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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. 😦

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. 😦

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 ½ 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 🙂 ]

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. 😉

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. 😉

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 Ragnarök, 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 über-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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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 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.

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

 

SAGA, Vikings vs. Welsh

I know this blog has been a bit quiet lately. The reason for this were a number of birthday parties I had to attend, so I did not get as much time playing in over the last month. The other reason is that I have a unit of Prussian Landwehr Cavalry on my table. While not big (=they should have been finished in no time) they are still taking me ages. The reason being, that I strained my back (dislocated disk) and as strange as it sounds, while I could sit without pain, my hands were a bit shaky so painting anything other than basic colours had been out of the question until last week. So the pace should pick up soon.

Bespoke unit of Landwehr should be done this week and I will have to finish the Napoleon base this week as well to meet the La Bricole deadline. I just hope that the basing material arrives in time! And to remedy the problem of no playing enough Martin and I met for another game of SAGA last Friday.

Martin was playing Welsh and his warband included a mounted Warlord, two points of mounted Teulu (Hearthguard) and two points of foot Teulu and two points of Priodaur (Warriors). Martin would amalgamate the foot Teulu into a large unit each.

I went for Vikings in their usual composition. Which meant my Warlord, Jarl Sigvaldi and his Jomsvikings (Hearthguard / Mercenaries), one unit of Berserkers (Hearthguard), two units of Hirdmen (Hearthguard) and one unit of Bondi (Warriors). I would amalgamate both Hirdmen units into one large unit.

When it comes to the terrain, I will let the pictures do the talking, since it played just a very minor role in the game.

Table seen from the Welsh side

Table seen from the Welsh side

Table seen from the Viking side

Table seen from the Viking side

We decided to play the Clash of the Warlord scenario and I won set-up initiative on account of my more impressive beard (or rather three-day stubble).

We both set up virtually as battle lines. Martins Welsh had a unit of Priodaur in the woods on the left and another unit on the edge of the woods. In the middle was his unit of large Teulu and on his right the Warlord sandwiched between the units of mounted Priodaur. Since I had won the initiative I set up most of my Warband after Martin had deployed his Priodaur and chose to ignore the left flank and let his unit be wasted inside the woods. My Warlord was in the centre behind the screen of the large Hirdmen unit, with the Berserkers bringing up the rear. For some reason I failed to realise that rh Welsh had no bow armed units and that the Berserkers would hardly need the protection of another unit in front of them. To the right of this large body of troops came my Jomsvikings and the Bondi on the flank.

The advance

The advance

The first two rounds saw both sides advancing on each other. This was also marked by mediocre dice rolls on the SAGA dice. I managed to roll no Sowulo runes the first two rounds (= no rolling extra dice) and Martin managed to roll the same symbol on all dice during round one. The lack of ranged weapons also meant that we were just closing in on one another. The Welsh cavalry ended the second round just out of range for a charge of mine… or so they thought.

Battlelines

Battle lines

Now I finally got my Sowulos and ended up with a nice eight dice to allocate to the SAGA board. My Jomsvikings got three of those to hype them on abilities and another to give them an extra move this round. While fatigued they still managed to connect with the left unit of cavalry. It was my twenty dice versus their eight, but Martin managed to roll better on his saves and both of us lost three men. Since I had been the attacker I had to withdraw with the remaining Jarl Sigvaldi. Bad result? No not really this would later turn out as planned.

First contact

First contact

The Bondi also got two dice and charged the other unit of cavalry (I deliberately ignored the Warlord and decided to strike at his bodyguard units instead). This time it was eight dice versus eight and even though the Bondi had the worse armour they killed two and only lost one of their own, so the other Welsh cavalry withdrew. My Warlord and the large unit of Hirdmen just moved forward towards the enemy foot. The Berserkers though edged towards the right to get out from behind the other Vikings and get closer to the fight on the right.

