Friday, 26 October 2012

First game of Saga (and other games on at the club)

I'v been itching for a while to have a go at 'Saga' the Dark Age 'skirmish' rules (or as I prefer to call them 'small group action rules' - which all 'skirmish' rules seem to be these days as opposed to distinguish the man-to-man skirmishes I remember from my youth as in Donald Featherstone's 'Skirmish Wargaming' , the spriit of which is only preserved in the 'Desperado' game we play). These rules are not about the set piece battles but the Viking raids, and also the 'blood feuds' which so dominated much of Dark Age history, when the fate of a Kingdom as much hung on a bunch of blood thirsty King or Lord's men committing murder and atrocity, as massed armies meeting on the battlefield.

Ginge kindly offered to teach me the rules. He had a band of Vikings. I took along some choice figures from my Anglo-Saxon armies. I could have fielded 'Anglo-Saxons' or 'Anglo-Danish', but chose the latter. We kept it small to learn the rules - just 4 points (ie. 4 units) a side.

I choose two Huscarles units (Hearthguard), some Ceorls (Warriors) and some Geburs (levies). Ginge a Hird unit (Hearthguard), small Beserkers (Hearthguard) and two Bondi (Warrior) units. I realised straight away we set up that choosing the Gebur (Levies) could be a major liability straight away. Levies don't get one of the all important 'Saga' Dice, and with just 4 units each my Levies would have to do their darnest to take out a Viking unit pretty sharpish before it came to close combat.
The Vikings didn't mess about and on the first turn rushed their Beresekers and Hirdmen two moves forward taking a 'Fatigue' point to do so.
I moved my Coerls up as a 'blocking force', with one unit of Huscarles and my 'Big Guy' (an Earldorman I think) behind, another Huscarle unit on their flank and the Geburs spending a fatigue point to rush into cover on my right flank.

On my right flank I was desperate to get as many shots in with my Geburs before a rampaging band of Bondi hit me, but Ginge used one of his Saga dice to cancel out a whole fllight of arrows. Damn! With just the odd man taken out by arrows his Bond were at my Gebur archers across the wall.

In the centre his 'Big Man' led the Berserkers in against my Coerls. Beserkers are really nasty. Hearthguard get two hits per figure, but Berserkers get DOUBLE that. Ouch!! With his Big Man attacking too my 8 Coerls were completely wiped out!

...But there was more than a silver lining as it turned out. Berserkers may dish it out but don't have the armour protection of normal 'Hearthguard', so in striking back I scored lots of hits on his Berserkers and slaughtered all four of the screaming lunatics!
Crimean game on one of the other tables - see our clubs website for some sumptious close-ups

Another one of the Crimean game

The Coerl;s wiping out the Berserkers was even better this meant that his 'Big Man' who had led the charging Berserkers in was standing there on his own, knackered out from a charge and combat (two fatigue counters). My Huscarles were momentarily disturbed my seeing the Coerl unit slaughtered (one fatigue counter) but shook it off easily with one of my Saga dice and refreshed (presumably from a quick quaff of ale before the fight) both my Huscarles and the Ealdormen strolled in on the exhausted Viking leader and laid about him with axes!
While this was going on my other Huscarl (Hearthguard) unit charged into a unit of Bondi (Warriors) before they could get at my Gebur Levy Archers.

My Warlord and Huscarles made short work of the Viking warlord, which left me thinking the game was virtually in the bag, but then disaster - 7 Viking Bondi warriors stuck at my 4 Huscarles and all scored hits, my defensive dice could not save them-they were brutally wiped cut down....
....from there things went from bad to worse. With the Geburs not getting a Saga Die, I was finding it difficult to do much two units down and with just a Huscarl unit and my warlord generating Saga dice. The rest of the Viking force attacked my huscarles and the Bondi rampaged on into my archers. I fortunately didn't take any pictures of the sorry end to this saga..

Nevertheless I found Saga an interesting and engaging game. The key is clearly in mastering how to use your 'Battleboard' to make the most of your army, and I could see particularly using some 'combination punches' with different Saga abilities was the key to getting an edge,

Here's a few more pics of other games at the clubs...
Another of the games being played that night ...Uncharted Seas...a Fantasy Naval  Game

Close up of one of the Uncharted Seas Ships...very tempting!

A final shot of the Crimean game

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