Kings of War first game

Last weekend I visited North Bay games while my wife was at a show (she has her own hobbies which are just as expensive and craft oriented as mine…) and watched the end of a game of Kings of War. That got me thinking about my fairly large GW collection of toys – some painted, some not. I talked to the store owner (Terry) who was one of the people playing the game and they seemed to a decent local scene of players in that area. That got me thinking about trying them. As background I have these rules in PDF but had never really got around to trying or even reading them. So I did. The rules are an easy read and are not that long or complex compared to many. It was a quiet week with the group I game with so one of the guys and I decided to try out Kings of War out. He was in the same boat as me, having got the rules and loads of GW figs from playing Warhammer fantasy in the past but never tried them. So here is a quick report of the game and some thoughts and a quick review of the rules.

First the game rules are not that complex and if you have played GW’s Warhammer Fantasy game, pretty much any version, then you will feel at home with Kings of War (KoW from now on). The rules are easy to read and seem to map well with actually what I want out of a gaming experience. They are not ‘fussy’ with massive numbers of detailed special rules which require looking up/verification and which can easily unbalance games. At the same time have enough flavor to make units different and are 20 or so special abilities in the game.

We played a 1500 point game, with me using undead vs. a wood elf army. My army shown below after deployment. Some of which the Skeletons are now going on for 30 years old at this point! I like that there are no set models for the units in the game and thus you can use all kinds of stand in models for different units. For example, I used a mixture of knights and wolves for my cavalry Soul Reaver vampire cavalry units.
My opponents forces were from the GW Wood elf range and some really nice figs they were too. It’s nice to see two fully painted forces on the table as well. It so pains me to see so many half painted forces being gamed with. The hobby looks SO much better with fully painted models. The elves had three foot bow units, 2 mounted bow units and a couple of hard hitting big units of melee troops with a monster to back them up.

We did a simple kill everything scenario in 6 turns (with a possible 7th which did not happen in our game). There are 6 basic scenario’s in the game. These range from the kill everything to collecting loot with a ‘king of the hill’ type game as well. So it does have more options than the old style GW Warhammer fantasy games I played many years ago. The setup is very reminiscent of Warhammer with alternative units being placed which does work for this type of game. There is a whole set of tactics around the deployment stage in such games.

The lists for forces published cover all the basic GW/Fantasy ranges of troops – plus some new ones as well. These lists are a little more limited than the whole range of GW and other producers creations over the years. That said they are fairly extensive and I’m sure that you will be able to find uses for all the troops in their collection, and may even find a couple of extra units to buy… I know after looking at the undead list I saw Undead Trolls and Werewolves as troop types, hmmm they could be interesting units. <sigh>

The force building rules are fairly simple but mean that your force is based around big blocks of units with support units of smaller units/heroes/monsters. To me this actually works as well as this is a big unit/battle game not a skirmish type game.

So quickly we were into the first turn. One interesting aspect with KoW is that in your turn you do everything. The opponent does nothing. I thought that might be an issue but the way the game works it’s not bad. They also suggest using chess clock timers for really competitive games or I guess if people take too long – with the auto loose if you run out of time. It’s an interesting idea and definitely would keep people on their toes.

In the game I moved the undead slowly out (they can not move at the double like most units) and then used the Necromancers to surge the undead a random amount forward. Magic is very simple with a number of D6’s to cast a spell and a 4+ on each die rolled is a success. Of course this is me rolling so I had consistently poor results with that and thus the troops ended with a pretty level battle line after my first random move.

The elves responded with a round of bow fire from the wood elf bow units while his close combat units moved forward at pace. In KoS shooting seems reasonably powerful but it does more disruptive damage than straight killing units in one go. Well that’s from what I can tell of one game. The elves in their turn of shooting caused a couple of wounds on my skeleton units.  Shooting like melee is only done by the acting player. You roll vs. your units target to hit – which seems to typically range from 3+ (really good) to 5+ (zombies and poor troops) on a D6. There are a couple of modifiers to that. Then each successful hit is rolled vs their targets defense – which again seems to range from3+ (bad) to 6+ (good). There are some modifiers for this roll such as really strong units etc. If you cause hit then these are incremented on the target unit. If a unit takes damage then at the end of the turn (or combat) you take the hit total and adds that to 2D6 for a nerve rolls. You compare the nerve result vs. targets values. The unit can be unaffected, wavering (which means they can’t do much but try to recover next turn) or is routed. It’s about that simple for combat.

