Sunday, August 25, 2019

Great Turnout at Saga Game Day in August

Clash of Cavalry as Lord Gwendawg of Gododdin faces the strange Saracen foes who have invaded Britain
We have been trying to grow our group of local and area players who come out and play the Dark Age/Medieval skirmish rules, Saga. This time, we had 10 people show up. Andy and Steve P chose to run and assist, as we had 3-4 people who had never played. The biggest contingent came from Springfield, OH, where Mike S brought his son Jason and two nephews, Daniel and Thomas. I had made a concerted effort to recruit them, as I thought they'd enjoy the rules. Both Jason and Thomas had a game or two under their belt, but Daniel, Jenny, and Joe were new to the rules.
Mike S & Jenny square off in a Byzantine Civil War while Jason and Thomas trade jibes as they ready to do battle
We were using six-point armies as we tried to match up experienced players (to help teach) against less experienced ones. This meant a first round that saw Mike S use his Byzantines (Last Romans) against Jenny, using the same list. Jason and Thomas squared off with Vikings vs. Normans, respectively, while I helped teach Daniel (who was using Saracens). Lord Gwendawg and my army of Gododdin (Welsh) was my usual force -- I think this is the fifth or sixth time I have played them. Latecomers Joe and Jeff were match up with Anglo-Danes and Crusaders. Meanwhile, Andy and Steve generously gave up their playing time and hovered around, answering questions and helping out.
The right hand side of my battlefield with center scrub brush and woods on the right
As it turned out, two groups got in two games, while two matchups played only one game apiece. My game with Daniel got off to a late start, as I encouraged Daniel to seize the opportunity of a visit by Steve V, who was selling off his Saga stuff, to pick up the rulebooks and some figures cheap. He ended up purchasing a lot of Steve's unpainted Anglo-Danes, along with the core rules and the Age of Vikings book. I originally was buying Steve's Anglo-Dane dice, but since Daniel was shelling out the money for the army, I let him buy them instead. I still picked up Book of Battles and the Viking dice Steve V was selling.
The center of our battlefield with my two units of warriors, Lord Gwendawg, and then the Saracen battle line beyond
Apparently, after being stopped by Charles "the Hammer" Martel in France, the Saracens tried a back door into Europe and invaded Britain. Lord Gwendawg gather a force of his mounted and foot warriors and was sent by the King of Gododdin to meet the foreign invasion. We met at a semi-wooded battlefield, which we felt favored our foot javelinmen. A large area of scrub brush in the center of the battlefield divided our armies, while a large woods dominated our right flank. Another woods guarded the Saracens' left flank, near their baseline. Lord Gwendawg deployed his two large units of warriors to attack through the scrub brush, while the javelin levy would advance through the woods on the right. The large mounted hearthguard contingent deployed on the left, where they were soon joined by the warlord himself.
The startling, if ill advised, charge of the Saracen warlord, who is soon peppered with javelins two both sides
Opposite our hearthguard was an equal-sized mounted warrior unit armed with composite bows. Beyond the scrub brush were two small units of Saracen warriors, supported in their rear by a small hearthguard cavalry unit, also armed with composite bows. Across from the gap between the scrub and wood were a unit of Saracen levy archers, supported to their rear by their warlord. Extending their left, and seeking to do an end-around flanking move, was another small unit of hearthguard cavalry with composite bows.
Daniel moves his cavalry up to try to break my mounted battle line on the left
Lord Gwendawg ordered an immediate advance, the foot units making their way through the terrain and the mounted Britons sweeping around our left. The flaking cavalry began its sweep, but quickly realized there would be nobody to outflank, as we were advancing too quickly. They began to double back, while sending out the mounted warriors and the right hand mounted hearthguard to meet the ride of the mounted arm of Gododdin. Surprisingly, the warlord himself advanced into the gap between the scrub and woods, but after receiving a shower of javelins from the levy and the warriors, he retreated quickly, badly shot up. Most opponents are surprised by the missile power of my Welsh army. Every figure in the army is armed with javelins. All can shoot 6" as a free action when they move, which often softens the enemy up prior to our charge.
A dogged shooting match ensured between Daniel's Saracen levy and my javelin-armed levy
After receiving a volley of composite bows from the Saracen mounted warriors, Lord Gwendawg ordered them to charge in reply. The entire unit was ridden down, and the supporting mounted Saracen hearthguard withdrew in fear before our ferocity. In the center, one of our warrior units charged into the smaller Arab warriors after softening them up with javelins, and also destroyed them to a man. And so it continued, our javelins and charges causing great losses among the Saracens. Surprisingly, their levy archers drove off not only our Levy javelinmen but a charge of our warriors.
The brave men of Gododdin push the Saracens back, whittling their numbers down with our javelins and charges
The Arab warlord was desperate, though, and sent a depleted unit of foot warriors to charge our mounted hearthguard. They fell to a man, but took a few Briton nobles with them. The Arab hearthguard cavalry also charged in, and they too were destroyed, but in the process, my mounted hammer was down to just two figures. However, we had backed the Saracens into a small cluster of foot archers, warlord, and hearthguard cavalry. The men of Gododdin closed in, hurling javelins. Shouting to Allah, the warlord charged my center warrior line, and went down in a hail of javelins. At this point, Daniel conceded.
First round cousin warfare, as Jason's Vikings left take on Thomas' twice-victorious Norman warband
It was a bloody battle, with Daniel's archery causing the most casualties. My Welsh army continues to be fearsome in both hand-to-hand and shooting. I really like this battle board -- its "advanced abilities" are VERY tactical. I can respond to what other players do AND use other abilities that augment our charges equally. Steve P and Andy both vowed that next time THEY would play me to end Lord Gwendawg's "reign of terror," as they put it. I glibly reminded Steve that our reign began months ago with my first game using the Welsh against his Romans...!

On the other battlefields, Jenny had defeated Mike S in the Byzantine civil war in her first game. Thomas' Normans had ridden down his cousin Jason's Vikings. They swapped opponents and Thomas continued his hammering of opponents as he defeated Mike in a scant three turns! Jenny and Jason had a slugfest, but the melee ability of the Vikings won out, and each ended the day with a 1-and-1 record. I am not sure how Jeff and Joe's game ended. They ended up playing 7-8 turns because outcome was still in balance. It looked like it could go either way to me, though the Crusaders seemed to hold the advantage in numbers of troops remaining.

All in all, it was a great day for Dark Age skirmishing at the Guardtower East. Our group is really growing, and our new players are purchasing armies so they can field their own troops. Good times, and Gododdin remains free of foreign invasion for another season, as Lord Gwendawg continues to protect his king's realm.

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