Dark & Feudal Ages at Venue Year
The Peoples Crusade vs Vikingos!
The final race to the altar for The People's Crusade saw the procession of Pilgrims veer wildly off course, with a Northern Crusade making its way to the top of the prayer-shawl-crocheters agenda and a final game against the Vikingos!
Yes, a Central London clash would see the army of nonsense against the French Baron Hubert's Norman-ancestors in a matchup between quality and quantity to conjure with through the ages.
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The lists for the The Peoples Crusade and Vikingos! from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Venue can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Vikings - what can you say. Solid, tough, armed with big axes, and now benefitting from the improved rear support rules in v4 as well. The biggest challenge with Vikings is making sure the enemy is forced to take them on frontally, as once you start to load up on the Huscarls capabilities then the points tally available for the rest of the army rachets down at a quite alarming rate - meaning there can often be some rather squishier bits around the edges, if you know where to hunt for them.
The Vikings wanted narrow, and they made sure to get it with a large lake on one side of The People's Crusade's deployment area, and a veritable forest of terrain on the other.
A Breton ally (of course) gave them a little mounted capability on their right, and a big patch of rough terrain in the centre provided an obvious home for the surprisingly significant number of Impetuous and axe-carrying looser formation dudes in the Scandinavian army - but left only a narrow defile for the eclectic mix of Peoples Crusade troops to squeeze into.
The Vikings lurched forward coherently, covering the ground between the two armies faster than a bored dad trying to shepherd his young family through the Marketplace section of Ikea on a wet Saturday afternoon in which his team was playing on Sky TV in the 530 kickoff game.
With no space to go wide, the Crusading peasantry had opted just to sit back and wait, ready to chance their arm in multiple waves of frontal attacks as the Vikings inevitably came to them.
OK, well, maybe that holding back plan needed some revision.
Holy Moly! With psalms 1 through 28 ringing out, and the possibility of sneaking off early to attend an additional Sunday Mass dangling tantalisingly in front of them the first human wave of the pious decided to give the second wave some distance and steamed towards the rather bemused Viking warband at some pace.
This was a truly glorious sight, with imminent violence floating in the air like a perfume than threatened to be more robust than that of the largely unwashed warriors and occasional soldiery of the two colliding armies.
The patch of uneven terrain was packed full of axe-waving wannabe Varangians and hard-charging fanatical nutcases high on pickled herring, Gameldansk schnaps and aspirations of victory, all set for a cataclysmic meeting with the equally fanatical yet mostly herring-free proper soldiery of The People's Crusade.
Jesus H Christ! Seizing their chance like an alcoholic priest grasping at the communion wine before an over-zealous choirmaster can throw it down the sink, the Crusading Infantry hurled themselves at the Vikings, getting the mad die rolling phase of the game underway in double quick time.
With almost everyone in the foreground enjoying Furious Charge, these mostly evens combats would most probably free up much of the rough terrain for immediate occupancy (as long as you could ignore the forest of gravestones and memorials to the fallen that might soon litter this landscape of war)
The first round was almost inevitably something of a mixed bag, with a basket of cohesion drops on both sides, and a lone elimination from the Crusaders too. Most spectacular amongst them was the sight of a unit of full-fat Huscarls suffering defeat at the hands of some kitchen-implement-equipped aggressive parishoners - perhaps a documentary about Viking Shipbuilding had replaced Midsommer Murders at late notice in the afternoon TV schedules or something?
The first wave of crusading pilgrims started to fall under the near-mechanical efficiency of the Viking longaxes, but their not so secret weapon was looming too.
For the love of God! The tactics may be simple but the maths was more simple still - attack in waves, keep rolling dice and eventually you'll get lucky and the Impetuous nature of the public hordes will cause mortal damage to almost any pedestrian enemy, even one as solidly built as these Viking warriors.
