Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Saga Crusades Extravaganza at Mike's

First off, rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated. Sorry to have not been posting lately. Family commitments and a three-week sinus infection has put a damper on gaming and painting. All is better now so gaming and painting has resumed. We now return to our regular programming in progress....

Last Friday my friend Mike (pictured left) invited a couple other club members and me to his house for an afternoon and evening of Saga 2.0. Mike has been running a few games at our club's monthly events recently. With the publishing of the 2nd edition of the rules and the Crusades army supplement, Mike has taken it upon himself to offer to get those in the club that are interested in Saga up to speed.

I showed up at Mike's in the early afternoon for some 1 on 1 games and after a dinner break, Charlie and Michael joined us. In the afternoon Mike and I were able to play three games with me getting to learn three different armies and their associated battle boards. All games were four point games with the basic scenario from the core rule book.

The first game I played a Mutatawwi'a force against Mike's Crusader force. These are fanatical eastern Muslim jihadist. Their battle board features many skills that allow them to lower their armor to increase their attack power. They also have the ability to sacrifice a figure to do a targeted attack on an enemy unit. The latter seemed a bit more modern of an interpretation, but the rest of the skills seem in theme for the period.

I set up my archers in a small palm tree grove and Mike calmly ignored it instead preferring to anchor his flank on his own grove. I got a lucky shot with my bows against his hearth guard (elite) unit and then we started trading figures in successive attacks. In the end I used my depleted bow unit to invoke the skill that sacrificed a figure to attempt to attack the enemy units. After a few attacks my bow unit was depleted, but Mike's remaining hearth guard unit was eliminated sealing the game.

Game two I chose the more traditional Milites Christi army and Mike tried again with the Crusader force. In this game I mismanaged one of my hearth guard units, isolating it behind a palm grove. Mike skillfully used the grove to keep my unit out of the battle fighting my army with his four units against my three. In the end I did finally get my hearth guard back thanks to aggressive pursuit by Mike and the accidental reserve unit turned the battle right at the end.

The third game Mike let me have his Crusader army with two units of warriors and two units of hearth guard. Mike opposed this with his other Crusader army 'The Twelve' which featured three mounted hearth guard units combined to form two six-figure mounted units with an eight-figure warrior unit backing them up. Mike's larger units hit like a truck, but once one was eliminated, the lower dice pool of the army became very limiting. I eeked out a win in this one. All in all I think Mike may have been 'letting the Wookie win' in order to give me a good tutorial on the rules.

After dinner Michael and Charlie arrived. Since Charlie was new to Saga, Mike played a couple of games with him while Michael and I squared off. Michael wanted to push the Crusaders so I ended up with the Mutatawwi'a again. This was a close fight with the two key moves being a long-distance charge from one of my foot warrior units (a Mutatawwi'a special attack) and some finishing suicide attacks.

For our final game Michael and I swapped sides and for this one the Mutatawwi'a came out on top again, but in a very close affair. Michael out played me by using an ability that put my own dice against me. His Mutatawwi'a ability reduced his armor, but in trade made my missed attacks damage my own troops. Michael chose the perfect time to spring this ability on me, when I had a maximum 16-dice attack. The ability cost me three extra damage, two of which I had to use one of my own abilities to abate, the third killed an additional figure on top of the losses from his attack. I had counted on my ability making the engagement safe, but that didn't work out quite as I planned. Late in the battle I made some desperate attacks, but Mike's troops held up. Well played. 

I ended up playing five very fun games, all to conclusion in one afternoon and evening. What a great day of gaming. Thanks to Mike for hosting and Michael and Charlie for the chance to get together. I wouldn't be surprised to see some Saga war band figures on the painting table in my future.

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