Wednesday 23 November 2011

Six Point SAGA Slog

England, Just North of the Humber 1068

Jean Charetier was in a mellow mood. "Hello birds, hello sky" he murmured as he trotted quietly along on his warhorse, the sound of gentle lowing and creaking cart-wheels the only thing breaking the peace around him. The tax collection had gone well and he was on his way back to his Motte and Bailey with the finances he needed to finish the roof.
Suddenly a cry went up!
To his horror and amazement the road ahead was blocked. Some uncouth Saxon peasants barred his way homeward, with more appearing from the woods and hills.
An ambush!
His mood shattered, he pulled out his weapon and waved it around. "Kill them all, men, kill them all!"

So we finally took the plunge and went for the full six points of SAGA.
We decided we'd play the Escort scenario with the Normans as the escortists and my Anglo-Danes trying to stop the waggon train.

My force was:
Getwin Wefanson – Anglo-Danish Warlord
1 Unit of eight Thegns 
1 Unit of four Thegns with Dane Axes
3 units of 8 Ceorls
The forces of imperialist oppression were represented by:
 Jean Charretier – Mounted Norman Warlord
3 Units of Mounted Norman Knights
2 Units of 8 Serjeants
1 Unit of 8 Serjeants with crossbows
The Normans deployed in a single wagon train with flanking guards on either side. I did question if this was the best deployment, but as my opponent rightly pointed out it looked much better this way.

I duly deployed as if ambushing, again with more thought to how it looked than how best to win.

The Normans went first and began a general advance.
With nothing on my SAGA board the Anglo Danes were vulnerable to the Norman Crossbows and four of my Ceorls were duly gunned down.
In response I pushed forward in the centre and sent a unit of Ceorls racing toward the crossbows. Then I loaded my board with defensive stuff.

After sneaking some knights round the flank, the Normans duly charged my centre with their knights. Some spectacular dice rolling from me and some poor rolls from the Normans saw huge chunks carved out of the knights (and we both discovered that Dane Axes can be quite deadly). I was also able to stop the deadly crossbows from hurting anything much.
My counter-attack saw two units of knights and the Norman warlord killed!

This slowed the Norman advance for a turn until we re-read the scenario rules and decided that the carts should be generating SAGA dice after all.
I finally got some Ceorls into combat with the crossbowmen but was unable to kill them all.
Meanwhile the Normans had re-grouped and started pushing the wagons forward, screened by serjeants.

The game now turned into a race for the corner. The Anglo-Danes were able to catch and destroy one cart, but careful deployment of SAGA dice and skillful positioning of serjeants meant the second cart was able to squeeze off the board. Finally the Saxon warlord having found it too tough a nut to crack, the Ceorls who had dutifully plodded from the far side of the board were able to ransack the remaining cart ensuring the game resulted in a draw.

Another great fun game with the SAGA rules. I think this is a hard scenario to get a result from. The defender will struggle to kill all three wagons and the escorter will find it hard to get more than one wagon off. The wagons become very hard to kill in the end game as units get fatigued and lose numbers. Most likely result will be a draw in most cases I suspect.
But that didn't really matter as it gave us an exciting tactical challenge.
Next game is likely to be the river one in a couple of weeks.

Getwin Wefansson surveyed the field, nodding his approval as his men took from the wagons what was rightfully theirs. He'd make sure the pickings made their way back to the villagers they'd been stolen from.
"We're robbing the rich to give to the poor, lads" he shouted. 
"Now that's got a ring to it" he thought...

Monday 21 November 2011

Drinking Beer and Rolling DIce

The weekend before last my regular opponent organised a "campaign" day of drinking beer and playing Warhammer for eight of us in honour of his birthday.
I took my Ogres and a camera.
I subsequently got thoroughly engaged with the "drinking" aspect of the whole day, so don't really have much insight to accompany the pictures. But they're pretty good eye candy, so here you go:

The Ogres are mine.
We were supposed to play three games, but managed only two.
I won the first and lost the second.
A splendid day out with top chaps (although the beer prices in Warhammer World are very much of the Dick Turpin variety. At some point Bugman's clearly got moved to the West End of London).
Plans are afoot to do it all again next year.

Monday 7 November 2011


1068, England, just north of the Humber

Getwin Wefanson addressed his men

"Our people still struggle beneath the yoke of Norman oppression. Once more that overweening buffoon Charettier has set out to "tax" our brothers, sisters, mothers and children. Once more he seeks our money to fund the Motte and Bailey he himself cannot afford. Well I for one am tired of giving him Bailey-outs!"

His battle-hardened men muttered their agreement.

"940 or so years from now our descendents will laugh themselves senseless at the very idea that just because some rich half-wit can't manage his own finances he has the right to get hand-outs from the rest of the hard working people while he and his cronies take no responsibility for their actions and get to carry on as if nothing had happened!"

