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.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

A Saga Campaign Begins

The Norman warlord, Alan Rufus steadied his nervous horse and gazed at the Saxon lines and the village beyond.  He knew how formidable the row of shields looked but smiled as he remembered that those 4 years earlier had been almost identical yet had still broken in the end. 

His Lord, no his King, William had given him lands and riches and now required Rufus to come with his retainers and help him break the resistance that had erupted in the North.  An uprising?   Don’t these filthy Saxons know when they are beaten? And led by a Priest too.  A clergyman inciting rebellion against their King, ordained by God!

As the warriors assembled, Rufus drew his sword and ordered his vanguard to attack.  Blood would be spilled this New Years day, 1070.

The Harrying of the North, 1070 – Saga Campaign Turn One

The opening game in this campaign used Champions of God scenario from the Crescent and Cross.  We bid for scenery as per the rules and being a Norman player I didn’t want  too much terrain blocking lines of sight and impeding my cavalry.  I was lucky that we had a couple of woods and some small rock formations which were mostly on the flanks.

Phil formed a near perfect Saxon shield wall which I hoped to flank and give him something to think about.   

After short and ineffective exchange of arrows, especially since shooting casualties are not counted for victory points, lance and shield clashed.

I normally use Stamping, Terrified and Gallop as my key Saga abilities and this combo succeeding in whittling down the numbers to bring most of his units under the required strength to capitalise on key Saxon abilities.
Father Sweyn the Saxon religious advisor is very good for keeping fatigue down so my own became a concern.  My flanking attack didn’t do much except be an annoyance and I was lucky with some dice rolling.

In the end a spearhead of knights and warriors and a cheeky sacrificial charge from my bowman to build up fatigue succeeded in destroying key units and my Warlord saw his chance at riding down a weak Priest.  Or so he thought…

Things look a bit sticky on the flank - thanfully for them the game ended

The Saxon priest must surely have previously been a warrior of renown; he had used his Cross like a Dane axe and prevented Rufus from landing his killer blow.  The death of their leader would surely have ended the futile rebellion, but no, those Saxons who had survived the vicious onslaught of hoof and blade somehow managed to wrestle their hero away and carried him bloodied  but alive from the field.

Rufus drank from an offered flask and the taste of the rough apple liquor made him momentarily yearn for his Norman homeland.  There was work yet to be done. Victory was not yet assured and vowing to make the Saxons pay for their impudence, turned his eyes to the nearby village of Lundsby.