Monday, July 21, 2014

I Got Sent to the Norse-pital!

Little pig, little pig, let me come in!
I had my second game of SAGA last Saturday and the baptism of fire for my Anglo-Saxons (using the Anglo-Dane battle-board; still yet to get the rules or the expansion set!)

Darren organised a scenario from the rule book where one player with a 6 point army defended the village and two other players with a 4 point army each tried to take it off them. If the defender has possession of at least one building by the end of the game, he wins.

I was the defender, as the Saxon, while Darren with his Vikings and Pete with his Normans were the attackers. I was a little short of figures for 6 points, so I borrowed a couple of Pete's figures to boost my peasant levy to 12 figures and borrowed 4 of Darren's Vikings to gain an extra hearth-guard unit (mercenaries, maybe?). If I played this again, I think I'd pack the two 8 figure warrior units into the smaller buildings, and one of the 12 figure levy units in the larger building (as I did!) and have the hearth-guard, warlord and missile levy unit act as a mobile reserve.

As it was, I only occupied two of the buildings and had one warrior unit and both hearth-guard units and warlord as forward defense facing each threat. Against Darren's Vikings I had moderate success with the benefit of support from my missile levy unit, but on the other flank I had one hearth-guard unit wiped out by Norman crossbows before I even came into contact with them!

In the end, my most effective units were my levy units, I'd have to say! One unit held the large building against Darren's warriors for several turns inflicting steady casualties on them, and were only evicted by the berserkers led by the Viking warlord! The other unit was my missile levy troops, who knocked off a couple of figures from Darren's warriors and hearth-guard and then survived an attack by said hearth-guard, using some craftily chosen battle-board special abilities for that precise eventuality and even inflicted a casualty on the hearth-guard! It was only the Saxon warriors who let the side down by not following through and eliminating the remaining hearth-guard figure!

In the end, Darren's bucket-'o'-dice berserker attacks made minced meat of my defense, and Pete's Normans battered themselves against my remaining building, whittling down my defense until Darren took out my remaining survivor, my warlord.

One warrior unit occupies a building

The levy occupy another

Slingers and archers protect the approach from one direction...

...supported by a unit of warriors....

....and the warlord and his two hearth-guard units face the other direction

Viking mercenary hearth-guard: some of Darren's lovely figures, sporting some nifty shield transfers.

Darren's Vikings: One unit of warriors, one of levy, one hearth-guard and one of berserkers, plus his warlord.

Pete's Normans: One unit of levy, two of hearth-guard and one unit of  cross-bow armed sergeants

First moves!: Darren and I close in on each other

Pete starts off...

...while my warlord and hearth-guard move out determined to act as cross-bow bait! 

In the first clash, the action was inconclusive,
 but then Darren unleashed his special Valhalla-endorsed bucket-'o'-dice move
...which chews up and spits out my warrior unit! Ouch!

Pete's cross-bows shoot from the hill top

Twang! My missile-men shoot at Darren's pesky warriors, inflicting a casualty

My second warrior unit abandons the building it was occupying to confront the Viking threat!

The warlord encourages his men forward into crossbow range.

They take a casualty and then the warlord encourages them out of crossbow range! 

On the other flank, my missile-men take aim at the Viking hearth-guard and bag one!

Enraged, they charge the levy troops expecting an easy meal. Not only do they not destroy the levy, but the levy take another hearth-guard figure in the melee! Huzzah (or whatever the Old English version was)!

Odin's finest hammer at the walls of the large building occupied by my other levy unit...

...who blow raspberries at them...

...and send them packing!

Pete's sergeants let fly another volley...

...and kill the warlord-led hearth-guard!

My warriors smell blood and attack the weakened Viking hearth-guard!

But in the rugby scrum, they could only knock off one figure! Darren keeps the SAGA die for the moment!

The Saxon warriors are pushed back

...and the lone viking hearth-guard stands triumphant!

The warlord and his Viking mercenaries occupy the building to deny the Normans (as well as to deprive them of target practice. See? I do learn!)

My missile levy try to knock off the last hearth-guardsman, but miss!

The Viking warriors attack the levy-held building again, with the same result!

The berserkers and warlord move up.

As do the Viking archers.

It's warrior vs. warrior!

Even though I have the numbers...

...I lose the combat and retire.

If you want a job done right...

...bring the berserkers!

I traded an attack dice for a defense dice, so I got 1 attack die...

...vs. 19!!!

I lose...

...Vikings win!

The Normans assault the building held by the warlord and his Viking hearth-guard.

The warlord takes several hits but passes the damage down the line to his minions!

The Normans try again...

...and the warlord finds himself alone!

On the other side my warriors go the Vikings again...
...but are repulsed for their troubles! I just couldn't crack the last few Vikings to deny Darren those couple of dice
My last few levy occupy the 3rd building after taking a mauling from their Viking counterparts

The Normans attack fruitlessly again

But Darren's berserkers charge the 3rd building effortlessly despatching my levy and denying the building to Pete

My last two warriors join their warlord to try to retain the last building

Darren's last warriors and hearth-guardoccupy the building vacated by his berserkers just in time!

Pete can't take a building for quids!

His levy were pipped at the post by Darren's berserkers, and now have arrows flitting their way, too!

The berserkers and warlord scythe their way through the Norman levy.

On to the last building and victory!

State of play: Darren owns the two right hand building and I own the last. Pete has no buildings.

"Come and get me, if you dare!"

Always up for a challenge, Darrens berserkers say, "Ok!"

And kill my warlord and take the last building. Viking victory!

While I had a lot of fun, only my second ever game, it struck me how there is little consequence to losing figures, besides losing a SAGA die when a unit is destroyed. There is no loss of morale, or any other consequence to the slaughter of huge numbers of friendly troops. While the game is a very abstracted version of history, I still feel that the lack of a morale check is a glaring omission.

I've downloaded the Brytenwalda rules which do have a morale element and a generally less random feel to them, so I'd like to persuade the chaps to have a go with these to compare. Stay tuned!


  1. Great looking game with a lot of action going on. Love that opening shot - captures the dreadful look of a bunch of Vikings at your door.

  2. What a wonderful see-sawing game - action packed to the end!

  3. Great report, some very nice looking figures there too. I think morale in SAGA is a player-regulated thing. When you have a unit weakened to a point where its combat effectiveness has been significantly reduced, it's up to the individual player whether they want to send that unit down in a blaze of glory/screaming heap, or withdraw and protect them and protect a SAGA dice. I've seen quite a few games where units down to three or less figures are moved to safety and their only role in the game is to hold on to that SAGA die for the rest of the warband. It is quite an abstracted game system though, but I guess that's what makes it so playable. Cheers, Paul :-)

  4. Great report there Mr Rosbif! Got to watch out for those berserkers. They are very effective!


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