Battleshed Diaries

Sunday 4 October 2015

Backs to the Wall

My Scots SAGA war band were in action yesterday against the Anglo Saxons using a scenario called 'Backs to the Wall'

With a game arranged at my local club, I decided to have a rummage on the interweb for new scenario ideas and chanced upon The Tapestry where member Mike Wood had posted this interesting battle.

Here is Mike's scenario background:

The Defending player is on the run back to their settlement, pursued by the Attacking player. The Defender hurries his troops into a narrow valley and makes for what looks like a steep and impassable head of the valley. The Attacker thinks they now have their foe trapped in a steep valley head. The Defender (knowing this ground well) has sent out some of his troops over the steep ground to fetch help from a nearby friendly settlement. The Defender has fewer men but knows that reinforcements will soon arrive. The Defender prepares to receive the enemy and the Attacker gets ready to charge in...

In summary, the attackers start the battle with a 1-point advantage but crucially their objective is to kill the defender's warlord by the end of turn 5, otherwise they lose. Therefore, the attackers will have to move fast - no dithering in the ranks!

There are a couple of intriguing special scenario rules affecting the first turn that nicely represent the attackers thinking they have trapped the defenders and another representing the fact that the defenders have wisely chosen their ground. This added a nice twist in the game.

So how did it play?  Very well, as it happened. With both sides deployed on the long edge of a 24" x 36" table, it was obvious the war bands were soon to be in the thick of it. The deployment phase was crucial to the battle, especially for the attacking Scots.

My plan was to try to tie down the Saxons units and isolate the enemy warlord. I hoped to surprise my opponent by advancing my levy archers obliquely towards the Saxon slingers, closing to melee, instead of manoeuvring them to a suitable flanking firing position!

Backs to the wall initial deployments: Scots bottom, Anglo Saxons top
This opened up a direct line for my large warrior unit to quickly double advance - using the Standard Bearer to reduce fatigue - and engage the Saxon warlord, whilst my other units busied themselves with the remaining Saxons. And it worked!

By turn 3, the Anglo Saxon warlord was surrounded by a huge unit of braying Scots warriors. It was all desperate stuff. However, with some deft Battle Board management from my opponent and valiant defensive blade-work from the Saxon Warlord, it was the Scots warriors that were quickly dropping!

Scots archer levy close with Saxon slingers whilst the Saxon warlord is surrounded (top right)
It soon became clear that the battle would be won or lost on the fight between the Scots warriors and the Saxon warlord. The other combats were a sideshow. Turn 4 was the crux of this battle, with the Saxon warlord still slashing away and now reinforced by a couple of his loyal Hearthguard retainers, helping defend against the Scots onslaught. 

Turn 5. The Scots warriors, pushed back in the previous combat, provided the Saxon warlord the opportunity to possibly make a run for it but with his blood up and with numerous dead or dying Scots warriors lying at his feet he chose to stay and taunt the shaken enemy instead. Big mistake.

The Scots warlord (bottom right) orders his Hearthguard close with Anglo Saxon warriors
The battered Scots, now enraged, made an all out charge, mustering all the resources they could for one final attack. Two unsaved hits eventually got through to the valiant Saxon warlord. He was down. The Scots claim the victory just in time!

Backs to the wall is a fun and challenging scenario and is definitely one I will be adding to my Saga inventory.  As mentioned earlier, this battle is all about the deployment and the opening couple of turns for the attackers, as they really do have to ensure they can quickly close to threaten the enemy warlord.

Afterwards, with a little more time left before we had to head away to prepare for an afternoon of World Cup Ruby (Scotland v South Africa, England v Australia), we decided to run a game of the 'Warlords Challenge' where both warlords engage in single combat, starting with 12 wounds a piece.

Warlords Challenge
Surprisingly, this lasted longer than both of us expected with the combat proving to be gruelling, the fight fluctuating and the number of hits each round becoming less effective as the fatigue markers piled up.

However, this time the Anglo Saxon warlord eventually wore down his tiring Scots counterpart and eventually took the fight, claiming justice for his war band being 'robbed' previously!

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