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AAR: Saga: Clash of Warlords – Byzantines v Vikings

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This is a quick post from a game of Saga I had with Dan at the NWGC on Tuesday. It was an outing for his very nice Byzantines and my still newish Vikings.  We played 6 points apiece and decided on “Clash fo Warlords” to keep it simple.

The board is 4 x 3 and each player secretly selects 1-6 pieces of terrain to use. The result of the two amounts is added up, divided by two and rounded up. The terrain chosen was just 3 pieces and seemed very sparse.  We selected a hill and two woods. I got the hill which had to go in the centre and the woods  were rolled up as no closer to the edge than 12 inches. This made for a crowded and uneven centre of the board and a lot of empty space all around.

Dans force was a unit of 10 spearmen and 6 archers, and one unit of archer cavalry and two of spear cavalry. The Warlord just hid off in the rear row of cavalry almost all the game (well, that’s the way it looked to the Vikings!) There were at least three banners in the units as well. Raven’s Shadow optional rule!

I used two lots of Hearthguard, one lot of Berserkers, two lots of Warriors and one lot of levy archers.

Dan won the dice off to choose sides and then got to Deploy most of his force last as it was mainly hearthguard cavalry.  I had just made a line with my archers to the left and most of the force in the middle with just a little support to the right to stop the cavalry just swinging into the rear of the army.

Here is the Deployment:

AAR (3)

The Byzantines chose to go opposite my archers (that’s the downside of deploying last). The archers which never got into the game, given they would have to trundle over the hill at S (4 inches) per move. Perhaps I should have tried that to at least make Dan move his men somewhere. I chose not to and decided to be the one to move toward the other player. Big mistake.

AAR (5)

I had been hoping to move two units up the right to try to draw the Byzantines in but Dan was having none of this. I have to say that Dan was very lucky in his dice rolling this game. He started by rolling some 3 rare dice symbols in turn 1. This way he quickly stored up the abilities he needed.

The view from the front….

AAR (6)

Dan charged into the line of Viking Bondi Warriors and killed 7 of the 8 for a loss of 2 Knights. Ouch. He then retreated back up the field away from the nearby Viking Hearthguard. How inconsiderate.

I couldn’t really get an opening. When I tried to charge his spearmen with my bravest Viking hearthguard, he used the Friendly Shields ability to take the hits on his archers and the line just held. Ouch indeed. Nice ability guys!

AAR (12)

The Rest of my force moved up but basically ended up going in piecemeal. As the next picture shows, I just fed units to the enemy and they chewed them up using their abilities (Kontos) to deliver extra blows) and Support Archers (fire into combat!) and Massed Archery to fire shots through friendly units.


Then the Warlord and Berserkers come in from the far left…

AAR (1)

At this point the Warlord decided to end it all on the last turn and took the Berserkers in for a last-ditch effort. This came to nothing as the Berserkers were all but killed off and the Warlord just bounced off the front of the cavalry having lost the last Berserker in defence of his life. The game ended with no kill of my Warlord but barely a man standing. Dan had won a clear victory. Many Vikings had entered Valhalla for the loss of a handful of Byzantines.


Dan was lucky in deployment options and dice rolling. After that it was down to my lack of tactics that did for the Vikings. I should have used the archers to get in and force some action from the Byzantines, or at least taken a lot of units together for the kill. The Byzantines abilities allow a lot of support archery, shooting into combat, switching out casualties to supporting troops and being able to withdraw back across the table (back into line as I saw it happen on the field using the Withdrawal ability). Dan was cool and calm and used my barbarian ways against me.

The Byzantine battleboard seems to be all about mutual support and holding the line. Next time I will have to take my Normans up against them to see if my cavalry can make a difference. Another option against the Byzantine line would be Scots (sprearmen!)

Well done Dan.

One issue is that the mission is the shot play time. 6 rounds is not a lot to get an infantry force up to the enemy if you want to keep in together. The scenery in the middle really blocked the table up and made it a place to avoid, which the Byzantines clearly did!  Dan seemed to have the advantage of ground (defensive position) from the outset and never lost it.

A few more pictures:

AAR (7) AAR (8)AAR (10)


1 Comment

  1. Dan Ibekwe says:

    Hi, Mike, thanks for the game, great AAR.

    My dice – actually, your dice that I borrowed – did roll particularly well that evening. The lack of terrain features was quite deliberate on my part – I chose ‘1’ – since lance cavalry aren’t really big on charging through, well, anything that isn’t a nice flat field. The terrain ending up clumped in the centre helped me, too, as it forced your units to filter through piecemeal, while my lads huddled and did the mutual-support thing.

    I painted the Byzantines simply because I’ve had some half-finished elements of a long-abandoned WAB army project blocking up the light for an entire decade. SAGA has given me the chance to prove that it was *planning ahead* that made me not throw them away. Not massive idleness. At all. Oh no.

    My first thought about their BattleBoard was “I’ve brought a cat to a dogfight. Again”. Everybody else seemed to have Special Abilities to give themselves buckets of extra attack or defence dice, raise their own armour value or make the enemy’s armour drop off. Our best ability seemed to be to run away after a fight…

    …Except that’s actually pretty useful. You trot back a cavalry move, out of reach of surviving (and by now *very* upset) enemy infantry, form back up on your supports (Support Shooting, Friendly Shields, Common Efforts, shiny), take a breather thanks to your banner and you’re good to go again.

    TBH, having led a succession of Rhomaioi armies to some truly memorable disasters in FoG (and DBM, 7th, 6th… I really should know better by now) I was a bit shocked at just how lethal they proved to be in SAGA. After I’d stopped shouting ‘Felix tempus revenecit!’ and calmed down a bit I decided to put it down to beginners luck and resolved to paint a ‘proper’ SAGA army.

    Anglo-Saxons. I can even do their cuss words, too.

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