Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Saga of Lief Gunnarson

Introduction

I'm on something of a roll with SAGA at the moment, I think.  Not only have I completed my Viking and Scots starter warbands, but I've started to build my Revell longship as well (more on that some other time).  Indeed, recently we played our first actual game of SAGA.  Here's how it went...

Clash of Warlords

For our beginning game of Saga, we decided to play the first scenario in the book: "Clash of Warlords".  Roughly speaking, this is a straightforward "last man standing" game.  Killing the enemy's chieftain without losing your own will give instant victory.

So, the forces were as follows:

Vikings

 From left to right:
  • 4 berserkers
  • 4 hearthguard (front)
  • Leif Gunnarson, the warlord (front)
  • 4 warriors (back)
  • 12 warriors

Scots

 Front row, left to right:
  • 4 hearthguard
  • Macbheatha, the warlord
  • 4 hearthguard
Back row, left to right:
  • 6 warriors
  • 4 warriors
  • 6 warriors

The Game

Opening Moves

Not really knowing what to do, both my Vikings and the front line of my son's Scots advanced straight towards each other.  No doubt many threats and insults were exchanged at this point!

The first contact occurred when the end unit of Scots warriors (pale-rimmed bases) charged the Viking berserkers (dark-rimmed bases).  Neither of us really knew what to expect...

 ...but the vicious conflict left only a single man standing!  This was something of a disappointment for the Vikings; I'd really hoped that the berserkers would wipe out their enemies without all dying in the process.

The Fight on the Hill

Next it was the turn of the 12 Viking warriors on the hill.  They charged a 4-man group of thanes, hoping to punch their way through to the Scots warlord.

Vikings charge down the hill into a confused melee
Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Scots Thanes held firm and drove the Vikings back with 3 casualties.  This was not going as I (Leif) had hoped at all!

Scots warriors from the far end of their line then counterattacked.  Initially they were driven off...

...but the survivors regrouped and attacked again immediately.  The fatigued Viking warriors fell back, leaving some of their number dead behind them.

Finally, 4 of the Scots thanes charged up the hill and decimated the fleeing band of Vikings, killing another 3 of their number.  In one turn, my unit of warriors lost 11 of its 12 figures, in return for 5 Scots soer-chele.  This was not good!

In revenge, I took great pleasure in using the power of Loki to eliminate the remnants of the 2 groups of Scots warriors who had engaged so far.  However, while this would deny my opponent some Saga dice, such units wouldn't otherwise have had any significant effect on the course of the battle.

Kill the Warlord!

So far, each side had lost 11 or 12 warriors, but I had also lost 4 berserkers.  I was outnumbered and any moment the weight of the Scots army would swallow me up.  However, I had a plan.

I loaded up the battleboard with as many offensive capabilities as I could muster.  This wasn't as much as I'd have liked, but it would have to do - the Scots had exhausted their own dice in their last turn.


Firstly, Leif Gunnarson used his Determination, We Obey and Side by Side abilities to gather his hirdmen and charge the Scots thanes on the hill.  These were all cut down, though annoyingly they killed one of the Vikings in return.

This left the way open to attack the Scots warlord himself.  Even though they were tired after their previous combat, Sigurd, Thorfinn and Guthrum charged down the hill into the flank of the Scots line and attacked Macbheatha himself!  Sadly, I didn't have enough Saga dice dedicated to movement to permit Leif to join in as well.

It would seem that Macbheatha had been working out recently; he easily dispatched the 3 Vikings on his own (perhaps assisted by Bran, the dog?).  All his thanes were looking the other way, but a nearby Scots warrior leaped in front of a Viking spear that would otherwise have slipped past the warlord's guard.  So, 3 hirdmen down in return for 1 soer-chele.  This was becoming embarrassing!

Leif Gunnerson now stood almost alone on the hill - just a single bondi warrior was nearby.  With a cry of triumph and a fresh set of Saga dice on his battleboard, the Scots warlord now gathered his remaining thanes and charged the Viking captain.  So, let's see: I roll 5 attack dice (standard warlord profile), while the Scots roll 5 (warlord) + 8 (thanes) + how many?! (for battleboard abilities).  It would have taken a miracle for Leif to survive.

