Sunday, 4 November 2018

Saga Tournament 2018

   After my surprising success in coming first in a Saga Crusades tournament in Alcoy with a Crusader/pilgrim army. The next local tournament for me was in November in Alicante. This was going to be from the Viking age supplement with no legends or special units allowed. I was lending my Anglo saxons and Normans to a couple of friends who were just getting into the game, so I decided to use my Mongols as Steppe tribes. My idea was to use six points of mounted hearthguards, putting them in three units of eight hearthguards. This meant they could shoot  initially with the maximum of eight dice and combat with sixteen dice. Although they would be light on Saga dice (only four including the warlord), I reasoned that in the latter turns I would still have three or four dice where as my opponents will hopefully be struggling to get one or two dice with his units losing figures.

In my intial games, they faired well enough developing my tactics of going in initially and destroying the opponents hearthguards and missile units to make them weak before they could counter attack.

The first problem was that although I had plenty of painted Mongol light horse and foot units, I only had eight hearthguard figures painted. I had a few more that were in the considerably large painting queue, but I was still five short. At the moment my lead and plastic mountain is quite large, so instead of buying more models I am trying to use and convert from the load I have already.

 I had bought or won in a tournment raffle (Its all gets a blur nowadays) some plastic fireforge mongols light horse and I still had some metal Mongol heavy foot with flails or whips etc lying about. So I cut the figures in half to create some more heavy cavalry,  the only problem was that the plastics were bigger in size but were fine if used in one unit.

Instead of the usual Clash of Warlord games, the tournament was going to have three different scenarios that followed a story line. The second game was a sort of a sacred ground scenario from Saga v1 although the areas were woods that had to be defended, not ideal for an all mounted army. Also in Saga 2 the Steppe tribes had changed from having their own unique battle board in Saga 1, to using the Hun board from the Arthur and Arteius book. I played quite a few of my practice games against my friend Kevin's Welsh, and even though I had some success, I couldnt get over the fact that the Welsh board was more suiting in using the hit and run cavalry tactics of the age. Apart from a very expensive double rare advanced ability where you could move one of your hun units in the other players turn, there was no other way your steppe tribe/hun units could dodge a charge, even from slow paced lumbering foot units. On the Welsh board there were more reaction abilities to move or charge your units in your opponents turn than you could, well, shake a dice at.  To top it off the Welsh Warlord can throw his javelins about like peanuts , whilst the Steppe Tribe warlord apparently didn't know what a bow looked like, even though it was the main weapon of his army.

Therefore after much deliberation and a quick word with the organiser at the eleventh hour. Ghengis Khan's horde from the Steppes became Bryan Khan's mounted Welsh choir from Merthyr Tydfil. Another advantage was it seemed the Welsh had adopted the ability to fight dismounted when the need (or scenario) arose unlike the Steppe Tribes who were permanently glued in their saddles. How the Welsh didn't create one of the largest known empires in the Dark ages is a complete mystery.

Lock your sheep way, Bryan Khan is leading his fellow Welshmen through the Steppes of Cheshire
      I had three practice games set up to try the welsh battleboard, three days before the tournament. Unfortunately my friend Kiefer who was coming over from England for the tournament had missed his flight and wasnt able to come until a day later.

So the day of the tournament arrived with twenty players meeting up including five players flying over from Mallorca and four English players(although three of us live here).

My first game was played against Franjo's Vikings, I won the dice off to be the attacker, and Franjo deployed his archers in stony terrain in two, six men units to gain the extra saga dice. To give myself some extra Saga Dice I split my units into one, eight unit and two, four men units with the other two points of hearthguard in reserve as stated by the scenario rules.


With Franjo deploying close to his table edge, I had to move my units from my initial position behind the hill  to my right flank. I left a dice on a reaction ability in case his eight men hearthguard unit decided to attack one of my smaller four man units. I made the classic mistake of forgetting I can use manuever moves instead of Saga Dice, which will cost me dear in the following Franjos turn.

Franjo took the bait and moved to attack but before he could reach my scouting party, I charged in with my eight man unit. Franjo chose to close ranks and this where my maneuver mistake became costly, because that extra dice could have been used on my ability that if he closed ranks I can put my armour up and his down by one. As it turned out through my disatrous dice throwing I lost a whole unit whilst Franjo managed to save a few of his.

In the next turn I was able to kill off the remains of his large unit which shook him up enough to make a tactical retreat behind the stony ground with his bersekers and Warlord. I moved my units in a central area and placed my reserve on the other flank, who were able to taunt a viking archer unit from the stony ground and destroy them in the open. In the next turn I attempted to repeat this trick on the other flank, it worked once more but unfortunately his Warlord came running out and caught my small unit who were unable to react. This meant I had lost another unit, but the good news was his Warlord was in the open with three fatigues on it. The problem was the game had to end as we had run out of time, so the game had ended in a draw with both of us having 15 slaughter points.

