Third outing for SAGA at Game Empire

Our third outing at Game Empire was held last Saturday November, 29th, 2014 and was again well attended maxing out all 3 reserved tables for most of the day and into evening. We continue to introduce, teach, and polish our own skills in this highly addictive game that has very simple mechanics yet a very deep level of play and variety in the battles.

BillViking1

My Viking Bowmen turn the farmhouse into a “Blockhouse”

We had Bill, Chris, Dave, Joe, Derek, Dennis, Tim, Jen, Galen, Rick, Jeff, Frank, and a few others trading blows on the gaming table and had 3 tables going most of the time. I had a brand new Anglo-Dane Warband to try out and Dave Dandridge was happy to bring out “his” Welsh to give them a fight. It was a hard fight too, both sides playing very cagily, my Anglo-Danes doing a bit better up until the last turn when “Dave’s”? Welsh saw an opportunity and evened up the score! When the Victory points were counted up it was 11 to 11 and a DRAW, great game. New player to our group Derrick brought his Anglo-Saxons for the first time and took on my Vikings.

TimAD4

Tim Daun (Anglo Danes) takes on Dave Dandridge (Welsh), while Chris plays both sides…lol!

Derrick put on a good show for not having much experience with SAGA and his first time with Anglo-Saxons (a tough to master warband) lasting until turn 4 when my “Bezerker’s” got a hold of his “Warlord” out in the open, landing 11 blows, with only I retainer near enough to soak off causalities! 5 saves, 1 soaked off, and 1 resilience, left 4 hits….very dead Anglo-Saxon Warlord.
AngloSax2aCheck the calendar section for info on the next gameday to be held. Bez1

 

First official “SAGA” day at Game Empire!

CC4

Dave Dandridge and Jeff MacArthur of the you tube “Combat Commander” video’s fame, fight a Crusader battle

Well the “SAGA” game day at Game Empire in Pasadena California was a great success this weekend even though this was only the second time the “Dogs of War” gaming club has gone down there and really the first “Official” time. This time we had Five club members show up with all their gear ready to demo SAGA and we had plenty of interest. Near a dozen folks came by with interest in playing then or in the future with 3-4 actually playing a few SAGA games with us!

Sid1

Sid checks the “SAGA” phone app for the proper move for his Viking Warband

Sid Sidhu was positively on fire with both his desire to play and his “hot” dice rolling! He is admittedly very new to the game having the rules but playing few real games (he’s got a half painted Irish Warband and a few others on deck!) when he took on Steve Gausche in a Viking verse Viking Bloodbath using the Warlord scenario out of the book. It went all 6 turns with neither warlord dieing. Victory went to Steve 30 to 29 points! Bloody…and Bloody close…really a draw!

Chris Snell and Dave Dandridge, did a quick Crescent and Cross game while Joe Nacchio umpired a game between new players Tim Divar and George? Sorry busy umpiring the other game…. We had to breakout a third table where Joe Nacchio umpired a beggineers match between George and Tim (if I have names wrong let me know!)

Joe Umpires

Most of the Club members had on their Hawaiian Shirts to make us visible! Joe’s had Mustangs on it!

Sid was still up for more before heading all the way back to Bakersfield! So I trotted out my “Normans” to once again fight Sid using Steve G’s Viking army. Sid is a quick leaner and and I had to work to pull a “Norman” victory out of him.

The Norman battle line!

The Norman battle line!

The Game Empire is a great store and is growing on us as a place to socialize outside our normal “digs” Its nice to meet others and spread the fun. Loading in and out is easy (parking can be tuff but never impossible). The Store was FULL all day into the night with lots of gaming, flames of War, a 40K tourney (30+), and us, but it never felt hot or too crowded. Tim Robbins came by a few times (GE’s owner) and made sure we were taken care of.

A 4 way Crusader battle topped off a great day!

A 4 way Crusader battle topped off a great day!

The evening was rounded out with a 4 way battle of “Crescent and Cross” between Jeff, Joe, “Crusaders” and Dave and Chris as the “Saracens” I think the Saracens squeaked it out…If you are interested in joining us for future gatherings email me at vonkluge@ca.rr.com, check the calendar section here, or check with Games Empire. I will the rest of the day speak through the pictures below.

See you all soon!

Bill Witthans

An “Unexpected Journey” Kingdom Con in San Diego

cpsdentrance-for-flip_home_masthead

Your view as you enter less than a block off the freeway! quite pretty when compared to the “LA” con venues, and moments away from Mission Bay beaches, Old Town, and Coronado Island,  hint…”wife appeal”

With no Spring gathering of HMGS-PSW during their usual April con period (whats up with these guys?) Steve G and I went to San Diego’s “Kingdom con convention” held April 24-28, 2014, one of the rare gatherings on the US West coast for miniaturist  in what we call the “Desert of the Wargaming World”. When we locals call this area a desert we don’t mean there is no miniature wargaming around, no there are many places that have far less gaming going on, we in fact have quite a bit going on, its just that like life in the desert its hard to find, you have to look under rocks and behind bushes to find it. Over the years many of us have tried to bring the southern California Miniature Wargaming scene closer together under one roof so to speak with varying degrees of success and in Kingdom Con we have yet one more group trying it.

Kingdom con has been going on for several years and has been doing better each year. I had never attended it as local LA cons and my involvement with HMGS-PSW kept me busy enough try to get things better in the Los Angeles area. This year would be different as my break with the Los Angele’s conventions and in fact HMGS-PSW of whom I had been a member for more than 20 years had left me with both the time and the yearning to attend a different gathering and meet different people.

