Under Saga 1 the Irish were just too over-powered.
I always thought they’d be a good warband to play but the gross nature of some of their javelin abilities left them too powerful and, to be honest, it wasn’t fun playing them for that reason.
The good news is that under Saga 2 the Irish have been seriously nerfed, meaning it’s not so embarrassing fielding an army of them.
So I’ve revisited my Irish and the intention is to use them more often now they are a balanced force.
Fergal mac Amlaith’s mother is an Irish noblewoman and his father is a Viking Jarl.
He was brought up on the shores of Lough Ceagh where he looked after his father’s dogs. This love of animals has lasted into his adult life and now he has a large kennel of his own.
Since taking over his father’s lands he has demanded the fianna bondsmen swear fealty to him. They have all, both local noblemen and norse colonists, agreed to do that. This means that Fergal has a good many hearthguard to protect him and these men are led by Connor and Rory, the tribal champions – the feared curaidh.
The land tenants make up the rest of Fergal’s force. These bonnachts are well trained in how to use their javelins and hatchets and are prepared to fight to the death for their lord.
Looking over everyone’s pastoral needs is Father Padraig. He is a very spiritual man, though he is worldly too – he knows enough to know that peace is sometimes best achieved by knocking a few heads together.
They have all now sharpened their spears and swords and are ready to go roving.
Long had the Welsh Warlord Owain the Wolf Tamer been sat brooding in his hall. Never far from his thoughts were the crushing defeats he had suffered at the hands of the Anglo-Dane Warlords Andraes Vilhelmsson and Erik Uhtredson. But with Vilhelmsson held up in his hall to see out the winter months and news of Uhtredson forging alliances with the wretched Northmen. It was time to go on the offensive. But wary of fighting prowess of his enemies Owain knew he needed support, and so he had dispatched offers of gold and glory to other lesser warlords before setting out on campaign.
As dawn broke across the land, the armies of Andraes Vilhelmsson and Erik Uhtredson marched boldly marched onto the field. No sooner had they done so when the Welsh war horns were joined in their challenge by those of Hakon Maddadarson the Hall Burner and his army of savage Norse Gaels.
Surprised by the Norse Gaels, but not surprised Owain would not have the confidence to face them alone, Vilhelmsson and Uhtredson concentrated their forces against the Norse Gaels with the aim of routing them off the field before Owain could bring the full force of his army in to effect.
Although the Anglo-Danes concentrated on the Norse Gaels, the swift Welsh cavalry managed to get within javelin distance of Vilhelmsson’s archers, drawing first blood.
Over on the other side of the battlefield Uhtredson’s Fyrd charged against the Norse Gaels. Hoping for a decisive conclusion to the fight the Fyrd won the fight but failed to inflict devastating damage on the Norse Gaels.
Forced to retreat from the fight and with Vilhelmsson’s Huscarls closing in, Hakon Maddadarson strengthened his line for the expected onslaught.
Meanwhile on Vilhelmsson’s left flank the Welsh Cavalry were still picking off the archers, but not without suffering losses of their own. Seizing the initiative Owain pushed his forces hard to get within javelin range.
With his left flank now threaten Vilhelmsson sent a unit of Huscarls to fend of Owain’s forces. Having been abandoned to his fate in on the right flank Hakon Maddadarson was beginning to realise the pact he had entered into with the Welsh was misguided. Uhtredson threw everything at the Norse Gaels, Dane axe armed Huscarls and the Fyrd charged in. The fighting was fierce but the Anglo-Danish attack seemed to just bounce off the Norse Gaels and they were forced to retreat.
With the battle against the Norse Gaels not going to plan and the Welsh making gains against Vilhelmsson’s left flank the Anglo-Danes could see the battle turning against them.
But there was to be no retreat, lured to battle by the treacherous Owain, the forces of Vilhelmsson and Uhtredson would carve an epic poem this day. Launching charge after charge the fight against the Welsh ended with a wimper of pushing and shoving while once again the Norse Gaels proved to be a tough nut to crack.
The battle ended with the exhausted Anglo-Danes having been narrowly defeated, made even more painful by the knowledge that the Norse Gaels and done more of the fighting than the Welsh, who could claim victory having shed little blood that day!
Thoughts on the Game
I cannot remember which scenario we played but points were scored by causing casualties and points deducted if any units were still close to their own baseline at the end of 6 turns.
