Category Archives: Dark Ages

Saga (29/08/2014 – Tom)

Scots

Scots

Although I bought 2 sets of the Scot Saga dice to allow this match-up to happen, we have never actually pitted these two historical opponents against each other, so it was about time we got round to this. The scenario was “Kill the Warlord” from the original Saga rule book but we used the terrain set-up from the new updated “The Crescent & the Cross” version of the rules, and much better it is too. I went with the maximum bid of 3 pieces of terrain while the Scots went with 1 so a total of 4 pieces went on the table. The Scots had a hill while I had a wood, a ploughed field and some rough ground – all of my terrain could generate shooting using the “Sons of Dana” while I’m not really sure what the hill was for as it wasn’t rough ground and only blocked line of sight – nonetheless I moved it back into my deployment area when I rolled the option to do so just in case.

Irish rain javelins down from the hill

Irish rain javelins down from the hill (with no effect!)

The Scots got the first action and moved up their entire line while leaving what seemed like a lot of dice on the battleboard. For my turn I tried to get some javelins launched at the enemy, but both my warrior units failed to score any hits and the “Sons of Dana” ability which has shot coming from terrain rather than a unit also failed spectacularly.

Scots warriors take on the Irish on the hill

Scots warriors take on the Irish on the hill

On their next turn the Scots concentrated on my left flank. They launched an attack on the hill with a warrior unit – I stopped them using any melee abilities with “Blade of Truth” and won the melee 2 casualties to 1 but to be honest I would have been better off losing and retreating as next against the warriors came a unit of 6 Hearthguard with a stack of abilities left on the battleboard.

Scots Hearthguard send the Irish warriors packing

Scots Hearthguard send the Irish warriors packing

I killed 1 Hearthguard but in return they scored 14 hits – although I was lucky and managed to save 9 (rolling 5 or 6!) I still lost 5 warriors reducing the unit to 2 men. Needless to say, the Scots took the hill.

After the melee on the Irish right flank

After the melee on the Irish right flank

I didn’t roll too badly for my orders phase of turn 2 and managed to line up a shooting combo of “Bansidh Whispers” & “Eagle Eye”, firstly giving each 6 rolled the effect of 2 hits and then adding +1 to any roll of 4 or more. The Scots responded with “Keeping the Distance” which gave them the same advantages as being in hard cover, so my 10 javelin shots only killed 1 Hearthguard – damn.

I followed up with a Warrior unit into the Hearthguard but even though I used “Blade of Truth” again to stop any fancy Scots melee abilities, I rolled badly and the warriors were sent back with a loss of 3 for 1 Hearthguard.

End of turn 2

End of turn 2

Real life then intervened and we had to finish there having only played 2 turns out of 6. I was in real trouble on my left flank, in that I was badly outnumbered with one warrior unit down to 2 men. The Scots were outnumbered in the same way on their left flank, but because it was their turn they could fall back before I got into contact and build up their battle board abilities while waiting for me to put fatigue on to my troops in trying to contact them.  They were also ahead in the kill count so if both warlords survived the battle it would come down to that to decide victory – in typical Scots fashion they could just go defensive and win the game by making me come to them.

So a short but enjoyable game to round off the holidays – looking forward to the next one.

Dux Britanniarum Campaign May 480 AD (Easter 2014 – Solo )

Raiders living up to their name

Raiders living up to their name

The Picts raided unopposed in April while the British licked their wounds. The loot from this next raid turned out to be some cattle (a cattle raid was the next scenario rolled), so the Pict’s objective for the next game was to drive their loot back across the border.  The British came back refreshed, deciding to mount a unit of Warrior Shock cavalry and attach Cinuit (a Status II noble) to it – there is an option for Northern British to mount a unit of Elite Warrior and a unit of normal Warriors, so for this game I decided to try out 1 unit of cavalry per side, albeit the British cavalry would be led by a Noble whereas the Pict cavalry wouldn’t.

British mounted warriors

British mounted warriors

The Picts had been bolstered by 4 Raiders joining them lured by what seemed like easy pickings. I rolled a double for terrain, so there was going to be a river with a ford placed – not what you want when you are trying to drive cattle to the opposite board edge!

