This Saturday's gaming saw a transition from the more gentlemanly Napoleonic wars to the more barbaric dark ages. Seven ruthless warlords came together to settle their differences once and for all in this years Saga tournament. I brought my Viking warband, which consisted of two units of 6 hearthguard, two units of 8 warriors and a unit of 12 levy armed with bows. As is customary, the nights preceding the tournament were devoted to hectic last minute painting.
|Jarl Einar and his loyal bondsmen|
This is the saga of the exploits of Jarl Einar and his hearty warriors.
|Intense gaming under way|
Game 1: Champions of God
The first game saw my Vikings raiding deep into Novgorod. The Rus Princes army arrayed against me had 12 mounted hearthguard, 8 steppe nomads and a few infantry. I think the warlord was a "hero of the Viking age" - at least he was riding a bear, which sounds pretty spectacular!
My game plan hinged around a large building in the centre of the board. I wanted to get a powerful infantry unit in there to protect my flank and to use it as a staging point for assaulting the enemy. The rest of my force would either advance along one flank or hang back - hoping that the enemy would come to me.
This worked pretty well. The Rus launched a devastating cavalry attack aimed at my warlord. I recovered and, piling Saga-dice on a few units, launched a counter-attack with my hearthguard and warlord. The steppe nomads were caught and wiped out, but the enemy hearthguard proved a tougher nut. Meanwhile the strongest enemy unit moved around the building on my other flank, wiping out one of my warrior units before being driven back by my archers.
The rest of the game saw my infantry occupying the buildings and either launching limited assaults at weak Rus units or defending the buildings against concentrated enemy attack. It was a bloody affair, but in the end, the enemy was worsted and I won.
This was an interesting game of cat and mouse, where the buildings played a prominent role. A great game and a great start to the day!
|Right flank of the Rus|
|Left flank and centre|
|Release the hounds!|
|Jarl Einar repels the enemy onslaught single handedly...|
|... and leads the charge on the horse nomads|
|Hirdmen advance on the cowering Rus cavalry|
|Jarl Einar stands defiant in the centre|
|Levy archers pepper the enemy with arrows|
|One unit of bondi is wiped out on the right flank|
|Fighting on the left|
|Surviving Vikings regroup inside the building|
|Hirdmen take shelter in the central building and repel all attacks|
|Jarl Einar dispatches the remaining cavalryman single handedly|
Game 2: Assault at DawnFresh from success in the east, my Vikings decided to launch a raid to the Iberian peninsula, where fabled wealth and exotic slaves were said to be had. This might have been a "sea too far", for the Spaniards proved to be a formidable (albeit craven) enemy! The Spaniards seemed to have every special rule in the book and fielded an all mounted army composed mainly of bow/javelin armed light cavalry.
Once again the board was dominated by a large building. As in the previous game, I was hoping to counter the cavalry threat with this building. My plan was to get my archers into the building while the rest of my force would advance into contact with one of the enemy flanks.
As the battle started, I realized just how dastardly the Spanish are. Their abilities would counter my moves and whenever I would approach their units, they would fire at me and evade. This forced me to pile Saga dice on only a few units in order to give them even a remote chance of catching the elusive light cavalry. I had some success in closing with the enemy, using a two pronged attack and the edges of the board to corner them and then sprinting into combat with my best troops. Several enemy units were wiped out in combat, with my archers dispatching several more cavalrymen.
Success proved elusive however. The dash to close with the enemy left my infantry exhausted and strung out. The Spaniards launched several sharp counter-attacks that eliminated my fatigued units piece meal. In the end, it was a clear victory for the craven cavalrymen. My warlord managed to retreat back to the boats and set off in search of worthier foes - the kind that would resolve the issue in manly hand-to-hand combat.
|Carlos El Mannonen deploying his Spaniards|
|Vikings advance in the centre (green counters are hidden units)|
|Nomad camel riders pepper the Vikings with javelins|
|The Vikings advance and the Spaniards evade|
|A furious sprint brings my hirdmen within striking distance of the elusive nomads, who are massacred|
|The Viking vanguard is surrounded and cut to pieces|
|The few & brave vs. the numerous and cowardly|
|Spanish light cavalry do fancy manoeuvres on my left flank|
|Remaining bondi moments before they are sent to Valhalla|
Game 3: The Escort
Next stop was Francia, where my Vikings immediately set to raiding villages along the river Somme. The local feudal levy, represented by a Crusader warband led by Godefroy de Bouillon himself, managed to intercept my invaders as they were making their way back to their ships. My objective would be to get at least two out of three stolen cattle herds past the angry natives.