Now the Welsh reacted in the way I had hoped (and aided by the fact that the SAGA dice were not kind with them). Martin removed the fatigue gained during combat from both his cavalry units. Next his Warlord charged Jarl Sigvaldi with the remaining trooper from the first Teulu unit. While the Jarl died, he managed to take the cavalryman with him (actually scoring enough hits to have killed three), but failed to make an impression on the enemy Warlord. Sounds bad? No, not really since now the Welsh Warlord was where I wanted him and without support. The next round saw me active my Berserkers first, they were now in range of the Warlord and with the Valhalla ability I bestowed on them went up to 20 attack dice. Due to their lowered armour they lost two of their number, but managed to score ten hits on the Warlord, which was far too much for him and saw him dead. They day was won for the Vikings and the Welsh were leaving the field defeated.

The end is near

The end is near

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Medival, SAGA, Vikings, Welsh

 

The SAGA double whammy

Yesterday we met up at my place for another game of SAGA, or rather as it turned out two of them. Please bear with me on this one… we did a lot of chatting and throwing around ideas what to do for Crisis in Antwerp this fall, so my memory of some of the details is a bit flimsy at times which might make the reports a bit short.

The table looked like this: We had a big two level hill in one corner of the table and a small dark age village in the opposing corner. There were two forests on each side of the table, another small hill on the same side as the village and a walled in corn field roughly in the middle of the table. Some tree stumps, bushes and cows rounded things off. All in all it looked like this:

Table seen from the Viking side

Table seen from the Viking side

Table from the Welsh side

Table from the Welsh side

I went for Vikings in their usual composition. Which meant my Warlord, Jarl Sigvaldi and his Jomsvikings (Hearthguard / Mercenaries), one unit of Berserkers (Hearthguard), two units of Hirdmen (Hearthguard) and one unit of Bondi (Warriors). I would amalgamate both Hirdmen units into one large unit. I have to say though, that I need to paint another two pints of Vikings so I can swap the Jomsvikings out. The composition leaves me a bit inflexible from a tactical point of view and Martin is focussing on my weaknesses quiet well by now. Or I will have to start a Norman and Anglo-Saxon Warband early.

Martin was playing Welsh, this time without stand-ins. Some minis were only finished yesterday! A Warlord, two points of mounted Teulu (Hearthguard) and two points of foot Teulu and two points of Priodaur (Warriors). Martin would amalgamate both the mounted and foot Teulu into a large unit each.

For the first game we chose Clash of the Warlords once more. Martin deployed his Teulu units in the centre with is Warlord and his Priodaur units one on each flank.

I put my Jomsvikings on my right flank, the Bondi on the left atop the hill and the rest in my centre, with the Hirdmen forming a screen around the Warlord and the Berserkers bringing up the rear. Both sides advanced on each other during the first round.

Welsh advance

Welsh advance

OK... they seem unafraid of the Vikings

OK… they seem unafraid of the Vikings

I had expected Martin to make a concerted advance with all his units when suddenly his mounted Teulu and Warlord charged forward and loosened off some Javelins at my Jomsvikings. The Jomsvikings were quick enough to get their shields up and suffered no losses.

Let´s get ready to rumble

Let´s get ready to rumble

I thought that this was it, but no… both the Warlord and Teulu activated another time and charged the Jomsvikings with the use of a special ability to give them more attacks… 26 dice in total. The Jomsvikings were not hyped up yet and only got 14. To what end? Well the Jomsvikings suffered two dead and the Welsh six and had to leave with a bloody nose.

Welsh cavalry and Warlord charging the Jomsvikings

Welsh cavalry and Warlord charging the Jomsvikings

Now it was time for payback. The Jomsvikings went after the Warlord. And would have killed him if the two remaining Teulu had not thrown themselves in harm’s way and sacrificed their own lives for his.

At the same time the Hirdmen and Viking Warlord advanced leaving the Berserkers behind and charged the Warlord with the expected results. The Welsh Warlord suffered a total of 13 wounds, of which he saved none… minced meat. And the game was over after just two rounds.

