Thursday 14 May 2015

SAGA: Ragnar vs the Monks


Nearly 2 weeks ago, I mentioned in a post (here) that we had played some games and that I'd report on them in due course.  Well, you've already had the ATZ short story, so now it's time for the SAGA battle!

Clash of Warlords

"My lord, Abbot Killian is here to see you", the servant announced.  Macbheatha had barely registered this before the churchman and several of his attendants strode into the hall.  "Lord Macbheatha!" exclaimed the holy man.  "It won't do at all!  You must show the heathen that he cannot prevail!"
The Scots warlord sighed.  "Err, is your anger directed against some particular pagan, or do you simply disapprove of all such on principle?" he replied.
"Why, it's that Viking, Ragnar Lothbrok!" returned the churchman.  "He has erected a false idol near the bridge over the Clutha burn.  When our holy brothers started to destroy it, they were beaten most severely!  Ragnar must be punished.  You must challenge him and show the pagans that they cannot do such things!"
Wearily, Macbheatha reached for his sword and shield.

We played a 6 point game, using the "Clash of Warlords" scenario.  In this, each warlord can take 12 hits before falling; victory is determined solely on the number of such wounds suffered.  The gaining of territory or the destruction of other models counts for nothing in the end (though obviously it may confer a short term tactical advantage!)

I played the Scots and took a regular warlord, a mixture of hearthguard and warriors on foot, a few mounted hearthguard and a dozen angry monks.

My younger son (A.) played the Vikings.  He chose to take the special character Ragnar Lothbrok, small numbers of berserkers and hearthguard, a fair number of warriors and some levy archers.  Hmm, I thought: one of Ragnar's special abilities is that he can ignore the first 2 hits in each melee rather than a regular warlord's 1 hit.  This would make him a very tough customer in a game where such wounds determined the winner.

Early Moves

For the first couple of turns, forces on both sides moved forwards whilst the 2 warlords beat up on each other.  The Viking's attacks were ferocious, but the Scots lord's defence was sufficient to deflect them all.

The general fighting was opened by the Scots hearthguard.  Seeing that some Viking berserkers were in the lead and getting perilously close to Macbheatha, the thanes double-timed over the bridge and charged at the semi-naked axemen.

Some cunning use of SAGA abilities including the powerful A Barrier of Spears and some lucky dice rolling enabled the thanes to wipe out all of the scary berserkers for no loss whatsoever.  As the Scots' commander, this was excellent news and a brilliant start to the game!

...or so I thought.  A large group of Viking warriors charged down off the hill, shouting "Valhalla!" and banging their shields.  It seems that the berserkers are not the only models in the Viking army who can make violently aggressive attacks - and the Scots had burnt through all of their SAGA abilities for the turn already.  Bother!

By the time the fighting subsided, just 2 of the thanes were left standing, surrounded by piles of dead and injured from both sides.

To finish the job, a small unit of Viking hearthguards then charged the tired pair of thanes.  Predictably, the Scots fell, though they did manage to take one enemy with them.

The remaining hearthguard of both sides now tried to intervene and break the deadlock between the 2 tiring warlords.  Almost predictably, all they achieved was mutual near-annihilation as the Scots were reduced to 1 horseman and the Vikings to a single bodyguard.  However, more Scots were pouring across the bridge and even the monks were getting close to the central duel.

At this moment, Nick (my brother-in-law, who was visiting from New Zealand and watching the game) told A. that his Viking levy archers were completely useless.  Just to prove him wrong, my son used them to shoot down the first rank of Scots warriors to cross the bridge.

In the ever-escalating tit-for-tat, the depleted Scots warriors crossed the bridge and killed the last Viking hearthguard.  In turn, the last unit of Viking bondi attacked and drove off those Scots.  However, another group of Scots warriors was just on the bridge, so could they do any better?