His men roared their assent.

"So men, it ends now! Grab your weapons, don your armour and prepare for war!"

And so once more Getwin Wefanson and his arch enemy Jean Charettier led their warbands in a clash of steel on steel. On this occasion the battle was for possession of a particularly attractive and desirable hill (Scenario Three - Sacred Ground) and once again we were using 4point warbands.

Mine was the same as in the previous encounter:
 Getwin Wefanson – Anglo-Danish Warlord
 2 Units of four Thegns (still no Dane Axes)
 2 units of 8 Ceorls

The Norman invaders had meanwhile made some changes:
 Jean Charretier – Mounted Norman Warlord
 2 Units of Mounted Norman Knights
 1 Unit of 8 Serjeants
 1 unit of 12 Levy with crossbows.

However a quick glance at the rules revealed that Jean was "ow you say "tryeeng it ern"" and his 12 levy were swapped for 8 serjeants with crossbows.

The Normans on the starting line

With that we placed the terrain as required by the rules with a large hill in the centre and a wood each towards our respective deployment zones. I won the first turn and so the Saxons set off.
Forward men of Humberside!
I quickly advanced a unit of Ceorls into the woods on my half of the table and sent Getwin, one of his units of Thegns and the second unit of Ceorls off toward the hill.  The scenario awards points for each model you have in one of the three terrain pieces at the end of your opponents turn. I was planning on grabbing some early then attempting to hang on in the face of grim Norman assaults.
 Get in there and don't move!

This hill is ours!

Over on the other side of the board, Jean eschewed the nearby woods  and instead sent his knights off to kill Saxons while his foot troops advanced cautiously.

The knights and thegns clashed with the Saxons coming off worse, but selling their lives dearly and tying the Normans up for a turn or two.

That didn't go so well...
Over on the hill the Saxons were accruing plenty of points while the Crossbowmen hung back waiting for them to pop their moustachioed heads above the crest of the hill.

Finally tiring of having no points for himself, Jean ordered his foot troops forward. This was what Getwin had been waiting for and he launched himself and his bodyguard at the bowmen, piling up fatigue, but reducing them to only two survivors. Meanwhile Jean turned his men back at the hill and thundered into the Ceorls. Hard fighting saw the Ceorls wiped out before a (puffing and panting) Getwin and his lads came back over the hill to lend a hand and dispatch the last of Jean's knights.


Stab, stomp, squish!

Sadly in doing so Getwin had overreached himself. Jean, cowardly cur that he is tried to manoeuvre round to join his serjeants before attacking the exhausted Saxon, but then we remembered the Warrior's pride rule and in he went on the noble Saxon Lord.
 Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough...

Look right Getwin! Right!
Despite the best efforts of Getwin and his axe, eventually Jean proved too powerful and the Anglo-Danish Warlord fell! Fortunately another quick check of the rules revealed this didn't end the game, so the slaughter continued. The serjeants duly fell on the two remaining hearthguard and overwhelmed them and then ran the last survivor of the other unit of thegns to ground in the woods.

Finally, as the sun began to set over this little blood strewn corner of East-Yorkshire, Jean spurred his charger to one last charge against the Ceorls who had sent the entire game skulking in the forest. Slashing all about him he pushed them out of their arboreal retreat, but they remained bloodied but unbowed as the game came to an end.
Get out of my woods!
A quick add up off points revealed a healthy Saxon win, despite being reduced to just five Ceorls.

Once again SAGA gave us a fun and exciting game. It was a bit quicker this time, but not much as we're getting on a bit and can barely remember what we had for breakfast, never mind the rules we learned seven days earlier.
In this particular game I think I won because I played the scenario a bit better than my opoonent, making sure I was racking up points from the get go and only losing my way a bit toward the end as casualties began to mount. That said, the Normans played to their strengths too and got stuck in with the cavalry and very nearly pulled it round at the death.

One thing we both realised is that we've found a couple of SAGA abilities on our battle boards that we like and tend to use them over and over - although the Normans did discover Stomp this time around and deployed that a few more times than I would have liked. I for instance made good use of Push in both games, and I like to try and find a dice for it whenever combat seems likely. Clearly there are devastating combos and skilful long term strategies that talented players can unlock - however they'll probably remain a closed book to us.

The other thing we noticed is that using dice as fatigue markers is unsightly. So I may need to think about painting something that looks a bit better.

Anyway, no game this week, but we've agreed that its time for the training wheels to come off and it'll be a full-on six pointer next time. Now, where did I put those Dane Axes...?

Charettier pulled up his horse and wheeled back towards his men. Behind him he could hear the taunts and cat-calls of the battered Saxons carried on the wind. The field belonged to the Saxons this time, but he'd return soon and have his revenge!