As cool as the participation games looked, the main reason I went to NJCON was the SAGA tournament. Truth be told, I was a little worried, as it had been a while since I've played any SAGA, and I wasn't sure if I was going to get my face smashed into the cloth-covered tables during each of the games.
As it turns out, this couldn't have been further from the truth. The other five players in the tournament were all incredibly nice. They were either looking to get some games of SAGA in after a long time not playing, like me, or hadn't been playing for very long. This gave the tournament a very relaxed air, as everyone was quite happy to get a few games in.
The warbands were varied but basic, and this tournament could easily have been set during the 800s or 900s in England. There were two Viking players, and one each of Normans, Welsh, Anglo-Dane and Anglo-Saxon.
My first game was against John and his Normans. He'd taken two units of mounted Hearthguard, two units of mounted Warriors, a unit of crossbow Warriors and a unit of archer Levy. The scenario we played was Sacred Ground, where the three terrain pieces on the table were the objectives. At the end of each opponent's turn, the player would count how many victory points he scored based on how many models he had on the terrain, and what the models were (Hearthguard being worth more than Warriors, Warriors more than Levy, etc.)
On my left, John charged a unit of Warriors across the table and into one of my Warrior units. He managed to to some damage, but in the next turn I had my Berserkers attack. I lost the unit, but the Norman Warriors were reduced down to a single model, and my own Warriors spent the rest of the game chasing after him.
In the center, my Hearthguard and Warlord planted themselves on the hill. On the right my unit of Levy worked their way into the woods, while the smaller unit of Warriors moved in between the two pieces of terrain.
From here on, John and I worked away at each other's Warbands. I managed to reduced several of his units down to only two or three models, but never had the ability to actually kill them off. John, meanwhile, managed to destroy both the smaller Warrior units and the big Hearthguard unit. However, as I had scored a large amount of victory points from having my Hearthguard sit on the hill, I did managed to win the scenario.
My second game was against Cliff and his Anglo-Danes He had two units of Hearthguard (one with Dane Axes), three units of Warriors and a unit of Levy. We played using the normal terrain rules, with a hut being set down on one side of the table and woods on the other. The scenario was the Challenge, where our two Warlord started locked in combat with one another in the center of the table as our warbands came in from behind.
On the left side I sent a unit of Warriors sneaking through the woods. Cliff countered them with his Dane Axe Hearthguard. The axes fell and the woods were awash with blood. A single Viking Warrior scrambled back out of the woods, with the Danes in hot pursuit.
On the left, a twelve-strong Dane Warrior unit slammed into my Levy, who had ineffectually shot at them. While only managing to cause a couple casualties, Cliff used the "The Push" Battleboard ability and sent a large amount of the unit off the table. I tried attacking with my Berserkers, and while they caused plenty of casualties, but couldn't get rid of the Warrior unit, and I lost my Berserkers in the attack.
In the center, my Hearthguard and Warlord clashed with Cliff's Hearthguard, Levy and Warlord. While Cliff did get his Hearthguard unit into combat with my Warlord, they didn't managed to kill him. I had led Cliff in wounds caused to our Warlords, and I attack with my Hearthguard, killing Cliff's Warlord and winning the game.
My final game was against Tim and his Vikings. We had both won our previous two games, so the winner of this match was going to be the overall tournament winner.
Tim's warband had two units of Hearthguard and four units of Warriors - he wasn't messing around with any Levy! We were playing Clash of Warlords, with some slightly altered rules - both warlords would be deployed first, exactly opposite of one another, L length from the table edge. Our two warlords faced off, obviously after some perceived insult or badly received joke in the nearby drinking hall.
Tim tried to get a unit of Warriors around the left side of the table, behind the drinking hall. I ran my own small unit of Warriors into them. While my unit perished, I also managed to remove Tim's Warriors using the Viking "Loki" ability.
On my right, the Levy did... nothing. Apparently this game they decided to take up thumb twiddling as a hobby. Guess who's scouring the bottom of the longboat for the rest of the month?
All the action took place in the center as Tim and I traded units. He ran his Berserkers across the table at my own big unit of Hearthguard, but some lucky defense dice kept most of the Hearthguard alive, and they counter-charged and killed the frenzied enemies. My own Berserkers went after Tim's Warlord, but were blocked by some Warriors and died in the melee. Tim and I wore each other's warbands down to only a few models apiece. But it was Tim who emerged victorious when he had his Warlord and few remaining Warriors attack my Warlord, cutting the rival Viking leader down.
With that, I managed to place fourth overall. While I had won two of the three games I played, ties were decided by slaughter points (i.e., how many enemy models had been killed during the game) and most of my games had been Pyrrhic victories. I didn't walk away empty handed, however, but I'll talk more about that in another post later this week.
Most importantly, I had a great time playing SAGA and meeting some awesome players. We even managed to get some passers-by interested in the game, and at least one was seen walking out of the vendor hall with a rulebook and starter warband in hand.
Personally, this has reinvigorated my interest in SAGA, and I think I'll try pushing it a little harder in my local community. Since I own four warbands already, getting some demo games in shouldn't be that hard.