Monday, February 3, 2014

SAGA Tournament at Great Hall Games

On Saturday, Great Hall Games hosted a SAGA tournament.  We had six players, and went through three rounds.  Terrain was preset, with four different tables, each using a different scenario from the SAGA rule book.  Aaron of Great Hall did a great job arranging the tables and scenarios, as well officiating with skill and impartiality.  Thanks Aaron!
I have still not managed to finish my own SAGA Warband.  Luckily, Charles was kind enough to loan me his Anglo-Danes, which happily is the same nationality I am working on.

My first game was against Matt's Vikings, on the Tarn of Omens table.  The scenario was the basic Clash of Warlords, with the goal being to eliminate your opponent's warlord.

Matt was using the Viking hero Harald Hardrada.  This lets him field a single unit of veterans of the elite Varangian Guard.  A formidable force, with armor of 6, and Dane-axes.

This is my single pic from this game, about 3 turns in.  My Warband is to the right.  I sheltered my Levy archers behind the tarn (pond), from where they ineffectually pelted Matt's warriors with arrows.  At this stage in the game, I was feeling good about my chances, thinking my Warlord was well protected behind the line, and that I would turn Matt's left flank with the unit of warriors at the top of the picture. 

Alas, within a couple turns I had lost about half my Warriors and Hearthguard in a rolling melee in the center.  While attempting to counter-attack the Varangians, I made the mistake of leaving my Warlord in the open, unsupported.  Matt quickly seized on this error, ending the game.

My second game was against Joseph's newly (and well) painted Vikings, on the "Village of Pillage" board.  The scenario was "Homeland," which requires the players to blind bid to be the defender.  I figured Joseph, like any good Viking, would want to be the attacker, and so I guessed he would simply bid six points ( the maximum), in order to ensure I would be defender.  I therefore bid five points, so that my force would be as large as possible.  To my surprise, Joseph bid three, meaning he got to defend the village with three points of troops, while I attacked with the full compliment of six.  To win, I would have to completely clear all three buildings of defenders by the end of a set number of turns.  The Viking defenders could win by either having at least one man in a building at the end, or by killing my Warlord.
As to why the Vikings would be defending a village against Anglo-Danes, we figured this was an English village, taken by the Vikings earlier, and my guys were the vengeful local garrison, come to turf the Vikings out.

Here is the game at deployment.  My Warband is massed outside the village.  Joseph's Warlord, accompanied by four Hearthguard and four Berserkers, lurk around the corner.  Finally, a unit of eight Viking Warriors was skulking in the building on the right.

My troops closing in.  In his next turn, Joseph probably would have won the game, as he arranged his SAGA dice to allow the Berserkers to charge my Warlord via a series of multiple activations, with a bunch of nefarious Viking SAGA bonuses added in.  Luckily, I had left a SAGA die on the "Intimidation" special ability, which allowed me to cancel the second of three activations Joseph needed to get his Berserkers into contact with my Warlord. 

Thwarted, and knowing the unarmored Berserkers would be easy prey for my waiting Levy archers, Joseph hurled them into my mob of twelve Warriors.  I think the four Berserkers managed to down seven Englishmen before being sent to Valhalla.

What the Berserkers could not finish, Joseph's Warlord did, single-handedly slaying the five Warriors.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take any more pictures of this epic battle.  In subsequent turns, my Warlord charged in with the Hearthguard on the right, and gave the Viking Warlord and Hearthguard honorable deaths, out in the open where the Valkyries could find them.
My Warlord then led his surviving Hearthguard to storm the building, rooting out the eight Viking Warriors who cowered there, and slaying the final Viking on the last turn of the game.  Whew!  Meadhall reclaimed (and probably in need of a cleaning)!
For the final round, I moved over to the "River of Blood" board ("Battle at the Ford" scenario), against Pete's Anglo-Saxons.  This scenario is played for a set number of turns, the winner being the one who has more troops on the opponent's side of the river (i.e, you want to keep the bad guys on their side of the river, while crossing as many of your guys as possible).  The Anglo-Saxons are similar to the Anglo-Danes in many respects, both have some defensive abilities, but the Saxons favor large numbers Levies and Warriors, because their SAGA board predicates several special abilities on having units of ten figures or more.  I was interested to see them in action, because I'm planning on adding extra figures to my Anglo-Danish warband  to allow it to morph into an Anglo-Saxon force.

