Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Ravenfeast Disaster: BACK TO THE BOATS!

Ken and I played our first games of Ravenfeast this past Sunday and the game did not disappoint!  I called the post "Ravenfeast Disaster" more for what happened to my mighty Viking warband than anything else. 

 I'll explain.  

Over the past month or so, Ken and I were prepping 28mm Dark Age Vikings and Saxons for our first Ravenfeast showdown which finally occurred this past weekend.  Our original goal was to have everything painted by "Late June" so that checked a major project accomplishment box on my list.  I now have 36 warrior Danes and 3 command figures, all from Victrix, painted up.  Selecting a date, Ken and I were ready for the showdown and the only thing missing was the scenario.  

Foolishly, I picked a doozy of a scenario - the "back to the boats!" scenario which pits a 300 point raiding force trying to escape to the safety of the coast, against a 500 point ambushing force.  

Taken from the Ravenfeast site without permission - no challenge intended etc etc ipso facto lawyer stuff...

Talk about trial by fire!  Ken brought his awesome-looking hordes of Gripping Beast Saxons which looked like children fighting against grown men (the Victrix are closer to 30mm's tall and the GB figures are 25-28mm) - my Vikings looked like massive, Salmon-fed beasts compared to the waifish, grain-fed Saxons.

Come here smaller Saxons - we only want to have coffee and chat about important issues with you.  Ken's outstanding GB Saxons on the left, my Victrix Vikings on the right.

Anyways we played through the scenario and I have to admit I completely underestimated the decisions that had to be made and the tactical finesse required to be successful in Ravenfeast.  Rather than a simple "hack and slash" game, Ravenfeast requires some planning (and luck) to be successful, especially against an enemy that outnumbers you.  There are important decisions to be made.  Let's get to it.

My take on "Back to the Boats!"

My Vikings along the road to the coast spot a Saxon Ambush!  I break them down into smaller tactical sub groups each with an archer, while my Bondi spearmen surge forward with the Jarl (commander).  This tactic worked pretty decently but my rolling was crap - not killing a Saxon this entire first game.  Seriously - a game that finally requires "1"s to be successful and I roll more "6"s than I ever have in my life.  

The ambush is sprung.  2 x huskarls, supported by an archer, engage the Veteran Fyrd!  

Meanwhile, Karl the Jarl and his Santa-hat wearing Berzerker friend charge down the road.  You two finish them off - I'll save your seat on the boat!

Saxon ambush.

Another Saxon ambush!

This game seriously started to remind me of an American football game where a lane needed to be created for a running back to carry the ball down the field.  While my brave but tiny and expensive tactical groups were slaughtered by Ken's cunning Saxons, the Jarl, Berzerker, and a few spearmen make off with the loot, only to run too close to another advancing brace of Saxons and are surrounded and cut down, slaughtered to a man.  My rolling ensured that I killed ZERO Saxons.  Every one of Ken's men were "Veteran Fyrd" and so his quality was not bad compared to my crappy spearmen and archers...  Anyways, Ken employed a tactic whereby he would run a few Saxons around a Viking already locked in close combat and finish him off, ensuring that not only did I lose a point on the D6 during defense, but also during my attacks.  The rest became simple numbers.  (forming a shieldwall helps mitigate this tactic to a certain extent)

Huskarls being slaughtered by Saxons
Come here you godless heathen arrow slinger!  Said the Saxon to my archer. 

One of my favorite pics from the battle!  Heavy combat!  The red marker is a wound token.

The afore-mentioned lane opens up!  Karl the Jarl and company attempt to blitz through the gap.  If Karl makes it to the table edge, it's a minor victory, but as any odin-fearing Dane will tell you, a minor victory is still a victory!

To the boats, men!  Retreat!  Karl, a Bondi spearman, and the Berzerker, who fought no one the entire first battle, run off!

Karl at right: try to look inconspicuous - they might not notice us?  But you are still holding your sword up in the air, my lord?

never mind - they noticed us...Saxon Lord with the green cape rallies the Saxons and goes for blood Karl dies here along with the Bondi spearman.  Ironically, the Berzerker fails the morale test and routes...

