Edward the Confessor lies on his deathbed. With no heir to the throne, gossip quickly spreads through the English court on who will next be king.
Harold Godwinson as the powerful Earl of Wessex quickly positions a lead amongst the noblemen of England. However, only two years earlier when rescued from a shipwreck, Harold is rumored to have promised loyalty to Edward's cousin's son - the Norman Duke William the Bastard. A third claimant to the throne, the Norwegian king Harald Hardrada, also stakes his right to the throne thanks to the former Viking ownership of England only a few decades earlier.
The year is 1066 and the frail Edward passes away. A fiery star appears in the night sky predicting an omen of great conflict ahead (us more enlightened 21st century folk know this to be Halley's Comet, but the simple folk of a millennia earlier are under very different impressions.)
History's pages tell us that Harold Godwin's brother Tostig, the Earl of Northumbria deep behind the old Roman wall of Hadrian, betrays his own blood and calls on the Norse king for intervention. Harald's armies join with Tostig's burning York before the massive Battle of Stamford Bridge. Harold Godwinson prevails only to have William the Bastard arrive on English soil just three days later with the largest invasion force in Britain's history. Depleted from Stamford Bridge, Harold rushes into conflict against William and his Norman knights on the outskirts of Hastings.
A pitched battle quickly turns the green fields into red with the flowing blood of Englishmen and Normans. At the end of the day though William succeeds and is now always referred to in history's pages as the 'Conquerer'.
But what would have happened if these three proud rulers instead of going their own separate courses decided to engage in diplomacy with each other? This variant puts you in their shoes to change (or retain) the course of history!
The 1066 variant has just three players: the English, the Normans and the Norwegians. It is played just like 'Classic' diplomacy but with the following differences:
- Victory is achieved by controlling the majority of supply centres (at least 10 of the 18) and your capital and one other capital. The capitals are Winchester (England), Oslo (Norway) and Caen (Normandy). In real life it was William the Bastard who moved the English capital to London a few years after his victory.
- Due to the historical situation and the lack of 'modern' communication, the variant is played out under Fog of War rules. This means you can only see the territories of the supply centres you control and have your units on, and those territories immediately adjacent. For the full detail of these rules please see the Classic Fog of War variant on this server.
- This variant is build anywhere. This means you can build units in any vacant supply centre that you control at the end of the autumn phase.
- There is a large sway of inaccessible territory in the south and southwest of the map. This is the royal estates of the French king and the Holy Roman Emperor and is depicted with with a frieze from the Bayeux tapestry. None of the three players are sufficiently strong to attack these rulers and have the good commonsense to keep away from their territory. This inaccessible territory is similar to Switzerland in Classic.
- That said the northern Free Cities of the Holy Roman Empire are willing to turn a blind eye to English, Norman or Norwegian military units (it is assumed that a toll is paid for right of access). This area is noted on the board as 'Free Cities Passage'.
- The territory of Hadrian's Wall is a thin strip of strategically defendable land cutting across Great Britain between the border of England and Scotland. Built by the Romans, while it has coastal borders it can only be attacked by land. Fleets cannot attack it nor support an army in Hadrian's Wall, nor convoy armies into the territory.
- There are standing neutral armies in every neutral supply centre (Dublin, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Gwynedd and the largely uninhabited Lakes District, Flanders, Brittany, Denmark and Sweden.) The Dukes of Flanders and Brittany have paid homage to the French crown, however, this does not necessarily mean the French king Philip will intervene in any conflict (in real life William the Bastard and Harald Godwinson successfully attacked together and defeated Conan II, the Duke of Brittany in 1064 without any intervention from the French king due to William's continuing homage.) The standing armies are not self supporting eg Edinburgh and Glasgow are separate and they do not mutually support each other.
- There are two rivers (the Thames and the Seine) where fleets can move as though there were a coastline in the listed territories. These rivers do not impede army movement. The Thames runs through the territories of Oxford and London before flowing out into the Thames Estuary. The Seine runs through the territories of Maine and Caine before flowing into the south English Channel.
For example, either an army or a fleet could move from Oxford to London. However the land between the Thames and the Bristol Channel means a fleet cannot move any further west if it has sailed up the Thames (ships cannot be dragged over land!)
- The territory of Danish Islands behaves largely the same way in this variant as Denmark behaves in Classic. Fleets or armies can enter it one turn from a sea or land territory, and after capturing it pass through respectively to the sea or land territory on the other side.
- The four parts of the North Sea (Northwest, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest) can all be accessed from each other, for example, Southwest North Sea can move up to Northwest North Sea, right into Southeast North Sea or diagonally to Northeast North Sea.
While the variant is called 1066, gameplay commences in 1065. This is to allow sufficient time for unit movement with conflict between the players commencing in the year 1066.
The starting positions are:
England - Winchester (fleet on south coast), York (army), Oxford (army), and London (fleet)
Norwegians - Oslo (fleet), Trondheim (fleet), Kaupang (army) and Hadrian's Wall (army)
Normans - Caen (army), Bayeux (fleet) and Rouen (fleet)