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Category Archives: Normans

Rounding off my Normans

Rounding off my Normans

Ages ago I started painting my Norman army for SAGA. For roughly four years now, they have been lingering around at two points of Warriors with a Warlord added later on. With the upcoming German Grand Melee this weekend, I finally felt noticed to finish them and here are the results:

Up first are the Levy archers. The minis are old ones by Wargames Foundry. Not sure who the sculptor on these was, but they have a certain Perry vibe to them. They are slightly on the burly side, but given that other minis in this army will be from Crusader, Gripping Beast and Conquest Miniatures, they will fit in quite well. Only the Footsore minis (see below) and the Warlord from Stronghold will be slimmer. But the animation on these is very good and at six different sculpts, they offer enough variety.

Up next are mounted Warriors from Footsore. Usually love Footsore minis, but these were a mixed bag. The sculpts themselves are really nice and the set offers lots of variety at eight different rider sculpts. But the horses were a huge letdown. While these seem to be new horses, they had lots of flash and took ages to clean. The other problem are the shields. As usual with round shields, they have a depression on the back (on the rear of the boss) and a corresponding nipple o the arm, that are meant to give them a spot where they can be glued on and withstand the rigours of play. Only with these minis, the poses are such that you can only get them to align on two or three of the set. All of the others will not fit. As a result most of the shields are fragile and you always run the risk of levering them off. I have now attached them with ultra strong two part epoxy and still only try to touch only the horses and not the riders.

Last are the mounted Hearthguards. These minis are plastics by Conquest Miniatures. Really like them for their really heavy horses, versatility and low price. They require some work filling the gaps between parts and so on, but otherwise they are great. I am not happy with all the shields (most of the ones turned away from the camera ūüėČ) and might go back to these at a later date.

While not Normans as such, I also completed two carts. We will be playing the Ambush scenario at the Grand Melee and I felt it would be good to prove some models for that!

 

SAGA, French Grand Melee 2018

SAGA, French Grand Melee 2018

Well things have become a little quiet lately. Last month I finished a bigger batch of vehicles for my WW II project and right on the heels it was painting extra minis for the SAGA French Melee.

I had been wondering what to play. Out of my Age of Vikings era armies none were really playable under SAGA 2, so I first has to make the choice which army to expand. Only the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons could be done in due time and I was in no mood to play Vikings, so Anglo-Saxons it was.

I decided to play with a mounted Warlord, two points of mounted Hearthguards amalgamated into one unit and 4 points of Levies (3 of them with close combat weapons and 1 with bows).

What gave me some headaches though, was that I had hardly gotten any games of SAGA 2 in since its release… one in mid-August another earlier this month. So I was not expecting much, except for a good weekend.

Game one (standard Clash of Warlords)

The first game pitted me against Andy Lyons’ Welsh. I have to say, this was the game I had been both hoping for and dreading for years. For those who do not know him, Andy has played SAGA Grand Melees and Iron Mans all over the world and won a good number of them. A former U.K. and German champion and the current French champion, he was quite an opponent for the first match. That being said, I have known him for a man with great spirits for years, so no matter what, I was expecting a great game.

Andy was playing Welsh in an all mounted, all Javelin set-up. There was a Warlord, a Priest, 2 points of Hearthguards and 3 points of Warriors. Unfortunately I cannot remember how he arranged them.

Deployment method was A. Andy was first player and decided to take shots with his javelins at my Hearthguards. Which did not go too well. That turn and the next one too Andy rolled below average on his to-hit rolls, I rolled above average on my saves. This resulted in Andy having to keep his troops closer to mine than he would have liked. By the third or fourth turn my Levies were close enough to his troops and spread out enough to always be able to attack one of his units no matter where he put them at the end of his turn. So it was a close call all the time and in the end Andy won by a point.

All in all I was extremely happy with the result, which put me in the midfield and still gave me chances for a good result in the end. But in all fairness, had the dice been more average, Andy would have won by a bigger margin.

Game two (Clash of Warlords variant)

First things first. This scenario was based on the Clash of Warlords, but both players got to place two objectives each (at least L from a long board edge and at least M from another objective). Being in procession (having a unit within VS of an objective at the end of the game, without any enemy units within VS) gave you another two kill points per objective. This game I was playing a very good French player, who’s name I unfortunately forgot [EDIT: It was Dorian.] He was playing Normans. A mounted Warlord and a mounted Priest, 1 point of mounted Hearthguards, 2 points of mounted Warriors (spread into two units of 5 and one of 6 men), 1 point of Warriors on foot with close combat weapons and 1 point of Levy archers.

Deployment method was B and we both put the objectives in terrain in our home corner close to our respective Levie archers. I began in a strong round defense hidden from his Archers by a large hill in the middle, expecting such a mobile army to go on the offensive. Again I was player two and took a heavy beating for it. My opponent rolled well on his three SAGA dice and together with the use of We Obey managed to send his larger unit of mounted Warriors charging into my Hearthguards using two SAGA abilities (Charge and Pursuit) to beef their mettle quite a bit in additions to the benefits from charging with javelins. This cost me dearly, since I lost a total of 7 Hearthguards. My other troops were able to mop those Warriors of his up once it was my turn, but it meant we had traded 6 Warriors of his versus 7 Hearthguards (and I think a Levy or two) of mine. Which left me down four slaughterpoints on aggregate. Not a good start, since I had to go on the attack now to make up for that. So I left the bow armed Levies alone to guard the objectives, while the rest of my army began their journey to attack the enemy positions. All game long the dice were a reversal of the previous game. This time I rolled sub-par and my opponent better than average. But still my troops kept constantly closing the gap. Things still did not look too good until the fifth turn when he tried to take out my Warlord and failed, loosing a unit of Warriors. My counterattacks cost him his Warlord and now I was in the lead. My plan sometime during the game had become to contest his objectives with my Warlord (the only unit mobile enough) on the final turn, but all this fighting had left him with too much fatigue, so I just scrapped that plan. On the other hand my opponent did not manage to contest mine either since he was kept too busy on his flank. So in the end my lead in slaughter point gave me the victory.

