SAGA Byzantines vs. Normans

25 Apr

Last week it was SAGA time once more and Martin and I met for a short game before he left for Salute in London (lucky him!).

It was quiet spontaneous and due to the great weather we decided to move the game to the outdoors. Hence a slightly simplified set-up, with mainly open ground, a few hills, trees and cornfields and a small village.

We decided to play Clash of the Warlords, my Byzantines vs. Martins Normans.

The Byzantines consisted of three points of Kavallaroi (mounted Heathguards), two with spears which would be amalgamated into one large unit and one with bows. There were also one point of Kontaratoi (Warriors with spears) and two points of Toxotai (Warriors armed with bows). As mandatory, they were led by their mounted Warlord.

Martin was playing his Normans in a new set-up. A mounted Warlord, four units of mounted Knights (Hearthguard) and two units of Sergeants (Warriors), one of them armed with crossbows. Martin would amalgamate two of his Knight units into a large one.

The Normans (after winning set-up initiative) would deploy the large cavalry unit in the centre and one each of the small ones on each flank. The crossbows were deployed on their right flank and close combat Sergeants on the left. The Warlord was slightly off centre to the right.

The Byzantines deployed their archers in two units right behind the other in the centre, right behind a spearmen screen. The Toxotai were deployed on their right flank and the Kontaratoi accompanied by the Warlord on the left opposite the Crossbows and village.

Cavalry... lots of them

Cavalry… lots of them

Again Martin won initiative and for the first round we both advanced on one another. The Normans second activation saw them advance a little more, but no contact was made and no bolts fired.

Now initiative passed to the Byzantines. I rolled really well on the SAGA dice and made my first mistake… I got greedy. The Toxotai fired their arrows at the mounted knights to their front. One Norman dead. The large formation of foot troops advanced in the centre and fired a concerted volley by both units of Archers at the large unit of cavalry bearing down on them. Two dead. Not the best dice rolling, but it was bound to get worse. And this is where I made my big mistake. The Kavalaroi would have been in range to charge the lone Norman Warlord with a double move through the village. But I did not want to end the game after just a half round of combat, so I chose to charge the crossbow armed Sergeants instead.

Byzantine cavalry advancing towards the enemy

Byzantine cavalry advancing towards the enemy

In part this was motivated by me never having annihilated them completely in any game played against Normans before. Plus I felt that the Normans would never charge a double unit of cavalry with just a small cavalry unit and a Warlord at best. And this is where the dice gods struck. Instead of killing the whole unit of Sergeants, only five out of the eight perished. But I lost three Kavalaroi. Not good!

Encircled Crossbows

Encircled Crossbows

Now initiative changed back to the Normans. The remaining Sergeants fired their crossbows at the Byzantine cavalry, but did no damage. But now they were charged by the small unit of Norman mounted Knights, accompanied by their Warlord and under use of the Dex Aie ability. Apparently they did not look scary enough after three losses anymore. There were annihilated for good. Martin did not even need to roll all his dice available to achieve that. And to make matters worse, the Byzantines took not a single Norman with them.

Norman Cavarly against their Byzantine counterparts

Norman Cavarly against their Byzantine counterparts

In the centre the large Norman cavalry formation charged the Byzantine foot. Five spearmen met their fate, but at least this time two Normans paid the ultimate price as well. In a last measure the remaining small unit of Knights charged the Toxotai and the clash ended two for two.

With initiative back in Byzantine hands I tried to consolidate things. My Warlord moved around the village to get himself into a better position for next round. The Toxotai fired another volley at their opposites, but caused no damage. But my main emphasis rested on the centre. The archer loosened off two concerted volley of arrows. One should think the a total of sixteen shots would do better, but they only managed one kill. Now the remaining three Kontaratoi charged in after having recovered their fatigue. Again one Norman dead, but all three spearmen perished… this was getting worse by the minute!

Last Stand

Last Stand

Now it was Martins turn once more. The Knights on the Byzantine right charged the Toxotai and caused them one casualty. Now both units were down to one man each.
In the centre what remained of the large formation of Norman cavalry went for the Archers, causing three losses to the front unit at a single loss of their own. All the other Norman units, with the exception of the Warlord who remained idle, closed in on the centre too.

Norman Cavalry vs. Byzantine Archers

Norman Cavalry vs. Byzantine Archers

So now it was all or nothing and my Warlord charged his Norman counterpart in a double move. What shall I say… He did not cause a single hit, but received five. None of which I saved. And thus ended the game in a Norman win.

Clash of the Warlords

Clash of the Warlords

I have to say… Martin played his Normans really well, while I saw that I really need to get used to the Byzantines. If you add my tactical mistake due to greed at the beginning to the equation, I would not have needed the bad dice rolls to loose this one. Well there will always be a next time.

By the way: at my request Martin got me a more animated looking Warlord for my Byzantines at Salute. Maybe he will put sound tactics over greed! 😉


Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Byzantines, Medival, Normans, SAGA


Tags: ,

21 responses to “SAGA Byzantines vs. Normans

  1. vonpeterhimself

    April 25, 2013 at 21:54

    Hello Burkhard

    Well those nasty Normans did cause the Byzantines a bit of bother in real life so you played out a historic result. Well done!! 8O)

    Couple a historically plausible result with a day in the sun playing a friend in a military simulation – aka a game of toy soldiers – with great aesthetics and I’d say that overall you you got a good result. Congrat’s.

    von Peter himself


    • Burkhard

      April 26, 2013 at 09:05

      Well… I sure would have preferred a non-historic result! 😉

      But as you say… it was good fun and an afternoon well spend with a friend (especially after a long day at work)!


