Saga (09/08/12 – Tom)

Viking Hird defend the Warlord

Summer is definitely here as they’ve even let nursing students go on their holidays, so now Tom is back home for a few weeks. I’ve been painting up Viking and Anglo-Danes of late hence our first outing was always going to be Saga. Tom was the Anglo-Danes and I was the Vikings (each of us with a 4 point warband) playing the “Kill the Warlord” scenario. The random terrain generation led to a very crowded central area, with a wood and a building filling the middle of the board.

The cramped central battlefield

I had the first turn but both of us were jockeying for position and trying to build up some abilities on our boards. On turn 2 I charged a unit of Coerls with a unit of my Bondi and did quite well in the melee, killing 3 of them for 1 of mine. I tried to follow up my success by charging in again, but the Anglo-Dane ability of Intimidation came into play and my charge stalled. On their turn the Anglo-Dane Huscarls pumped up with a few good abilities went after my weakened Bondi, wiped them out (7 of them in one fight!) all for the loss of one Huscarl. Inspired by their betters, the reduced unit of Coerls then launched themselves into my Berserkers. Tom’s plan was a good one – he might lose the Coerls but he hoped to fatally weaken the Berserkers so as his Huscarls could mop up. The plan went badly wrong, but not from his point of view – his Coerls with the Lords of Battle ability rolled a total of 8 dice against my Berserker’s 16 dice, but miraculously they scored 5 hits to my 2. I fluffed all but 2 of the saves and 3 Berserkers went to Valhalla for the loss of 2 Coerls – looking on the bright side, his victorious Coerls were blocking the Huscarls from getting to my remaining Berserker, but the Anglo-Danes weren’t going to let me off that easily. As the Berserker disengaged, the Anglo-Danish ability of Lords of Battle added 2 fatigue dice to the 1 he had already giving him 3 in total.

The all-conquering Anglo-Danish Coerls

On my turn the Saga dice let me down badly – never mind that I was 1 dice down for the loss of my Bondi unit, I rolled the equivalent of a load of 1, 2 & 3s, so couldn’t get many abilities on my board. In the end, I could only withdraw my berserker and launch my remaining Bondi against the Anglo-Dane Coerls behind the building. The melee was a blood-soaked draw, with each of us losing 4 figures. Tom played a very conservative turn, resting his units and building up abilities on his battle board.

The killing ground

We could both see what was coming on my turn – the ever-victorious Coerls were down to 3 models, and the Vikings have an app for that called Loki which allows you to discard 2 specific Sage dice to remove a unit of 3 or less Warriors/Levis. The question was of course, could I roll the values needed on the 5 dice I had left to roll and still have enough decent dice left over to do the other things which needed doing (resting the 3 fatigue Berserker for example). In 3 turns I never rolled the dice I needed to do this, so the Coerls limped along to the end. I drew off and rested a bit on turn 4 when I didn’t roll the dice I needed, but a quick count of VPs made me realise that even if I did kill the Coerls through the Loki ability, I would need a few more VPs to win. There was some desultory skirmishing on turn 5 after I again failed to roll the dice I needed, but nothing changed on who was going to win, so on turn 6 (again with no dice worth having) I charged Tom’s Warlord with mine supported by a lone (but very well rested) Berserker. Surrounded and outnumbered, the Berserker died, but surprising my Warlord through a combination of luck and some battle board abilities wasn’t even scratched, but we had run out of turns so it was game over.

A fun game, though I think the scenario suffered from us both having 4 point forces instead of 6. My disastrous start left me really short of troops and Tom, canny lad that he is, realised that even if I could kill off his unit of 3 Coerls, he would still be winning unless I killed his Warlord. He was unwilling to advance and risk that, so he spent his dice resting his men and removing fatigue where possible. I didn’t have sufficient men left to goad him into attacking, so the banzai charge with the Warlord and single berserker was the only option open to me at the end, but against a well-rested enemy there was always only going to be one result.

So what next? I have a Breton starter force to paint, but I think I need to concentrate on getting the Viking and Anglo-Dane forces up to 6 points and play a few more games before I get distracted with the Bretons – Norman Saga dice (which the Bretons also use) are like gold dust at the moment so there’s not exactly any rush….

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