After the Byzantine Emperor had shipped the Peoples Crusaders off to Anatolia (mainly to stop them all trampling on his garden in Constantinople), they were ambushed and cut to pieces by the Turks at the Battle of Civetot.
Despite Peter's pronunciations of divine protection, the vast majority of the pilgrims were slaughtered by the swords and arrows of the Turks or were enslaved.
This historical fact is why there is now no factor for Divine Protection in ADLG v4.
The second wave of proper actual Medium Foot Non-levy warriors had now also hit the Vikings in the terrain, catching them catching their second wind after the travails of the first set of combats and barrelling through the reeling Scandic lines as if they were unravelling a cable-knit sweater around which an entire TV detectives personality had been lovingly crafted.
Suddenly the Viking line was holed, and the odds started to swing dramatically in favour of the men of the cross and against the men of the North.
The main body of Vikings was starting to feel like they were fighting a multi-armed Mike Tyson, as having carved through yet another skein of amateur soldiery they now found themselves staring down the barrel of a full-bore Knightly Charge.
This was the Noblemen's chance to prove their piety and worth to Peter The Hermit, and they clearly intended to take it in both hands and drink deep of the power of the Lord.
The Viking line was crumbling fast, with more gaps opening up than you would see in many a Scandic fishwife's welcoming smile.
Religious Icons were hoist high in the air as the Pilgrims started to celebrate like they had just discovered America, or instead had just noticed that Britain's Coolest Man, Dr Jonathon Van Tamm was now standing on the sidelines cheering them on (this does make sense, it's not just random words - trust me).
The Pilgrims Documentary
In the name of the Baby Jesus, Mary and the wee donkey! Piling into the densely packed Might Be Norwegians, the best that Feudal Knighthood could muster (given the constraints and requirements that adding extreme piety and a desire to go on a bad 18-30's holiday mandated of their membership) slammed home.
This rest of the army was normally of a rather more egalitarian inclination, but with the tide running their way all of the nearby peasantry also stepped up and joined in the fun, supporting the Knights to give them the best odds of smashing a breakthrough.
As if by magic, the Scandic dam crumbled and became washed away in a torrent of fervent Christianity and aggressive use of medium swordsmanship as the Peoples Crusade pretty much claimed the patch of rough ground for their own once and for all.
The initial fearsome struggle had been resolved by the applications of waves of reserves on the part of the Crusader Military Collective, and suddenly the Viking army was both down a bucketful of men, and looking nervously at the looming disaster that was even now reorganising to attack them from their right flank.
The knights were also enjoying the rub of the baize this afternoon, although the rather exhausted and eroded state of the Vikings by the time the Knights hit home probably had something to do with it as well.
With the front line of their army still fully occupied in slaughtering semi-armed civilians the Scandic soldiery had little plan or assets available to deal with knights rampaging into their rear areas at will.
Pockets of Viking warriors now banded together, embattled and somewhat distraught that their Old God of Odin, Thor, Frida, Angnetta, Bjorn and Benny seemed no match for the power brought down by the psalmic incantations of these newfangled monotheists scraped from the bottom of the dirty old badly made barrel that was medieval Europe.
Christ on a Bike! Even the striped-shirt-wearing Bretons could do nothing to help this rapidly declining situation, as their baguette-lances were wilting in the midday heat and their strings of neck-worn onions were bashing painfully against their buttocks as they continually evaded from the other detachment of Crusading Knights.
The table would run out it seemed long before the Knights lost enthusiasm for chasing lightly armed horsemen away
The last vestigial elements of the Vikings terrain force were now long gone to Valhalla, and the triumphant Pilgrimists were casting around for the best choice of things to do next.
Should they sit around, regroup and try and rally off some hits? Or maybe turn about and launch a fanatical and religiously inspired attack on the flank of the remaining Viking heavy infantry in the centre of the table?
