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Game Credits:
Game Design: Mark H. Sheppard
Graphics: Bruce Yearian
Playtesting: Brian Brennan and Paul Rohrbaugh

ALFRED THE GREAT
WAR IN THE WEST COUNTRY, 876 AD

Warrior Kings Campaign Series, Volume 2

Background

In the first game, Alfred The Great: The Great Heathen Army 871 AD, Alfred had led the West Saxons to victory of a sorts, spectacular but not comprehensive.

 

Ivar the Boneless the Great high King of the Vikings is dead, killed in Ireland in 873AD and his Lothbrok kin, Halfdan and Ubbe had traveled north to fight the Picts and the Britons of Strathclyde, And then to Ireland, to reclaim the land lost by Ivar.  This left Guthrum and his fellow Kings Anwend and Oscetel to mount another attack on Wessex.

 

What kind of plan had Guthrum hatched? We know that he moved 1,500 men quickly and with stealth and seized the fortress of Wareham. There he was to be joined by a huge fleet of 3,500 Vikings. A Fortified Wareham situated on the Southern coast of Wessex had proximity to the West Country Fyrds of Devon and Dorset.  Guthrum would need these to bring his enemy to battle. It would also provide a safe harbor for his warriors that had traveled by ship, and was also within striking distance of Winchester, the capital of the West Saxons and a town that Guthrum knew that Alfred would defend at all costs.

 

There has been strong speculation that Guthrum had discussed with Halfdan and Ubbe Lothbrok a joint plan of attack. One possible scenario could have Halfdan landing in Exeter (that had a strong Briton population) where the groundwork had possibly been laid with the Britons of Cornwalum to stage an uprising against their Saxon lords. The Britons had bad memories of the slaughter following their last uprising and defeat by King Egbert in 836 AD (Alfred’s grandfather). They would have needed some strong persuasion, but a three-pronged attacked from Guthrum in Wareham, the Britons and Halfdans army from Exeter, and Ubbe landing a force in the North of Devon or Somerset, would have stretched Alfred’s army to a breaking point.

 

The last King of Cornwalum was Doniert and it is mentioned that he died sometime around 875AD by drowning, presumably while out hunting but it is also claimed in Irish annals that he was drowned for his collusion with the Vikings. Did Alfred seek revenge for a traitor on his border? Or did a leading West Saxon Earl hunt him down and exact vengeance? Unfortunately for Doniert and Guthrum, Halfdan died in Ireland and Ubbe was probably involved in seeking retribution (the Lothbroks did have a history of revenge!).

 

In Wareham, after making a deal with Alfred, Guthrum killed all his hostages and fled to Exeter with his house troops while the rest of his army readied to sail to Exeter. Possibly this was a last throw of the dice to get the Britons to stick to their plan, but unfortunately for Guthrum his fleet was caught in a storm off Swanage and his plan and fleet were literally sunk.


The Game 

The game system is designed to reflect the decisions the Saxon and Viking Kings had to make. The Vikings are the more professional soldiers and are stronger in combat than the Saxons from the Fyrd which was in essence a local shire militia called together by their Earl. The Earl, Jarl and Uchelwyr (British sub-king) are of equal fighting quality. The Saxon Earls and their house troops were as well trained and motivated as their Viking opponents. The Britons were renowned for their fighting ability, if not battle tactics. Kings have different combat strength depending on their historical standing.

 

In this period monarchs were in the true meaning Warrior Kings; leading their men in battle and their presence lifted the moral of their soldiers. You will have to fight the temptation of leaving them all safely hidden away in a fortified hex as without them on the battlefield your troops will be at a severe and constant disadvantage.

 



 
 
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