A tad delayed, but here’s a photo round up of our first meeting of 2022. In addition to our AGM, we had a SAGA battle day, involving 8 players, a FOG Renaissance ECW game, a Lords of the Rings Game and some Spy-Fi action.
First up a SAGA-fest with Scots, Bretons, Welsh, Vikings and Anglo-Danes. In addition to some experienced SAGA players we had a couple of prospective members join in for their first games.
Moving on the the English Civil War, 15mm figures using Field of Gory rules.
Moving from history to fiction, Marcus had a try out of his underwater Spy-Fi rules.
And finally to Fantasy, a Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game.
The Wolf Tamer is no more. Owain of Bangor is dead!. Ambushed and killed by English bandits, Owain the Benevolent, Owain the Peaceful, Owain the Thrice-Blessed, now lies in Heaven.
Though his body now lies in the earth his soul and spirit still lives. Bleddyn ab Owain, his beloved son, has made his way back to Bangor. He has left his studies at the abbey of Llanbadarn Fawr to take up his rightful place as heir of his father’s demesne. With him he has brought the ways of the men of Deheubarth – pony riders skilled in making war from their mounts.
Stephen reports on a game of SAGA: Age of Crusades fought at a recent meeting, with occasional comments from his opponent, Andy, the editor. For those whose schoolboy Latin is a little rusty, the title translates as “But give glory to your name”…
Sir Fulkes LaMont was awakened early by the wailing of the muzzerain. He calmly threw aside the tent flap, the sun still low and it’s warm glow lighting up the sky like molten metal. There was no breeze. Nothing. Just the call to prayers carried across the still air. Sir Fulkes looked out to the silhouette of the distant city walls, the tall towers of the mosques rising above all, and the cries of the muzzerain carrying far…
It’s been the best part of 18 months since I have had a game of Saga. During The Great Plague I painted a Saracen army and since we agreed we’d have a game of Saga at the club, it was time for them to whet their blades.
Andy took the Saracens and I had the Templars (Milites Christi in Saga: Age of Crusades terms). We went with 5 points each. The Saracen force was entirely mounted and had a warlord, three points of Ghulams (hearthguard) and two points of Ghazis with composite bows (warriors). The Templars had a mounted warlord with three points of mounted knights (hearthguard), one point of crossbows (warriors) and one point of foot sergeants (warriors).
The table was set up and then, using the Book of Battles, we made a roll for deployment (Confusion), Duration (Cautious), Special Rules (A Dash of Nostalgia), and Victory Conditions (Overrun).
So, Andy took first move. And forward the Saracens went. He took quite a wild move on my right flank, obviously trying to outflank the crossbows, and maybe come around the back. (Andy: I was trying to draw one or two of Stephen’s units off to counter the Ghazis leaving him weaker in the centre). On my turn I put the crossbows on top of the hill where they could have a good field of fire. The knights went forward, and I repositioned the warlord behind some rocks – a defensive position until I could see what Andy intended on doing (Andy: Leading from the back eh?).
What I noticed was that Andy had shifted his warlord forward, just ahead of the rest of his army. I’m sure Andy will claim that’s because he was bold and daring, but I reckon it was because he wasn’t concentrating. (Andy: I’d like to claim that too, but Stephen was right). This was too good a target to ignore, so Sir Fulkes ordered his knights to charge and in they went!
Fortunately for the Saracen emir he had a unit of Ghulams nearby, which is just as well because otherwise he would have ended up dead! Instead, those bold warriors laid down their lives for their leader. Badly shaken, badly beaten, and badly fatigued, the Saracen warlord boldly fled to the rear of the table, as far away as he could get from the knights.
Now, one should keep in mind that we’d never played Age of Crusades before and not only that, but we seldom, if ever, use mounted troops in previous games of Saga. That, added to the fact that it had been a long time since playing, meant there was some learning to do. Andy’s Ghazis also had composite bows, which activate differently to regular bows. (Andy: These units have free Shooting activations, but cannot do two such actions consecutively). So there were some inevitable teething problems. From my perspective I felt that Andy, initially anyway, was using his Ghazis like regular fighting troops. Although as the game progressed he seemed to get the hang of using them to skirmish – dashing in, loosing their arrows, then off again. (Andy: I was trying to combine Shooting and Movement, took me a few turns to get it right).
The Ghazis on my right moved within crossbow range and took a salvo for their troubles. Not too damaging, but enough to make him start to think about the Saracen battleboard properly. Meanwhile, on my left where the other unit of Ghazis were, they started harrying my spearmen. Still can’t think what made me take dismounted warriors when I had the option to have them mounted. Oh well. They were always going to be out of their depth and prone to attacks from all the fast moving cavalry around them.
