Thursday, 28 March 2013

Saga Tournament Alicante March 23 2013

A few of the members of the club have started to play Saga in the last few months, so we organised our first Saga Tournament. I had picked the Norman Army as my first army because I could also use some of them for a Robin Hood game I had simmering on the back boiler for about 5 years. I had played three games of Saga at the club before Christmas, but due to playing in a Lasalle tournament  and organising the two wargaming projects in my school, I havn't had time to play or even look at the rules for a couple of months.

The last two weeks have been frantic painting the figures and actually I quite enjoyed painting 28mm rather than the usual 15mm figures I use far better on my failing eyesight.
The tournament involved armies made of 6 points and being a fan of the longbow, I gambled on using 2 Levie units of bow. This meant I only started with 5 Saga Dice instead of the usual 6. My Army consisted of

1 Warlord
1 unit of Knights (Heathguards) 4 figs
1 unit of Knights (HearthGuards) 8figs
1 unit of crossbows (Warriors) 8 figs
2 units of bows (Levies) 12figs each

On the day six players turned up from a possible ten players who initially showed an interest. The Six were;

Myself with a Norman Army
Dani with an Anglo-Danes Army
Adrian with a Viking Army
Pepe with a Viking Army
Juan Marcos with a Jomsviking Army
Kevin with an Anglo-Saxon Army

We were playing three games out of the Saga rule book , first game was the Clash of the Warlords.

Initial Deployment, The Anglo-Danes are a bit closer than I had anticipated.
We diced to see
 who was playing who and my first game was against Kevin and his Anglo-Saxons.  We had all decided beforehand that we would play with an open list during the tournament, so Kevin decided to play with all mounted Hearthguards in three different sized units. The first odd result of the day happened now because due to deployment, the Anglo-Saxon Warlord was placed on the his own side of the table but the rest of his army was deployed on my side of the table. Due to the Anglo-Saxons being possibly placed anywhere on my flank or rear, I was forced to deploy in the corner.

View from the Anglo-Saxon side facing my archers. 
I had the first go, so my Warlord and his unit of Knights charged after the lonely Anglo-Saxons Warlord before he could be reinforced. My archers and crossbows fired and brought a rain of death on the Anglo-Saxons killing four figures in one unit and two figures in the other.

Anglo-Saxons are forced to repulse against my brave archers.

Now it was Kevins turn, his right hand unit slammed into my archers, killing four of my bowmen. However my crossbow unit who must have been caught trying to slowly reload their crossbows because they were totally wiped out .  His warlord retreated away from my advancing warlord towards his other unit hurrying to reinforce him.

Starting to look a little better  with the frontal threat now down to 4 figures

 Due to my crossbow unit being wiped out on my second turn, I only had 4 Saga dice. I fired my archers and then charged (using the gallop ability) at the Anglo-Saxon unit threatening my archers. I lost two knights but once again forced them back with them also losing two figures. I now gambled by sending my Knights back who were accompanying my warlord to attack the other mounted hearthguards that had just made mincemeat out of my crossbows. They were successful and wiped out the Anglo-Saxons, however now my Warlord was all alone.

Now he's got some of his buddies the Anglo-Saxons Warlord is feeling braver.

Now it was Kevin's turn, from around the edge of the wood the Anglo-Saxon Warlord and the hearthguard unit came thundering into clash with my Warlord. I luckily managed to survive the combat managing to throw a 5 or 6 in a saving throw. 

  Having survived the close combat my Warlord was reinforced by his 2 remaining knights again. My other unit of knights that are screening my archers also move towards my stranded warlord to lend a hand. My Archers now having a clear target once again shoot and kill another two hearthguards. In the close combat that follows I kill both of his hearthguards and in turn he kills both of my Knights, My Warlord also survives on a saving throw once again.

The Anglo-Saxons Warlord final stand

Kevins warlord has no chance against my warlord and all my remaning Knights and is killed, My archers fire again and kill his remaning hearthguard. I have won my first game and have wiped out the whole of the Anglo-Saxon Army (25 points) although it could have easily ended in defeat if I had failed in the two saving throws and my Warlord had died.

The other first round the results were

Juan Marcos' Jomsviking win against Adrian´s Vikings
Dani's Anglo-Danes win against Pepe´s Vikings

My Knights hiding behind the building whilst my archers are ready to let loose their bows.

My second game was against Pepe and his Vikings, this scenario was "The Escort". A dice off resulted in the Vikings having the job of escorting the "baggage" across the table. Pepe lost the roll and so had to deploy first, therefore it was easy for me to block his path for his baggage. All I had to do was to stay in place and let him come to me.

Once again my archers were quite deadly  and caused quite a few casaulties in the advancing Viking ranks. My cavalry charged forward fron their hiding place behind the house and wiped out the warrior unit on his left flank.

It was now Pepe's turn, he attacked my cavalry with his Hearthguard unit and managed to cause a few casaulties an also push them back. From the other side of the house four Berserkers came rushing out and once again my crossbowmen were slaughtered. I realised I had been too confident and it wasn't going to be as easy as I thought the turn before.

