Friday, 22 May 2020

Dark Ages campaign. Rules and the opening moves 797 - 801AD

Although the game is mostly an excuse to get my 6mm Early Medieval troops into action I needed some basic rules to control which troops would be available for each game.  Fortunately I had already created a troop availability roster for each administrative area that the game map is broken down into.  That is based on the type and number of settlements and the general terrain type in that area.

In common with the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms most nations have a three part division to their military manpower.  First are the personal household troops serving the local leader such as a Viking Jarl or an Anglo-Saxon Ealdorman or even the Royal Household. These are professional fighting men and go where their lord goes.  Then there are the better off landholders such as the Anglo-Saxon Select Fyrd (The term is outdated, but it works for the context of dividing up the game's manpower pool, and service obligations).  Lastly are the ordinary peasantry equal to the Anglo-Saxon General Fyrd.  The Select Fyrd and equivalent will deploy in their own region and surrounding ones (think counties here), the General Fyrd equivalents in their own region, unless joining an army commanded by the King when they will deploy in adjacent regions too.

Lastly an order of activation is needed.  The system is to draw a playing card for each 'nation' and that determines the order in which they take action (for what it's worth cards are valued ace to king with suits ranked as for bridge bidding).  Obviously there is an advantage to activating later as it is clear what the nations who activate earlier have decided to do.  The order of activation can be amended if the current national leader is particularly able or inept.  Once an action has been decided on it must be carried out even if the results of earlier battles are unfavourable.

Each game turn is 5 years long so turn one covers 797 to 801 AD.  Each nation activates once and can decide to attack one or more adjacent regions, but doesn't have to decide which of it's own troops are called out until they actually activate.  Troop losses stay in effect all turn so a nation which lost troops in an earlier combat fights without access to those troops for the rest of the turn.  Come the start of the next turn all troops are available again although lost regions no longer contribute to the manpower pool of the original owner instead being available to the new owner.  There is scope for alliances between groups who share the same heritage as a kind of mutual defence pact.  A conquered region's troops are classed as an ally until the start of the third turn after being conquered when they become normal troops of the new owning power.

Leaders (Kings, Princes etc) may be killed in combat or die of natural causes but I will explain those rules when the need arises.  If I need to deal with any other events I will make up a rules as the situation arises.

Turn one kicked off with a number of acts of aggression (well it wouldn't be much of a wargaming campaign if it didn't).

The activation phase
As the campaign opens there are 16 separate 'nations' in play which will reduce as states cease to exist.  Some are very much stronger than others. The first activation sequence and decisions were as follows:
  1. East Anglia - Defend
  2. Dal Raidian Scots - Defend.
  3. Dumnonia - Attack Defnas (Wessex).
  4. Morgannwyg - Attack Gwent.
  5. Devet -  Defend.
  6. Strathclyde - Attack Menteith (Pictia)
  7. Wessex - Attack Hwicce (Mercia)
  8. Cant - Defend
  9. Essex - Defend
  10. Pictia - Attack Comgail (Dal Raidia)
  11. Seisssllwch - Attack Devet
  12. Pouis - Defend
  13. Northumbria - Attack Rheged (Strathclyde)
  14. Guinned - Attack Seissllwch
  15. Mercia - Attack Cant and attack Essex
  16. Danes - Raid Bernicia (Northumbria)
So ten field actions to play out and potentially some Viking raids.  The system means that Guinned may be facing a reduced Seissllwch army if they takes a beating against Devet, or an enhanced army with allies from a defeated Devet if they defeat them.

Overall I'm happy with the system its nowhere near as detailed as the full campaign rules but it will generate battles and has a vaguely historical background to tie everything together.  If it needs tweaking on the fly I doubt my opponents will mind, that's the beauty of a solo campaign


  1. Loving this mate - watching like a hawk!

  2. Fabulous! Not my period but I’m eagerly anticipating your campaign as I did The Jolly Brooman’s.

  3. Yes, I've always found my own solo opponents very obliging.

  4. How did you determine the actions for each side?

    1. I use Inherant Military probability (AKA I do what seems best) at the strategic level. The random activation means that small states drawn early can't take many risks for fear of a larger neighbour taking advantage later in the turn. If in doubt I will follow the historical strategy as far as it is possible. On the table I am using the solo DBA 3.0 rules from the Fanaticus website to run one of the sides.