Blood Eagle Design Notes V

As with its brother publications IHMN and Daisho, Blood Eagle shall include a number of warbands for you to cut your teeth upon. It shall also include the full points system and the method of designing new warbands to suit your own campaigns.

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So far the warbands we have completed for the book include:

  • The Franks
  • The Picts
  • The Irish
  • Lord Uhtred of Bebbanburgh
  • The Jomsvikings
  • Jarl Ragnar Loðbrok of Kattegat
  • A Saxon Thegn
  • A Scandinavian Jarl
  • Viking Raiders
  • The Welsh

There are also a few warbands for those who want a more legendary feel to their games:

  • The Draugr
  • The Jotun
  • The Svartalf/Sidhe

Each of the warbands has a generic leader and typical warriors. They also have a few famous characters with which to enhance the force. So, for example, the Viking raiders can be led by a Jarl you name yourself or by Egil Skallagrimsson and his brother Thorolf.

You will note that a couple of the warbands are named after famous literary characters. They were such iconic heroes we really could not leave them out.

One thing that we have tried to ensure is that as many warbands as possible can take women warriors and heroes. In this period, before Christianity came to complete dominion, it was not unusual for women to take up the sword in defence of their people.

Blood Eagle Design Notes IV

One thing some of you may have noticed if you have read Daisho or IHMN, is that many aspects of them seem compatible. Well, this is quite deliberate.
All three sets of rules have some common talents/skills and mystical/magical powers. Also, there are items of equipment, especially weapons such as swords, which have identical stats. This extends to common animals such as dogs, horses, wolves, bears etc.
The reason for this is we expect that some players might like to run crossover games. After all, who the hell wouldn’t want to run Vikings versus Samurai? Or have a Victorian expedition into a lost land to come across a tribe of Vikings?
As the core rules are essentially the same with some key, genre-based, differences there is no reason you cannot do this.
This began at Salute 2013 when the splendid White Hart club ran a series of demo games across Shaun Mclaughlin’s magnificent Victorian cityscape. In the centre of the board was a blue Police Box with a pair of time-travelling occupants. So you can blame Shaun 😉

Blood Eagle Design Notes III

Those of you who are familiar with our other rules will know how we treat weapons and armour. For those that don’t, I shall explain. No, that will take too long, I shall sum up: a sword is a sword is a sword.
Our rules divide weapons up by their generic type and function. We do not divide them up by all the historical and geographical variants that can be found across northern Europe, for that way madness lies. We may list some of the common variants of weapon in the notes for the generic weapon (so Saex, Angon Francisca etc.).
So you are going to find types like: fighting knife, sword, axe, axe two-handed, fighting spear, throwing spear etc.
The same goes for armour; leather/padded byrnie, mail byrnie, mail hauberk etc.
Another reason we did this was because we have read, watched and talked to many reenactors and historians. They say the same thing: a sword is a sword is a sword, for all their fascinating little differences.
One last point, any of you looking forwards to your 9th-10th century Vikings using two-handed swords, don’t hold your breath, they didn’t exist (lights blue touch paper and retires to a safe distance).

Blood Eagle Design Notes II

Blood Eagle, like its stablemates, is a narrative skirmish game. As such it is not really suitable for tournaments or serious competitive play. It is much more comfortable in a campaign setting.
Narrative Skirmish is term coigned a while back to describe games where players find themselves creating detailed backstories for their warbands and heroes, then find themselves acting out those stories in play. In such games winning and losing become less important than the enjoyment of the game itself.
When you look at the wealth of stories and sagas available in the Northern European milieu you can see how narrative games fit in very well.
A simple example, the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066. As you probably remember the vikings had invaded Northern England and after defeating the Earls Edwin and Morcar were relaxing enjoying their spoils. Many did not have their mail armour to hand, just shields and hand weapons. The last thing they expected was for Harold Godwinsson to force march his army north to face them.
What is memorable about this battle is not the slaughter that ensued and Harold’s victory, but the story of lone Viking who held a narrow bridge on his own to give his comrades time to get themselves into battle formation. Many brave saxons died to this hero’s blade until one sneaked under the bridge and speared him from below. It is a marvellous tale and one people have remembered and retold for almost a thousand years.

Blood Eagle Design Notes I

One of the problems of writing game rules for a very popular genre in which there are a lot of people with as much knowledge, if not more than, yourself is managing expectations.
The first question I asked you all on this page was what warbands you would like to see and you can see the result, literally dozens of suggestions. I did this quite deliberately so I could make an important point: we cannot and shall not write up a list for every possible force you good people might want.
The main reason for this is that if we do you shall have a 200 page monster of a rulebook, most of which the average gamer will never read and would be most unwilling to pay for.
As we have done in IHMN and Daisho we shall pick the common warbands for the genre. These we will create balanced and characterful lists for, using the toolset that comes in the rules. I’m thinking 15-20 at most.
With Blood Eagle, we are looking at producing a well-laid out and legible A4 volume of about 96 pages. Any warbands we write but that do not make ‘the cut’ will end up on the supporting blog as free material. We shall also publish, for free, a detailed guide to writing and balancing warbands of your own design.
Then it will be over to you to use the warbands you like from the book and create those that are not in it. For example; eastern european Slavs. We might do the Rus but almost certainly won’t include the Slavs. So we look forwards to someone creating a well-researched and characterful list for them which we shall be happy to host, fully credited, on the supporting blog in the Player-authored materials section.
It should be noted that we are not at all precious or protective of the warbands we do put in the book. If you want to modify one to suit your own campaign or vision of that warband please go ahead.
The key thing to remember with this is to let your opponent see your homebrew or modified warband list before you play, and be willing to discuss your vision and reasons for creating it.
This will result in some people creating the infamous ‘deathstar’ warbands with overpowered heroes. However, the points system, being geometric, will punish them and if they insist on being ridiculous they will soon run out of opponents.

Opening shots

In April 2016, the Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare will launch their second game, Blood Eagle.
This is based on the same core rules as both Daisho and In Her Majesty’s Name and will cover warfare in the 9th and 10th centuries across Scandinavia, the British Isles, Northern Europe and Russia.
As with the Ministry’s other game, Daisho, players will be able to choose between playing a straight historical game, a heroic one in keeping with the sagas, or including all the legendary aspects of the period.
The game is easy to learn, quick to play and involve no more than fifteen figures a side.
This blog will be used to make announcements about the game during its development and launch, and then to support it with free material, battle reports, reviews of related products such as figures and terrain, and new rules.
There is already a very active FaceBook page with almost three hundred members and the game has not even been launched yet: https://www.facebook.com/groups/424811634371518/
Talking of launches, we shall be taking the game for its first public outing to Salute 2016 in the UK. Come along and see us there.