So we decided to have another game… “The Escort”, which would require one side to moved at least two out of three baggage items (we went for three cows and oxen) off the other table edge. The roll of the dice would have Martin to be the escorting player and me the attacker.

My composition remained unchanged. The Warlord and the Hirdmen were deployed in the centre, the Berserker on the right flank and the Jomsvikings on the left. The Bondi formed a long line to the rear and would act as a reserve.

Martin changed the composition of his Warband though. This time the Warlord would be dismounted and only one point of mounted Teulu were in the mix. There were also two points of foot Teulu, two points of Priodaur and one point of bow armed Bonnedig (Levies). The Warlord and foot Teulu were in the centre forming a screen around the livestock, with the Priodaur securing the flanks and the mounted Teulu brining up the rear. the Bonnedig were on his right flank.

Viking deployment at the begining of the second game

Viking deployment at the beginning of the second game

While I had enough dice to advance fast Martin did not get as many and since he had to pay for the movement of the mighty bovine force as well, only part of his force was able to advance on the first round. One of his Priodaur units started moving away from the main body in the direction of my Jomsvikings though… those four men would be in for a tough fight!

On the third round I went for an all out offense. With the two units of Welsh Teulu wedged in at the bottleneck formed by the village and field, my Hirdmen charged the first unit of them. The fight was short and bloody and the Vikings annihilated the whole unit at the loss of just one fighter. But the Warlord commanded them on and together they charged the next unit of Teulu. Again all Welsh were killed, this time at no loss of my own. The dice were really on my side ad against Martin. While the Berserkers and Bondi lingered on, the Jomsvikings charged forward  to take on the Archers before they had to face the combined might of two units. While I had allocated three SAGA dice to max their combat abilities out I rolled poorly (only a “5” from three D6) which left them with mediocre abilities. Still they managed to kill seven archers at one loss of their own.

Welsh Archers vs. Jomsvikings

Welsh Archers vs. Jomsvikings

Now it was Martins turn again. His right hand Priodaur charged the 7 remaining Hirdmen and killed them all at only three losses of their own. The dice luck had turned 180° for both of us and would remain that way till the end of the game. Now my Warlord was alone in the centre and faced with a charge by the mounted Teulu. They killed him off with ease and he only managed to take one with him.

One the other flank the three remaining Jomsvikings were first subjected to arrows from the Bonnedig archers and javelins from the Priodaur that killed two more of them and left Jarl Sigvaldi alone.

Cornered Jomvikings

Cornered Jomsvikings

But that was not all. The Warriors charged the lone Jarl and he died in heroic combat, taking three of them with him over the rainbow bridge.

The end of Jarl Sigvaldi

The end of Jarl Sigvaldi

Now everything rested on the Berserkers and the Bondi reserve. If anyone could pull the tables around now it was the Berserkers. They charged the Priodaur with the plan of annihilating them and then going on to the Teulu cavalry in the same turn. They never got that far. Although they managed to wipe out the Warriors, all four lost their lives. Since I had rolled no SAGA dice to activate th Bondi my activation was over. Martin advanced on, consolidating his forces. When the next round saw me rolling no dice that I could use for the Bondi again we decided to call it a day.

Even though the dice had a huge part in deciding either game, we still had lots of fun. Plus it was the first outing for the new lighting in the games room (three times as powerful and now with daylight bulbs) which in my opinion greatly enhanced the quality of the photos, too.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Medival, Rules, SAGA, Vikings, Welsh

 

Another game of SAGA

Another game of SAGA

So last Friday we played another game of SAGA. (We actually played two more games the week before, but I for got to put the memory card into the camera before I left for Martins place and those from the cell phone turned out too poor to show.)

As usual I went for Vikings, with my normal set-up. I had my Warlord, Jarl Sigvaldi and his Jomsvikings (Hearthguard / Mercenaries), one unit of Berserkers (Hearthguard), two units of Hirdmen (Hearthguard) and one unit of Bondi (Warriors). I would amalgamate both Hirdmen units into one large unit.

