Monday, March 10, 2014

The Jomsvikings

by Mike Wood

The Jomsvikings were a legendary band of roving Vikings from the 10th and 11th Centuries. They were supposedly a mercenary force for hire who worshipped Pagan Gods. Their homeland was a fortress called the Jomsborg and is reputedly located on the southern shores of the Baltic Sea possibly on Wolin Island. The founder of this fierce community may have been King of Denmark, Harald Bluetooth (father of Sven Forkbeard). Only men were allowed in the fortress to join this Brotherhood and even then they had to be proven in combat and strength. This legendary Brotherhood is said to have come to an end after defeats in battle.
Whatever the truth of this legendary warriors, they have been adopted in the Saga wargame as a very fierce band who use a mechanism called Wrath to gain their ends in Battle!

You can find their Rules in the Saga Supplement "Northern Fury".

Jomsviking Warlord! (all images Copyright Gripping Beast)


Apart from a Warlord (the Jarl), the Jomsvikings only use Hearthguard and Warriors (the Dreng). No peasant levies in this mans army!

All Jomsviking units may be armed with Dane Axes.


The Jomsvikings use a special mechanism in Saga called Wrath. This allows them to produce some powerful effects from their Abilities. On the minus side, in order to generate Wrath, the Enemy Player must choose to suffer from some abilities or give Wrath to the Jomsvikings. This puts the power behind the Jomsvikings abilities in the hands of the enemy player.

The only other Saga faction I can think of that has some of its abilities in the hands of the enemy are the Norse-Gaels with their Challenge's. The upper limit for Wrath is 6 points worth and is catered for on the Jomsviking Battleboard.


There are two main types of ability on the Jomsviking battleboard. Those that generate Wrath and those that use it.

Generating Wrath:

Wrath: (Activation) - uses one uncommon or rare dice: you activate two units OR player allows your Wrath to go up by one.

Attack Pool: (Melee or Shooting Reaction) - uses any one die: you gain 2 Attack or Defence die OR Enemy Player allows your Wrath to go up by one.

Punishment: (Activation/Reaction) - uses any one die: you cancel opponents Activation OR Enemy Player allows your Wrath to go up by two.

Northern Tempest: (Orders)- uses two uncommon dice: Enemy Player must remove three of his models OR Enemy Player allows your Wrath to go up by two.

A Storm Gathers: (Activation) - uses any one die: you can remove two Fatigues from any of your units OR Enemy Player allows your Wrath to go up by two.

Pagan Armor: (Melee or Shooting/Reaction) - uses one common and one uncommon dice: Enemy Player unit loses half its Attack dice OR Enemy Player allows your Wrath to go up by two.

Pagan Faith: (Melee or Shooting/Reaction) - uses one uncommon or rare die: your units armour is increased by one OR Enemy Player allows your Wrath to go up by two.

Using Wrath:

Jomsborg!: (Orders/Reaction) - uses one uncommon or rare die: you can activate a number of Enemy Player units equal to your Wrath level. They move as if in uneven ground and cannot enter combat. Your Wrath is then decreased by two.
Holmgang: (Melee) - uses any one die: you gain a number of dice for Attack or Defence equal to your Wrath level. Your Wrath is then decreased by one.

Hammer of Thor: (Melee) - uses one uncommon or rare die: you inflict your Wrath level in automatic hits OR you can cancel the first Wrath level worth of hits suffered by your unit (after rolling defence dice). Your Wrath is then decreased by one.

Dance of Steel: (Order or Orders/Reaction) - uses any one die: a number of your units equal to your Wrath level gain +1 Armour until the Turn end. Your Wrath is then decreased by one.

We are Legends: (Orders/Reaction) - uses one uncommon and one rare die: A number of enemy unit activations equal to your Wrath level are cancelled this turn. Your Wrath is then decreased by two.

Gripping Beast Jomsviking Warriors

Tactics for and against Wrath.

For the enemies of the Jomsvikings the key is clearly to reducing or eliminating Wrath build-up altogether.

One strategy is to deny Wrath for around 3 or 4 turns of the game and then to allow it to build up. The hope is that by this point you will have made gains in the mission so that any Wrath building up is limited in effect and too late to be of great use.

The hardest thing to deal with is having three models removed with Northern Tempest. If you have a small force of Hearthguard you will feel this a lot. Taking a unit of levies is one way to mitigate against this ability. You can last four turns without letting Wrath build up this way (or losing a Saga die for a unit of levies!)

As for other abilities, you need to think about the fact that some of your activations will not happen ("Punishment") if you want to reduce Wrath build-up.There are some counters to this as covered a little later for other factions.

Allow the Jomsvikings to take their Activations ("Wrath") and any bonus attacks (S) and reduce fatigue ",". Meanwhile, keep an eye on what the Jomsviking player is doing on his battleboard. You will need to put more Saga dice into Activations than normal so that you can get some units moved into position. 

When you have denied enough Wrath and the mission is nearing its end, then make you moves, allowing Wrath to build up when it is too late for it to be used against you effectively. By this time, you will hopefully have achieved some or all of your aims and it will be too late for the Jomsviking to make full use of his Wrath.

Once Wrath builds up the Jomsviking will be able to use Jomsborg! to move some of your own units. This really hurts! Any plan to defend buildings, fords, baggage or sacred ground will fall apart as your troops are pushed out and away. Even in the missions "Clash of Warlords" and "The Challenge" you will find that units are pushed away from your Warlord to take away his bodyguard!

Other factions have some helpful abilities that can counter Orders (Franks Interdiction and Anticipation ; Scots Without Mercy; Bretons In All directions)), Activations (Anglo-Dane Intimidation ; Steppe Tribes Die By The Bow ; Welsh Holy Ground) or even remove step 3 of a Melee (Irish Blade of Truth). These will help to counter the Wrath based abilities to some extent.

Gripping Beast Jomsviking Hearthguard


It will probably take at least one game against Jomsvikings to fully understand what they can do. Once you have lost once, be more prepared to deny Wrath at whatever the cost, or you will find the Jomsvikings controlling the actions of your units and fulfilling their objectives much more easily.

In missions with one-sided objectives, e.g. "The Escort" consider if you want the Jomsvikings to be defending the baggage or attacking it. You may not want to defend baggage if the Jomsvikings can push your models back using Wrath and the Jomsborg! ability.

Practice with a stand-in force if you don't have a Jomsviking opponent and walk through turns of using their abilities and tailor your own force to try to combat the effects of this potentially deadly enemy!

Gripping Beast Jomsviking Hearthguard

To discuss on the WWPD forums....

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