So after the wood elves moved up and shot at my battle line, it was my turn to continue the movement of the battle lines together. This turn I was using the Necromancers to heal wounds off my Skeletons vs. making them move faster. I had come up the the difficult going in the center of the table which turned out to be a mistake but not my last. The terrain did not effect negatively the wood elf units coming through it due to their special rules but would impact my troops. <sigh>  Should have thought of that really.
On my left flank I had a unit of cavalry and a small heavy foot unit – Grave Guards. The Grave Guards foot unit slowly marched up towards some bowmen while using the hill as cover as much as possible. More on those later. Meanwhile my undead cavalry (a mounted vampire and his wolves – which were a Soul Reaver unit in the game) was trying to chase down a flighty group of mounted elven bowmen. That turned out harder to do that I thought. They are ‘nimble’ and get an extra 90 degree turn in their moves, so for a couple of turns they managed to keep out of the charge zone of my knight and wolves.

Eventually, I got them in a position with the use of terrain and the table edge where they could not avoid the Soul Reaver cavalry and so melee happened. That combat in the end was one sided and in the next Undead turn the wood elf unit was trampled under foot. But that one unit of elven cavalry kept that unit of Soul Reaver cavalry busy for the whole game – keeping them from doing anything else. Likely this was a waste of one of my faster units.

On the other flank (shown below) I had a similar unit of a vampire and wolves (Soul Reaver cavalry) and kept that back behind the skeletons. I had initially had the idea to refuse both flanks, keeping these units back to counter the flanks and follow up gains. That did not work well on the left as I mentioned above as I tried to hunt down a unit of bow armed elves. On the right I kept to the plan more.

Anyway back to the main action. In the next Wood Elf turn things came to blows. On the right my refused cav got charged in the flank by elven cavalry. Up front one unit of Skele’s got hit by a regiment of moving trees or some such and the horde of zombies got attacked by a monster and a large regiment of dryads from the woods. Lots of combat.

I had a standard bearer and that saved the Skeleton unit from routing after a high nerve roll. That was because after causing a decent amount of damage on them from the ‘tree things’ the nerve roll was enough to route them. But I had an undead standard bearer that was close enough to the unit to allow me to force a re-roll of the nerve check (if I wanted it – which I did). On the re-roll it was much lower and thus they stayed in the combat, with 8 hits on them though…

The Soul Reaver cavalry hit in the flank faired much better though and only took 1 hit, which I think was very lucky for them. The Zombie horde had a lot of hits put on it but not enough for them to be routed. They were only saved because of their large size and stupidity though as they had something like 15 hits on them.

In my turn the Soul Reaver cavalry who had been flanked turned to face their opponents and counter charged, to limited effect. Really I needed them to clear the eleven cavalry from the table. Although they did damage to the elves it was not enough to destroy the unit. I had hoped to get a superiority of numbers on the tree things by being able to bring those Soul Reavers around to help the Skeleton’s but that was not to happen after this turn.

I charged 2 units of Skeleton’s into the moving tree’s and the zombies tried to take on the big Ent monster in the woods. This turn I learn the hard way that Skeleton’s and Zombies may be able to take a decent amount of hits BUT their are not that great at giving them. Lets say they were less effective than I had hoped and we’ll leave it at that.

The Wood Elves continued their turn killing the already heavily damaged skeleton unit as well as clearing the Zombie horde from the table. This meant that on my turn on the right I still had the Soul Reavers facing and fighting the elven cavalry and now some angry tree things facing a single skeleton unit. The standard bearer was close to help with nerve rolls but that was all he could really do.

In the center my remaining Skeletons were fighting an eleven bow unit next to the Dryads. The other side of the difficult ground the Grave Guard foot unit were finally ready to charge into another unit of elven bowmen on the other side of the big wood monster. Unfortunately, after killing the zombies the Ent had turned around. After destroying an opponent you can do a free spin in place, or move forward or reverse. This allows for some repositioning after victory. But you can’t charge into another unit to fight it – unless your first opponent was a single character such as a hero on his own.  So it was critical that the Grave Guard wiped out those bowmen so they too could turn to face this new threat and not get hit in the back by the Ent. Flanking doubles your hits and hitting in the rear triples the No. of hits rolled. So being hit in the flank/rear is really bad in the game.

