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Just tried out SAGA (looking for Tacoma-area gamers!)


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Saturday, we played two games of SAGA at The Game Matrix, in Lakewood. In the first game, 6 points of Fluger’s Carolingian Franks faced off against 6 points of Sherbert’s Vikings. Because this was Fluger's first game, Fluger and Sherbert agreed to play a very straightforward scenario titled, Clash of Warlords. A player wins this scenario by slaying his opponent’s Warlord. If both Warlord’s die simultaneously or if the game goes longer than 6 Turns without a Warlord being killed, the player with the most victory points wins.



-Jarl (Warlord)

-8 Hirdmen (Hearthguard)

-4 Berserkers

-12 Bondi (Warriors)

-12 Bondi (Warriors)




-Fredegar the Fat (Warlord)

-8 Cabsllstii (Hearthguard) mounted

-12 Pueri (Warriors)

- 6 Pueri (Warriors) armed with bows

- 6 Pueri (Warriors) armed with bows

-12 Levies armed with javelins


The game was played on a 36” x 36” table cover. As with most SAGA scenarios, Clash of Warlords is designed to be played on a 48” x 36”, but the smaller table cover is all that I had with me, so we used it. Clearly 36" x 36" is too small for a 6 point battle, so the next time we will play I will make sure to have a 48” x 36” table cover with me.



Set-Up and Deployment


Fluger and Sherbert agreed to use the rules from The Crescent & the Cross rulebook to choose and place terrain. The players agreed to use the maximum number of terrain pieces; nevertheless, the center of the board was terrain free, forming a wide open killing ground for the slaughter to come.


Fluger deployed his warband along the entire length of his deployment zone. One unit of Pueri Bowmen was deployed in a cottage and the second unit of bowmen was set up just north of the cottage. The Frankish Levy was deployed in a long line in the center of Fluger’s deployment zone, screening Fredegar and the unit of 12 Pueri. The Caballarii were deployed atop a hill that bordered the south end of the board.


Sherbert deployed his Viking raiders in big clump on the north side of his deployment zone, his southern flank protected by a marsh. The two units of Bondi were formed up at the front of the mob, behind which stood ready the Viking Hirdmen, Beserkers, and the Jarl.







Sherbert’s began by double moving both units of Bondi towards the Franks, spreading his warriors out a bit and increasing the width of his battle line. Behind the Viking freemen, the Hirdmen, Beserkers, and the Jarl advanced at a slower pace. Sherbert ended his turn by using the Njord order to remove the fatigue tokens that the Bondi units had incurred by making a double move.





Fluger started his turn by advancing his Levy and hurling their javelins at the closest unit of Bondi, killing two of the Viking freemen. Next, the Caballarii on the hill were moved at full speed towards the injured unit of Bondi. Fluger then reached into his bag of tricks and issued the Exploitation order. In this instance, this order let Fluger activate 3 units. Even better, these activations do not generate any Fatigue tokens. Fluger used the first two activations on his Pueri bowmen who sent a third pagan warrior screaming to Hel.





The last Exploitation activation was used to order the Caballarii to charge the injured unit of Bondi. The mounted Franks had 16 attack dice, so Sherbert chose to order his Bondi to fight defensively. When the dust settled, 3 Bondi were slain and the Caballarii were unharmed. The 6 surviving Bondi turned and fled.





Next, Fluger used Fredegar’s Determination and We Obey abilities to advance both his 12 strong unit of Pueri and Fredegar to the rear of the Frankish Levy.


After the fight between the Caballerii and the Bondi, Fluger had one activation die remaining. Riding high on his victory over the Bondi, Fluger decided to go for broke. The fatigued Caballarii were wheeled about and charged into the unit of Berserkers that were revealed to the Frankish horsemen when the screening unit of Bondi fled.





Sherbert used the Caballarii's Fatigue token to reduce the Frankish horsemen's armor to 4 and then his Berserkers tore into the Franks. Rolling like a Norse god, Sherbert not only managed to slay 4 Caballarii, but he made an insane number of 5+ rolls with his Defensive Dice. Against all odds a single Berserker survived and the elite Frankish cavalry were driven off.





More later...

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Sherbert began his turn by bringing shame to the House of Sherbert and to Vikings everywhere. Sven, the last of the Berserkers, who, against all odds had triumphed over the elite Caballarii, was moved away from the Franks. Even worse, Sven was moved behind his Jarl and Bondi. What kind of Berserker cowers behind his Jarl? Paa-thetic. Sven’s dad was right.






Turning a blind eye to Sven’s shame (and the mocking of yours truly), Sherbert advanced his Jarl, positioning him beside his Bondi. Then, eager to avenge his slain Bondi and Berserkers, Sherbert double moved his Hirdmen into combat with the Caballarii, earning the unit a Fatigue token for moving twice in the same turn.






