Battleshed Diaries

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Wrath of the Jomsvikings

Jomsvikings fighting in a hail storm at the Battle of Hjörungavágr.

It’s official. I hate the Jomsvikings. Icelandic mercenaries as notorious as their Scandinavian cousins. Their tactics and abilities are suspiciously close to Dark Arts as far as I’m concerned.

I can’t be the first Saga player to have faced the Jomsvikings and their unique Wrath system for the first time, experiencing a look of total ‘WTF?!’ after being on the receiving end of withering Wrath-boosted abilities such as Jomsborg! Holmgang, Hammer of Thor, Dance of Steel or the frankly supercilious We are Legends?

After the four-player game (A Dark Age foursome), at the local club the previous week, the new player, who’d took control of some of my miniatures to command the Welsh, decided that Saga was indeed game of superficial simplicity yet anchored with hidden strategic depths (or something like that!) and was definitely worth buying into. Hurrah! Another local player! So a few days later he announced he’d done a bit of research and had settled on the Jomsvikings. Oh good.

Now, my Saga experience is mostly,( like many of the systems I play), dictated by the availability of local players, so I’d only played regularly against the Anglo Saxons and the Vikings and never the Jomsvikings. Anyway, how can they be much different to the 'regular' Vikings? Well now I know. Uniquely, they have the aforementioned Wrath system, where the Jomsviking player can activate an ability that lets the opponent choose their fate – suffer some humiliating consequence or let the ‘humiliating consequence Wrath-o-meter’ go up all the way to 6 to unlock the Dark Art abilities.

Jomsviking War Lord from Gripping Beast
There was my Scots warband, confidently poised to force their way over the two bridges from the Battle at the ford scenario, deploy their cunningly contrived and impressive defencive abilities and wait for the turn counter to reach 8 whilst the new player threw his over-endowed Scandinavian hillbillies at the Scots Barrier of Spears. That’s what was in my head anyway. I’ll let the Jomsvikings get all riled up, spitting Wrath, whilst the Scots just needed to sit tight and soak up a couple turns of Jomsviking attacks and claim the land. Simples!

Now , if I had of paid more attention to the Jomsviking Battle Board, I would have noticed the Jomsborg! ability. The description of the Jomsborg! ability in the Northern Fury expansion reads "An ability to potentially shatter the best laid plans of your enemy "

This proved to be depressingly accurate when my eager opponent duly unleashed it, with the 'oh bloody hell-o-meter' on the maximum 6. The Scots warlord found himself watching powerlessly as all – yes all – of his units were ordered out of position by the Jomsvkikings, whilst their pungent, snarling hoards charged over the bridges, completely turning the tables on the Scots! The Scots warlord was left staring as his premature celebratory drinking horn spilled the sacred water of life unnoticed to the ground.

And to top it all off, my opponent was using substituted Warhammer 40k figures! Mysteriously, no pictures of this event were recorded, or could be found. Well, it is the Dark Age after all.

Post battle the Scots Mormaer called his Toisech together, scarified a few defenceless haggis and sought omens from their innards.  New strategies were discussed and new insults prepared. They will meet the bloody Jomsvikings again. Soon.

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