Realising the game was going to be won or lost in the centre, I pushed my two units of knights forward. This would mean I might get outflanked on both sides – my hope was the crossbows would tie Andy down on the right and the spearmen would hold him off on the left. I was partly right.
We had an almighty clash in the centre. My knights had gone forward. I’d combined my three points of hearthguard into two units of six, whilst Andy had kept his three points in three units of four. One of those had been decimated whilst saving the skin of the Saracen warlord. But now the other two units took it in turns to charge my knights. Andy came out slightly on top of that one (he lost four models, I lost five). And then I sent my spearmen in, trying to take the heat off the knights. But that didn’t go too well for them (Andy: I managed to follow up a Shooting attack by the Ghazis with a subsequent charge from the Ghulams).
So we had a five turn game limit. Along came turn five and, to be honest, it was looking fairly even to me. You normally expect your opponent to throw everything at you on the last turn but Andy was surprisingly restrained. (Andy: I’ll blame my SAGA dice).
‘I’ll show him,’ I thought. I loaded up my battleboard so my few remaining knights could charge in to his unit of Ghazis. It went alright – the Orison ability of the Templars saved their skins, and sent some of the Saracens packing.
And that was it. Game over. We totted up points and the final result was…5 points to the Saracens, and 11 points to the Templars.
Club member Jeremey takes us through construction of his new measure for the game Saga.
I’ve been playing Saga for a number of years now. My original cardboard measuring rulers are long since gone being old and tatty; so needed to either buy new ones or make my own. I had some 5mm thick foam card that seemed ideal for the job.
I created a simple set of measuring sticks in a similar way to the official ones. A 12″ ruler with Long and Medium distances and a second showing Short and Very Short measurements, these served me well for quite a while; but during a moment of boredom I felt I could come up with something more visually pleasing.
I still had some of the 5mm foam card so dug out a piece and cut it to the standard 12″ length. I had already decided to create a spear as a measuring stick and cut a piece wide enough for the spear blade.
I then cut out the spear shape after measuring the foam so that the blade was the same length as the normal ‘Short’ measure. I didn’t try doing any fancy curved lines for the blade spear, I kept it simple.
Next to provide a way of measuring the ‘Very Short’ length I decided to use a thin EVA foam sheet cut into strips. I superglued the end to the spear piece and stretched the foam round the shaft.
I now had a way of measuring all of the distances required. The strapping for ‘Very Short’, the blade for ‘Short’, the remaining shaft for ‘Medium’ and the entire spear length for ‘Long’.
Next up I turned to painting the spear, the blade was painted with a standard Silver colour with a splash of black ink to give some contrast to the flat silver blade.
For the shaft I painted it dark brown and then with increasing lighter brown shades drew lines down it like wood grain. Finally I decided to paint the strapping as well, I used the darker brown paint watered down to add some shade.
Here we have the finished spear next to the old rulers. As this would be handled during games I also covered the whole spear with a brush on Matt Varnish.
With luck the spear went into action sooner than I expected with the re-opening of the club. It also worked as a good omen with me winning both games of Saga played on the day.
After a gap of exactly 17 months the Society resumed meetings last weekend. For the time being meetings will be members-only, no visitors or prospective new members are allowed. That is being kept under review.
For the first meeting we had five games in progress; Ancients (6mm, Fields of Glory), Dark Ages (28mm, SAGA), WW2 (3mm, Rommel), Modern / Post Apocalypse (28mm, Zona Alfa) and Fantasy (28mm, Lord of the Rings).
Fields of Glory, by Mark.
This was the first outing for the Pontic army, who took on a late Republican Roman army, basically pike and cavalry vs well trained legionaries.
The first battle was a close run thing, the Pontic cavalry chased the Roman cavalry around the left flank before taking out two units, alas this was too little too late as the Romans swept around the right flank destroying all in their path, a close battle but the Romans won the day.
The second battle saw the Pontic forces consolidate their pike into one large block (24 bases) with two generals attached and rear support in the shape of offensive spearman. The intent was to take out two elite legions, however the Romans had other ideas and deftly avoided a full on battle taking out the supporting spearmen and eventually surrounding the pike block which spelt the end of things for the Pontic army.
A heavy defeat for the Pontics this time as the Romans showed that well drilled troops and some great tactics can win the day. Great to be back at the club, as for the Pontic army, there’s always next time!
