This is an AAR on the game of Shield Wall provided by Chris Hansen. This AAR has eight photos that shows action at different points of play. All images can be clicked to enlarge. This play uses the play test map and counters. The production map and counters were done by Danial Lamb and can be seen at White Dog Games.
Game set up image
I started the Normans a little conservatively, advancing everyone just a hex or two on the first turn. Archers performed amazingly. Four huscarls lost their shields and only one archer ran out of arrows. No Norman Melee or Saxon Rout this turn.
I kept the Saxon leaders close to the front line so they could aid in rallys and was able to rally two huscarls back to shield status. No Saxon Melee combat or anything following this turn this turn.
Picture of first turn
Image of the board at the end of the first turn
I decided to get aggressive and advance my Norman markers up the hill. The knights primarily led the way with archers taking positions nearby to try and weaken the shield wall before their attack. The Norman archers performed well again. One huscarls lost his shield and another was eliminated by shots from two different archers. The Brenton and French archers weren't so lucky. Brentons lost one archer and the French lost both.
The Normand melee combat phase didn't go terribly well for them. The Brenton units and most of the Normans didn't score a single hit, even though knights were on the front line. The French units fared better by eliminating one furd and reducing two huscarls to shield down status.
The Saxon units adjacent to the eliminated huscarls unit survive their route check.
A few saxon units, including one leader move to the front lines to fill in the gaps left by the eliminated furd and huscarls units. Both of them are in EZOC and will Melee combat.
Almost all Saxon Melee combat has King of the Hill DRM bonus applied as the Normans were never able to breach the ridge line. Only one French Foot unit advanced into the spot occupied by the dead furd. (The huscarls unit that was eliminated died through arrow fire so no one advanced into his spot.)
The Saxon Melee combat goes amazingly well for them. They throw down several sixes and fives and eliminate a French Knight and Foot unit, two Norman Knights and a Foot unit, and one Breton Knight.
The Breton units fail their moral check and retreat from the hill but the Normans and French pass theirs. The Saxons roll for Involuntary pursuit but roll a 1 and don't have to do it. The Saxons also opt not to do free movement so as to maintain their hilltop advantage.
Image of the board at the end of the 2nd Turn
The rally goes well. The Breton leader rallies a knight, the two Norman leader each rally a knight, and the French leader rallies nothing.
The Norman units once again move up the hill to face the now weakened huscarls line. Archers move to out of the way positions that still have clear shots.
The archers do very well. 2/5 hit their targets and none are eliminated. A furd and huscarls are eliminated. I conduct a Saxon route check immediately for the adjacent units. Both units pass the morale check.
In Melee combat, the Breton units eliminate one furd and reduce one huscarls unit to shield down status.
The Norman units eliminate one fyrd and in a combined effort between a Knight and a foot soldier, are able to reduce and eliminate one huscarls unit. The adjacent units conduct a rout check. One huscarls unit fails and is reduced to shield down and a furd passes. (The other adjacent unit is a leader and does not conduct a rout check.) The Saxon leader Gurth is reduced to shield down status. The French also reduce one huscarls to shield down status.
All Saxon rout checks were completed immediately upon elimination of huscarls so I move on to the Saxon phase.
Rally goes okay. Two huscarls units are restored from the rally pile and one gets his shield wall back up.
Since it is turn three, Reinforcements are rolled for the first time. The roll is a 2. No reinforcements.
Saxon movement occurs. Rallied huscarls units move to fill in gaps in the front line along the hill.
Saxon combat doesn't go terribly well. Only one unit is hit from the French and Breton forces (which is enough to initiate a rout for each of them). Suddenly though when the battle gets to the French, the die luck turns and the Saxons start hitting just about everything. A knight and two foot units are eliminated. Half of the French units are dead.
The Breton and Normans pass their rout check but the French do not (they have not been lucky this turn). The two knights remaining on the hill retreat.
I roll for involuntary pursuit and don't get it. (But for the purpose of playtesting I change my die roll to a 6 and charge the adjacent Saxon units down the hill). The units don't roll terribly well though and only eliminate one knight, even with the charge and berserker DRM bonuses.
Image of the turn 3 involuntary pursuit
As the French leader Robert is left somewhat in the open, the Saxons elect for a free movement and two units move down to fight him. Other units move to strengthen the line and rearrange position (primarily to get a leader off the front line). The free movement gamble paid off as Robert was eliminated.
(I realize that I screwed up and performed Involuntary Combat before Free Saxon Movement but each unit only attacked once regardless so I don't think it affected play too much).
Image of the board at the end of turn 3
The Normans get very lucky on their Rally phase with all leaders save William being successful and rallying their maximum number of troops! Lucky for the Saxons, Robert is dead so no French can be rallied.
Image of the board after Norman movement
Archers do reasonably well. One of them is eliminated but they manage to eliminate one furd and one huscarls (which due to the rout check, also eliminates two more furds). There is now a hole in the Saxon line in hexes 1506 and 1607 with no units in the hexes behind them.
The Saxon Melee goes well. Two huscarls units and two furds are eliminated and several units have moved onto the hill top. Everything involved in Saxon rout check either passes or is a leader.
Rally goes well for Saxons. Four huscarls are back from the dead and shields go up along the line. At this point, only one huscarls unit is in the dead pile.
Reinforcements roll a 4 so two fyrds appear in 1101.
Movement fills in gaps in the line as best as possible.
Melee combat goes very well for the Saxons. Only one Breton knight and no French units were hit but tons of Norman knights and foot units are eliminated this turn. The resulting advances that the Saxons can do restore the line.
The Bretons fail their rout check but the Normans pass it.
After the Bretons retreat from the hill, the Saxons roll a 6 for the Involuntary pursuit. Six Saxons were adjacent to routed units and charge.
Image of the Turn 4 Involuntary Pursuit
(Again, I made a mistake and did Involuntary Saxon Combat separate from Free Saxon Combat but each unit only attacked once)
The Involuntary combat results in two dead Breton foot units. The Saxons didn't roll great and all of the knights lived.
The Saxons elect a free movement and move several of the rallied huscarls to the gaps in the front line. These result in combat and the rolls go very well. Three Norman knights are eliminated after the combat. Also, a Saxon Furd is within movement range of three Norman archers and moves past them all eliminating them. Only the Breton archer and one Norman archer remain on the board.
At this point, 23 Norman, French, and Breton units are dead and only 8 Saxon units are dead. The Normans are now demoralized.
I realized that a huscarls unit that hadn't moved in the free movement phase could reach William. It was a little bit cheating to do so since reactive combat was done, but I moved him and rolled a 5. William failed his save roll and took an axe to the face. The game was done and the Saxons had won with instant victory. Even without that though, I don't think the Norman side had a chance. The Saxons were able to rally too many troops and just had better luck in combat. (Or I played the Normans very poorly... I've already started thinking of some new strategies for them.)
Image of the game board at the end of Turn 4 (before the huscarls unit killed William)