      • vonpeterhimself

        April 26, 2013 at 22:43

        Hmmm … a Byzantine win would also have been a historic result!! 8O)

        von Peter himself


  2. The Angry Lurker

    April 26, 2013 at 06:47

    What a great day in the sun, sounded and looked like a great game.


    • Burkhard

      April 26, 2013 at 09:03

      It sure was! Hard to believe that we still had snow ten days earlier!


  3. Dalauppror

    April 26, 2013 at 13:06

    Exellent AAR !

    very good looking game !

    Best regards Michael


  4. John Michael

    April 26, 2013 at 13:58

    Really good looking game.



  5. Monty

    April 26, 2013 at 17:45

    Great looking warbands for both sides, Burkhard, and a lovely table!

    That was some terrible dicing. I do like how you at least had a chance to settle things at the end, warlord to warlord. Fortuna just wasn’t ready to smile on you on this day.


    • Burkhard

      April 27, 2013 at 06:54

      Thanks, Monty.

      Regarding the dicing… we have seen it the other way round as well, so this time the shoe was on the other foot. 😛


  6. Jeff

    April 28, 2013 at 19:38

    What a beautiful game with wonderful terrain! Although I spend most of my time (and money) on Napoleonics and SYW, reading your SAGA posts makes me wonder if I should check out that ruleset and period. It seems to be very popular! Thanks for the entertaining write-up. – Jeff


    • Burkhard

      April 29, 2013 at 09:58

      Thank you, Jeff.

      I know what you mean. A lot of the stuff I do these days concentrates on the Napoleonic era as well. I had always been intrigued by the dark ages /medieval period and always shied away from it due to the large number of minis needed and frankly… I should not do more of those before finishing my Napoleonics or Ancients projects.

      SAGA seemed to provide a nice break from that in that it allows one to play a game with few minis. It is also great in as far as it allows one to have a game in a few hours. So if you or your group have a day when you can only get a short game with minimal preparation in, it is great for that.

      But depending on what you aim at, you need to keep in mind, that it has more of a beer and pretzels character instead of being a historical simulation.


      • Jeff

        April 29, 2013 at 17:09

        SAGA seems to have hit the right chord with a lot of historical gamers. I am seeing posts about it all over the place. A game that requires a few miniatures that only takes a few hours to play sounds like a winner to me! As much as I wish that I could devote an entire day to playing a game, life just doesn’t work out that way for me.

        I don’t mind a beer and pretzels feel to a game… I just want to have a good time! Maurice has some fun B&P aspects to it that makes it great!

        As I said, your game write-ups are very inspirational. I like that you keep a relatively clean table when you play… seeing papers and cans of soda and Cheetos kind of ruins the effect. Ha ha! – Jeff


        • Burkhard

          April 30, 2013 at 07:33

          Well, I guess in that case you should be happy with SAGA, too. And you would just have to pick a force that fits your style and requires the number of minis you are willing to paint.

          Thank you for the comment regardng the lackmof clutter on the tabletop. There is actually too much for my taste already, but the set up was a bit improvised (garden table and ironing board to extend it) so there had to be lots of stuff on the table. But I like a clean look. For me gaming is about the looks and being able to imerse oneself in the setting, so I feel it should be clear of clutter. In my gaming room I have actually fitted cup holders to the walls to make sure that no drinks are on the table.


          • Jeff

            May 1, 2013 at 17:25

            You and I are of like minds. I don’t like it when rules and papers and whatnot ruin the illusion of little men clashing on a miniature battlefield. As a matter of fact, I also don’t like rulesets that require too much junk to be placed near units. A token here and there is okay, but it can quickly be overdone.

            I do like casualty figures and cotton smoke. I think they are fun and add to the enjoyment!

            You have a Gaming Room with cup holders? I am green with envy! ^_^


  7. Burkhard

    May 3, 2013 at 08:09

    I must really get around to doing some more of that fluffy stuff. My explosions and flames need a great overhaul and I need to do some powder smoke markers. Really like the firefight lights from Warlord, but I think they are a bit on the expensive side and I do not like the arrangement of the battery compartment.

    Well the gaming room… Unfortunately it is just a large cellar room, so it has a bit of a bunker charm to it! 😛


    • Jeff

      May 4, 2013 at 16:46

      I have seen those firefight lights and I have thought about making some myself from scratch. I haven’t done it, though. I agree that Warlord’s offering seems to be priced on the high side.

      Hey, a bunker fits the theme of a wargames room! It sounds perfect to me!


      • Burkhard

        May 5, 2013 at 18:15

        I have been thinking about DIY’ing those as well, but I am not sure if I am good enough at small electronics.

        I have been thinking about taking that video Warlord has on their website to one of the local hobby electronics stores and ask them how much the parts would be, but I,have not gotten around to doing that.

        Regarding the bunker feel… Well it would be nice not to have pipes and power lines on the walls, but then again I guess it is one of the safest rooms in the the house. So I am pretty sure that my collection would even survive the house burning down.


        • Jeff

          May 5, 2013 at 19:03

          I dabble in model railroading and they have had hobo campfires for years… long enough to where the prices for the electronics have dropped a lot. Here is a 3 LED campfire for only $6.

          I only did a quick search for “model train campfire” to find that one. I’ll bet that you could find one for less (I didn’t look at shipping or anything like that). If you are not comfortable with small electronics a kit like this one might be the way to go. You wouldn’t need a soldering iron or anything like that for a kit like that.

          There are pipes and power lines in the bunker? Those sound like a perfect place to hang captured flags and eagles from defeated opponents! Ha ha!


  8. Phil

    May 17, 2013 at 16:48

    Very nice batrep, love the battlefield and the figures, really impressive!



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