Saturday, October 1, 2016

Saga - Pagan Rus, after game report

Well, that was a fluke of a win.

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.

Pagan Rus:
x8 Hearthguad (Varjasis)
x8 Hearthguad (Varjasis)
x8 Warrior (militia)
x8 Warrior (militia)
All units with a banner

x6 Hearthguard with Dane Axes
x9 Warrior
x9 Warrior
x9 Warrior
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.

My thoughts:
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.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Saga – What to do with The Pagan Rus?

Two years ago, still figuring out how to play Saga in general, I had a “Big Plan” to paint up Pagan Rus and destroy all my opponents with this awesome war band. A few months after that, start of 2015, I had them all painted up with snow flocked bases and set about with my wintery domination. All I did was sit around and piss off my opponents and freeze up games. Either that or got crushed as I had no idea what to actually do with all the Saga board abilities.

Put them aside, got interested in Scots (which are much fun-er, at least with the one game I have played) and didn’t think about them much. Kind of sad as I really like the sculpts of the minis comprising my Pagan Rus (Old Glory Rus line of minis) and the overall aesthetic is my favorite one of all my Dark Age 28mm models.

Spencer’s Friday Night Game will be the new re-release of my Pagan Rus. Some experience under my belt, some thoughts and opinions developed, I think I can play them now without folding like a paper airplane or pissing off my gaming buddy and forcing the Most Boring Game Ever.

What will I do?

First, the list and deployment:
Hearthguard x4, Hearthguard x4, Hearthguard x4, Hearthguard x4
Warrior x8, Warrior x8

2 Hearthguard units of 8 figures each (and banner per unit)
2 Warrior units of 8 figures each (maybe banners?)
Warlord right in the middle, Hearthguards up front

This allows me 6 Saga Dice, has my heavy hitters up front where they need to be, warriors in reserve to react/fill holes, and Warlord in range of all of them to use We Obey.  I plan to move them up to the fight/objective, engage (per scenario) immediately, and then get defensive.

Eight Hearthguards hit pretty hard at 16 attack dice. The banner takes it down to a serious 14 attack dice with some fatigue mitigation. My plan is to lay into the opponent’s lines and try to break the units apart, split them up, maybe even leave one cut off … like what the Finns did in WWII against Russian invaders (motti). If I’ve the dice I will use Standing Like Bears (C, UC discard attack dice for armor) and For the Kaghan! (C, UC, R add attack dice) boosting armor and keeping my dice up to 14. 

For defense I might use Cold Winds (UC, R if opponent is shoot-y in any way – fatigue for any 5s or 6s rolled in shooting).

For battle field control I have frozen (C cancel second activation of a unit) and, of course, Great Winter (C+C)…. which I hate to use. I have not seen the advantage yet. At the very beginning of your turn you play it (Orders phase) and it is in effect until the beginning of your next turn. All movement reduced to S, all shooting reduced to S.

I’d like to note that many PR players as well as the book with Pagan Rus rules explicitly state the Pagan Rus are a defensive faction. I’ve also seen that about Anglo Danes (who the Rus are compared to often). I think this is wrong. I plan to prove it to myself and then, via this blog, to you brave reader!

An after game report is coming as soon as I finish this game.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

On The Bench September 2016

Developed a system that keeps me painting. No multi-tasking. I suck at it.

My usual technique of "not wasting paint" and having 2-3 projects in rotation always frustrated me. I'd miss steps and not realize it until after I was ahead a step or 2. I'd rush and take shortcuts. I'd make mistakes. I'd get frustrated and take a week or two long break; all the things that can happen has.

This summer I paired it down some. Right now it's the purest "new technique" so far though the draw to start something else is still there I have not done so.

On my list right now is my Scots Covenanters... I'm still plugging away at them like I have been all year. I'm down to the end now and looking forward to being done. Done are:
x24 Pike
x48 Musketeers
x12 Lancers
x2 Field Guns and crew
x1 Saker and crew
x2 Mounted Commanders

I'm naming them Earl of Louden's Regiment as I have the colors for that unit. Remaining to be painted:
x12 Lancers
x1 Saker
x12 Firelock Crew

I've started the Lancers last Sunday while listening to a football game on the radio. I like to do them in lots of 6 and I started with horses, or as was noted in the times - Scottish Nags.

