So far I have been playing Saga, by Gripping Beast, as a 2 player game with my mate Alan. However, the rulebook does provide a scenario for a 3 or 4 player encounter - "A Feast For Crows". So as Alan's son, Josef (he of Blood Bowl fame - see my post "As long as I don't roll a 1" ) was keen to have a go (he had played a few practise games with his dad) and as Ruarok said he was up for a game, we decided, a week past Friday, that we would give the scenario a go.
Already, those of you who know gaming progress, will have figured out that the fact it has taken me this long to post the After Action Report, that the following does not make happy reading.........
Most people would probably have had a read through the scenario requirements before setting up the table. I don't fall into the category "Most people" as I had set up my 8ft x4ft board and started to plonk terrain down before Alan pointed out that the scenario was supposed to be played on a 4ft x 4ft board. We decided we would just go with the big board, more room for tactical manoeuvring and, as I was playing with the Welsh warband again, I was the only one who had cavalry - the bigger board was just what I needed - Aye right.
So the objective of the scenario was to kill as many of the opposing warbands' troops as you could, scoring victory points for each casualty you inflict so, for example, a Warlord would be worth 3 points, whereas 3 levy figures would be only worth 1 point. The warband with the most victory points at the end of 7 turns would be declared "Supreme Warlord of the Toughest Saga Warband in Arbroath" and would have bragging rights for 10 minutes at the end of the game.
As we were playing on a much longer table than the scenario envisaged we decided to place an objective in the centre of the table which would be worth 5 victory points for whichever warband held it at the end of the game.
The mystical totem which, it is claimed, would bestow on whoever claimed it much honour and glory on the battlefield.
Well as I was the only one with cavalry that was bound to be me, wasn't it?
We also decided that we would extend the game length to 9 turns just to give those on foot a remote chance of reaching the objective.
As I've said, I was playing the brave Taffs, the Welsh, Alan once more brought his pastry eating Anglo-Danish cross breeds and Ruarok and Josef each had Vikings. We were playing with 4 point warbands so in addition to the Warlord I had 2 units of mounted Teulu, 1 unit of Priodaur (warriors) and 1 unit of Bonnedig (levy).
So we each took a corner of the board and set up our warbands. There was no die rolling to see who took what corner, it was more a case that we just set up in the corner we just happened to be standing nearest. Such an unscientific method of determining set up clearly put me at a disadvantage.
The brave Boyos, with their agile mounted troops, faced by a wood, an area of rough ground and a steep hill and an area of flat ground about 4 inches wide through which to pass to the objective beyond.
Looking down the board from the opposite corner, the unwashed and ungodly heathens of Josef's Viking warband. The Taffs can be seen away in the distance - oh look, there is another wood at the bottom of the aforementioned steep hill.
A closer look at the steep hill and the second wood. Ploughed field and hedges just adding to the misery.
I quickly realised that I had got myself quite literally boxed in a corner. At my end of the table in the other corner were Alan's pastry munchers and Ruarok's Vikings were in the corner opposite from Josef. Hopefully, the Viking warbands would engage in a bit of Viking Civil War thus leaving me to deal a blow for freedom and valour against Harold Two-Bellies (yes he was back) and his pastries.
At the start of each turn, we would each roll a die for initiative and the highest roller would get the first move for that turn and then play would move round the table to the left. Unfortunately, Alan won the first initiative roll and started rumbling his troops forward to the same gap that I would need to pass through.
In Saga, terrain is classed as either open (no effect on movement), uneven ground ( all movement is reduced to slow "S", that is 4 inches) and impassable. We had no impassable terrain but all the uneven ground would make my mounted Teulu no better than foot sloggers. The Welsh do have a special ability on their Battle Board called "Children of the Land" which means that they can ignore the penalties for travelling through uneven ground, but it only applies to foot troops, so the mounted Teulu get no benefit from the ability. Still it helped my foot guys, so on my turn, I sent the Prioduar off towards the steep hill and ploughed field, the Bonnedig to the wood and rough ground on my right and the Teulu started to make their way towards "The Gap".
Actually, I only sent one unit of Teulu
Alan had double marched one of his Hearthguard units into "The Gap" so using the resulting fatigue marker to my advantage the Teulu charged home and killed 2 of the pastries for the loss of only 1 brave Taff.
The Bonnedig, with the help of their Warlord's "We Obey" ability approach the wood and rough ground area.
"Look Out Lads! Here comes Two-Bellies!!"
Already my dice rolling was starting to hamper me. In the first two turns I rolled 1 "Dragon" on my Saga dice. Two-Bellies then led his warriors into combat with my levy and as my warlord, Daffy Dil, was with the levy, Two-Bellies, sought him out and through some underhand trickery and the fact that I could not use a Levy to take a wound through the Warlord's "Resilience" ability (only Hearthguard and Warriors can be called on for that purpose to take one for the team), slew the hapless Daffy.
