I met up with a friend for a game of SAGA last weekend and we tried something a bit different by playing with each other’s armies.
It was a four point game with Paul using my Normans (Mounted Warlord, 8x Mounted Hearthguard, 8x Mounted Warriors, 12x Levy with Bows) while I had Anglo-Danes (Warlord with Dane Axe, 4x Hearthguard, 16x Warriors, 12x Levy Bows). We played the standard scenario from the back of the latest rulebook (I really hope they hurry up with the Book of Battles supplement) with the added twists of some units starting with a point of fatigue and deployment across a diagonal.
I’d never even looked at the Anglo-Danish board or read anything about them so I didn’t really know what to expect and consequently my deployment and initial plan didn’t really suit them at all! In the end it was a narrow loss (13-15 on points) but still a very enjoyable game and a great opportunity to try out a new warband for the first time.
In the first turn I started a little archery dual with the Norman levy which was ultimately fairly futile as their Volley Fire and Wounded abilities meant they both out ranged and out injured me. Volley Fire has changed in the second edition and now only doubles the range of a single bow-armed unit but it also activates the unit so it’s effectively a freebie so why wouldn’t you! My infantry skulked about a bit and didn’t make much headway apart except on the extreme left flank where I moved up the edge of a wood.
Over the next couple of turns I advanced slowly with my warlord at the back but suffered heavily due to the Norman cavalry hit-and-run tactics of charging in their turn using either the Pursuit or Impact abilities only to then withdraw during my turn using either Envelopment and Gallop. When I use the Normans myself, I tend to have a more shooting based warband but a majority mounted force is very effective if used in this manner so that gave me some food for thought for next time I use them.
When I finally did get my warlord into combat on turn 5, he was deadly, easily wiping out a fresh unit of mounted warriors with a combination of Determination and Unforgiving and then removing all his own fatigue at the end of the melee using Lord of War. The Anglo-Dane battleboard does revolve around causing enemy fatigue and then spending it in melee to great effect so I really should have been much more aggressive with the warlord and his hearthguard earlier in the battle.
In the final turn my warlord was poised to take out either the surviving Norman mounted hearthguard or Norman warlord but with dice on their Envelopment ability, I was unable to close with either of them without becoming exhausted so I was denied the possibility of another melee with my Warlord.
In a six point game, I can see a lot of value in fielding the Harold Godwinson legendary unit with his brothers Gyrith & Leofwine who combined generate a whopping 14 attack dice in melee and benefit from Bravery which allows them to ignore the first fatigue generated by Resilience each turn.
At the risk of greatly upsetting the true connoisseurs of the period, one of the advantages of gaming the Dark Ages is that a lot of the figures for levy and warriors are quite interchangeable so I really should be able to use my existing Viking figures as Anglo-Danes without too much problem and that would just leave me needing a suitable warlord and handful of hearthguard with Dane axes to give me a whole new army to play – bargain!