Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Focus On .... Danish Axemen

The flavour in the Danish Faction comes from the ability to utilise the Dane Axe (aka the Broadaxe). Here are the rules from page 43 of the Main Rulebook.

"Anglo Danish Warlords have double handed axes."
"Anglo-Danish Hearthguard may be armed with double-handed Dane axes." 
"When engaged in melee, a unit with double handed Dane axes will not use its shields and so suffers a -1 penalty to its Armour value. Hence, if the unit an Armour of 5, it counts as having an armour of 4."
"Attack rolls made by a unit equipped with double handed Dane axes gets a +1 bonus. To hit an Armour 4 unit, you'll only need 3's. This makes them easier to hit in melee."

Dane Axe used to decapitate a Norman horse
Dane Axe delivers a deadly blow in the Bayeux Tapestry
You must give your Warlord a double handed axe and MAY give your elite hearthguard (Huscarl) the same. The suggestion being that it is a weapon that takes skill to wield well. Historically it appears that spearmen were sometimes paired with axemen to give them protection with their shields. Remember however that the rules as written only give the -1 penalty to armour in melee so your models will get to use their shields if shot at!

Scene from the Bayeux Tapestry
Bayeux Tapestry: Anglo-Dane fights Norman
When it comes to boosting the combat or defence abilities of Dane-axe wielding troops, the options on the Anglo-Danish Battleboard that really help your axemen include...

Intimidation - this ability can be used to stop an enemy unit activation. If you feel your axemen are going to be targeted for shooting or an assault from a much larger unit then play this one.

Shieldwall - arguably the best ability for Anglo-Danes - your axemen can have their armour boosted by +1 in response to an enemy melee or shooting attack(!)

Hard as Iron - your axemen get a re roll any failed defence dice during their melee activation. Useful for troops with a lower armour value.

Lords of Battle - your axemen gain 3 dice in their melee for Attack or Defence.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the real two-handed axe and how are they represented in the Saga wargame?

Painted Anglo Dane Huscarls with Dane Axes
Gripping Beast Huscarl's
The Dane-axe was a truly formidable weapon. The terror such a blow could deliver would have an effect on anyone charged by a warrior wielding such a weapon. The handle (haft) of the axe was typically 3 to 4 feet in length but for higher status possibly up to 5 feet in length. The blade of a Dane Axe was typically around 8 to 10 inches in length, curving and with a thin sharp edge gradually getting heavier nearer the haft . It is said to be derived from axes used to slaughter cattle (as opposed to a wood axe). The weight would have been around 2 to 4 pounds.
The power of such an axe swing combined with the heavy axe head would be deadly. The Bayeux tapestry shows a huscarl using his axe to cleave a rider and mount in two (see above).

In return for the strength of the two-handed axe, the wielder is left without the protection of a shield to his front, typically slinging the shield over the back. This left him open to attack from the front when approaching combat.

Dane Axe replicas
Dane Axes
Additionally, it would be possible to reach inside the guard of a warrior armed with an axe if he over-reached himself on a swing. A well placed hit below the axehead from a seasoned spearman could even tip the axe from the wielders grasp.

To sum up, the flexibility of being able to have as many hearthguard as you want armed with double handed axes gives you the ability to field an advantage in aggressive combat style. This edge played well could be definitive if not completely game breaking. Dane axe wielding troops are not as risky as, say, the Viking Berserker but played well should give your opponent something to think about!

About the Author: "ambler" / Mike lives in the North West of the UK. After years of RPG's and GW wargaming he now plays in a long running Amber Diceless RPG and plays Flames of War at the NWGC in Stockport. Saga is a recent addition to the games-under-the-belt collection. Check out his blog: www.not2oldtowargame.wordpress.com

Top Posts Within 30 Days

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...