Saga battle report – 12th October

I played my first ‘proper’ (i.e. non-demo) game of Saga on Wednesday night. I hadn’t finished painting my Normans, and so I borrowed a friend’s army, which meant that I didn’t have my first choice of army available to me.

My opponent was playing Vikings. We decided that, as it was our first game, to play with 4 points rather than the usual 6.

So, my army consisted of 1 Warlord, 2 units of Knights, 1 unit of Serjeants with spears, and a unit of Peasant Levy with Bows.

I was facing a Viking warband led by a Warlord with 1 unit of Hirdmen, 1 Unit of Berserkers and 2 units of Bondi.

We set up the table with a couple of woods, an a small group of houses on the Viking right.

I split the Peasants into 2 groups of 6 and deployed them on either flank, with the Knights grouped in the centre of the table and the Serjeants opposite the village.

The Vikings, meanwhile, deployed their entire force behind the wood on their right, immediately next to the village.

As the game started, the Norman knights split up, with one force riding around the flank of the Vikings, whilst the other, accompanied by the Warlord, galloped towards the village.

In the mean time, the Vikings ran for the cover of the houses and fences, obviously spooked by the sight of the Norman knights.

The Normans continued to advance – the Peasants unleashing a hail of bow fire that killed a single Bondi. The Vikings seemed unimpressed, and merely secured their position (I was sure I could hear “Men of Harlech” being sung with a somewhat Scandinavian accent!)

The Hirdmen advanced along the village fence, whilst the Berserkers hid in the woods.

Losing patience, the Norman knights charged the exposed Hirdmen, not waiting to rest before charging home.

The result was disastrous. The Knights were completely cut-down without inflicting a single casualty.

The Viking Berserkers now moved out of the woods, and the remaining Knight saw an opportunity to drive off these fearsome warriors before they caused too much mayhem. Again, the thunder of hooves was heard as the Knights charged…

…and died to a man, cut down by a frenzied counter-attack. Only a single Viking lay dead and the cream of the Norman force lay broken and bleeding.

The Norman attack having stalled, the Vikings now charged forward, driving back the Levy with heavy casualties and destroying the Warriors as the Warlord charged into the packed Spearmen with his Hirdmen Retinue.

At this point, the Norman Warlord saw his chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and spurred his horse towards the Viking leader.

In the ensuing fight, the Norman Lord blocked multiple thrusts as he desperately tried to kill his opponent. The Viking leader almost fell under the flurry of blows, only being saved by the sacrifice of his retinue and the end of the fight saw him scramble away, bleeding from several wounds, yet still standing.

The Viking looked around, saw his Berserkers near to him, and called them to follow him and strike down the accursed Norman once and for all.

Although managing to kill a Berserker and yet again wound the Viking Warlord, the Norman Lord was overwhelmed by the ferocity of the attack, and fell under no less than seven fatal blows.

It was an enjoyable game, and despite losing my cavalry early, I could still have won the game – I only missed killing the Viking Warlord due to the number of Hirdmen he had with him.

However, I made several mistakes and learnt several things from the game:

  • You don’t need to spend a die to attack in Melee! For some reason I had it in my head that you had to spend a resource to attack once you had charged. This meant that I missed a resource die on at least 2 turns. These could, at the very least, have been spent on the ‘Charge!’ ability.
  • Know your battle board! Knights are scary looking figures, but they have no extra ‘umpf’ in Saga unless you use the special rules from the Battle Board. Without those abilities, they are not that great.
  • Never split Levy archers. I thought that I would try to bracket his forces with missile fire in the game, but 2 groups of 6 levy are far less effective than a single group of 12. Not only did 1 group never fire a shot, but the other was killed in combat – 12 models would have been a much tougher opponent!

I think I learnt how not to use my Normans in this game. I think for my future games, I will firstly need to ensure that I’ve painted my models, so I get to field the force I want (this force didn’t have any crossbows, for example).

Also, having again examined my Battle Board and looked at my warband options, playing with ‘William the Bastard’ as my Warlord, and fielding 3 units of missile troops (1 Levy with bows, 1 Serjeants with Bows, 1 Serjeants with Crossbows), plus 2 units of Knights certainly appeals. So, back to Crusader Miniatures with an order for 4 more blister packs!




11 Comments on Saga battle report – 12th October

  1. sounds like a great game, cant wait to here the next report on the long saga of painting your figures 🙂

  2. Great report and photos Neil.

    I’m building both an Anglo-Dane and Norman force, we have another Anglo-Dane player and a Viking player at our club. I’m still building my Anglo-Danes, having built one force for my club mate already. Got a game next thurs vs the Vikings – not sure which force I’ll have ready by then tho.