Most of the games I will be playing with these is Warlord's Pike and Shotte. There's no figure removal so I based some double-y on 50mm X 50mm bases for ease of table manipulation. Last night (Wednesday night) I got the main coats of paint down and based them and gave the first coat of gloss. Tonight I matte and maybe flock if time allows. Saturday and Sunday I start and finish the riders. the following week I plan to do the same with the other 6 figures and I'll be done.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Saga Tips V – What You Got

Been awhile, since last year I believe. Last I wrote about was a 12 figure Hearthguard aka “Deathstar” aka “Panzer” et al. I don’t like those nicknames much so I will use a very vanilla “x12 HG” when I refer to it from now on. I still promote it and find that it still covers most of your bases most of the time. Rarely, is it not useful. Not a total game winner either but it’s a good start.

I like to stay away from Saga Board Abilities for the most part. Many reasons why. All of them are different and, honestly, I don’t know the best combos or contingencies. I have some favorites for the factions I play (Viking and Norman being my main ones now). One thing I have discovered is Saga Board abilities do not come up all the time.

Actually, this factor is what gave me an epiphany: What can my units do WITHOUT using the Saga Board? Let’s take a look at that and keep it in the most vanilla of terms.

Warlords have an armor of 5 (6 in shooting), generate 5 attack dice, and generate 3 Saga Dice. They also get some special abilities like Determination (free activation), Resilience (take more hits), We Obey and Side By Side. They activate on any Saga Dice and their exhaustion threshold is 4.

Hearthguards have an armor of 5, generate 2 attack dice per figure (1 per figure for shooting), generate a Saga Die per unit, activate on any Saga Dice, and their exhaustion threshold is 4.

Warriors have an armor of 4, generate an attack die per figure (1 for 2 figures shooting), generate a Saga Die per unit, activate on common and rare Saga Dice. Exhaustion threshold is 3 fatigues.

Levy, blessed Levy, have an armor of 3, generate 1 attack die per 3 figures (1 per 2 figures for shooting), do not generate a Saga die, and are exhausted after 2 fatigues. They activate on uncommon and rare Saga Dice.

All move Medium on foot or Long mounted.

With that unpacked above you can see why a x12 HG unit is effective. Activate on any dice and attack, at full strength, with 24 attack dice, and pretty resilient against exhaustion. This is even before you get into any kind of Saga Board abilities:
…24 attack dice, armor 5
Even if you lose a few in a prior melee or add a banner you still have a punch with them.

x8 Warrior units are still nothing to sneeze at too. Even better if you combine a few for x10 or x12 units. 

Levy? Well… many think they are weak and they kind of are. That said they may be your only ranged unit and that means they have a large area of influence. We all hate losing just 1 Hearthguard to a volley of Levy sling stones. Doing that still costs Saga Dice they don’t generate so my favorite thing to do with Levy is position them as a speed bump and resource-suck for my opponents. The main thing they’ve got going is there are x12 figures so they stick around much longer than their attacks and defense portrays. Deploy them as a screen, and when your opponent runs into them generate the 4 attack dice and burn 2 for a defense dice. Seems minuscule but you’ll be amazed.

Now, I’m not anti-Saga Board. I just look at those for what they really are – the flavor of your War Band. All of them have all kinds of cool abilities and many stack and one of the draws to this game is the “build” of some kind of multi-layered ability combo. Almost all strategy guides I see on the net are based off this train of thought. It’s very important to understand and figure out what your board can do and when. I just don’t like to see other players (including myself) shut down by a bad die roll. Sometimes those dice just don’t come up, even the common ones.

Thing is, even bad die rolls get you activations for your Hearthguard and Warlord. Plus you get a free one with your Warlord (and another unit can go with it) on top of that – no special board abilities needed.

What this boils down to is playing with what you have all the time. Cool board abilities and killer combos are just dessert. Too many times I’ve had plans crumble due to bad Saga Dice rolls and the lack of needed board abilities and I have seen others flounder and not enjoy the game when their dice don’t come up with the needed combos either. When you can play the ability as an added bonus to your already existing plan, that’s when your board will shine. For example:

Viking x12 HG engages an opponent. With banner it generates 22 attack dice. That’s good right there; that will wreck most other units on its own. Good chance this will destroy a lesser unit, almost 100% chance it will win and force a disengagement (there is minutiae there to deal with) unless that opponent unit has some board abilities up… taking opponent resources and making them play your game. Adding any Viking board abilities (my favorites being Frigg and Ullr*) just makes the good chance better.

*Frigg burns a fatigue for an attack die
*Ullr allows missed attack dice to be rerolled

All this said, or typed, I want it understood that I am no pro-level tournament player or anything like that. I’m still in my infancy in Historical Wargaming. I know that wins and skill in gaming are not the focus of this hobby. I do this, figure out a game, to be better at it as that is fun for me. Nothing pushes me from a game faster than not understanding it or really sucking at it and getting frustrated that it’s not “working”.

