The Great Heathen Army
Game design: Tom Russell
Map Art: Ania B. Ziolkowska
Unit Illustrations: Gonzalo Santacruz
Hex Number: 26
Duration: 90 minutes
Solitaire Suitability: High
Theme: Middle Ages
Shields & Swords II Series: 4
The fourth game in the Shields & Swords II series is also the largest, with more scenarios than the previous three games combined. The theme this time is the "mycel heathen here": the terrifying host of Vikings that landed in England not to loot and pillage, but to conquer. They were steadfastly resisted by Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, and three of Alfie's most famous battles are included. His descendents fought off Viking encroachments with varying degrees of success, until the victory of Canute in 1016. The battles are as follows:
Ashdown 871 - King Aethelred and his kid brother Alfred each command half of the army on either side of a causeway, squaring off against a Viking army likewise split in two. Basically two small battles fought side-by-side.
Marden 871 - The Saxons are favored to win until exhaustion sets in, giving the Vikings the chance to turn the tables.
Cynwit 878 - Vastly outnumbered Saxons leave their fort to launch a surprise attack against Viking besiegers; historically, the Saxons won the day and the Vikings were wiped out.
Ethandun 878 - Alfred's decisive victory over the Vikings. A big long battle with horsies and archers on both sides.
Wednesfield 910 - Vikings try to make their way across a river and to safety when they're attacked by the ferocious Aethelflaed of Mercia and her less-awesome baby brother, Edward the Elder.
Corbridge 918 - Constantine II, King of Scotland, defeats three Viking columns one after the other, when a hidden fourth column launches a sneak attack just before nightfall.
Maldon 991 - The story of Byhrtnoth and his "ofermode", which turned an easy victory into a defeat and a bloodbath. Didn't help that half his army ran away.
Assandun 1016 - A pre-game bid for the loyalty of the scheming Eadric Streona may prove decisive in this final clash between Canute the Great and Edmund Ironside.
- (3) 22" x 17" maps
- (176) 5/8" counters
- 8-page series rulebook
- 16-page battle book
- (1) eight-sided die
You can purchase the Print-and-Play version here.