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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

tpmcinty

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I have been playing CKII since it came out. Once I found the forums I have been an avid reader of the AAR’s and have been dying to do one. What has taken me so long? I felt that I needed to have a certain level of expertise of the game. Up until recently I have felt that I have been at beginner level. Every time I played the game I seemed to learn some new basic rule. I have completed several games and started many more. The problem I have had is I usually win too easily. After several discussions with my son who is big into EUIV I finally worked up the nerve to try different levels of play. I have also been trying to play to the character's traits. So after that long winded introduction I am diving into my first AAR.

I have always had an interest in the history of the British Isles between the Romans leaving and the Norman Invasion. Of course binge watching the series Vikings helped to rekindle this recently. So I thought that I would find it interesting to play as one of the pagan Viking lords and see who would eventually rule Britannia.

Some games notes

Playing on Very Hard Level

Game start date is 1 January 867

I am trying to play the characters according to their traits.

I am playing all the DLC’s except for Monks and Mystics, and Sunset Invasion

I am hoping for feedback, comments, and even recommendations. I just ask you to be gentle since this my first time.

So without further adue here is Whiteshirts of England: A History of the Hvitserk Dynasty of Jorvik AAR
 
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Chapter 1 Halfdan May 867

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Chapter 1 Halfdan



28 May 867 outside of Durham

Halfdan Hvitserk “the Whiteshirt”, son of Ragnar Loðbrok stood in the entrance of his tent and watched as the passing storm rolled off to the east. The rain had come and washed the dirt and filth of the camp away. The stench of war had temporarily been replaced with the sweetness of fresh rain. His army of Northmen had been here surrounding the walls of Durham since the end of February. He was growing anxious as the siege drug through the spring and into summer.

It had been over two years ago that Halfdan and his brothers had raised the Great Heathen Army and landed on the coast of England to avenge the death of their father Ragnar Loðbrok in the snake pit of King Ælla of Northumbria. King Burghred of Mercia and King Æthelred of Wessex immediately joined with King Ælla to defend England against the Great Heathen Army. Since the initial landings and battles Halfdan had carved a piece of England for himself. He was now the king of the Petty Kingdom of Jorvik. Not long after Halfdan launched his invasion of the County of Dunholm King Artgal of Strathelyde joined with the Anglo-Saxons against the Northmen.

Not only the Siege of Durham worried Halfdan mind. The Kingdom Mercia had again raised an army and invaded Jorvik. The Mercian army commanded by Ulf had besieged the city of Jorvik in mid April. Halfdan at first contemplated lifting the siege and attacking the Mercians. After some thought he dispatched his son Ragnarr with 7700 men to deal with Ulf. The last news he received was over a week old and was that Ragnarr was within striking distance.

Halfdan realized that someone was behind him. He turned slowly, ready for anything, as an experienced raider would due. He untensesd as he saw his brother, Björn who was now King of Sviϸjod standing there. Björn was stood there stoically showing no emotion.

“A message from your son Ragnarr arrived.” Björn uttered. Björn must have seen the flash of concern that speed across Halfdan’s face. Björn smiled and continued, “He caught Ulf and his Mercians near Skardaborg 4 days ago and crushed them. Over half the Mercians were either killed or captured. The rest scattered to the winds. Ulf has been captured and the siege of Jorvik lifted.”



For the first time in weeks Halfdan relaxed. He clasped his brother on the shoulder and boasted, “Let’s find us something proper to drink and toast Ragnarr’s victory.”
 
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Chapter 1.A August - September 867

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25 August 867 outside of Durham

Halfdan had rose before dawn. Today was the day. Durham would be his. One more assault is all that was needed he felt. He was sure the sacrifice of last night was well received by the gods and that they favored him.

They had better; King Ælla was proving to be more trouble than expected. A month ago Björn had sent a large raiding party into Northumbria commanded by Guðmundr of Nerike. Unfortunately they found a large Northumbrian army commanded by Earl Sæxbald of Lothian near Lindisfarne. It took all of Guðmundr’s skill and determination to escape the trap and return to their ships. The fact that Ælla still had troops in numbers to command concerned Halfdan and made all the more important Durham was taken now.