Since my time as President of HMGS-PSW had brought me into contact with a lot of the different groups around the Pacific Southwest on a organizational level, I was on a lot of their yahoo groups, mailing list, and various events still dropped into my email box.  When the announcement for this years Kingdom con arrived and a quick glance at their event list revealed at least 3 miniature events I’d be interested in including a SAGA Tournament event I became very interested. Like I said earlier most of us are gaming in our own circles (some under rocks) and it’s sad we seldom venture out to see and share with others the fun, passion, and camaraderie of the Miniature wargaming community. This is particularly prevalent in the Historical section of the hobby where many of the old stick in the mud’s bemoan the state of the “Historical Wargaming Hobby” but can’t be induced to rise up off their “lardy arrses” and get out and participate! Such was my feeling when I tried to get a bit of interest in some of us making the drive down to see what was going on there.

So after lifting a few rocks and bushes I found a few stalwarts who decided in favor of making the trek down. Tim Daun (another former President of HMGS-PSW) his wife Jen, Steve Gausche (my #1 gaming bud and also a former member of HMGS-PSW, 15+ years) all were up for playing SAGA the DARK AGES historical game tourney with a different group and away from our own rocks. So cutting to the chase we all made the almost 2 hour trip (for us) Saturday morning down to San Diego arriving at the Crowne Plaza hotel in beautiful Mission Valley just in time for the sign in, checking of Warband list, and the 10am start time for the first of 3 rounds of competition.

Before I get into the Con and the Tourney lets talk about the drive because I know a few of you “Lardies” are already thinking “1 or 2 hour drive!!! I’m not doing that! Ahh horrible, horrible, why can’t they have the convention closer to me? in fact cant it be just up the block!” Well the people who put these things on, do all the work to bring you a bit of fun, and rarely get to enjoy their own con do the best they can for the most part. Cons are not easy things to put on (I know I’ve been responsible for more than half a dozen) and the least we can do is to come and support them because only through that support they will grow into the cons we all dream about attending. That 1-2 hour drive in both directions…well call some friends and carpool, it was a very pleasant time for us to sit and kibbitz on many things, wargaming, cons, painting, and life in general. The drive was really much the same as the pre-game “bs” that normally goes on with all gaming groups except we were moving at 70 miles per hour……..

My, My, I do get up on that soap box don’t I…..

So we arrived at the Crowne Plaza Mission Valley right off the freeway, where a quick right and left brought us into the parking lot were the attendant politely asked if we were here for the convention, “yep” “great sir, $3, please” $3? Dam I haven’t seen parking that cheap in 20 years at a con! And you got in and out privileges with out being a over nighter!!!!  The parking lot was very large and had ample parking despite becoming quite full during the day always had spots open. There were two convenient doors available to load in and out from and within moments we had gathered up our mini’s, terrain, rules, and with a short walk stood in the lobby. Déjà vu! I realized that it was the same great hotel that my wife and I would occasionally stay at with the kids back in the day when coming to visit relatives here in SD, lovely place with a great pool area, beautiful grounds, pleasant helpful staff, and unbelievably…a fair priced restaurant with good food! (ok the restaurant is not cheap fast food but its not overpriced crap and you don’t have to walk our drive out)

The people at the Kingdom con registration desk were very friendly and after plopping down $20 bucks for our one day badge they pointed us in the direction of the upstairs “Historical miniature’s” area in the Grand Pacific Ballroom and even sent a “guide” along to make sure we found it…or was it to prevent us “Historical” guys from wandering around and ruining the rest of the con?…just kidding!

King12

Nice Room, plenty of elbow room and well lit! Local Wargamers Steve Gausche (3rd on left and Tim Daun (1st on right) prepare for the first round. Tony the events organizer is on the right just past Tim.

The room was nice 30 x 70, well lit! and filled with plenty of tables and chairs.  Several games were already going on and in the middle there were 2 long sections about 4 x 16 with terrain in-place for the SAGA tourney.  Tony the SAGA events organizer Tony was there setting up terrain and getting everyone’s Warband info recorded. The turn out was better than I expected 7 locals and 3 of us “northerners” for a 10 player 3 round competition. I planned to run my “Normans” and in a basically “stock” formation, levy bows (12), warrior Crossbows (8), 4 Hearth guard units (4×4=16), the Hearth guard would fight in 2 four figure units and one 8 man unit. I figured this would be fairly balanced and give me a good chance in most situations. Tim Daun was also going with his band of choice the Anglo Danes, Steve who I thought was going to run his Vikings switched up and brought out the Byzantines!! (he regretted this a bit later when we found out how the different rounds were to be played)

Everyone quickly got down to business, slash, hack, charge!

Everyone quickly got down to business, slash, hack, charge!

Now I’m not a tourney player in fact this was my first real experience at a tournament, not that I haven’t seen them or have a general knowledge of how they work, it’s just I do not play games that lend themselves to tournament type play. SAGA is different for a historical game and follows a trend of “newer” historical games to be designed along a one on one competition ala the “War hammer” mold. Yes guys get over it the younger generation of gamers who started with Warhammer and not Napoleons battles or the traditional type Historicals we learned and were brought up with are now getting into historicals and the resulting games often have a flavor or play style that harkens back to their roots! Of course many of the traditional wargames like WRG, DBA, and others have similar styles of one on one competition play. I like some of these newer games and think they help give new life to our hobby of “historical Wargaming”, people and times change and we have to change with them or fade away….