The fresh Scots warriors charged off the bridge, but took 1 casualty from the Vikings.  However, they scored a respectable 5 hits on the Norsemen in return.  That should do it, right: 5 hits, each needing a 5+ to save?

5 hits, each needing a 5+ to save.  What could go wrong?
Amazingly, all the Vikings made their saves and the Scots attack was repulsed.  Oh, fudge!  At least only 1 Scottish warrior had been lost.

Right, so let's send the Scots warriors back in for another attack.  This time, 3 Vikings fell for no loss.  Hurrah - at last we might be able to send men to help Macbheatha in his seemingly endless and pointless fight with Ragnar!

But it wasn't to be.  Ragnar finally managed to pierce Macbheatha's defences and wound the Scots lord.  That would be hard enough to claw back with a matching injury to Ragnar, but then the Viking archers shot another volley.  The last significant group of Scots warriors was slaughtered!

As if sensing victory, Ragnar now drove Macbheatha back, wounding him twice more in quick succession.  This was beginning to look like the end for the Scots; despite all the effort they had put in!

The few remaining warriors on both sides skirmished with each other, killing a few more fighters.  However, neither side achieved any decisive superiority.  Finally, the last remaining Viking shieldmaiden attacked the monks to try to prevent them from attacking Ragnar.  She fell to their anger, but not before she had created a martyr from one of them.

The distraction caused by this little skirmish allowed Macbheatha finally to score a hit on Ragnar.  Still, going into the last turn of the game, the odds didn't look good that the tired Scot would be able to achieve anything more against this legendary, rock-hard Viking.

Right, time to go for broke!  I put SAGA dice on every ability I could that might generate attack dice (not that many for the Scots battleboard!) and sent the monks in as well.  The 2 warlords disappeared under a pile of kicking, biting and swearing holy men.  No doubt there was the odd dagger used as well.  Injuries were received by both Macbheatha and Ragnar, but who would come off worse?

So here's the final tally: 5 wounds to Ragnar, but only 4 wounds to Macbheatha.  The Scots squeak a narrow victory at the last moment!

Macbheatha picked himself up from the dirt with the help of Abbot Killian and dusted down his tunic.  It was bloody and torn from the long fight; he'd need to get another one to replace it.  Drat; he'd really liked that tunic.

 He stared for a moment at the receding back of the Viking lord as Ragnar ran away, then shouted "Let that be a lesson to you.  And DON'T COME BACK!"


  1. What an exciting batrep. Thanks old bean, very enjoyable.

    1. Glad you liked it, Irqan! That's one of the most enthusiastic comments I've had in a while :-) .

  2. My money's on Ragnar in the rematch!

    1. Ragnar Lothbrok is a very tough character, especially when facing a side who aren't renowned for their ability to score multiple hits. I don't fancy facing him again!

  3. Gripping and brutal stuff! Loved it!

    1. It was brutal, wasn't it? The splat markers certainly did accumulate in certain areas of the table.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, Ray - we enjoyed this game enormously and it's good to know that other appreciate it too :-) .

  5. Terrific result C6, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat :-) I really like your monks, though all your models are very well painted and based. Wonderful posting and a lot of fun to read. I haven't played Saga in ages but you're really tempting me. Thanks for posting.

    1. Thanks! I still don't quite understand how I achieved so many hits on Ragnar in the last turn :-) .

      The monks are actually very simple models to paint; they have very limited amounts of equipment or decorative clothing!

  6. Cracking good batrep, Hugh. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    1. Thanks, Bryan! We enjoyed playing this game - and I couldn't believe the last-minute reversal of fortunes.

  7. Dark Age mayhem at its best!

    1. If by that you mean "has a high body count" then I'd have to agree wholeheartedly :-) !

  8. Lol thats was a good report. Plenty of scrapping :)

    1. It really was tit-for-tat most of the way through the game. You can see from the location of the wound markers that the warriors just kept piling into more-or-less the same area all game long :-) .