Sunday, September 1, 2013

SAGA: Ducks, snakes, stags and Scots

Andy dropped by for some gaming last week. Current project is Sci-Fi skirmish figs (and for Andy too, he wants to make some sort of Gorkamorka 'thing') but none of that is ready and we wanted something straightforward and already painted. You know what we all haven't played in ages? SAGA! 
Sadly, Ragnar Hairy Pants has lost his spear somewhere so I need to fix that somehow with a sword or something. In the mean-time I had Halfdan, Halfdanson. I figured Andy would be Anglo-Danes, so I went Jomsvikings. As it turned out, he all sorts of Scottish tricks in mind and some actual proper Scots dice and battleboard. Ducks, Asps and Deer and then the ability to have an extra orders phase, during mine. It was definitely going to be educational: 
The Year of our Lord 802. Sven Svennson, a mercenary from Jomsberg landed on our shores at the behest of on the duplicitous local Kings. Short on honour but, uncharacteristically, willing to part with coin. The target of Svennson's attentions was a rival local lord. I know not who. I do know that he brought full four dozen shivering Scottish souls to face the rapacious JomsVikings. 

 I am Svennson's cup-bearer. He is a Pagan, and I have observed him to be totally scheming and without any honour. He wishes one-day to supplant the Jarl of Jombsberg but seems to constantly undermine his chief followers. As I have seen him do many times, he placed his most experienced Jomsvikings, with some callow Drengr for assistance, right in the path of the enemy.

Svennson then bided his time, trying to get his mean into the right position and only risk his own neck when victory was assured.
The initial Scottish charge did give some sense to this approach. Those Drengr hiding in the ruined house never knew what hit them. I doubt even the Scots entirely understood it. The half-dozen Jomsvikings to their left held on grimly though, like the veterans they were.

 Svennson then took all the remaining Drengr on the right and began to, well, shuffle forward. I think he would have advanced if only the Scots had been less inclined to endure the Jomsviking magics and more inclined to give opening to some of their abilities.

 The Scots Warlord then rushed the Jomsvikings on our left. And our Jomsvikings through them back, though it cost them two of their own number.

The Drengr on the right also fared ill. Somehow the Scots warriors deflected everything they had and then initiated a savage counter-attack. At the prospect of a slight risk to himself, Svennson then reconsidered his plan to attack on the right.

 Improbably, the Jomsvikings were butchering every Scot sent against them. They just would not budge, though they were also unwilling, or incapable, of going on the offensive themselves.

 The pagan 'Northern Tempest', that accompanies ever raid by the Jomsvikings was taking a terrible toll. But still the Scots bore it stoically and gave the mercenaries no opening.

 The Scottish resolve was beginning to crack though. This time their Warlord tried to take the Jomsvikings on on his own but, again, no success. The Scots seemed strong when they could muster a large spearwall but largely toothless otherwise.

Then their nerve cracked. They dispelled the Northern Tempest with entreaties to our Lord and Saviour and so gave the Jomsvikings their opening. If only Svennson would have the courage to use it.

 I could see that he better do something as the Jomsvikings were down to a third of their number. No doubt their sword arms must be heavy and tired.

 And so it was the rest of Svennson's Jomsvikings slipped their leash and had at the Scots - ready to show them the full Wrath of the Jomsvikings.

The outcome was unimpressive. Somehow the Scots took it and then gave enough back to hold them. God's blood, these Scots were tenacious.

 I could see my Lord Svennson calculating. On the one hand, everyone else in his warband seemed incapable of getting the contract fulfilled. He DID like to get paid and was an accomplished fighter, if disinclined to fight on even terms. On the other hand, I had witnessed him countless times remark that dead men did not get to enjoy their pay.

At the end, I believed he compromised. He did just enough to thin out the Scots to be able to claim a victory, without allowing the Scottish Warlord to reach him personally and force him to fight.

Cheers for the fun and very close game, Andy. I guess I'll take a marginal victory on points. It's challenging playing Jomsvikings and being given no wrath all game but know that this is what their opponents should aim for. If I do use them next time I need to aim to make more use of their mid-column abilities at inopportune times and and not just rely on Norther Tempest to try and provoke you into giving me wrath. Or I might just run Anglo-Danes, if you run Scots. Which you should, as they are tough. 


  1. Nice Jamie,
    I need to work out a way to somehow negate that stupid auto kill 3 guys... maybe take some levies with bows perhaps. (the wrath seems to be a worse option as you can use it however you want on the battle board)
    Fun game Jamie, you have a solid list that was quite hard to crack... my attrition tacdtic didn't work for losing 3 guys each turn!

    1. I almost think your current approach with heaps of Warriors was best. You get 1.5 more guys with Levies but they don't contribute an orders die. Do they get to use the Scots abilities?

      If I'm going to use the Jomsvikings again, I need to work on how to use the other abilities on you to get myself some wrath that way.

      I'd forgotten how fun SAGA is. Lots of depth for such a simple set of rules.

  2. Looked like a fun game. I like Sven Svensson's style.

  3. Thanks guys. Svensson was pretty lucky that Redshirt and his Jomsvikings took out so many Scots. I should play SAGA again, soon, as it is a damn fun way to spend an evening.