SAGA, by Andy & Jeremey
We staged two games, both with 6 point armies. In the first game Jeremey had a Viking warband, comprising his Warlord, two units of six Hearthguard (3 pts) and three units of 8 Warriors (3pts). Against that Andy fielded an Anglo-Danish warband, comprising his Warlord, two units of six Hearthguard (3 pts), two units of 8 Warriors (2pts) and a unit of bow armed levy (1 pt).
Both sides deployed across a diagonal centreline, with each sides right flank extending past the opponents left flank.
As the warbands advanced Andy brought the units of Warriors and Hearthguard on his right flank round to try and out flank Jeremey’s left, and also pushed his levy forward taking a second activation (and a fatigue marker) in order to loose arrows at some Viking Warriors, to little effect. Jeremey responded by using the Viking Battle board ability Odin to exhaust the Levy, and promptly charged the Warriors in decimating the Archers.
That set the tone for the first game, with Andy dishing out Fatigue when he could, and Jeremey removing it and several of Andy’s warband in response. The battle culminated in Andy’s Warlord with a couple of Hearthguard taking a stand against the last of Jeremey’s Hearthguard, only to fall in ignominy.
In the second game both players changed their warbands.
Jeremey changed his army completely, going for a Anglo Saxon warband with three units of 16 Warriors* (2 pts each) in addition to his Warlord.
* (Ed: We got that wrong, maximum unit size is 12 figures, so it should have been 4 units of 12 Warriors).
The Anglo-Saxon battle board is markedly different from most to others, with abilities dependent more on the number of figures in a unit rather than their quality.
Andy retired his Levy archers and took an additional point of Warriors, splitting them between the two units to make 2 units of 12.
The armies advanced, clashing in a range of hills. Jeremey made good use of the abilities that reduce the number of attack dice available to their opponents. (Ed: Which would have been less effective with units of 12 rather than 16).
The battle raged back and forth with the Saxons keeping the upper hand while their unit sizes remained large. But similar to the first game the battle was hard fought, coming down to a fight with the Warlord. Although in the second battle Andy sent his Warlord to his doom against the last of Jeremey’s Saxon Fyrd, cutting down several before being overcome.
Counterattack at Deir el Tarfa, by Alan
In the summer of 1942, following its victory at Gazala, Panzerarmee Afrika pursued the British 8th army into Egypt. Rommel’s first attempt to break 8th Army’s lines failed in July, but by the end of August he was prepared to mount one last major offensive. German and Italian armor turned the Allied left flank almost 90 degrees and drove deep into Allied positions. On the evening of 31 August the 15th Panzer division began an assault on Alam-el-Halfa Ridge while the 21st Panzer division protected its exposed left flank.
The latter, however, suddenly found itself under counterattack by the British 22nd and 23rd armoured brigades. Eighth Army’s new commander, Bernard Montgomery, had held these units in reserve for precisely this contingency.
Our game focussed on the fight between the two British armoured brigades and 21st Panzer which was supported by elements of the Italian Littorio Division.
An initial advance by the British held most of 21st Panzer between the Deir el Tarfa and Deir el Agram ridges and an intense tank battle ensued. But the Italians swept around the British right flank and managed to seize one of the objectives. With the tank battle see-sawing between the British and German forces the Italian held objective became the key to the engagement. Despite several British counterattacks on the position the Italians held on.
The last British infantry assault almost succeeded but couldn’t quite take the position. So as night fell the engagement went to the Axis but with supplies running low they were forced to pull out overnight.
The game was played using the Rommel rule set by Sam Mustafa and using 3mm models from Oddzial Osmy.
Zona Alfa, by John and Tony
I decided to run a 4 mission mini campaign to introduce a new player (Tony) to the rules. Tony would have to recover salvage to generate funds to enable retirement from the zone whilst achieving the objectives from the mission. This is done by searching Hotspots of which there are five and the objective. A triggered Hotspot is guarded by Zone Hostiles, these can be of 6 types, the type and distance from the Hotspot being determine by Dice. Those Zone Hostiles with Melee capability head for the nearest member of the crew, those with ranged combat capability will head for cover then shoot at the nearest member of the crew. The missions were linked so that achieving an objective allows the player to proceed with the following mission.
Tony’s first job was to pick a 4 person Veteran crew from my collection and kit them out ready for action.
Mission 1. Disaster at Kovgorod.
A patrol has been lost in the Exclusion Zone. The last signal has been tracked from their APC to Kovgorod so that’s where the crew are headed. As they approach the village, they spot the disabled APC but a pack of Zombies has beaten them to it attracted by the smell of Blood.