I deployed the herds evenly across the board. Most of my units were massed in the centre and my plan was to advance rapidly with this force towards the enemy centre, thus blocking any parallel movement by the enemy. Two of my cattle herds would then advance with all speed along whichever flank offered the least resistance whilst being shielded by my infantry centre.
This plan worked remarkably well. The enemy placed only some levy infantry and crossbowmen in the centre, whilst their hitting power of 16 knights plus Godefroy were on their left. My infantry raced forward and wiped out the pesky enemy infantry early in the game. My cattle raced along my left flank, shielded by the infantry from the killer cavalry on my right. While this was going on, the enemy cavalry charged a unit of warriors and some cattle I had left on the right. My men were dispatched easily, but they bought my main force enough time to escort the cows to safety. Another victory!
|The Viking centre sprints towards the enemy|
|The hammer of Thor - 12 hirdmen running towards the enemy|
|Crusader heavy cavalry mass up on their left flank|
|My right flank bondi are wiped out and the cows recaptured|
|The crossbowmen sheltering in the building are massacred in an orgy of blood|
|Crusader cavalry reorganize them as my terrified levy take shelter in the building|
|The Vikings deploy in a protective screen to shelter the cows that are hurried off the board|
|The Crusader's retainers are wiped out as the cows are herded off to safety|
Game 4: Champions of God
The last game of the tournament pitted me against the Welsh in a straight up fight to kill the enemy. The game was played on the same table as game 3 and I decided to deploy my force very similarly - infantry grouped together in the centre with archers garrisoning the large building and a group of warriors on my right flank. The Welsh spread out their three hearthguard and three warrior units.
The Welsh started the fight by advancing cautiously towards my lines. A unit of warriors came too far forward and my warlord and six hearthguard pounced on them - wiping out the enemy unit. The rest of my force advanced more cautiously. The following turns saw the Welsh converge on my foremost units and pepper them with javelins from all sides. I made several further assaults that were inconclusive and my vanguard was beginning to expire as the rest of my force advanced steadily.
I pulled the worn out survivors back and regrouped my lines before going in for another assault. The battle swung to and fro, with the Welsh preferring to hold back and chuck javelins at my men. I made a poor charge that cost me the remnants of a hearthguard unit, but managed to get save this with an overwhelming assault by my warriors. Pumped up with aggressive Saga abilities, my warriors charged the hearthguard escorting the enemy warlord and wiped them out to a man! This left the enemy warlord cut off and exposed. I used this to the utmost by first launching diversionary assaults to fatigue the warlord before going in with overwhelming force by my warlord and the warriors. The two mighty warriors squared off against each other, but the result was clear from the start. The puny Welshman was no match for the champion of Odin, who hacked the weakling to pieces. The remnants of the enemy host fled rather than face the wrath of the Northmen. A few were allowed to flee but most were cut down and the fairest were rounded up and enthralled.
|Viings square off against Welsh|
|Welsh sheltering in the woods|
|The Viking vanguard is peppered with javelins|
|Jarl Einar and the Viking vanguard|
|The remainder of the Viking host advances|
|The Welsh warlord is surrounded and killed|
ConclusionI had great fun participating in this tournament. The games were exciting and each one played out very differently. The tables looked great as did the opposing warbands and my opponents were all really nice chaps. I didn't think I would do this well, given that I have played only a few games of Saga and have never faced any of these factions before. The great amount of cavalry was also a consternation and I'm glad I took the archers along.
With three victories under my belt, I came in second out of seven and earned the honorary title "Conqueror". I also took the prize for best painted army. Although it sounds a bit sappy, the best prize was none-the-less the fun I had.