The Second Clash (SAGA Tournament AAR)

I brought my trusty Byzantines to test their mettle in the brutal fighting grounds of A Clash of Dice and Men II. God willing, the burning shame of placing last at the spring tournament will be avenged. I got to play 3 out of 4 games (had to omit one to make up for uneven number of players).

The tournament was 6+1 points, meaning that we brought 7 points but only 6 fight on the table. I ended up with:

armyshot
The Byzantines assembled and ready to kick some pagan and latin ass.

Byzantines of Komes Dwellias  (7 Points)
1 Mounted Warlord
3 Points of Hearthguard (8 Mounted Lancers + 4 Mounted Archers)
3 Points of Warriors (10 Warriors w Bow + 10 Warriors w Spears+ 4 Warriors w Spears)
1 Point of Levy (12 Javelinmen)

Game 1 – Jomsvikings – Battle Twilight

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The Lord of Jomsborg, Sigvaldi Strut-Haraldsson leads his fearsome warriors against Byzantium.

I got to face the winner from the last tournament with his army of invincible Jomsvikings. It consisted of:

Jomsvikings 
Jarl Sigvaldi
20 Hearthguard (split into 6+6+8)

Special Rules: Armor 6 against shooting attacks. Starts the game with 1 Wrath.

My opponent plucked his boys near the center lines of each quarter. I put some the cavalry and 6 Warriors in one quarter, the levy split and took the lower quarters. The last quarter was occupied by 10 Archers and 8 spearmen. Foolishly, I put my lord with the infantry and not with the cavalry.

A possible weakness of the Jomsvikings is Sigvaldi who generates 3 SAGA dice by himself. If I could knock him out, the Jomsvikings would run out of steam. Without having my Warlord nearby, there was no way of using double cavalry activations moves from Basileus.

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I gained a lead from the beginning by controlling more quarters but my Warlord was exposed. The archers on the left flank were previously destroyed and came back in.
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I held the cavalrymen back to secure quarters and score points. I couldn’t reach Sigvaldi without making two moves which would dull them in combat.
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As the brutal Jomsvikings close in from two sides, the Byzantine Komes faces a very desperate situation.
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In the last turn I tried a desperate charge but to no avail. However, victory was secured victory on mission points. The barbarians wrecked my warlord though.

The Jomsvikings are very scary in combat. Their defensive abilities can subdue everything thrown at them. They can activate easily and are completely immune to shooting.

My opponent was determined that he could not win this mission from the start but he made things easier for me by splitting his force into 3 units and not 4. In this way, I was guaranteed to score in at least one quarter. Unfortunately, my opponent did a good job exploiting the bad positioning of my Warlord, netting him one victory point.

While my army had the advantage of many units, it had the disadvantage of them having specialized equipment. It was hard for me to utilize the Endless Warband rule compared to an Jomsvikings all Hearthguard army with uniform equipment. As the Byzantine battleboard demands close inter-unit-cooperation, using it in this scenario is quite a challenge.

Result: 3-1 for me. (3 points for me by winning the mission, 1 point for my opponent for taking out a Warlord). Won the battle by not fighting, the proper Byzantine way.
Game 2 – Anglodanes – The Challenge

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Travelling all the way to Byzantium,  Guthred son of Helgi finds no sour dough rye for his Smörrebröd and declares war on this cursed southern land and all her inhabitants.

In this mission we used the revised rules where the objective is to get 10 wounds on the opposing warlord first. Units cannot engage an Warlord unless your Warlord took more wounds than the opponent. The secondary objective is to get 4 conquering points in your opponents deployment. The Anglodanish force arrayed against the might of Byzantium consisted of:

1 Warlord
8 Hearthguard
8 Hearthguard with Daneaxes
4 Warriors
12 Warriors

With a quick glance, the obvious mission plan is to avoid the 8 Huscarls with Daneaxes smashing into my Warlord and chopping him up like firewood.

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The Byzantine Komes and the Anglodanish Jarl face off in the middle.

Initially the Danes were able to play Trapped for a couple of turns, sprinkling fatigue all over my army (mostly the cavalry). I should have really found some time to paint up some banner-men.

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The Danes surge forward while the Byzantines sit back and shed fatigues from Trapped. The Anglodanes roll well, dish out fatigues like crazy and my Komes gets very tired. I avoid punching the Jarl until the axe wielding Huscarls are taken down.
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The Anglodanish press forward into the Byzantine shield wall. Not happy with the bowmen in terrain. They couldn’t impact the game later on. My cavalry is slightly out of position from where I want it to be.
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Here the luck turns for the danish. My shooting reduces the Huscarl axemen in half and the Levy defeat a couple in the coming close combat. The Jarl has attacked my Warlord and slammed 4 wounds into him, while taking one.
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The axe wielding Hearthguard are taken out by my Spearmen with Strategikon from the nearby cavalry. The Archers take a huge toll on the other unit of Huscarls. Things look grim for my opponent.
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The nooze is tightening. All I have to to do now is to move the spearmen up and support the cavalry with Friendly Shields. However time is running out.