I decided to take a risk and have both my remaining Skeleton regiments charge into the bows. This was because one would count as having flanked the bowmen. Doing this the flanking unit ignored the big tree things which they could also have charged instead. I was sure the elven bowmen were going to die under the attack of these 2 units and that at least would allow me to hold the center after that. I could spin the units around and command the center with this move. I knew the skeletons’s would be pretty ineffective vs the tree things anyway. Of course this is where my dice failed me and although I damaged the bowmen the nerve roll was not enough and the elven bowmen stayed on he field. They were wavering – which meant they would not attack but that did not help me. It left the tree things open to do what they want and had not even killed the target unit.

The saving grace was the Grave Guard did their job well and completely destroyed the elven bowmen in front of them allowing them to turn to face the Ent. The Soul Reavers on the right also finally killed the Eleven cavalry and spun to face the tree things.In the Wood elves turn the tree things charged my just victorious Soul Reaver cavalry on the right and both Skeleton units got hit in the flank… The unit which had flanked the bows by the last elven foot bowman unit and the Dryads hit the other unit. Things did not look great for either of them. The Ent did also charge the Grave Guard. The Grave Guard armor saved them although they now had quite a few hits on them. The Dryads killed one skeleton unit but the other survived. Unfortunately for my plans the tree things rolled really well – above average and thus destroyed the Soul Reaver cavalry. I had hoped they could last the initial onslaught and kill that unit in their counter attack. So now all but one of my units on the right were destroyed.

In the last turn my Vampire Lord attacked the wood elf leader – although got him wavering did not kill him. I had hoped to run him through and then move on to help the Grave Guards in their fight. In their turn the Grave Guard did a lot of hits on the Ent but again did not kill it. The remaining Skeleton unit finally did kill an elven bowmen unit though. They did fall to the Dryads in the elven turn. And that as they say was game over.

In the end, a fairly close game but the wood elves got the victory in the end. Tactically, I made quite a few mistakes but still as a first play of this type of game in years I’m not that upset about it. It was a fun game with lots of movement and I had my chances so having fun and losing highlights one of the good points in the game. We both made comments that it was reminiscent in many ways of Warhammer but ‘less fussy’. It was nice to get some of the old warhammer toys on the table and rolling buckets of dice in combat.

So for a summary of War of Kings. If you want a modern game which can support a load of toys on the table in regiments or a system to use your old GW Warhammer figs an outing then I think Kings of War seems to fit the bill very well. In fact I can see why players used this vs. Warhammer when Warhammer was still being pushed by GW. The game has a very GW feel to it but that’s not bad just the way it is. It’s quick and clean with plenty of decision points and buckets of dice. Lots of people like that and although I would not always want to play this it’s definitely one which will get played again.To sum up a few thoughts on Kings of War I have the following bullets:

  • The rules generated an old school style fun game. This seems to be a great successor to Warhammer and overall I think more fun than that from the memories I have of playing that system. I’m not into the fine details and power gaming and Warhammer always had those undertones. I’m sure that can be done in this game but at least on first play it did not seem as bad.
  • The rules are clean and clear with decent decision points. It give s a great old style buckets of dice game with regiments of troops.
  • There are plenty of deployment and in game tactics – flanks are really important and the line of sight rules are clear for how things work. So that’s nice.
  • The production quality and army lists etc for KoS are good and as it uses unit bases and wound/hit markers not figure replacement it will work for all scales and different figs as well.
  • The all die rolls/moves by one player in their turn actually works for this game so that’s a great advantage for time of play. Turns do not seem to be so long as for this to be a big issue, at least after the first game we have played.
  • From what I see and from the game we played it seems that heroes & monsters are powerful but can be squishy if played wrong. From a game balance side of thing and just from first game that feels about right. A hero taking on a regiment alone likely won’t win but as a helper likely may tip the balance. If they don’t win though the hero could be in trouble.
  • The very limited magic actually seemed ok. There are only a few spells but actually in the one game we had this did not seem a major issue. The spells give some flavor but do not overpower the overall game like some version of Warhammer magic did.
  • I can see a good amount of depth in list building and game tactics without this becoming like a Warmahordes deep meta that needs huge amount of knowledge and time. There are no super killer abilities which are instant death for opponents it seems. I must admit I like that vs. say Warmahordes which has a lot of that. I hear comments on the web that there is some cheese armies with loads of breath weapons/magic which might be an issue, but not sure what that’s about. Most games with lists like this have a few cheese options so it’s not unexpected.
  • The biggest negative for me is the lack of command and control of moves in the game. That’s not as much of an issue for a ‘warhammer replacement’ style game but is for more general games – especially more historical ones it may be.