Game three (Clash of Warlords variant)

Game three would bring another Clash of Warlords variant. This time one would only score slaughter point in Melee and each time your Warlord took part in a Melee it would be another two bonus slaughter points. There would be no slaughter point for a unit being destroyed completely.

After having had to play two armies that were either completely or mostly mounted I had been hoping for an all foot opponent. My wish was granted, but one should always beware what you wish for. Emmanuel (who came second overall [EDIT: He came third overall]) was playing Pagan Rus and this was not the kind of game I had hoped for.

He fielded a Warlord, 3 points of Hearthguards (amalgamated into two units of six), 2 points of Warriors (fielded as a unit of twelve and four mean respectively) and a unit of Gall-Gaedhil mercenaries.

Set-up was according to method B once more. Due to the Pagan Rus ability Frozen Winds my units were fairly spread out (but they still suffered from it for the first three turns), while my opponent deployed fairly compact.

I can no longer remember who was player one, but it did not really matter. Emmanuel made heavy use of Blizzard, Long Winter and Biting Cold all throughout the game, which over the first three turns meant that except for a volley by my archers against his large unit of Warriors I did not get any charges or volleys in.

So I simply positioned my units where they would be able to either attack next turn or force my opponent to withdraw. And I made sure I always had Valiant Hearts actived and had a mix of Defenders of the Kingdom, Closed Ranks and Clash of Shields on my board. Which paid off. His large unit of Warriors attacked my Levies with bows in rocky ground and took a heavy beating. Virtually the same happened when his Gall-Gaedhil followed up. They were now attacked by one of my Levies to my advantage. Now I was leading on slaughter points and his board became oriented towards the offensive which meant I was actually able to get two charges of my own choosing in. His attacks met a similar fate as before. But until the end of the game I was unable to attack with my Warlord. His formation was too compact to risk that and the easier targets were situated within ruins, making them too hard to attack. We had to finish the game after the fifth turn due to us taking a little too long, but the result was a solid victory for me.

Fourth game (Clash of Warlords variant)

The second day began with yet another Clash of Warlords variant. Every turn from the second turn onwards, one would get an extra slaughter point for every unit that was completely within the opponents half of the table.

I was facing Simon who was playing Normans as well. His force consisted of a mounted Warlord and Priest, a point of Hearthguards three points of mounted Warriors (spread out in a number units of six, five and four men) and a point of archers.

I was aware that to win this one, had to prevent my opponent from getting on my side of the table as long as possible, since I would hardly be able to contain, let alone catch, this many mounted units once they got to my side. So I tried to make the centre of the table as restrictive as possible by placing a large wood on the right flank, a swamp on the left and a field in the centre. I was player one and rolled a four as our deployment method (method B), but chose to shift that to method C. Due to his large number of units and the large cavalry bases he was using he had to spread his units out a lot, placing some of them either behind terrain the had to move around or at the very edge of the table. All in all this meant that during turn two and three I had more units on his side of the table than he had on mine. Special praise has to go to my Hearthguards who held on to my left flank on their own versus three units of Warriors and later on the Warlord and Priest. I had to laugh when Simon put a lot of effort into attacking them with a unit of Warriors aided by the Charge and Pursuit abilities only to find I still had Valiant Hearts active and had Defenders of the Kingdom and Clash of Shields on my board. All in all this fight cost me nothing while he lost his whole unit. But I also made a stupid mistake when I became greedy and had my last remaining Hearthguard attack his exposed Priest later on only to die in the process without doing the Priest any harm.

Only in turn four and five did the number of units on the opponents side shift substantially in his favour. But during the whole game I had done my best to both keep him back and bring his Warrior units below the four men threshold for creating SAGA dice. Which meant I was in the lead on real slaughter points. In the end he had slightly more points for units on the opponents side than I had while I got more from the kills. Again the game had to be called after turn five and we were equal on points. The tournament did not allow for a draw and since I still had vastly more men left on the table, I it was a minor victory for me.

Game five (Clash of Warlords variant)

This variant would give each player two extra slaughter points at the end of each of their own turns per unit for every unit partially within M of the table-centre.

This time my opponent was Jan who also played Anglo-Saxons. He fielded a Warlord on foot, a Priest on foot, a unit of Gall-Gaedhil mercenaries, 3 points of Levies with close combat weapons and 1 point of Levies with bows. I was expecting this to become a very bogged down game given the defensive orientation of the Anglo-Saxons.

Again, I was player one. I have to say, I did not care much for terrain, except that I wanted a field on my side of the table partially within M of the centre where I could place my archers and that the rest of the terrain I deployed (a hill) did not restrict the movement of my cavalry too much. Jan placed two small woods on his side of the table, also partially within M of the centre, one of which I moved away from the centre. Deployment was according to method C again.

I did not roll too well on those three initial SAGA dice. So there was no way I could do him some harm and I settled for two defensive abilities to get me through the first turn and moved two units of Levies and my Warlord within M of the centre. My opponent tried to expel as many of them as possible (and succeeded on the two close combat Levy units) and tried to kill my Warlord (which he did not, but which left my Warlord with three fatigue).

The next turn my Hearthguards together with two units of close combat Levies managed to push the enemy back, giving them a heavy beating. My Warlord was still very exposed, had two fatigue and had three units of Levies within S of him. Which made him a tempting target (both as a kill and due to the fatigue the other units within S would get upon his death). So Jan tried to brush one unit of Levies away with his Levies and Gall-Gaedhil (which he managed) and kill my Warlord with the later (which he did not). But this had left his Mercenaries with three fatigue and they were wiped out by my Hearthguards without any losses of my own the next turn (I used two of his fatigue to raise my armour to seven). My Levies regained their position against their oposites and the dollowing turn my Hearthguards about faced and pushed another unit of Levies out. From then on it was only securing my position (gaining ten slaughter points per turn) and harressing the enemy. In the end I won by a margin for 39 points, for a superior victory. What really made me happy was that in this very last game, my Hearthguards were able to enact their envisioned role of shocktroops for the first time.