I hope I was helpful.
In Service-
-Gabe “Fat-Rollo” Martin

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Blogging from Stay'Cation Land

3/4 of the way into my Stay'Cation 2016. Not doing a TON of painting as I have in the past but I'm still getting some stuff done.

Went to Leavenworth, WA last week to visit with some in-laws that own a pear orchard in Cashmir. They live in Mississippi but come to the orchard in Washington annually to check on things and, occasionally, we are invited up to hang out with them.

Ronny (Pops-in-Law) and I spent a few hours in the pear orchard post harvest this year. We picked peaches, nectarines, and some left-over pears not suitable for market. That one hour in the fields, 90 degrees in the sun, reiterated the respect I have for the immigrant fruit pickers. I was doing it for fun and it still kicked my ass.

My haul was 7-8 dozen peaches. I spent yesterday peeling and putting up in the freezer about 2/3rd of that. This morning, as I type this, I am baking a peach custard. Should be done in about 10 minutes. I wonder if it will be good or not, never made a peach custard before.

Using some of this free time to get caught up on metal documentaries on Net Flix and Amazon Prime.Nothing too special or outstanding except the doc about Randy Blythe of Lamb of God and his troubles with  the Czech court system after getting charged with manslaughter after an accident at a 2010 concert in Prague. No spoilers but it was a good film as it did not start out as a film about that, just a film about Lamb of God and then the court thing happened in the middle of it It ended up, to me, being another situation of metal music itself being put up on trial.

**checks custard in oven**
I know one thing, sure taking a lot longer than the recipe's suggested 20 minutes.

Also been organizing some of my comic books. Not a huge task as I don't have a huge collection - and I found a buyer of comics in the Bay Area and I have a few things they want. Not going to get rich but the extra $20 bills in my Pay Pal account help fund my miniature buying for now - like this nice little package from Perry I bought a few weeks ago:

6 more Covenanters Advancing

...and a box of Agincourt Foot Knights

Back to comics, my favorite read right now has to be Manifest Destiny. It's Lewis and Clark crossed with Dungeons and Dragons. Instead of bears and supply issues they deal with monsters... well... and some supply issues. Then there are my usuals - Kirkman's The Walking Dead and Invincible. One of my new titles I am interested in is Brian Wood's Brigg's Land. Only one issue in so far and it's an interesting tale.

As far as minis go, I am finishing up, yet another, unit of Covenanter Musketeers. THis seems to never end but a good English Civil War game needs to have blocks of infantry bristling with pikes, at least in my opinion. As soon as I get these done I have a choice of starting another Lancer squad or some more pikemen. I'll figure it out when I get there, no deadlines crushing my soul.

We'll get painted some day, I swear!

**checks custard**
Holy Smokes! I think the custard is done! Now, set it on the counter and let it cool.

Well, heading off to get some other stuff done, visiting some old friends in Vancouver and getting some shopping done later today. Y'all have a good one!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Scale Comparison - Perry Covenanter and Old Glory Covenanter

I feel it's important to share information - I'm always searching the net for this kind of info before I buy.

Perry Miniatures Covenanter scale compared to Old Glory Lowland Musket scale:

Perry on the left - Old Glory on the right

The Perry figure is "leaning" over and stooped a bit. Old Glory figure is wearing a morion, standing up straighter. Also, the base is much thicker. 

A Perry figure stsanding up much straighter than the previous one. Even with the thinner base (Proxie Models) the eye-level of the figures are about the same.

Overall, the difference is so minute it will make little difference. The Old Glory sculpt is a bit deeper but, other than that, very minor difference.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

On the Bench - August

I always have a few little projects going. Here are the current main ones"

Another squad of Covenanter Musketeers. Ten of them and an officer and drummer. Here's a pic of the musketeers I'm painting right now:

I'm using Renedra plastic 20mm bases. The figures are a combination of Old Glory Scottish Lowland Musketeers (ECW-41) and Scottish Lowland Command (ECW-50). Using poster tac I've mounted them on plastic soda bottle caps, my new favorite tool for such things.

and... that's about it. That's the only major project I have right now. Should be done by this weekend, I have a second squad of musketeers to do. I am 6 figures short of a 12 musketeer squad so I ordered a 6-pack from Perry miniatures. Shipping from England so I'm being patient. I hope to get these done before my 2 week vacation come last half of August. I hope to not have any painting lined up for that 2 weeks, the first week will be easy as I will be up in Levenworth, WA with family. The second week will be a staycation so we will see if I can stay away from the painting table.

**I typed this last night. This morning I got a message from one of the other firms in my work building in downtown Portland that a package was delivered to them accidentally, and it was from England. Went and got it and BAM - 6 Covenanter musketeers from Perry.