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: https://tmggaotw.wordpress.com/
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.