Monday, June 29, 2015

Speaking Frankly...

If there is one faction that is hard to pin down and say "why should I run these?" then surely it must be the Franks.

Why would anyone want to run a faction that doesn't have any overt Combat abilities?

Well, the Franks are a bit of unique. Firstly, they have not one variant but THREE. You can field different ages of Frankish forces.

Each one gives a different look and feel just by allowing different structures.


Firstly the older Merovingians (481AD - 751) who are allowed to field the following forces...

Warlord MAY be mounted.
Hearthguard MAY be mounted (if so their armour in melee is reduced by 1 as well as in shooting).
Warriors are not subject to any special rules except that ...
... one unit of Warriors (up to 8 models) may be upgraded to Saxons (armour is 3 but get +1 attack dice each in melee when they attack but not when they are attacked).
Levies are equipped with bows.

Note: all mounted models have javelins.

To some, the Merovingians were seen as the inheritors of the Roman Empire in terms of size of empire and Military style. To others, a more 'Germanic' form of fighting style was used. Cavalry seemed to have been employed to greater use over time, but again no clear sources exist for the exact composition of forces or tactics used.  The use of Garrison forces and levies is also evident.

Secondly the Carolingians (751AD - 987) who can field...

Warlord MAY be mounted.
Hearthguard MAY be mounted.
Warriors MAY be mounted.
Warriors that are NOT mounted may be equipped with bows (bow armed warriors have armour 3).
Levies are equipped with javelins.

(note: if you want a book based source for the Carolingian Cavalryman ... look here)

The Carolingians used a kind of "Grand Strategy"of long term military planning to work at rebuilding the Empire.

Campaigning was used to achieve specific military goals.

Planning, politics and a tightly controlled military were the watchwords.

Pretty much what you see when you read the Battleboard for the Franks!

Finally, the Capetians (987AD - 1328) who can field.....

Warlord MUST be mounted.
Hearthguard MUST be mounted.
Warriors are not subject to any special rules except that ...
... one unit of Warriors (up to 8 models) may be equipped with crossbows (armour is 3).
Levies are equipped with bows.

The Capetian Kings found themselves weaker and in a changing environment where they needed to use wits to keep themselves in power. The system of relying on service from Nobles or other lower freemen was gradually replaced by a system of payments with allowed the King to buy their forces when needed.

Sometimes, paying off Nobles to keep them neutral would stop the Kings enemies from getting too powerful.

In time the "taxation" system would come to be the norm for centuries to come in the region.

You can read more on Frankish History here.


So, what abilities do the Franks have to help them achieve this "plan and outwit" approach?

"Battle Pool" - this can be used any number of times in a turn, but is really a repository for 1 to 3 Saga dice. These are used in other abilities that require "X" number of dice to make something happen (usually X number of units or times).

"Combat Pool" - these dice work in a similar way to every other Combat dice pool. Each die can be used to get "X" times that many Attack or Defence dice. Each dice used from here reduces the battle pool by 1 dice. If you have three dice here and three in your battle pool (possible) then you could 6 Attack or Defence dice if you spend them all.

"Adaptation" - this is a Reaction ability to Orders, Shooting or Melee. Using this ability allows you to roll one or two Saga dice and add them to your Battleboard and then change the position of any other dice on your battleboard. A pretty powerful ability that could change your fate. Example: you want to try and move units, but your enemy launches an all out attack. You can then, for example, move all your Saga dice to the Battle Pool and Combat Pool to try and maximise Defence dice. Just an example(!)

"Preparation" - An Orders ability - similar to the normal Activation Pool on other Battleboards. You spend the two 'common' dice on this ability and take a spare Saga dice with the 'Rare' side upwards and add it to your other Saga dice.

"Interdiction" - an Orders/Reaction ability that allows you to target an enemy ability (non-activation). If the enemy have any dice on that target ability at the end of their Orders phase then they receive "X" number of fatigue points on their units (you decide how they are split).

"Retribution" - Order or Orders/Reaction - you can discard "X" fatigues (you choose from where).

"Protection" - Melee or Shooting/Reaction - allows you to reduce the number of hits you received by "X" before working out Defence dice.

"Domination" - Melee/Reaction - spending these dice allows you look at your opponents battleboard and target and ability with only one saga dice. You discard that dice.

"Planification" - Activation/Reaction - in response you activate one of your units that has no more men than 3 x "X".

"Anticipation" - Orders/Reaction - allows you to designate "X" of your units for the current turn. If they are shot at or engaged in melee they gain "X" Defence dice.

"Exploitation" - Orders - allows you to roll 4 extra Saga dice. For this turn you can only Activate your units for movement.

"Oppression" - Activation - you can Activate "X" number of your units.  They do not generate Fatigue.

So, with the above, you can load up your Battle Pool and choose a strategy for the turn. If the plan is undone by the enemy, and if you have also chosen "Adaptation" then you can re-plan. You can punish enemies by stopping Activations using your "Interdiction" or "Domination" abilities. You can react to an imminent threat with "Planification".

The main problem is the limit of Saga dice. To get the most out of your abilities you really need three Saga dice in the Battle Pool. This is a big percentage of the dice you get to play with. Adding "Adaptation" as a standby gives you little leeway for choosing other abilities.

You need to make the best you can from your Warlords "Determination" and "We Obey" rules to get free activations.

Franks are not easy to use, but with some practice you can thwart the enemy and put your own plans into action... whatever they may be...

Going forward...

You can find out more about the Franks in the Saga game in the supplement "The Raven's Shadow" which includes their battleboard. They use the "Norman" dice.



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