Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Tale of Sir Chasm - Saga AAR

Josh and I continued our run of weekend games. This week we decided to pick Saga back up, but with the Age of Fantasy book. 

After a quick scramble to purchase dice (which we both forgot!) we cracked open the books. 

We decided to use the "Battle of Heroes" scenario from the Book of Battles to randomize the table and objectives. We were fighting in the Uplands, with two ruins, two pieces of rocky ground, and a woods in the middle. With the Confusion deployment, our warbands were diagonally opposed across the battlefield. The game length was Until Dusk (six turns), the special rule was A Dash of Nostalgia (Warlords generate two Saga dice), and the victory Condition was Subjugation (a straightforward counting of massacre points at the end of the game.

Josh had brought a Masters of the Underearth warband, using the Dwarves of the Silverheight legendary rules:
  • Warlord
  • Wizard
  • 8 Warriors
  • 8 Warriors
  • 8 Warriors with Heavy Weapons
  • 8 Warriors with Crossbows
  • 8 Warriors with Firearms
  • 2 Bipedal Creatures (Living Statues)
  • Static War Machine (Cannon)
I brought a Horde Warband, which seemed best suited to my Orcs & Goblins:
  • Warlord
  • Wizard
  • Lieutenant
  • 4 Hearthguard
  • 8 Warriors
  • 8 Warriors
  • 8 Mounted Warriors
  • 3 Bipedal Creatures (Trolls) 
  • War Chariot
The two warbands seemed well balanced against each other. The Horde battle board largely focuses on charging into combat, and increasing the number of attack dice thrown when charging. The Underearth battleboard has more table control, with abilities that can block or halt enemy units, improve ranged attacks, and use your numbers (either because there's more models in your warband, or you have better armor) against the enemy. 

With just three dice in the first turn (as per the Until Dusk scenario length), Josh managed to roll two rare dice results and used the Chasm ability to throw up an obstruction to my infantry, keeping them back for an entire turn. 

My cavalry moved out to the right, hoping to land some blows before the big infantry horde would arrive. 

In the second turn, Josh decided to throw his Warlord forward at the War Chariot instead of letting it get a charge off. Unfortunately, in order to do so the Warlord ended up going into the fight with three Fatigue. While the Chariot wasn't as good while defending, I just needed Josh to fail two defense die rolls to kill his Warlord early in the game. 

So with the Rage ability and some luck, the Warlord and Chariot ended up destroying each other. It was a trade I was willing to make (although my unlucky streak with Chariots continues!). 

Since the first turn Chasm had forced my Orcs into the rocky ground, I was trying to rush them as quickly forward as possible, while the Dwarves hit them with rifle, crossbow, and cannon fire. Luckily, the Horde has the Endurance ability, which is a reaction that gives a unit solid cover from shooting attacks. 

Annoyingly, my cavalry charge completely whiffed, with the Boar Riders bouncing off the well-armored Dawi warriors. The Dwarves followed up with a counter charge, leaving only two Boar Riders left. I had these remaining Mounted Warriors flee, rather then give them up as easy points for Josh. 

With my cavalry functionally gone, I bet everything on the remaining infantry units, who were still slogging forward towards Josh's defensive position in the ruins. By now both sides were starting to feel the loss of their Saga dice, especially since Josh had lost his 2-dice Warlord so early in the game. 

My Wizard managed to get a fantastic round of combat thanks to his Transformation spell, which turned him into a Beast-mounted Warlord. The transformed Wizard wiped out a unit of Dwarf warriors whose crossbows had riddled the Orc Hearthguard before they ever got a chance to get into combat. The Orc Lieutenant followed up and wiped out most of the other unit of ranged Warriors equipped with firearms. 

With that last turn, the game ended, and the two warbands retreated to lick their wounds and count the dead. Josh's Dwarves racked up an impressive tally, scoring 29 massacre points. The Orcs didn't do too badly either, scoring 25.5, which rounded up to 26. As the Dwarves didn't manage to pull ahead on points, the game ended up as a tie. 

As Mythic Americas adds to Warlords of Erehwon to provide flavor to a somewhat vanilla system, Age of Magic adds just enough to Saga to give it a very different on-the-table feel compared to its more historical counterparts without slowing it down. The six factions or archetypes have enough variety in their units and from their battleboard to feel distinct, and you could even have two warbands of the same archetype use radically different approaches. The larger warbands didn't feel slower, since single-model or 2-3 model units are common. And magic was pretty easy to use, especially since the Wizards themselves are fairly static (you don't have to worry about magic levels or equipment, and each wizards get to pick three spells from two different schools of magic, depending on their faction). 

A fun game that feels different enough from Warlords of Erehwon to deserve time on the table. 

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