British cavalry feel a bit outnumbered

British cavalry feel a bit outnumbered

The Picts rolled only a single move before British arrived on their left. The British also rolled badly and had a single unit arriving on turn 1 so chose their cavalry. The Pict plan was to seize the ford with their cavalry while the crossbows and 3 groups of raiders took on whatever came on on their flank. The Raiders with the cattle were to follow the cavalry to the ford as quickly as possible. In turn 1 the Picts advanced as far as they could while the sole British cavalry unit watched and their Noble build up his card hand.

Come on then!!

Come on then!!

Things changed in Turn 2. The Pict crossbows knocked 2 British cavalrymen out of their saddles, but got too close to the board edge and were dispersed by the speedy arrival of the British Lord with his Levy.

Levy drive off the Pict crossbows

Levy drive off the Pict crossbows

Dumgal, the British Noble with the remainder of the British forces, brought them on on the other side of the river and headed straight for the ford.

The cream of the British troops march to cover the ford

The cream of the British troops march to cover the ford

The Pict Lord’s card came up so he charged the British Levy before they could get into shieldwall, boosting his level by 2 by playing an Audacia card. In the fight the Picts killed 1 and caused 9 shock, but lost 2 men and 5 shock in return. The second round was much better for the Picts, when they killed 5 British though they still took 2 casualties back in return. No noble was wounded in the exchange and the losing Levy had to fall back 6″, though 1 group with more shock than men had to go back further.

Raiders charge the Levy

Raiders charge the Levy

Although they were victorious, the Picts also were carrying excess shock so fell back 2″. On reflection, the British probably won that melee as it was going to take a lot of rallying to remove the shock accumulated by the Picts and time was something the Picts did not have.

Lots of shock on the Raiders

Lots of shock on the Raiders

Meanwhile, the Pict cavalry arrived at the ford as the British Lord started rallying shock off his Levy.

Pict cavalry hold the ford

Pict cavalry hold the ford

The cavalry didn’t hold the ford for long though as the British played a “Bounding Move” card and they had to evade away from the elite British infantry. They rolled high for the evade and ended up quite a way back from the ford – perhaps a bit too far back….

Pict cavalry are driven off

Pict cavalry are driven off

Out came the British cavalry card, giving them their chance. While the Pict Lord was forced to rally shock, the mounted British charged through the gap between the Lord’s forces and the farm and engaged the Pict cavalry head-on.

First British cavalry charge

First British cavalry charge

Rolling 8 dice & inflicting double shock for being Shock cavalry resulted in no dead but 6 shock in exchange for 1 dead in the second round of combat. The shocked Picts fell back – by the end of the turn Cinuit was able to rally shock from the British cavalry, leaving them ready to charge again.

No dead but 6 shock!!!

No dead but 6 shock!!!

Amazingly, the British Noble cards all came up in the first cards drawn, so the Levy got shock rallied off them and one of the Fate cards drawn was the “Artorious” card. The Picts with the cows moved next, only managing a move of 4″ and positioning themselves precariously behind the Pict cavalry. Predictably, the British cavalry card emerged next and the 1 remaining cavalryman and attached Noble threw caution to the winds and charged the still shocked Pict cavalry. The attached Noble allowed the play of the “Artoroius” card, giving +1 to hit on 6 dice. One Pict died and another 3 shock was added, but the Picts killed the last remaining cavalryman in return. As the Picts now had double the amount of shock than they had men they had to fall back, but this was through the cattle herding raiders behind them, gifting them 6 shock on the way through.

The killing blow

The killing blow

With 6 shock on one of their Raider bands, there was little point going on. The Elite British Warriors could take them out in their fragile state and losing the cattle would end the game. It was a tough mission for the Picts because they not only needed to guard their flank but also needed enough troops in reserve with cattle to fight their way across a defended ford. In the end a good run of turn and Fate cards for the British ended the game quickly.

Although it was a victory for the British, it came at a heavy price in terms of casualties – they suffered moderate losses which would take 2 months to replace, whereas the Picts only suffered light losses, so would be back raiding unopposed in June. The British gained a  Beggar’s Bowl of wealth for their victory (+1 taking them to 4 in total) but the Picts bettered that in unopposed raiding in June, taking a Thief’s Horde in loot (+2 bringing them up to 8 wealth). The problem with all this loot was that Picts need wounds to gain honour to progress, and try as he might Galan the Insane had failed to get wounded. The British however had obtained (painted up?) some mounts for their Nobles, so come July the Picts would be facing 2 units of British cavalry led by a Noble – maybe Galen would end up skewered on one of their lances…but where’s the honour in that?

