The Viking Legal Team in Action

The Viking Legal Team in Action
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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Latest Dark Ages / Feudal Rules

These are the latest version of my rules. As always the formatting from WORD into BLOG goes a bit off, but if you cut'n paste into WORD it should return.

They've been playtested extensively with strangers: veterans and newbies alike. Some of the scenarios have been played as much as 20 times. It is certainly possible that there's an occasional burp in the rule writing, but the obvious design intent should be a simple guide for any questions that arise.

Any questions, just shoot a reply to this post - enjoy!

FEUDAL WARGAME RULES: gaming the 90%!
A battle game for 1000 warriors a force on a 3x3-4’ table, A.D. 1000-1300 or so.

0.00 Grey Areas are resolved by defining the issue in “either/or” terms and rolling off, the “Triple-Zed Rule”.
0.1 Measuring may be done anytime.
0.2 Dice used are six-sided, with either 1-6 [D6] or 2-5 [D5] on the sides [the D5 “average dice”, has pips of 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, & 5, no 1 & 6]. Pick one to use for all game rolls. Due to this choice, dice are referred to as “Dx”.
0.3 Scale is 5-10 minutes of action / inaction; 5” = 40y [1”=8y]. A 25mm fig=20 / 15mm fig=10 men. A 3’ battle-field is therefore about 300y square, representing the decisive fighting area rather than the maneuver area.
0.4 Units represent 160 close foot, 80 knights/loose foot, 40 skirmishers [mounted or foot] in five feudal types:
a.    Knights or milites, are feudal nobles with mail, helm, lance, and shield on warhorses, supported by retinues.  They charge aggressively but lack cohesion and horse armor so are vulnerable to casualties.
b.    Serjeants or servientes, or mercenary stipendarii, are footmen with spear, shield and hand weapons. Those armored are in the front ranks, often stiffened with dismounted knights. Veteran captains, mutual support, experience and obligation to nobles or cities make them the best of the foot.
c.    Freemen or liberi are the lesser experienced and armed men of a province or town called to fill out the ranks, especially in sieges.  They’ve less élan but support the knights with numbers in solid groups.
d.    Bowmen are serjeants, liberi or mercenary stipendarii, with bow or crossbow, who may shoot volleys. They’ve enough missiles to endanger targets and affect the battle but avoid mêlée until they run out.
e.    Brigans or ruttae are bandits or camp-followers with knives, improvised weapons, throwing rocks, javelins, et al.  The best are fierce raiding warriors.  They harass from difficult terrain, charging vulnerable opponents. Also called ribauds, bidets, brigans, kerns, jacquerie, etc.
0.5 Figures & Basing. Units have a Front of 4-6” and a depth half that. I use single 5”x 2.5” bases with 3-5 mtd / loose order figs, 12-16 foot. WRG/DBx bases work on 12x6cm sabots, or any 2-1 Front-Flank ratio.
0.6 Base Width [BW] & Base Depth [BD] are used for measurements and must be in a 2-1 ratio. The BD measures a Unit half; more than half a Unit is needed for Line of Sight, terrain advantages, a protected flank, to shoot, a gap to shoot through, charge contact, and more. So whether 2.5” or 30mm, the BD matters!
0.7 Front, Flank & Rear are measured from Unit corners, 45° arcs off the sides Front, Rear or Flanks – left and right. A Unit’s Front center point shows if it is in and can Target a Unit’s Front, Flank or Rear Arc.
0.8 Bows are missiles propelled by a device, e.g. bows, slings, and crossbows.
0.9 Javelins are missiles thrown by a person, including throwing spears, javelins, hand axes and rocks.
0.10 Terrain has two types, Area and Linear.  Area are 6-12” per side or diameter.  Linear are 6-12” long x 1-3” wide. Units are Defending terrain if within Area terrain or lining the edge of intervening Linear terrain.
a.    Hills. Area.  Defensive bonus if within AND uphill of mêlée opponent. 
b.    Woods, Marsh.  Area. Only Brigans may enter. Defensive bonus.
c.    Camp, Village. Area. Defensive bonus.
d.    Lakes, Rivers, Cliffs.  Impassible Area and Linear respectively.
e.    Walls, Ditch, Riverbank (at Bridge or Ford). Linear. Defensive bonus.
f.     Roads. Linear. Road move gives BD bonus & cancels terrain restrictions, [2.9]
0.11 Line of Sight.  Units must have LoS to a Target Unit at the time of a Shot or Charge. LoS is measured from a shooting or charging Unit's Front center point:
a.    To a BD of the Target Unit’s side within which the attacking Unit is located – it can only be in one!
b.    To Units lining the edge of Area or Linear terrain, and vice-versa.
c.    Up to a BD between Units across one side of or within Area terrain,e.g. woods, hill [crested or plateau].
d.    And requires a gap >BD through which to trace it. 
e.    And is obstructed by anything a figure height or taller, e.g. hills, woods and Units, but may be traced by a Unit on a height clearly taller and if the obstruction is closer to the Sighting Unit than the Target Unit.
LoS is blocked to a Target’s Flank if it has a friendly Unit beside it and under a BD away, [measure corners -  front to front and rear to rear]; obstructing terrain within the BD of a flank does the same. Note that as LoS is used for both Shooting and Charges, a Protected Flank restricts both.
PLAY SEQUENCE.  A full turn has each player taking four phases:
Attacker  [player A]: 1) Shoot, 2) Move, 3) Mêlée, 4) Rally
Defender [player D]: 1) Shoot, 2) Move, 3) Mêlée, 4) Rally