Tony did well in this game and was well on his way to the retirement fund target after just one game. What could possibly go wrong?
Mission 2. The Prisoner at Bunker C13
After completing the mission, the crew recover a map with a bunker highlighted. There were four dead bodies in the APC, the map revealed the location of the fifth member of the patrol. Here Tony got into trouble with Bandits. One party of Bandits had been triggered before the start of the mission and a second entered on table as Tony triggered a hotspot. Caught in a crossfire his Leader was killed early on the mission and when deciding to head for the objective, he found that these were also guarded by Bandits. Using smoke to blindside this group of Bandits, the crew were able to move out of Line of Sight, rescue the prisoner and make it out. The objective had been achieved but at a high price.
Mission 3. Road Block at Strabants Crossing
The Prisoner from the bunker had recovered and told the crew about a Laboratory hidden deep in the forest so after reequipping that’s where they were headed until they found the track blocked with a party of bandits lying in wait. This time they were dealt with clinically, as were a swarm of zombies headed for them.
A satchel charge was laid and the roadblock cleared at the second attempt. Another hotspot was triggered and a gaggle of ghouls were stopped in the nick of time. Things were heating up as another hotspot was triggered and a pack of wild mutant dogs clambered over the APC to attack one of the crew members stationed on its roof.
A desperate fight saw all dogs killed and as the PC was refuelled from the diesel tank, the crew were able to make good their escape.
Mission 4. The Hidden laboratory.
With no time to replenish the supplies, Tony’s crew appeared in good shape. The retirement fund had almost been achieved and now all that was needed was a top up and recovery of the drugs caches hidden in the lab – piece of cake, except at the start of each turn a D10 was rolled. If this result added to the turn number was more than 10 a zone event would occur the following move. The crew moved quickly to the lab and whilst the first zone event, a swarm of irradiated insects was easily avoided, the second – a zone security patrol was a different proposition and two of the crew were wounded in a protracted fire fight whilst the lab was being searched. With the security patrol eliminated and the drugs collected, it was time to head back to the APC, just as a terrifying Alpha Mutant entered the arena.
Unable to take on this monster one crew member bravely fought it as the rest of the crew fled. Finally succumbing to the vicious attacks of the Mutant, she had bought vital time for the rest of the crew as they just made it back to the APC before another Zone Patrol entered the area.
It had been a rollercoaster Zone Run with plenty of tactical decisions to make, with some jeopardy and the result hanging in the balance until the final stages of the final mission.
Lord of the Rings
Tony and Phil staged this game, they each sent reports, Tony’s first:
We played two Lord of the Rings games, both involving Mumaks. The first involved a group of Knights of Dol Amroth supported by some Gondorian archers attempting to take down a single beast. This all went horribly wrong for the good guys early on when Phil started shooting my knights from their saddles with archers from the howdah, much against the odds – he is not renowned for rolling sixes when it matters !
Prince Imrahil did his best to tackle the beast single-handedly but in the end was only ever one failed priority roll from being trampled, as he duly was…
The second game didn’t show any improvement (Ed.: If you can’t kill one Mumak in the first game then of course you should have two in the second game!)- this time we played a scenario in Ithilien (similar to a scene in the films) with Faramir’s Rangers ambushing an advancing group of Haradrim.
My plan was to wound the Mumaks, hope it panicked them (as happened on screen) and defeat them that way – trying to just pick them off with arrows was never going to work.
I managed to inflict some wounds on Eric’s overgrown pachyderm but it simply shrugged them off, and they simply marched on by, killing Denethor’s second son on the way.
Finally, Phil’s somewhat shorter report:
“Phil in shock double LOTR victories”
It should be noted that Phil deliberately stomped on a couple of his own spearman to get to the Dol Amroth chaps.
This one has been in the bits bag for ages. It’s an Irregular Miniatures figure which, it’s fair to say, aren’t among the best. That said, Irregular do paint up better than they look in bare lead. That’s not saying much though.
So, this is Eadmund The Moon. I painted him up for SAGA as a Personal Champion. We don’t use the Swords For Hire and other bits in the Age of Vikings book that often. Not sure why.
I based Eadmund up on a larger, Hero, base. Irregular’s stuff is quite old and their 28mm stuff is more like true 25mm. To hide this lack of stature I made a miliput stone and plonked him on that to lift him up a bit. I also filed off the shield, which looked…well…poor. I stuck on a spare Gripping Beast shield (looking at the size of the shield on him will give you an idea on how slightly small he is).
And that’s Eadmund The Moon. Coming to a battlefield soon to give Andy and Jeremey a good taunt!
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.