Monday May 5th my gaming pal Ulrik (@Duregar) and I player our first game of SAGA - and loved every bit of it!
I had just received a bunch of painted (and even more unpainted)minis from Gibby at the LAF, so I could construct two 6-points warbands of Isengarders and a mix of Gondor/Rohan, respectively. Well, actually, in all the excitement, I miscalculated the Isengarders, and they played with 7 points - but that did not make the game less enjoyable!
Here are some shots of the table setup with all the minis on it. I played the forces of good, using the Anglo-Danes army list and battleboard, while Ulrik led the evil onslaught, using the Norman rules.
The troops were repositioned a bit before the first turn, taken by the attacker (Ulrik).
The evil center surged forward towards the small river. The read beads are fatigue-markers.
Faramir ordered his 8 hearthguard (sword warriors of Minas Tirith) with him into the forest, while 2 units of Warriors (Warriors of Rohan) advanced around the other forest, and the last unit of warriors (spear warriors of Minas Tirith) circled behind the levy (Minas Tirih and rohan archers) towards the left flank.
View from the other corner
Not the wisest of moves.
Faramir quickly dispatched several Orcs and their ferocious mounts, pushing the remainders back outside the forest.
At first, we forgot the 'disengage' rule, so you may notice that the Warg Riders haven't been moved back in one of the next pics from this turn
Below you'll see the Hand of God raining damnation on... er... no, wait...
The 16-strong Orc warrior unit advances to the stream, countering the threat of the Rohan warriors.
Seemingly unimpressed by the martial prowess of Faramir, the Warg Riders press on.
Only to get hammered by the hearthguard. Note the fatigue building up!
On the far left, a unit of Uruk-Hai warriors run though a gorge (but where are Merry and Pippin?). They were among the painted minis I got from gibby.
An overview of the situation.
The Urul-Hai warlord runs forward, and the Orc warriors find it wisely to move forward and attack the smaller unit of Rohan warriors. The humans, outnubered 2 to 1, are pushed back.
The Uruk-Hai warriors engage the other Rohan warriors, who, disencouraged by their comrades' retreat, are also beaten back into the forest.
Things have begun looking bleak for the human defenders...
Faramir takes a chance, challenging the Uruk to single combat, but is beaten back.
The hearthguard got too close to the Uruk-Hai warriors on the flank, so had to charge them on their second activation.
The Uruks are pushed back, but at a cost. 2 hearthguard buy it, and the unit is now exposed to enemy fire.
In the meantime, the Uruk-Hai hearthguard (4 Uruk-Hai Berserkers) jois the Warlord.
Faramir tries again, this time calling in the hearthguard.
This fight was decided by a completely unlikely roll of dice. I think I rolled 19 dice or so, failing to land more than 4 hits (or thereabouts). Faramir is pushed back, and decides to fall back and regroup at a nearby pass to try stopping the invaders.
I'm a bit in doubt, whether we used the rules 100% correctly all the time, but it was a great game, only tarnished by some very bad rolls by both sides (but we are both notoriously un-lucky when it comes to rolling d6s, so that was hardly surprising).
Positioning your troops - especially your missile armed levy - is very important (mine didn't fire a single shot, I think - in effect a point wasted), as is carefully using the battleboard abilites, and fatigue.
Ulrik used more units to full effect than I did, and I should have combined the 2 units of Rohan warriors, as there is a lot of strength in nubers when you can only attack with one unit at a time (a feature that may take a while to get used to). Given that, and that I was facing superior numbers, I harvested as sown - but there's still time for Faramir, Captain of Gondor, to prove his quality!
I really like how the 'disengagement' rule makes the battle flow back and forth, and I would actually like if missile fire could also drive back the target unit if it takes casualties.
I expect to be playing SAGA a lot, both with LotR minis (and I have some fan-made battleboards especially for games set in Middle-Earth), and with historicals.
I can see Rohan used as Normans, with lots and lots of cavalry, and Royal Guards as hearthguard, and I think I'll be making at least one Isengard list based on Vikings.
That's it for now from the Secret Lab in the Middle of Nowhere!