The spring of 846 had sprung, and as the peasants were preparing their fields, tending their flocks, and shearing their sheep - all of the real work to keep the world going around -, the armies of Jarnskeggi Bluetooth of the Danes were landing on the shores of Norway! Bent on creating a Skandanavian empire, Jarnskeggi declared war on Norway and landed just outside the fortified harbour of Storholmen.
Skuld Darkhair, king of Norway, had other plans for the spring however. He truly wanted to sail to Britain and take a city on the isle, but alas he was called to defend his realm! And so, it was not long before the army of Skuld Darkhair marched to the field where Jarnskeggi had set up his siege! Skuld was brooding on the outcome of this battle. Not only did a loss here represent a loss to his honour, but also a loss to his empire! Such a loss would make it difficult for him to bolster confidence in his people, which he would certainly need, as a loss would also mean the Danes would be in striking distance from the Norwegian capitol!
The vikings, hemmed in by some forest jostle to get their lines spread out and ready to meet. Note that Jarnskeggi's Danes glow faintly red, while Skuld's Norwegians glow yellow.
At the outset of battle, Skuld took the time to make sure his Hird was together; he wouldn't leave any stray hirdmen behind when they should be with the group and fighting! It was a lesson well learned from his great unkle Steinthor, when he was captured by Jarnskeggi the first, this current Jarnskeggi's grandfather in battle. Jarskeggi also dressed his lines. Once they were both ready to begin the lengthy shoving match that typically characterize the viking battle, the two kings ordered their Hird forward!
In true viking form, the battle lines clash neatly!
As the lines of Danish and Norwegians begin to trade blows, blood flows over the field. Not to be left out of the fray both Skuld and Jarnskeggi wade in, felling hirdmen as they make their way to each other, and the ultimate, bloody challenge that awaits them. Just as Skuld and Jarnskeggi cross swords, word arrives that the Danes are taking grievous losses on the left side of the line of battle! Bolsterd by the news, Skuld drives Jarnskeggi and his guard back, but is unable to finish them off!
As the battle rages, on element of Danes on the right are destroyed! Jarnskeggi's keen forsight to leave an element of hirmen behind the lines looks like it will pay off though, as it will be brought up to fill the gap!
Again the two kings clash in the center of the battle as their hird fight around them. As the day wears on, the lines become blurred as some are pushed back, and some drive forward. Skuld and Jarnskeggi battle to no end in the middle, this time Skuld is pushed back by the ferocity of Jarnskeggi! Unfortunately for the danes, another element of hirdmen fall to the axes of the Norwegians. Jarnskeggi realizes that it must be the colder weather this far north that have his men on one foot... Certainly the fates seem to be smiling on Skuld! (and certainly indeed was I rolling terribly well for my Norwegians...)
Skuld's Norwegians punch a hole on the left side of the battle lines as well as the right, and there is nobody there to fill the gap!
Bolstered by their apparent superiority, the Norwegians drive ahead with all fervour, hoping to end the battle in short order. Unfortunately for them, their drive was premature! Caugh off guard by the staunch stubborness of the Danes, two Norwegian elements are destroyed! Fortunately for Skuld, one of the lost elements was reinforced from behind, making it easy for the line to be filled! The other element lost left a gaping hole in the line which threatened Skuld himself! Skuld did what he had to and ordered his skirmishing archers to do their best to fill the gap and keep him and hsi army on the field! Things were definitely hanging on the edge of a blade. For either side, to stray but a little would mena their army would fall!
The loss of two of Skuld's battle elements brings things back into balance, and makes the positions of both Jarnskeggi and Skuld that much more precarious!
Refusing to lose an inch of their soil to the Danes, the Norwegians charged through the open gap on the left side of the Danish battle lines. Curses were called, spit was spat, and axes were crossed. But even though the Norwegians of Skuld had "closed the door" on one of the elements in the hole in the Danish lines, they weren't able to put the Danes to flight! Now the Norwegians were thretened both at the front and the rear, and the battle could still go either way! And given this, both Skuld and Jarnskeggi only took to battle with great care, not wanting to lose their heads rashly!
Skuld's hirmen charge through the hole in the Danish lines on the left, hoping to catch the Danes if they attempted to withdraw! But alas, it wasn't to be! The Danes repelled the attack and lived to fight another day!
Despite a valiant effort to shore up the left flank, the superior numbers of the Norwegians hold sway. And so, being outnumbered and flanked, the lone defending element on the far left was cut down and destroyed! Also, Skuld's luck held for the skirmishing archers that were holding the gap just to his left. They managed not only to keep the gap filled with the boddies of unwary Danes, but also managed to lock a battle with the fierce Danish hirdmen!
Despite a valiant effort by the Danish element on the left flank, it fails to hold of the superior numbers of Norwegians.
At this point, two of Skuld's hirmen elements gained access to the rear of the Danish line. Although the Danes fought terribly well, they couldn't hold against the open flank and the rear charge of the Norwegians. And a fortuitous win for the Norwegians it was, because just as the Danish flank crumbled, the Norwegian skimishing archers that held the gap beside Skuld's own element fled! If the battled had raged for one more turn, Skuld would likely have lost his head!
Just as the Norwegian skirmishing archers flee from their Danish attackers, the Danish left flank crumbles. One more turn and it could easily have gone to the Danes!
And what a battle it was! Mike gave an excellent show and kept me chewing my fingernails the entire time! We also agreed that campaign games add a whole extra layer of stress, as a loss doesn't just mean a loss for your army, but also a loss of a city as well as a loss of elements that will last at least until the beginning of the next campaign year (in this case, after two more turns!). Thanks Mike for a great game!