Last Friday we had another game of SAGA. Yes I know we hardly seem to be playing anything but SAGA lately, but honestly… after working over 50 hours last week, I just wanted something simple. And this one was a bit special, since we did a three player game. I already have to apologize for the lack of photos, but I got so excited during some parts of the game, that I simply forgot to take some photos.
As to the forces… here we are:
Martin was playing his Normans essentially in their normal composition. 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 amalgamate two of his Knight units into a large one.
Vijay was playing with Martins Welsh since this was his first ever game. He too had a mounted Warlord, two points of mounted Teulu (Hearthguard) and two points of foot Teulu, one point of Priodaur (Warriors) and one point of bow armed Bonnedig (Levies). Vijay would keep them all separate units.
I had my Vikings. A Warlord, Jarl Sigvaldi and his Jomsvikings (Hearthguard / Mercenaries), one unit of Berserkers (Hearthguard), two units of Hirdmen (Hearthguard) and one unit of Bondi (Warriors). Just like last time I would amalgamate both Hirdmen units into one large unit. I know this is getting boring, but all things going well I shall buy into some Byzantines at this weekends Crisis in Antwerp.
The table was fairly open with an assortment of woods, fields and s swamp around the edges. One corner featured a village behind a palisade and some houses roughly in the middle of the table. I set up in the corner with the fortified village (the Jomsvikings and Bondi within, the rest without the palisade), Martin in the corner on the other side and Vijay along the far edge. On the next photo you can see the Welsh in the foreground, the Normans to the far left and the Vikings (already having moved) to the far right.
As you can see both Martin and Vijay set up in pretty compact formations, while I went for a split. Vijay also had unit of cavalry behind the building to the left front (you can barely make out one of the riders).
We played the “A Feast for the Crows” scenario and if you are used to a normal game of SAGA this requires a new way of thinking on the game. Usually you look who goes first and then you just alternate between players. In a multiplayer game you begin a round with every player rolling his SAGA dice and placing them on the battle board. Then you roll a die and whoever diced highest goes first and then you through the players clockwise. Once everyone is done you repeat the process for the next round. So you do not just need to plan your move, but also need to plan what you might be required to do if all the other players have made their moves before it is your turn. Not so easy.
On the first round I won initiative, but this did not do me much good since we were all just moving forward. Martin in I both moved part of our forces towards each other and the other part each towards Vijay. Vijay moved a bit more cautiously (to be fair this was also due to the more restrictive terrain in his set-up area) and his cavalry to the centre.
On the second round Martin won initiative. His Crossbows opened up on the Welsh cavalry and in spite of the -2 Armour (-1 for crossbows and -1 for ranged combat vs. Javelin armed troops) he only managed to score one kill. Not a good start. The crossbows were activated a second time, but failed to score even a single kill. It kept getting worse!
The Normans felt it was time for a change of targets and the large unit of mounted Knights went for the Viking Hirdmen. Not a good idea. I had rolled pretty well on my SAGA dice and was able to call Ragnarök which meant an armour reduction for (all my) enemies till the end of the round. In the first charge the Vikings lost just one of their own, but the Normans three. Just when they were about to retreat I used another of my SAGA dice to call another round of combat (Thor). Another Viking died, but so did two more Knights. Five for two was quiet a bad trade and the Knights retreated towards their Warlord. The other unit of mounted Knights went and charged some Welsh Teulu, but only with limited success (one loss and no kill if I remember correctly)… this was certainly not a good day for the Norman elites! Now it was my turn to act. The Hirdmen were keen to get to the Norman Warlord, but he was just too far away. So they went for the Knights who had just attacked them. Two more Vikings were to lose their lives, but the Knights were history. And their attack had brought the Vikings close enough to the Warlord. So the Hirdmen activated once more and charged the Warlord. He died quick and had the bad luck to take not a single Viking with him. Now I was starting to run out of dice. So the Jomsvikings and Bondi just advanced and the Warlord moved behind a screen of the Berserkers (they could not move since I had to use their die for the second activation of my Hirdmen). Now it was Vijays turn and he decided to take his revenge on the Norman crossbows. The decision was actually aided by the fact, that my Ragnarök still reduced the Normans armour. If I remember correctly he first charged them with his cavalry, which lost two of their own (remember Ragnarök reduced their armour as well) while killing only two Normans and were driven back. This was followed up by an attack of the Priodaur. I can not remember how this ended exactly, but I do remember, that the Normans lost far more men than the Welsh this time. While his archers initially intended to fire off a volley they were just too restricted behind the houses and tried to move into a better position for the next round. And this ended the second round.