The results

All in all I ended up with 62 tournament points and made fifth place overall. With which I am mighty happy, given both my lack of preparation and the quality of the opponents.

The later was really amazing. I have played in a number of tournaments over the years and always have I had one opponent that only gave me an easier game. Not so this time. They were all very good players and there was not a single game that one could just play it home easily. Even the very last game was much harder than the result would suggest. The general sportsmanship, not just in the games I played but also what I saw on adjacent tables, was very good. Being provided with lunch on both days and dinner on the first day as well as cake was a huge bonus.

So all in all, it was a very taxing, but friendly and enjoyable weekend. One I will certainly try my best to repeat as often as possible in coming years.

Merci beaucoup!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on September 25, 2018 in Anglo-Saxons, Medival, Normans, SAGA, Welsh

 

Some Vikings and a Norman Warlord for SAGA

Some Vikings and a Norman Warlord for SAGA

With the second Edition of SAGA, I had to make some changes to my Vikings. I have always played them with Jomsviking mercenaries (Jarl Sigvaldi and is Jomsvikings) and heavy on Hearthguards.

With the former now costing one point instead of two under the first edition, this means, that I will now have one more point available. So this meant I had to paint another point.

Shield Maidens

Shield Maidens

So I painted 4 Shield Maidens to use as Hearthguards. These models are by Stronghold Terrain here in Germany. And they are really nice. I decided to paint them with varied coloured clothing, as I did with all my previous Vikings. But, while I do know that it is far from historically correct, I decided to nod my head at the TV show Vikings and gave them the same shield design as Lagarthas Shield Maidens from the show. The minis themselves are really nice, but I really struggled with their faces.

Rollo

Rollo

Rollo

Rollo

Now with SAGA 2.0 playing any faction so heavy on the Hearthguards like I did might not be a wise idea. So I am thinking of amalgamating two points of my plastic Gripping Beast Hearthguards into one point of Warriors. For this I will need another 4 minis. Having a few Berserkers lying around, I decided that this would be a point for Berserkers. This Rollo, also from Stronghold, was originally bought to be part of a Warlord base with his brother Ragnar, Lagartha and Floki. But while those three come in poses that rather look like they are surveying the battlefield, he looks more combative. With Stronghold also having released a minis of Björn, I decided to base him individually as par of a unit instead. I like this mini for its face. It looks a lot like the actor who plays Rollo in the TV show. Unfortunately, the pose is a little awkward.

Norman Warlord

Norman Warlord

Norman Warlord

Norman Warlord

And last is a Warlord for my Normans. The mini is also from Stronghold and a really nice one at that (if you disregard the depression in the shield toward the head of the mini). The big letdown though is the way it is meant to be mounted onto the base. The two hooves touching the ground have round taps coming out of them. This would be great for the old Games Workshop cavalry bases, but is a nightmare with the thin bases commonly used with SAGA. So I had to build up Green Stuff around these taps and later blend them in with the rest of the base.

I wanted him to look like a leader from the time of the Norman invasion of England. So I chose a shield design that is a nod towards their origins in Normandy and painted a Fleur de lis onto the shield.

 

SAGA, first 2 Points of Normans

SAGA, first 2 Points of Normans

Now that I am back playing and painting SAGA for good, it is time to start one of the armies I have had lying around for ages. One of them are Normans. Maybe not one of the most interesting armies. Even Studio Tomahawk classifies them as a simple army and if you want an army made up mostly of cavalry, there are certainly armies that have more panache (especially amongst the Crescent and Cross armies), but they have a simple elegance to their battleboard, so I think they will be a nice army to have.

Even though most of their abilities are geared towards the cavalry, I feel it makes sense to have a core of Sergeants (Warriors) on foot. For one to give them a unit that is a little more robust than the cavalry, but also to make good use of the option to equip one unit with crossbows.

Up first are the spearmen. I chose miniatures from Crusader Miniatures. Why? Well they have a set of Norman spearmen with quilted armour. All the others I have seen either had chainmail or no armour at all. No armour seemed a bit weak for them and if everyone in everyone else’s warband is wearing chainmail, then I want mine to be special. The minis are very nice and their style is extremely close to Gripping Beast (does anyone know if they used the same sculptor?) so they fit in with the rest of the Sergeants and do not match my style of painting too much. ūüėČ There are only four different minis in the set, but with their separate shields and different designs painted on their shield, they look different enough. I decided to paint the shields in simple designs to make it clear, that these are only Sergeants. The Knights will have more elaborate designs.

Norman Sergeants

Norman Sergeants

Norman Sergeants

Norman Sergeants

‚Äč

And here are the crossbows. Now these are by Gripping Beast.  I heard that most  people do not like them, but bought them anyway. In the end I understood why people do not like them too much. The minis in chainmail are quite good (the one with the shield on his back is actually the best in the set), same goes for one of the men in the long coats, the one I painted in blue. The pair in quilted armour and the other man in the long coat are slightly uninspired and the two wearing the shirt over their uniforms simply do not seem to fit the set. The crossbows are also hit and miss. Some, especially the two part ones, are simply boring and un-detailed, others are OK. So not the best set, but once done, they made for a nice colourful  group, so I can live with that.

Norman Crossbows

Norman Crossbows

Norman Crossbows

Norman Crossbows

Norman Crossbows

Norman Crossbows

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2015 in Medival, Normans, SAGA

 

SAGA German Grand Melee AAR

SAGA German Grand Melee AAR

So after a day of catching up, here is a short recap of the German SAGA Grand Melee that took place this weekend.

I have to say it was a great weekend. For one I cannot thank the organizers (Mirco and Jens) more. The event was run very smooth and in the most friendly manner. Nothing more than could be hoped for. Also Mirco really made a stalwart effort in the past weeks, creating 16 very nice SAGA tables with superb terrain for us to play on. Thanks a lot for all that!!! [BTW: You might very well take a look at his website Stronghold Terrain for some of the very nice terrain we played upon.]

And I could not have hoped for better companions on this tournament. Each and every single game was great fun and I could not have hoped for better people to play against with! Thank you all!!!