That being said I figured the tournament would be 3 rounds of fairly straight forward SAGA with the winner being the chap who did the best, period…Yes it did end up being the chap who did the best but the “straight Forward rounds” were quite a different matter. Tony had mentioned in an email that each of the scenarios would be different, I assumed they were the scenarios out of the book and that where things started to go wrong for me and my Normans… then came the announcement that we would not as normal be rolling terrain up but playing on pre set boards, well there was strike two for the Normans as terrain placing is quite important for them as a mobility/range weapon warband…oh well into the fray.

Paul and his "Breton's" my first opponent. Great player, calm and scary at the same time!

Paul and his “Breton’s” my first opponent. Great player, calm and scary at the same time!

My first opponent was Paul a very nice San Diego player (as they all were) and he brought out to my surprise another horse army the Bretons! Much like the Normans except the hearth guard are all missile /javelin troops! They can run up and shoot! then melee before you can say “Jack be Nimble”. As I mentioned the terrain was pre-set something I was a little disappointed in since I think “setting” the terrain is a big part of many warbands depending on who they are facing and this coupled with my javelin armed opponent had me a bit un-nerved. I fought hard but my Normans were unprepared for the Javelin armed horse so my poor die rolling coupled with Paul’s good play and good roles soon had me on the ropes. This round was a win by casualty points we marked our battle report cards, handed them in and went for a lunch break.

My Normans appear to be "stunned" at the ferocity of Paul's Breton's as they sweep round my Hearth guard delivering devastating Javelin attacks.

My Normans appear to be “stunned” at the ferocity of Paul’s Breton’s as they sweep round my Hearth guard delivering devastating Javelin attacks.

 

Our lunchtime view from "Islands" resteraunt in the hotel! was beautiful as well as relaxing!

Our lunchtime view from “Islands” restaurant in the hotel! was beautiful as well as relaxing!

For lunch Steve and I almost went out but then decided to try the Hotel, always a dicey proposition, but the place “Islands” had fair prices (for a hotel) great service, and the food very good! So we ate relaxed, talked about the mornings battles, soon it was time to walk back up to our final two rounds. Both Steve and I were apprehensive about our next battles feeling we had used the “wrong warbands” for this shindig but we were having fun, and learning quite a bit about other Warbands.

The next round for me was a “Sacred Ground” scenario with 3 pieces of terrain laid out evenly across the center of the board that had to be taken and held each turn. At the end of each of your opponents turns if you held an Un-contested piece of sacred ground you received points according to the value of the figures there.

Rene ponders his opening combos.

Rene my second round opponent with his Welsh, ponders his opening combos.

Now  I was facing a Welsh Warband and felt much more confident going in as I knew my Warband would have some of it strengths come into play, it’s mobility, and it’s ranged weapons. For this game my die rolls were also better and I won the initiative roll and used my Cavalry’s mobility to move out to the objectives securing them by the second turn before the Welsh. On my left my Crossbow men moved in to secure one objective while some Hearth guard Cavalry secured the center section, now I had two of the three objectives and it was only turn 2 and the beginning of scoring. The Welsh player (it was Rene….) moved his Javelins into the far objective  and brought more of his men forward to try and push me off the objectives but my opening moves had seemed throw him off his game much like what happened to me in the first game and he now had to play catch up.

My Warlord and a small Hearth guard secure the center bit of "Sacred ground"

My Warlord and a small Hearth guard secure the center bit of “Sacred ground” while my larger Hearth Guard deals with his left flank units. My crossbows are just to the left holding the other objective.

I had placed my levy archers in a position to be able to cover both left and center objectives, this with back up by my Hearth guard cav coupled with the fact that I only had to fight defensively gave me the advantage and after a bad third round his losses forced him to abandon the one objective he held and join his other troops trying to force me off the  the center one. He briefly took the center, long enough to get two points, then a flock of arrows and a charge by another of my Hearth guard retook the center objective for the Normans. It was not a good day to be the Welsh, Norman win for game two (15 points for Normans, two points for the Welsh if I remember).

Fierce fighting for the center bit of "Sacred Ground" by the Welsh looked great but failed to help them as my larger Hearth guard having defeated the left flank switched to the center and drove the Welsh back with heavy loses retaking the center objective!

Fierce fighting for the center bit of “Sacred Ground” by the Welsh looked great but failed to help them as my larger Hearth guard having defeated the left flank switched to the center and drove the Welsh back with heavy loses retaking the center objective!

Steve was having better luck with his Byzantines and managed a draw against a tough opponent (the San Diego guys were ALL tough, well, practiced opponents who knew their Warbands!) Tim was now 2 and 0! Woot! I must mention here again that all the other players we met here from the San Diego area were great opponents, many allowing slight adjustments or corrections to be made during the game, very fair guys, who made even losing to them fun!

Dave was to be later mt 3rd round opponent, Anglo-Danes with lots of sharp Axes!

Dave was to be later mt 3rd round opponent, Anglo-Danes with lots of sharp Axes! This was the terrain for “Slaughter Fest”

My third game I faced the Anglo Danish with their great Dane Axes! This games was a mess from the first move! Tony the event runner gave us the scenario sheet as we sat down (would have been better to hand these out in the beginning of the day or even posted on the con event outline) and as I read it and Tony explained it I knew I was lost with my Normans. The scenario was called Slaughter House and points were to be awarded only for those figures killed in Melee!!! “What” I asked…”Melee only?” and me with a shooting warband who’s warrior crossbow figures get no credit for bow kills and have armor like his levis coupled with guys on Horses that are on bigger bases thus getting less figures into melee much of the time.  Well, it’s going to be fun trying this…..ohh and by the way figures who are killed regenerate into new warbands that can basically come back onto the board anywhere as long as they are not on your enemies home edge and must be “short” away from any enemy warband. The only Warband of his (8 man Danes Axes Hearthguard) I wiped out appeared to my rear right after I killed it at the beginning of his turn. Normans as expected went down in flames…..