We re-racked the forces and started again.  You quickly realize the value of a shieldwall (increase defense by 2) but the raiders need to MOVE!  Huge decision.  Do you trade solid defense for speed?  Or break down and run for the coast?  I tried out the Shieldwall and while I finally killed a bunch of Saxons, the end was still the same.  In fact I died further from the coast during this game!

My thoughts about Ravenfeast are that it does indeed deliver on the hack and slash feel that you're looking for after binge-watching "The Last Kingdom" but there is so much more to it than just the combats.  You must plan ahead and try to anticipate what the enemy will do.  When and where to form a shieldwall is critical in light of your objectives.  You also have to be ruthless and sacrifice men to the greatest extent possible.  The whole thing feels very genuine and to be completely honest even though I lost both games, was an absolute blast.  We're both looking forward to playing again.

Saxon shieldwall from the second game 

one of my favorite pictures from heavy combat!  The cowardly berzerker killed no one!

Shieldwall meets shieldwall in epic combat!

The Danes' numbers are whittled down but they took about 7 or 8 Saxons out with them this time!

So that's it - we really enjoyed Ravenfeast and are looking forward to playing again.  A key thing to remember?  Dont spend too many points on expensive troops, especially if said troops make up 50% or more of your force!  (like in this game).  I should have had way more Bondi spearmen as fodder, perhaps led by a hero in each case.  The trick is speed to get your Jarl back to the boat!  

I'll finish this post with some gratuitous pictures of my warbands!


  1. Fantastic - I never realised the subtleties of Ravenfeast. Great to see them played out here. I must look into this one further.
    You have also managed to combine NFL metaphors, protein enhanced miniatures, rules mechanisms and classic vikings into one post :) Not as easy task.
    I'm also interested in their Norse Myth variant, as I remain convinced that this would make a great Conan game.

    1. It was an ambitious post, Darren but we got it published!

      From my understanding, the RF rules are themselves based off of "One Page Fantasy Skirmish" which also has a sci fi/modern version. (Ravenfeast with guns?)

      I was talking to Ken about the same thing - I'd love to put some Orcs and Empire troops down from the Oldhammer world and do some fantasy skirmish with these rules. That would be a blast.

  2. Gorgeous figures, particularly the battle-damaged shields. I had some GB vikings a few years back and they were fun to paint but, you know, Saga đŸ„±, so I sold them off. Fascinating fact you didn’t want to know: I live 10 minutes from Ethandun. Or 10 days if I walk. The Bjorns rolled a lot of 6s there too.

    1. Cheers, Jeffers, and thank you I'm happy with them. Shields are from LBMS and available from Victrix. You'd probably pay way less in shipping than me :). Ethandun?! Poor Guthrum...but i guess things worked out for him eventually!

    2. Also - im almost embarrassed to admit it but I've never played SAGA!

    3. Don’t bother, they’re just gimmicky. This set sounds a lot better.

  3. Those pics look brilliant Steve. The difference in height is not too obvious. Were the Saxons standing on boxes a la Tom Cruise (allegedly)? As for the Berserker running off.....now you know why his shield is slung on his back!

    1. Thank you sir it was much fun. The height difference was made a bit worse by the fact that my bases are 3mm thick. Otherwise it would have been way less noticeable. I think the Lord in the green cape could have been played by Tom Cruise - just no motorcycle in this battle.

  4. Great looking game! Get to the boats sounds like "Get to the chopper!" Same result pretty much :)

    1. Thanks Ben it was much fun! Yep great point I hadn't thought of that. The rules seem like they'd be flexible enough to play something like that out.

  5. Good to see the Vikings getting their first outing, and mighty fine they look too!

  6. Fabulous - they look great! There is something just so appealing about skirmish level Dark Ages isn't there! A timeless genre that I always come back to one way or another.

    PS A good Norwegian mate gave me a fabulous illustrated copy of Snorrie's tales (in English) for my 50th birthday last week :-)