Now on to the event itself. As some readers might have realized, I played Byzantines. I have to admit that they were not my first choice, but I felt that most of the scenarios were best suited for cavalry and since Byzantines were my only cavalry army (which needs and will be remedied soon), this was what I had to play with:

1 mounted Strategos (Warlord)

1 unit of 8 Kavallaroi (mounted Heathguards)

[I had contemplating splitting the unit for some scenarios, but decided against it in the end)

1 unit of 4 Kavallaroi (mounted Heathguards with bows)

1 unit of 8 Kontaratoi (foot Warriors with shields and spears)

2 units of 8 Toxotai each (foot Warriors with bows)

So lets see what they were up against:

1st Game (Clash of the Warlords) vs. Milites Christi:

Milites Christi came as a nasty surprise to me. For the first round, only Dark Age armies were supposed to be paired against one another. Unfortunately the Byzantines were put in the Crusades category on historical grounds and I had to find out very quickly, that a Crusader Army was much better suited to this scenario than a Dark Age one. ūüė¶

My opponent used a Warband led by Raymond du Puy, which featured 12 mounted Heathguards (split into two units of 6), 12 Warriors with crossbows and 4 mounted Warriors.

Right up at the beginning of the game I had to pay dearly for my ignorance. I knew that there was an Errata / FAQ for SAGA. I could not find it online on Thursday night and thought “how much can be in there that is not just cosmetic?”. Well turned out, a lot and I had to learn it all the hard way.
But all that being said… it all started going badly from the start. I lost the initiative roll and before I could do anything, this crossbows shot 6 of my Heathguards out of their saddles. The rest of the game did not go much better. My opponent managed to push his Piety high from the start and this meant he could always draw a lot of extra dice from his combat pool. Combined with a SAGA ability that allowed him to turn his own Fatigue into attack dice, this turned into a meat grinder. Neither of us managed to kill the enemy Warlord so the close combat kills decided the winner. I almost managed to get to a draw none the less, but to be honest… my opponent never even used one of his Heathguard units and the mounted Warriors (they protected his Warlord the whole game), while I had to go on an all out offensive in the end.

So in the end it was quite a clear loss for me. Not a good start to the Grand Melee.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (1st game vs. Milites Christi)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015
(1st game vs. Milites Christi)

2nd Game (Holy Ground) vs. Milites Christi:

I had learned to hate the Milites Christi in my first game and was quite sad to draw them again for the second game.

So what did my new opponent field this time?

The Warband was led by a normal mounted Warlord and featured 3 units of 4 mounted Heathguards each, 12 Warriors on foot with close combat weapons and 12 warriors on foot with crossbows.

From the very start I had a bad feeling. He deployed all his Warriors infront of one of the target woods and his Warlord and Heathguards spread over the middle and on the other flank. I felt my archers would be useless in the woods so I deployed them in the centre with only my spearmen to oppose the enemy Warriors. My mounted archers were deployed on the right flank and the other Heathguards centre. Since my opponent had the initiative, I had expected him to take the hills fast with his cavalry, where I would have had real problems dislodging them, but this did not happen (for fear of my archers, as he told me later) and he only advanced this crossbows into the woods. My spearmen marched into the same woods and even got into close combat with his crossbows. Now over the next few rounds I rolled exceptionally good on all combat inside the woods and both his Warrior units were unable to dislodge them and were only able to reduce them to 3 men (units of 3 men or less were unable to score victory points for holding an objective) on the 4th round.

On the other flank I had all my cavalry and archers on the two hills by the second round. Now he had real problems dislodging my troops. Even when he won a close combat, I was unable to withdraw due to my troops being deployed in lines behind the other and so he had to withdraw. At the same time I was quick to reduce his Heathguard units to 3 or less men. At the end of the 4th round, only my archer units were large enough to still score victory points, but the same was true for his heavily depleted Warriors. Since I was already about 30 victory points in the lead and he only had a chance to gain a maximum of 5 points a round (and only if he was able to reduce my archers further and I did not kill any more of his Warriors), we called the game off with a decisive victory for me.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (2nd game vs. Milites Christi)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015
(2nd game vs. Milites Christi)

3rd Game (Battle Twilight [10 points for a Victory]) vs. Normans:

[Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of this game!]

For the third game a finally got to play against a Dark Age army… namely the Normans. They were led by a mounted Warlord and consisted of 4 mounted Heathguards, 8 Warriors with Crossbows, 8 Warriors on foot, two units of 8 Warriors on horseback and 12 peasants with bows.

I had deployed my huge block of Warriors right on the border between two table quarters, which meant I could choose which of the two quarters they were supposed to score for. This proved great throughout the game, since they could remain quite stationary, score the victory points where needed most and shoot it out with the enemy archers and crossbows. All in all my opponent and I were on an even footing and for the first 3 rounds we both scored 2 points each (giving each of us 6 points in total). Only then did the scales tip, when I managed to kill his Warlord and reduce his Heathguards below 3 men while my Heathguards managed to stay virtually intact almost for the whole game. So in the end I won with 12 victory points vs. 8.

Something that I need to mention about this game is how much fun it was. As I said before, every opponent I played was great, but I honestly think, I never had so much fun and laughed so much during a game.

So I ended the first day on the 9th place.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Inside the Longhouse)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015*
(Inside the Longhouse)

4th Game (Last Stand) vs. Norse Gail:

The Norse Gail were a bit of a wild card for. I had never played them and from a quick look at their battle board, I had no idea how most of their abilities worked. The Warband consisted of one Warlord with a Dane Axe, 40 Warriors with Dane Axes (which would be spread over 8 units of 5) and 12 Levies with Javelins (which would be spread over 3 units of 4).