Tim Daun brought his Anglo-Danes, his "A" game, and fought with a "northern fury" to take First Place in the field of 10 players! Well done Tim!

Tim Daun brought his Anglo-Danes, his “A” game, and fought with a “northern fury” to take First Place in the field of 10 players! Well done Tim!

So despite a few problems (mostly with my choice of Normans) I felt the tourney was very well run, we all had a great time, and our hats are off to all those guys in San Diego who worked so hard to put this together!!! Thanks, Tony, Rene, Paul, Dave, and all the rest well done!

The results well Tim Daun from our local group the “Dogs of War” took first place with a 3-0 win count! Way to go Tim! For his efforts he took home a 6 point Scott’s Warband from Gripping Beast! Nice!!! 2nd and Third place I believe went to Dave and Paul, One took a plastic Gripping Beast set and the other a full boxed set of Vallejo paints donated by me. Now yours truly also took home a prize because in the end my defeated, battle worn Norman’s were still judged to be the best looking Warband of the ten there! I got an Osprey Viking book I did not own yet! Our first SAGA tourney was over….

The rest, well since we spent most of the time in the SAGA room so the rest of the con was not well investigated…we took a stroll around the con at lunch and after the tourney and it was looking pretty well attended, not as big as a Strategicon convention but it felt much more vibrant, “younger” if that is the right word and it also seemed to have more miniatures stuff, not so much historical (although that is steadily growing) but the War Machine and 40K guys filled the larger ballroom! (60×160) There were many demo games scattered around the foyer and main hall with one catching my interest (sadly I did not have time to play) it was a miniature game with a beautiful board taken from the 1960’s movie “The Naked Prey” where Cornell Wilde plays a white man chased for sport by natives across the harsh African landscape while wearing nothing!!! Great idea! I happened to see local gamer Harry Morris (the Bengal Club) and his son playing in that one.

Robert Boyens always one of the "rocks" at conventions showed up to run his "Signal, Close Action" wargame. Looked mighty nice and would have loved to try it!

Robert Boyens always one of the “rocks” at conventions showed up to run his “Signal, Close Action” wargame. Looked mighty nice and would have loved to try it!

Robert Boyens (HMGS-PSW member) was down there and ran his beautiful wargame in the age of sail. I also saw a few other LA area gamers there in various games. I saw a large 28mm “DR. Who” game with very nice Victorian terrain. The Minis in the Sci Fi/Warhammer/Warmachine area were also a treat to see, some very nice work. Judging by the paper cups, large bottles of “the good stuff” those boys know how to game! Privateer Press had a BIG presence here! there were also “living history” re-enactors, Board gamers, RPGs, and all the rest one finds at a “mixed” venue.

The dealers room was packed but little for the “Historical Gamer” perhaps that will change with better attendance by historical gamers.

That pretty much ended our day we loaded the car, then walked back to the restaurant area where the bar had opened and had a few toddies, some delicious sushi rolls, and discussed the days battles….

So my overall impression with Kingdom con was very favorable, I admit the Historical side was still lacking and without more support from the locals it will not grow but they do have the makings of a great con if they can convince some of those “locals” that “if we build it they will come!” With a few more Historical games and better advertising it will take off! For us from the Los Angeles area it was in reality almost less hassle then one of our local airport cons… It was in a great city, in a great location, with great people, I plan to put on a game and take wife next year!

Bill Witthans

Links to more info on this event.

Kingdom Con

Another Day another SAGA written……

Dog2

Last week I played Danny and used my Normans against his Vikings, tried some different moves, and being very tired from work went down for the count…. could not roll a save to save my life (or the Norman Hearthguard) 4 mounted Normans destroyed by his Levy’s! I didn’t take many pictures (to tired) and the battle is a bit fuzzy (same excuse) but there were a few and I do remember a some well intentioned charges by the Normans followed by horrendous die rolls….and in the end a large pile of dead Normans! Well at least I got rid of my bad dice before the con.

The Warbands face off!

The Warbands face off!

The "Dead Pool" and it would get bigger!

The “Dead Pool” and it would get bigger!

Near the end, I think a last Norman charge at the two Viking Hearthguard killed them but in the fray the Normans failed saves again and took 3 casualties to the Horse!

Near the end, I think a last Norman charge at the two Viking Hearthguard killed them but in the fray the Normans failed saves again and took 3 casualties to the Horse!