The Danish defenses turn out to be impeccable. Exhaustion and defense dice hamper my horsemen’s efforts while the Jarl and his men run towards the woods. In the last turn of the game, I put all my activation on the Hearthguard, it’s Now or Never! and..

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It turns out to be a dead ender comedy skit, I only manage net 2 wounds. All of the Danes were expended either blocking my movements or as extra wounds to their Jarl.
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The Jarl looks on as the Byzantines argue among themselves about whom should get what bodypart mutilated.

I can’t believe I snatched defeat from the Jaws of Victory here. Short term gratification of killing models took precedence over long term victory conditions.

But it was an enjoyable close and tense game to the last dice roll. Anglodanes are a good opponent for the Byzantines. Their fatigue and activation blocking shenanigans can throw plans off and they are surprisingly durable in combat. However, the Danes have to watch themselves from the Byzantine shooting and avoid losing too many men breaking the shield wall. Their slow pace allows cavalry to hit them in bad places. My opponent won the tournament. Congratulations Alex!

Result: 0-3.

Game 3 – Crusaders – Champions of God

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The Crusaders march through Anatolia but fail to salute a local Byzantine Strategos properly. Such behavior cannot be permitted and the incensed noble sends his men to teach the arrogant latins a lesson.

The final opponent fielded Crusaders. The force had:

Crusaders
Godfrey de Bouillon
8 Mounted Knights (Hearthguard)
4 Foot Knights with Heavy Weapons (Hearthguard)
8 Crossbows (Warriors)
8 Spearmen (Warriors)
Special Rules: de Buillion can use We obey! twice, and starts the game with the Temperance virtue unlocked. de Bouillon can also allocate wounds to nearby models within 4″ instead of 2″ thanks to him being a knight exampler. Everybody wants to take one for team Bouillon.

I have played this type of mission a lot and the terrain was suitable for my army.

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The flat piece on the left is actually a small Wood with trees momentarily removed. My plan was to shoot the crusaders until they engaged or died.
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And here they come, by unlocking Fortitude their most deadly virtue ability, the Knights  hit like trains. They slam into my 7 man Levy, who with a bit of luck, survive reduced to a man.

My opponent held off his close combat abilities waiting for my inevitable counter attack.

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I get lucky with activation dice and throw every stick, stone, spear and arrow at the knights. With 5 left, I send my cavalry in with Friendly Shields loaded up. But not before using Basileus to move the spearmen up.
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I only manage to kill two knights. The crusaders unlock the full might of their entire Battleboard  by turn 3, by rolling only two dice for virtues each turn.
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My opponent actives the entire army from the Siege and hits my cavalry and the Levy. De Bouillon leads the charge personally. My cavalry is almost destroyed but I manage to wipe out the knights!

My opponent also attack my levy with his spearmen but they refuse to die. In my turn I counterattack with my spearmen and push his back. De Boullion stands alone..

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I use Common Efforts and Strategikon and slam my Warlord with his armored horse into Godfrey de Bouillon. With 10 attacks and two fatigues in my favor, the famous Norman lord was knocked out. The Byzantine Komes was then able to return to Constantinople, tell his Saga, snag an heiress and never had to work again.

After this huge setback, the crusaders were out of the game. My opponent was a new player, having borrowed his army. I felt like an total ass for wiping out all of his miniature dudes. A real “That Guy” way of introducing someone to a game.

I was however impressed with my opponents decision to follow the game through until his last man was cut down, without a word of complaint. It was no surprise he won Best Sportsmanship.

Result: 4-0 to the Byzantines. I finished 3/9 place overall.

Closing thoughts

My Warband did a good job most of the games but I need to play other missions than just slay the Warlord. I like the flexibility of the Byzantines but its not an easy battle board to use. Overall it was a great tournament.

Some quick words about organization. As each game had to completed within two hours, the terrain was pre-placed on each table by the tournament organizers. To avoid unfair advantages, we decided also that buildings (one of our common terrain pieces) was impassible terrain. We also had only one mission where Slaughtering Victory Points were counted at the end. Avoiding them seem to speed things up.

It was great to see new players showing up with their warbands. Also shout outs to Pedro for coming here all the way from Denmark. I suspect watching me getting molested by a piss drunk stag party later that night made up for the long trip.

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