Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Clash of Spears Wargame AAR Dark Ages


It's time for some payoff with a game of Clash of Spears set in the Dark Ages.

The Build up

People who read this Terrible blog regularly (Fools that you are!  Your time would be better spent re-watching reruns of Gilligan's Island) know that there's been quite a bit of build up for Clash of Spears Dark Ages gaming going on. 

To recap:

I made these dials to track Command Points,
just for Clash of Spears games.

I made a pantsload of these tokens to track Actions in Clash of Spears,
But to be fair they'll have other uses in other games.
I also suppose they can be used as earrings as the kids these days seem to like putting 
large disks in their earlobes.

I made a slew of these 5mm die holders to track Fatigue in Clash of Spears,
but to be fair they will have other uses as well.
I suppose the 5mm dice can dangle from the rearview mirror
of a car in 28mm.

I made two Longships and some coastline terrain.
Which is not needed for Clash of Spears but are now REQUIRED
for every Dark Ages game I'll ever play because, dammit, they look cool.

I invited my friend Mr AS over for a game on a Monday afternoon.  "Monday afternoon?" you say.  Yes, I have Mondays off and Mr. AS is retired so days of the week mean nothing to him.  This might become a regular thing.  Mr. AS claimed he had Viking heritage so chose the Vikings to play; so I took the Saxons.  I don't know my heritage and don't really want to know.  Who knows what I might find if I went looking.  

Army Lists:

CLASH is set in the ancient times / Punic Wars, but ports easily over to the Dark Ages (it's ALLL swords and boards anyway).  I used the Beta Dark Ages lists and traits that you can get online as a guide and made the following lists.  These will mean NOTHING to you unless you have the rules so skip and skim if you like...

Noble Saxons; 
Muster WarBand, 1042 Points 


Level 4 Saxon Leader x 2
-add heavy shield to both


Skirmishers with Bows (1 unit of 6) 

Combat: 5+  Ranged: 5+  Grit: 5+  Save 7+  

Weapon: Bows   Armor: What Armor LOLs 

Traits: Skirmish Specialist

Ceorls (3 units of 8)

Combat: 4+  Ranged: 5+  Grit: 4+  Save 5+  

Weapon: Throwing Spears   Armor: Heavy Shields

Traits: Shield Overlap, Wall of Spears

Thegns (2 units of 7)

Combat: 3+  Ranged: 5+  Grit: 3+  Save 3+  

Weapon: Throwing Spears   Armor: Full Armor and Heavy Shield

Traits: Drilled, Fedelis, Shield Overlap, Wall of Spears

Disgusting Vikings:
Ad Hoc Warband, 1043


Level 5 Viking Leader with Heavy Shield

Level 4 Viking Leader with Heavy Shield

Bondi (2 units of 8)

Combat: 4+  Ranged: 5+  Grit: 4+  Save 4+  

Weapon: throwing Spears   Armor: Partial Armor and Heavy Shield

Traits: Drilled, Furor, Shield Overlap, Wall of Spears

Hirdmen (2 units of 7)

Combat: 3+  Ranged: 5+  Grit: 3+  Save 3+  

Weapon: Mixed Weapons   Armor: Full Armor and Heavy Shield 

Traits: Combined Arms, Drilled, Shield Overlap

Hirdmen with Dane Axes (1 unit of 7)

Combat: 3+  Ranged: 5+  Grit: 3+  Save 5+  

Weapon: Double handed Dane Axe   Armor: Full Armor 

Traits: Shield Breakers

You'll notice that the Vikings list is worth one more point than the Saxons.  What's one point between friends?  (Editor Note: If the Vikings win then the Saxons can claim that the game was RIGGED!)

In general the lists represent my preconceived notions of what makes a good dark ages game.  The Vikings are better troops with traits that help them be (be) aggressive while the Saxons have more troops and traits that help them be dogged defenders plus being ruggedly handsome.

Scenario (The play is the thing):

This time around we're doing the Force Projection scenario that I slightly modified to fit my 5 x 6 table (the battlefield is 5 x 4).

Board set up.
Told you the Longship was Mandatory.

Here we have the outskirts of a peaceful quiet Saxon village, when in the morning mist a Longship shows up on the shoreline.  "Why do we KEEP building our villages close to the water?" the Saxons ask.  "Hey nice village.  We think we'll take it" says the Vikings.

