Players met over the coasts, fields, hills, moors, and cities of England to conquer new lands for the Vikings to settle, or to drive the heathen invaders from their lands. Twenty-four games were played over the course of the tournament. More bidding for sides occurred this year, in the form of re-rolls of the dice ceded to the opponent. Most bids were to play the English, but there were a few people bidding to play the Vikings.
A mulligan round featured 6 games of which the English won 4. The main tournament commenced with the 1st round having 7 more games with 10 new players and 4 returning from the mulligan round to compete again. In this round the tables were reversed as the Vikings won 5 of the 7.
Round 2 was a clean sweep, with the English winning all 6 games.
With Round 3, we were down to 6 players so had 3 games. Past champion Chris Trimmer fell in this round as his opponent Ric Manns managed a narrow win as the Vikings.
With only 3 players remaining, two time champion David Schneider, with the highest margin of victory thus far (both of his 2nd and 3rd Round games were auto victories), received a bye to the Final, while Ric Manns and Avery Abernathy competed to see who would challenge David for the title.
Avery’s English emerged victorious over Ric’s Vikings, as Ric only held 7 cities when the game ended via treaty after the 5th round.
Thus, the Final featured two time champion David vs newcomer Avery. David bid 5 to play the English. This was Avery’s first time playing the Vikings.
On Turn 1 Avery invaded in the North with Halfdan and his Heathen Host. He takes York and Manchester. The Beserkers are drawn next and Avery continues on taking Chester and Lichfeld, spreading himself thin with both English factions to move.
David used the Housecarl (Blue’s) faction turn to consolidate and move toward Lichfeld, then on the Thegn (Green) faction turn he played Thegn leadership to turn his 4-2 movement card into a 4-4 (4 groups moving 4 spaces). He attacked Halfdan with two groups and used smaller armies to attack and retake Chester and York. The major battle ensued at Lichfeld, and Halfdan’s army (along with Halfdan) was wiped out. Avery expended his remaining 4 rerolls during this battle.
At the end of Round 1, there were 3 Norseman (Black), and one Berserker in Manchester, all that remained of the mighty host at the start of the turn.
Turn 2, The Berserker (Red) cube is drawn first and Ivar the Boneless is the new Viking leader. (The GM’s fear of the Final being over extremely early are alleviated. If an English faction had gone first, and retaken Manchester, and the Reinforcement “leader” had been the Viking leader draw the game would have ended at that point in an English auto-victory as there would have been nowhere to place reinforcements and the Vikings would have ended the round with 0 cities).
Avery invaded London, and continued to play very aggressively with his Vikings, taking London, Selsey, and Canterbury. Ivar’s army was reduced to 5 (3 Norse, 2 Beserkers). The secondary action of the turn involved a small Viking army from Manchester trying to take Carlisle, but David’s first battle roll was hot (4 hits from 2 Thegn and 2 Fryd dice, and the Vikings were denied.
The remainder of the turn involved smaller battles as David whittled down Avery’s forces, although the Vikings won most of the battles. At the end of Turn 2, the Vikings hold 4 cities.
Round 3. The Norseman are drawn first and Bjorn Ironside is the new Viking leader to invade. Bjorn captures both cities in East Engla (Elmham and Theeford). Ivar attacks as well, then moves to Theeford to join Bjorn. David plays Alfred’s Gambit on the Housecarl turn to add Fryd to his attacks. He recaptures York, London, and Selsey. With the Thegn turn boosted by lots of returning Thegn from the fled box, he recaptures Canterbury as well. At the end of Turn 3 the Vikings only hold 2 cities.M/p>
Turn 4, The Beserkers are drawn first, and the Viking Reinforcements enter (no leader). The Vikings attack in the direction of Lincoln, and place blocking forces to slow English counterattacks. However, David has the Rebellion card, which removes Viking units, he plays it on the Housecarl turn, and is able to remove the blocking units and attack Theeford. Bjorn Ironside Is beaten and barely escapes to Elmham, using a command decision with his last unit.
On the Norse turn, Ivar captures Lincoln, but only has 2 Beserkers remaining, while Bjorn has just 2 Norseman.
The Thegn are last in the turn and David plays the Improved Training Card (flees count as hits), eliminates Ivar and reduces Bjorn to a single piece. He also plays his 2nd treaty card, meaning the game will end after Turn 5.
At the end of Turn 4, the Vikings hold a single city. Avery accepts defeat, as even with a new leader in Turn 5, he will be unable to take, let alone hold 8 more cities.
This makes David the champion once again for the third straight year.
Some general notes:
The English won 16 of the 24 games this year. The Mulligan and 1st round combined were very even – with the English winning 6, and Vikings winning 7. From Round 2 onwards the English went 10-1.
There have been 94 recorded games in the four years I have run the tournament and the total is English 60, Vikings 34. The average number of city shires held by Vikings at the end is 6.54 (Vikings need 9 to win). If I only count games ended by treaty (removing auto victories and early concessions), this jumps to 7.26.
For next years tournament, we will look at some potential changes to balance, and likely move back to a Swiss Elimination format, playing 4 Swiss rounds with the top 4 players advancing to the Semifinal. This will give people an opportunity to play more games.
I would like to thank everyone for playing this year, and special thanks to Uwe and Kari Eickert for supporting the tournament with extra game copies, and prizes for the top finishers.