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Author Topic: Battle of Stamford Bridge 25th September 1066  (Read 61 times)


  • Psiloi
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Battle of Stamford Bridge 25th September 1066
« on: July 31, 2022, 02:13:07 PM »
Part two of our 1066 games series , this time the battle of Stamford Bridge.  Played using MeG and 28mm figures.  I've attached the scenario background too for info.
Jon Keeling, John Bland and Simon Dunsterville took the roles of the Anglo Saxon Godwinson brothers come North to hand out swift and bloody retribution to the Norsemen.  Mark Richards, Adrian Callender and myself took the roles of the King Harald Hardrada and the rebellious 4th Godwinson brother Tostig who were lazing around in the Autumn sunshine awaiting their tribute and hostages following their stunning victory at the battle of Fulford Gate.
Real battles are rarely equally balanced, this is especially true of Stamford Bridge.  So we had to find a way of re-creating the real disadvantages that the Norsemen were under on the tabletop.
Battle for the Bridge.  This was played out some days out before the game proper and was the delaying action fought by the small detachment of Norsemen guarding the bridge.  They were never going to hold the bridge but they would gain time for the rest of the army and might even kill some Anglo Saxons in the process.  In the end they gained 5 turns and took the unit of Anglo Saxon Huscarls sent to clear the bridge down to 50% casualties.  Thereafter the bridge over the Derwent didn't feature in the game
Norse Deployment : They were not expecting battle so we devised a method of randomly distributing commands around their camp which was deployed in the centre of what was later called Battle flats.  This meant that commanders were always within command radius of their units, and army commanders were always within command radius of their sub commanders but those commanders and their units were scattered in a rather haphazard fashion.  One third of the Norse force, under Eystein Orri, was off table and marching to the relief of the main force.  They would arrive after turn 10 at the far end of the table, by the road to Ricall.
The Norsemen had 5 free turns in which to pull their troops together (remove their hesitant status in MeG terms) and try to pull them into some sort of fighting line, and the first photo shows how things looked after this process was complete.  It was not a bad effort but far from ideal with some glaring weaknesses.
When battle was joined it was the Anglo Saxon skirmish missile troops that were in action first.  They were able to concentrate their fire to both clear out the isolated and outnumbered Norse archers and then get to work softening up the Norse and Scottish shield walls in the centre.
The first real fighting though came on the far left of the Anglo Saxon line, and it was Anglo Saxon on Anglo Saxon as Tostig Godwinson took his small but loyal band of fighters on somewhat of a rampage, making judicious use of the "boars head" tactic and eventually killing everything in front of them, including the opposing Anglo Saxon Earl commanding that section.
This was though the only high point for Hardrada's forces as one by one their shield walls were whittled down, engaged in hand to hand combat and overwhelmed.  Leofwine Godwinson's forces were particularly successful going through the Norse and Scots in front of them on the Anglo Saxon centre left like a hot knife through butter (in MeG terms setting off a series of cascading KAB tests as one unit was dispatched causing others nearby, or who they routed through, to also collapse).  Leofwine was now closing in on the Norsemen's camp.
Eystein Orri's relief force was on the table by this point but still too far away to affect the outcome, so the Norsemen made one last throw of the dice and committed Hardrada with his elite Huscarls against Harold Godwinson's equally elite force.  Peppered with arrows before they even got into combat the fight didn't last long and it was the Norsemen who broke and ran, leaving Hardrada still standing and defiant but knowing that he'd been beaten.
We called the game at that point.  The Norse army break point hadn't quite been reached but there was no doubt about what the result was now going to be.
In a sense the Norse players did better than their historical counterparts as both Hardrada and Tostig were still alive and they had not been surrounded, but it was still a crushing victory for the Anglo Saxons.
Next up, Hastings.  Did the Anglo Saxon's manage to husband their Huscarls so they've enough hard fighting troops left to them to defeat Duke William, we shall see.
Thanks to Adrian, John, Jon, Mark and Simon for a fun game, looking forward to the next one.