Myself and Andy were both using the Anglo-Danish for the first time with the 2nd Edition Saga rules. Facing off against Steve’s Welsh and John’s Norse Gaels. Each side had 6 points.
Andy and I decided to concentrate both of our armies against one enemy army to destroy it in detail and then move onto the other. The Norse Gaels deployed first and so that was our target. This left the Welsh out on their own and away from the battle for a few turns.
Being the first time a few of us had used our armies for 2nd edition a few mistakes were made. On a few occasions we were a bit lax with the movement rules and getting units into combat. The Norse Gael ability to raise their armour was exaggerated somewhat which contributed to the lack progress by the Anglo-Danes. I also found the Anglo-Danes a bit boring in 2nd edition. Some of their abilities appear to have been reduced, which I felt was unnecessary as they weren’t an unbeatable faction in 1st edition. But that’s enough of the excuses. The Anglo-Danes lost and so now must regroup and take the battle to the Welsh, whether they run cowardly to their new found allies or not.
Last meeting we had a game of Saga based around control for the western isles of Scotland. Whoever came out victorious could crown their warlord the Laird of the Western Isles.
The idea was that we would play two games. Each player would keep the same warlord but could change army composition between games. We would be using warlord experience from the Book of Battles. Players were allowed to use warlords who already had previous experience. Players and their warlords were:
Jeremey – Uhtred Siggurdson (Viking)
Tony – Boe Vandradson (Norse Gael)
Eric – Sigvald Ironhelm (Viking)
Stephen – Siward Dunbar (Scots)
Each player would keep a running total of their victory points across both games. The player with the most at the end of the day would win.
The first scenario we played was the Battle Royale – all against all.
This was only the second time Eric had played Saga so he was naturally a bit cautious as he worked out how to use his Saga dice and the subtleties of the game and the use of the Battleboard.
Boe Vandradson had deployed his troops quite wide apart, threatening both Uhtred and Siward. The wise and wily Uhtred, a veteran of the battle of Lintonsfjord, had been equally cunning and had managed to get some of his bondi around the back of Boe’s axemen.
Siward Dunbar’s men deployed between some rocks, which the norse gaels had occupied and some woods, which were also home to some skulking norse gael hearthguard. The Scot’s archers went forward and showed Sigvald’s raiders what they were made off with a deadly flurry of arrows. Sigvald moved his men slowly forward, using some of his bondi as a spearhead to chase the norse gaels out of the rocky ground, presumably with the intent of occupying this himself so he could harry the Scots.
A steady, unspoken, truce existed between the Scots and norse gaels, who saw the vikings as the greater threat to their lands. How long this truce lasted is a moot point – eventually the norse gael hearthguard came out of the woods and charged the Scots archers!
Boe Vandradson showed his heritage by taking the fight to Uhtred and his men. This wouldn’t pay off though, as Boe was cut down by the vikings and had to be carried off the battlefield with grievous wounds.
At the end of the game the results were close but the winner had been Sigvald.
The second scenario we played was the team game. Since Eric had won the previous game then he could choose another warlord to swear fealty to Sigvald. He turned to his fellow Dane, Uhtred, and the two viking armies formed an alliance. This left the norse gaels and Sots to unite against the invaders.
Things moved a bit quicker this time. Uhtred had left his bondi back at their longboats to guard their plunder, with just him and his hirdmen to fight this time. Siward moved his archers forward again and they once more let fly at Sigvald’s troops. Sigvald was a little wiser this time so moved his troops up quickly to get into combat with the Scots sooner than later.
Boe Vandradson, having recovered from his wounds from the previous encounter, kept up with his aggressive reputation and repeatedly charged into the fight, with his bodyguard doing all they could to keep up with him. Uhtred was happy with this and he and his hirdmen drew their blades and joined in with the fight.
Sigvald, exasperated at the casualties his men were taking from the Scots archers, acted rashly, and out of fury charged forward of his men toward the Scots. The archers were defeated and fell back but this left Sigvald out on his own. Seeing his chance, Siward took firm hold of his spear and charged the viking warlord. The last that was seen of Sigvald was him falling under Siward’s blows.
When finally the dust settled and the ravens had glutted themselves on the corpses it was time to see who would reign.
Victory had gone to the norse gaels. The lands had a new master – Laird Boe Vandradson of the Western Isles!
The game had been a close one. No one was trounced and no one had an easy time of it. We all had our bad dice rolls and we all had our good ones. How long Vandradson will keep his title as Laird remains to be seen.