Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Song of Oswic: 454 A.D.

Cold now the fate of Angle kings
in days past, the countless battle storms
weathered by those heroes of these cold shores.

Many autumns of our lives
lie silent behind us while we sing
in the mead-hall ...

Of sword-strokes and battle blades swung under a mail-grey sky
as we stood on the iron hard ground before the fight ...

Of the cowardice of Britons and the conceit of their kings,
worthless their false-gold givers, and empty their halls ...

Of our sword-triumphs across the Grey Sea
Angle warriors sluggish with treasure from the Britons’ hearths barren ...

Of the Enemy, wailing from their wood-prison
fearful to meet us in the battle-hall of men ...

Of the Raven God, cruel and sharp
fickle his wings of fate watching the slaughter ...

Of the savage fight, well-wrought weapons glinting
in the flint-dawn, the fume of our breath frozen in the wind ...

Of the linden shields of their braced shield-lines worthless
in the smoke of their homes burning and gutted black-raw ...

Of the war cries and laughter, our hearth-heroes
goading them to their fate ...

Of the warriors fallen, spread-eagled by sharp spears
as the battle-walls screeched and moaned ...

Of the thicket of sword-blade and spear point
relished by carrion, and sharp jawed ravens garbed in black ...

For our war-songs are yet young ...


And that’s the fourth battle report from our Dark Age campaign, told from the (completely biased) view of the hearth-skald of Oswic the Angle. For a game in which the Saxons and their Angle mercenaries looked to raid and loot a small British settlement, things quickly turned into an unexpected battle of shieldwalls as the British warband of Maxim Boicicus arrived.

The Angles, true to form perhaps, simply looted the helpless village for the entirety of the game. The Saxons and British carved chunks out of each other, alternatively goading and charging in a vicious spiral as the “shock” and wounds mounted on both sides relentlessly.

The game didn’t take long. We were done in perhaps a couple of hours, but most of the action took place in a frenetic 30 minutes as each side threw units into the fray accompanied by battle cards such as “Hero of the Age”, “Smite Hard”, “Braced Shield-wall”, “Goad” and “Aggressive Charge”. The play of the battle cards, particularly according to their suits (ravens and dragons) is proving to be a really fantastic enhancement of the tabletop struggle. A game-within-a-game which has its own rhythm and tension.

For a slightly more sober and insightful look at the rules and mechanics of the game we played on Tuesday night, Richard Clarke has posted this (far less biased!) report.

More next week from fifth century A.D. Britain, with some Saxon standards and shield designs to finish this weekend.

Until then, battle-brothers ...


  1. Great read and eye candy again, excellent work.....

  2. Wonderful reading Sidney. Great photos too.

  3. Fabulous report Sidney; nothing like a spot of fifth century poetry over a coffee break! The troops are looking great too. Looking forward to more.

  4. Excellent stuff!

  5. Thanks for an excellent report once again, Sidney. And a request: will it be possible to have a post describing (not necessarily with a lot of detail) the game mechanics as they stand now?.

  6. Once again clever writing and nice looking game!


  7. The pagan(?) poet returns. Thanks for the latest installment, I shall pop over to read Rich's take forthwith.

  8. Looks like a lot of fun with a beautiful setup. Hope the game develops well so I can start dusting off my Romano British.

  9. I like the report. I also really like the embedded die( casualty?) counters. Another project to do... .

  10. An excellent read and great looking figures!!!

  11. Thanks for sharing, really enjoying this.

  12. Fantastic Miniatures, incredible photo's and a fantastic game report. Awesome.


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