After our hugely enjoyable 3-way Christmas game of Saga, we’ve decided to try a 2-player game next week. I thought I’d give the “Clash of Warlords” scenario a run-through to refresh my memory on the rules (it’s been at least 3 weeks!) and as I’ve been busily painting my namesake Normans over the holidays, I could give them a run out against the Anglo-Danes at the same time.
Each side had 5 points in Saga terms – the Anglo-Danes had 1 unit of Levy archers, 2 units of Coerls (Warriors) and 2 units of Huscarls (Hearthguard – one unit swinging axes) giving an initial 6 Saga dice to roll. The Normans had 3 points of mounted Knights (Hearthguard) organised into 2 units and 2 units of Sergeants (Warriors), one unit armed with crossbows the other with spears – again giving a starting 6 Saga dice to roll. Another reason for running through solo was that I had not used missile troops or mounted troops before, so no doubt would be scratching my head over some rules issues!
I allowed the side going second (the Anglo-Danes) to use the new rule introduced in “Raven’s Shadow” where they could roll and place 3 Saga dice to set up some defensive abilities to mitigate the disadvantage of going second – I placed a “Helmet” on “Intimidation” to cancel an action, but I had no suitable rolls to allow defence against those nasty crossbows, so 2 “Axes” went on the melee ability “Hard as Iron” and we were ready to roll.
Turn 1 was fairly predictable with the Norman crossbows attempting to move into range and unleash “Storm of Arrows” which allows them to shoot with no fatigue even if on a 2nd or subsequent action. They were slowed down by “Intimidation” but got half their number into range only for all the shots which hit to be saved. The left-most units of Knights set off on a flank march around the wood. In response the Anglo-Danes advanced their archers into range of the crossbows and unleashed a volley – unshielded as they were the crossbows suffered 4 hits but saved every one! The rightmost unit of Coerls were moved to put them between the axe-armed Huscarls and the flanking Norman cavalry.
Turn 2 saw more shooting by the crossbows – this time against the levy archers which drew out “Intimidation” – activated for a 2nd time the crossbows only managed to kill 1 archer, rolling two ‘1’s on 4 dice! The Norman Warlord used his free activation to send his spearmen toward the archers and a second action put them into melee. Despite loading up on attack dice, the spearmen only scored 3 hits to 1 and as the levy had loaded up on defence dice they saved all 3 hits so the spear fell back, though at no loss to themselves.
Facing the cavalry threat on the flank, the Anglo-Danes refused their flank, shot their archers at the spears who had backed off from the drawn melee (but only killed 1) then charged the spears with their own Coerl spearmen backed up with a “Shieldwall” ability. Because they came across a ploughed field only 4 managed to contact, but it was enough to kill 2 Normans in exchange for 1 Anglo-Dane.
The Norman crossbows now had a new target and all loosed off at the Coerls who were now in front of the archers. 3 hits and 3 saves of 2, 2 & 1 left 3 dead Coerls and an opening for the Norman Knights with their Warlord. Using abilities built up ready for this moment the Knights charged through their own spears, rolled an insane number of attack dice combined with the “Stamping” ability which inevitably wiped the unit of Coerls out and put a fatigue on the levy archers for the loss of 1 Norman Knight. With no abilities left on the board but facing a full volley from the archers the Norman Knights careered into the archers as a 2nd activation. Though they managed to take down only 1 Norman Knight in exchange for 3 of their own and had to retreat, this wasn’t too bad for the archers as the Norman had run out of activations it was now their own turn.
Even after a bit of a rest (as an action), the archers were still exhausted and the Anglo-Dane dice were used to build up abilities rather than activate units. The game situation at this stage is shown below – what happened on the Anglo-Dane right flank was going to decide the game.
First though the Normans attempted to dispose of the levy archers for good, which they reckoned they could do without using any Saga abilities – they were right given that the Warlord and Knights together scored 13 hits out of 13 dice of which the levy only saved 4, so the levy vanished gaining the Huscarls guarding the Warlord a fatigue. The Anglo-Danes had saved “Intimidation” for the charge coming at the Coerls on their right flank, but the Normans had enough activation dice to charge again and threw in the “Crushed” and “Pursuit” abilities for good measure. The Anglo-Danish “Shieldwall” ability raised their armour to 5 and they traded in some attack dice for defence dice, hoping at least to hold the charge and allow their Dane axe armed Huscarls to counter-attack in their turn. It was not to be – the Normans rolled 9 hits but even with all their defence dice the Anglo-Danes only saved one without killing a single Knight, so their unit ceased to exist.
The Norman pursuit took them into the Huscarls with axes, though they had no Saga abilities to back up the charge and the Anglo-Danes had “Push” – they were hoping for at least a draw in the melee phase. Once again the Norman rolling was phenomenal, rolling 10 hits from 12 dice whilst the Anglo-Danes managed 3 hits. Out of 10 hits the Anglo-Danes only saved 3 and another unit bit the dust (adding fatigues to the nearby Warlord & Huscarls), though as all their hits went unsaved half the Norman Knight unit were cleaved by Dane axes.
With only 3 Saga dice from the 1 unit of exhausted Huscarls and the Warlord himself left, I didn’t see much point in going on as the crossbows could just soften them up then the cavalry could charge and overrun them when they built up their abilities sufficiently. I was quite impressed with the Normans though I can see that I was lucky with dice rolls and the Saga board combos I rolled – putting the Knights into 2 units of 6 rather than 3 units of 4 seemed to work well. As for the Anglo-Dane Levy archers, I’m not so sure. They were hard to activate, got exhausted quickly and didn’t do that much damage, though they did manage to bounce a unit of Knights and take 1 down – one idea would be to split the levy into 2 units of 8 and 4 to gain another shooting dice. When the Anglo-Danes get another 4 Huscarls they’ll be much better balanced I think – which reminds me that I still have a full unit left to paint for each of my factions – one of these days I’ll get to play a Saga game with a full 6 point warband – but not yet…:-)