Two-Bellies gloating was short lived, however, as the Bonnedig, overcome with grief at the loss of brave Daffy, turned their grief to anger and returned to the melee and avenged their fallen leader by slaying his nemesis
The earth shook as Two-Bellies fell to the ground.
Of course, the fact that I omitted to take a picture of the fallen Welsh Warlord while the demise of Two-Bellies is published here for all to witness was purely an oversight on my part.
On the other side of the table, the Viking warbands of Josef and Ruarok stumbled forward.
Josef's unwashed horde passing gingerly between the two hills
Ruarok's Vikings, cast into shadow by the flock of carrion crows flying overhead, that follow their every movement
Back at the real battle, I withdrew my depleted Teulu unit and brought up the fresh one, ready to sweep all before them
I have to say this for Alan. He's never slow at coming forward. Despite facing the prospect of having his Hearthguard ridden down by the rampaging Teulu, he threw his warriors into the Bonnedig and the Hearthguard came to get the Teulu.
The Hearthguard with their rather unsporting two-handed axes earned themselves a complaint to the Welsh Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by chopping off the legs of 2 of the Teulu mounts, although the complaint could not be proceeded with as the Hearthguard were then trodden into the soil by the hooves of the remaining beasts. The Warriors, however, dispatched the Bonnedig and then using another activation then charged into the 2 Teulu nearest the rough ground. One thing that I keep forgetting to do is to use fatigue to slow down an opponent. We tend to use fatigue only during combat but a fatigue token can be spent to reduce an enemy unit's movement down by one category. If I had remembered this then the warriors would have fallen short of the Teulu. As it was another brave Taff went down.
"Jonesy? Evans? Williams, J.P? Where did you go boyos? Oh heck!"
In the meantime, my warriors had at least got through the ploughed field and were nearing the Sacred Stone. On their flank, though was a bunch of sneaky Anglo-Danish Levy carrying some very, unsporting bows - I mean, what self respecting warrior would carry a weapon that can slay an opponent from twice the range as a noble javelin armed Welshman?
The bows twanged and again an abysmal set of armour saves (actually that's a breach of the Property Misdiscriptions Act as the damned Welsh armour didn't save anybody that night) saw 3 warriors fall. Faced with the choice of staying put and getting shot to bits, or going toe-toe with the pastries, the Taffs roared their famous battle cry "By the Power of Max Boyce's Sacred Jockstrap!" and charged and duly bounced off the Levy
Yes I know the Pastries are carrying Javelins but Alan didn't have enough bow armed figures for everybody so we agreed for the purposes of this game that his javelin armed peasants were actually carrying bows - No "WYSIWYG" in this game!
In a scene straight out of the climatic finale of "300", the Levy instead of charging back into the warriors cowardly stood back and fired their weapons. Their arrows blotted out the sun and the Taffs died under the hailstorm.
No more Taffs
On the other side of the table, the 2 Viking warbands were at long last getting to battle with each other. The respective warbands' Berserkers managed the impressive feat of mutually assured destruction by slaying each other to a man. Ruarok's Warlord then closed in on Josef's Warlord and his dog.
Ruarok was triumphant in that clash of Warlords, but in an uncannily similar fashion to what happened to Two-Bellies, Ruarok's Warlord then fell foul of Josef's Viking levy
I was now down to a total of 2 units, 4 figures in total and only 2 Saga dice to roll each turn.
I had forgotten what the Dragon symbol on the Welsh Saga dice looked like it was so long since I rolled one.
Alan's warriors came out of their skulking place in the forest and charged my lone Teulu.
With a predictable result.
Alan's Hearthguard then charged my remaining Teulu unit. Both scored 2 casualties. Unfortunately, that left me with just 1 figure.
The lone Welshman charged
He (meaning me) rolled his combat dice
Honestly, I'm not making this up, that's what he rolled.
Alan's Hearthguard swung back in anger
By now, Josef's warband had managed to reach the Sacred Stone
A furious melee with Alan's Levy then ensued
The Levy were then recoiled
Alan, then performed his "I'll shoot you and you can't hit back tactic". With 3 dice available to him he scored - 3 hits
The Levy then charged in finished off Josef's last warrior (no fatherly love being shown in this game!)
Ruarok, had 1 warrior unit in range of the Sacred Stone but Alan played his "Intimidation" ability and cancelled that unit's activation meaning Ruarok could not reach the stone to contest it before the end of the game.
The Welsh Warband now forming part of Alan's victory point pile.
So the game ended. Alan was a runaway winner, with Josef in second place, followed by Ruarok and me in a distant fourth place. "Fourth" sounds so much better than "last" don't you think?
Ruarok enjoyed his first game of Saga and is keen to play again. Josef showed that he had learnt plenty from his practise games to show that he knew how to handle a warband and Alan enjoyed his 10 minutes of bragging rights.
Me? I'm playing Malifaux on Monday. Now that's a game that doesn't use DICE!!