Alas, miracles were in short supply for the Vikings this evening.  Leif didn't even manage to take any of these foes to Valhalla with him.  Just as well that he helped to kill some thanes earlier in the game, then...

Conclusion

I'm sure that our inexperience with the rules (indeed, with Dark Age warfare in general) shows in many ways in this report.  Also, the terrain was just decorative - it had no effect on play - and the scenario was basic.  But...this was a really fun game and something we'll certainly play again.  I think there's a very promising future for SAGA, if not for Leif Gunnarson!

22 comments:

  1. nice report. Somehow, I believe the Viking were tired from last night drinking or maybe they were too sober. Long live the Viking!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know what caused their collapse - maybe you're right!

      Delete
  2. Great batrep. I really enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Irqan. That means a lot to me.

      Delete
  3. I did enjoy the read. I have had to concede that SAGA is not a game for me. I am quite useless at it That said I wish you and your son lots of fun happy times playing the game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, you know, when I read the first part, I figured Colgar should be invited to our game, so we can find out who is the best of the worst! I know Colgar just didn't want his son to lose, becase we all know Vikings never lose unless it's on purpose.

      Very enjoyable report, I love what you did with base rims to recognise different factions. As for medieval warfare, I am telling you this was the best representation of it in general! :P

      Delete
    2. Well, I would never deliberately lose to any of my children - they'd know I was letting them win and it means so much more when they beat me fair and square! If they were very unsure then I would try to help them with tactics and so on, mind.

      As for the base rims, I figured that something was needed to differentiate the 2 sides. Unless you're an expert on Dark Ages clothing and weapons (and even if you are) then you won't be able to tell them apart any other way!

      Delete
    3. It really is very effective method, without too bright red and blue type of marks :P.

      I wanted to mention I am forced to hate you now...I've looked into saga and now I have a carantania warband(using pagan rus faction ruleswise) all planned out. Good think nobody plays that here! :D

      Delete
    4. I had to look up Carantania, but having done so it seems that Pagan Rus would be a very good basis for such a force. You should stop thinking about this, though - as you say, no-one else near you plays the game :-) .

      Delete
    5. Yeah, that's true. I'm just writing down some remarks, you know...for that "one day"! :D

      There isn't much to find about Carantanian army, but I reckon all the Slavs were fighting the more or less same way. I've also found out I could (and would!) add women to the ranks. Second best choice is something that uses woad :P

      Delete
  4. Scots can be nasty so i heard good report!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard this too, though I'm sure they can be beaten!

      Delete
  5. Probably one of the best Saga battle reports I have read. Well done and you will certainly learn how to employ the berserkers and use the battle boards more effectively with practice. Great blog by the way. Please check out my own and feel free to join it.

    http://tomahawkcampaign.blogspot.com/

    Cheers,
    Tom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot, Tom. I'm certain that we'll do better in future and I will certainly have a look at your own blog.

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. Again, thanks, Tito. We enjoyed playing the game and I'm delighted if you also enjoyed reading about it.

      Delete
  7. The poor showing for Lief's lads backs the latest historical research on the Vikings.

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/international/vikings-were-just-fantasy-role-players-2013082278861

    Great win for the Scots - they didn't even need to deploy their bagpipes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe it's ill omens that affected the Vikings. After all, it's just a month short of the 750th anniversary of the battle of Largs, which every Scottish schoolboy knows is when we kicked the Vikings out of our country (even if real life wasn't quite like this).

      Delete
  8. Tough loss for Leif, another good report though. Makes me want to do my Viking games and makes me think of Leif Garret for some reason.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm still not sure where I went wrong. Credit to my son for winning, but I don't think his tactics were especially good either. It's just that mine were worse!

      Leif Garret? He doesn't sound like a Viking!

      Delete
  9. Very enjoyable read and I had a small side bet with myself that after putting so much effort into your figures, that you'd lose - It just was never going to be you day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that. I suppose I should be grateful that you weren't down at Ladbrokes putting money against me :-) .

      Delete