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The Ritzebüttel Raid, 1012


The Dark Ages, Saga, 28mm

This week my Late Viking warband had an outing, and a scrap against Michael Schneider’s lovely-looking Ottonians. Yes, I didn’t really know who they were either. It turns out the Ottonians were a German dynasty of the 10th and early 11th century, whose span culminated in the reign of Henry II, the Ottonian king who became the Holy Roman Emperor. I suppose the guys who came before him were Old Ottonians. Anyway, the premise of the game was that the Orkney Norse, led by Earl Sigurd the Stout (he of the magic raven banner) had landed on the German coast near Ritzebüttel (now Cuxhaven), in Lower Saxony, at the mouth of the River Elbe. The local German nobleman, Count Michael von Otterndorf gathered his retinue and set off to meet the invaders. The two sides met in the wooded countryside halfway between Ritzebüttel and Otterndorf. img_3419Michael (above) set up first, fielding seven units – two four-man knights/hearthguard” units of cavalry, four eight-man “sergeant/warrior” units of spearmen, and one 12-man “peasant/levy” unit armed with crossbows, plus Count Michael himself. For Earl Sigurd’s force, I had two four-man “huscarl/hearthguard” units of axemen, three 8-man “bondi/warrior” units of spearmen, and two twelve-man “thrall/levy” units of archers, plus the fat Orcadian earl. img_3425Michael deployed his cavalry on his left, his crossbowmen and a unit of foot on the right, and the rest in the centre. I concentrated on the right, with an archer unit, a unit of bondi, plus my two huscarl units with the earl. The game began with Michael’s cavalry sweeping down towards my troops, supported at a distance – quite a distance – by spearmen. On his right his crossbows advanced with their spear support to pepper my troops with crossbow bolts. In the middle neither of us did much – we sort of hung around, waiting for an opportunity to strike. img_3422My archers failed miserably to empty any saddles as the cavalry swooped in. Michael’s first unit pretty much rode down the archers, who had rashly emerged from the cover of some trees. The survivors fell back, and were only saved by the appearance of the unit of bondi, which charged into the side of the Ottonian cavalry. This time the horsemen came off worse, and three men fell, compared to two Vikings. The survivor of the four-man cavalry unit pulled back, but only to let Count Michael charge home at the head of his second unit of knights.  I say swoop in, but Michael’s count figure wasn’t mounted – it looked like he was running to keep up! img_3420Well, the bondi were trampled pretty badly, and the sole survivor withdrew, leaving the bodies of four of his companions behind him. The cavalry were struck in turn by the first of my two huscarl units, which accounted for three knights. That left  the count with one knight to keep him company. That’s when Earl Sigurd struck. He charged towards the count, leading his remaining unit of huscarls. The battle was short, sharp and bloody, and by its end the Count was down, cut in two by a Viking axe.img_3427That’s where the game ended. In Saga,  a side loses when their warlord is killed – in this case Count Michael of Otterndorf. It was the first time Michael had played Saga for a few years, and I was pretty rusty too. Fortunately Dougie Trail was on hand, to offer advice to all parties – welcome, useful or otherwise. Actually, we benefited from it, as we needed help with the Saga “battleboards”, revving up our units, or bolstering their attack or defence dice by allocating Saga’s battle dice. Clearly Michael and I both need to give our respective “battleboards” a good study before we take the field again. That way we can make the most of our troops, and might have a fighting chance of knowing what we’re doing…

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses “The Ritzebüttel Raid, 1012”

  1. 22nd November 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Every time I read a SAGA battle report I want to buy it, but I am already into roughly 20 periods and I’m not sure I can spare the dough… looks pretty though, as always.

  2. 7th November 2019 at 5:47 am

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  3. 21st November 2019 at 9:43 am

    Thanks for finally writing about >The Ritzebüttel Raid, 1012 – Orkney Wargames <Liked it!

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