So last Friday we played our first game of SAGA at Martins place. This was a bit of a last-minute choice, so I had made no further progress on my Viking warband and Martin was kind enough to borrow me some of his Vikings to fill the gaps in my force. So minis based on squares (both sides) are Martins, minis on round, snowy bases are mine (except for the dead lifestock).
Martin played Normans. A mounted Warlord, three units of mounted knights (Hearthguard), two units of Sergeants (Warriors), one of them armed with crossbows and one unit of bow armed Peasants (Levies). Martin would divide his Peasants into two units.
I had my Warlord, Jarl Sigvaldi and his Jomsvikings (Hearthguard / Mercenaries), one unit of Berserkers (Hearthguard), two units of Hirdmen (Hearthguard) and one unit of Bondi (Warriors). I would amalgamate both Hirdmen units into one large unit.
We played the Clash of the Warlords scenario meaning we would have to kill the other Warlord by the end of turn six to win. If neither had done so the game would be decided on points.
Seen from the Viking side the table looked like this. On my edge there was a Viking village with four houses in the middle and to the right, some of them reaching almost to the middle of the table. On the left had side there was alonghouse behind a pallisade. In the middle of the table there was a slight hill and to the left on the Norman side a small wood. Another small wood was in the right corner of the Norman side. [Please excuse the poor quality of the photos… I have borrowed the good camera away to my parents for a holiday.]
Martin won the initiative and set up his Warlord in the middle of the table and his Peasant units about 1/3 to the left and 1/3 to the right of his deployment zone. Now I had to set up all mine. My Warlord started within the palisade together with the Berserkers. I was slightly unsure if he might need the protection with all those fast movers (=cavalry) and archers. The large unit of Hirdmen started right in front of the palisade gates. About 1/3 to the right of my deployment zone inside the village came my Warriors followed by Jarl and the Jomsvikings.
Martin deployed his Crossbowmen in the centre of his deployment zone behind the hill and all units of Knights to the centre, behind the other units. His Sergeants set up on the far left behind the woods. This would later hamper their advance.
Martin won the first initiative and advanced all his units. Since none of them were in firing range this was about all that happened. I already threw caution to the wind and advanced both my Warlord and the Berserkers out of the battlements (I really hate tactics where I have to sit around and wait). They now stood in line with the Hirdmen. On the other flank my Warriors advanced in front of the Jomsviking Mercenaries. Since I expected to be in firing range next round I kept some of my dice on the battleboard.
In the second round the Normans advanced once more. The cavalry suffered somewhat from the fact that they had started to the rear. On the left one unit was wedged in between the woods and hill and behind the Peasants so the had to move over the hill. The other two units on the right hand side had to move to the flanks first. The Peasants on the right flank wanted to shoot on my Warriors, only to have the gods intervene (remember those dice I left on the board) and see their attack converted to a move. Lets stick with that flank for a while now.
My Warriors advanced to attack the now fatigued Peasants while the Jomsvikings oriented themselves to the flank to intercept the Norman knights. The later did not go as planned. While the Mercenaries were somewhat pumped up on abilities the Normans used one of their abilities to gain extra dice for the attack. Both of us had about a dozen dice. But the Jomsvikings only scored two hits, one of them Martin managed to safe. On the other hand I received eight hits and only managed to save two. The Jomsvikings were on their way to Valhalla, now. The Warriors lost interest in the Peasant archer and turned on the Knights. The first round of combat killed three of mine and two Knights. So the Warriors used one of the Viking abilities to initiate another round of combat before fatigue struck. This killed the remaining Knight at no loss of mine. But now the archers fired on them, killing one. The Warriors turned on them, but this combat only ended in a draw with each side loosing one man. By now the second unit of knights on the right flank had come into position and charged my Warriors, annihilating them at minor loss. So by the end of the firth round my right flank was no more. What had happened on the left flank in the meantime?
My units and the Warlord were on a steady advance, but the situation looked perilous. They had the Peasant archers to their front blocking the bottleneck between the hill and the woods, the Sergeants moving through the woods on their left and a unit of mounted knights moving over the hill to get into their rear, together with the Norman Warlord. Their first reaction was to take their Warlord in the middle to protect him, but then the Hirdmen charged ahead to attack the Peasant archers, killing all but one at no losses. Not that their situation had gotten any better. The Sergeants on the left had cleared the woods and were in a position to attack. The mounted knights and the enemy warlord had crossed the hill and were in their rear. Plus the crossbowmen who had first advanced up the hill had turned around and were now firing on my Hirdmen killing two. It was time for a pre-emptive strike. The Warlord had gotten sick of being nursed by his followers and charged the Sergeants ordering the Hirdmen to follow him. In the end they killed seven (all but one) of the Sergeants at the loss of only one Viking. At the same time the Berserkers charged the mounted Knights in their rear. It cost them three of their own, but they wiped out the Knights, which would prove important later on. The remaining Berserker charged the Norman Warlord, scoring three hits (which the Warlord all saved), but was stricken down as a reward.
So at the beginning of the last round all that was left to me was my Warlord and five Hirdmen, all fatigued. I was trailing on points and could only hope for the Norman Warlord to attack me. Which he did not. He just sat there out of range for a single charge and ordered his remaining Sergeant to move out of range for another attack and the crossbos to fire on my Warlord (scoring only one hit which meant nothing to him). So I decided to put it all on one card. I only had three SAGA dice now and put them all on three activations for the Hirdmen. The first to rest them (remove the fatigue counter), the second to move closer to the enemy Warlord and the third to charge him (gathering a new fatigue marker before impact). Two of them died in the combat, but they also managed to score two hits. The Warlord managed to safe none and lost his life winning me the game. The rest is all Saga… err history! 😉
All in all it went pretty smooth for a first game. Most important… it was great fun and we are looking forward to the next game. And I am really fired up to paint the rest of the warband to play with minis that are all mine the next time!