Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Battle of Clontarf, 1014 - Community Game AAR

Last weekend, Bob Fanelli put on another one of his homebrewed community games, this time focusing on the Battle of Clontarf. 

Fought in 1014, Clontarf saw the clash of the aged High-King of the Irish, Brian Boru, against a Irish-Norse coalition, led by the kings of Dublin and Leinster, Sigtrygg Silkberd and Máel Mórda mac Murchada. The end result of the historical battle saw the Norse-Irish forces broken, and the power of the vikings in Dublin curbed. Brian Boru lost his life in the fighting, however, along with his son and grandson. 

In our fight, six Norse-Irish warbands fought against five Irish warbands. A sixth group of Irish fighters - the Uí Néills - waited on the Irish right flank, hoping to see which way the battle was swinging before heading into the fray.

Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted the picture of the initial positions, so we'll have to jump right into the fight. 

On the first turn, many of the clans issued challenges to each other, hoping to generate Wut points, which would later be needed for combat. Luck seemed to favor both sides - while my Dal Cassian champion was cut down on the far left flank of the Irish line, the Irish champions in the middle of the line managed to cut down their Norse-Irish counter parts.

The two shield walls advanced towards each other. Across most of the lines, warbands crashed into each others fronts, but thanks to the non-involvement of the Uí Néills, the group holding down the Irish right flank was charged not only in the front, but in the side as well.

Combat in Bob's rules involved a deck of cards that represented actions that units could perform. These were Kill them All, Take their Standard, Drive Them, Amuse Them, Disengage, and Rest. Depending on what card each side played, results could range from both sides slaughtering each other, to gaining points of fatigue, or backing off. Spending Wut points added to the amount of casualties caused. For each enemy model killed, a unit gained a Wut point back. And after each turn spent in combat, a unit gained two fatigue points. Fatigue put a negative modifier on the amount of casualties spent, meaning more Wut points were needed to cause casualties.

By the end of the second turn, both sides had bloodied each other, tallying up and collecting Wut.

Of course, it was at this point in time when the Uí Néills decided to join the fight - on the side of the Vikings.

And then, the third turn. Notice anything missing? In two combats, both warbands wiped each other out to the last man. One of the Irish warbands pushed their opponent into the bay, killing them and generating a massive amount of Wut.

But the Irish were essentially gone on both flanks, with the Dal Cassians down to three men and the warband on the right slaughtered as the Uí Néills attacked them in the side.

With a bit of maneuvering on the fourth turn, and the Dal Cassian champion killed in a challenge, the the group reached a consensus and decided to end the game there. The end result was the exact opposite of the historical situation - while the Irish lost the battle, Brian and his family survived and escaped.

We found the rules for the game interesting, although there were some concerns regarding Wut generation and potential limits for units. Additionally, it was only at the end of the fight that we realized that using the Drive Them and Amuse Them cards was much more dangerous than simply trying to kill as many of the enemy as possible - it's difficult to cause any casualties when your unit is completely fatigued.

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