1.1 Shooting Basics. Bowmen and Brigans may shoot if they’ve a LoS [0.11] and are not in mêlée or out of missiles. Bowmen shoot in “Phase 1, Shoot”, while Brigans shoot in “Phase 2, Move” [2.8]:
a.    Range is 2BW for Bows, BW for Javelins, measured per LoS above.
b.    Bowmen that Shoot cannot move in Phase 2. Brigans that shoot in Phase 2 cannot Charge.
c.    Shooting into a Mêlée is permitted if there is LoS to a Targeted Unit’s side.
d.    Protected Flanks. These may not be shot as there is no LoS to them [0.11g].
1.2 Resolving Shooting. Roll a Dx for the number of Hits against the Target Unit, modified in order:
a.    Brigans shooting are -2,
b.    Terrain.  Units defending woods, camp, village or walls halve Hits,
c.    Armored.  Serjeants halve Hits from shooting,
d.    Unshielded or unprepared. Double Hits from Units shooting into a Rear Arc [cf. 0.7]. 
e.    Stacked Modifiers. The max benefit is ¼ Hits [1/2x1/2] and one halving and doubling cancel out.
f.     Round all fractions up. This increases the minimum number of Hits which accounts for fatigue.
1.3 Place an Attacked Marker on every Target Unit. Something red is easy to spot!
1.4 Missile Limit.  Brigans and Bowmen are out of missiles if they roll a natural ‘5’ to Hit - mark the Unit.
1.5  Remove units with 15+ Hits from Bowmen at the end of Phase 1, from Brigans at the end of Phase 2.