Sherbert wanted a decisive victory over the Caballarii, so he turned to his Battle Board and issued the Ullr order (re-roll attack dice the fail to hit) and the Valhalla order (eliminate 1 to 3 Viking Warriors or Hearthguard and gain, depending upon the SAGA symbol used, either 3 or 4 attacks per model removed). After counting out a sizable handful of attack dice, Sherbert sacrificed two of his Hirdmen and added another 8 dice to the pile of Attack dice. Grinning, Sherbert threw his bucket load of re-rollable attack dice at the Franks. The Caballarii were slaughtered and, aside from the two Hirdmen sacrificed to the Valhalla order, the Hirdmen took no casualties. ODIN!!!!


Having witnessed the slaughter of the Frankish elite, the nearby Levy lost heart and gained a Fatigue token.






Fluger began the bottom of Turn 2 by moving his large unit of Pueri, his Levy, and Fredegar toward the blood soaked Hirdmen. As part of their move order, the Levy hurled their javelins at the Viking huscarls. Sherbert spent the Levy's Fatigue token to increase his Hirdmens' armor value, so the Levy's missiles were easily turned away by the Vikings' armor and shields.






The Levy followed up their flight of javelins with an assault against the Viking shield wall. Poor lads.






Predictably, the Levy was easily repulsed, but it suffered fewer casualties than one would expect. The lightly armored Franks lost only three of their number. The Hirdmen lost none.


However, it was never Fluger’s intention to let the Levy go it alone. They were simply the first wave. After the defeated Levy fled back to the Frankish lines, the 12 Pueri, axes and voices raised to heaven, were ordered to attack the fatigued Hirdmen.






Having spent all his SAGA dice obliterating the Caballarii, the fatigued Viking huscarls had to fight this combat without any help from their Battle Board. The Pueri, on the other hand, got a little help from their Battle Board. The Frankish warriors had to move twice this turn in order to get to grips with the Hirdmen, but thanks to the Franks’ Oppression order, the second move did not generate a Fatigue token. Clever Franks.


The dice were rolled and when it was all over, two Hirdmen were struck down and the Pueri suffered only a single casualty. Victory Franks!


The four surviving Hirdmen limped back towards the marsh and the Vikings' main battleline.






More later…

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After placing his SAGA dice on his Battle Board, Sherbert began his Activation Phase by moving his large unit of 12 Bondi into contact with the Frankish Levy. Sherbert issued the Thor order (at the end of the melee a second round of melee is resolved before Fatigue is added) and likely another fighty-kill melee order that I cannot remember.






The end result was nine dead Levy for the loss of one Bondi. Carnage.


Due to their proximity to a friendly unit destroyed in melee, the unit of twelve Pueri gained a Fatigue token.


Sherbert followed up his victory over the Levy by using his Jarl’s Determination + We Obey + Side by Side combo to engage the unit of 11 Pueri with his Jarl and the unit of 6 Bondi.






Once again, I have forgotten what kind of Viking Battle Board jujitsu Sherbert pulled on the Franks, but the engagement ended in nine dead Pueri and a single Viking Bondi sent to Valhalla.


Sherbert ended his turn by FINALLY moving Sven the Berserk (aka Sven the Boneless, aka Sven the Sad, aka Sven the Forgotten,), towards the fighting. It looked like Sven was finally going to see some action.


NOTE: While I was preparing this batrep, I noticed that Fluger and Sherbert made a small error during game play. It was improper for Sherbert to place his Jarl between two models from the same unit. Oops.






With the bulk of his warband destroyed, Fluger realized that he had one narrow path to victory. And the first obstacle along that path was the unit of Bondi surrounding the Jarl. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the rules, if a Warlord takes an unsaved hit, that hit can be directed at a friendly, non-Levy model within two inches of the Warlord. So if Fluger was to have any chance at killing the Jarl, he had to first destroy or drive off the unit of Bondi surrounding the Viking Warlord. And that is exactly what Fluger did.


Using his Warlord’s Determination + We Obey + Side by Side ability, Fredegar and his two surviving Pueri axemen charged the Bondi. Three of the five remaining Bondi were killed at the loss of both Pueri, but that was all that Fluger needed. The two surviving Bondi were pushed back four inches, too far away from the Jarl to save him from a killing blow.






This left poor old Sven and one of the Bondi from the large unit of warriors, still within two inches of the Jarl. Fluger was able to sort out Sven by moving a unit of Pueri bowmen forward and putting the hapless Berserker out of his misery. Thunk!


Fluger couldn’t kill enough Bondi in the big unit to force Sherbert to remove the Bondi model that Fluger wanted to eliminate, so instead the Pueri bowmen in the cottage targeted the two fleeing Bondi, killing them both, and eliminating their unit.


