George kindly offered to host and Umpire a game using the SAGA rules. All I knew about SAGA is that there is a company in the UK that offers Insurance and Travel for people over 50 called SAGA!!. This turned out to be something completely different! George had set out two 4 point SAGA 'armies'. Normans and Vikings. Bob commanded the Vikings and I had the Normans.
My Normans consisted of a Warlord, 3 units of cavalry and a unit of crossbowmen.
Bob had 2 units of infantry, a unit of bowmen, a Warlord and a unit of Berserkers - more of them later!
Firstly, credit to George. The figures looked superb, some he painted and other he acquired but they definitely looked the part.
Bob and I were each given a 'Battleboard' with various symbols and commands on it and some dice with corresponding symbols. To start I must confess to feeling completely outside of my comfort zone rolling these odd looking dice and working out where to put them on the Battleboard to best effect. You have to use these dice to 'activate' your units and to give them additional bonuses - charging, firing, fatigue additions and removal. Provided they are the correct symbols, you can place multiple dice on the same against the same sections on the Battleboard' to 'Activate' multiple units or in the case of archers to move and fire.
Bob won the initiative and rolled his dice, activating his units and moving forwards. His bowmen moved onto a hill dominating the centre of the table.
In response, I activated all my horsemen sending one unit out in a wide flanking movement and another with my Warlord charged one of Bob's units of spearmen.
This seemed like a terribly good idea at the time. You get extra dice if your Warlord is with a unit, but if the other side have a largish unit, even of average troops, it is far from a foregone conclusion. My cavalry did rip into Bob's infantry and he failed to save many of the casualties leaving him with just 2 figures still standing but I lost men as well and had just my Warlord and one other figure still standing.
For want of understanding of the effects, in the next round I went in for the kill to finish
off these two remaining infantry men. They fell, but so to did my last horseman. The Warlord was on his own and vulnerable to Bob's archers on the hill. Fortunately, their bow strings were wet and they failed to score a hit.
Bob was rolling all sorts of runic dice and moving forward his Warband headed by a female Warlord whose name Bob and George debated. All I can remember is they decided she wasn't Brunhilda or Brunhilde! Anyway, on she came supported by the Berserkers. I was starting to get the hang of the Battleboard concept, all you need to know is on the board and you have to make decisions about what outcomes you want based on the dice you have rolled. Honestly, it is better than my description!
My crossbowmen fired at the Warband taking out a couple of figures and them I sent in the larger of my cavalry units assuming this would be enough to finish them off.
Because of the Warlord I lost the melee and a number of troopers and the unit was pushed back.
Bob then sent in his Berserkers and carnage followed. Although, I managed to kill 2 of the 4 Berserkers, my cavalry was decimated - actually it was worse than that the remaining unit was destroyed to a man!
My Crossbowmen now found themselves on their own facing an advancing Warband, the remaining Berserkers and the longbowmen who had advanced off the hill.
Whilst all this was happening my Warlord linked up with my remaining cavalry unit who were coming up behind Bob's troops.
The Crossbowmen managed to get off a shot but the remaining Warband and Warlord beat them and pushed them off the table and into oblivion.
At this point making decisions with my 'dice' on the Battleboard was pretty simple as I only had one unit left. I gave them a Charge and Melee bonus and surged into the rear of the archers. One archer survived the onslaught!
I got a bit excited at this point and forgot to take any more pictures!!!! Bob's remaining Berserkers singled out and attacked my Warlord in an effort to win the game (death of the Warlord equals victory). Based on their effect on the other cavalry, I think Bob, George and I all thought it was all over. 7 hits by the Berserkers on my already fatigued Warlord! My little lead figure had other ideas! Six sixes saved him. Then it was all over for the Berserskers! 14 hits to be saved in return on the 2 figures. With his Warlord and a couple of Warband figures still standing against my mounted unit Bob conceded the game.
Never tried anything like this before and whilst I won't be selling my 19th century armies anytime soon it was a really enjoyable diversion and something I would happily play again from time to time. Even as 'newbies' Bob and I got the hang of the game after a couple of turns - helped by George who had played it many times before and we had a really enjoyable evening.