Halfdan approached his commanders. They stood ready and waiting.

“Let the attack begin” Halfdan commanded. The roar of the Northmen was deafening.

Tonight Halfdan did not have to sleep on the cot in his tent. Tonight he would sleep in the bed of the Earl Eardulf of Durham who had managed to escape from the city as it was stormed by the Northmen. Halfdan slept well that night or at least as well as a man who knew the war was far from over. As he slept a storm was again gathering to the south.

21 September 867 Jorvik

Ragnarr Halfdansson Hvitserk first cursed the Christian god that he had allowed Mercia to raise more troops and force him to remain defending Jorvik instead of being with his father in Dunholm. He did, however praise Odin on the victory that was won today.

Ragnarr has spent the last several months trying to catch the Mercians. Baron Harold of Warwick had gathered the remains of Ulf’s army and recruited more troops. Harold lead Ragnarr and Guðmundr of Nerike, who had joined Ragnarr after Guðmundr’s failed raid on Northumbria, on a wild chase over eastern central England. Finally the combined armies of Jorvikians and Sviϸjodians brought the Mercians to battle not far from Jorvik. The Northmen annihilated the Mercian army to a man.



Now Ragnarr felt he finally could rejoin his father in the conquest of Northumbria.
 
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Nice! I'll watch the thread
 
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The war is going to be hard-fought, but that will just make victory all the sweeter.
 
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Chapter 1.B January - February 868

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Excerpts from the Jorvikian Chronicles

King Halfdan continued to push the Northumbrians. On 6 November 867 after a two month siege St Cuthbert fell to the Northmen. The last major Northumbrian town, Hartlepool, was taken on 8 January 868. King Halfdan was now in control of the County of Dunholm.

Not all was good for Halfdan. More enemies joined against him; Chief Dúnchad of Urmhumhain at the end of October. November was particularly rough as more and more Gaels joined the Anglo-Saxons including Chief Eógan of Tuadhmhumhain, Chief Cathalán of Ulaidh, Chief Máel-Duraid of Tír Chonaill, and Chief Congalach of Airgíalla. December saw King Áed of Mide joined the cause against the Northmen.

As the year drew to a close Halfdan readied his attack on the County of Westmoreland.

15 February 868 near Appleby, County of Westmoreland

“Charge”, yelled Halfdan as he ran toward the Northumbrians and Strathcldians massed before him. Two thousand Northmen followed him. The Northumbrians and Strathcldians had surprised the Northmen with an attack on this cold morning. They had nearly succeeded in rolling up the left flank of the Northmen.

Halfdan ducked a swing from a Northumbrian sword. As he rose and the Northumbrian stumbled past off balance from his thrust, Halfdan brought his axe down breaking the attacker’s back. There was no time to relish his victory. Another Northumbrian was upon him. He parried the sword with his wooden shield and sliced into the soldier's side with his axe. He yanked the axe free and found another charging him. A smile crossed Halfdan’s face as he thought it is going to be a glorious day of battle.

As the sun passed midday the sounds of battle moved away from where Halfdan stood covered in sweat and blood. The once frozen ground has turned into a bloody quagmire. Halfdan had been in the thick of the battle since it began that morning. The Northumbrinas and Strathclydians who faced him were foolish he thought. His army outnumbered them 3 to 1. Yet their commander Oucydd ap Rhun, a Strathclydians, ordered an attack. Halfdan did have to admit it was brave and the Northumbrinas and Strathclydians fought well.



Halfdan watched as his brother Björn approach. His brother was dirty and covered in sweat and blood but not a scratch on him. Their father had named him well; Björn Ironsides indead.

“There shall be great celebrations and drinking in the Great Hall of Valhalla tonight! Another army of Northumbria and their cursed allies sent to their Christian god,” said Björn trying to lift his brother’s spirits for he knew the truth.

