Finally the campaign has started! We decided that, when we have time and are in the mood of playing a game of SAGA, we will start playing on the map until two armies clash. Then we will fight it out on the table top, resolve the results in relation to the campaign and put the whole thing away until next time. As the map board is magnetised, it can easily be put away in a box with all the pieces in place.
The map movement started with the Viking flotilla arriving at the northeastern shore and swiflty approaching the coast. It landed two armies and continued along the shoreline, passing the mouth of the river Bumble to finally anchor south of it. Eager to loot some villages, the Viking raiding parties hurried inland. Meanwhile, the Normans had been alarmed about the presence of the Danish ships and moved their troops out of the castle. One was to march east to secure the bridge crossing the Upper Bumble. The commander knew that they had no chance to reach the two northeastern villages in time and decided to camp and wait. Indeed the Vikings had plundered those villages unopposed. One of their armies marched up to the Bumble, where it camped, no doubt sending out scouts to find a ford. The other army hung back, suspiciously eying the Norman contingent guarding the bridge.
In the south events had taken a more dramatic turn. The Norman 1st army hurried down to confront the Vikings before they could loot the peaceful village of Flockingon, while the 2nd army covered its flank. Alas! They were too late. When they arrived at the place, they were greeted by the sight of Vikings feasting on the farmer’s supplies. Enraged, the Norman commander gave the signal to attack. What followed has been dubbed ‘The Battle of Flockington’ by the local tourism office.
When setting up the battle, we realised that not only had both our armies the same strenght, but that they were also at 6 points each! It would be our first ever SAGA battle with 6 points (yes, I finished painting the first unit of my light cavalry just in time). This made us both apprehensive and was probably the reason for a rather dull game that quickly descended into a slugfest in the narrow space between the buildings. K. tried a new strategy by going without Levies as well as Berserkers, taking one big Hearthguard unit of 8 figures instead. However, she kept it back for some time, giving me the chance to diminish its number through shooting. After a series of fierce melees, the Normans started to gain the upper hand. K. made a valiant last stand with her remaining units – astonishingly, most of them consisted of only one figure, meaning she had quite a number of SAGA dice left. However, when I moved in with the Norman cavalry reserve, the Viking warlord perished.
For the aftermath, we both had to make a saving roll for each SAGA point lost in the battle. On a 4+ for the winner, and on a 5+ for the loser, the point lost in the battle would be available again for the campaigning army. As K. managed to keep some of her units alive despite being down to only one man, she only had to roll three dices and managed to save one point. The Vikings had to retreat two hexes in a direction opposite to the attack and are now down to 4 points. The Normans saved all but one of their casualties and are at 5 points.
So, what’s the conclusion from the first turns of our campaign? On the one hand, we both seem to be much more anxious when knowing that the results of a game will have consequences. That, coupled with playing with 6 points for the first time, made that game a rather uninspired affair – at least compared to our recent other games, which had a better flow and produced more interesting tactical situations. On the other hand, the campaign mechanisms seem to work well. We are especially happy with the saving throw system, which doesn’t mean that a single battle is necessarily decisive for the whole campaign. It was rather only the beginning, the first trial of strength between the Viking raiders and the Normans defenders. We are excited about what will happen next!