2.1 Move Basics.  Players sequentially; select a Unit, state if using the Fast bonus, then move the Unit in a straight line any part of the total amount, using Turns before or after the Move as allowed to change direction.
Class 1  Serjeants, Freeman, Bowmen         5”         Move  BD       Fast +BD        Road +BD
Class 2  Brigans                                             7.5”      Move  BW       Fast +BD        Road +BD
Class 3  Knights                                             10”       Move  BW       Fast +BW       Road +BD
2.2 Moves allow a Retreat [2.4c] or a Charge [2.7] and require a Turn to change direction.
2.3 Fast Moves are the same, but also require a Unit start / remain over a BD from all enemy Units unless Charging [2.7], in which case they may pass near any side of enemy Units on their route to their charge target.
2.4 Turning. Turns are not measured but are movement; Units may rotate on their center up to 180° per Turn. While doing so, their corners and edges may pass “over” Units and terrain, but the Unit must immediately move clear, i.e. not interpenetrate [2.7]. Note this means a Unit may always rotate 180° [an “about face”]:
a.    Serjeants, Freemen and Bowmen may Turn once, at the start of their move.
b.    Knights may Turn once, at the start OR end of their move.
c.    Brigans may Turn twice, once at the start AND once at the end of their move.
2.5 Retreat from Mêlée is allowed for Units in Front contact with one Unit from a slower move Class; the Unit makes a Move at least a BD straight back up to a full Move [so a BD to a BW depending on Move class].
2.6 Facing an Attacker is allowed if a Unit is in Mêlée contact with enemy Unit(s), none on its Front. It turns a full 90° / 180° to face one contacting Unit with its Front side.  Adjust enemy Unit bases to maintain contact.  If space is a problem, leave as-is and mark that side as the “Front” [cf. 0.5].
2.7 Gaps & Interpenetration. A gap of a BW is needed to fit between Units or terrain. Brigans may move through Brigans, but must end move clear of the stationary Brigans. No other Interpenetrations are allowed.
2.8 Shooting & Moving. Bowmen may not Move if they shot in Phase 1 [1.1b]. Brigans may Shoot before or after their Move [including all Turns] but may not Charge if they Shoot. 
2.9 Roads. Units that move entirely touching a road with any part of their base get a bonus BD distance.
2.8 Charging requires either a Front Arc LoS [0.11] to a Target Unit within a Fast Move away, OR that the Target Unit be within a BD of the Charger’s Flank Arc (measure from both corners). Fulfilling this, Contact is made by putting the units edge to edge for at least a BD long, centered as much as possible.
a.    A Charge to Flank is done by Turning the Charger then Contacting the Target with its Front as above.
b.    Contact is limited to four Charging Units, one on each Target side; Front, Rear and each Flank. 
c.    Brigans may only charge a Flank or Rear, and only if they did not Shoot. 
d.    Bowmen may only Charge when out of missiles.
e.    Protected Flanks. These may not be Charged as there is no LoS to them [0.11g].
f.     Side Edge Contact is allowed in cramped situations between Units and Terrain / Board Edge; if a Gap over a BD exists for an attacker to get thru, and the Charge Target will allow at least a BD of edge contact. Mark this side as the Unit’s front. Using a side as front can occur when melee Targets turn to face an attacker on their own turn, table space is limited or clever players want to manipulate the rules!
The goal is to get Charging Units in full edge contact of at least a BD, despite terrain modeling, basing or sabots; also to reward flank protection while penalizing unprotected flanks and rear.  If disputed, cf. 0.00!

3.1 One-Sided Mêlée.  Units only inflict Hits during their own player turn and only on one Target Unit in Frontal Contact.  Mêlée includes lulls in action as both sides catch breath and exchange insults in close proximity.
3.2 Resolving Mêlée. Roll a Dx for each attacking Unit to get the Hits on the Target Unit, modified in order:
a.    Unit Types. +2 for Knights and -2 for Brigans and Bowmen. 
b.    Terrain. Units uphill, or Defending [charged while occupying] woods / ditch / wall etc, halve Hits.
c.    Armored. Serjeants halve Hits.
d.    Unshielded or Unprepared.  Double Hits from Units Contacting a Flank or Rear.
e.    Stacked Modifiers. The max benefit is ¼ Hits [1/2x1/2] and one halving and doubling cancel out.
f.     Round all fractions up, even quarters, as for Shooting [cf. 1.2f].
Mêlée concludes with the elimination of Units or their Retreat from Mêlée [cf. 2.2]. 
3.3 Place an Attacked Marker on any Unit that was in Mêlée. Something red is easy to spot!
3.4 Remove Units as soon as they get 15+ Hits.

4.1 Rallying. Units eligible to rally off Hits due to this or an Optional Rule do so now. 
a.    Phasing Units that didn’t Shoot, Move or Mêlée may Rally off 1 Hit.
b.    If they ALSO do not have an Attacked Marker, they may rally off 1 additional Hit.
c.    If a Unit 5 Hits or more, they cannot rally to below 5 Hits, i.e. the 5 Hits are permanent.
4.2 Attacked Markers for the Phasing Player’s Units are now removed.


These come in several types and their use is encouraged since so much of Feudal warfare was about people and personalities.  For every three Units in a force, a player may pick a suitable personality figure.  All function as a Unit upgrade that may transfer to another Unit within 6” at the start of the friendly Movement Phase unless the Unit is in Mêlée.  If the Unit is destroyed, the personality is removed with the Unit.
·         A Knight Errant is a warrior with renowned personal fighting skill honed in battles and tournaments like William Marshal.  He inspires others with his skill so gives his Unit +1 Hit in mêlée combat.
·         A Constable is a powerful Lord, such as Earl Robert of Gloucester.  He knows that fear and his willpower keep men fighting alongside him, so his Unit may Rally even if it Moved.
·         A Marshal of Horse knows how to handle knights in their conrois on a battlefield – he gives his Knight Unit an additional Turn at the end of movement.
·         A Marshal of Bows knows how to control and loose ranged volleys against the foe – he gives his Bowmen an extra BW distance shooting for three BW altogether..
·         A Brabanter or is a mercenary captain of renown, such as William of Ypres. He is an expert in gathering reliable veterans for service, and allow his unit to re-roll its hit dice in combat [the result stands, however, even if it is the same or worse!].
·         A Banner is an upgrade to any personality above.  The Banner is a prestigious symbol of the personality that inspires his followers.  It allows a Unit to Rally despite a Hit Marker [4.1b]. 
o   It does however count as another personality.
o   The Personality, and his banner, must stay with one Unit of Knights or Serjeants for the battle.
·         A Christian Priest may be used to rally Dx bonus Hits once to one Unit, since he has a holy relic, standard, powerful prayers, etc., however the Unit must obey the Rally rules. Remove the priest from the Unit once he’s inspired them, he’s tired and wants to go back to the monastery to pray!