“Yes the day is ours,” replied Halfdan, “Oucydd ap Rhun did not expect to win. He was only looking to delay us. He sacrificed his army not to kill a few hundred of us but to slow us down. It will take us several days to get moving again and look,” Halfdan said pointing at the darkening western sky, “a storm approaches.” Halfdan sighed, “I fear by the time we reach Appleby they will be fully ready for a siege. We will take Appleby but it will take time. Time we do not have. It will allow the Anglo-Saxons and their Gaelic allies time to mount attacks on Jorvik and Dunholm and perhaps even us.”

The two kings walked across the field. A courier came to them. Halfdan turned to the courier. “Find my son Ragnarr and tell him to come to me.”

The courier nodded. Björn had a questioning look.

“Brother”, Halfdan began, “I fear Guðmundr may need some help in and around Jorvik. I must tell Ragnarr that he is needed to defend Jorvik again.”

Björn nodded, “He will not be pleased but he will do his duty. He knows what is at stake.”

Halfdan looked at the gathering sleet pellets in his outstretched hand. He shook his head in disgust and pulled his fur skins tighter. He thought to himself, “Are the gods with us or against us?. A good snowfall I could understand and use.” Looking at the sleet covering the field, “This will only create more delays and by morning we’ll have freezing rain. What the Northumbrians couldn’t stop, a few white pellets will.”

He looked at Björn, “Why did our father ever come to this gods forsaken island?”
 
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I'm in!
 
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Because their father had ambition, which they do too - even if they weary a little of the logistics, as it were, of conquest.
 
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Chapter 1.C May 868-January 869

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Excerpts from the Jorvikian Chronicles

In April Chief Coipre of Laigin joined the fight against the Northmen.

After the 1st Battle of Appley King Halfdan sent his son Ragnarr south to Jorvik with 9,000 Northmen to defend Jorvik. Halfdan had received word that a large force of Gaels had landed in Lancaster and were marching across the county toward Jorvik.

Unknown to Ragnarr the Gaels split their forces. The majority went toward Westmoreland and a small force toward Jorvik. The plan was that the small force would draw off Ragnarr and Guðmundr of Nerike, while the larger force joined with the Northumbrinas and Strathclydians to attack Halfdan at Appleby.

Ragnarr, however moved quicker that the Gaels anticipated and caught the smaller force near Skardaborg. In the ensuing 2nd Battle of Skardaborg Ragnarr crushed the Gaelic army that consisted of troops from Taudhmhumhain and Urmhumhain commanded by the Taudhmhumhain, Dorst on 17 March 868.

Guðmundr joined with Ragnarr and they pursued the larger Gaelic force. On 2 May 868 near Lowther the Jorviks and Sviϸjodians caught the Gaelic army composed of troops from Tyrconnellian, Orielian, Ulster, Northumbria, Mide, and Strathcylde under the command of Earl Sæxbald of Lothian. The Northmen shattered the Northumbrians and their allies.



May would bring additional enemies into the battle against King Halfdan as Chief Tigernán of Bréifne, King Hywel of Deheubarth, and King Rhodril II of Gwynedd.

Ragnarr and Guðmundr joined King Halfdan in the siege of Appleby. As Halfdan had feared the siege drug on through the summer and fall. Finally on 2 October 868 Appelby was taken.

As Halfdan dreaded the Anglo-Saxons again invaded Jorvik from the south. This time instead of sending Ragnarr, Halfdan decided to go himself with 12,000 troops to deal with the threat. He sent Ragnarr with the remaining army to move toward and besiege Lowther.

On 15 November 868 King Halfdan attacked the Anglo-Saxon army comprised of soldiers from Wessex and Sjæland under the command of Earl Alfred of Dorset. Halfdan crushed Alfred’s army at the 2nd Battle of Jorvik ending any further threats to Jorvik from the south.



In late November Ragnarr besieged Lowther.

