Monday, 28 December 2015

Saga Campaign - Death at sunset

The Winter sun disappeared over the treetops as Rufus led his warriors back to the homestead where they had quartered themselves.  The men were tired and the horses in urgent need of fodder in a land which lacked both rest and food.  The Saxons had burned or hidden that which the Norman conquerors had not already found and fought hard for the meagre remains of their homes.

Fighting down what little pity he had for his enemy the Norman warlord had taken his best knights plus a few of his archers to make a lightening raid into as yet unoccupied territory. However, the pickings were lean, the villages so desolate already from the winter that it seemed hardly worth setting them alight and their inhabitants long fled.

With what little light remained the weary troops forced themselves on as they began to look forward to the small comforts of their billet.

A shout startled the crows from their nests and the men in their saddles.  In front of them, and as alarmed by the appearance of the enemy as their Norman foe, was a Saxon warband, on foot and equally as fatigued. “Archers to the front”,  Rufus called and the warriors of both armies fought to see who would form their battle lines first.

This was 'Battle Twilight' and quite honestly during the game I dont think I really understood the concept of this scenario.  This had a lot to do with the fact that we didn't deploy correctly as per the requirements for the game which would have made more sense.  In the rules the armies are all over the place as two forces are intermingled, attacking and being attacked from all sides.

So using our standard deployment the game lacked the tension the game designer intended but we made a good stab of it.

My flanking manouvre was a disaster wiping out half of my men and accruing too much fatigue in the process

Needing to force himself into my quarter to score points the huscarls exposed themselves to withering and surprisingly accurate archery

In the end I won based on points - the first to 6 conquering victory points, wins.

I felt like neither of us had done anything special and I had a slight advantage due to the manouverability of my cavalry.

The relief that he and his men had ‘escaped’ relatively unscathed from the contact was deeply felt by Rufus who chastised himself for being so careless in allowing themselves to be nearly caught by the Saxon rabble.

Using the advantage of falling darkness and the confusion spread by the minor casualties inflicted on the enemy, the Normans decided not to push their luck in staying to complete their ‘victory’.  Pah! A victory?  If he heard any of his men mention this evenings debacle he’d cut their lips off.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Original Heroquest

I managed to get an original Heroquest board game via ebay as part of the Inseläffchens Christmas present.  Picking it up on a recent visit back to Blighty i've been busily painting the heroes.

I really enjoyed doing these simple classics and the plan is to eventually do all the other models and some of the furniture. I know there is a plan to re-release the game but I was keen to have this version.

I used to own a copy of the game back in the day but gave it away when I thought I was done with playing with toys - foolish boy!  Its going to be interesting to see how excited he will be with the game amongst the Star Wars merchandise he'll be getting.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Always pillage before you burn! Saga Campaign - Part 3

The Norman host had come to yet another pitiful Saxon hamlet - at least this one had a church so a few of the horsemen leered at each other in anticipation of some small loot.  The locals had barricaded themselves in their pathetic houses and their Lord suspected that the mouldy thatch of the church hid a few archers.

Riders eased themselves into their saddles as the trumpeter sounded the call to assemble into 3 battles.  Leather thongs were wrapped around wrists and shields pulled into position.  Rufus took position in the centre and ordered his crossbowmen to advance, he didn't feel as confident as his men that their enemy would be so easily routed from their defences!

The light was fading and he didn't want his men away from the protection of the hall they had made their own.  Rufus didn't think much of the Saxons in a stand up fight but he'd be damned if he'd let them come at him unseen in the dark, a place of blood and nightmares.  If they couldn't finish the job before dusk then what Saxons lived would be able to consider themselves lucky that his men would be denied their rewards.

The Harrying of the North - Turn 3

This was the scenario that I was most pessimistic about playing.  I'd played the defender before and remember the game being pretty one sided, on top of which cavalry is not particulary adept at engaging well defended enemies.  It was decided that Dogs of War, and in my case, Flemish mercenaries would be available for the winner of this campaign should we wish to continue it.

Normally the game starts with a bidding process to see who the defender should be, but the story required the Normans to be the aggressor.  Phil nobly chose to take 4 points.

I had six turns in which to turf out the Saxons and to win the defender just required one model in a building at the end of six turns.  It was a case of don't spare the horses and devil take the hindmost. 

The small buildings hold a unit of 8 warriors and the church 12 levies

Hardly seeing any action it would have been better to leave these guys at home

I was getting quite sick of all the photos of horses arses.

The 'plan' such as it was, was to throw myself in successive waves at the buildings, wear the defenders down and sweep in to seize the central building.  Foolishly I sent a unit too close to the archers and then proceeded to do nothing with them, thus letting them get shot to pieces.

