Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

DBA Refight: The Battle of Fulford 1066

Issue 37 of Miniature Wargames carried a simple scenario for refighting the Battle of Fulford in 1066, when Tostig, exiled brother of the King of England and the Norwegian King Harald Hardrada defeated the armies of the Anglo-Danish earls Morcar, Earl of Northumberland, and Edwin, Earl of Mercia.

The scenario posits forces of 9,000 for the Norwegian army, with a few more for the Anglo-Danes.  This seems a little on the high side for me, but as I was using DBA, I just went for a straightforward 12-base selection from the relevant army lists.

The only change I made to the rules for this scenario was to have two generals for each side, providing combat bonuses as normal, but the first general lost for each side would only count as an ordinary "single" base loss - the second general would count as a double loss, as usual.  This would reflect the ability of both sides to keep going whilst a significant authority figure was in action.

The Norwegian Army:
11 bases of Huscarls and Hird - Blades (4Bd), 1 base of Archers - Bowmen (4Bw)

The Anglo-Danish Army:
3 bases of Huscarls - Blades (4Bd), 8 bases of Fyrd - Spearmen (Sp), 1 base of Archers and Slingers -  Psiloi (Ps)

The Set Up

The initial deployment: Norwegians to the bottom, Anglo-Danes at the top.  The Norwegian left is bounded by the River Ouse, the right is marked by a ditch, with swampy ground behind it.  A road lies in the middle of the field.

A closer shot of the Anglo-Danish army: Edwin's contingent to the left (as viewed), Morcar's to the right.

The view across the road from behind Tostig and his Huscarls.

A close up of the Norwegians: Tostig to the left, Harald to the right.  Both sides have overloaded their own left flanks.

The view between the battle lines
 The Battle:
Both sides advance to meet each other.  A slightly dangerous gap opens up between the Anglo-Danes and their reserves, whilst Harald Hardrada keep his close in hand

A slightly flatter shot of the same position

Norwegian bowmen disrupt the Anglo-Danish line

Thus the first clashes occur on the Norwegian left/Anglo-Danish right

Morcar reforms his line whilst Tostig advances; however he sends some archers across the ditch to harry the Norwegian right whilst he brings up reserves

The lines remain locked

And then, almost like a rugby scrum, the line starts to wheel!  The Norwegians on the extreme left have some success, whilst the Anglo-Danes nearer the centre have the advantage; note the fight in the centre towards the road - Edwin leads his Huscarls in person against a band of Norwegians that have come loose in the push

Tostig and his men charge into action!  Morcar leads his huscarls (left of picture) with some success

The situation remains pretty static on the Norwegian left; the Norwegians suffer a loss, but feed in reserves to stabilize the situation

A combination of Viking blade and bow destroy the Mercian huscarls - Edwin is captured!

The Anglo-Danish right begins to collapse under the Norwegian pressure!  A close-run victory to the Norwegians
Game Notes:
Unfortunately a few of the pictures were unusable, which was a pity, as I have been unable to show how Morcar captured Tostig and the Norwegian army's right wing was hanging by a thread - Harald Hardrada achieved victory just in time!  I think that it is a commonplace that a blade-based Viking army is just a little stronger than a spear-based shieldwall army, and so it proved this time: as the fighting became more spread out, the Anglo-Danes lost their all-important support bonuses and given average luck, the blades must prevail over time.  A very exciting battle though, perhaps better than the simple scenario might have suggested.

The figures are all from the Baccus 6mm Early Medieval range.  The rules were DBA 3rd edition:

The board was 3'x2' and the game took just under an hour to play. 


  1. would making part (by which I mean half) of the Viking force spear armed (armoured) help?

  2. It would definitely make it a more finely-balanced game. That said, I don't have a problem with it necessarily - as a solo player, I'm going to win whatever I do...More seriously, I like the fact that the Anglo-Danes have to do something to win - just going toe-to-toe along the line favours the Vikings too heavily.

    Does anyone have any opinion on the history of all this? Is there uch justification for making the Vikings use a different fighting-style from the Anglo-Danes?

  3. Depending on your view you might consider giving the Norsemen a couple of elements of 3Wb to represent less disciplined viking troops. Although this is in effect a Norse royal army so all blades does feel right. The other option of spear armed doesn't feel right. Tostig was a rebel so his personal hearth troops may have continued in his service but they would be blades not spear the Fyrd would have been unlikely to rise up for him.

    DBm or DBMM gives a touch more subtlety in units but I actually think DBA 3.00 gives a good feel for dark agr warfare in the UK. Shield walls should be strong until the line breaks up. Which is what happened here. I have considered the casualty to leader rule from Poleaxed as workeable for this period if you wanted to have a campaign where leader casualties mattered.

  4. Thanks very much for your comments and suggestions.

  5. Thanks for the great post. The game look great in 6mm!