Dark Ages gaming can be a bit confusing for me. Just what constitutes “Dark Ages” can be a bit confusing. The lines between Ancients, Dark Ages and Medievals can be a bit blurry. For me the line between Ancients and Darks Ages can be set at the fall of Rome around 410AD. The period itself was a construct originally attributed to Petrarch. So we can clearly stick Charlemagne and Arthurian gaming in the period. Also the Saxon and Viking heyday periods are accepted as Dark Ages. My confusion mainly comes from when the period ends and “Medieval” gaming starts. Some argue Hastings in 1066 is a good line to draw. I”ve heard others carry the period through the High Middles Ages and the 11th, 12th and 13th Century. For me the line sits at the Norman Conquest.
Gamers interest in the period can find a long list of books. Probably as good a place to get a feel are the Cornwell novels in his Warrior Chronicle / Saxon Stories series. The first 3 or 4 books are very good. The remaining are not bad, but they just seem to get very repetitive at some point. Cornwell does a good job of keeping his fiction in line with known historical facts, and the feel of the period comes through. Of course there are a long list of non-fiction books on the lengthy period. Most recently I have read Marc Morris’ The Norman Conquest, which is a very good book on the conclusion of the period.
I’ve played a lot of Pig Wars (apologize for Richard’s topless Valkyrie, we just humor him since he takes the photos) and have a nice set of 28mm Vikings, mainly Gripping Beast, Blacktree and Foundry.
As with my John Jenkins 60mm French & Indian Wars project, I think my aging eyes thought trying 40mm would be a good idea.
FIGURES AND PAINTING
In part this was prompted by a visit to the Sash & Saber booth at Historicon. “Just gotta get some” had me contemplating Napoleonic skirmish, etc. Basically you can buy the figures for 28mm prices. Ultimately, since I only had Vikings in 28mm, I thought I switch to 40mm before proceeding with Saxons and Normans. I also found the outstanding Graven Images “England Invaded” figures would match perfect with Sash & Saber. So I ordered up one of every pack from both companies, then supplemented with a few duplicate Sash & Saber packs to build just over 100 figures for each Normans, Saxons and Vikings. Since Sash & Saber some with separate heads and weapons, you can have well over 100 figures and none identical. So with figures in hand, it was researching period dress and shield designs. That complete it was sending everything off to Fernando (as I’ve said elsewhere I have neither time nor talent for much painting). As can be seen, Fernando did an A+ job.
As I said earlier, we played Pig Wars for years. Recently LSHM Austin has been playing with SAGA. I’ve never really cared for Pig Wars’ use of playing cards for combat. Just a bit bewildering for my mind with the face cards. Viking gaming generally means a pint is mandatory, so reading dice is easier with a lager cloud in your mind. I’ve never tried SAGA, though I have the rules. Since this 40mm project is being completed for MillenniumCon16, I guess I will have to play some SAGA ahead of time to decide what rules to use. I am also looking closely at Strandhogg, as they appear very simple and fast moving, basically a little more refined Pig Wars with dice.
One other option that I will try at least once is a Hastings game using something like Field of Glory and having each individual figure equal one stand.
MILLENNIUMCON 16 – Austin, November 2013
I finally got my 40mm figures based (but as usually with all my stuff the flocking remains delayed by my A.D.D. issues). Still the figures look really nice. We ended up using Strandhogg with some modifications suggested by the Cor Blog Me! site that I found on TMP. We had over 300 figs and, aside from the game being too big for the time slot, I think it went rather well. We had a “burgh” in the middle of the board with a (incompete – A.D.D. again) berm around it, with Vikings and Saxons were attacking from both sides, each with the objective that whoever sacked the burgh would win. This resulted in the Saxons and Vikings fighting each other while at the same time attempting to get into the burgh. The Normans came on in an attempt to relieve and rescue the villagers. There were about 120 Saxons and about 150 Vikings. There were a smaller number of villagers and Normans, but the Normans had mounted knights. Historically the villagers would have been Saxons, but it just didn’t work right on the table with the mix of figures I have.
So here are some photos. I will try to add some play-by-play at some point. The photos are with my iPhone, as I forgot my camera. So some are not the best quality.