Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Olde English SAGA

My local gaming store recently opened up a historical miniatures group and I thought I'd pop in for their inaugural night of SAGA.  I was quite excited after reading all the buzz around the SAGA ruleset and was glad I would get a chance to try it (without shelling out the $$).

Thus a roaming band of Hiberno-Norse found them selves on the shores of England fighting the huscarls and picked men of the aethling prince Aethlstan of East Anglia.

The battle occurred in a village built next to the apparently bottomless and unfordable pond.

The Hiberno-Norse leader Ua Reilley splits his forces.  His elite hird men flank left, his warlord, berserkers and lesser warriors go right.  It must have been an auspicious day for the pagan Anglo-Danish forces.  The land itself seemed to sap the Norsemen of their vigor and will.  Fatigue points began to stack up and troops failed to move.

Finally the Ua Reilley's berserkers had enough and charged forth, leaving their comrades far behind.  The Anglo-Danish mounted contingent had been waiting for this chance and rush forward to meet the enemy.  In a close battle three beserkers were cut down, but the last lashed and out and brought down a horse and rider while the Anglo-Danes retreated from the advancing viking throng.

The last berserker rejoins his comrades as the rude Anglo-Danish welcome  jarred him from his frenzy
On the left it was a heads up battle as 12 elite viking hirdmen attempted to revenge their comrades and cut their way through to Aethelstan. The charge after the viking's earlier fatigues met with little success however, and the vikings were thrown back by the Anglo-Danish shield wall having lost 5 of their number, their only solace in having wounded Aethlstan in a glancing strike.

Ua Reilley's picked men attempt to end the battle by cutting their way through to Aethelstan

 The Vikings recoiling from the Anglo-Danish shield wall.

The Anglo-Danes rally behind Aethelstan's charge and cut the remaining Vikings hirdmen down, leaving only one to flee.

Lone Viking hirdmen exercises the better part of valor.

On the right Ua Reilley attempted to retrieve the situation and led one of his warrior bands against Anglo-Danes.  Viking fatigue was again decisive and their sluggish attacks served only to weaken the warband further. The warriors are thrown back by 8 stalwart huscarls, who lose only one of their number in the process.  The retreat left open Ua Reilley himself and although the great warlord manages to cut cleave through shield and mail to fell three of his assailants, the Norse chieftain falls surrounded and cut off from his men.
Ua Reilley (flag standard at right) falls to the press of Anglo-Dane huscarls
 And that was my first game of SAGA! Glorious Victory.  Overall it was fun.  Essentially the differences between troops are abstracted.  All elite warriors have armor of 5 (must roll a 5 or 6 to hit), warriors have armor of 4 and levys have armor of 3.  Gather up fistfuls of d6 and have at the enemy!  Most of the tactics/strategy comes down to the abilities on the "battleboard" which grants you the magic to cancel enemy activation orders or add fatigue points to the enemy's troops.  Very much a "game" on the Game vs. Simulation axis, but easy to understand and fast play makes it quite enjoyable.