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Subject: Version 2.3 Rules Concerning the Norse rss

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Ersatz Ursatz
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The Norse is one of the most confusing pieces in the game, and is one that the designer, Jerry Taylor, never liked and did not agree with including. Over the course of several rule version iterations, many features about the Norse have changed, and many of these rules have come in and out of favor over the course of the discussion at consimworld. Since these rules come and go, and the interface of csw is difficult to search, I would like this thread to function as a compendium of the most current rules concerning the use of the Norse block. This post consists of a number of propositions, many of which appear on csw but not in the current iteration of the rules, of which I would like clarification and I invite discussion of all of them. I also invite discussion of rule irregularities involving the Norse which I may have missed here.

1Introduction to play. During a Scottish build, the Norse block may only be placed on a coastal territory. Should the Norse block be pulled for a landlocked territory, it is placed in coastal territory, but uses the castle build points from the territory for which it was originally drew.

2Movement. Moving the Norse block always requires its own movement point, even if it there are other pieces moving from and to the same space with it. Norse movement must always be from one coastal region to another. The Norse may move to any coastal region, whether friendly, neutral, or occupied.

3 Attack. According to a post by Jerry Taylor on csw, the Norse is always understood to be a member of the main attack, even though it uses a separate movement point to get there. Is this still the case for the most recent version of the rules? Is the Norse involved in the main attack only when attacking from the same territory as the other blocks in the main attack?

4 Retreat. The Norse block may only retreat or regroup to a friendly (not neutral) coastal territory.

5 Optional Irish Sea rule. One variant involves restricting the use of the Norse block to the Irish sea. In this case, and only this case, castle limits do not apply to the wintering Norse block.
 
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Flannel Golem
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I don't believe the Norse block should be such a confusing piece to deal with, although I must admit that the frequent changes angry in the past few revisions of the rules concerning the Norse probably do make it so for players familiar with different rulesets... *sigh*

According to the current ruleset-of-the-moment (ver 2.3), your points 1, 2 and 4 are generally correct: to move the Norse block requires its own movement point, and it can only retreats/regroup to a friendly-occupied region. But it is not assumed part of the van of the attack, nor is it now limited to the Irish Sea, even in any optional rule I could find.

First let it be known: to play with the Norse in HotS is to abandon all hopes for possible historicity. I myself am a fan of the Norse block as it adds some fun color to the game, and am not one to allow a few niggling facts to get in the way of some good gameplay. But just as a warning to all those who require strict adherence to historical fact in their games -- you might just be better served with something like 'Campaign for North Africa'.

That being said, I did prefer the version of Norse rules that had them slightly underpowered compared to what they are presently. The trend in the latest revision seems to have been to "power-up" the Scottish side somewhat, and I happen to reside in the camp that contends that the Scottish side was balanced well-enough as it was, thank you.
To me, it is easiest to use the Norse much like any other infantry block, excepting only that if they are drawn for a non-coastal region, a new block is redrawn instead. But they come with a couple special abilities: they fight as an A-unit, and can move instantly from one coast-region to another. For these abilities, I can easily accept that an entire movement point be expended just for them. In the just-previous version, limiting them to move only to friendly- or enemy-occupied regions (as opposed to allowing them now to land in neutral ones as well) had as a side-effect that they were not used nearly so often offensively (i.e. blocking enemy retreats, or as a "speed bump" in the path of advancing hosts), so for those grasping desperately for a historical basis, the Norse rarely had an overwhelming presence or influence in the game, whereas now with these 'gamey' tactics they can have much more of this type of influence.

For me, this just feels like too much: if the block has this special movement-ability in addition to its fast attack-class, then limiting its destinations to only friendly- or enemy-occupied regions seems like a fair compromise in addition to forcing it to use its own movement point -- but even better, it results in more 'historic' (i.e.: sparing) use of the block. Now not only is Norse participation just as likely as any other Scottish troop, but the block itself has such heightened strategic advantages that it is almost guaranteed to see much more frequent use. I believe this ahistorical use of what was in fact a much less effective and influential entity is what Jerry Taylor was really opposed to, so I am puzzled by this most recent spate of Scot-enhancements, and can only conclude that most of the recent changes must have come from the Dalgliesh side in response to complaints that it was 'impossible' to win as the Scots. Not that I'm saying they are terrible changes, but as one who thought the game was sufficiently well-balanced as it was, they do not significantly enhance the game for me.
And to those who might say: "well, if you don't like the new rules, don't use them", I say it's not as easy as that. Enshrining a rule into a game's most recent official ruleset endows it with a legitimacy hard to ignore without appearing to be some pathetic sore-loser who can't bear to play any game without using his own tweaked, non-standard unofficial version of the rules.
All right, rant over. (whew!)