So overall, I have to say I liked Kings of War and will be playing this again. It’s fun and very much a modern Warhammer.

Posted in 28mm, After Action Report, Fantasy, Review, Warhammer Fantasy | 2 Comments

More Acadia Quest heroes

Well it’s another update on the Arcadia Quest painting – and thats because I’m getting ready to try the game out soon as well. I’m back to heroes and a monster or two to finish off the base game. Below you can see another three heroes have been completed.img_1285These three are quite a collection and it took me some time to try to get the greens for the one in the middle right. Also, I tried to get the magic effects of the wizard on the right and the magic ball in the middle to shine. They do more in real life but these photo’s don’t really show that well. You can see it a little more from the reverse shot below. Heck though, I’m just happy they look reasonable.img_1289Trying to get the different blonde colors for the hair of the various figures has been another challenge for these models. But overall I’m happy with how these have come out really. Professionals will I know have done a much nicer job but overall these are really nice for the table top gaming we do. they are above normal gaming table standard so that’s ok.

As always with these posts included here are a couple more monsters  as well. After all the heroes need something to compete against in the game. This time it’s 2 minotaurs. They definately look to hit hard with the big stone hammers that they wield! The two models are exactly the same so I just used a single photo for these. It’s soon going to be thumping time…img_1282

Posted in 28mm, Board game, Fantasy | 1 Comment

Arcadia Quest Evil Ladies

So this is a post covers some of the nasty monsters which are in the Arcadia Quest game. This time concentrating on the evil ladies and a couple of big goons to support them. You can see a collection of them below. Yes I include Lord Fang in the front, a model which I have shown previously in this blog here if you’re interested. The smaller models are really 30mm or so in size so that gives you an idea of the size of the bigger guys. I must admit, although these are not my typical models/style of figures I paint but I’m actually quite enjoying doing them and the end results do look kind of cool in real life.
So first the two big guys. Again these models are exactly the same so I just have one shot showing the front of one and the back of another. These spear throwing guys are nice and I did a simple shading technique on the skin which seems to have come out nicely.
Next we have the two Sisters of Pain. In the background these are from an odd religious order who are looking for the solutions of life through pain – and vampirism… Seems to be a lady with an attitude and large knife. Not something to be sneezed at and I suspect they won’t be easy to deal with in the game. I can see the guys making a few comments on the mad looking blondes – and I have to say they do look a little on the angry side! img_1114img_1116 Next we have the two Sister of Pleasure. An opposite order to the above who are also vampires but this time are out to solve their issues through their own pleasure. Now this sounds like a lot more fun, even though they do say ‘Blondes have more fun’. These ladies both look like they are having fun even if others are not. In the background I believe there is a little bit of a rivalry between the two orders as well. I used purple as the trim on these ladies. It looks ok but it’s not as great a highlight as the gold above. They have a white lock in their hair as well bit that did not come out well in the pictures – but I did not bother to retake the photos to show it more. Both these are what the artwork had so I followed that.
img_1119So there we are. A decent collection of ‘chibi evil looking’ models. I’m getting close to having this game ready for the table.

Posted in 28mm, Board game, Fantasy | Leave a comment

Command and Colors Ancients- a quick review

For the last little while I have actually been playing as many board games as miniature games. For me that’s a little unusual bit still nothing too untoward really. I do like both and don’t get hung up on the different concepts of games. I must admit I have quite a few board games with miniatures as well – Arcadia Quest for example. Games are for socializing, making you think a bit while having fun with friends. As long as they do that then they are great and successful to my mind.

