Dark Age Infantry Slog

The Dark Ages Infantry slog, by Andy Callan, originally appeared in Miniature Wargames #7, back in 1983. Now they’re available here.

It’s an interesting system. Callan writes:

As for the battle itself, I decided that the armies weren’t going to be capable of much tactical manouvre, so this meant that I would have to find some other focus for the wargamers attention (since tactical manoeuvre is at the heart of most conventional games). I therefore decided that, in keeping with the spirit of the period, it would be LEADERSHIP rather than GENERALSHIP that would be the central factor. The player would have to LEAD his army to victory, rather than just issue orders. Accordingly he would need to be involved in forming up the army, and ‘psyching up’ the warriors for the fight, as well as getting stuck in and setting a good example for his men when it came to the crunch. All this was allowed for by giving each leader a number of ‘Leadership Points’ (LP’s) which he can use, each turn, in various ways.

Each group of warriors carries three separate ratings:

1) AGGRESSION: a measure of their enthusiasm for the fight and blood lust! Ranging from 1 (craven) to 8 (psychopathic).

2) FORMATION: a measure of orderliness and density of the ranks. Ranging from 1 (chaotic mob) to 8 (shield wall).

These first two are capable of adjustment by use of Leadership Points, which is not true of:

3) STRENGTH: an amalgam of numerical strength, physical freshness (yes, I know Vikings didn’t use underarm deodorants!) and military efficiency. The rating established at the start of the game can only decline as the battle progresses.

But the best way to describe these rules is actually to print them in full, together with some explanatory notes. The game mechanisms, which include elements of whist, poker and playground games, are unconventional, but the intention was not to be obscure for obscurity’s sake. Its just that these simple mechanisms seemed to me the best way to create a game which (to quote Ian Greenwood, whose passion for Anglo-Saxon warfare is second to none) ‘wouldn’t offend the sensibilities of Viking or Anglo-Saxon devotees who like their games to look and feel like the real thing … (and in which) … the player himself, in the role of leader, could win or lose battles according to his ability to bluff, counter-bluff or pre-empt his opponent’.

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