In this scenario, we each had to say, how many rounds it would take us to annihilate the enemy. The player who bid lower would be the attacker and would have to annihilate his enemy during that time, while the other was the defender and had to survive. I had a feeling that even with my cavalry I would not be able to evade so many troops forever, so I did not want my opponent to be the attacker with a high turn count. At the same time I felt that if I really pushed hard, I should be able to kill all his troops in 7 rounds. Especially since he would also lose the game, if his force no longer created SAGA dice, so I could ignore his Levies. So my bid was 7 rounds, his was 8 and I ended being the attacker. And it proofed a hard nut to crack. About half his Warriors deployed within the woods where I would have a hard time dislodging them with my cavalry or archers. And I had to find out, that his battle board could actually deny me entering combat with his troops. Things were only made worse by the fact, that my opponent would always put as many dice on the defense as possible and that he would not use my fatigue to boost his stats or lower mine, but rather let them accumulate to get my troops exhausted.

My first solution was to try to kill the Warlord as fast as possible and take out those Warriors in the open to reduce his SAGA dice, thereby denying him the better abilities on his board. This was easier said than done, since three of his units were reduced to 1 man by the end of the 3rd or 4th turn, but that one man always proofed hard to kill. In the end it was all or nothing, with the Heathguard archers¬†attacking in close combat, my cavalry continuously charging into the woods and the Warlord attacking on his own. In the end it was a very tight race, with my mounted archers killing the last enemy Warrior on the penultimate activation of the 7th round, nailing me the victory. Not that I would have had another chance… by this time all my mounted units (including the Warlord) were inside the woods and had 4-5 Fatigue counters, the Warriors were exhausted, too and my archers close to exhaustion. If I¬†ever played one intense game, this was! And if there ever was a battle worth a song in my Warlords Saga, this was it.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (final positions vs. Norse Gael)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015
(final positions vs. Norse Gael)
[This is a shot taken after the game,
so the Fatigue counters have already been removed from some of the units]

5th Game (God will recognise his) vs. Irish:

[Sorry, I for got to take a photo of this game!]

For this last game, I faced one of the organisers, who stood in with his Irish since there was an odd number of players. That being said… the stand in player already had quite a track record with three wins and one loss and he did not give me an easy game either. Which was great, since nothing is worse than a victory one did not earn!

The Warband consisted of a Warlord on foot, two heroes on foot, 6 Heathguards on foot, two 12 men units of Warriors and 8 Warhounds.

The battle went in a real see-saw fashion with most the of fighting going on in the centre. Units that were to return using the “Endless Warbands” rule would quickly reenter the fight from the flanks and always make their impact felt. The one thing that was a bit sad was the dice rolling. For the first two rounds we would alternate at rolling bad on the attack and good on the safe in one combat and bad on the attack and good on the safe in the next. From the third round on, this started to change, with my dice failing me completely. ūüė¶

In the end we were half a kill point apart, which meant a draw.

The result

So in the end, I won 3 victories (one of them decisive), had one draw and lost one game. This gave me a shared 5th place out of a field of 27 players.

And I have to say, I was really happy with this. As I said before, I felt the Byzantines were not my first choice for this tournament, but the only mounted one I had painted. And the use of the SAGA abilities vindicated that. While I used the Massed Archery ability quite often, there were few  situations where the others were of use. I used Kontos three or four times, but otherwise it was Support Archers (2x) and Strategikon (1x) and Withdrawal (1x) during the whole tournament.  So not much mileage was gained from the battle board.

Another factor was that I had only played two games of SAGa in 2 ¬Ĺ years (and both over the last month) and did not know the rules changes from the Errata / FAQ. Combined with the fact that out of all the Warbands I faced I had only ever played Normans it felt like an uphill struggle virtually all the time. So again, I was more than happy with the result!!!

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (group shot of the players)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (group shot of the players)*
[yours truly 5th from right, with the mandatory facial hair and virtually bald head ūüôā ]

Final impressions

First of all, I cannot mention often enough, what a great event this has been and I am really looking forward to the next installment, hopefully at the same great location!

The only drawback was the poor lighting in the longhouse, but the organizers have promised that this will be improved the next time. What really amazed me, was how much such an event makes you want to get new armies done. I already have Normans and Anglo Saxons lying around at home (actually I have had them for over two years) and now the time has come to slap some paint on them. But I also fell in love with most of the other armies I¬†played against. So I definitely want a Milites Christi and an Irish Warband now. ūüėČ

Anyway, I am going to leave you with some photos of the other armies in the tournament (at least those photos the came out OK in the light without a trip-pod) and some impressions from the open air museum park.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Viking Warband)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Viking Warband)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Viking Warband)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Viking Warband)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Norman Warband)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Norman Warband)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Jomsviking Warband)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Jomsviking Warband)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Impressions from the park)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015
(Impressions from the park / Saxon Longhouse)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Impressions from the park)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015
(Impressions from the park)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Impressions from the park)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015
(Impressions from the park)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015 (Impressions from the park)

SAGA German Grand Melee 2015
(Impressions from the park)

 

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2015 in Byzantines, Medival, Normans, Rules, SAGA, Vikings

 

SAGA: Normans vs. Varangian Guard

After a long hiatus brought on by both the holiday season and work, Martin (with a little help from his son Max) and I were finally able to get another game of SAGA under our belts.

Max and Martin

Max and Martin

We went for a table with open terrain and just a few fields, trees and hills. The most restrictive terrain was a creek cutting off one corner of the table and a Viking village in the other. But to be honest, the terrain played just a small role, except for the fact, that I used the creek to hinge my flank on.
Martin and Max played Normans in what has now become Martin’s signature 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.

I wanted to try something new. While the Byzantines are nice, I still feel they lack a certain panache some of the other groups have. So I went for a Varangian Guard Warband (Viking mercenaries in Byzantine service). They were led (as required) by Harald Hardrada. There were two points of Varangians (Viking Heathguards) armed with Dane Axes, one point of Kontaratoi (Warriors with spears) and two points of Toxotai (Warriors armed with bows). As the interested reader will notice, this only adds up to five points, but with the Warlord being a hero of the Viking age, he costs an extra point and therefore only allows for five points of units. I have to say I would have liked a different composition to get away from that huge block of archers, but all Heathguards have to be Varangian and the need to make up less than half the units. Byzantine cavalry was not allowed as well, which limited the choices somewhat. I was also a bit anxious, since a Varangian Warband is played with both a Viking and a Byzantine Battleboard. The Byzantine units only generate Continental (also called Norman dice), while the Varangians can choose to generate either continental or runic (also called Viking dice). The Warlord can only generate one die per round unless he takes fatigue to create on or two extra dice.

