Carolingians vs. Vikings

I’m slowly getting through my Carolingian Army, after a delay to add some additional figures – which has delayed completing the basing and such like. However we are almost there and in the meantime over the last two weeks I have pitted them against Roundie’s Vikings (Land Raiders)! Last weeks combat was a bit of a learning experience, but for this week the Carolingians were a slightly different composition to that which fought Kieran’s Normans back in January.

My 28mm Dux Bellorum Carolingians wargaming.info

My 28mm Dux Bellorum Carolingians – still a bit of a work in progress!

Just to remind you my Carolingian Franks in the era of Charlemagne (for the first battle against the Vikings) were as follows:

— 1 Mounted Companions & Leader (Charlemagne & Caballari) with 6 LP
— 2 Ordinary Riders (Caballari, Bretons & Swabians, etc)
— 5 Ordinary Shieldwall Infantry
— 1 Foot Bow
— 1 Monks (+2 LP)

Dux Bellorum Rulebook

Dux Bellorum

Roundie’s Vikings were:

— 1 Foot Companions & Leader with 7 LP
— 3 Noble Warrior Infantry
— 3 Ordinary Warrior Infantry
— 1 Skirmisher (with Javelins)

Needless to say this first battle was a bit of an old fashioned thrashing! Main lesson; in Dux Bellorum don’t fight Noble Warriors frontally with Riders! My Carolingians got a rather old fashioned drubbing. So moving on to this week’s rematch the Carolingian’s had a bit of a reorganisation as follows…

Roundie's Viking General wargaming.info

Roundie’s Viking General (left) and Noble Warriors.

— 1 Mounted Companions & Leader (Charlemagne & Caballari) with 7 LP
— 1 Ordinary Rider (Caballari, Bretons,  etc)
— 6 Ordinary Shieldwall Infantry
— 1 Skirmisher (Staff Slingers)
— 1 Monks (+2 LP)

Roundie’s Vikings remained organised as previously:

— 1 Foot Companions & Leader with 7 LP
— 3 Noble Warrior Infantry
— 3 Ordinary Warrior Infantry
— 1 Skirmisher (Javelins)

Dux Bellorum Carolingians Wargaming.info

More of my Dux Bellorum Carolingians!

Dux Bellorum Carolingians Wargaming.info

Charlemagne and Household Caballari, King of the Franks & Lombards (& Saxons), Holy Roman Emperor, and commander of my Carolingians

Faced with the aggressive invasion of his territory by yet another Viking force, Charlemagne chose to accept battle, and the opposing forces deployed as depicted below… The deployment by both sides was fairly conventional with Infantry in the centre, Skirmishers on the less open of the flanks, and on the opposing side a partially refused flank by the Viking Infantry opposite the Carolingian Caballari.

Dux Bellorum Carolingians Wargaming.info

The initial advance by both sides from their deployment positions (Carolingians at bottom, Vikings at top).

Both sides rapidly advanced, with the Viking main line splitting into two groups, while Charlemagne led his Caballari off around the Viking flank in an attempt to turn them… This resulted in the left of the Viking line breaking up, as their reserve (a Noble Warrior unit) and 2 Ordinary Warriors peeled off to try and contain the Carolingian Cavalry. This greatly evened the fight in the centre for the Carolingians, leaving the Vikings just 3 Noble & 1 Ordinary Warrior units to deal with the main line of 6 Carolingian Shieldwall units (supported by the Monks).

Dux Bellorum Carolingians Wargaming.info

The opposing Infantry & Skirmishers size each other up! The latters’ javelins and sling bullets proving decisively ineffective on each other…

At this point Charlemagne had made a small blunder and failed to break his main line into at least 2 groups the prior move to allow the maximum amount of LPs to be assigned to it – this was not critical but did prevent some opportunities to capitalise on the shieldwall’s stunning initial performance against the Viking warriors, the situation only remedied ironically a couple of turns later when the Viking warriors finally had some success and pushed parts of the shieldwall back (thereby breaking up it’s contiguous line). Out on the flank Charlemagne’s Cavalry manoeuvres were partly paying off – and his supporting Caballari unit charged the Viking Noble Warrior unit, inflicting an awesome 5 cohesion hits* on the stunned Vikings in a single combat!

Dux Bellorum Carolingians Wargaming.info

Looking along the line immediately prior to the initial Viking charge and the first clash! Charlemagne is in the far distance endeavouring to out flank the Vikings with his Caballari…

By now the centre and developed into an ongoing brawl – and the Carolingians were giving the most, with the Viking Leader & Companions unable to make any headway against his part of the shieldwall, and receiving regular cohesion hits back from them for his trouble, while elsewhere several Viking Warriors had accumulated multiple cohesion hits and the Vikings were starting to feel the pressure. At this point however things got jolly damned exciting (and as a result I forgot to take any decent photos) as the Carolingians & Vikings slugged it out toe to toe!

Dux Bellorum Carolingians Wargaming.info

The first initial Viking Charge is repulsed easily by the Carolingian Shieldwall – and several hits dished out to the Norsemen in the process!

The upshot of this was that although dishing out more than they received initially attrition began to tell on the Carolingians, and as the shieldwall was slowly but slowly worn down by the Vikings while the Carolingians just could not deliver those final cohesion hits to finish off the Viking Warriors – several of whom were only 1-2 hits from breaking. While some of the Carolingian shieldwall had been barely damaged by the battle, enough was lost to force the army to start testing morale – even then enough stayed and fought on that, with the Viking units nearly all on only 1 or 2 cohesion points remaining, there was still a good hope of victory! However with Charlemagne finally cornered and defeated by the 2 Ordinary Warriors who he had led on a dance for most of the battle, and the earlier loss of the Monks (to the Viking Skirmishers), as well as another shieldwall unit the Carolingian force finally collapsed and left the field to the victorious, but well and truly battered Vikings!

Dux Bellorum Carolingians Wargaming.info

Midway through the battle and some staunch Carolingian Caballari prepare to ride down a unit of Viking Noble Warriors!

It was a fantastic game – very exciting and very challenging – so we’re looking forward to the third match-up next week! Really enjoying Dux Bellorum, great set of rules, and love the basing concept we are using from it – it’s ideal for 28mm figures and really maximises the visual appeal. Once my Carolingians are done I’ll be doing some Saxon Warriors as an historical opponent for Charlemagne; and long-term will be thinking about how to model an arabic Moor force in Spain as another alternative opponent as well!

* In Dux Bellorum cohesion points accounts for the combat effectiveness of units and how much damage they can take, typically Noble Warriors (incl. Leaders) have 6, Noble Riders (incl. Mounted Leaders) & Ordinary Warriors have 5, Ordinary Riders & all Shieldwall have 4. So inflicting 5 hits on a unit in one combat is pretty rare and a big bonus – especially against a unit that’s got more cohesion than you have and it’s 6 to boot!

Continue reading with our next encounter: Carolingian vs. Viking Rematch No.2.

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