For our Christmas game this year we chose a 3-player game of Saga, specifically the Feast for Crows scenario where the victory conditions hinge on who kills the most enemy figures – perfect for a light-hearted afternoon’s play! Nick took Anglo-Danes, Tom took Scots out for their debut and I took Vikings – all fairly standard 4 point warbands. Normally Saga is on a 4’x3′ board but because this scenario is for 3-4 players it’s on a 4’x4′. The opening turns saw lots of manoeuvring and no combat, probably because no-one wanted to double-move and accumulate fatigue. At first we thought we were going to get 2 games in as first 3 of 7 turns flew by with troops just moving, but then as the direction of Scots and Anglo-Dane moves panned out, it became clear that I was going to be the filling in a Scots/Danish sandwich – there’s gratitude for me painting up all the troops and laying on the game (and mince pies) at Christmas!
Because I was going to be attacked from 2 sides on turn 4 and I won the roll to go first, I took the fight to the enemy. I left a holding force against the Anglo-Danes whilst I concentrated on the Scots. I had never played against the Scot’s battle board before and as Tom produced ability after ability in the first melees I got very worried. I should have lost hands-down, but phenomenal dice rolling by me and poor rolling by the Scots gave me a head-start in victory points and bloodied the Scots’ nose, so they drew off for a bit of R&R in order to build up their damned abilities again.
The Anglo-Danes chose to keep their powder dry on this turn, but came on in the gap between the fence and the wood in 2 lines trying to stare down my holding force. As Vikings are better on attack my Berserkers charged the Anglo-Danish Huscarls next turn – I fluffed the rolls on 16+ attack dice and ended up losing the melee with 1 Berserker killed but this wasn’t too bad a result given my armour had been reduced to 2+ by those cowardly Danish abilities. Four ones were rolled against me and I saved all but one of the hits but failed to kill a single figure on 16 attack dice due to the Shieldwall ability and the use of fatigue. I thought I had got away with it, but then Nick activated the Push ability which lets the Anglo-Danes roll against the armour class of each figure in a disengaging unit and if they beat the armour class, the figure dies – as the armour class of Berserkers is 3 we could all see where this was going! Three Berserkers were hacked down, the unit ceased to exist, 4 VPs to the Anglo-Danes and fatigue given to the Warlord and Bondi units near it.
I was suffering badly on the abilities front having had 3 turns without rolling a 6 on orders dice, whilst the other 2 seemed to have no shortage of abilities. I was rolling well in melee though and next turn I repulsed a unit of Anglo-Danish Coerls with 5 casualties leaving a unit of 3 to polish off using Loki in my turn – another 2VPs to me left me neck and neck with the Anglo-Danes whilst the Scots trailed quite a way behind.
On to the final turn – the eliminated Coerl unit left the Anglo-Dane Warlord within unobstructed charge range of my Warlord. He wanted to charge my unit of Bondi with his other unit of Coerls using the “We obey” ability meaning the Warlord would charge one unit whilst the unit he was ordering with his free activation would charge another. The Saga rules or FAQ doesn’t say anything to prevent this so we ruled it OK and I checked the Saga message board afterwards to confirm – this is all fine and above-board. By the time we had finished the last turn melees between Anglo-Danes and Vikings (and a few unwary troops on each side had died to save their Lords) the score was still tied at 9 apiece to Anglo-Danes and Vikings with 6 to the Scots. There was only one way for the Scots to bring about a 3-way tie and that was to kill the Viking Warlord – so he gave it a go.
As I only had 1 Bondi within 50mm (see above), if the Scots could get 3 hits through my Warlord would die – I sacrificed maximum attack dice for defence dice and as a result he could only manage 2 hits even with the use of all the abilities on his battle board. The closest Bondi died but the Warlord lived – worse for the Scots and the Anglo-Danes, even with my reduced attack dice (because I had concentrated on defence dice) I still managed a hit so the Scots had to lose a Hearthguard figure and gave a full VP and victory to me. I had a Warlord and 2 Bondi left standing…
The final VPs were – Vikings 10, Anglo-Danes 9 and Scots 7. The Anglo-Danes hadn’t lost a single Huscarl and the ones with Dane axes hadn’t even been engaged skulking in the farmyard as they were – 1 Scots unit of Warriors also remained unengaged. I spent the game worrying about the Scots battle board combos which are lethal, but in the end getting all my troops into combat and rolling better melee dice won the game for me – just as well as I couldn’t seem to roll up decent abilities to save my life. Once again we spent fatigue in melee rather than letting it build up but even apart from this I think there’s a lot of nuances in the system that we’ve yet to discover. Roll on the next time!
Happy Christmas to everyone!