499However, one which we played recently is an old favorite of mine and one which some people in the group had not played or seen. So, I thought there may be others out there who were the same and I’d add a quick blog about it. The game in question is Command and Colors by GMT games. There are various alternate versions out now to cover different periods. These vary the details of the rules and cover Ancients, Napoleonic, Samurai, American Civil War, and WW1. There may be others out there as well which I don’t know of but this is a site which contains info on all these : The memoir ’44 world war 2 game I’m told is quite similar as well but I have not actually played that one at all.

The one we played this week is the Ancients version. It is basically a hex based light miniatures game which uses blocks of wood with labels on them instead of figures. Some versions use little figures such as the ACW battle cry version. I painted the models from that last year – you can see some of them here. If I had enough of the figures for the right armies in the ancient realm then I’d use those and a dice for the hits vs. the blocks – but I don’t. At some point I do want to the though as it would look great.

The game works via having  set of cards for, you guessed it, command and control. You play one card a turn which allows you to activate certain units (often only in specific area’s of the battle) and fight with those. This limited level of control mechanic works really well. It means as a player you are constantly struggling to balance what you want to do with what you can do, making each decision effect the game – usually a good sign for a game mechanic.

Battles use custom die for the outcomes. The die come with the game. The same system works for ranged or close combats. Although there is a bit of ‘fiddling/detail’ with different types of units having different movement and combat factors etc. the game actually is quite simple. It also has nice quick reference sheets which contains all the relevant info for us less regular players. There are quite a few differences for units but you have to remember them but after the first couple of games. Most of those come very easily and it’s no more complex than many other games. The rules do have some nice touches as well for special rules for things like elephants. Troops like cavalry are reflected well IMO – with them being mobile and useful for strikes but if defeated they can disappear quite quickly. Light missile troops have their place softening up units or destroying weakened ones but you can drive them back as well so they die if focused upon by an opponent.

What’s really nice about the game is the number of historical scenario’s which are included as well as the fact that there are loads of others free on the web. You can even create your own or ‘fantasy’ games like most balanced wargames from the resources freely available on the web. There are I believe 6 expansion boxes for the ancient game which add different forces and thus scenario’s which can be played if you like that type of thing.

The worse part off the games can be the set up, but I am thinking I may put all the tokens in different fishing tackle boxes – with each type of fig having their own little slot. That would make it much easier to set up a game, although it may make their storage a little bigger than the standard game boxes. The reality is though that this setup is really no different than setting up a figures game. Although you have to look closely at the blocks to get the right ones at times.

Overall, I really like the Command and Colors game mechanics and they make you think and try to win, but at the same time they are not too taxing on the brain. For a light war-game which make you think and play a little like the commanders of old, but finish the game in an hour or two they take some beating. In many ways to me they provide the same sort of game target as say DBA, but in a very different way. I like both games and play them both. They are very different though so don;t think one would replace the other for me. They do succeed in that with a couple of hours at most, they provide a historical wargame which can be played on a normal kitchen table. So if you have not tried the Command and Color games I recommend giving them a look. They may not be the newest arrivals in the shops, or the trendiest games out there for buz, but are well worth the game time to playing.

Posted in Ancients, Board game, Napoleonic, Review | 1 Comment

Last of the 15mm Renaissance support figs

Theses figs are the last from my Blue Moon 15mm set for this period and I have to say they continue to impress. Nice characterful figs and great for 15mm – well maybe 18mm as they are a little larger than 15’s really. These will be used for En Guard games and maybe even pulp alley. Yes they are a little smaller than many people use but they are great figs and the smallness does help with storage of games which don’t get too much play.