Rallying and Tired Units
Units that have passed ten Hits are Tired and -1 to all Dx rolls – Shooting, Moving and Mêlée. Use one Red die to mark the Hits.  This represents unrecoverable fatigue and casualties in a typical 10-15 turn battle. Rallying undisciplined feudal warriors was difficult; instead of automatically rallying hits, use this rule:
·         Units that didn’t Shoot, Move or Mêlée, and without a Hit Marker, rally 1 Hit on ≤3, 2 Hits on a 4+.

Savings Rolls
Some love’em, others hate’em.  The good thing is that they reduce math and give a Unit a chance to endure [or collapse…] unexpectedly.  They also keep both players involved in a Turn.  Simply roll a d6 for each halving of Hits, saving on a 4+.  If they get two halvings [e.g. one for armor and one for terrain] then re-roll the failures.  

Missile Supply
Taking a more empirical approach, simply give all Missile Units a six-shot limit. I prefer to count DOWN with a black dice, showing how many shots are left. The result of the shot is irrelevant.

Battles often began with one side as the aggressor, making a series of attacks until fatigue or enemy resistance caused them to lose momentum.  To simulate this, the scenario attacker has Initiative and goes first each Turn [if no clear Attacker, roll off].  But at the start of Turn 2 - and every Turn after - roll off adding +3 for the Initiative Side.  If the Initiative side loses the roll, Initiative changes to the other side which goes first each Turn until it changes again.  Note this allows the side seizing Initiative to go twice in a row as the turn order changes, which could be a critical moment in a game.  While it is possible for Initiative to switch several times, it is likely to only change once or twice.  Additional options:
·         For more likelihood to change use +2 for the side holding Initiative, for less go with +4.
·         Subtract '1' from the players dice rolls for each of their Units that have routed.

Trained Units
Some Feudal warriors were full time professional with a lot of experience working together.  Often, these were paid mercenaries who manned garrisons, but sometimes they were hired in large groups.  If using this rule, all Dx rolls are made with a d6, producing less dependable results for movement, mêlée and shooting.  Trained [T] Units instead roll a Dx, making them less spectacular [good or bad] but more dependable.

Force Morale
The 1HW scenarios have 6 Units per side as the norm.  This conveniently comes to rolling a Dx each time a friendly Unit is destroyed, attempting to roll higher than the total number of friendly Units destroyed to keeping fighting. If you roll equal or less your force routs and the game ends.  
·         With a three or four Unit army, roll a Dx halved [round up].  As this shortens the game a lot, you can roll TWO Dx and keep fighting if EITHER roll beats the number of Units lost. 
·         You could also get a +1 to your roll if your opponent has lost more Units, emboldening your force to greater efforts, or a +1 if you still have a warrior Personality on the board.
·         In a campaign game, allow the opposing side to get one last free attack as the army fleets, or eliminate all Units that are in mêlée with a Unit of higher movement class.  
For more "period flavor", consider fun ways to gain a bonus point or two on the die roll, like winning a pre-game challenge, praying to God [or 'the gods'], fatigue from force marching to an objective, etc.

Diced Movement
Movement by Feudal units was not consistent as only a few would have had experience working together in any given force. The blowing of horns, following of banners / standards would guide the mass of warriors, but it wouldn’t be a dependable timeframe [which is why drill has been historically practiced by more sophisticated professional armies].  To use diced movement, the following changes are made:
Class 1  Serjeants, Freeman, Bowmen         Move  Dx”       Fast +2”
Class 2  Brigans                                             Move  Dx”       Fast +4”                     
Class 3  Knights                                             Move  Dx”       Fast +6”         
Javelins shoot 6” and Bowmen 12” [because the moves may be longer with high dice].

