So this week I played my first game of the Saga v2 rules. I have yet to read the rules but do own them. So this was a bit of a learning game for me. I had managed to scan a few things on the net about the new version, so was not coming into this completely cold. My opponent Perry was playing Irish list but with some very middle eastern stand in models and you can see a close up shot of them below. I suspect they will really be used when the crusades book hits over here. I know it’s released but I have not seen it over in Canada yet. The toys are nicely painted and that the main thing, so I had no issue with the stand in’s – I much prefer that than unpainted models.The Irish have champions still and the new version makes levies much more effective so he had 3 of them, 2 champions, a unit of warriors and a mercenary hero/single character. He set up covering one corner of his deployment zone and about half the table width in, as you can see below.
I used my Welsh – so this was going to be a ‘javelin fest’ with lots of tricks. I say that as both are armies have their fun ‘magic’ powers on the saga battle board. So rather than just hitting hard they have reaction or subtle mechanic change rules which make them unique and different. I had 3 small hearthguard units of 4 figs each in the centre and 3 warrior units, 2 mounted on my left flank, with a unit of warriors on foot holding the right against the main force of the Irish. The table was set out below. We just scattered some terrain vs. using anything in the rules.My basic plan was to use the foot warriors to hold the main force of the Irish in place while the mounted units went around the flank . Then with help of the hearth guard they would all destroy the Irish. I also remember from the old version that Irish champions and warlords were a pain and hard to kill so my thought was to focus on his levy units to take away saga dice and their space taking abilities. With those dead it should be easier to take out the characters.One change with the new rules is the ability to move unengaged units once without a die. I did this in the first turn and used a welsh ability to ignore terrain. So the Irish were a little shocked by the rapid movement of all the Welsh to just outside long range by turn 1. The holding Welsh warriors hid behind terrain knowing their time would soon come, especially as in the Irish turn their battle line moved forward in their turn. I also learnt about the special Irish extra hits power on their characters – which was enabled in most game turns it seemed. It uses 2 Saga die but does make them extra resistant to damage. That reinforced my thoughts/plan to focus on the levies really though. The next turn my aggressive nature got the better of me. I could not sit for a 3rd the game without getting stuck in. So after moving the flanking cav again, I moved my other unit up close to one of the enemy levy units. A flight of Javelins took out a couple of the levy and then I used a Welsh battle board power to force the Levy to charge my unit- through bad terrain. This worked and I only lost one warrior to the levy and did a loads of hits in return but after some really good save dice rolls the levy still had enough figs to count for a saga die generation. This left my horsemen exposed so I used the foot warrior unit to charge another levy unit in the center. Oddly, this was much more effective and again for a single casualty they kill 6 of the levy. Still not enough to stop them generating a die but that was a bit of a bloodbath, with half their number dead.The Irish turn went somewhat as expected though with them concentrating on the exposed warriors but I was surprised they were not as effective as it could have been. This time it was my turn to roll decent save die! It does not happen often so heck that was a nice surprise. The Irish did move to surround my two warrior units though.The Irish have battle board abilities to use one die to activate a lot of units but only once which the allowed them to use other dice for powers. So my warriors needed to do something on my turn. to break out of this.
In my turn I rolled good Saga die for once and decided to continue to attack aggressively. Yes, people who know me are not shocked at this aggressive tactical move I’m sure. I used the mounted warriors to charge the remaining levy in the center and took them down to a single fig. The foot warriors were there to support and I started to move some of the hearthguard forward to help, but I could not move everything with the limited dice I had. I waited for the counter attack which I knew was coming at this point though.The Irish turn saw the destruction of the mounted warriors and my foot warriors were taken down to half numbers and retreated from losing a combat. So that was as expected really. Getting in the middle of the opponents forces with just a couple of units is never great. The supporting hearthguard unit was starting to close though. I was limited by an awful saga die roll… all die rolled the weakest symbol which limited me for what I could do, both for powers and units to control.The main thing I decided was for the hearthguard unit to attack and destroy the second of the levy units. I tried to get them to safety but instead exhausted them – which is easier in this version of Saga. I forgot how easy it is to do that. By now the flanking mounted warriors were around the hedge and getting ready to make their play. The Welsh warlord and another hearthguard unit was also on the move while the Irish now we’re starting to look a lot thinner on the ground.The next Irish turn their mercenary attacked and destroyed my exhausted hearthguard unit but only after they had been peppered by their champions and warlord by javelins. Warlord definitely seem to shoot more than I remember in the last version.My unit of foot Warriors were gainly holding out vs the other levy unit but at two fatigues they were not doing much. That’s something which has changed in this version, as fatigue seems to be more of a tactical factor vs. the last edition. More units doing one or two actions seems the norm here vs the super units doing quite a bit and then losing fatigue in combat which happened from what I remember in the old version. They did get knocked to just above the size where they would generate a SAGA die with the full force of the Irish on them. I used one of the Welsh evade abilities to keep them alive a little longer but by the time it was my turn to move they were down to a single figure.With a pretty poor saga die roll again the next turn, I did managed to get my remaining mounted warriors into combat with the Irish foot warriors. Although I lost 4 figs the Irish lost 5. That worked to take another unit out of generating saga die for them. However, I could really do little else apart from set up some reactions to moves. The Welsh have quite a counter punch capability so I was starting to slowly get used to that. It’s also useful to get troops away from trouble with an evade action.The next turn though I was ready to deal with the last levy unit. I used a saga ability to force the levy to charge my lone warrior, who died manfully but brought them out of cover and gave them a fatigue. Then the hearthguard unit close by pounced on them and to the loss of one of their own killed all but three of the levy. In a competitive game I might not have done this sacrifice of a single figure unit but it seemed like a fun idea to get the levy out of the bad terrain.Talking of that, I also charged my remaining mounted warriors at the mercenary. Even with advantages on my side it did not work well though and he killed all them. I definitely need to read the rules up on the characters again as they seem harder in this version than the last one. In a tourney or a competitive game I might not have done this but I wanted to see what happened. I predicted they would to be able to kill him and that expected result did really happen. Still what the heck.In the last turns, the Irish did not have enough Saga die to do that much – especially not power their extra defence power. So my idea of taking out the levy to remove saga die had worked to an extent. I was also getting the hang a little more of moving units etc and using the Welsh board which helped a little as well.I waited for the Irish to set up and power saga abilities to weaken a unit, then I moved that unit away with a reaction ability. This saved some of the worse of the damage the Irish warlord/champions can do with Javelins. It also left one of the Irish champions exposed and I did finally kill one of them with my final fresh Hearthguard unit. I also killed the last of the levy so the Irish has 1 levy fig in the table and their characters. Another typical saga game where not many models survive the game!In the end I’m not sure who won as I’m not sure what victory conditions were, but we had fun. We both had a good time playing the game which is the main point. It’s given me the push to read the rules and get back playing saga again which is good as well. I say that but still have not opened the book to read them yet but I will.
Tactically, I need to get better at moving more units and doing combined tactics as it’s obvious this version has a little more focus on that than the last one. Javelins also are nasty – helping in attack but also reducing your own armour which is not great. So I need to get better at using the Welsh board for the attack and counter move style fighting.
Overall, I have to say Saga 2 is a fun game and may well be better than the first version. It does not seem any worse that’s for sure. Its another game to use my Dark Age toys with as well as Lion Rampant which I really like. We had a fun game and knowing the rules will certainly help for the next game I play. The Welsh also are aggressive enough for my style and come with some tricks so I will try them again. They are different than the Vikings I played often in V1.