For Fluger, finishing off the Beserkers and the unit of Bondi had the added bonus of reducing Sherbert to four SAGA dice.


Lastly, Fluger made the only move left to him. Fredegar charged the Jarl. If the Jarl was slain and Fredegar lived, the game would end as a victory for the Franks. Otherwise, even if Frankish Warlord survived this combat with the Jarl, between the large unit of Bondi and the half strength unit of Hirdmen, Fredegar would not live long enough to see the bottom of Turn 4.






The two Warlords struck at one another, trading blows that echoed off the nearby hills like peals of thunder. The Jarl's Bondi stood by motionless, awed by the understanding that the outcome of the battle would be determined by a combat between champions, the mortal avatars of Odin and the nailed god, Jesu. Gore spattered axe blades hammered down, splintering shields and shoring off links of mail. Both men suffered terrible wounds; their blood flowing freely, mixing with the blood of the Frank and Norse corpses that littered the battlefield. “For Odin!” “For Christ!” “For Odin!” “For Christ!”


The steady, hammering rhythm of axe strike on shield was finally interrupted when the Jarl lost his footing on the slippery, looping entrails of a disemboweled Frank. The Jarl fought to maintain his footing, but fate is inexorable. The Viking Warlord fell forward onto the blood sodden earth, landing on all fours. As Fredegar raised his axe for the killing blow he spotted movement out of the corner of his eye. The closest Bondi had broken ranks and was running toward Fredegar, sword raised. At the very last second, Fredegar whirled about, swinging his axe in a deadly, horizontal arc. The oncoming Bondi was caught off guard and the axe blade took the Norseman just beneath his chin. The momentum of the mortally wounded Bondi carried him forward into Fredegar, causing the Frankish Warlord to stumble back two paces, slip on a patch of blood soaked mud, and fall onto his back.


The Bondi’s sacrifice gave the Jarl the few precious seconds he needed to grasp a discarded spear and using its shaft for purchase, regain his feet. As Fredegar floundered in the mud, the Jarl used all his strength and the weight of his own body to drive the spear downward, into the fallen Frank’s chest.


A raven cawed.


The battle was over.










4 Hirdmen (Hearthguard)

4 Berserkers (Hearthguard)

14 Bondi (Warriors)


Carolingian Franks:

1 Warlord

8 Caballarii (Hearthguard)

12 Pueri (Warriors)

12 Levy

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Great bat rep dude. Very fun to read



Because this was Fluger's first game, he and Sherbert played a very simple scenario. The next game was much more involved. Fluger and I played the Sacred Ground scenario. For those of you who are not familiar with SAGA, in the Sacred Ground scenario three pieces of area terrain and/or hills are placed along the centerline of the table. It's a progressive victory point game. At the end of your turn, you award your opponent VPs based on the type and number of your opponent's models inside the three terrain features. The game lasts 8 turns.


Out game lasted full 8 Turns. Both sides were annihilated. Both Warlords were slain. At game's end, all that I had left was one warrior and one wolfhound. Fluger's only survivors were 4 bowmen. Fluger eked out a 2 points lead, and the win, on the bottom of Turn 8.


As an aside, one of the changes in Crescent & the Cross is that in order to score a win in a VP game, there must be, based on the scenario, a VP difference of either 3 or 4 VPs. I like this.


I took photos of our game and I got a lot if great images. My intention was to create a Batrep, but I decided against it because creating an 8 turn Batrep would have taken forever. Plus, neither army included any painted minis, so visually, the Batrep would be a bit boring.

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Wow! Looks like exactly the type of game I was trying to find.

Shorter play time so I can get games in.

Less models so I can get a painted force done in less than a year.

Simpler rules so I can get them down pat.


Now, where can I get some plastic Byzantines?

The good news is that one can find some pretty good historical infantry plastic kits for less than a dollar a model. The bad news is that it is unlikely that you will find Dark Age Byzantines in plastic. If your heart (and wallet) is set on plastics, I recommend that you look for late Roman and possibly medieval Arab plastics. Between the two, you may be able to kit bash some Byzantines.


If you are willing to spring for some metal models, know that metal historicals minis are generally less expensive than comparable GW or PP products. Also, the manufacturers of historicals don't gouge customers on character models. You are not going to have to spend $30 to get a single, infantry sized model, simply because it's rules may give you a small advantage in the game. Many of the Gripping Beast warlord on foot models can be purchased for $5 ($6 or $7 for a mounted warlord). Lastly, distributers of historical ranges aren't bound by the same restrictions on discounting that distributers of GW models must abide by. For example, FRP Games has weekly overstock sales. I've purchased quit a few Gripping Beast models from FRP at 30% off.

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