Advantages and Disadvantages
It’s quite easy to alter the qualities of units a little bit and get some great variety. If used, both armies are permitted to improve a Unit with an advantage and downgrade a Unit with a disadvantage. No Unit should have better than +2 or worse than -2 in Shooting or Mêlée or have more than one advantage and/or disadvantage used upon it. Some suggestions:
·         Determined / Unenthusiastic: 18 Hits / 12 Hits,
·         Mêlée +1 / -1, or Shoot +1 / -1,
·         Freemen / Bowmen that enter Woods, or only have 3 shots, or run out on a 5-6.
Example: an unpaid mercenary crossbow unit may shoot Dx+1 but have only 12 Hits. If out of supply, they may only have 3 Shots instead of 6.

Impetuous Charges
Units prone to impetuous charges, e.g. Knights, Warbands, sometimes found themselves a little farther away than needed to contact the enemy. Practice and desire often gave them that last little bit of distance, but it required real exertion and risked fatiguing men and horses. Allow the impetuous Unit to charge up to 3” farther, but take a Hit for each inch or part used, applied immediately. So a 2.25” Charge bonus results in 3 Hits. This ability should be taken as an Advantage applied unit by unit.

Rally Variation
Units that pass 10 Hits may not rally to below 5 Hits – use one red die to mark its Hits.
This represents the concept of permanently losing the edge when overly exerted.

Alternative Troop Types
It is not always clear from accounts how warriors were armed and how they used their weapons. Some flexibility is in order to take these into account.
·         Brigans with Bows / Crossbows – these can only shoot in Phase 1, same as Bowmen.
·         Mounted Brigans – these are Brigans who Fast Move a BW but cannot enter woods. Normally they’d have Javelins, but the can arguably have bow or a light crossbow with the same effect.
·         Cavalry – these move as Knights, mêlée Dx and shoot Dx-2 [with javelins].

The OHW rules have six different diced forces per army with 3-4 core Units and three more Units that vary from 0-2 in each force. The two diced forces result in 36 possible combinations of opposition! This matrix suits my rules. Knights and Bowmen predominate, with Brigans [to procure supplies, i.e. steal] and some Freemen who are the least common type, being expensive to feed and only useful at sieges.

                        Knights+         Bowmen*       Brigans          Freemen
Die roll            Core                Type 1            Type 2            Type 3
1                      2                      1                      1                      2           
2                      3                      1                      1                      1            
3                      3                      2                      1                      0            
4                      4                      1                      0                      1            
5                      4                      1                      1                      0           
6                      4                      2                      0                      0         
+Knights may dismount before a game, becoming a Serjeants Unit instead – they may not remount.
*One Bowmen may shoot at Dx+1 as mercenary crossbows. Balance this by making one Knight mêlée Dx+1 as mounted Serjeants, or one Freeman mêlée Dx-1 as unwilling levy.

Some variations for interesting corners of the Angevin Empire and British Isles:
Anglo Irish: Core – Brigans, T1 Bowmen, T2 Knights, T3 Freemen.
Norse Irish: Core – Brigans, T1 Serjeants, T2 Freemen, T4 Cavalry*
*Cavalry move as Knights but have Dx mêlée.
All scenarios should have an additional 8x4” wood placed fully within and against the edge of a square.

Scots Common Army: Core – Serjeants*, T1 – Brigans, T2 – Bowmen, T3 - Knights
*Scots Serjeants are schiltrons; Hits from mêlée are halved but not Hits from shooting.
Scots Isles & Highlands: Core – Serjeants, T1 – Freemen, T2 – Brigans, T3 – Bowmen
Any Bowmen and Freemen may be replaced by Brigans.

Early Feudal French or German: Core – Knights, T1 – Freemen, T2 – Bowmen, T3 – Brigans
Bretons: Core – Cavalry*, T1 – Brigans, T2 – Bowmen, T3 – Knights
*Cavalry move as Knights but mêlée Dx+1 and shoot as Brigans [Try a Brabanter personality!].

North Welsh: Core – Freemen1, T1 – Bowmen, T2 – Brigans, T3 – Knights2
South Welsh: Core – Bowmen, T1 – Freemen1, T2 – Brigans, T3 - Knights2
1 Any Freemen be replaced by additional Brigans; one may become Serjeants
2 Any Knights may be replaced with Cavalry, as Bretons above.