Battleshed Diaries

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

A Dark Age foursome



At my local club, Livingston Battleground, there was a most welcome return to the Dark Ages with my Scots Saga warband all dressed up and ready for a fight. I’d arranged a game with one of my regular Saga opponents, who’d also had a bit of a Saga hiatus recently, so we were both keen for a refresher. I’d also been chatting to one of the other club members who’d expressed an interest in a demonstration game. So a hastily arranged three-way scenario was on the cards. Upon arrival at the club however, yet another one of our Saga regulars had his troops with him, so the three way game turned into a very agreeable four-way ‘King of the Hill’ scenario!


We decided on two teams with a 4 point warband apiece and an 8 turn limit. Whichever allied side had the highest troop value, (3 points for each Hearthguard, 2 for Warriors and 1 for levies), on the ‘hill’ by the end of turn 8 wins the day. I allied with the new player, using most of my Scots miniatures to assemble both a Scots and Welsh force. Our opponents deployed Vikings and Anglo Saxons, who’d apparently agreed a temporary armistice so they could have a go at the kilted ones instead!
Saxon levy archers supporting the Vikings
The Viking/Saxon force won the initiative, even though neither commander were sporting beards and after a couple of turns of cagey manoeuvring the Vikings brought their main strength directly towards the hill, supported by Berserkers whom a nervous Scots levy had had unfortunate dealings with on a previous encounter.

The Saxons deployed on the Viking's left flank, hoping to utilise the terrain get their archers into a strategic supporting position. Over on the opposite side of the hill, the Welsh had command of Bonnedid, levy archers, and mounted Teulu Hearthguard, the latter being split into two groups of four and deployed to secure both flanks of the combined Welsh/Scots army. 

Scots Javelin levy with their Warlord

With the Viking warriors clearly going to claim the hill first, the Welsh archers cautiously moved through a crop field taking advantage of the cover whilst getting into range. The Scots commander also ordered about a third of his strength to advance towards the hill, trying to organise a decent assault potion, with his remaining strength tasked with interdicting and, crucially, holding up the supporting Saxons. On this flank it was the mounted Welsh that were first into action, using their long move to take on Saxon warriors. This is where our new player had his first introduction to the quick and easy Saga combat system and, more importantly, the role of the Battle Boards and Fatigue markers.
Welsh mounted hearthguard and levy archers (in crop field)

The Saxons were now distracted by combined Welsh Mounted and Scots warriors taking on their Ealdormen and Thegns, although their levy archer Ceorls were still advancing. Meanwhile the Scots levy javelins, having successfully manoeuvred out of the way of their advancing warrior comrades, confidently negotiated a small hill before heading forward to threaten the Saxon archers.

The second Welsh mounted unit flanked the Vikings ascending the hill, discovering that psychological warfare was the order of the day with much enthusiastically crude gesticulation and vocal, but undecipherable, taunting being most effective - drawing some of the goaded Vikings away from the laborious hill climb. The Welsh archers had by now found their range and were also busy loosing arrows on long, high arcs towards the Viking Hirdmen on the hill – some of which had even been confident enough to descend down towards the Scots lines.
Welsh levy archers and their Warlord (with Standard)

However, these few over-confident Vikings were pushed back and the Scots main force then moved as one to contest the hill with their leader amongst them and escorted by a small contingent of sweaty Hearthguard. The Saxon archers were denied their objective by the arrival of the large group of Scots javelin levy, so much so the Saxon war boss himself smashed into their lines hoping to scythe his way through the conscripts. That he did, but unfortunately the surviving Scots levy, instead of retreating back, started to climb the hill instead looking for protection from their warrior brethren!

By the final turn, the Vikings on the hill found themselves fighting to hold it against the swelling ranks of Scots warriors, whilst their berserker brethren were still delayed by the taunting Welsh mounted Teulu. The Saxons too were held up, embroiled in a brutal fight with groups of stubborn Scots fighters and the remnants of the first Welsh mounted unit. With the tide of battle turned, the allied Welsh and Scots took the day. Just.

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Another example where serendipity provides a most entertaining gaming opportunity. It certainly was a useful exhibition game for our first time player to be involved in, with varied and multiple forces in action and demonstrating the role of the different faction abilities. Once again Saga successfully provided some entertaining and atmospheric, albeit 'historical lite’, Dark Age skirmishing.