So first we have the execution squad. The axeman is a nice figs and then I have the same lady either on the blocks or standing and in peril. I purposely did that so that I can do a rescue scenario and when saved from the axeman I have a fig to use for one side to get off the table! That’s thinking ahead. I’m not sure if that’s what the figs are meant to be like this or not, but they seemed close enough to use for that use – so there we are. Of course I don’t have huge numbers of figs for an execution crowd… but I likely will use my clubmen/hordes from my ECW/medieval DBx forces which should give a decent crowd for any games. Next we have the ladies of the set. Four of which go from the one looking for a kiss on the left to the true ballgown wearing lady on the right. Below I show both the front and back as the dresses for these ladies are important after all! Years of marriage have taught me that if nothing else. Again these can be part of any crowd as well as ‘plot points’ as needed.Next we have the big buy and a milk maid. It’s nice to see different sized figures and this guy is huge – but still not impossibly big. Another really characterful model. It would be a great one for a leader of a faction as well. The maid with a bucket has all kinds of possibilities as well. Here eye’s here look dark but in real life the model looks a lot better. The next group are definitely at the tavern or such. The drinker, the bard and the waitress. These are an easy set to see together in any game as a plot point/scenario objective or just a target location. They look like they could have information or other uses and thus are a great little set of figures for skirmish games. Lastly in this set, a lord (or at least seemingly one) and his servants. These again have various uses and the central fig could even be a leader of some kind in games. Again my painting was a little heavy on the lords face but maybe a ‘black eye’ could be part of any game background.So there we are. I still have not played a game yet with the Blue Moon figs but I really do like how hey have come out. If I can do the above paint results then others can do even better as they are excellent figures. Just have to get them on the table now…

Posted in 15mm, 17th Cent, Pirates, Ronin/En Garde | Leave a comment

Arcadia Quest Orcs and Lord Fang

In the last Arcadia blog post I showed a couple of Orc nasty figs. Here we have another 6 – the remaining orc baddies in the game. All these are the same model but it’s bigger than the normal 28mm fig – being closer to 40mm in size. To get these all finished as I wanted them too much more work than I had thought they would be. But they are done now.

These actually came out better than I expected in the end and will be great for the game. I followed the basic artwork for the characters of the game. So yes the typical green, red and browns for Orcs.Just to add a little more to this post and also to give myself a fun project, I then did LORD FANG – the big baddy of the Arcadia Quest base game. As always tried to match the artwork for this guy but he has come out a little more purple than the game artwork – but I quite like the end result so I kept it. He definitely has some influences from the usual vampire bodies but with enough comic items that it’s clear he is different.

I will likely come back and do the details on the bases for all these but for now these models are varnished and ready for the table. This marks the half way point for my Arcadia Quest base game painting! Yeah so I just need to focus on this for another month or so and I should be able to get this onto the table. I’m looking forward to that.

Posted in 28mm, Board game, Fantasy | Leave a comment

Saga Vikings vs. Norse Gaels Battle report

It’s been a while since I have done a battle report on here so I thought it was time. I don’t think I have ever done one for SAGA as well so even more timely.

This is a game from the ongoing campaign for SAGA which the local club is running. I’m the only Viking force in the campaign which surprised me a little. Vikings are cool after all. I choose them as they fit my unsubtle SAGA play style – run forward and hit it (lots). Also, as I have not played in a year I knew I would be rusty (and was as you’ll see in this report) so did not want too complex a battle board for play. Maybe I should have done a couple of practice games before playing a campaign game, but I’m playing in the campaign to have fun and play games not to win it anyway.

In the first campaign season I was out of town a lot and so could not find an opponent to get a game in. So the league controller nicely allowed me to have a defend action (even though I had tried to raid anyone who was free to play when I was in town). In the defend action as no one attacked me, so I could build up my forces a little more! We have just started the second season so with the newly recruited figs from the time at home my guys decided to raid the Norse Gaels so we could have a good old fight. That’s what this battle is. My warlord is of course called Sven and from Svea (an old name for Sweden).

Sven’s force was a typical 4pts SAGA Viking force – for me anyway. It contained 4 Berserkers, 4+2 Hearthguard and then 2 units of 8 warriors. I had 2 extra Hearthguard from the defensive turn. So 4.5 points of force.

My opponent (the warlord Johan) had 3 units – one of 6 warriors with javelins, one with 11 warriors with Dane axes and a 6 figure Hearthguard unit with Dane axes. So, just under 4 pts. He could have recruited mercenaries as you round up all things in SAGA so I had 5 and he 4. This would help in the battle but he decided not to pay the wealth for that – he used in the end to double his losses replacement at the end of the battle. So in theory and on paper I had an advantage of a slightly larger force. The campaign style means miss matches of size can happen. But he had played two games recently and I have not played in nearly a year, so I was not in such a good position in that way. We each would generate well over 6 SAGA dice initially so were not limited by order die numbers.

