Monday, December 23, 2013

Battleboards: The Steppe Tribes

This faction was introduced in issue 311 of Wargames Illustrated with a colourful article that really draws you in. There is something fascinating about a hit and run mounted faction that makes you want to consider them as a "must have" in your growing number of Warbands.

Steppe Nomads:

These guys are billed as the most 'shooty' mounted unit in the game. If they can outdo Bretons in that respect they must be good!

Lets look at who they were then move on to their Saga setup and abilities.

Gripping Beast Steppe Tribes Warriors (Copyright GB)


Covering a long period of time, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Steppe Tribes have existed from Eastern Europe (present Bulgaria and Hungary) right across to China. They were typically led by a strong leader such as a Khan or Kagan, the most notorious of these must be Genghis Khan and his ability to unite Mongol Tribes into a larger nation.

Some cultures, such as the Crimean Tatars, would only engage close quarters if the odds were in their favour. Showering enemies with arrows was a preferred tactic to lessen the odds. Warriors of the Steppe were trained literally in the saddle in the tactics of taking what they needed; raiding was common among these tribes and with it the art of war. Violence was simply a way of life. Mobility was key!

The disciplines of speed with maneuverability on horseback, the use of the bow even at full gallop and 'terror' became the "Steppe Tactics" used over and again until eventually the way of life was ended by civilising tactics (religion and settlement) and by the emergence of new technologies - gunpowder being a notable one!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tackling Mounted Factions

One of the big advantages of cavalry in Saga is their ability to run around the flanks of infantry based opponents. This can change the tactics required by their enemies to deal with them, or at least should do!
I wanted to take a look at how this can be achieved by various factions that are limited to slower movement, and what tactics and abilities can deal with cavalry in the game.

Several factions can make use of cavalry, with varying abilities. The key to all cavalry is maneuverability. In Saga, Cavalry move twice as far as infantry in a standard move, L not M (12 inches not 6 inches). This gives them a reach that can literally leave a foot based faction standing. Suddenly, objectives are at risk because the enemy has cavalry.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Battleboards 102 - The Normans

Our small Saga group has been getting enthusiastic about the game lately and we're gearing up for an epic campaign (hopefully more on that later!). The campaign has me in a quandary deciding which army to use. It's an escalation campaign, and I've got the opportunity to actually get paint on my Anglo-Danes, but I can't help but think about answering the Duke's call and join his Norman knights... On that note, let's talk Normans!

Norman Shieldwall!

I really enjoy playing Normans and they have a lot of interesting subtle tactics and an interesting battleboard. I'd like to quickly run through the battleboard and get some discussion going over the strengths and weaknesses of the Normans. First off, lets have a look at the battleboard:

Dice: Any
Discard any die to activate a unit of Hearthguard or a Warlord.
Dice: Any
Discard this die to gain 3 Attack Dice (4 Attack Dice if a 6 is discarded). May only be used by a mounted unit. At the end of this melee, add a FATIGUE to your unit.
Massed Volley
Dice: 4 or 5
Discard this die. Until the end of your turn the range of your bows is doubled (i.e. 2x "L").
Dice: 1 or 2 or 3 or 6
Discard any die to activate a unit of Warriors.
Aimed Volley
Dice: 1 or 2 or 3 PLUS 6
Discard these dice to re-roll any Attack Dice that failed to hit the target.
Storm of Arrows
Dice: 4 or 5 PLUS 6
Discard these dice to immediately activate all of your units equipped with ranged weapons. They may only Shoot with this activation. No unit gains FATIGUE for this activation.
Dice: 4 or 5 or 6
Discard any die to activate a unit of Levies.
Dice: 1 or 2 or 3 PLUS 4 or 5
Discard these dice. Activate a mounted unit. If that unit engages an enemy unit with this activation, this enemy unit immediately gains a FATIGUE.
Dice: 1 or 2 or 3 PLUS 1 or 2 or 3
Discard these dice. If your engaged unit is mounted and is fighting a dismounted unit, immediately eliminate one enemy Warrior or two enemy Levies that are engaged in the melee.
Activation Pool
Dice: 6
Discard this die to roll two extra SAGA dice.
Dice: 4 or 5 PLUS 6
Discard these dice. If you inflict at least twice as many hits with your unit than it suffers in this melee, each hit it scored against an enemy unit becomes two hits.
Dice: 6
Discard this dice. If at the end of the melee the enemy unit(s) are forced to disengage, immediately activate for a movement one of your mounted units engaged this melee. This movement does not generate any FATIGUE.
Attack Pool
Dice: any
Discard one die to gain one Attack Die (two Attack Die if the discarded die was a "6")
Dice: 1 or 2 or 3 PLUS 4 or 5
Discard these dice. Activate a mounted unit for a movement. This movement gets an extra "S" movement distance and can be freely made through friendly models and units.
Dex Aïe
Dice: 6 PLUS 6
Discard these dice. Your Warlord gains five Attack Dice and may re-roll any failed to hit attack die. At the end of the melee, add three FATIGUE to your Warlord.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Swords for Hire - The 'Sons of Death'