As you can see, the terrain was quiet green and the village had a distinct Viking look. So let’s assume Harald was on home leave, taking a retuine befit his status along and those pesky Normans simply could not leave him alone… So much for a holiday. ūüėČ

We decided to play Clash of the Warlords, as we do most of the time. I think we really need to take a look at the homegrown scenarios on the Gripping Beast forum!

We rolled for initiative and rolled a tie. So in other words… I won an account of my more impressive facial hair.

The Normans deployed the large cavalry unit in the centre and one each of the small ones on each flank. The crossbows were deployed on their left flank and close combat Sergeants on the right. The Warlord was slightly off centre to the right. So in other words… The deployment I have come to know.

The Varangians deployed their Byzantine archers in one large amalgamated unit right behind a spearmen screen. As indicated their right flank hinged on the creek. The Varangians deployed one behind the other on the left flank and the Warlord behind the spot where the Byzantine and Norse units connected.

The table

The table
[Normans to the left, Varangian Guard to the right]

The Normans won initiative and started a general advance. Max had been able to roll enough flags on the dice to allow for two re-rolls, so it did not stay there. The large unit of cavalry activated for a second time and charged the Kontaratoi. Aided by some Norman abilities they got a lot of dice and one instant kill, but on account of some good saving throws on my side only killed four of the spearmen, who in turn killed two Norman horsemen before being forced to withdraw.

First Norman charge

First Norman charge

Aftermath of the first Norman attack

Aftermath of the first Norman attack

With initiative passing on to the Varangian Guard, it was time to decide how to spend my SAGA dice. I went for two continental and four runic dice (my warlord had to take one fatigue for that). Now the runic dice went really well. Even after two re-rolls I still had two suwulo dice. So the first thing was for the Varangians to call Ragnar√∂k, which meant one less armour for all Normans for the rest of the turn. While the Kontaratoi only removed the fatigue left from their last combat, their Toxotai brothers shot their bows at the large Norman cavalry at pint blank range… another two horsemen dead. Now the lead unit of Varangians charged the Normans. Bet ween their Dane axes, the Norman fatigue and the Ullr ability (which allowed them to re-roll failed to hit rolls) they scored nine hits. Max failed to safe enough and the four remaining horsemen were on the way to their graves. The Norsemen mercenaries lost two of their own, but in the end, it was a small price to pay, for taking out the largest Norman unit before the first round was over.

Revenge Norsemen style

Revenge Norsemen style

It was a huge psychological blow for the Normans. For the next round they only advanced cautiously, with their foot troops catching up to the horsemen, while the later only loitered around, just outside arrow range of the Byzantines.

The Vikings too used this round to get their formation back in order. Varangians formed a new screen before the archers (the blooded unit to the right, the fresh one to the left) and the archers moved forward behind the mercenary screen. The Kontaratoi moved to the left taking over flank protection.

Regrouped Vangarian Guard

Regrouped Varangian Guard

The next Norman activation saw another advance, mainly by the foot troops, but also by the cavalry on their right flank. The crossbows activated another time and fired a volley at the depleted Viking unit. But on account of their superior armour that unit only took one loss, bringing them down to one man.

Normans inching closer

Normans inching closer

With activation now passing back to the Varangians the Byzantine archers opened up on the Norman crossbows and showed them how to do it… three crossbows down. Otherwise the Viking unit which was still in mint condition moved forward towards the cavalry that had inched forward more and activated for a second time to charge them. Since their Warlord had taken another fatigue to roll and extra die and since I had been lucky with the re-rolls they too could make use of Ullr and annihilated all four horsemen at a loss of two of their own.

Vangarians annihilate Norman Knights

Varangian annihilate Norman Knights

Obviously things were not looking too good for the Normans by now. When their crossbows activated to fire at the archers, the gods intervened and made them move instead (did I mention that I had gotten really lucky when I last rolled the SAGA dice?) the Sergeants charged the Varangians who had just killed their mounted Knights. Now this actually went well for the Normans since they wiped out their opponents (although I can not remember what price they paid, but I think it was only one or two).

Norman Sergeants attacking Vangarians

Norman Sergeants attacking Varangians

But this is where the luck ended for the Normans. For the next activation I decided to put an emphasis on continental dice and the Byzantine archers were able to get two massed volleys. The first one was fired at the Norman crossbows and managed to kill all five of them. I think in about a dozen games played versus the Normans, this must have been the first time, I killed the whole unit of crossbows. So for a lack of targets, they shifted their aim to the Sergeants on the other flank and killed another two. Not much else to do….

Now it was time for one last Hail Marry attack by the Normans. With a double move the Norman Warlord charged the Toxotai and ordered the remaining mounted Knights along. Beefed up by some Norman ability, they hit the enemy archers and inflicted a total of six losses for only one loss of their own. Not content with their success, the Knights charged the retreating Byzantines once more, without their Warlord this time. But now it did not go this well. The Toxotai decided to use the three fatigue the Knights had accumulated at the moment they made contact to lower the Norman armour and this time none survived, while the horsemen failed to make a real impact.

Norman Hail Marry charge

Norman Hail Marry charge

And this set the stage for the final assault of the game. The Varangian Warlord charged his counterpart with a double move and ordered the archers (being the biggest unit in range) to join in. Between the two of them, they scored nine hits (the Norman Warlord still had two fatigue, so his armour was lowered considerably) of which he only saved two and perished. In turn he only scored three hits of which the Norse Warlord saved two.

So some thoughts on playing a Varangian Guard Warband. My decision to try them out had mainly been driven by the fact that the Byzantine Warbands seem to be very defensive. The best you can get from their Battleboard (unless you field an all cavalry force for which Normans would be better suited though) is by fielding a large amalgamated unit of archers or two units working in unison. With the close combat screen they require they become very cumbersome and usually stay in place. Either waiting for the enemy to come to them or for the other units to operate under their screen. As I said very static and defensive.

