Friday night game, at Spencer's. My Pagan Rus and his Irish, Crescent and Cross scenario Blood Bath - warbands clash and kills are scored, winner has 3 more points after 6 rounds than opponent.
x8 Hearthguad (Varjasis)
x8 Hearthguad (Varjasis)
x8 Warrior (militia)
x8 Warrior (militia)
All units with a banner
x6 Hearthguard with Dane Axes
x5 Warrior as Warlord bodyguard
all units equipped with javelins except the Dane-Axed Hearthguard
Some of my winter terrain laid out (small stream was just aesthetic, pieces by War Kraft) and units deployed, I went first.
Part of my strategy for the Pagans was to move them forward, in force (all of them) and try to engage the opponent immediately. The challenge was that depended on Saga Dice for activations. I got them moved forward with combinations of dice and Warlord Determinations but I was not able to get them into melee. This was the first mistake I made.
The Irish went, closed, and pelted the Rus with javelins killing 3 Varjasis by end of round 1.
Round 2: I make my big move and make contact. I lose all my melees and a few more figures and am forced to move back, leaving one of my Varjazis units isolate on my left flank by the frozen pond. I think I killed one Irish.
The Irish pelt me with an endless wave of javelins again. I lose 5 more Varjazis.
Round 3: I try to engage again and am only repelled once again. Irish lines held out strong and I lose more figures to javelins.
The Irish counter attack adds more dead in my ranks. I'm losing the game. Really looking at giving up and starting over. Spencer even asked if I wanted to start over and rethink the game.
"Nope, only 3 rounds left so let's play it out." I thought.
Round 4: I opened with the Winter ability, movement for all is S, shooting for all is S. This was me popping smoke and moving back. Great Winter, "signature ability" of the Pagan Rus, is what I was trying to avoid using. It sucks and is the impetus to Pagan Rus ruining games. In this case I move back and it buys me a round of not getting pelted by javelins.
Round 5: Fully frustrated in the game not coming together for me in any way I decided to sacrifice my Warlord and move my remaining units even further back. What would this do? Hopefully burn up Irish Saga Dice to get into a position to take me out.
I move all units back and my Warlord forward into the Irish line. I make sure my remaining units are out o M range of my Warlord and all Irish units are within M of my Warlord. I unleash Eastern Anger with 2 uncommon dice.
What it does:
Resolve shooting attacks on all units within M of the Warlord. 6 attack dice. ALL UNITS including the Warlord.
The book even says, "You won't use this one often" but, you know what? I've used this one 3 or 4 times of the 5 or 6 games I've played with the Pagan Rus. Quite frankly it's the only effective "punch" I've found on the Saga Board if one were to look for such things.
A bit on my frustration with Pagan Rus - the board abilities are not congruent with each other. You've got a lot of abilities that affect all units and absolutely no way to mitigate it.
Back to Eastern Anger, it is a game quantification of a bunch of steppes-folk riding by and taking a shot at everyone on the board.
My thought on this was, "Well, let's end this game spectacularly and move on and chalk up the experience." Well, it worked really good and my Warlord killed 6-8 Irish and even laid out some fatigue** for destroying units in proximity of other units.
The Irish countered, very logically, with Javelin and melee attacks against my Warlord to seal the win after the "Death Blossom" and... some how... my Warlord survived all the attacks. Bad dice rolls for the Irish, good dice rolls for the Pagan Rus Warlord who's name is now Voislav the Strong.
Bottom of round 5 I've actually tied the score. I'm still rolling 6 Saga Dice, and my Voislav is in the Irish ranks. I think to myself, "I think I have a chance".
Round 6: I roll my Saga Dice and am able to put all my dice on:
Endless Wastes - remove a figure per fatigue
another Eastern Anger
Standing like Bears - reduce attack dice for increase in armor
For the Kaghan - gain attack dice if your armor is higher than opponents
*Biting Like Wolves - really complicated in perspective... if all units have a fatigue than gain 3 hits AND if no hits scored on you you get hits in amount of current armor rating.
I used them in that order too. Endless Wastes netted me 3 more kills. Eastern Anger whittled the Irish lines down to a unit of 4 warriors, a Warlord, and a single Irish warrior on my right flank. Voislav then activated with his Determination and charged the Irish Warlord (Pride), activated the mythical trifecta of Standing Like Bears - For the Khagan - Biting Like Wolves with the Irish Warlord exhausted due to being close to so many units getting taken out by Eastern Anger. Dice were rolled, no hits scored on Voislav, 7 hits scored on the Irish Warlord. Not enough to soak or save he falls in battle to Voislav's blade.
Final score was 26 to 18, Pagan Rus win the game with a desperate ploy of Voislav the Strong. Purely luck and not a strategy I recommend.
Pagan Rus board is really hard to use. None of the "feared" abilities are really useful in any real game of Saga. Any damage you do to your opponent will also be done to you. There is very little to negate that except luck.
Board abilities are REALLY situational and hard to predict.
Cold Winds is only effective if a war band has one or 2 shooting units, not all units.
You need to engage immediately.
Irish are REALLY susceptible to shooting attacks.
I leave you with this picture:
*Edit 10/3/2016: I was wrong about Biting Like Wolves - If ENEMY units have at least 1 fatigue... not ALL units.
** Edit 10/3/16: We played fatigue from lost units wrong. This happens in melee only. This was pointed out by a forum poster on Studio Tomahawk's forum board. Talking wiht Spencer about this this did not change the outcome much as the real issue was Eastern Anger killing 4-8 minis per unit in 2 turns.