Dux Britanniarum Campaign March 480 AD (Easter 2014 – Solo )

The church and the farm

The church and the farm

In order to try out the new “Raiders” supplement for Dux Britanniarum I picked up at Salute, I decided to run a new campaign using the Picts. Although this meant I wouldn’t get to use my Irish Lord in a chariot, it also meant I wasn’t straight in at the deep end with the newer rules for cavalry and commanded skirmishers.

The year is 480 A.D. and Galan, a 20 year old Pictish warlord, accompanied by his champion Drest and loyal (but lustful) 34 year old noble retainer Talorg have decided that a church in Alt Clut, the northernmost of the British kingdoms, needs relieving of its wealth. Galan has already earned the nickname of “the Insane” so a lot of his fellow Picts were probably relieved to see him heading south to seek his fortune and they were also probably the reason why a British force was alerted to the raid and stood waiting near the church.

Picts rush towards the church

Picts rush towards the church

Erbin the Unlucky, the 21 year old son of a British Warlord stood back from the church with his hastily-assembled force of infantry. His father had sent his loyal champion Caw to watch the boy’s back, along with two of his trusted retainers, Dumgal and Cinuit to remind the levy who they owed their loyalty to.

Erbin lived up to his Unlucky title right away, rolling badly for force morale so the British stood at 6 while the Picts stood at 8. British Noble Dumgal was in reserve with the 3 units of Levy, while the unit of 6 elite Warriors and 2 units of 6 Warriors stood by the church with their Lord, Champion and other Noble, ready to give the Picts a warm welcome.

British Warriors deploy to defend the hill

British Warriors deploy to defend the hill

The Pict plan was pretty simple – cavalry were sent around the left flank, skirmishers and missile troops down the right while the main body of Raiders accompanied by the Galen and Drest ran straight down the middle straight for the church. A small force of 6 Raiders along with Talorg (the other Pict Noble) would help the Pict skirmishers contest the hill.

The race was on to occupy the hill overlooking the church, with 1 unit of British Warriors beating the Pict skirmishers to the top, but then having to suffer shock and losses over successive turns as crossbow bolts and javelins were heaved in their direction. Their own slingers were ineffective in comparison.

British take up defensive positions

British take up defensive positions

By the end of turn 2, the British warriors were positioned in front of the church (but in their haste they had not adopted any formation) and their Levy were following on, whereas the Picts, seeing their way to the church blocked, paused for breath (drew some Fate cards in other words) and ranked up.

Picts get into formation

Picts get into formation

The Pict cavalry then rode forward to bait the British troops into attacking them (that’s my excuse – I rolled very high for their movement, but as they are Raider cavalry they can behave as skirmishers and evade if charged, or fight as mounted Warriors, so they should have been safe enough 🙂 )

Cavalry exposed

Cavalry exposed

The young British Warlord took the bait, ordering a unit of Warriors in against the cavalry – the Pict cavalry went to evade, but the play of a Carpe Diem card put a stop to that. However with the Picts counting as Warriors and neither side having any combat cards to play, it was 6 British dice against 4 Pict dice in the ensuing melee.

Cavalry in melee

Cavalry in melee

Whoever gave the British Warlord the title of “Unlucky” got it totally wrong, as in the first round of the fight the British killed 2 Pict cavalry for the loss of 1 of their own, but both sides rolled badly in the second round, took 1 shock each and so stood locked in combat.

Pict Lord joins melee

Pict Lord joins melee

Seizing his chance (his card came up next), the Pict Lord played a “Bounding Move” card which allowed his formation to crash into the flank of the frontally engaged British Warriors. The fight was hard fought and though they managed to take another cavalry man with them, the group of British Warriors lost 2 more dead and took enough shock to rout them from the field, so they ran taking 2 force morale with them.

