Wow! What a great turn out and day of gaming! The last weekend in January saw the culmination of 3 months of game days leading up to Saturdays SAGA Tournament! Twenty players fought 3 rounds each over the course of 6 hours to determine the chosen few left standing at the end to receive some of the great “loot” from the prize table!
Last summer the Los Angeles based “Dog’s of War” miniatures war gaming group was kibitzing at their clubhouse or as we call it “the Dog Pound” and putting forth ideas for a get together outside the club to both promote miniature war gaming and hold an event with others outside the group. We decided to limit the scope of the project to our current favorite period and rules “SAGA” Dark Ages Battles. We hoped to meet new players, bring other SAGA players out of their garages, and even possibly create new devotees to the game. Several plans were put forth. We finally decided to run a series of game days where we would be able to both bring current players together as well as introduce new players to the game in a casual setting. Several different venues were considered for these events before finally deciding to start where we knew there to be gamers who were interested in SAGA.
We approached Chuck Robbins of the Game Empire in Pasadena, California, with the idea and got a positive response to our ideas. Soon we were holding regular SAGA game days every 2 weekends and the response from both current and new players was great. It
seemed that there had been a small group doing SAGA there months before but interest had waned as a few of the main players had moved. With the support and drive of the Dogs of War this was about to change. Any type of gaming, especially miniature wargaming interest level is critical and when gaming is sporadic or monotonous (same opponent every week) interest levels plummet. This leads to disappointment and a reluctance of gamers to invest money and time in a set of rules and figures that they feel will be rarely used, or the “enjoyment factor” will be low verse the investment.
Well the “Dogs of War” are persistent, dependable, and dedicated, if they are anything and it showed in the final turnout where after a reliable series of game days the player count for the tournament exceeded anyone’s expectations and that even after half a dozen players we thought would surly be there had to cancel! The tournament was as big as several others I have seen at big conventions!, with better prizes, and more fun!
Before I get into the tournament I want to thank all the “Dogs” for their hard work in putting this together, making the drive week after week, lugging terrain, mats, rules, and troops to teach, lend and develop new players. Chris Snell for all the above and always being there, Joe Naccio for his always on top efforts, building, painting, and contributing much more than we all really know (Joe painted his extra figure into the Viking Warband prize, the Viking Command stand prize, and provided all the “tweezers” door prizes!, David Dandridge for his level headed consul, devotion, and volunteering to not play and take the reins of umpiring and tabulating the tourney (woot I got to play!). Rick, Tim and the Sarge, Galen, Steve G, and all the “Dogs” well done! Rick and I both contributed prizes as well, Hills, Fatigue counter stands, trees, sacred ground markers…..
We all also need to remember that this would not have been possible with out the Game Empire and Chuck Robbins. The Game Empire is one of the last “Brick and Mortar” game shops left around LA and we all need to support them so events like this can go on! Chuck contributed to both the prize pool and the use of his store space resources over the last three months. Travis his store manager was always there to help and is a wealth of experience in running events, thanks Chuck and Travis.
The first rounds began shortly after 11am Saturday and the last finishing up about 6:30 that evening. The 20 players who registered and fought were as follows;
Frank VillaOrlad / Teutonic Knights, Jose Farinas / Crusaders, Christian Sorensen / Anglo-Danes, Dennis Bolin / Welsh, Rick Abbo / Moors, James Stilwell / Skraelings, Sara Stilwell / Vikings, Roger Stilwell / Anglo-Saxons, Bill Stilwell / Normans, Tim Daun / Anglo-Danes, Chuck Robbins / Normans, Igor Torgeson / Normans, Mike Gunson / Anglo-Danes, Bill Witthans / Vikings, Chris Armstrong / Anglo-Saxon, Chirs Snell / Normans, Steve Gausche / Vikings, Galen Yee / Anglo-Danes, Joe Naccio / Skraelings, and Jeff McArthur / ?
The current “goto” warband Anglo-Danes were the most popular and did well, but failed to make it to the top. Vikings and Normans were also well represented with Roger Stilwell’s Viking warband taking top spot and the grand prize of…what else, a painted Viking Warband! Hot on his heels for top honors was Chuck Robbins with his Normans going like Roger’s Vikings win/win/win and only getting edged down to 2nd place by 3 points. Chuck picked up a very nice Viking command stand painted and donated by Joe Naccio. 3rd place went to Bill Stilwell another of the Stilwell family gamers playing yet again another Norman
warband. Bill took home some of Rick Abbo’s custom “Fatigue” marker stands. Rick makes and sell these, email him for info. Dennis Bolin came in 4th place with the only Welsh warband to see action that day and took a set of “Sacred Ground” markers made for the tourney (made / donated by me). Jose Farinas came in at 5th and was rewarded with a set of trees (also from me) and last place, winner of the “Wooden Spoon” award was Chris Armstrong who’s dice utterly failed him! He gets a new set of dice from the Game Empire! Everyone else was rewarded with a cool set of “tweezers” a door prize from Joe N. and a great day of wargaming!
So as I played in and ran the tourney I was pretty busy so I’m not able to speak about all the other battles, just the ones I was in. First I fought James Stilwell and his Skraelings, James was a tough competitor and the Skraelings can give any opponent fits, I pressed my Vikings hard and they broke through killing his Warlord on turn 4. Next was Chris Snell, Chris and I have fought many battles before and he’s tough…normally I have Normans against his Vikings but this time he had Normans and I the Vikings! Chris has learned to finesse his Normans and gave me a hard time, we fought tooth and nail however I was getting the worst of it and my die rolls weren’t helping. I made one last effort to push into his Warlord. I killed all but one of his hearth guard, he ALL my figures save the warlord so that found our Warlords slugging it out for the next two two rounds with my warlord surviving TWO rounds of shooting from both a full 12 man levy bow unit and his near full strength crossbow unit! EPIC!!!! 4-5 people were watching and sheering this one!
My warlord killed 2 or three of his hearth guard and fought his Warlord as well while standing alone but then my warlord dieing at the end. The third round pitted me against Christian S and his Anglo-Danes in the Sacred Ground scenario. By this stage of the day I was tired, loosing steam, and poor die rolls did not help (my excuse “wink”) so smart play on Christians part had me and my Vikings return to the boats, conceding the game at the beginning of turn 5!
At this point most of the third round was complete and winners and losers then gathered to lick their wounds and cheer the winners. The Winners got to choose from a prize table in order of their placing in the tourney. Prizes went down to 6th place.
Everyone had loads of fun, all were praising the “Dogs” and Game Empire for putting the Tournament on, and many asking when the next one would be. As the last players drove away the remaining “Dogs” packed away the gear and retired across the way to Lucky Baldwin’s Pub for some well deserved drinks and a bit of food!
Since some have asked the next SAGA event will be announced shortly, it will take us to the land of the Crusades! The next expansion of the SAGA rule set the “Crescent and the Cross” We will be doing game days leading to a tourney……details to come…..
Please enjoy the gallery of the days fun! There are more pictures coming so check back soon.