On the start of the second turn my archers fired at the Berserkers and then my Warlord and his knights charged what was left of the Berserkers. I wiped them out but it was messy and I picked up a few fatigue points. There was one Hearthguard Viking figure left on my right flank so I decided to move forward to clear him out of the way to cut down the number of Saga dice Pepe could use.

It was the Vikings turn and his Levies archers rushed around the side of the house to finally shoot their bows, My warlord had now lost his bodyguards. The Viking Warlord who had been hiding behind the house now saw his chance and rushed out to attack my Warlord. Both Warlords died in the ensuing close combat, also my last remaining Knights unit with its 3 fatigue counters was lost as well. 

This meant both of my archer units were stuck as they cant generate any saga dice, however Pepe ran out of time trying to bring over his baggage train, only managing to take one over my table edge, the other not wanting to go around my archers tried to force their way through by attacking my archers (we couldn't find a rule that said baggage could not atack) but failed in the attempt.
Therefore it was classed as a draw so now I was on 4 points.

The other second game results were

Kevin´s Anglo-Saxons win against Adrian´s Vikings
Dani's Anglo-Danes drew against Juan Marcos' Jomsviking

So after 2 games there was three of us on 4 points and in contention for first place

After a nice meal in a Tapas bar near to the club, we arrived back to play the final game. I was paired up against Juan Marcos and his Jomsvikings. I made some changes to my army for this game. I put all my Knights in one unit and exchanged one unit of archers for a unit of warriors. This was so I could still start with 5 dice.

I ended my deployment first and so was able to throw my saga dice first. I did well and threw a flag dice a couple of more times to get a total of seven Saga dice. However I totally made a mess of it by giving away to many dice in activating my archers and crossbow men. They both fired twice but against a Warlord they need a six to hit. The few hits I managed to get on him, he easily rolled saving throws and so my archer and crossbow units were heavily fatigued without any reward.

My unit of Knights then charged and with 24 dice did a bit of damage, (I needed to get 12 hits to kill his Warlord) . I then used my Warlord and we obey rule to attack him again. My warlord threw 5 dice and didnt cause a single hit, my knight fared a little better and at the end of the melee his Warlord had 10 hits on him.

It was now Juan Marco´s  turn and his Jomsviking charged to rescue their leader. His Berserkers caused great casualties on my Knights and his Warrior unit caused 3 wounds on my Warlord. His Warlord was now out of harms way and I knew it would be dificult to reach him again. We then checked the victory condition to see what had happened if neither Warlord is killed. We both read the instructions wrong and thought that the Warlord with the least wounds wins.

            Knowing that with less wounds I was still in a good position to win, I moved my warlord quickly out of harms way, using my Knights as a rearguard.

         The Jomsvikings now advanced wiping out my Knights, I moved up my Warriors with spears to face the on rushing Jomsviking warriors who were attempting to reach my Warlord.

The spearmen did their job and held up the vikings with large casualties on both sides 


                      My Warlord was now safe hiding behind the woods in the corner of the table. It was now we found out from the other players that we had read the rules wrong and it was the Warlord who had suffered the most wounds and survived, was the actual winner. We had played it totally wrong and obviously I wouldn´t have been such a coward with my Warlord, but now it was too late to correct our mistake.

After finishing off my spearmen, his remaining warriors attacked my warlord but were too weak to make alot of difference. The game finished on turn 6

The other games finished

Kevin´s Anglo Saxons win against Dani´s Anglo-Danes
Pepe´s Vikings win against Adrian´s Vikings

Therefore the table finished as follows

Phil 7 65
Kevin 6 41
JM 4 67
Pepe 4 54
Dani 4 38
Adrian 0 62

Myself receiving first prize with my Normans

Second was Kevin with his Anglo-Saxons

Third was Juan Marcos with his Jomsviking

                                        A group photo of all the participants at the end of the day.


This was a very enjoyable tournament, Saga is a great set of rules because they are relatively simple but hard to master (It was mostly luck not skill, that I won.) The games are relatively short and a lot can happen in one turn. You don´t need a large number of figures to play and there are plenty of different factions to choose from.
     For the next tournament I feel we are going to have to change the scenarios because some did not give a balanced play. Maybe we should use the Lasalle setup as an example.

Decide who wants to be attacker or defender.
Attacker has 6 points of troops and Defender has 5 points of troops.
 Defender chooses wether to choose which side of the table he wants and deploys first or lets attacker choose and deploy first.
Attacker places an objective in the deployment zone. Defender may move the objective slightly.
Units are placed on the table
If the attacker captures the objective or destroys the defenders army its a win for the attacker.
If the defender´s objective is not captured after turn 6 then it is a draw.
If the defender destroys the attacker´s army then it is a win for the defender.

   The Normans on the face of it seem to be a weak army because normal warrior infantry do not get any bonus and also the abilities seem quite expensive without much gain. However playing to their strengths archery and mounted cavalry, can win battles.