Now the Varangians do not really change that. All Heathguards in the Warband need to be Varangians, but no more than half the Warband my be Varangians. Given the fact that their Hero of the Viking Age Warlord already takes up one point, this means you can only field a maximum of two points of them. What does this leave you with? Three points of Byzantine foot (no mounted troops allowed in a Varangian Warband). Levies would be bad choice, since you need to split your dice between two Battleboards and the Warlord generates less dice than normal, which means you need every SAGA die you can get. So this leaves Warriors and what is your best choice? Two units of archers and one unit of close combat to protect them. In other words… It is Groundhog Day! Only this time the units operating under their screen are Viking Heathguards, with access to their extremely powerful Battleboard, a heightened armour of six and access to Dane Axes. So the Warband is still static and defensive but with a real √ľber-close combat element. Still not my style of play,

Before I leave you, just some other news. I managed to finish the next generic unit of French Napoleonic infantry the other weekend, but never got around to finish their bases. But at the same time, I made good progress on the next French unit. They should be finished today, so I shall do the bases for both in one go and show them to you this weekend.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Byzantines, Gripping Beast, Medival, Normans, Rules, SAGA, Vikings

 

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SAGA, Clash of the Warlords, Byzantines vs. Normans

After having played far too few games this year we met for a game of SAGA last week. After the resounding defeat my Byzantines suffered against Martin’s Normans a few weeks ago, I was really anxious to cleanse their reputation.

But before we start… sorry for the poor photos! I forgot to take a tri-pod along, so I had to sue flash photography.

In this sense we decided to have another Clash of the Warlords, my Byzantines vs. Martins Normans. This is about the only thing that pains me a bit about SAGA… you always end up playing the same scenarios, since there are so few.

We used a simple set-up… Lots of open ground, a few hills, trees, hedges, some houses and a small fortified village. The gates of the village were closed and I suppose the inhabitants watched the feast for the crows unfolding before their homes!

The Byzantines consisted of four points of Kavallaroi (mounted Heathguards), two with spears and two with bows, which would be amalgamated into one large unit each. There were also one point of Kontaratoi (Warriors with spears) and one point of Toxotai (Warriors armed with bows). As mandatory, they were led by their mounted Warlord. While I felt that more foot troops would stand the better chance vs. Normans I still wanted to try something new. After all a composition with more foot had lost against the Normans the last time and I assumed, that there was a reason for that.

Martin was playing his Normans in virtually the same set-up as last time. A mounted Warlord, four units of mounted Knights (Hearthguard) and two units of Sergeants (Warriors), one of them armed with crossbows. The only difference this time was that Martin amalgamated his Knights units into two large ones instead of one large and two normal ones.

I won set-up initiative and after set-up was completed my forces looked like this (left to right): Kontaratoi with the Toxotai to their right up a hill. Next came my Warlord amidst the Kavallaroi archers with the close combat Kavallaroi to their right. Since I could set up all the interesting units after their opposites, I chose to ignore the left flank, so everything was shifted slightly to the right.

The Normans would deploy their Sergeants with spears to the left (seen from the Byzantines side of the table). since they were deployed early, this took them a good deal to the flank, away from the mass of my troops. the two large cavalry units were deployed in the centre, with the Warlord behind them. The crossbows were deployed on the right flank.

Table with deployed forces

Table with deployed forces

The Normans won the first initiative and began a general advance. Not wanting to be caught under my archers fire without a change to do some damage beforehand, the leading unit of Knights activated a second time and charged the Kontaratoi to their front, just barely reaching them. I decided to use the fatigue they had earned for their double move to lower their armour, but still only three Knights were lost, while five spearmen perished under their hooves and had to withdraw.

Massed Byzantine cavalry

Massed Byzantine cavalry

But once it was the Byzantines turn they took a heavy beating. The Toxotai activated twice taking out three Knights on aggregate. Now the Kontaratoi charged the Knights causing them one more casualty, sending them fleeing. On the other flank there was a general advance of the Byzantine cavalry. The horse archers activated a second time as well and shot at the Norman crossbows to their front taking out three of them.

Do not mess with the spearman

Do not mess with the spearman

Kavallaroi archers taking a shot Norman crossbows

Kavallaroi archers taking a shot Norman crossbows

With this initiative passed back to the Normans. While the spear armed Sergeants tried their best to get closer to the action, the Knights that had already clashed with the Byzantine spearmen charged them one more time. Neither side took a loss, so they had to withdraw. On the other flank the crossbows shot at the horse archers to their front, but even with crossbows against cavalry archers (which meant a minus three on my armour) they only managed to take out two with two attacks… The loss of their number already showed.

The big action was in the centre though. The un-bloodied unit of Knights charged up the hill and engaged my foot archers. Luckily only a part of the unit managed to engage, but still it left four Toxotai dead at the loss of one rider. The archers recoiled and were eagerly waiting for help. And that help was about to come.

Norman Knights charging Byzantine Taxatoi

Norman Knights charging Byzantine Taxatoi

These Knights were still within line of sight for the Kavallaroi archers, which let loose with their arrows… two Knights down. But they were also in range for the Byzantine Warlord and the other Kavallaroi unit and combined with the “Kontos” special ability from the Battleboard charged the Knights. While two Byzantine horsemen died, the Knights were annihilated. The Norman Warlord would have been in distance for a charge, but only two or three Kavallaroi would have been able to get into fighting distance, so I chose to rather take my time and leave the two remaining dice on the Heathguards field of the Battleboard untouched. But the Kontaratoi took another charge at the Knights and caused one casualty at no loss.

Cavalry clash

Cavalry clash

Death of the Norman Knights

Death of the Norman Knights

With initiative passing back to the Normans, the remaining two knights decided to take revenge and actually managed to kill those pesky Byzantine spearmen now. The crossbows let go with another flight of bolts, but only killed one Kavallaroi archer (the Sergeants fatigue was used to raise their armour rating). While the Sergeants with spears advanced boldly, the Norman Warlord decided that retreat was the better part of valour and out some distance between himself and the battle.