    I think I’ll have to try to remember to do a report too (although there’s no way they’ll be painted by then).

    It’s a great game and I agree that keeping an eye on the Battleboard combos looks to be key to getting the most from your knights.

    • I think my next force will be Anglo-Danes, just to match up to my Normans…although the Vikings are my second favorite force so far.

      Its a toss up between using Gripping Beast and Wargames Factory plastics – the early WF plastics were not great, but the Vikings and Saxons don’t look too bad.

      I think several guys at the club will be playing Welsh, so the Norman WtB warband will come in useful!

      • We’re using the Wargames Factory Saxons. I agree they are an improvement on the earlier plastics – I’ve got their Zulus and have had much cursing with them.

        They’re not the greatest sculpts – the necks on the heads require quite a bit of trimming down and the proportions on some of the arms are a bit out of whack, but all in all they look okay (and I can’t grumble about the price).

        I’m actually using some of the WF saxons as ‘double-duty’ minis. I can use them as a sergeant unit with spears in my Normans (the sprues include kite shields and armoured bodies in the Thegns box) as well as a warrior unit for my Anglo-Danes. The rest of the Normans are being made up from various sources as and when I grab them – not got any crossbows yet tho – still deciding where to get them from.

        My Anglo-Danes have a smattering of old Citadel barbarians thrown in with the WF plastics.

      • Are there enough bow armed figures in the WF Fyrd box set for a full Levy unit?

        I’ve seen a review which would seem to indicate that the WF plastics match up well with the GB plastics…I think <£40 for a Saxon or Viking warband would be excellent!

      • Unfortunately there are only 8 bows in the box.

        Myself and my clubmate split a box of Fyrd and a box Thegns between us. Both boxes have the same weapon/head sprue in them (4 copies of it) and you get 2 bows on each sprue. So we both ended up with 8 bows.

        I’m adding 4 old Citadel bow-armed barbarians to mine and I built 4 throwing spears/javelins (counts as bows) for my clubmate’s bow-armed Levy unit. He hadn’t got any other minis to supplement the box contents.

        You do get enough Dane Axes to make a unit of 4 Huscarls with two–handed axes (you might want the thegns box for that though as they have chainmail bodies).

        We split the two boxes completely in half so we had 16 chainmail bodies and 16 unarmoured bodies each. I might have to write a blog post discussing what we did in more detail. 🙂

      • The average Warband size would seem to be 43, (Warlord, plus 2 Hearthguard, 3 Warriors and 1 Levy) so definitely need 2 boxes.

        It’s good to hear that the boxes have the same weapon sprues, so a unit of Levy should be OK – should have enough spare figures for 4 units of Hearthguard (with and without Dane Axes)

        Do you know if the WF Viking Huscarls box includes Berserkers?

      • No idea on the viking box contents, sorry mate – our viking player is using his old metal vikings. He’s got a complete WAB army to choose from.

        I’ve not made up my mind as to whether to actually go towards 2 units of levy in a 6pt game with Anglo-Danes or not. You might not get SAGA dice from them but you should be able to roll into extra/s using the ‘Activation pool’ ability on the battleboard based on the dice from the rest of your force.

        24 archers is going to put the hurt on someone. I can even see value in having 3 units of levy for an outrageous amount of firepower they can put out, plus that’s a lot of bodies to carve through for even the most vicious enemy.

        My first game was a 4pt game and based on that experience I can see levy being very useful for trimming down the numbers of enemy Hearthguard units ready for your own guys to get stuck in.

  3. Neil,

    Great report, played a the demo game at Partizan and was hooked. Currently painting a Viking Warband and my best friend is painting Normans. Bought some nice buildings from PMC and also looking at the goodies at Grand Manner. Game in a couple of weeks.


  4. Æthelwold of Wessex // October 18, 2011 at 12:05 // Reply

    The WF Vikings don’t include beserkers, the only difference between them & the Saxons, are the head/weapon/arm sprue. The torso/leg sculpts are identical.
    Here’s my WIP warbands shows the sprues.
    3 boxes in total, has given me enough bows to do a unit of 12 Levy for each warband. You might get 12 levy in a warband, but you only get 1 attack, be it shooting or h2h for every 3 models!

    • Thanks for the info – will definitely go with some WF vikings/saxons for the budget approach.

      BTW – whilst Levy only get 1 die for every three in hth, in ranged shooting it’s still 1 die for every 2 figures.

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