Martin wanted a change from his Normans and went for Welsh (with a few late Roman and Saxon stand-ins). A 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). Martin would amalgamate both the mounted and foot Teulu into a large unit each.

We played the Clash of the Warlords scenario meaning we would have to kill the other Warlord by the end of turn six to win. If neither had done so the game would be decided on points.

Seen from the Viking side the table looked like this. On the right side there was a village with five houses. There were fields and orchards behind hedges along both deployment edges. In the middle of the table there was a slight hill and to the left a very small wood. Some haystacks in the middle rounded everything off.

Table seen from the Viking side

Table seen from the Viking side

Table seen from the Welsh side

Table seen from the Welsh side

I won the initiative and set up my Warlord in the middle of the table and Martin set up his roughly opposite mine together with his Levies. I set up my Bondi in the fields behind the hedge. Now it was Martins turn again and he set up his foot Teulu and Priodaur in the orchard behind the hedge and his mounted Teulu to the right (from my perspective) of his Warlord. Now came the rest of my minis with Jarl Sigvaldi and the Jomsvikings on my far left. My Hirdmen formed a screen in front of the Warlord (no use getting him studded with arrows) and my Berserkers behind them.

Welsh deployed in the orchard

Welsh deployed in the orchard

Martin won the first initiative and began with a general advance. His riders moved to the right to get a better avenue into the village. I felt that his Warlord was awfully alone and that taking him out quickly would be the best way to win. So I though about just allocating my SAGA dice to my right, but decided against it. The Welsh centre was still close enough to come to his support if I gave my plans away too early, so I made a general advance as well. My Berserkers swung out into the village to take on the Welsh mounted Teulu and lure them further away from their Warlord.

Welsh Heathguards and Warriors

Welsh Heathguards and Warriors

On the second round the Welsh still advanced with the mounted Teulu moving further into the village. The archers tried to fire off a volley at my Hirdmen, but the norse gods intervened and just made them move. Now it was my turn. I rolled my SAGA dice and something special happened. In all the four games we had played so far th best I had ever got (even including re-rolls) was one Sowulo rune (that is the “S”-shaped one, the rarest on the dice). This time I got four. I spend two of them to roll four more dice and got another three Sowulos. What a situation to go on a general attack! I decided to allocate all my dice to the right flank and to buy abilities on the battle board. First my Berserkers went to charge the Welsh horsemen, but the Welsh used one of their abilities to make them go slower and they only made half the way. I did not care too much since their mission was just to occupy the riders. Since they were in a position to block off the best route through the village, they would still be able to do that.

My Hirdmen and the Warlord advanced and then charged into the archers. They killed eleven of them at no loss to themselves. With the final archer on the run the enemy Warlord was on his own. I ended my activation with three dice still on my battleboard.

Stand in cavalry for the Welsh

Stand in cavalry for the Welsh

Now the Welsh realised their mistake and started to move towards their warlord, throwing Javelins at my Hirdmen. But they only killed one of them and were too far off to move into contact. The Welsh cavalry charged into my Berserkers and I decided to use my remaining dice on the battleboard. I called the Ragnarok ability which would reduce the Welsh armour by one until the end of the turn and gave my Berserkers two more attack dice. All four of my Berserkers died, but they took four of the Welsh with them… well not really since there is no place for the enemies of the Vikings in Valhalla! 😀

Can you see it coming

Can you see it coming

Middle of the battleground

Middle of the battleground

Too late

Too late

But all the Welsh moves were too late. Both the Warlord and Hirdmen rested when I activated them to remove their fatigue and then charged into the Welsh Warlord. While he tried to fight valiantly, he stood no chance and died taking only one Viking with him.

Ganging up on the Welsh warlord

Ganging up on the Welsh warlord

This is what you get for going out alone

This is what you get for going out alone

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Medival, Rules, SAGA, Vikings, Welsh

 

SAGA game report / Battle at the ford

Last Wednesday we played our second game of SAGA, again at Martins place. As you know I was able to finish my remaining minis in time, so we both played with our own minis this time. Both Warbands were the same as last time:

Martin played Normans. A mounted Warlord, three units of mounted knights (Hearthguard), two units of Sergeants (Warriors), one of them armed with crossbows and one unit of bow armed Peasants (Levies). Again Martin would divide his Peasants into two units.

