Wednesday, March 7, 2018

SAGA 2nd Edition

SAGA 2nd Edition is here.  Joseph and I met up at Mages' Sanctum to give it a try.  We went with a classic match-up, Vikings versus Anglo-Danes, and tried the updated version of the Clash of Warlords scenario. Like almost everything in SAGA 2.0, Clash of Warlords has changed a bit.  Victory is determined by points, not by slaying the enemy warlord (though the warlord is worth a hefty four points).  The scenario also includes three different set-up versions, and six random conditions, giving it more replay value than you might think.  We rolled set-up C, which requires all units be nearing than M (6") from friends, and rolled the "Old Grudge" condition, which meant everyone got a free move on the first turn.

The situation at the top of Turn 1: My Anglo-Dane huscarls, warlord, and some fyrd (warriors) are working their way around the rocky ground in the center.  Greater Fyrd archers have taken up a sheltered position in the rocky ground, with more Fyrd spears guarding their flank. Opposite, the Viking Hirdmen (hearthguard) are all on the left, with thrall archers in the center, and berserkers just visible on the right.

I had thought my archers could command the open field in the center but some Vikings were upon them before they could loose a single volley.  I got lucky and only lost three archers, the rest falling back deeper into the rocky ground.

The Fyrd charged the Viking's flank.

The Vikings were thrown back, losing three hearthguard for a single Fyrd warrior.

On the left, my twelve-man huscarl unit struck a six-man group of hirdmen.  I then noticed that SAGA 2.0 disincentives 12-man hearthguard units, capping your basic melee dice at 16 (whereas before a unit that size would generate 24 attack dice).

The result was an ignominious bounce, each side losing two men.  Meanwhile, the Fyrd on the right weathered a barrage of arrows, and then traded three casualties with four-man Viking hearthguard unit.  Note that both Viking unis in the center have three fatigue markers.  In 2.0, all units are exhausted when they hit three fatigue.  The Anglo-Danes' "Intimidation" ability now gives fatigue rather than canceling moves (which is now something anyone if the moving unit has two fatigue.

My huscarls then shifted into the center, taking out two more hirdmen but failing to get the last one, who retreated.  The left-hand Fyrd unit stuck the left-most Viking unit, each losing three, and again leaving a single Viking behind.  I was having trouble eliminating Viking units!  At the same time, the dreaded berserkers easily wiped out my right-hand, depleted Fyrd unit, and were threatening the beleaguered archers.

To make matters worse, the Viking thrall archers unleashed barrage after barrage, bringing down five huscarls.

The tied turned in the next round.  Of screen, the left-hand Fyrd rallied and finished off the single Viking opposite them.  My remaining huscarls picked off another loan Viking hirdman.  And then the archers at last came into their own, managing to gun down the three berserkers an yet another last-man hearthguard. Four Viking units eliminated on one turn!

Short on dice, and hampered by mounting fatigue from the Danes' SAGA abilities, the Vikings managed to only bring down a single huscarl with archery.  Earl Aethelfwulf was distraught at so many huscarls laid low by ignoble thralls, and proceeded to chop down five of the Viking archers with his Dane Ax.  But two more huscarls fell acting as his body guards in this rash charge.

The final act: the last two Anglo-Dane huscarls charged the Viking warlord.  All three fell in a flurry of dice.

Final score was 29-19 for the Anglo-Danes.

We both agreed 2.0 played well on this first outing.  The new battleboards were fun, and the game seemed steamlined and well-balanced.

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