Turn One.  I tasked a unit of six Hearthguard and massive unit of twelve Warriors with defending the bridge on the left, while my Warlord led my remaining forces in an effort to secure a bridgehead on the right.  As luck would have it, the Anglo-Saxons had basically the same plan, so the game proceeded very symmetrically, with each of us attacking on our respective right flanks, and defending on the left.

I placed my Hearthguard at the end of the left-hand bridge, where they could all fight against a two-man wide column of attackers.  Ten Anglo-Saxon Warriors were the first to make the attempt.  They acquitted themselves well against my Huscarls, each side losing three men in the first clash.  On the next turn, I moved the surviving Hearthguard back to the right, and sent the twelve fresh Warriors in to relieve them.

Meanwhile, on the right, Pete move up a unit of twelve Levies armed with spears and shields to defend the other bridge.  I softened them up with a few volleys from my bow-armed Levies, before sending a unit of six Hearthguard across the bridge.  Although Pete ably boosted his Levies' abilities by using the "Saxon Kingdom" SAGA ability (temporarily making the Levies fight like Warriors), my Huscarls contemptuously forced their inferiors back, killing all but three in the initial struggle.
In later turns, my Warlord came over the bridge too, and the Levies were routed.  Pete moved up a block of ten Warriors to halt the Danish advance, but (following some more good shooting from my Levies) they too fell before the Dane-axes (though not before the last Saxon Warrior heroically dueled with my Warlord.  There is a place in Valhalla for that Saxon, should he care to take it!).
I neglected to take further photographs of the action on the left, which is too bad, because it was very interesting.  The now-reduced unit of Anglo-Saxon Warriors charged the newly arrived Danish Warriors, but had the worse of it, losing six men for only three Danes.  The sole surviving Saxon fell back, but could not leave the bridge, because the Anglo-Saxon elite, some eight Hearthguard, were already crossing the bridge from the other side.  In good SAGA fashion, the last Saxon Warrior, perhaps ashamed, charged alone, only to fall harmlessly against the Danish shieldwall.  Pete's Huscarls came over the bridge next, and they were fearsome, managing to wipe out the remaining Danish warriors in two turns, for a loss of four of their own.  This left them on my side of the bridge--four Hearthguard against my three.

The last turn.  On the right, four of my Warriors and the twelve Levy archers poured across the bridge, giving me a total of ten victory points (3 points for the Warlord, 1 for a single Hearthguard, 2 for four Warriors, and 4 for twelve Levies).
On my left, my three Hearthguard, the only Anglo-Danes left on that side of the river, charged the four victorious-but-tired Saxon Huscarls in the flank, which meant only three of the four fought back.  SAGA and attack dice flew, and at the end the last man standing was an Anglo-Dane.  Accordingly, I won the game 10-0, but had the game continued, Pete's Warlord would no doubt have crossed the river and exacted vengeance.

As this is a SAGA of warriors, we didn't bother to rank everyone--you either won the tournament, or you didn't!  Matt won with a perfect record of 3 wins, triumphing in his last battle against Adam's vicious Irish, over on the Village of Pillage board (I suspect the Irish were out of their element in an urban environment--they are by all accounts almost invincible otherwise).  I believe a good time was had by all, and thanks are owed to Great Hall Games for hosting, and to Aaron for organizing the tournament, acting as umpire, and setting up a great selection of boards and scenarios.  Thank you!