Monday, March 11, 2013

El Cid and King Alfonso VI

I thought the parallels between El Cid and King Alfonso effectively paralleled the often contentious relationship between the dukes of Normandy and their lords, the kings of France. The quickest and easiest way to get these two leaders of Spain into SAGA was to use current battleboards. El Cid and his great cavalry seemed a good match for the Norman battleboard. King Alfonso VI, who outmaneuvered his brothers and brought the force of Spain upon the fractured taifa kingdoms, should play the Frankish battleboard. To preserve game balance, El Cid and King Alfonso's abilities are closely modeled on William the Bastard and Charlemagne.  

Norman dice made for King Alfonso's Spanish warband

El Cid

Like many great heroes of the Dark Ages, there is much we do not know about the life of Rodrigo Diaz and what is known has become entangled with legend. The hero of the Poema de Mio Cid (The Lay of the Cid) was a valiant warrior whose tragic flaw was being right when his king was wrong. While more realistic in tone than many medieval epics, the Lay of the Cid has the protagonist and capturing lions barehanded. Historically, Rodrigo was certainly a great warrior who was respected by both Christians and Muslims in eleventh century Spain.  He also had a great many enemies, and was dismissed by some as a mercenary with little loyalty or conviction.  


He was born in 1143 or a bit later, in the village of Vivar, not far from the town of Burgos. This was during the reign of King Ferdinand, who united most of Spain before his death in 1065, and the division of his kingdom among his sons Sancho, Alfonso and Garcia.  As the son of a nobleman, Rodrigo was raised to fulfill the duties of a king's man on the frontier.  While in his teens, Rodrigo became attached to the household of Sancho and rose to the position of alferez, or armiger (Latin), the trainer of Sancho’s household troops.  He served Sancho for six years, until the King was killed outside of Zamora.  Sancho’s murder possibly involved his sister Urraca, as well as his exiled brother Alfonso.

After Alfonso’s ascension to the throne of Castile and Leon, Rodrigo took a position in his court, though not one as high as in Sancho’s administration.  After his unwelcome obstruction of a Christian led raid in a Muslim kingdom, Rodrigo was exiled by Alfonso.  He quickly took up employ in the court of al-Mu'taman of Zaragoza.    

Rodrigo later returned to the service of Alfonso, but his fame and independence made him a difficult vassal to the king.  Rodrigo later took the city of Valencia, and for the last years of his life, held the realm as an independent sovereign.    

Hero of the Reconquista: as a hero of Castile, Rodrigo generates three SAGA dice at the start of each turn, instead of the usual two for other Warlords.

Duelist: As a frequent champion for his lord, Rodrigo was a master of single combat.  When engaging in melee with another Warlord, El Cid gains an extra attack die, allowing him to fight with six attack dice, rather than the five of other Warlords.

Campeador: As a recognized leader of men, El Cid can attract a variety of units to his warband. Any Warriors or Hearthguard units in Rodrigo’s warband may have bows.  Bow equipped Warriors and Hearthguard have an armour characteristic reduced by one (bow equipped Warriors have an Armour of 3 and bow-equipped Hearthguards have an Armour of 4) due to their lack of protection.  These models may be fielded as Christian or Muslim, and generate SAGA dice as any other unit.  

Alfonso VI

The second of three sons, Alfonso inherited the heartland of his father's kingdoms. An uneasy peace existed between the three brothers, but when their mother died in 1071, open warfare broke out.  At first, Sancho and Alfonso allied together and split Garcia's lands of Galicia and Portugal.  After turning on each other, Sancho defeated Alfonso and exiled him to Seville.  While dealing with an uprising in Zamora (not far from Seville, it should be noted), Sancho was murdered and Alfonso took the throne, declaring himself emperor of Spain in 1077.

Alfonso was a strong and effective ruler, and although he was dedicated to the reconquest of Spain, he did not believe in persecuting his Muslim subjects. He also cultivated close ties with France and brought to Spain Cluniac monks to standardize religious practices and rites. He died in 1109, leaving no male heir.
Hero of the Reconquista As the heir of his father Ferdinand and ruler of Spain, Alfonso must lead a Spanish warband and generates three SAGA dice at the start of each turn, (not two as other Warlord).  Alfonso may be represented as either mounted or on foot.  Any warband led by Alfonso must include at least one point of mounted Hearthguard.

King of Castile and Leon: Alfonso only generates four Attack Dice in melee and not five as other Warlords. His subjects expect him to lead the army, not exchange blows with the enemy.  While recognized as a capable warrior in his own right, he may not voluntarily engage in melee combat with enemy unless accompanied by friendly units.

Charisma: When Alfonso uses his We Obey special rule, he may activate up to three friendly units (if on foot) or two friendly units (if mounted).  The range of his activation is extended to M, and not S as with other Warlords.  

Alfonso, from Crusader Miniatures, warriors from Gripping Beast

In a few days, a battle report El Cid v. Alfonso will be posted, along with my reactions from my first play-through on the Frank's battleboard. 

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to the battle report. I think SAGA is a great platform for other periods. Great colors on the dice too.