Monday, June 16, 2014

Tactics in Saga - The "Hammer Effect"

After playing a number of games of Saga, there seem to be a few tactics that become "standard" in your arsenal. They need to be adapted to the type of force you play, but here are my thoughts...

First, "the Hammer"..... this is pretty much just the basic concept of using a smaller force to deal with a larger one. Instead of acting as a 'distractor' or 'misdirector' you actually use it in combat to defeat the enemy in one swift blow.... in other words... hammer them!

The idea is usually used to push the enemy off their perch (a river ford, a house, a hill, etc.)

Various factions have ways of doing this usually through special rules or special units. Sometimes it is necessary to use several Saga Abilities to boost up a fairly mundane unit. Other times it is just plain fun to boost a good unit and "go for it". That is one of the things that make Saga a really great game.

The Vikings have the Berserker "glass cannon". The Scots can boost their Attack dice significantly with Saga abilities to make one unit a "big hitter" with the Norman Knights, the Norse-Gael and the Saxons all being able to do the same kind of tricks.

Take a look at your Saga Battleboards now for those "combos" that boost Attack dice, re-rolls and Armour and can be used on the same unit in the same combat.

Viking Berserkers and Warlord prepare to move out....

As Vikings are a very popular faction, lets take a look at how the Viking can do this with a four man Berserker team... get out your Viking Battleboard now and carry on.....

First, starting just under 12 inches from the unit you need to attack...

Put two Saga dice into Hearthguard activation, put one dice into the Frigg ability to turn that fatigue from 2nd move into an Attack die, put one into the Valhalla ability to gain nine Attack dice at the cost of definitely losing your unit.

You have now used four Saga dice so far. If you can get your Warlord to use his "We Obey" rule (rulebook P37) to activate your Berserkers then you save an activation die!

If you have another free dice to use then the Heimdal ability is a good bet as it gets you 3 or 4 more Attack dice. Lets face it you are not going to worry about lower armour on your way to Valhalla!

You should now get around 26 to 30 Attack dice from your doomed Berserkers. Going the whole hog you could also have tried to use the Ullr ability to get re-rolls to hit. That is about as good as its going to get in any Saga faction for one fight!

Lets walk through an example with pictures to help... here is the scene on the battlefield as the Viking Player is about to roll his six Saga dice at the start of the turn....

Those Berserkers have eyed up a target and their Warlord lets them go for it!

1) Roll and place your Saga dice......

2) Use your Warlord to get "We Obey" to activate your Berserkers for free. They move toward the objective. In this case the objecyive is a Ford with eight enemy Hearthguard (who are feeling comfortable despite having no Saga dice left) defending it.

Eight is a big tough group of Hearthguard in Saga, especially as the enemy unit is 12 inches away on foot.  The Warlord also gets to move and decides to head to the same objective...

 3) Use the activation dice to move your Berserkers again. They pick up a fatigue as they are activated. Now they can move into combat with the enemy unit.

4) Melee! The Vikings play off all their Melee abilities (16 base dice plus ten for Valhalla [nine dice] and for Frigg [1 die] ). They get 26 Attack dice with re-rolls from Ullr. The enemy get 16 Attack dice. The Enemy roll 14 hits against the Berserkers. The Berserkers have to lose three figures anyway but following on (as you should) with the Save throws, then the last man goes down in a hail of blows! The unit is dead. In return, the enemy unit is hit on 5+ from those 26 dice, but fails are re-rolled and 15 hits are scored. The unit makes saving throws and fails 11.

The unit is only eight men strong and so all the defenders die.Wipeout!

5) The Berserkers have now killed two points of enemy Hearthguard for the loss of one point of friendly
Warlord on the Ford with a Fatigue point
Hearthguard. The Viking player can use a last activation die to move the Warlord again (he takes a fatigue). He could now go to the same point the defenders just lost. Not only have the enemy been cleared but the place they were guarding has now been taken and held. Next turn, the Viking player can 'Rest' the Warlord to remove the fatigue. His opponent now has to worry about how to deal with this new threat...

Well, that is one way of using your troops to clear out an enemy stronghold and take it for yourself. Every situation and every faction is different.
You need to check your Battleboard for what Saga dice and unit would work best for you. If you have mounted troops they can cover ground more quickly and be able to take the ground that your other unit suffered to clear.

The above shows the basic principle of using a smaller force to defeat a larger one. That leaves your own larger force to smash into the weaker part of the opponents army. There you have my thoughts on how to launch a strike that will win you an objective for less cost than the enemy.

I hope it helps the less experienced player to make best use of what they have. Study the battleboards and see what the opponent may be able to do to you as well and how to counter it!

As for being on the receiving end of an attack like this, you need to be aware of how far away the enemy is and try to leave a useful ability in hand. A popular ability here would be one that cancels an enemy activation. In the example above, the Viking player would have to put one more Saga dice into activation or at least not move the Warlord again at the end of the turn.

Lesson: Always look closely at what your opponent is leaving on his battleboard!



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