I had my Warlord, Jarl Sigvaldi and his Jomsvikings (Hearthguard / Mercenaries), one unit of Berserkers (Hearthguard), two units of Hirdmen (Hearthguard) and one unit of Bondi (Warriors). Just like last time I would amalgamate both Hirdmen units into one large unit.

We played the #Battle at the ford” scenario. So we both had to have as many minis as possible on the opponents side of the river that cut the table in half by the end of the game (=end of turn seven).

Seen from the Viking side the table looked like this. On my right corner there was a Viking village with five houses, all behind a palisade and a slight hill. There were a large hill in the left corner and a small wood near the ford. As I said, the table was cut in half by a small river. It was impassable except for the ford in the middle of the table and a small bridge in front of the Viking village. There was a larger wood and some hedges on the left, a small hill in the middle and a field to the right, all on the far side of the river.

Deployment seen from Viking right

Deployment seen from Viking right

Deployment seen from Norman left

Deployment seen from Norman left

I deployed my Jomsviking mercenaries and Bondi on my right ready to take the bridge. On the road leading up to the ford were my Berserkers, Warlord and large unit of Hirdmen. Since three of Martins units and his Warlord were mounted, I expected them to make a rush for the ford,trying to get to the other side before I could seal it off. So I deployed my Jomsvikings and Berserkers to the front of their clusters, being the most capable on the offensive.

Jomsvikings and Bondi at the beginning of the game (right flank)

Jomsvikings and Bondi at the beginning of the game (right flank)

Martins Normans formed a long line. From (his) left to right there were the Sergeants, a unit of mounted Knights, the Sergeants with crossbows, his bow armed Peasants, two more units of mounted Knights with his Warlord and the other unit of bow armed Peasants.

Norman deployment

Norman deployment

I won initiative and the first two rounds were spend moving our units forward.

Jomsvikings and Bondi advancing on the bridge

Jomsvikings and Bondi advancing on the bridge

Normans advancing on the bridge

Normans advancing on the bridge

On the third round my Vikings advanced further still, but did not reach either the ford or bridge. But they were now in range of the Normand archers and crossbows. At the ford the Berserkers became the target of the Peasant archers, one of them being struck down. On the other flanks the crossbows wanted to fire at the Jomsvikings, but the gods prevented that (I love the Loki ability). They were activated once more earning them a fatigue marker and were able to fire this time, killing one of the Jomsvikings. But the knights made no real moves towards the crossings.

Beginning of round three seen from the Norman side

Beginning of round three seen from the Norman side

At the beginning of the next round the Normans were still out of reach for me, but I was able to move my units onto the bridge and into the ford, effectively sealing both off. Things did not look like I would be charged at the ford and the Normans seemed contend to just fire arrows at me over there. So the Hirdsmen and Warlord overtook the Berserkers. With their heavier armour they would be able to weather the storm of arrows far better. Which they did not loosing a single fighter to missiles till the end of the game.

Viking main body advancing on the ford

Viking main body advancing on the ford
(This photo was taken a little earlier since all the Berserkers are still alive.)

The other flank saw more crossbow fire on my Jomsvikings. They were already fired up on their abilities in preparation of the fight to come and suffered no more losses. But then the were charged by the Norman knights. The fight was ferocious with the Normans getting help from the dice on the battleboard. But it was to no avail. Two knights died and the Jomsvikings just stood there on the bridge, not suffering any losses.

Viking blocking position

Viking blocking position

Since the Normans at the ford were still too far out for an effective charge and I did not want to blow my units on some lowly Levies, I decided to sit it out at the ford and assigned most of my SAGA dice to the units at the bridge, only reserving some to make them stronger vs. missile attacks.

