Pig Wars – Flotsam and Jetsam

Mik named our latest Pig Wars game Flotsam and Jetsam in his recent game report and I liked the name so decided to pilfer it.   The scenario featured two bands of Vikings against a band of shipwreck survivors sent from the Holy Church to Ireland and their Irish rescuers.

The ship was sailing from the mainland carrying replacement holy objects, plates, and adornments for the monastery at Armagh, raided several times by Vikings over the past years.  The bishop of Armagh himself as well as a number of clergymen accompanied the gifts from the pope, along with a contingent of mercenaries from the mainland.  The ship was driven ashore in a storm along the Irish coast between Dublin and Wexford.  Upon hearing of the wreck, both Viking settlements (currently in one of their many periods of hostility) sent out parties to recover the treasure, as well as any august persons likely to fetch a good ransom.  The Irish have also heard of the wreck and sent out a rescue party.  The survivors have gathered up what they could salvage and formed a fortified camp.

Ken and Mik took the Dublin Vikings approaching from the north and both chose to come onto the table close together near the water.  Mik was able to supply both parties from his recently completed collection of Vikings.  Tom and Bob played the Wexford Vikings approaching from the south, with Tom playing a band of my Vikings and Bob a band of his own.  Bob’s band came in along the water’s edge, while Tom came in further inland in order to cut off the Irish.  I played the shipwreck survivors with a band of 10 monks and a second unit of mixed guards and ship’s hands.  I also played the Irish rescue party using my own Irish miniatures from Crusader.

Bob and Mik were the first to close up on the survivor’s camp.  Bob’s archers scored some hits and he followed up with an attack against the first barricade.   Unfortunately for the shipwreck survivors, this part of the perimeter was held mostly by ship’s hands, who were rated as militia and died quickly despite the advantage of defending the barrier.  This triggered their first morale test, which they failed miserably, causing the entire group of mercenaries to rout!  As they streamed past the advancing Irish, the clergymen huddled together, grabbed a few chests of holy relics, and prepared to make a break for it.

The Irish divided their force to try and slow down as many of the Vikings as possible.  The slingers got into a duel with Tom’s Viking archers, but lost that contest miserably and were largely shot down without doing any damage.  However, the Irish nobles and a few other warriors were able to charge the Vikings before they could get into battle array and before the three berserkers could work themselves into a proper rage.  Two of the berserkers fell to the great axes of the Irish nobles.  However, Tom was able to feed in more Vikings and the tables began to turn.  On the other flank, some javelin men and a few spear men ran into a bunch of woods and sought to outflank Ken’s group (and stay well away from his archers).  eventually they were able to reach the flank and make a spoiling attack, killing a couple of the Norsemen before being hunted down themselves.

With the flight of the mercenaries, the clergy suddenly had to fend for themselves.  They formed up, grabbed a few treasures, and started making their way toward the Irish.  However, the Vikings were too close and they were soon engaged.  However, the Northmen soon found out that some of these clergy had been warriors before adopting the monastic life and they had some fight left in them.  A glimmer of hope shown when Bob’s band failed a morale test and was forced to fall back.  Mik was then poised to sweep in and claim the treasure when his own band failed morale and fell back as well.  Both rallied and reentered the fray, but not before a number of monks broke out and fled west toward the Irish (or what was left of them) and the rallied and reformed guard contingent.  The guards leader and his standard bearer were cutting down every Viking that tried to kill them, even when outnumbered.  These two drew enough attention and killed enough Vikings that a few of the monks were able to break out.

By this time the Irish had all been killed or routed with the exception of their mounted leader.  As the last of the monks fled west, Tom tried to push over the stream and catch up to them.  However, the initiative draw favored the monks and he was unable to prevent the escape of the bishop, who was disguised as an ordinary clergyman and not even armed.  The leader of the monks went down fighting, as did the leader of the guards and his standard bearer.  When the standard fell, the rest of the guards broke and ran, routing off the table.   Ken had suffered an unlucky morale result and routed for a couple of turns before rallying his men.  His troops were in good strength still, but positioned out of the battle.  Back at the camp, Bob’s Wexford Vikings had recovered from their morale failure in time to seize most of the camp.  Mik’s Dublin Vikings attacked, but got the worst of the exchange and was forced to take another morale test, which he failed miserably, leaving Wexford in firm control of the camp.

The forces of Wexford led by Bob and Tom were declared the winners, having captured all of the treasure and still having substantial fighting power remaining.  Of the other two groups, the Irish and shipwreck survivors successfully rescued the bishop, but it will be a harrowing dash through the Irish countryside, as very few of their original group survived.  The Dublin Vikings came away empty handed, but still retained some fighting strength.

After a second game with no new tweaks, our Pig Wars with a Dash of Saga seem complete.  The cards to add special characteristics and events work great, as do our house rules for berserkers, skirmishers, and double handed axes.  We have also bumped up the difficulty of the morale tests, adding a couple of more rows of potentially failed results to the morale table.  I think this adds a nice feel to the game as it makes the morale state of your troops a bigger concern and encourages bands to fight together and rally around their leaders and standards.  Troops fall back and rout more often, but can usually be rallied, so while it doesn’t take players out of the game, it does result in the melee deadlock being broken, permitting the sides to again maneuver around.  This allow you to more easily make scenarios based around securing objects or people, which in my mind are more interesting that stand up fights.

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