We rolled the scenario and ended up playing the escort. Although I was the attacker on a raid one of his campaign abilities allowed him to swap that and he did so I ended but as the defender. Luckily I had brought my farm animal models which were perfect for the loot being escorted in this scenario. The initial game set up was as below. I had my Sven warlord and the Berserkers in the large building while the Warrior units were in front of the animals with my Hearthguard were on the far right. Johan had his Javelins in the center with the large units of Dane axe Warriors on the right as I looked at the table and his Hearthguard on the left. In the first turn I moved the central loot forward with their covering troops keeping pace. In response the Gaels moved forward and peppered my warriors with Javalins. This was very effective and killed 3 of them- how come my shooting never seems to be this effective when I have missile troops…sigh.The next turn saw me come out with an aggressive move. My Hearthguard moved to attack the big warrior unit. This is where the Gael challenge rules really started to come into effect. I accepted the first one which had my troops retreat but I expected that. I had planned for it as I had the Viking ability to wipe out the extra fatigue in combat. So then they charged in once again. The second challenge ability used on that combat I tried to fight – and lost. So that killed one of my Hearthguard and the ability functioned. In the end the combat was rather ineffective with us both just losing 1 figure. So after all that it was a missed opportunity. I might have been better just to accept the penalty of the challenge but I thought the risk worth taking. It likely was, but the Gaels kept powering the +1 bonus for challenges on his board and that is useful ability for him and helped.

Johan continued to throw Javelins in his turn, killing another warrior and moved his troops back away from the now mad Vikings. As there is no turn limit in this scenario – just get the baggage off the table. So this skirmishing style of play building up defensive challenges really worked well for them. I decided I needed to clear some enemy troops to make a space to safely try to move the escorted flocks to the other table edge. To do this I had moved my Warlord and the Berserkers out of the building ready for the next turn.The next turn I put everything into a charge on Johan the opposing warlord with my Berserkers. Triple moving, burning a fatigue from them and giving them re-rolls I hoped would take him out…. It did not do it though although it killed a couple of his close warriors who stepped in the way to save him. I needed 6’s and even with 16 die and a re-roll for misses my usual luck held out. I likely rolled a little below average, plus he saved multiple hits.  The last move of my turn I move the Berserkers back so they were less of a missile target for the Javelin armed warriors. Maybe I should have tried the attack again but once was risk enough as no beserkers had died in the attack.

The Gaels again set up for my attacks (especially in setting up challenges) in the next turn – moving troops to ensure they were central to the board and able to offer a central defense. At this point I was intent on killing some Gaels – maybe I have a little too much of the Berserker in me in real life…to be fair though I thought I needed to clear some units before doing anything else.The next turn I decided to focus on the Gael Hearthguard unit and remove it from the table. First my warriors double moved and attacked it. I thought they might use a challenge ability on that but he did not. However my unit lost the combat, I killed a fig to a loss of 3 of their own. Not the greatest start really. Then Sven my Warlord and the Berserkers went in. After losing another challenge (seeing a pattern here ?) they did kill all the Gael hearth-guard but all the Berserkers died doing it. Thats as expected though as Berserkers are ‘fire and forget’ troops – they kick out a lot of damage but die quickly as well.

This turn I made my biggest mistake of the game though. I should have only withdrawn the warriors who lost the minimum distance which would have allowed them to provide my warlord bodies to take hits after his attack. However, when I worked out what I had done it and it was too late. One I moved my warlord I realized they were too far away to do that! So that left my warlord all alone after the massive casualty toll around him. A silly mistake and one which would be costly. I had planned on him being able to use the warriors for support.This did not go unnoticed by the Gaels. They made their first offensive melee attack of the game. The Gael warlord Johan came himself with the large Dane axe warrior unit in support. They then used a challenge and bonus abilities to overpower and take my warlord out of the game…