So almost everything went into the other flank. My Jomsvikings charged the crossbows, killing 5 Sergeants at no loss of their own. Bondi were too far out for an attack and only moved to the far side of the bridge to seal it off.

Hold the bridge

Hold the bridge

The Bondi were then charged by the Sergeants. I suffered two killed and my Bondi were driven back onto the bridge. The knights took no part in the fighting there. The crossbows tried their luck on the Jomsvikings again, but were too few and even making use of my two fatigue counters killed none of my Mercenaries.

By the ford the Norman Warlord was still happy just firing at my Vikings, but with a little help of Asgard, failed to make an impression. Some of the Norman knights even drew back. :-/

Norman knights and warlord

Norman knights and warlord

Normans about to charge at the ford

Normans about to charge at the ford… or so it seems

Since the Normans had even pulled back by the Ford I now concentrated all my efforts (and SAGA dice) on the bridge. Now it was time for payback, Bondi style. They charged the Sergeants and locked them in two rounds of combat, killing three of them at the loss of only one and driving them back. The Jomsvikings turned away from the Crossbows and charged the remaining two Knights killing them at no loss.

Fighting it out at the bridge

Fighting it out at the bridge

Now the Normans finally began to move into position for an attack at the ford. And charge they did. First came the Norman Warlord accompanied by a unit of knights. Both sides made use of SAGA dice and in the end three Vikings died in the charge, but so did all four Knights, forcing the Warlord to withdraw.

Finally some fighting at the ford

Finally some fighting at the ford

Forward charged another unit of Knights. All splendid in their shiny chainmail, with banners flapping. But only one of them was able to leave alive and they had only killed two more Hirdmen. The Norman force at the ford was spend. Only the Warlord, a Knight and two six-men units of Peasant archer remained. No match for a Viking Warlord, three Hirdmen and three Berserkers.

On the other flank the there was some preparatory fire from the crossbows on the Jomsvikings, but again they failed to make an impression. Then the Sergeants charged the mercenaries, but only suffered losses and no gains. So by the bridge it was only three crossbows and three Sergeants versus three Bondi and three Jomsvikings. So they too had little hope of driving the Vikings back, much less making it to the other side.

With all the Vikings on the Norman side of the river and a force too spend to drive them back, the Normans called it a day early and withdrew.

Final charge of the Sergeants

Final charge of the Sergeants

All in all it was a good game. This time the Jomsvikings did not fail me, but they did so in a scary way. The worst I ever rolled when it came to their abilities was a nine, so they were always high on abilities. All in all they might even have been able to hold the right flank on their own. They were so powerful, that they distorted the game to a certain degree. The next one or two battles will show if they are so much of a force that they distort the game. If they are, I think I will only use them as normal Vikings to keep the game fun!

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Medival, Normans, Rules, SAGA, Vikings

 

SAGA Vikings… the last three points

SAGA Vikings… the last three points

Following up on my post showing the first three points worth of SAGA Vikings… here are another three bringing the Warband to a full 6 points. Now these were a bit of a rush job. I did not expect to be playing another game of SAGA for another two weeks, so these guys were not on the first spot in the painting queue. When Martin contacted me late last week to ask if I was free to play today, that suddenly changed. Saturday morning only the metal minis (Warlord, casualty and the four Jomsvikings) had been cleaned and primed. The Bondi were still on their sprues (plastic minis) and needed cleaning, assembly, filling and priming before I could even begin to paint them together with the others. But come Sunday evening, they were all done.

Again… all the shields on these are freehand!

Viking Warlord Jarl Thorson

Viking Warlord Jarl Thorson

This is the Warlord for my warband, about to make a poor British peasant warrior pay with his life for even daring to oppose the Viking “shopping spree”. His name is actually a pun on my middle name.

Jarl Sigvaldi and the Jomsvikings

Jarl Sigvaldi and the Jomsvikings

These are Jarl Sigvaldi (second from the right) and his Jomsvikings. They are not “real” Vikings under the SAGA rules but Mercenaries classed as Heathguard and cost two points.The photo is a bit poor since Sigvaldi is facing in a way that you can hardly make out the details on his tunics and the guy on the left is hidden by his shield. But I hope there will be plenty of better pictures from the upcoming games!

