Thursday, 1 February 2018

A gem of a book for Dark Ages

Many years ago, as a young teenager, I went with my parents into town and one of the stops was the book shop. I was just looking aimlessly at the indoor games section (chess and all that) to kill time, when by chance I came across a Don Featherstone title about wargaming.

The chance discovery was made, the book was bought and lifetime passion followed. It was a golden moment really.

Anyway, my mind was immediately thrown back to that time, when today I visited a book shop, not really looking for anything and I just browsed the military shelf .... which NEVER has wargaming material.

But ..... today and I really did have to do a double take, as I couldn't believe my luck, the book spine said The Wargamers Guide to DARK AGE BRITAIN by Marin Hackett and published by Amberley.

This has a publication date of 2013 and had completely passed me by.

With my 1066 project up and running, this just has to be the best running mate that chance could have brought me. 

At 284 pages, it has a wargame set of rules, information about the period and then each Dark Age battle is given 2 or 3 pages with a schematic diagram of the essential elements of terrain and troop deployment.

Here are some chapter headings;
Dark Age Warfare
Dark Age Armies
Britons Alone
The Saxon Kingdoms' Struggle for England
The Saxons Plateau and the Heathens Arrive
The Making of England
1066: The Year of Three Kings and Three Battles
Rebellion 1066 to 1070

Not only will there be a treasure trove for me to mine here, but I was conscious that my two Hastings armies were unlikely to get a lot of use outside of the 1066 time frame. However, by adding a Viking army, which I would want to do anyway at some point from Stamford Bridge 1066, the door opens on a wide variety of battles that the figures from the three armies could be deployed to, with just a small amount of proxy assistance.

Anyway a really enjoyable find.

RESOURCE SECTION
First update post on the 1066 project LINK

http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/1066-hastings-initial-project-update.html

22 comments:

  1. Nice find :)

    A Norse army would be useful beyond Fulford and Stamford Bridge as there were a number of threatened invasions by the Danes between 1066 and 1087

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Tamsin, my current project (Hastings) will give me Anglo-Saxon / Danish and Norman Armies and for whatever reason, I saw future expansion as being the Normans heading off into Europe and the Crusades - but this book is dragging me back to Briton and 5th / 6th century. Vikings will open all the 800 + (home) battles (Ashdown 871 and Ethandun 878 hold promise).

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've pondered buying this book but have resisted so far, due to trying to focus on other projects. How long that resistance lasts remains to be seen...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Steve, I think if I had been doing other stuff, I would have delayed until ready, but my current 1066 interest made the decision for me and there is enough there for me to keep dipping in and getting something new each time. I will likely stick with my own rules, but the authors are comprehensive.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Afraid I'm not a fan of the book
    http://tomstoysoldiers.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/as-told-in-great-hall-review.html

    But glad it's working for you (just take the history with a pinch of salt)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tom, thanks for that link, it does knock my hopes for the book, still I will strive to enjoy it for what it is. I had in fact thought that it was written by the same guy who recently did the Swordpoint rules for gripping Beast - but of course it is not.

      Delete
    2. Norm, if you're enjoying it and it's helping your project then that's fine. Don't let me spoil it for you.
      It's just my opinion (and we all know the analogy for opinions) so take it with a pinch of salt :)

      Delete
    3. Tom, no problem, all good.

      Delete
  6. A perfectly timed find for your 1066 project.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Peter. It was a Waterstones buy, so I was surprised to find it in their military section. I am just going through the rules now (simultaneous play and orders) to see if that holds anything for me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. hope you find this book a valuable resource for your project. What about hopping into Spain with your Norman’s to take part in the Reconquista!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jonathan, I had originally thought Italy or Crusades for the Norman forces, but just the briefest of time with this book is tempting me backwards to around Nechtansmere 685 (always wanted to do that) with the General Fyrd figures, which can proxy for a lot of troops

      Delete
  9. Oooh....I've had this on my wishlist for a while now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alastair, I can't believe that considering how many wargame shows I go to and the number of times I visit military sections at a wide number of stores and that I do the Kindle thing, that I have missed this title.

      I had come across 'A wargamers guide to 1066 and the Norman Conquest by Daniel Mersey' last year, so between the two titles I hope to pick up some wargaming perspective as much as historical information.

      Out of interest, I paid the cover price for the book, which is £22, I have since discovered it on the Kindle for £7 however, it is the kind of thing that I would rather have in my hand to quickly flick between sections, rather than dragging pages across on a screen, it just seems easier to 'dip into' in the book form as it stands at 280 pages.

      Delete
    2. Agreed...the Kindle is great for lots of books but not when you want to dip in and out and flick backwards and forwards :)

      Delete
  10. Hello Norm,

    I got this when it first came out and found it a great read. I do not think you will be disappointed paying full price. I had intended to then play the 17 or so scenarios therein to get me into Dark Age gaming but this side project has languished for the last 3 years. It is on the list as a good possibility in the next few years - I have all the pages bookmarked ready to go! I seem to remember it has some rules at the back that seem to be a little like WRG 6th but using d10s.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Shaun, good to know that you found it a good read and worth its money. Yes there are rules at the back and he presents his basing and statistical information so as to be sympathetic with 6th Edition WRG.

    I am wondering whether this is the same Martin Hackett that wrote the Fantasy Wargaming book years ago, in which case his favour towards Dark Ages, polyhedral dice and Hero's may be his fingerprint.

    Plenty here for me to explore I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From reading other sites about the book I believe they are the same person; I have not done anything beyond that to know.

      Delete
  12. I have this book as a kindle buy and enjoyed it very much. I didn’t really gel with the presented rules but did really like the scenarios and the history. I really liked the Fulford scenario especially.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks Stew, I am feeling the same way. I have only glanced at the rules because I will likely be doing something else rules-wise, but I do keep getting drawn back to the various battles. I should really know a lot of this, but I don't and the book is useful for putting the development of the kingdoms / nation into an order that is easily absorbed.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Surely an interesting inspiration for your future projects, sounds great!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks Phil, a chance find at the right time - a lucky combination.

    ReplyDelete