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.
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 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!