I will be looking forward to seeing how they actually do over the next couple of games. They failed me during our first game when they died like fleas without doing any real damage. This was in part due to me rolling poor, Martin rolling good and also me not giving them all the abilities they were due that round. For those who do not know them… in SAGA you sacrifice between one and three SAGA dice to activate them that round. For every SAGA die, you get to roll one D6 for their abilities that round (which are cumulative). To make sure I will not forget anything this time, I wrote up some cheat cards for them. I know that there are cards / tokens available for download on the Studio Tomahawk forum, but those only give you the abilities for every bracket and still require you to add everything up. My cards already give the cumulative results on each card. If you are interested in those cards… here they are for downloading:

Jarl Sigvaldi and the Jomsvikings (Tokens)

These are sized to fit into credit card sized laminating sleeves once cut up.

Bondi

Bondi

Bondi

Bondi

These eight minis form a unit of Bondi (Warriors) and presented me with a bit of a problem. Since they come from the same plastic set that I used for my Hirdmen and Berserkers, their looks are not really that different to set them apart. In the end I armed them only with spears, gave their clothes plainer colours and painted simpler shield designs.Hope this works!

And this is it… six points of Vikings finished for SAGA. Lets see how they do tonight!

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Gripping Beast, Medival, Rules, SAGA, Vikings

 

First SAGA game

First SAGA game

So last Friday we played our first game of SAGA at Martins place. This was a bit of a last-minute choice, so I had made no further progress on my Viking warband and Martin was kind enough to borrow me some of his Vikings to fill the gaps in my force. So minis based on squares (both sides) are Martins, minis on round, snowy bases are mine (except for the dead lifestock).

Martin played Normans. A mounted Warlord, three units of mounted knights (Hearthguard), two units of Sergeants (Warriors), one of them armed with crossbows and one unit of bow armed Peasants (Levies). Martin would divide his Peasants into two units.

I had my Warlord, Jarl Sigvaldi and his Jomsvikings (Hearthguard / Mercenaries), one unit of Berserkers (Hearthguard), two units of Hirdmen (Hearthguard) and one unit of Bondi (Warriors). I would amalgamate both Hirdmen units into one large unit.

We played the Clash of the Warlords scenario meaning we would have to kill the other Warlord by the end of turn six to win. If neither had done so the game would be decided on points.

Seen from the Viking side the table looked like this. On my edge there was a Viking village with four houses in the middle and to the right, some of them reaching almost to the middle of the table. On the left had side there was alonghouse behind a pallisade. In the middle of the table there was a slight hill and to the left on the Norman side a small wood. Another small wood was in the right corner of the Norman side. [Please excuse the poor quality of the photos… I have borrowed the good camera away to my parents for a holiday.]

Table seen from the left

Table seen from the left (all units already set up)

Martin won the initiative and set up his Warlord in the middle of the table and his Peasant units about 1/3 to the left and 1/3 to the right of his deployment zone. Now I had to set up all mine. My Warlord started within the palisade together with the Berserkers. I was slightly unsure if he might need the protection with all those fast movers (=cavalry) and archers. The large unit of Hirdmen started right in front of the palisade gates. About 1/3 to the right of my deployment zone inside the village came my Warriors followed by Jarl and the Jomsvikings.

Vikings at set-up

Vikings at set-up

Martin deployed his Crossbowmen in the centre of his deployment zone behind the hill and all units of Knights to the centre, behind the other units. His Sergeants set up on the far left behind the woods. This would later hamper their advance.

Normans at set-up

Normans at set-up

Martin won the first initiative and advanced all his units. Since none of them were in firing range this was about all that happened. I already threw caution to the wind and advanced both my Warlord and the Berserkers out of the battlements (I really hate tactics where I have to sit around and wait). They now stood in line with the Hirdmen. On the other flank my Warriors advanced in front of the Jomsviking Mercenaries. Since I expected to be in firing range next round I kept some of my dice on the battleboard.