The Northumbrians gathered the remains of their armies and their allies in a final effort to relieve Lowther. Commanded by the Northumbrian general Ælfgar Ælasson army of soldiers from Orielian, Northumbria, Mide, Strathcylde, and Laigin attacked toward Appleby. King Halfdan attacked Ælfgar Ælasson in what would be called the 2nd Battle of Appleby on 9 December 868. Ælfgar Ælasson’s army was destroyed and along with the hope of Northumbria.



Lowthar fell to the Northmen on 26 January 869.
 
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Chapter 1.D February 869

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3 February 869 near the border of Westmoreland and Cumberland

Halfdan brought his mount to a stop near a group of Vikings. He handed the reins to one of them as he dismounted.

“This way”, gestured one of the warriors leading the King toward a group of five men sitting amongst the trees surrounded by several heavily armed Vikings. The hands of the five men were tied and they sat looking dejected and beaten. At first they looked like common soldiers trying to flee to Cumberland and hoped for safety.

“Something didn’t seem right with group.” said the Viking who lead the King to the men. “They tried to pass themselves off as common soldiers but it obvious that they are nobles.”

The Viking was right. Even though they were dirty. They were still cleaner than most soldiers. They clothing and armor fit poorly. There mannerisms also gave way to the fact they were not an ordinary soldier.

Björn joined Halfdan in front of the prisoners. They walked and examined each one. At the third one Björn stopped. A sinister smile crossed his face. “King Ælla of Northumbria.”

Excerpts from the Jorvikian Chronicles

On 3 February 869 King Ælla of Northumbria was captured and surrendered to King Halfdan. Under the terms of the surrender King Halfdan gained control over the Counties of Dunholm, Northumbrialand, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lancaster.





Several weeks after the surrender when all the sons of Ragnar Loðbrok had gathered they enacted their revenge of King Ælla by performing the blood eagle on him.
 
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A much desired victory but the job is not yet some. There is still a lot if land ripe for conquest.
 
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Chapter 1.E January 869 - May 871

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Excerpts from The Genealogy and Family History of the House of Hvitserk

Halfdan Ragnarsson Hvitserk,known as “the Whiteshirt”, was the 3rd son of Ragnar Loðbrok and Aslung and was born around the year 825.

He had three sons. However the name of their mother or mothers has been lost to time.

The sons were:
  • Sigfrið Halfdansson; born 843

  • Guðfrið Halfdansson; born 844

  • Ragnarr Halfdansson; born 845
In March of 869 Halfdan married Sigrid. There are no records or mention of Sigrid’s linage. It has been speculated that she was the daughter of one of Halfdan’s commanders.

It was said that the marriage happened because of Halfdan’s lust for Sigrid. Not long after the wedding the marriage disintegrated into a loveless match. Both Halfdan and Sigrid had numerous affairs.

Halfdan’s affair with a women named Kraka resulted in a daughter named Halla who was born 6 December 871. Halfdan acknowledged her as his bastard daughter. Many said out of spite to Sigrid.

Halfdan took Gytha, the wife of Ælfwald Rose, Spymaster of Lindsey as a concubine in November of 871. She had been captured during the Siege of Lowther in 869.

Sigrid’s affairs on the other hand turned out much more tragic. She contracted syphilis at some point. King Halfdan found out in November of 871 and had her imprisoned. In effort to save face King Halfdan had the Court Physician Dan treat Sigrid. Unfortunately Dan botched the treatment leaving Sigrid in worse condition. In a rage Halfdan had Dan beheaded on 30 November 871. Sigrid never recovered and died under house arrest on 22 March 872.

Excerpts from the Jorvikian Chronicles

Responding to pressures from his commanders and earls Halfdan organized a raid on Westfriesland that began in September 869. The raid would last for 17 months. The cities of Alkmarr, Egmond, and Hroon were sacked along with surrounding countryside.

A second large raid was organized in May of 871 on the County of Loon. After pillaging the countryside the city of Loon was sacked on 26 April 872.

Excerpts from the Annals of the Catholic Church in Medieval Britain

Under Halfdan subjects who were Christian were allowed to continue practicing. However, their churches had to pay a large “tax” to the King which was basically all their gold including relics, candlesticks, crucifixes, and chalices. The churches had to use wooden crosses, basic candles, and common cups for their ceremonies. At one point Halfdan commented that he was forcing them to be meek and humble like their god commanded.

