Saga - Second Edition

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Re: Saga - Second Edition

Post by Richard » Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:18 pm

Ralph de Tosny raised himself up in his stirrups and anxiously surveyed the land before him. He did not like what he saw. To his immediate left stood a fair sized (for this land anyway!) hovel, masquerading as a farmhouse. Further on and left of the farm a significant area of rocky ground was visible whilst to his front and right stood two areas of woodland. These were of particular concern as they obstructed his view of the land and clearly offered ambush opportunities for the warriors of the Irish Warlord on whose lands he now stood. Named after his uncle, who had been one of the companions of the Duke himself at Hastings, Ralph was already well experienced in warfare and well knew that virtually every tree could hold the threat of a Javelin in your back so the sight of so many trees was definite cause for concern. However, Ralph had gathered a strong body of Warriors about him for this enterprise, which enjoyed the backing of both his uncle and the King himself!

Ralph ordered his crossbowmen to occupy the farm area, supported by his archer levy to their right. From this position they had a clear view of anything that emerged from either wood or rocky ground and he knew the Irish feared Norman bolts and arrows. They were supported by two groups of Sergeants, a mounted group out to the left (ready to confront any enemy emerging from the rocky ground) and a group on foot on the right. Just behind these sat Ralph, with one small group of knights directly to his front, whilst the second group sat a little way off to the right. His plan was simply to shoot at any enemy who presented themselves and draw the Irish into the open, where they could be ridden down by his knights.

De Tosny had barely deployed his men when movement was sighted amongst the rocky ground and the middle wood. Suddenly a group of Irish Warriors were clearly seen in the open ground between the two wooded areas. Bait? The woods certainly offered cover enough for a substantial force and such tactics were commonplace amongst the dastardly Irish. Ralph’s levy proved keen to shoot at this target and their arrows found their mark as an Irishman was struck down, lying unmoving in the open. Encouraged by this early success, the knights in front of De Tosny charged the Irish without delay. As expected, a flurry of missiles hurtled from the wood as the knights galloped past but they charged on to clash with the vulnerable Irish. A brief melee ensued before the knights retired with two empty saddles (the Irish has suffered 5 hits but saved ALL FIVE!). Instead of seeing his knights trample the enemy, De Tosny now watched helplessly as they retired, badly shaken. It was obvious that the Irish would now duck into the wood becoming very difficult to force out. De Tosny quickly called to his foot Sergeants to charge the Irish to stop this and, with surprising elan, they obeyed. Another brief but hard fought melee occurred only this time half a dozen Irish Warriors were cut down for the loss of half that number of Normans.

The Irish response came quickly and a large group of Javelin men advanced through the central wood, with a smaller group (clearly Hearthguard) led by a Hero, behind. More Irish were seen amongst the rocks, including another Hero who stood forth, gesturing madly at the Normans. The exposed position of the Norman Sergeants was now apparent and they suffered badly from Irish shooting which left three Norman corpses on the ground.

De Tosny ordered his bowmen to shoot the Irish in the wood whilst he rallied his battleline to face the Irish advance that was surely about to happen. The bowmen again downed another Irishman, despite the cover afforded by the woods, whilst the Norman knights rested and recovered.

It was clear now that the Irish were gathering in force in the rocky ground and not even the threat of crossbows and bows would deter them. With his foot Sergeants hanging on, Ralph de Tosny decided upon a risky venture. He would charge the Irish in the wood himself! If they could be pushed back then his knights could sweep onto the flank of any attack emerging from the rocky ground, whilst his damaged units could rally. Again the Levy bows sang and another Irishman played pin-cushion! However, before the Irish could recover, De Tosny was upon them, like a Berserker of legend! His sword sang sweetly, promising death to any and all, whilst he appeared impervious to the weapons of his foes! Within moments 9 of the Irish lay dead or mortally wounded and only 2 survived by fleeing deeper into the wood. A groan of despair went up from the Irish whilst the Normans uttered a cry of victory...or was it relief! :roll:

The Irish behind the wood now sprang forward, intent on revenge but De Tosny turned his warhorse and cantered back to where his knights sat...totally shocked at the heroic feat of their Lord...before further harm could come to him. This defeat had clearly unnerved the Irish who now appeared to abandon all thoughts of attacking the Normans, seeking the sanctuary of the woods and rocks.

De Tosny’s crossbowmen now unleashed their bolts for the first time at some Irish Hearthguard who had advanced too boldly and 1 fell to the ground, mortally wounded. The bowmen also contributed by wiping out the remaining two Warriors who had survived De Tosny’s charge. The Norman knights (and their Warlord) rested and moved to position themselves to deal with any Irish advance.

The Irish Warlord saw the hopelessness of his situation, having suffered over 20 casualties, he could not charge across open ground into the teeth of an arrow storm, supported by fresh units of knights and Sergeants. Having effectively lost control of both the wood areas, he conceded the field and withdrew, hoping to fight from a more rewarding position another day.

Ralph celebrated his victory by quickly conscripting the locals to build his own motte and Bailey castle, thus announcing to all that he was here to stay, with a fief independent of his father!

So what about the Saga element? Well the Irish used their battleboard to boost their missile fire whenever they could and also concentrated on boosting defensive abilities when attacked. Thus Firbolg (giving 3 extra shooting dice) and Sons of Dana (giving 4 missile shots when enemy passed with Short range of a wood - something that could not be avoided!) both featured every turn, as did Wail of the Banshee which increased Defence dice and potentially raised the effectiveness of such dice. By closing down the distance early on, the Normans forced the Irish to spend Saga dice to activate their troops so the Irish used The Old Way ability to do this more cheaply. I think they really were surprised by the aggressive start of the Normans and didn’t really recover. Although I couldn’t stop the woods and rocky ground being placed, I did push the rocky ground far enough away that it could not be used as a springboard to attack my troops without suffering at least one round of missile fire from my crossbows and bows, which (with a loaded battleboard) should have proved quite deadly! I think perhaps the Irish spread themselves out too thinly, trying to occupy all the bad terrain, and when things went wrong early on they didn’t really have a Plan B. At no time did any of their Heroes threaten the Normans and their Heroes can be tooled to be deadly!

On the Norman side things went fairly according to plan. Whilst I didn’t plan for my opponent to save all five of the hits my knights inflicted (remember you only save in melee of 5+!), things were flexible enough for a second unit (the foot Sergeants) to continue the attack when it was threatening to go pear shaped! The Norman archery did exactly what was required by inflicting fatigue on enemy units that could then be charged (perfect combined arms combat). Even the crossbowmen and mounted Sergeants did their job as, although the crossbows only shot once and the Sergeants literally didn’t move, they effectively screened off the Irish Warlord, a Hero, a unit of Hearthguard and unit of Warriors from taking part in the battle. This allowed me to use almost all my Saga dice to boost my units that did take part in the battle. Whilst the Normans really do depend on a combined arms approach, I have to mention that their Warlord can be a beast is you have the Saga dice to spend on him. I actually saved dice from an earlier turn to ensure that when he attacked, it was going to be deadly, and it was. Using Dex Aie (a MUST for a Norman Warlord), he gained 4 bonus attack dice (he already starts with 8) plus a further 2 attack dice for the Charge ability. If that wasn’t enough, I used the fatigue inflicted by the bowmen to lower the enemy armour so I was hitting on anything but 1’s! Although after his victory my Warlord was in a vulnerable position, I kept the Envelopment ability on my battle board so he could retreat to the safety of his knights if threatened.

A very interesting game which really highlighted the game’s ability to deliver Big Moves and the long range threat of the Normans.

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