Sunday, 10 January 2016

All-Day SAGA and a change in the prevailing weather

 For Saturday, the hive-mind of the Hamilton Road Gaming Group had planned to play some SAGA games. SAGA is a "Dark Ages"* skirmish game from Studio Tomahawk. The sides are rather small and handy and various "factions" are available - like Vikings, Anglo-Danish, Anglo-Saxon, Franks, Pagan Rus, Saracens, and the list goes on. I've been told that there are "bootleg" LOTR lists available if you can find them.
(* I don't believe in the so called "Dark Ages." The term reflects a Romano-centric view of Europe, that is, without the Roman Empire, civilisation did not exist. In the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire, in the Muslim world, and in Ireland prior to the Viking incursions, culture, science, thought, and the Classics were alive and well. There were even lively civilisations based in the Roman successor states which are called the Barbarians. The Byzantine return to Italy saw to the end of Lombard culture and the others sort of faded.)

When Beth, Rob, and I arrived at the Crouch Branch Library, we were pleasantly surprised to find tables set up for 4+ games of SAGA and a further table for a game of Napoleon at War. The day looked promising!  (All photos by Beth, Andy, or myself.)

The Long Table with Rob and Steven in the foreground.

Your Humble Blogger expresses some sort of emotion.

Rob assures us that "It'll be a piece of cake."  I think he lost this one.

Napoleon at War...  with 19mm figures.
We ended up playing at least two games a piece. The first set of games included Vikings (Rob) vs. Normans (Steven), Skraelings {North American natives} (Ralph) vs Byzantines (Martin) {a true historical match-up if ever there was one!}, Vikings (Andy) vs. Anglo-Saxons (Kevin), and Welsh (Beth) vs. Norse-Gaels (Me). All the games appeared to be hard fought, except mine because Beth slaughtered me. I was trying out a new faction, because my Irish couldn't seem to win if they had a bye.

My dear wife and her Welsh warband prepare to slice, dice, chop, and generally deal out mayhem to my Hiberno-Norse.
(To me, that's what they are; you can call 'em what you want.)

Andy watches his son, Steven ride over my son, Rob's Vikings with his Normans.

Ralph's Skraelings give Martin's Byzantines a tough time... although the Skraelings had never before seen horses!

Jarl Andy's Vikings approach Kevin's Anglo-Saxon settlement while the Fyrd prepares to defend it.
(Angles and Saxons and Jutes... oh, my!)

Berzerkers! Civilians! Sheep! The Great Fyrd! Wattle and Daub! Everything that makes life worthwhile!

Another view of the Byzantine attempt to colonise Vinland or Labrador or where ever.

Beth throws a lot of dice and I lose a lot of Hiberno-Norse.
Welsh hearthguard and warriors.
Welsh warlord, warriors, and bow-armed levy skulking in the woods.
Welsh sling-armed levy advance on the right through another wooded area.

My warlord and what was left of my Norse-Gael hearthguard battle Welsh warriors.
The dog followed the warlord to show he was a warlord!
Since I was paying more attention to my game than any other, all I can say is that Beth beat me handily. As usual, I couldn't throw dice to get what I needed in any situation. The Norse-Gaels have a challenge option as part of their tactics and that could be quite nasty from the looks of it. Could I get it to work? Not a chance. It was a matter of an unfamiliar "battle board", rotten die rolls, and Beth's ability and good die rolling that took me out. I got more than a little disgusted with my situation, and at one point, I stated that I hadn't worn a game since 1982... which was a bit of an exaggeration but not by much! You can see the lay-out of the terrain for the battle in the photo above.

A second round of games came on and Rob played his Vikings against his mother's Welsh and beat her just before he had to leave to go to work. Ralph's Skraelings met Bear's Jomsvikings on the field and that was a tough one as well. Eventually Martin and I played, his Byzantines against my Irish.

Meanwhile, the Skraelings and the Jomsvikings hack at each other.

Skraelings near the long house.

Strategos Martin's warriors attempt to flank me, spear-armed warriors in front with bow-armed warriors behind.
The advantage of drilled, regular troops is the ability to work together in support of each other.

My band of wardogs take on Martin's kavallroi hearthguard. I did some damage with the pups but the Sons of Dana (hidden snipers in the rough terrain) did more.

Spearmen, archers, and horse archers - again one of the advantages of a truly disciplined outfit.

The hearthguard ride to the support of the Byzantine warlord.

The last survivor of my wardogs craves a return to the fray, but it was not to be.

The opposing warlords and hearthguard attempt to get the measure of each other.
After much riding around - which you can do if your outfit has a lot of cavalry - the Byzantine warlord and his house troop charged my warlord and his Fianna. It was messy - my Fianna hearthguard was armed with Danish axes but had very little armour - but my warlord killed Martin's and I won! We counted up victory points for laughs and Martin had one more that me, but since his warlord was killed (the victory condition), it didn't matter, I squeaked out a win! I still can't get over it.
Next week, we will be experimenting with Warlord Games' rules for ancient warfare, Hail Caesar! I am looking forward to this. I am busily rebasing my Gauls but I think the plan is to fight a Roman civil war. (There are enough to choose from.)

Meanwhile, on the Napoleon at War table, the British advance.

The Royal Artillery
If you don't have enough, figures there are card stand-ins available.
Looks like they're about to come to bayonet point.

The French

The Welsh hearthguard, dismounted, face a lone Norse-Gael warrior;
The Norse-Gael levy screen a line of warrors with Danish axes.

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