My next game was against Pepe and his Vikings. This was going to be a hard game because  due to my position in the league table I was deemed the attacker and had to capture both of the defenders woods (his hunting grounds). For this scenario, previously with my steppe tribe I had formed a strategy of just keeping my distance and shooting to score points and then moving into the woods on my final turn so the defender does not gain the extra victory points. However this failed from the moment of my deployment. Knowing that the Vikings have an ability that can exhaust any shooting unit. I decided to use a large dismounted Hearthguard unit to take over and capture one of the woods.

It was my turn first and Pepe had placed his archers in some open ground. I needed to destroy this unit so my horseman could get their javelins in range without getting hurt. I charged with one of my mounted units at the bowmen. I have tried to block out of my mind what happened next, but out of a possible nine hits, Pepe was able to save all but one and in turn killed two of my hearthguards. Shaken by this I retreated my unit out of range and sent the rest of my troops against the woods.

 However this tactic didn't turn out to well and soon I had lost my foot troops in the woods after some terrible dice rolling.

My other cavalry unit attempted a diversion tactic by moving to threaten the other wood, but I had lost too many valuable hearthguard and was way down on the points to recover. So Pepe managed to take all three points and win.

We then halted for dinner, which in Spain lasts for a least two hours with a never ending supply of plates of different types of food and pitchers of sangria and beer. 

My last game was against Jaques and once again bloody Vikings! This was a kill the Warlord scenario in which nothing else really matters. The only good thing about playing Vikings again was I knew what I had to do in my first turn. Which was to charge in and throw my javelins and do as much damage as possible before he could put those flaming saga dice on the ability to exhaust my shooters. The dice gods were finally with me and I got the correct dice for all my units to go in hard. All of his units suffered quite a few casualties which seem to put him on the back step.

            Both Armies square up to  each other.

      His warlord was quite exposed, and in my second turn he began to lose enough saga dice that he couldnt afford to put two of his dice on the shooting/exhaust ability.

This meant that my units were able to shoot and charge as I had hoped and soon his Warlord was in the front rank. On the last turn I was finally able to finish him off, I have learnt from experience never take fatigues off a Warlord to put his armour down. I know it is very tempting but it rarely pays off. So at least I had finished on a win and a high that catapulted my position from near the bottom to eleventh out of twenty players.

Some more action from other games, as you can see far right of the picture, it isn't over until the fat lady sings.

My friend Kiefer had come all the way over from England to play in the tournament. I had lent him some of my figures to play Norse Gaels. Having missed his first flight, he managed to book another flight for the next day to get to the tournament on time, thats dedication for you.

                                                       Looks like it may be all over for this singing fat lady!

My old amigo, Javi from Mallorca and his Umayyads versus Ethan using my old Norman Army I had lent him.

                                        Toni and his Normans playing against I believe the cowardly Irish

                      The first round of games in full swing.

The second round of games, Ethan is getting slaughtered by Rafa's Huns, who although were defending the woods, attacked the Normans in their half of the table cancelling out any threat.

                           The battle of the two Toni's, Jomsvikings against Normans on Rafa's stunning new snowy table mat.

Fantastic raffle prizes for everyone to win-

After two games  Kiether and his brother Ethan were at the bottom of the table on zero points. After telling each other their tactics on how they were going to win the last game. They realised during lunch that they were going to have to play each other. In the final turn they both managed to kill both of theirWarlords in the same melee.Which meant they both gained one point as it was deemed a draw and moving them from 19th and 20th to 17th and 18th position. Therefore the winner of the very nice wooden "spoon" was Jose Carlos from Mallorca with his Irish. 

Juan Marcos(left) with his Carolingians came third and Pedro(right) with his Vikings came second.

Well done to Antonio from Valencia who came first with his Normans

This was another enjoyable friendly tournament, the rules are so easy to understand that there is hardly any debating even when we are working between the Engish and Spanish versions. Personally I prefer to play with just the clash of warlords scenario found in the basic rule book for tournaments. Due to using some scenarios, I have found in the past can favour certain factions. Also sometimes reading and understanding the new terrain and deployment rules for a specific scenario can mean lost game time. In the popular ancients rules Arte de la Guerrre. the actual game and tournaments only has one type of scenario, with variable terrain placing similar to the clash of Warlords scenario and it still attracts a large following. However I am sure my view will be in the miniority, especially with the new book of battles being released later this month. 

Final thanks to Juan Marcos for organising the tournament, if it wasn't for these guys putting in all their hard work and precious time into these events, so we can come together to see old friends and making new friends , our hobby would be a lot less enjoyable.

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