Suddenly things looked much harder for me. My tactic’s now really changed from winning to not losing this game. Well that and the remaining troops wanted blood for blood with their leader Sven going down in combat. Things looked slightly against me as well at this point. So much for the int theory 1 pt advantage at setup…

The Gael warlord was still active with 2 reasonable sized warrior units left. I believe they both had at least 6 figs – which is a decent sized force. I had 3 units but one of the warriors units was now down to 3 figs the other with 5. My Heathguard had 5 figs left. The next turn I charged those Hearthguard into the Dane axe Gael Warriors. By this point I was expecting the challenge and the fact that I might as well not fight that. I should have wiped that unit out but some amazing save die by my opponent meant that 1 remained alive. I believe he saved 5 hits on 8 dice! That left each of our units with 1 fig. I was really hoping to take out another of the Gael units with this – reducing the order die pool and leaving him with less options.

I also attacked the other Gael warrior unit with my remaining larger warrior unit. The odds were slightly against me but I used one of the board abilities to give me a few extra die. This was a bloody but slight loss for me. I did kill half of them but they also killed a couple of my guys as well. Overall after this flurry of combat this left us with very few figs remaining, but oddly still a decent number if units. For some reason we each had one or 2 figs left in units.In my next turn I used one the Viking special abilities – Loki to remove the small unit of Gael warriors. I used my remaining Warrior unit with 3 figs to attack the one remaining Gael warrior. That they did for the loss of a figure. That left Johan the Gael warlord on his own. Unfortunately, in the next round he killed both the small warrior units I had left – leaving me a single Hearthguard figure and the flocks of animals to complete the scenario.

I tried to run the flocks off the table now. Talking one to one corner. Johan on his own went after that to stop it and killed it. There was a decent chance he would fail but he managed it…<sigh> But he was now so fatigued and out of place that in the next turn I could move a different flock off the board in my next turn. That gave us the gaurenteed draw and we called that game at that point. So there we are, a very hard fought and bloody battle and a deserving draw for both of us,a although in the campaign it counts as a loss I believe. Overall, a fun game and I believe we both enjoyed it. It was a learning one for me as well. What I took away was:

  • I forgot how much fun SAGA is as a game. I need to get back to playing SAGA more. It’s fairly simple but does have a lot of decision points which makes a game fun.
  • I need to read the rules again – I was very rusty on them. Especially ranged and exhaustion area’s.
  • I need to have more patience in the game. I attacked every turn in this game after the first. In many cases I maybe should have waited and got in a better position for the next turn as there was not turn limit.
  • Always have the supporting unit with a warlord. Mine did not via a misjudgment and that cost me him and that’s a huge impact in the game.
  • Remember the scenario. I think I got Viking blood fury especially after my warlord died and I just tried to kill as much as possible. There was likely a much better way of winning this scenario with tactics but I did not use them…
  • The casualty rules in ‘Age of Wolf’ campaign encourage to the death games a bit. Knowing that campaign casualties are 1 in 4 means in some circumstances small units become a suicide squads. Other than the loss of the Saga die generation the losses of them at a certain points does not effect the campaign. This is not a huge thing but for example I was very happy my hearthguard lived and really did not care if the warriors died in the end turns of the game. This is something to be aware of for future campaign games.

So far the campaign sees fun – although very loosely written in places. For example rules around matching force sizes is not detailed at all. That could have been much clearer as to what the authors meant. Others have pointed out issues with the rules, especially on the Studio Tomahawk forum and so I won’t go into them here.

As a last item here is the writeup I provided for the fight from my side for the campaign blog. You can see all the Age of Wolf campaign details here:

After spending time at home Sven and his crew went Viking and landed on the shores of Johan’s territory looking for loot. His warband quickly went to work raiding the villages and farms taking anything of value, as well as rounding up multiple flocks of animals. However on the return journey to their ship’s Johan’s force stood between Sven and his ships. Sven force attack in strength, leaving their plunder in rear being eager for the fight. Their their pride in taking the challenges head on did not work out though as they lost more than they won, including Sven being injured when fighting Johan. Svea berserkers managed several charges though before going down. In the end of a bloody battle Johan personally cased down and recaptured some of the plunder but the rest was carried away by Sven’s troops.

Posted in 28mm, After Action Report, Ancients, SAGA | 1 Comment