It’s been a long time since the last game in our SAGA campaign. We were occupied with the Wars of the Roses and were also travelling a lot, so time was short, but we realised that we really wanted to know how the campaign would go on. So we finally sat down to play another game. We knew that, as things stood, a decision would soon have to be reached. But we didn’t know that the next game would be the grand finale of our campaign!
We had left the game with the Norman 2nd army retreating towards the castle, having ambushed the Vikings and taken a beating. The Vikings now advanced once more towards Little Tipping while the retreating Normans rushed to unite two of their small armies at the bridge. Meanwhile, the Norman 1st army took position in the village, nervously awaiting the Viking host.
When battle was joined, the Normans were at a slight advantage, fielding 5 points versus 4 points of Vikings. Levy, Hearthguard and one unit of Warriors were set up in the middle, while another unit of Warriors and the crossbows were at the right flank, between a house and the church. The Vikings put Warriors, Berserkers and and one unit of Hearthguard in the middle and hid another unit of Hearthguard behind the church.
This lone unit of Hearthguard looked rather isolated and proved to be too sweet a temptation for the Norman commander, who charged his Warriors around the church to attack them. A sage man who recognises temptation as the devil’s handiwork!
“Then they rode back, but not / Not the eight.” In fact, none rode back at all – half of them were lost in the attack, the other half when the Vikings struck back. This was not a good start, but spirits were still high on the Norman side. They started to drop when the crossbowmen, who were advancing on the right flank, were rushed by the Warlord and the Berserkers and cut to pieces. The whole right flank was gone!
However, the manoeuvering also meant that the Vikings had now split their forces in two and the Normans started to exploit the situation. On the left flank, the mounted Warriors charged the other Hearthguard, while the ranks of the Viking warriors were greatly diminished by Levy archery. The tide had been turned! The Viking Warlord, anticipating that defeat was imminent, put all his eggs into one basket and charged the Norman Warlord, who was accompanied by his trusty Hearthguard. An epic melee followed. In the end, not even the sacrifices of his noble knights could save the Norman leader, who succumbed to the ferocity of the Viking Warlord.
Their daring had earned the Vikings a victory. What would happen now? Eagerly, we turned to the campaign map. Normally, we would end the gaming session at this point, but we both knew that this battle could have been the decisive one. So, what would happen?
First, the beaten Normans had to retreat. This took them away from the village, which was now in Viking hands. Those thieving magpies immediately started to grab everything that was not nailed down. No Norman force was in range to stop them in time. As we had determined that the Viking aim was to plunder at least four villages, they had achieved a victory.
Winner of the SAGA campaign was the Viking force played by K.!
This was a worthy finale to a great campaign. When discussing it, we both liked that a decision had been reached in a reasonable time. K. suggested that next time the villages should be distributed differently, as it was pretty clear from the beginning that Little Tipping would be the decisive place. I have to admit that I didn’t put much thinking into the map as I had just played around with the software and was so happy when I had produced a map that I immediately used it! We also agreed that next time we would try to play more diverse scenarios – all but one of our games were straight on battles (the exception being a river crossing scenario).
Some more data on the campaign: We played for 14 turns. As I had losely determined that one turn=one day, the Vikings were rampaging for two weeks in the Norman fiefdom before they retreated to their ship. In real time this took us about four months. However, we had some very long breaks in between. We played five SAGA battles, of which two were won by the Normans and three by the Vikings. But those dry statistics can’t capture the great fun we had with the campaign! The tabletop battles were even more engrossing than normal as they had consequences and we rooted for our troops as the story enfolded on the map.
Thanks to everyone who read and commented on the reports, I hope I could convey some of the fun! And do not despair if you like SAGA: There will be more reports coming as we plan to play more scenarios.