Thanks to everyone for taking part and hopefully we shall have more players in the next tournament.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Battle of the Somme 1916

To help year 9 at my school with their history lessons, I offered to put
on a wargame of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. I already had
some polystyrene hexagonal tiles which I made myself a few years ago
back in England. I decided to add trench sides to the slopes and after 2
 or 3 weeks of gluing and painting , I came up with a passable trench
system that could be changed into numerous variations. Like the English
Civil War game I did for year 8 over a month ago, I would have to work
out a rules system that 23 pupils would be able to activily participate
and be interested in, for an hour and a half.

The Finished table before the game begins.
  16 pupils were asked to put themselves into 4 groups. Each group became a British Company and each pupil was an officer in charge of a platoon, each platoon had four bases. All these were clearly labelled and colour coded so we were able to identify whose unit was whose in the heat of the battle. There were also four platoons of German infantry that were starting in their dugouts. Two pupils were picked to be the British and German commanders they were in charge of their artillery fire and helping out in rallying supressed sections.
Potter's Pals C and D Company advancing slowly across no mans land.

    I based the British Battalion on a Pals Battalion, originally I was going to use the Accrington Pals, but I couldn`t find all the information I needed about them on the internet and so I chose to do a fictious Battalion based on my home town of Stoke-on-Trent. Each pupil had a identifying card hung around their neck with an officers name and which platoon and company they belonged to. For  the officers names I used Stoke City Football Players surnames.

The all girl German team breathe a collective sigh of relief as the British Artillery fails to block their Dugouts.  

The game started with the British artillery barrage, the British commander threw for each German dugout to see if any were blocked. Unfortunately for his battalion he needed to throw sixes and he threw well below.

The whole of the British line advances into no mans land.

Next was the dice off between the British and German Commanders to see who had the initiative. The Germans won and so this meant that the British artillery in this area finished firing 5 minutes before zero hour. The Potter's Pals waited as orders stated until Zero hour, whilst the Germans were rushing out of their dugouts to man the machine gun posts.

The centre Companies move slowly forward

The Off board German Artillery began to fire. This was worked out by the German Commander throwing six twelve sided dice in one go. There was twelve numbered craters spread evenly apart in no mans land. The commander shouted out the numbers and I placed two smoke markers in each of the corresponding hexes. Then the commander threw a eight sided dice to see if it landed in the actual hex or an adjacent hex. The pupils really enjoyed this part of the game, with cheers or howls of anguish depending where the shells landed. Finally if a platoon's hex was underfire. Four six sided dice (colour coded for each different section) were thrown to see if the were unharmed, Supressed or Destroyed.

A close up of the empty trenches.
   When the German machine gunners reached their machine gun posts, the British Commander threw one six sided die again to see if the posts were destroyed and unusable. Once again he failed to get the required number. At the end of each turn there was a rally phase where the platoon commanders with supressed sections can throw to see if they could remove their supress markers so they could advance again. If the Company or battalion commander was in the same hex, there was more chance of success.

Birdseye view of the action as the British begin to reach the barbed wire.

At the start of a new turn after artillery fire, there was small arms fire. The British weren't allowed to fire until they passed over the wire and got into close range. The Germans were able to fire if in a machine gun post basically at any hexes to their front. Other units or machine guns not in a machine gun post can only fire at a hex directly in front. All sections and officers in a hex were diced for to see if they were hit in the same procedure as artillery fire. A heavy machine gun could either fire at three hexes or three times at one hex. A light machine gun could fire at two hexes or twice at one hex. Any other section could only fire at one hex.

The British Commander looks on whilst some of his platoons attempt to rally.

     About six platoons have reached the barbed wire so the British commander throws again to see if the artillery has blown away the obstruction. In two places the wire is breached, in the other hexes the platoon commanders have to throw for each section attempting to cross. If they are successful they  cross into the adjacent hex, if they fail they are stuck on the wire and must throw again  next turn.

D and C companies finding out who has actually crossed the wire.

 When a section has crossed the wire, they are in close range and so next turn as long as they aren't supressed (Germans always fire first) they can at last fire at the Germans in the trenches.

The British Battalion Commander crosses the wire but is soon killed by the machineguns.

The Rifle-grenade section get a bonus firing into cover and if the British get into close combat then the bomber section has a bonus. However in this actual game nobody  reaches the trenches before the lesson finishes.

D company manages to get a lewis gun section over the wire but is supressed by German fire.

The time flew past and I had a couple of minutes to recap on what had happened and explain about some of the new tactics used by the British to improve their results when attacking in the coming months. The pupils seemed to have enjoyed themselves and hopefully learn't a little history along the way

This was the second attempt at this game the first was with the other year 9 class last Thursday. In that game D company actually captured a machine gun post. However the rules although simple and what I would use normally at home still needed refining to be played as a large participation game. One of the things was I had another status which was classed as pinned (can't move but able to fire). Cutting this status out made the shooting easier and in general faster and more bloody.

Pvt James Hackney

This game is dedicated to my Great Grand Father James Hackney who died in October 1916 at the Battle of the Somme.