This time another unit of mercenaries for Saga - The Gall-Gaedhil "Sons of Death".

The Gall-Gaedhil ("Foreign"), also known as “The Sons of Death” were lawless warriors of mixed Norse and Gael blood, that are first mentioned in the Irish Annals in the 9th century. They were marauding bands of adventurers and looters that joined the Vikings in their plundering expeditions.

Later, the name came to designate all mercenaries that came from the Norse colonies of the Isles where Norse and Scot blood was mixed. Their ferocity, coupled with their warrior pagan cults as Diberna or Fianna earned them a well-deserved terrifying reputation. Swords for Hire: The Gall-Gaedhil are mercenaries and may be included in any Saga warband.

Rules for the "Sons of Death"...

Recruiting the Gall-Gaedhil:
Adding the Gall-Gaedhil to your warband costs two points. A warband led by a Hero of the Viking Age may not include the Gall-Gaedhil.

Sons of Death:
This unit is composed of 8 foot Warriors. They have an Armor of 4, and each of them generates two Attack Dice. The unit of Gall-Gaedhil doesn’t generate any Saga Dice. Unlike of other Warriors each Gall-Gaedhil is worth 1 VP.

The Gall-Gaedhil must be the first unit activated each turn of their controlling player. Once any other unit of their warband has been activated, they may not be activated this turn anymore. Their activations are unlimited within a turn, and are free, so don’t cost any Saga die (but they take Fatigue as any other unit). The Gall-Gaedhil may never be targeted by Saga abilities played by their controlling player. If a Saga ability played by their controlling player targets more than one unit, the other units still are affected by the ability, with the Gall-Gaedhil being immune to its effects.

Blood calls Blood:
At the end of step 4) of any melee, any unit engaged with the Gall-Gaedhil suffers a number of extra hits equal to half the number of successful hits they scored against the Gall-Gaedhil.

After the deployment but before the first turn, the unit of Gall-Gaedhil may make a single movement.

Use in Saga:
In games of Saga, the Gall-Gaedhil make for a tough unit that can cover ground quickly and hold it

They have plenty of attacks (they get a free hit from "Blood Calls Blood") but if fatigued seemed to make for a glass hammer. They cannot receive a War Banner as a unit of only eight warriors, so being attacked immediately after making several moves would be costly (enemies with cavalry may not be their ideal opponents).

They cost two points, so would be an expensive strike force in any faction. The fact that they can't generate Saga dice but in return don't need any to activate means they could "hold on" when the rest of your force is smashed. Equally though, those two Saga they could give you as two units of Hearthguard could be used elsewhere.

They appear to be a situational unit, possibly in a faction that lacks serious hitting power (a skirmish force). They would still suffer from other effects such as the Pagan Rus "Great Winter" so you have to decide ahead of a game whether to use them.

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