My flank attacks were not very imaginative and consequently not very successful. Attacking units behind cover, even wattle and daub, was less than effective and built up tons of fatigue and losses.

The house on my left was taken more successfully but another unit appeared which threatened to re occupy it - cavalry can't enter buildings so I had no chance to deny it to them.  However, a small target out in the open had to be neutralised before I could advance upon the church.

My opponents greatest weapon was in his refusal to spend my fatigue and in sacrificing an expendable unit he exhausted one of my own.  They weren't going anywhere soon and it was turn 5!

It became obvious there was no shifting these guys

My warlord - unable to order his bodyguard to attack the church was left with only one target - the religious advisor who had been a thorn in the Norman side.  It was going to be small comfort and no risk to skewer him.

Furious at his losses and seeing that victory was impossible Rufus was about to call his warriors back from their efforts when he saw a flash of a habit.  Realising that his precious church was safe the Priest was about to skulk away back into the woods or perhaps even climb over dead Normans to seek sanctuary within its stone walls.

Spurring his horse and holding his sword like a spear he charged straight at the cleric.  Remembering their last encounter he was determined that he wouldn't escape this time.  He expected to see fear in those eyes as death rode towards him but with a casual flick of his staff the blow was deflected yet the horses momentum forced him to the floor.  Hooves raised to stamp down but instead, with a whine, twisted away as the bowmen in the church fired to protect their leader.  Pulling on the reins Rufus fled before they stuck him.

With the last rays of sunlight dissapearing, the trumpet sounded the retreat.  Bloodied, humiliated and defeated the Normans conceded the field.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Saga Campaign - Part 2

Plumes of smoke and faint cries from the village were carried on the wind.  Grim faced, Rufus nodded a command and his warriors fanned out and covered the tracks leading away from the horror that was Lundby.  The bulk of his forces had struck at dawn and like beaters in the boar hunts that he enjoyed so much drove the shocked peasants and the escorting infantry out of their hiding places in the forest.  

He had kept his best warriors for the bloody business of tackling the Fyrd, determined to protect the valuable livestock that would keep them and their families fed in the depths of winter.  Kill the animals, end the resistance.  

No pleasure would be found in seeing this carnage.  Let it be swift Lord.  Let the Saxons come to their senses.

The Harrying of the North 1070 - Turn Two

Last Thursday saw the second round in our Harrying of the North campaign for Saga, and the scenario selected was The Escort from the original rulebook.  The scene was set that after successfully raiding and burning a Saxon village, the Normans would attempt to capture the fleeing survivors and their winter provisions.

This was the first time I had played this scenario as it took a while to get some painted civilians and animals on the table.  We didn’t bother rolling for terrain this time but rather placed a river just off centre, a few trees and a small burnt ruin offering scant cover.

Phil placed a unit of warriors on his left flank (Hearthguard being too noble to lower themselves guarding a few pigs) somewhat protected by the river and I took the bait and countered them with a couple of units of my own.

As usual I placed my archers to the front with the idea that with Gallop I could charge through and strike an unsuspecting target.

Preliminary archery was bloody for me with cavalry being particularly vulnerable to arrows.  The livestock on my right was very exposed and more importantly unable to pass off any wounds using the Resilience rule available to the baggage in this scenario.  Sending a complete unit of 8 warriors into combat seemed a pretty risk free strategy and so it proved as the cattle protected by old men and boys were driven off for the loss of a few gored horses.  One baggage down and I needed to remove one more for the game.

However, both were well protected by strong units.  The Saxons had hoodwinked me by deploying near a ford and used it to bring baggage over, leaving some Knights and Warriors on the wrong side.  

The central herd was moving forward surrounded by a ring of spears but the pigs hadn’t gone far enough and assaulted by Knights were forced to retreat straight into a speedily advanced unit of my warriors and away from a protective screen.  I don’t remember having used the ability Crush before which doubles the number of wounds received if the attacker lands twice as many hits as the defender. Against a bunch of swine this seemed good odds especially as not enough potential sacrifices were available.  The ability lived up to its name – bacon for dinner!

Game over and decided in short order.

“Gather the animals, leave the Saxons!” There was no point in continuing the slaughter.  Pigs, sheep and cattle were loot and his men needed to eat too.  The fleeing warriors were mostly farmers and farmers would be needed in the Spring.  Now if any of the Thegns had dared show themselves Rufus would have had no restraint in ordering a pursuit.  Those fearsome axemen would only trouble the Kings order and the fewer left breathing the better.  

That the meddlesome Priest had once again escaped vexed him and combined with the missing elite served to convince the Norman warlord that the coming battles would not be so easy.