Steve G got back from Georgia Friday so we just hung at my place Saturday and Steve was kind enough to act as my “sparring” partner for a few SAGA tune-up games…lol! First a straight up Warlord vs. Warlord, Norman (me) vs. Viking bash, Vikings went down after a hard fight. The next was a Viking vs. Viking with me using my almost complete (a few with unfinished bases) Vikings warband in the “Battle at the Ford” Bridge4a

 

Bridge2

With many of our games Steve and I play “Friendly” and advise each other of mistakes or suggest better moves when playing so we improve both our games in the future, this was the case in our first game but the second one I advised him that the “gloves were off” (well sort of) and my Vikings were out for blood! Steve decided to make the first bold move and charged over the bridge on the right, he also led with his “chin” placing his Bezerkers in front of the charge across the bridge and not waiting for his bowmen’s support! Behind them a second Hearthguard and his Warlord. My bowmen had taken up position and rained arrows on the Bezerkers in the middle of the bridge…a dead Bezerker, bad as there are only four! Facing them my 8 man Hearthguard screamed in defiance as his Bezerkers charged into them, his second Hearthguard unit followed on their heels jumping off the bridge and hitting my Levy archers… My 8 man Hearth guard fought well (rolled) and after a sharp exchange his Bezerkers went to see Odin! I lost only one Hearthguard. Steves other Hearthguard unit did little better in melee taking out two bowman while losing one of theirs. On the other side of the “battle at the ford” the action consisted of little more than hard stares as his force of 2-8 man Warrior units with a 4 man Hearthguard unit faced my one 8 man Warrior units along with 2 Hearthguard units and my warlord. The next turn saw more action on the bridge with my Levy Bowmen retreating to a house in the center and my large Hearthguard charging and vaporizing his remaining Hearthguard. His Warlord now stood on the bridge alone, my Hearthguard activated a second time charged, used FRIGG to remove FATIGUE and GAIN an ATTACK die, and he too followed his warriors to Valhalla!

Bridge3

Got to love those “FOUNDRY” Vikings, Bill’s victorious Hearthguard charges over the bridge.

At this point Steve was ready to toss in the towel but after much cajoling by me about “don’t give up the ship”, “victory from the jaws of defeat” and some other rot…. He got his second wind and started to advance on the other flank. I could have sat back and let my archers weaken him (they were now occupying the building in the center) but that would not be the “Viking way” so I decided to oblige him and join battle at the ford. After all I was stronger on this flank and he was rising up to the fight, he should go down swinging!Bridge7

Bridge7aa

Meanwhile back at the Bridge my large Hearthguard after running down his Warlord continued over and off the bridge striking his archers in the woods, another quick fight, and using the “THOR” ability to fight a second round of MELEE at no fatigue cost Steve’s dead Archers made it a busy day in Valhalla! I now had a 6 man Hearthguard unit on his side of the river. 6 point of victory unless he could push them back…unlikely as he was was down to 3 SAGA dice per turn and I now charged over the ford to meet him on the left. Overconfidence on my side and good play and rolls by Steve made the “Ford” a bloody place! First my warriors and his Warrior unit clashed, his men obviously angered at the Death of their Warlord fought like demons and my Warriors were reduced to a single man, retreating out of the way as my 4 man

Hearthguard unit charge in to avenge their brothers. The Hearthguard severely hurt his first Warrior unit but also failed to save the hits (5) his Warriors caused, a second “defeat” for my force as my lone Hearthgurd figure retreated to join the lone warrior off in the bushes! Now it was my Bezerkers turn! A powerful unit if given the proper chance… they charged in and tore apart his second warrior unit, dead to a man! However the fighting was fierce, the Bezerkers took enough return damage and failing their saves also melted off the battlefield, Wow! This was turn seven and the game ended with Steve’s last unit, the 3 man Hearthguard unit stared at my Warlord across the ford littered with the dead and dying to see my Levy archers and Warlord standing there as ripe targets. With a bit more time they “might” avenge their Warlords death and the enemy incursion onto their side of the river…however daylight and the howling of my larger Hearthguard unit approaching to their side caused then to withdraw and think of next seasons battles!

Bridge8

Our Warriors clash at the Ford!

Bridge6a Bridge6   Bridge5

This was our first “scenario” and we both liked it as a change from the Warlord vs. Warlord standard fights.

Steve G and I are probably going to Kingdom con for the SAGA tourney. Thought it might be nice to see and play and see how a different group handles SAGA. There will also be a SAGA “Samurai” demo on Friday night. Steve and I will definitely be there for the Saturday SAGA game so if anyone wants to “car pool” please let me know. Should be a hoot!

Bill W

Bridge9

The finish with my archers in the building, my Hearth guard on Steve’s side of the river, and my Warlord saying “Go back to your women, this land is ours now!”

Another Dogday afternoon

Well this Saturday saw it happen, Lord Bluster and the Normans finally caught up with the Skraelings led by the legendary Chief Half-baked and his fearsome band of Indian warriors. The battle was one of the hardest yet for yours truly against Joe N. a master wargamer whos reputation on the battlefield and dice rolling is well known throughout the area. I myself am considered by many to be pretty good and roll well especially when “cornered” so I was confident of giving a good account of myself but still figured to end up one more “head on a stick” outside of Chief Half-baked’s lodge!

The battle was intense and therefore I devoted all my energy to the game and none to pictures or notes on the battle so the report will be sort of brief and of course seen from the Norman perspective….Joe can post his rebuttal in comments below…

Nor94a

My Normans were led by Lord Bluster.

We started with terrain, of course the Indians wanted as much as possible and the Normans as little as possible, so we ended up with 3 pieces, 2 woods and a marsh. I picked a marsh, a mistake that I would suffer with all through the game as it plugged up the center for quicker movement of my troops. Good for my normal Norman strategy of delay and counter attack but this time I was forming a “Panzer Wedge” of armor and attacking. I hoped this would throw Joe off his game a bit and figured that a quick closing with his warlord was my only hope.

