setting up at the start and packing up at the end. Thanks to Craig, Bern and Gary for a cracker game which really seemed to capture that elusive war gaming goal of ‘period feel’ particularly well!

The final melee of the game

Friday, 27 May 2011

Egil Skallagrimson

Gripping Beast - Egil Skallagrimson

This Sunday we are refighting the Battle of Brunanburgh 937 AD Saxons vs Viking/Scots/Welsh using the rules and scenario (pp.157-161) in Hail Caesar.  I'll post a report and photos after the game but in an interesting historical footnote the famous Icelandic beserker and skald, Egil Skallagrimson, the subject of Egil's Saga, actually fought in the battle on the Saxon side for King Athelstan. The description of the battle is here:

Snorri Sturlson in Egil's Saga Penguin p.100 actually describes his physical appearance:

Egil had very distinctive features, with a wide forehead, bushy brows and a nose that was not long but extremely broad. His upper jaw was broad and long, and his chin and jawbones were exceptionally wide. With his thick neck and stout shoulders, he stood out from other men. When he was angry, his face grew harsh and fierce. He was well built and taller than other men, with thick wolf-grey hair, although he had gone bald at an early age…Egil had dark eyes and was swarthy.
Egil's Saga is considered one of the greatest of the Norse Sagas but he was actually a real person who may have suffered from what is now known as Paget's disease: Egil's Bones

Foundry beserkers and Old Glory longship
Crusader and Foundry - Mounted Viking Command with a Gripping Beast Church in the background

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Late Republican Romans

Hi all just added some new photos of my Late Republican/Marian Romans. A mix of figures as usual. The Foundry Late Republican legionaries are one of the nicest Roman ranges around. Thanks for looking!

Newline & Foundry - Balearic slingers
Renegade, Vendel and 1st Corps - Gallic allies
A&A and Foundry - Numidian Cavalry
Foundry & Gripping Beast - Late Republican Roman legionaries
Foundry, Gripping Beast & Wargames Factory - Late Republican Roman legionaries

Wargames Factory & Foundry - Late Republican Roman legionaries
Foundry - Roman Consul

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Macedonian/Successor pike

Here are a few photos of some recently completed Macedonian/Successor pike units. I know I'll need to add to these with the new Aventine Pyrrhic range and the Warlord Games plastics still to be released!

Foundry & Vendel - Macedonian phalangites
Foundry & Vendel - Macedonian phalangites
Foundry & Vendel - Macedonian phalangites
Vendel and Old Glory - Seleucid phalangites
Vendel and Old Glory - Seleucid phalangites
Vendel and Old Glory - Seleucid phalangites
Foundry - Argyraspides (Silver Shields)
Foundry - Argyraspides (Silver Shields)
Foundry - Argryaspides (Silver Shields)

Monday, 9 May 2011


Here are some new photos of my Parthian army. Figures are by Old Glory, A&A, Magister Militum and Stafford Games.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Early Imperial Roman legionaries

I've just taken some new (hopefully better!) photos of my Early Imperial Roman, Parthian and Late Republican Roman armies. I'll post these in due course but the first update is photos of Early Imperial Roman scorpio and crew, various command figures, and some cohorts of legionaries.

Warlord Games - Veteran legionaries
Warlord Games - Legionaries
Black Tree Designs - Legionaries