Monday, September 19, 2022

Wargame Design: Fury of the Northman

One of my Wargame Design goals for 2022 was to publish a new historical rule set to the Blood and Spectacles page on the Wargame Vault.  My previous historical works include Men of Bronze and Wars of the Republic for Osprey Games.  The fundamentals of these games form a great basis for most pre-gunpowder historical time periods, with a few tweaks.  My first attempt to tweak these rules to a different time frame is to modify them into the Viking Age.  

As I tackle these rules, there are a few key concepts and ideas that I wanted to capture:

1. Scale and model agnostic
2. Use the Men of Bronze core rules as a base
3. Capture the Unique aspects of Viking Age warfare

Scale and Model Agnostic
There is a wide variety of Vikings and Viking Age ranges out there for folks to buy.  I want this game to be able to accommodate a wide variety of miniatures and scales.  I want players to bring their existing armies and models to the table and be able to use them.  Plus, the game does not make use of basing conventions, so you can use single based, multi-based, etc.  

This was easy to do, as both Men of Bronze and Wars of the Republic are both scale and model agnostic.  The game uses Measurement Units as a generic unit of measure.  As always, these can be modified to fit the scale of your minis and the size of your play area.  It is left up to the players to determine the specific distance of a Measurement Unit.  

Use the Men of Bronze Core Rules as a Base
The core rules for Men of Bronze is focused on Greek Phalanx combat, and that seemed like an easy transition to the Viking style of Shieldwall combat.  The basic mechanics are very similar: 

  1. Opposed dice pool tests to determine combat results
  2. No model removal
  3. Resource management for command and control
  4. Special formations for combat benefits
  5. Actions are resolved as they happen
  6. Support troops as force multipliers
  7. Emphasis of melee over missiles
  8. Big battles and small armies
All of these mechanics are tried and true.  They drive meaningful choices for the players.  In addition, they are designed to keep the players engaged so they can react to each others moves by stealing initiative.  This leads to a dynamic, fast moving, and engaging game.  

Capture the Unique Aspects of  Viking Age Warfare
Viking Age warfare had many unique aspects to it.  The key part was modifying the Viking Age units and selection process to reflect those of the time period.  There were a variety of cultures and fighting styles in the Viking Age.  They ranged from the various Norse kingdoms, European kingdoms, Gallic tribes, Iberian kingdoms, and even Muslim forces.  All of them had unique traditions and fighting styles.  

Despite all of these different military traditions and fighting styles, the game captures them into broad and easy categories.  Then, special rules are feathered in to allow for unique aspects of the combat forces to be represented fully.  Army selection is quick and easy.  This allows a broad representation or units and troops with a simple, abstracted system.  

The game includes lists for:

  • Viking, Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes
  • Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Slavs, and Rus
  • Iberians and Muslims 
  • Irish, Scots, Welsh
  • and more
It includes such core units as: 

  • Nobles, Warriors, and Militia
  • Shield Walls
  • Berserkers
  • Heavy and light Cavalry
  • Skirmishers
  • Archers and slingers
  • and more
In addition, unique Raid scenarios were created to give a sense of the nature of Viking Age warfare.  There are also several historical scenarios based on actual Viking battles.  These raids can also be connected into a linked series of battles with the enclosed Campaign rules.  

Hopefully that gives you a feel for Fury of the Northman.  If you all ready have a Viking or a force from the Viking Age you can use them with these rules.  In addition, if you have enjoyed Men of Bronze or Wars of the Republic, you will enjoy these rules.  If you have an interest in Viking Age warfare, you will enjoy these rules.  If you like a good, fast play game that features small armies for big battles; you will enjoy these rules.            

I expect to continue to build historical games based on these same design criteria and base mechanics, but these are the first.  Let me know what you think!  


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1 comment:

  1. Sounds really interesting. I might have to pick up Men of Bronze to see how I like the core rules.