The Skraelings have the ability to mimic your battle board in SAGA and can be much like fighting a mirror image of your own army. They also regenerate units (some say like zombies) from their dead pile but this is really to represent other near by villages joining the fight. On my side I felt the Normans would be a tough fight for the Indians since my mounted troops could outdistance them (if they could stay out of the woods!) and quickly exploit opportunities as they appeared. I also realized that much of my battle board would be useless to them since the battle board abilities were tailored to mounted troops and could not be used by them at all. I also decided to not use the usual “levy bowmen” as I figured the Skraelings could out shoot me easily and a rapid close into hand to hand where my superior armor and weapons would quickly tell on his lightly clothed warriors was best. Instead of the levies I brought out the “Flemish Mercenaries” a fun unit that is much like an armored tank for the Dark Ages. Hard to kill, painfully slow, but if you can close packs a punch in melee!

The complete unit of "Flemish Mercinaries" for SAGA. I painted the group using a limited color palette to create a sense of a professional unit for hire.

The complete unit of “Flemish Mercinaries” for SAGA. I painted the group using a limited color palette to create a sense of a professional unit for hire.

The game started with me winning the setup roll and placing my Warlord in the center, and followed with my force of 12 Hearth guard (1 x 8, 2×4), 8 Warrior crossbow men, and 8 Flemish Warrior Mercenaries. All in a sort of wedge formation in the center aimed at the marsh between the woods. Infantry forward with cavalry in the rear.

Joe setup in typical Indian fashion Javelin armed warriors to the sides behind the woods with 2 huge bands of bowmen covering the center, his warlord to the rear with the women and children…ohh I mean he was protecting the helpless ones.

From the start of the game I pushed forward just a bit at first, Joe and the Skraelings also moved forward into the woods on either flank. I had led with my crossbow men which proved to be a mistake as they died under a hail of Indian arrows but kept the Skraelings busy. I had forgotten how SLOW the dammed Flemish were and had to rethink my plans for them. I pulled them out of the marsh and funneled them up the center towards the Skraeling bowmen. If I remember this was the point that Joe pulled his bowmen and his Warlord back to the left behind his warriors. I pushed up the middle while feinting to the right with a small hearth guard unit to keep his warriors grouped there interested and away from the left. My second Hearth Guard unit had ventured into the woods, immediately being brought under attack by Joes Warriors javelins there but some good saving rolls by me kept them together long enough to Melee with them, succeeding in pushing them back with heavy losses. My Normans were closing the ring on the Indians and if I could just move fast enough.

NormVSkrae1

Most of the battle it was interesting that I never really rolled that well with the SAGA dice to get a lot of ability board use and found myself just using activations to rest and move as fast as possible before the Skraelings could re deploy. My 8 man Hearth Guard unit was making the end run up the open land left of the woods on the left.

The fight was intense and Joe played hard, he didn’t get any better dice then I did and when he did I managed to counter with great saving roles, once my Normans closed into close combat it was pretty much decided but Joe once again showed his ability by bringing a fresh unit onto the board just as I was about to close with his Warlord. This last fight was on the edge of the Skraeling rear board and showed how important and chess like the rules can be. After meleeing the “fresh” unit Joe’s unit having “lost” should have retreated but given that in the rules that if a defeated unit cant because of enemy troops or terrain be pushed back the winning unit moves back. This had the effect of allowing me to move out of his units zone of control therefore not forcing me to attack him but being able in my last move swing over attack and defeat his Warlord! Pheewww! What a game, well fought and a nail biter to the end. Many have fought Joe and his “Skraelings” and nearly all have fallen to them. I’m lucky to have won…I was happy midway to just have pushed him back and caused some concern never thinking I would carry the Chiefs “beads” back to Normandy. Thanks Joe! A great battle with a great warlord!

NormVWelsh4

My “hero” bowmen up left and the woods they cleared of Welsh warriors!

The evening was coming on but I stayed for one more battle with Dave D. and his Welsh! The Welsh are a real tough fight and Dave knows how to use them! Fortunately my levy Bowmen got their range and nearly wiped out some of his units!. Using nearly the same type of aggressive tactics coupled with good roles be me and poor ones by Dave the Welsh nearly went down but in the end, Warlord on Warlord I bit the dust……

It was a good day at the “Dog Pound” and “a good day to die!” thanks to all.

NormVWelsh3

The last moments in the battle with the Welsh. I thought that with this force I could crush the Welsh warlord but he used his Hearth Guard block me and ran for cover behind some other troops. My band fought well but lack luster dice, time, and good shooting by the Welsh did them in. The point were even up until I lost my Warlord.

SAGA Birthday Bash!

This last weekend saw the coming and going of another birthday for yours truly and I had planned to spend Saturday playing SAGA with old comrades down at the World Famous “Dog Pound” and the Los Angeles based “Dogs of War” group and Sunday with the family, a perfect weekend! Ahh plans, they never quite work…my co workers decided that for my birthday they would surprise me with my very own copy of the cold everyone on the set had that week! Saturday I awoke to that stuffy, achy feeling you get as it creeps up on you, not quite feeling like leaving the homestead. My main gaming buddy Steve had come over and he looked terrible, having had the “cold” for a couple of weeks before. We both felt crappy and decided that instead of carrying our misery down to infect the rest of the group we would just hang and practice our SAGA playing at my place.

Steve had commissioned a Byzantine Warband from a painter back east and was having trouble getting a handle on playing it so we decided to do a game or two with it against my Normans to see what strengths and weakness’ we could find. The Normans and Byzantines are historical foes with similar warbands, both having Cavalry and Bows used in slightly different ways as their main force with various infantry units rounding the warband out.

game12614f

The Byzantines are a very colorful, good looking warband! Their archers have the powerful ability to fire “over” there own troops!

