Alex and I met up last weekend at 7th Dimension Games for a couple of games of SAGA. While we were playing to get the rules down, we had an ulterior motive in that we hoping someone else might take an interest. No one did, unfortunately, but we had a couple of enjoyable games.
We each had 4 point warbands - Alex with his Welsh and myself with my Normans (recently fleshed out by models sold to me by Alex).
x2 Hearthguard (Mounted)
During set up, Alex deployed his warriors in 2 groups of 12, and basically had every Welshman take cover in the woods.
I did the opposite, hoping that the superior mobility of my mounted Hearthguard could get them moving quickly enough.
Thing's didn't go as planned, however. My crossbows didn't do much since the woods gave the Welsh decent cover. I slammed a unit of Hearthguard into a group of Warriors. My knights did some damage, but they took a lot of hits in return, only leaving a single man who was quickly overwhelmed.
Alex let me know how devastating Welsh combat could be, especially with their ability (Strength of Numbers) to add attacks equal to the disparity of men in combat - those 12-man Warrior units could hit really hard! Combine that with a flurry of javelins, and I lost another unit of knights. I had my foot Warriors move into the woods as they braved waves of javelins.
Having lost all of my knights, I decided discretion was the better part of valor and pulled my Warlord back.
My major problem was that I could get those Warrior units down to small sizes, but I could never seal the deal, and Alex kept getting SAGA dice from those damaged units. He used the Strength in Numbers with his Levy to kill of my wounded Warriors.
The game ended when I decided to get a little daring and have my Warlord charge Alex's Levy. Once again, Alex used his Strength in Numbers ability to turn my Warlord into mincemeat and end the game.
For this game I combined my Hearthguard into a single unit. This brought me down to 5 Saga dice, but now I could move my Hearthguard all at once with my Warlord.
Alex deployed his Welsh shieldwall mostly in the woods, with his Levy outside. I had my foot Warriors cover my Hearthguard's advance. Stupidly, for some reason, I had put my Hearthguard outside of my Warlord's We Obey ability, so I had to spend a turn getting him over there. D'oh!
Alex consolidated his Warriors and Levy into the woods to cover his Warlord. I advanced my line to engage in the next turn.
And engage I did! I managed to wipe out a unit of Warriors, but lost half my Hearthguard in the attack.
I must have forgotten a few pictures here, but essentially Alex decimated my Hearthguard, wiped my Crossbowmen off the table with some well placed arrows, and beat back my foot soldiers. I tried to get his Warlord with my own, but what few attacks connected were passed onto the nearby Warrior unit.
Alex ended the game by having his Warlord led his Levy (which got the MVP Award for the night) in a charge and killed my Warlord. Ouch!
So, things I learned:
1. Normans are tough at 4 points. They don't have the breadth of choices that a 6 point list would have.
1a. Norman foot Warriors aren't too useful. I had hoped to use them as a screening unit for my Hearthguard, but once that was done, they kind of... died. I think a unit of Levy would serve better in a screening unit, especially since they could actually fight from a distance.
2. Welshmen are absolute bastards when you give them a bit of scrub to defend in! The ability to activate all their units at once for a shooting attack really hurts, and the ability to gain extra attacks if they outnumber you makes for deadly 12 man units of Warriors.
3. A bit of a correction. Alex and I remembered that unit's can't generate more than twice the original number of attack dice they had when using Battleboard abilities. So those Levy aren't quite as dangerous as them seemed. I still have to be wary when engaging those big block of Warriors, however!
So, I may go back to my Anglo-Danes and try getting better with them. I enjoy their defensive and denial-based abilities more so than the Normans shoot-and-charge tactics.