In the second round the Normans advanced once more. The cavalry suffered somewhat from the fact that they had started to the rear. On the left one unit was wedged in between the woods and hill and behind the Peasants so the had to move over the hill. The other two units on the right hand side had to move to the flanks first. The Peasants on the right flank wanted to shoot on my Warriors, only to have the gods intervene (remember those dice I left on the board) and see their attack converted to a move. Lets stick with that flank for a while now.

Right Flank Round 2

Right Flank Round 2

My Warriors advanced to attack the now fatigued Peasants while the Jomsvikings oriented themselves to the flank to intercept the Norman knights. The later did not go as planned. While the Mercenaries were somewhat pumped up on abilities the Normans used one of their abilities to gain extra dice for the attack. Both of us had about a dozen dice. But the Jomsvikings only scored two hits, one of them Martin managed to safe. On the other hand I received eight hits and only managed to save two. The Jomsvikings were on their way to Valhalla, now. The Warriors lost interest in the Peasant archer and turned on the Knights. The first round of combat killed three of mine and two Knights. So the Warriors used one of the Viking abilities to initiate another round of combat before fatigue struck. This killed the remaining Knight at no loss of mine. But now the archers fired on them, killing one. The Warriors turned on them, but this combat only ended in a draw with each side loosing one man. By now the second unit of knights on the right flank had come into position and charged my Warriors, annihilating them at minor loss. So by the end of the firth round my right flank was no more. What had happened on the left flank in the meantime?

Left Flank Round 2

Left Flank Round 2

My units and the Warlord were on a steady advance, but the situation looked perilous. They had the Peasant archers to their front blocking the bottleneck between the hill and the woods, the Sergeants moving through the woods on their left and a unit of mounted knights moving over the hill to get into their rear, together with the Norman Warlord. Their first reaction was to take their Warlord in the middle to protect him, but then the Hirdmen charged ahead to attack the Peasant archers, killing all but one at no losses. Not that their situation had gotten any better. The Sergeants on the left had cleared the woods and were in a position to attack. The mounted knights and the enemy warlord had crossed the hill and were in their rear. Plus the crossbowmen who had first advanced up the hill had turned around and were now firing on my Hirdmen killing two. It was time for a pre-emptive strike. The Warlord had gotten sick of being nursed by his followers and charged the Sergeants ordering the Hirdmen to follow him. In the end they killed seven (all but one) of the Sergeants at the loss of only one Viking. At the same time the Berserkers charged the mounted Knights in their rear. It cost them three of their own, but they wiped out the Knights, which would prove important later on. The remaining Berserker charged the Norman Warlord, scoring three hits (which the Warlord all saved), but was stricken down as a reward.

Berserker vs Norman Warlord

Berserker vs Norman Warlord

Beginning of the last round

Beginning of the last round

So at the beginning of the last round all that was left to me was my Warlord and five Hirdmen, all fatigued. I was trailing on points and could only hope for the Norman Warlord to attack me. Which he did not. He just sat there out of range for a single charge and ordered his remaining Sergeant to move out of range for another attack and the crossbos to fire on my Warlord (scoring only one hit which meant nothing to him). So I decided to put it all on one card. I only had three SAGA dice now and put them all on three activations for the Hirdmen. The first to rest them (remove the fatigue counter),  the second to move closer to the enemy Warlord and the third to charge him (gathering a new fatigue marker before impact). Two of them died in the combat, but they also managed to score two hits. The Warlord managed to safe none and lost his life winning me the game. The rest is all Saga… err history! 😉

Hirdmen vs Norman Warlord

Hirdmen vs Norman Warlord

All in all it went pretty smooth for a first game. Most important… it was great fun and we are looking forward to the next game. And I am really fired up to paint the rest of the warband to play with minis that are all mine the next time!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Medival, Normans, Rules, SAGA, Vikings