SAGA is currently one of my favorite “miniature wargames” rules systems as it is fairly simple in its rules and play, BUT extremely complex in the fact that it forces you to really lead your warband based on what is happening at the moment. Very true to life for Dark Ages combat on this scale at this time in my opinion. Now some players will have a problem with this as (like Steve) they are used to having looked at the charts, calculated the distance, moved properly, having stacked the dice in their favor, and can be reasonably assured of a certain result. SAGA does not quite work that way. Yes you do the all the regular things as above but when the execution of the plan comes you need to have the “right” SAGA dice to do it, and if you don’t you must as a commander modify those plans to fit the current situation and SAGA dice you have. There is an element of chess to the game and players who can think moves ahead for both their own troops and those of the opponent do well, those that cant die quickly. Add to this the sometimes extreme differences in your opponents warband and you can have a very exciting, interesting battle or for some a very frustrating and difficult match. Some people call this a Beer and pretzels game, hardly, at first glance yes, you can play it that way, have a few brews, as I tear you apart… I was frustrated at first playing SAGA but loved the concept and persevered until one battle the haze cleared and I “got it!” Now its just “polishing the sword” and on to battle.

game12614b

My Normans charge his Hearth Guard, “looking good Norman” No shield transfers or printed flags here, just paint!

Both of us being sick and really concentrating on game play and tactics I did not take a lot of pictures or keep a battle record but here is what I did get….

game12614j

The first games initial warband positions, Byzantines to the top Normans at the bottom.

We both took little terrain hoping to exploit our Cavalry’s movement and bows power. I didn’t take any pictures of the battle but it was hard fought with both of us concentrating on learning the army’s and therefore helping each other to make the best moves. The Normans were on there way to a win when the Byzantines commander and his remaining Hearth-guard made a desperate charge at my Warlord and killing him won the battle! Thus epitomizing “battle in the Dark Ages” were the death of a single figure if important enough can lead to a victory as your forces leaderless melt away in desperation!

game12614h

Second battles setup, Normans again at the bottom. My Warlord at the extreme left attached to Hearth Guard

I still did not really shoot or write down the game as it happened but did take a few more shots as we went at it, still stopping to retake moves and figure out what the best game play would be during situations.

The second battle I lost the “setup” role and tried a bit different tactics with a large flanking cavalry force on the open right flank with bowmen anchoring the center and left. This caused the Byzantines to despair from the beginning! and use his first powerful turn to retreat his javelin men out of range. SAGA is very psychological in game play at times, this was a perfect example where my opponent was spending his SAGA dice unwisely because of my units actions and I wasn’t even losing figures to do it!.

Steve fearing my cavalry and bowmen on his flank pulled back on that side allowing me to push forward unopposed, you see this in the picture below.

game12614c

The Byzantines regroup and order infantry forward. My cavalry advancing in far right corner of the picture.

He then decided to attack on the left with his powerful Hearth guard backed by his Horse archers, my Crossbowmen and levy Bowmen took them under fire as my smaller hearth guard cavalry unit counter charges to contact with them. The dice gods favored me and his cavalry soon died were they stood…..

game12614d

Cavalry go at it in the center, at this point the front rank of Byzantines have already died…..

Steve and his Byzantines were not finished yet as his Warriors backed by yet more support archers took on my victorious Hearth guard Cavalry and nearly pounded them into submission. game12614kAt this point I felt my Warlord was in a dangerous position, since I had out pointed him so far in victory point it would be senseless to risk him at this late stage of the battle so he and his Hearth guard horse unit self activated out of range to the left. The Byzantine commander then as I figured launched himself and his Hearth guard Cav at what was left of my center Cavalry, destroying them. The game was now on its last turn and it was mine! I decided to charge his Warlord with mine just to seal the battle. His group had several fatigues, I rested mine off and self activated charging into melee….a hard fought melee with the Byzantine warlord finally going down…victory to the Normans this time!

A low key good time battle that we both learned a lot playing!

If you are in the Southern California area or even just passing through and would like to get in on a battle, begin playing, or just check it out contact me to get on our mailing list of up-coming and spur of the moment battles.

Contact Me!

AOE Napoleonic’s “The Battle of Souffel”

In an attempt to guard Frances borders while he defeated the main Allied force (British and Prussians) Napoleon had stationed several “Observation Corps” on the most vulnerable approaches. On June 28th 1815 French General Rapp and 19,000 French infantry and around 2,000 cavalry squared off against Austrian Crown Prince Eugene, 34,000 infantry and 4,500 cavalry, this was the very last battle of the Napoleonic wars.

Newly conscripted French infantry prepares to defend the town and river crossing

Newly conscripted French infantry prepares to defend the town and river crossing

 

An English reporter for the London Times (Percy Wordsmith) sent this eye witness report while traveling with the Austrian army.

Map showing initial French deployment (Yellow) and Austrian advance (Orange).

Map showing initial French deployment (Yellow) and Austrian advance (Orange).

French troops had spent most of the early morning pushing civilians out of their homes and out of the villages. Other French units set to work clearing fields of fire building barricades, and improving their lines along the river until the scouting Hussar units galloped back across the bridges with reports of Austrian columns fast approaching. As the French hunkered down in their defensive positions the far side of the Souffel river bristled with the bayonets from half a dozen Austrian columns. Huge Austrian brigades nearly the size of French divisions maneuvered around each other in an attempt to quickly close with the French. The French artillery opened up on these columns, seldom causing real damage but throwing them into disorder and slowing them down. In the center Austrian heavy cavalry pushed to the center causing the French horse batteries to withdraw and French heavy cav to counter the move in order to guard the flanks of both towns.