Norman crossbows firing at Byzantine Kavallaroi archers

Norman crossbows firing at Byzantine Kavallaroi archers

Now things were winding up. The Kavallaroi archers fired back at the crossbows causing them more harm (can not remember how many though) while their close combat brethren, together with the Warlord, charged the remaining two knights, killing them without a loss. My foot archers only rested to recover from the fatigue of the previous battle.

Even on their own activation the Normans could not do much. The crossbows fired once more, but failed to do any damage. The close combat Sergeants chose to charge the Byzantine Warlord twice, but while he only laughed at their attacks, he managed to kill six of them.

So with only a few Sergeants remaining in two units and the Norman Warlord on the horizon already riding towards the setting sun, the few Normans that remained, decided to surrender. A wise decision!

All in all I feel that the Byzantines honour has been cleansed. I am still having great fun playing them, but I am getting ever more disappointed by their Battleboard. There are some good abilities there, but they always seem to be geared towards extreme Warband compositions (either lots of levies, lots of archers or lots of Warriors) do to the fact that you always need to have units cooperating with one another to make use of them. Since you can hardly ever combine all these extremes in one Warband, especially one that lives off its Heathguard horsemen, this means that many of the abilities are denied to you based on what composition of troops you choose. A bit sad, but it can not be helped. Still they work, but I think they are at a disadvantage against those Warbands that have strong Battleboards that work on single units instead of the cooperation approach. I guess I will have to give the Varangian Guard type of Warband (which combines a Byzantine board with a Viking one) a try soon. That should be interesting!

 
 

SAGA Byzantines vs. Normans

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! ūüėČ

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

 

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Three player SAGA game

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.

SAGA table

SAGA table

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!

Shot in the back

Shot in the back

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 Ragnar√∂k 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 Ragnar√∂k still reduced the Normans armour. If I remember correctly he first charged them with his cavalry, which lost two of their own (remember Ragnar√∂k 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.

Welsh going after the crossbows

Welsh going after the crossbows

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.

Norman cavalry vs. Welsh

Norman cavalry vs. Welsh

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.

Viking Bondi and Jomsvikings going for the Normans

Viking Bondi and Jomsvikings going for the Normans

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.

Some Welsh, some Vikings and some Normans

Some Welsh, some Vikings and some Normans

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!

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Medival, Normans, SAGA, Vikings, Welsh

 

SAGA again… this time Normans vs. Vikings

Last Sunday Martin and I had an early morning game of SAGA. Yes you are right… Sundays are for sleeping in and not getting up early to play, but hey.

Since I still only have my Vikings to play, Martin went for Normans to give us a change from the old routine. We also went for “The Challenge” to try out another scenario.

The Normans consisted of 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.

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). Just like last time I would amalgamate both Hirdmen units into one large unit.

The table

The table
Normans would deploy on the left, Vikings on the right

The table featured a Viking village in one corner and a Norman keep in the opposite one. Made me wonder if they had a zoning permit for the keep! Lets see what good it did them! ;-). The other corners features some small woods, but the centre of the table was fairly open except for a small hill.

Martin won initiative and placed his Warlord in the centre and I placed mine close to his as per set-up rules.

So close and yet so far away

So close and yet so far away

Then we alternated placing our units. Seen from my point of view the Norman cavalry was in a long line on the left with the Sergeants behind them. On the right the Levies brought up the front, with the Crossbows behind them.
I placed all my Vikings in a long line… left to right the Jomsvikings, Bondi and the Hirdmen. The Berserkers started behind the Hirdmen to keep them safe from all those arrows on that flank.

Since I was done setting up first, I got first initiative. At first I contemplated attacking the Norman Warlord right away, but this would have meant that the Norman cavalry would reach him far before the Vikings would be there to support their Warlord. So I just moved my Warlord back towards my line and the Vikings forward. Honestly I was hoping for Martin to come after me, but he did not do me that favour and just moved his line forward as well. On my next activation I moved forward once more and my Warlord moved behind the Heathguard screen.

Opposing battlelines

Opposing battle lines

Now the Knights were in range to charge and so the did. The double sized unit made contact with my Hirdmen. Since the SAGA dice gave them extra attacks, I decided to trade half my attacks for four extra defencive dice. In the end only two Vikings died, but they killed four Normans and they had to retreat. Now I was time to follow this up. The Hirdmen pushed after their attackers and killed them all.

Norman cavalry make contact

Norman cavalry make contact

The other units just moved forward, while the Berserkers pushed out to the side and attacked the Levies on the hill. I gave them a few extra attacks, but rolled below average. So only half the Levies died for the price of two Berserkers. Unfortunately the Levies would now retaliate and annihilate the Berserkers in a hail of arrows. The Crossbows would loosen off against the Hirdmen, but only with limited success.

But now things got interesting. I had rolled low when I rolled for the Jomsviking abilities that round. So when I moved them forward I was hoping for Martin to go for them, since they are usually his Nemesis. And he did charge them with the small unit of Knights accompanied by his Warlord. Two of the knights were killed, the Warlord got one wound (in this scenario he has twelve wounds instead of two), but the Jomsvikings were wiped out. A bad result? Not really. While my Bondi are my weakest unit they were right besides the Jomsvikings. They made use of the Valhalla special ability and traded three of their own for twelve extra attacks, enough to give the Warlord seven wounds. Were the Bondi contend? No. Now they stuck in for another round of combat and the Warlord had to trade the life of the two knights to get away with just one wound. Only two of the Bondi remained, but the Warlord was in a bad shape. Unfortunately my Warlord did not manage to make contact. The Norman Warlord decided to retreat towards his Sergeants to get some protection, but due to a bad roll of the SAGA dice this was about all Martin could do.

Not long to go now

Not long to go now

So on my next activation I activated my Warlord twice to catch up with his Norman counterpart ignoring the Sergeants, which he did. The resulting combat was one-sided. The Normans Warlord got five wounds which was quiet an overkill while the Viking Warlord got no wound. So things ended with another Viking win.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Medival, Normans, SAGA, Vikings