Missionaries, however, were a different thing. They were hunted and imprisoned. Several were executed as examples. There was to be no conversion of the Northmen to the Christian god. The Northmen were expected to stay truthful to Odin, Thor, and Freya.

In January of 867 Bishop Bernard of St Denis who was in the service of King Charles II of west Francia landed in Jorvik and began preaching and trying to convert the Northmen. His activities were quickly brought to King Halfdan. Bernard was arrested and thrown into King Halfdan’s dungeons. Bernard remained in the dungeons for over two years. Halfdan may have taken a strong stance against missionaries, but he was also a ruler. Since Bernard was sent by King Charles II Halfdan figured that there was some value to the Bishop. In March of 869 Bishop Bernard was ransomed to King Charles II.

There is an interesting story regarding one of the Bishops who became a vassal of King Halfdan . The two major raids undertaken by King Halfdan were lead by Bishop Osweald of Cartmel. Osweald was a respected commander of Jorvik. During the Gaelic invasion of Lancaster he joined with the Northmen. Osweald and his people had little love for King Ælla of Northumbria and saw his allegiance with Gaels as an afront to the Lancastrians and Westmorelandians who had suffered under raids from Ireland in the past. When it came time for the raids Osweald volunteered to lead and Halfdan selected him. Osweald’s raids on Westfriesland and Loon were very successful. As a result Osweald’s churches were not sacked. They did, however, have to pay taxes which Osweald did with the booty from raids and the war with Northumbria.
 
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Ruling a bunch of Vikings is not a restful occupation.
 
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subbed! let's get revenge for Ragnar Loðbrok!
 
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Good stuff so far! Will be interesting if you can form a longer lasting Scandinavian England than Cnut managed.
 
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Chapter 1.F October 872

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13 October 872 Jorvik

“Enough”, Halfdan slammed his fist onto the arm of the throne half rising from his seat. “I have made my judgement clear. If either party does not care for it then they can discuss it with the headsman’s axe.”

Halfdan slowly lowered himself into the seat. Nails were being driven into his head. He rested his forehead in his right hand. No more petty squabbles for today. “That is all for the day.”

Those present murmured a protest. The King had rules on only a few cases and there were at least 10 more to be heard. Sensing their reluctance to ending the audience, Halfdan stood up and angrily yelled, “I said that is enough.” Waving his arms, “Everybody out.” He gave them a cold hard stare and then turned and stormed out of the throne room.

Halfdan felt short of breath. He wanted to get outside and enjoy the crisp fall air. He ignored the courtiers and exited into the courtyard. He decided that he wanted to see the river and surrounding countryside. As he crossed the courtyard a pain slammed into his chest. He almost staggered. He regained his control and began to climb the stairs. Almost at the top another pain hammered his chest. This one far worse than the first. He struggled to make it to the top. He crossed the walkway to the parapet. He took a deep breath and looked out into the countryside. Another pain came. This one he thought isn’t so bad. He spun around and leaned his back to the parapet. Suddenly his legs could not support him and he slowly slid down the wall. “It must be later than I thought for it is getting dark,” he thought. Then total darkness came.

Halfdan at last joined his forefathers in Halls of Valhalla.
 
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Thanks for the comments!

This has been fun thus far. I am currently working on organizing my notes and writing what will be Chapter 2. I hope to start posting in a couple of days.

I have been playing this scenario since the end of February so I have quite a bit of material to go through. I wanted to make sure that the game was going to stay interesting and challenging before I started writing the AAR. Right now I need a break from the game and the note gathering I do when I play it.
 
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A premature end to Halfdan in some ways. Not that 47 is young for that time, but it seemed like he had more to accomplish. (Though he did avenge his father)
Will be interesting to see if his sons can work together to continue his work or if they begin to squabble for control of the realm.
 
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Halfdan discovers ruling is hard.
 
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that was a short reign...
 
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