AustEarly1

Austrian commanders position their supporting Artillery battery’s with a cheer ans a “Hats off” salute!

FrenchEarly2

French Cavalry and a Horse battery cover the center

Austrian forces in the center had finally started to push across the bridges but were repulsed at both crossings by stubborn French resistance losing a few troops along the way. The Austrians retreated back across the bridges to regroup and await the redeployment of their gun batteries in a better supporting position. Over two hours had passed by now and as general Rapp anticipated the Austrians had detected his weak undefended left flank. Reports of Austrian cavalry and guns crossing there in force were now coming into his headquarters, Rapp quickly dispatched an ADC to Colonel Merlin commanding the French cavalry to move west to block the Austrian flanking move. Rapp also gave orders to send a brigade from each of his other divisions to also move into a blocking position to the west allowing his cav to resume their job as a mobile reserve in the center.

AustBridge2

Austrians mass and move to the assault. Austrian Cav gives french Cav something to think about in the center.

The Austrian commanders however had planned this diversionary attack on the French left flank to do just exactly what it had done, weaken the center, and they choose that moment to launch a renewed assault, a much more coordinated, powerful, attack. The Austrian batteries roared, slamming shell after shell into the French defenders. The French defense remained firm and the artillery had little effect but that of making a shambles of the town. Now over the bridges came the renewed attack of the Austrians, two brigades now reformed into assault columns (thanks AOE Yahoo group) and combining their numbers for the assault against the small French brigade left in town.
On the eastern side of the battlefield the Austrians were finally sorting out the traffic jams caused by their massive and unwieldy brigades. One of the Austrian brigades charged forward across the bridge but suffered the same results as the Austrian attacks across the bridges there. The eastern Austrian push settled down to an artillery dual with the Austrian commander waiting for developments elsewhere on the field. To the west the French and Austrian forces squared off and waited for one another other to see make the first move.

Auststare

Austrian troops across the river at Souffelweyersheim spend most of the battle just tossing angry shouts and an occasional cannon ball at the French.

The center now erupted into pitched battle over the bridges of Mundolsheim and again the Austrian dragoons once attempted to cross the Souffel in the center, succeeding in causing the French cavalry to move back from their blocking position in the east  to the center, again countering the Austria dragoons. This time the Austrians Dragoons charged, the French Hussars counter charged and after a brutal fight the weight of Austrian heavy cav succeeded in crushing the French Hussars. The Austrian commander had watched intently this clash and was now joyous with the possibility of splitting the French center and even falling onto the rear of the French line to the west. However he had no cavalry reserve to push across the center and the Dragoons were far from fresh. The Austrian Dragoons sensing that this was the moment, their moment shook off their disorder and preparing too charge the rear of the French defenders to the west.

Austrian columns assault and shatter the french center, the french Officer and gun battery in the picture have been "captured" survivors flee to the rear.

Austrian columns assault and shatter the french center, the french Officers and gun battery in the picture have been “captured” survivors flee to the rear.

Meanwhile the Austrian infantry attack on the French center had succeeded in forcing the crossings, nearly destroying the defending French brigade, the French losing two regiments, their guns and their commanding general captured, the remnants falling back out of the town.

The final positions just before dark and the close of the Battle. French / Yellow, Austrians / Orange

The final positions just before dark and the close of the Battle. French / Yellow, Austrians / Orange

The Austrians now sensed the French were in trouble and pressed on, their infantry columns flooding through and out of the town in pursuit, forming up in line of battle preparing to roll up the French left flank. Once again as they had done several times already this battle French forces despite being of less than normal quality (50% of the infantry were conscripts) rose up in defiance and struck back.

French Infantry and Cavalry make a last ditch counter attack to stem the Austrian tide!

French Infantry and Cavalry make a last ditch counter attack to stem the Austrian tide!

The French reserves had finally arrived in the center and deployed with a heavy battery with in effective range of the reforming Austrian dragoons and just as they were about to charge, delivered a devastating combined volley killing several stands, throwing the Austrian dragoons back into disorder, and pinning them in place where they stood till they died. A small victory for the French but it had little effect overall the Austrians had pushed back the french left flank and now four huge Austrian brigades had were in position to move forward taking the rest of the French positions in the flank or rear…. Fate and darkness intervened at this point with the battle ending at 7:30 pm. General Rapp ordered skirmish screens and a general withdrawal towards Strasbourg.

From the Austrian camp,

Percy Wordsmith, London Times

When the victory points were added up the French were ahead, coupling that with their success in keeping at preventing the Austrians from archiving a quick crossing of the Souffel and possibly trapping Rapps main force gave the French an overall win. Herr Gausche playing the part of Archduke John did a splendid job in forcing the river crossing against a determined opponent. We learned how to do a few things within the rules that we had not come across before. Once again the “Age of Eagles” rules rose up and proved to be equal to the task and provided us with one of the best Napoleonic battles yet played by us over the years.

Rules: Age of Eagles (AOE) by Bill Gray from Fire and Fury

Scenario courtesy of the Susquehanna war-gaming group

French, 5 Commanders, 50 infantry stands, 11 Cavalry stands, 4 Batteries

Austrians, 6 Commanders, 90 Infantry Stands, 25 Cavalry stands.

A Balloons eye view of the Battlefield at the end

A Balloons eye view of the Battlefield at the end