Kinda tough one to call
The Vikings, still reeling from (successfully, but at great personal cost) fending off a knightly charge on their left now found themselves having to pivot about with all of the grace and finesse of a dead moose strapped to the fender of a Volvo 4x4 to try and deal with this new attack from yet another direction.
And all of this was going on with Impetuous gangs of icon-toting pilgrims roaming around unchallenged in the heart of what few scraps of their army still clung onto survival. Perhaps it was time for some of them to sneak off home..?
Where did they go?
Heavens Above! With a final flourish, the Viking army expired and was lifted away as if on the wings of Nordic angels to the great drinking hall in the sky (Alicante Airport post-departures bar) as The People's Crusade ended the weekend with a second - although extremely costly - victory to add to their rather surprising 2-2-1 record.
Read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from Peter The Hermit, The Peoples Crusade Commander
Man alive, that was a wild ride! For a moment I thought that our starting position was basically putting me back in my lovely little cave again, but this time with about half a million god-bothering wailing pilgrims., Which, even though I normally espouse peace and love to all men, well, it would put a bit of a strain on the old plumbing wouldn't it?
In the end though the desire to get out of a small dark hole seems to be far stronger in my followers on this Crusade than it is for yours truly - even to the extent that they seem happy to fight their way through a wall of Pagan Vikings with their bare hands and (I suspect) some of the utensils from my kitchen drawers as well
Now they are free, and also lost in Scandiavia quite some way from Jerusalem, I suspect the whole thing will somewhat fizzle out to be honest, and I can go back to my cave and resume my work as a ghost writer for Robert de Guisguard and his autobiography. I just hope the poer company haven't cut off my leccy while I have been away, as the old MacBook Pro batteries are starting to look a little run down right now
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch! This was not a game you won, it is one that the God your followers pray to decided for you, more I suspect to punish the pagans than to reward the unwashed multitude that traipses in your wake for no reason I can truly discern
I am sick when I do look on thee, with thine sallow face and Neil from the Young Ones hair, but your claims that this result was due to anything but sheer luck and frontal attacks in waves is a joke that makes me laugh not one jot
The rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended a nostril wafts around the battlefield after a result such as this, and the way a lack of skill and a overflowing bucket of fortune gets seen as an desired outcome is merely a force multiplier for the stench
Aroint thee: go away, rump-fed runion: slut! Never darken our tabletops with this nonsense of an army ever again!
An Actual Post Match Summary of The Peoples Crusade Army
The logic - if you can call it that - of taking this army was a combination of a lack of practice with anything else, a desire to give as many of my lockdown painting projects an outing as possible, and also an attempt to avoid getting sucked into being "too competitive" so I could enjoy this first overseas trip on it's own merits without having to think about actually trying to do well.
With my only pre-tournament practice game seeing The Peoples Crusade running down a rather shell-shocked Feudal Spanish army in very short order, I did however think there may be something of merit in the list - and in some ways I was also a little worried it could be a points-system-breaker, with the 38-unit unit count making it unbeatable (or at least unbreakable) within the usual game time limit. Or it could just be utterly useless.
In reality, none of those outcomes came to pass, and the army was both interesting to play with, challenging to play against and yet was also clearly eminently beatable - over the 5 games and the 2-2-1 record it conspired to lose an astonishing 173 break points, almost 35 per game meaning the average result it achieved still put it within 3 hit points of breaking!
So, perhaps surprisingly, this potentially game-breaking army list turned out to be one that underlined and renewed my belief in the robustness of the ADL mechanics, points system and game balance - and its one I'd certainly have no hesitation about using again, even as part of a more serious attempt to do well. The biggest failing was not one of the list, but of my own poor utilization of the Knights in the first 3 games - which I tried to remedy in the final two games, with extremely mixed results! Fix that conundrum and it could end up being an army that could do pretty well - but always at a huge cost in losses!
These battle reports are accompanied by a specia in-the-field recorded episode of the Madaxeman Podcast with segments live from a bar during the competition. You can download it from Podbean, or play it here from this page