The objectives: There's a marker in the middle of the table to fight over.  Also, the Saxons want to get a unit within 8" of the shoreline; which threatens the Longship and the Vikings ride home so they will have NONE of that.  The Vikings want to get a unit within 8" of the village wall; which threatens the village and really pissing off the Saxon women so the Saxon men want NONE of that.

What, you didn't need another view of the battlefield?
Did you notice that the Saxon village wall mirrors the shape of the Viking shoreline?
That's called Fairness.  Something Vikings wouldn't understand.

 The Payoff

Now after all that foreplay, it's time for the BIG payoff with a detailed, knock down, blow by blow AAR.  And just like my wife, I'll leave you disappointed.  

Because I was teaching the game, playing the game, and having too good a time to really take enough pics or remember what happened.  Also the lighting was terrible.   So here are some of the better pics:

Here are the troops right after the Engagement phase.
The Saxons seem to have gotten the jump on the Vikings
as they seem to have just barely waded onto the shore.

Thegns and Vikings square off on the central objective

Hirdmen and Ceorls face off in the woods.
Trees removed for game play.
My woods are pretty and functional!

In the end the Saxons beat off the Vikings, but it was a close run thing.  Second to last turn both forces had 3 break points just from slaughtering their enemies (never mind walking all the way to the shore or village).  The Saxons auto passed their force morale check (being a muster force) and the Viking made their roll.  After the last turn the Vikings had 4 break points to the Saxons 3, and then failed the roll. 

Overall: I, adore this game.  The trading of activations and reactions just keeps the players engaged throughout the game.  The option of choosing the type of attack and the defending response makes every combat interesting.  It's a constant dance that keeps you interested but is not grinding in complexity or options.  

Playing this game is like going to an ice cream shop that only sells your favorite flavors.
I was also very pleased that all those counters worked well with the game and looked good. 

The hard part about the game is remembering what all the traits do.  Traits that come up a lot like Shield Overlap and Drilled are easy.  Remembering the rarer ones are harder; I think I forgot that the Hirdmen with dane axes had the Shield Breaker rule. Not that they needed it as they slaughtered two units of Ceorls.  

Least I remembered to use my fate points (those are re-rolls).

Next time I should try out some Normans.

These Things Always Cost Money

What things?  Fun things!  fun things cost money.  Sometimes unexpectantly.  
After this fun game I went online to see of there were any developments in the dark ages supplement and instead found another Ancients supplement.

Again, I know very little about Romans.
But this cover is EXACTLY how I picture them.
All stoic and hard bad asses.

I wasn't interested in any of the army lists, but there were some new traits and rules in there as well.  The book focuses on 100 BC to 100 AD as seen on the cover and my knowledge of history doesn't really start to around 400 AD but they're getting close to pleasing me; this one person.  But I have blog read by dozens of people so my voice will be HEARD!

I bought the PDF.  Mainly because it wasn't very expensive and to support the company.  I skipped all the army lists (though sample army lists are nice examples of unit profiles, and it's all swords and boards anyway) and potted history and went right to new traits and stuff, which I did like. especially the Poorly Equipped trait that I'll be using for now on; so am pleased with the purchase.  If the eventual dark ages supplement is this nice when it comes out then I'll be even more pleased. 

I Know the End When I See It

This is the end.  Hope you enjoyed the post.  Thanks for reading and comments appreciated.
Till next time.


  1. Nice AAR report, good to hear the scandahooligans lost! Rules sound good, other people have said the rules are good but for now I will hold off, as I have lots of rules already! Whats Gilligans Island and should I be watching it instead of reading your blog?
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain. Though it’s not much of an AAR. πŸ˜€
      Gilligans island was an American sitcom in the 60s that I used to watch reruns as a kid in the late 70s. It’s cute but you haven’t missed anything.

  2. ‘ In the end the Saxons beat off the Vikings’ …. Hoorah!

    Always good to see your longboats …. Worth every hour you put into them. Your armies look great, plenty of action poses, I hope Mr. AS was suitably impressed.

    1. Thanks Norm. Yeah, we all thought the visual appeal of the game was good and that was gratifying. I’ll have to devise another scenario for using the longships. πŸ˜€

  3. Markers, table, and game all look fab, Stew! Good to see you getting in some quality hobby time and a game. Glad you found a ruleset that you like so much. Hopefully, we see more on your table.

