Monday, 31 August 2015

A late August SAGA

At the Hamilton Road Games Group, SAGA has really caught on. Quite a few warbands have been fielded with a lot of variety in the look and feel of each army. Saturday was no different.

For unknown reasons, we got a late start. Andy suggested a scenario from the main SAGA book called "The Feast of Crows." This consists of four opposing players in a free-for-all donnybrook where it's every player for him/herself! It seemed like a good way to get the game introduced to a new player and some practise for those still learning. Andy and Martin have sucked the ink of the pages of the rule books and battle boards, so Bear and I are still learning and Beth wanted to try the game for the first time. Score was kept by the number of enemy "killed" with the different types weighted differently.

So in each corner we had:
#1  Martin and his Byzantine force - Cataphract lancers and horse archers with peltastoi and javelin-armed levy

Looking good, but the emperor does not live on Coke Zero alone!
#2 Bear and his "Milites Christi" - crusading knights and dismounted sergeants

Black habits - either Hospitaliers or commandos
#3 Beth and her Welsh war band - based on one of the theories of the "real" King Arthur - mounted elites and warlord, heavier warriors, and levy with missile weapons.

"Oy, Llewellyn, we gots clothes and pointy sticks."
#4 My Irish warband - Warlord and Fianna with some armour, bonnachts pretending to have armour, and kern armoured with good wishes and fury. Brian and Ralph came and watched. Ralph is also our local supplier of SAGA goods and he made a sale or two. Our son, Rob, intended to come but was called in to work a special 12 hour shift! He can always use the money!

Faugh a Bellagh! Clear the way!

One of the options for the Irish list is to field a pack of hounds with their handler as a warrior unit.
I couldn't resist.
We all started off after rolling SAGA dice and priming our battle boards. My pack of hounds ignore terrain so I sent them off toward Martin's Byzantines. It took about three turns for them to get there. When they did they attacked a small unit of Martin's levy. He intended to us his support archery ability to cut up the doggies, but one of my abilities blocked that. As it was they didn't do much anyway and had to fall back.
Martin moved some of his cavalry toward Bear as did Beth. Bear's crusaders are cavalry-heavy so he had horse to spare. Beth put some warriors and levy to hold down my side of the board and that proved to be enough for most of the game. Martin and Bear skirmished with Bear's crossbow-armed coming through the small woods separating them and peppering the Byzantine cavalry with bolts.

The dogs begin their approach, accompanied with the fastest pack handler in existence.

A Martin's-eye view of the pack attack and the frustrated warriors supporting the levy.

The Knights Hospitalier with the cross-bow armed levy move toward Martin's neck of the woods.

The Welsh hearthguard (elites) lead the way toward Bear. The figures are drawn from Beth's Late Roman/sub-Roman British/Arthurian army for larger battle sets of rules. She did the majority of the painting herself.

"Arthur" exhorts the troops on.

Bear's Knights of the Hospital spreading the good news in a way unacceptable today.

Arthur was heard saying: "Alright, you lot of fresh-painted slingers! Get the range!"

As the game went on, Martin wiped out my dog pack, threw back my one levy unit, and engaged one other unit of my warriors. He also took damage from Bear, but gave as good as he got. Bear played the sea-saw game against Martin while sending a unit of knights against Beth who responded with her hearthguard. The wiped each other out. Meanwhile Beth and I skirmished with missile weapons on our shared flank.

Another view of the attack by the dogs. (Old Glory figures I believe with a Foundry handler.

Martin's cavalry comes up to face the threat from Bear.
The striped item in the background is a measuring stick with the various distances (very short, short, medium, long) set off by colour. That's actually a knitting needle. I did the same with some dowel.

My kern face the Welsh warriors. (Old Glory Irish; Gripping Beast/Old Glory/ Essex warriors with a Foundry commander.

Bear's flanking force of knights is met by one surviving levy (who survived the game) and cataphract horse archers while the crossbows move through the forest.

Looking through the woods at a scattering of the Irish with the Byzantines in the background. Andy set up the scenario and served as rules encyclopedia.

My fianna (hearthguard) and warlord were too much of a tempting target for Beth's warriors.
So we slugged it out in the middle. Her troops had to fall back but her warlord joined in, bringing troops as well.
The Warlords ended up killing each other.
We played 9 turns even though the scenario called for only 7. Since the board was bigger, we all decided that a longer game was appropriate. In the end, these were the scores: Beth - 15 points, Bear - 16 points, Martin & your humble blogger - 17 points each. (Killing Arthur bumped up my score.)
Beth said she liked the game. She also decided to continue to use the Welsh and learn the intricacies of the faction. She was considering using a revised Byzantine list as true Arthurians, but felt the Eastern army was too cavalry heavy and the cataphracts would not be right for the proposed list. I need to be more familiar and practised with the Irish. I like them... not least of all because the figures are all bought and painted! I still think they could surprise someone.

Arthur looking very "Arthur-y." A Gripping Beast figure

The Welsh moving through rough country.

I had to show this shield pattern. If I recall correctly, it's taken from the Notitia Dignitatum and there was a small unit of either auxilia or legionary skirmishers painted up. We called them "the Fox Boys" for obvious reasons.
My son asked me if any company made "realistic" female vikings. Now there are plenty of "cheesecake" girls in viking kit, but not much in the line of shield maidens who look more real. It seems he found an article somewhere noting that in viking graves, roughly 40% were females buried with armour and weapons. The upshot of this is the theory that viking women accompanied the men on expeditions and into battle. So "Dad, can you find any female vikings?" I searched and found the "cheesecake" figs but little else. Andy suggested that I do a head swap, putting female heads on viking figures. I did just that, using the bodies and weapons from Wargames Factory's viking huscarls and the heads from Wargames Factory's female apocalypse survivors. Not all the female heads have short hair and the bodies look a bit blocky, but I doubt that all viking women were svelte and the chainmail hauberk is not that flattering to anyone's form. I finished one and tried to take photos of it to show Rob who now lives and works in the larger city north of where my wife and I do. None of the close-up settings on my camera worked well... until I found one titled "Food." Food? Yes, and the light is adjustable. Here are the first photos of Brunhilda or whatever he'll name her.

The Viking in the "non-Food" camera setting. A "Cheesecake" viking stands in the background. (a Reaper figure)

Now the "Food" setting. I'll do some light testing later, but the setting allows me to focus on objects much closer to the lens than any other setting I've found. It also shows how messy my painting table is.

Side view - The Wargames Factory vikings have a "dished" neck hold on the torso and a rounded neck stem on the head. The female apocalypse survivors have longer and more slender necks with a flat end and a flat bottom on the head where the two join. Some filling and goo-work was required.
The back of the figure in better light. Not perfect, but quite acceptable, I'd say!


  1. I've always wondered if anyone fielded a Welsh force in any of your games. Seeing as half of my family is straight from Wales, I quite enjoyed seeing them. May they do better next time!

    1. Actually the Welsh force is quite viable, Shawn. Beth's ancestry is Scots, Scots-Irish, English borders, and some Delaware. She enjoyed playing the Welsh and intends to keep on learning the intricacies of the faction.