Battle on the hill

Battle on the hill

Then Talorg, the other Pict noble, was activated, charging the Warriors on the hill but augmenting his Noble level to 4 by the play of an “Audacia” card. The British responded by playing “Strong Arm” which allowed them to shower the advancing Picts with close-quarter missiles, but to no avail (only 1 shock was caused) – this was an incorrect use of the card as it is a suited card and can only be played by a Noble – thanks to Willie for pointing this out. The Picts rolled 10 dice, killing 2 British Warriors and causing 1 shock, while the British response was a miserable 1 shock. The Warriors were forced back 2″ – the Picts followed up decisively, causing 2 more dead and 2 shock. Having already been reduced in numbers and shocked by Pict missile fire, the 1 remaining Warrior had had enough and routed from the field, but burst through 2 units of Levy to do so, putting shock on each. This, combined with the other retreating Warriors bursting through the same Levy (as it was now the end of the turn) took the Levy’s shock to double their numbers, meaning they had to rout. The British Army morale was now down to 0, so Erbin the Unlucky had to quit the field – Galan the Insane seeing his way to the church open let the British go with only a token pursuit.

Levy are burst through and wait to be burst through again

Levy are burst through and wait to be burst through again

In the post game sequence, the British came out badly, needing 2 months to replace their losses, while the Picts only needed 1 month – this meant that the Picts could raid unmolested for the month of April. Added to that they gained 4 Raiders to their warband, attracted no doubt by the easy pickings to be had in April. This left the Picts with 2 Thief’s Hordes of loot to add to their starting Thief’s Horde (6 wealth in game terms) but without Honour, which a Pict Warlord also needs to get ahead in life and can only gain by being wounded in battle.

The new rules added by Raiders are fairly easy to pick up. When I had to refer to the Lardy Forum and Yahoo group it was to do with Nobles and cavalry – turns out that mounted Nobles assigned to lead cavalry can only rally shock from them or draw a card. They can’t use their Noble card to move the cavalry – this movement is done on a new Cavalry card added to the deck by the supplement and this card activates all cavalry in a force.

The supplement has been promised for a long time, though this has given me time to paint up a sizeable band of Scots, Irish and Picts even with my glacial painting speed. The book and cards are beautifully presented and packed to the brim with ideas and a bargain at £18 – if you own Dux Britanniarum I would see this supplement as a must-have. Highly recommended!

Saga (02/01/14 – David over Facetime)

In a fit of madness when discussing which game we should play over Vassal for New Year, there was a wacky bid of a figure game over a video link and this was the result – a game of Saga with the Irish facing up to the Normans (ironically, the Norman General was over 300 miles away from the table in Northern Ireland). The objective was simply to kill the opposing Warlord.

One Irish Curadh (in a fetching sky blue tunic) "volunteers" to be a speed bump

One Irish Curadh (in the fetching sky blue tunic in the distance) “volunteers” to be a speed bump as the Norman IPad general looks on

The Irish went first, with the unit of Hounds bounding through some rough ground to bite at the Norman crossbows which would surely have killed quite a few hounds had they been allowed to fire. Although the hounds won the melee and drove the crossbows back, this bit of the battle turned out to be a bit of a stand-off, with the hounds afraid to leave cover for fear of crossbow bolts and the crossbows failing to do much damage because the hounds were in cover. The rest of the Irish dice went on to the battle board to build up defensive abilities while one Curadh used his free activation to place himself between the massed Norman Hearthguard unit led by the warlord and his own Irish Warlord.

The Norman Death Star

The Norman Death Star

The Norman knights and Warlord rode at the Curadh and killed him for the loss of one of their own, but he served his purpose as a speed bump and the fatigue he put on the knights persuaded them to pause for the rest of the turn. Meanwhile the mounted warriors charged a unit of Irish warriors, but with no abilities on either board it was a straight roll-off with equal number of dice which the Irish just lost and had to retreat after the combat. This however left the Norman mounted warriors exposed to a charge by the Irish Hearthguard unit of 10 figures, and when the dust settled there were no warriors left (though they did take 2 Hearthguard down with them).

Attack the Fianna

Attack the Fianna

The Irish Hearthguard’s victory diverted the attention of the Norman knights and after charging towards the Irish Warlord who was guarded only by 8 Warriors but failing to wipe them out, they decided to charge the Irish Hearthguard for their second activation on a Warlord “side-by-side” activation. After the Normans rolled an obscene number of dice, only 4 Irish Fianna remained standing, but the Norman steamroller had been stopped as they now had too much fatigue on them to risk carrying on.