    1. Thanks JF. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon. I do really like the rules and that is a bonus. I hope to have more Dark Ages adventures. Maybe next time an actual proper AAR. πŸ˜€

  4. Impressive! I enjoy your writing style. Looks like a fun game and you are certainly much more productive than me!

    I may have to borrow the idea of making bases/holders for 5mm dice - I have a heaping handful and not much I can do with them. They slide around too much when used as hit-point markers.

    1. Thanks Jenn. I appreciate you writing a comment. I might be more productive than some but less productive than most.
      Glad you like my writing style. I try to be entertaining. πŸ˜€
      Go ahead and steal. That’s the point of blogs, to share.

  5. Stew, something weird that perhaps others can comment on. My iPad uses Safari and your post looks fine. In Google Chrome all of your charts are crunched up to the left third of post width and even odder, one of the thumbnail icons in your fave blog list (Battles in Middle Earth) is printed super large and that happens to sit in the same region as your charts.

    Perhaps others using different browsers can comment. Everything else I am looking at is fine.

    1. Same for me, Norm. Tables are almost unreadable.

    2. Well Mudder-Trucker- Gird-Dern stupid table formatting sonofafinch!

      Thanks for letting me know. Those types of errors are annoying and detract from the post.

      I fixed the problem by writing them out at a great expense of time and effort. πŸ˜€

  6. Great post Stew - looked like a fun game - I have the same issue as Norm re your charts but I just assumed it was some IT format BS that happened when you took a chart from excel and posted it in Blogger - I have shit like that happen to me at work on a daily if not hourly basis - bloody technology!

    1. Thanks Kieth. Bloody tech indeed. I fixed it. Though the charts only matter if you’re familiar with the rules. πŸ˜€

  7. Sounds like much fun was had, and it looked good on the table too!

    I am envious of having Mondays off... here they are "meeting day" and besides that are usually rather busy.

    1. Thanks Laz. If it makes you feel better, my Mondays are still usually very busy with kid stuff and errands and I don’t get paid for it. πŸ˜€
      (Except in hugs)

    2. Yeah, the cost of having a day off when everyone else is busy...

  8. MR AS says "IF" it wasn't for those missle weapon (and I mean real MWs, bows) I may have been a contender...but alas it was my first time and didn't "get" the rules compared to Darth Saxon Stew.
    I think it was a fair force set up but have ideas for that scenerio, play balance, I'll share with DSStew to see what he thinks. Now DSStew tells me my bad Axx axemen would have hand a better advantage vs shield wall? Vikings are PO's to hear that... we will poison the Saxon well with Norse Lutefisk (you don't know what type of "food" this is... BE HAPPY you have never tasted it).

    Next time I'll be the "successor Vikings" AKA NORMANS... We'll come kick Saxon behinds (and poke out their eyes with our crossbows). 🧐

    1. Thanks AS. It was a good time. It’s only my second time playing the game so I’ve not that much experience teaching it yet. The game was closer than you think. πŸ˜€
      I’ll be sure to have Normans next time.

  9. Splendid stuff….and good to see the hard work on the forces etc get some battle time. That sounds enjoyable too I might even look up the rules ? Although everybody hates them the Normans of course look really cool …..lots of cavalry πŸ‘

    1. Thanks Matt. You mean everyone LOVES the Normans. Because they are really cool. πŸ˜€

  10. The only thing better than a dead viking is two dead vikings (with apologies to Robert E Howard). They got nice longboats though…….

    1. Thanks Mike. Two true statements. πŸ˜€

  11. Very nice work on the markers, Stew! The game looks fantastic as well. Your terrain is excellent and makes me want to put some Roman minis together. Now, if I can convince you to leave the Dark Ages and get interested in the Roman era, I'll really be in business :) It might just push me to paint up some Roman minis in the future (finally!) :D

    1. Thanks Jeff. But for me it’s the dark ages forever! πŸ˜€
      Though the game play would be exactly the same; the setting is more like a window dressing.

  12. Wait, wait, what?!? How did I miss a) this post, and b) that there's Dark Age rules for CoS? Now I have Even More Things To Read. Also, nice early medievalists you've got there.

    1. Thanks Markus!
      There’s no official dark ages stuff. But if you go to the wargamingspot website you can find beta lists, traits, and an army builder for dark ages goodness. πŸ˜€

  13. Great post mate and an even better looking game!

    Might have to check out those rules if you say they are that good. And… ya know…. Paint my own Vikings and Saxons sometime…. Or other?

    1. Thanks Dai, you silver haired fox you.
      Who knows what you’ll end up painting but they sell ancient starter sets if you’re after something other. πŸ˜€