I won initiative on the next round which was to my taste. With all the ranged combat troops close to my Berserkers (remember they are weak on their armour side) they did not really provide a robust bodyguard for my Warlord. So I only consolidated my troops on that flank by giving the Warlord and Berserkers a double move to get them towards the Hirdmen using one special ability (Njord) to remove the fatigue from them. Being high on all the kills I had already scored I decided to net some more on the other flank. My Bondi charged the Norman Peasant archers. On paper this should have been a good idea, in real life it was not. They killed only three or four archers while loosing five of their own. Did this deter me? No. The Jomvikings were out to kill some Sergeants and charged them on a doubly move… or at least they planned to. But Vijay used one of the Welsh abilities to slow them down so they did not make contact. Now it was Vijays turn. First up his Teulu charged the Norman Knights that had attacked them the previous round and wiped them out.
But in return they lost all but one of their own. The Priodaur battled it out with the remaining crossbows, but to be honest… I do not remember how that went. The only thing I remember is that by the end of the next round Vijays Priodaur, foot Teulu and mounted Teulu on that flank were down to one man each and that the Crossbows were history. But back to this round. One of his foot Teulu moved into the swamp and flung some Javelins at my Berserkers. I was fearing the worst, but they came away without a loss. The Welsh Warlord charged mine, taking the un-bloodied unit of mounted Teulu along. Surprisingly enough, they scored only two hits and my Warlord managed to save them both. But he managed to kill one of his attackers and the Welsh withdrew. Now things passed on to Martin. As I said, I can not remember what happened during the crossbow vs. Welsh combat, but I beleave he managed to score a few hits in ranged combat. But on the other flank it was payback. At first he activated his Peasant archers, who did a mighty fine job of plastering my Bondi with arrows killing a fair number of them (I think I was only left with two after that). Then his Sergeants attacked my Jomsvikings. This went fairly well since I lost only one Jomsviking, but killed three Sergeants. Since I still had a die on the Thor ability, I decided we should have another round of combat… a very bad idea. While I managed to kill another four Sergeants, they managed to kill my three remaining Jomsvikings. Which effectively ended round three.
On the next round Martin and I were starting to feel our losses. Martin had only two SAGA dice to roll (but managed to get to four after two re-rolls) and the loss of my Jomsvikings brought me down as well. Vijay did not have that problem… as I said he still had one man in three units, so they all gave him dice. Anyway I won initiative again. It was time to kill another Warlord. Obviously the best chance to kill his Warlord would be to attack him with my Warlord and Hirdmen together. But he still had three Teulu close enough to sacrifice them, if I scored enough hits. So my Berserkers had to attack them first. But again that did not go entirely as planned. I lost two Berserkers and only took two Teulu out of the game. Since my Hirdmen were too far from the enemy Warlord to attack him in one go, they moved closer. Then my Warlord charged and took the Hirdmen along on their second activation. Since they all had one fatigue now (my Hirdmen from being activated a second time this round, my Warlord from his close combat last round and my Berserkers from the close combat this round) I used the Njord ability to remove all those fatigue markers. The ensuing close combat saw the Warlord receive 4 unsaved hits, so he just died without sacrificing any Warriors, but he killed a Hirdman or two. With all this I had exhausted all my dice and the Bondi could not do a thing this round. And from this point on the game was just a series of quick actions to mop up the situation all around. Vijays activation saw him mopping up the remaining crossbows and through attacks by his Teulu foot and archers kill my remaining Hirdmen and Berserkers. Martin killed my remaining two Bondi with his Archers.
I won the next activation. With my Warlord all but surrounded I decided to attack the weakest unit blocking my route of escape… Vijays Archers. But there were just too many of them and my Warlord went to Valhalla. With this we called it a day simply on the count that there was too much space between Martin and Vijay to make effective combat during what time remained. So we counted points. Both the Normans and Welsh had scored 19 point, the Vikings 22.
All in all it was quiet an interesting experience due to the changed turn sequence and the need to cover all bases since you would never know when your turn was to come or what had happened by then. What I noticed was that it became more of a regular wargame, with all of us using their SAGA dice mostly to activate units and not for special abilities. But it was a nice change and I think it will be even more interesting with even more players. I will keep you posted on our next game.
Tomorrow I will be off to Antwerp and hopefully post a picture report soonish!