Fianna survive

Fianna survive

The Irish now had the Norman Hearthguard in the right place, and using a combination of javelins backed by battle board abilities and a side-by-side attack by the Warlord  and a unit of Warriors, reduced them to 2 men. As the Norman spear-armed warriors were the only viable unit left, they were hurled at what was left of the Irish Hearthguard, wiping them out and piling into the 5 remaining Irish Warriors beside the Warlord.

Warriors try to get to Warlord

Warriors try to get to Warlord

The Normans and Irish were both rolling the same number of dice, but luck was with the Irish and the Warriors were reduced to 1 figure and pushed back. The Irish Warlord tried to manoeuvre himself and his remaining Curadh into a “side-by-side” combat with the Norman Warlord, but the flanking Norman figures stopped a legal contact by both figures, so the Irish Warlord went it alone with some battleboard abilities – he came up just short in the ensuing melee, though the Norman Warlord had to kill his last Hearthguard Knight to survive. With no forces left, the Normans picked that moment to roll their 2nd and 3rd flag of the game, so plonked them on the Dex Aie ability (which gave him double the number of dice in melee) and charged the Irish Warlord – he had to due to being in charge range and the “Warlord’s Pride” rule. The Irish had “Blade of Truth” on their battleboard which stopped any melee abilities being played, so the extra Norman dice were lost and the fight was inconclusive.

Mexican stand-off

With both sides exhausted and time running short, we called it a day there. The Irish just scraped a win on victory points by 22.5 (rounded to 23) points to 22.

We were both amazed at how well this worked over a video link, so much so that we’re going to give it a go with Field of Glory:Ancients next – maybe a slightly bigger table and 15mm troops won’t be as easy to do but we’ll see.

The Norman IPad General

The Norman IPad General

Cuba Libre, Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, Longstreet & Saga

My gaming has been restricted lately due to illness, but hopefully I’m on the mend now. One casualty of this was a game of Longstreet which I started but didn’t get to finish – here are a couple of (poor) photos of that game which at least give a flavour of the cards and unit sizes.

Rebs behind a wall

Rebs behind a wall

Union advance

Union advance

Unfortunately I didn’t get to play for long enough to form a concrete opinion on the rules, but I definitely want to give them another try soon.

On a recent holiday from work, I got a few solo run-throughs of “Cuba Libre” from GMT in – though I was a bit lukewarm on “Andean Abyss” (the first game in the COIN series) “Cuba Libre” is much more my thing with a smaller map and a faster playtime. Of course, we’ll need to see how this plays out face-to-face, but I have high hopes for it.

Cuba Libre midway through a solo game

Cuba Libre midway through a solo game

Going back in time to before the long, hot summer, Nick and myself had both been given GMT’s “Rebel Raiders on the High Seas” for our birthdays in June, so it was a no-brainer to try to get it onto the table as soon as possible and we managed this in late June. It was our first trip to sea since a 7 hour marathon “1805:  Sea of Glory” game in October 2009, which we of course failed to finish – “Rebel Raiders” looked more promising in the “finish in an afternoon” category, with 3 hours being the predicted play time. It isn’t a card driven game as such, more card assisted, but gripping none-the-less. The Union have to enforce the blockade whilst at the same time trying to conquer forts and ports by sea and river – the Confederates have to send out blockade runners to bring back goods, giving them victory points which can then be spent on building ironclads, raiders or cannons for port defence.

The east coast as the Union blockade tightens

The east coast as the Union blockade tightens

The Union dice rolling was truly appalling during the game with only Key West falling in the first 2 years of the game, but despite our unfamiliarity with rules we nearly got the game completed, so for once the playtime estimate looks about right.

Cards of the coast of Florida

Cards off the coast of Florida

I have put my non-playing time to some good use by finishing my Scots and Irish warbands for Saga – expect to see these on the table over Christmas in at least one of our usual multiplayer games.

Scots Hearthguard

Scots Hearthguard

Scots Spears

Scots Spears

Irish Hearthguard

Irish Hearthguard

Next Saturday I hope to see a few Saga tournament games at Warfare in Reading, though unfortunately I won’t be playing 😦

Until next time…