Tom came home from Uni for Christmas this weekend, and we managed to fit in a game of the new Saga ruleset from Gripping Beast using GW Lord of the Rings figures as proxies – Gondor was the Anglo-Danes and Isenguard took on the mantle of the Viking raiders. It seemed appropriate for the figures we were using to do some sort of river crossing, so that’s the scenario from the book that we used. This was probably a mistake given that we were learning the game, as it led to a stalemate fighting over one of the river crossings and the total annihalation of both sides at the other.
We each had a 4 point starter warband which the rules recommend for your first game – for the Anglo-Danes, 2 units of the 4 figures from the Army of the Dead represented the elite Hearthguard, while the 2 units of 8 Gondor men-at-arms represented the Warrior class.
The Orcs chose 2 units of Hearthguard (one of which was a unit of 4 berserkers, represented by 4 Urak-Hai – uh – berserkers, and the other represented by Urak-Hai pikemen) and 2 units of 8 Warriors, one made up of Haradrim and one consisting of Urak-Hai swordsmen. Boromir led the men of Gondor and Lurtz led the axis of evil.
We both lined up with an even split of forces -1 Hearthguard and 1 warrior unit covering each crossing, and our warlords faced off against each other over the bridge crossing. The initial fight was over the bridge, where Tom managed to get his warlord and the non-berserk warriors into contact with my hearthguard, caused 2 casualties to my 1, then both sides then retired to their end of the bridge to catch their breaths.
Over at the ford (of Isen?), things went quite differently – Tom led with the Haradrim across the ford, and I countered with my warriors. Though he won the melee 4 kills to 3, I used my Lords of Battle ability to give him an extra 2 fatigue, making the unit exhausted. On my turn, I then used the Exhaustion ability to kill 2 men from his Haradrim unit and charged back into them with my Hearthguard, wiping out the remaining 3 figures without loss.
On Tom’s turn, the Berserkers piled into my Hearthguard, and boosted by a number of abilities, rolled an insane number of attack dice – my Hearthguard Army of the Dead were wiped out to a man, but took down 2 Berserkers in the process (Tom rolled 2 ‘1’s for saves – hah!).
Seizing the opportunity, I charged the Berserkers with my warriors, hoping to wipe him out and leaving me unopposed to march across the ford. I succeeded, but Tom also succeeded in killing 1 warrior to leave only 3 in the unit , so next turn he was able to use the Viking “Loki” ability to kill off the remaining 3 warriors, leaving no-one on this flank from either side to fight.
The game was a draw, as neither of us was going to risk it on the bridge, so we called it a day there. It was an enjoyable try out of the rules, though we need a lot more experience of the battle boards to sort out strategies. Also, the pairing of “Determination” (allowing the Warlord to activate once per turn without spending a dice) & “We obey” (allowing a unit within 4″ to move with him for free) is powerful, and we need to get our heads around that as well. The allocation of dice phase can be quite slow, but I think we can put that down to inexperience.
With a short playing time and a 4′ x 3′ playing area, I’m sure this will come out again over Christmas, though the actual historical warbands won’t be painted until the New Year.