But all that aside, the Norse really aren't that complicated a block apart from the coastal limitation which is really not that hard to deal with. They're just a Scottish unit with some rather fantastic special advantages which you'd be a fool not to use: who could possibly say no to that?!? arrrh
 
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Tony Crider
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Hi Francois,

The optional Irish Sea rule that is being referred to appears in Fubar's Rule Summary document and corresponds to the more likely influence of Angus Og MacDonald of the Hebrides. Since his naval influence operating from the Hebrides would have limited him to (or at least made him more effective from) the Irish sea, the optional "Angus Og" rule restricts the use of the Norse block to the Irish sea.

Also, I tend to agree that the Norse Block should be put back into the draw pool when drawn to a landlocked area, but am largely indifferent to the rule that permits them to land in neutral territories.

On the other hand, I have no real issue with the 2.3 version of the rules as written. I suspect with all games of this type where historical accuracy and game balance often collide, there is no safe middle ground where everyone will be happy. I think "YMMV" sums it best.
 
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Endre Fodstad
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Just a question to those that lament the Norse and the historical accuracy of the norse block. Is it its rules effect you complain about or the fact that it is there at all?

While the Auld Alliance treaty of 1295 was not honored by either Scotland (who didn't pay the full sum) or Norway (who did not provide either ships nor men) and the same applied to the franco-norwegian agreement (with its unrealistc 300 ships), a small military contribution if Scotland had paid the agreed sum would not be all that unrealistic.
 
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Flannel Golem
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Hello, Endre: thank you for that enlightening glimpse into 13th century Norwegian foreign policy! As it's something not many of us will readily run across even in our 'History of Western Civilization' texts, I really appreciated you providing a spot of historical backdrop! thumbsup

I don't think anyone here is lamenting the fact that the Norse piece is there at all -- only the complications resulting from the rules about it having changed so often lately.
As to my own comment above: yes, I suppose I am bemoaning its current rules effect of dragging us further into the realm of ahistoricity. As I said, I like having the Norse block. But whereas I can happily accept that the Scots might actually have fulfilled their end of the bargain and the Norse sent over 'a small military contribution' in response, I do not believe that small foreign force would have agreed to place itself repeatedly in the path of a massive English host -- first in Lothian, then Menteith, then Fife, for example -- solely for the purpose of stopping it for a turn. Though strategically desirable in terms of winning the *boardgame*, it just doesn't seem to be the sort of thing a small force in a foreign land would do, no matter how grateful they were for any monetary support given to their own government...!

At any rate, the point is moot as the rule-changes are now 'official'... for now.
Rest assured, Endre: nobody hates the Norse!
 
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Endre Fodstad
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So it is the rules effects? That I can agree with. I'm using the Norse block as a roadblock (sic) myself, although I find it pretty ridicilous.

Sadly, yes, the usual textbooks are extremely concentrated on anglo-french affairs, often to the detriment of history. For example, the "battle" of Largs, 1263, which tends to be trumpeted as a scottish decicive victory in a war that otherwise defined indecicive (since all Håkon IV actually did was to raid the scottish shore in force, avoiding battle), was likely less of a battle and more of a semi-successful rescue operation to get beached ships off a contested shore. There are three main sources on the battle. The norwegian one, the Saga of Håkon (IV), describes it in detail as a successful rescue operation with a small force holding the scots off until the ships could be un-beached. The scottish main source, The Book of Pluscarden, describes the battle very briefly and generally as a major field battle and a decicive scottish victory (the later 15th century Scotichronicon of John of Fordun has been hacked to pieces on the issue by source criticism - it gets a lot of other details and even main points wrong). The one english source on the war, a letter from Robert de Neville to Walter de Merton, only tells us that the norwegians have harried the scottish coast but that no major battle has taken place.

In the peace treaty of Perth, "indecicive" also seems to have been the word of the day. The scots agree that the norwegians are the true owner of the contested islands, but are still granted two of the main contested areas, the Sudreys and the Isle of Man (The Orkneys and the Shetlands remained norwegian) on the condition that they pay a grant of money yearly for five years to the norwegians. This sum was never paid in full, but later norwegian diplomacy seems to indicate that the norwegians regarded the isles as their until the Kalmar Union, when the entire affair slipped from the minds of Norways new danish rulers.

Nationalism has ensured that the anglo-scottish view on the war remains very one-sided, and still remains so today. Norwegian nationalism on the issue was far less bombastic (As can be seen in P.A. Munchs account: http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/manxsoc/msvol22/note...), and later norwegian historians have tended to emphasice how meaningless the norwegian claim to the islands were in the first place (they seldom collected taxes there) and the the isles remained semi-independent from Scotland well into the 16th century anyway. However, the current anglo-scottish view of the entire affair is a sterling example on how nationalistic history-writing can affect the record.

(this is pretty off topic....)
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Flannel Golem
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Endre Fodstad wrote:


(this is pretty off topic....)


Ah, but good stuff! Thanks for the history lesson, and have a !
meeple
 
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Endre Fodstad
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Why, thank you!
 
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