Quick Guide: How to Play Battle of Hastings

Lewis Pulsipher (designer)


“William the Conqueror” became King of England by winning the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Two players control armies represented by 20 cards each., facing one another on the virtual battlefield. The objective is to “break” two parts of the opposing army. If the game lasts a full seven turns, the Saxons win.

Board. The cards make up a “virtual mapboard” of seven rows and six columns, divided into three sectors of two columns. Side pieces help indicate when attacks are “going uphill”.

Setup. Players are dealt three Option Cards. Players randomly set aside two unit cards. They choose where to place the rest in three rows nearest them, face down. Each player places his leader in a sector. The row facing the enemy is then turned face up (revealed).

Sequence. 1) Norman player may move all of his units on the board, and may play an Option Card. 2) After all movement, attacks are rolled; surviving opponents can then 3) counterattack. Saxon player repeats sequence. That is one turn.

Movement. Units within two of an opponent (orthogonal count only) are revealed (turned face up). Once a card is revealed it remains so for the rest of the game. Cavalry can move three, others two. Movement is orthogonal only, not diagonal. You can move through your own units. A unit must stop when coming face to face along its front to an opposing unit.

Combat. One die is rolled for an attack. Number needed is attacker’s attack number plus defender’s defense number plus modifications for attacking uphill, leaders, and death of leaders. Successful attack kills the target.

Archers. Archery “wounds” a unit (reduces its attack and defense by one). A unit cannot move in its turn following receipt of the wound. Archery range is three, counting orthogonal only, and can only be aimed at revealed units.

Shield Wall. Two (or more) Housecarles adjacent in a row make up a Shield Wall. They can counterattack even if they are eliminated.

Archery Retreat. When archers are attacked, they can swap places with an otherwise-unengaged unit behind them (they fade back through the unit).

Cavalry Retreat. Cavalry can retreat from infantry if the area behind is vacant.

Leaders. Leaders are in a sector, not with a specific card. They improve attack rolls by one for units in the sector; do not affect defense.

Death of a Leader. When an attacker rolls a “1" (usually a miss) in a sector where the opposing leader is located, he rolls again. On a “1" or “2", the leader is killed in battle!

Effects of Death of a Leader. Following turn, all in the sector are -1 to die roll; thereafter, all on that side are -1.

When a player plays an Option Card, he draws a replacement.

“Broken” Sector. When a player’s forces in a sector are reduced to one or no units, that sector “Breaks”. Any remaining units leave the game, any leader there may die. Units in adjacent sector(s) are -1 in attack on the next turn. When two of your sectors “break”, you lose.

Shorter game. Play with four columns (two sectors) and 14 units rather than six columns and 20 units.

This Quick Guide is NOT part of the Hastings rules, and does not supercede/overrule those rules in any way. There is no way to include, in one page, the details necessary for a full set of rules.