Hello and welcome back for another SAGA showdown, this time between my Crusaders and Herman’s Frankish force using 6pt warbands! After having played several of the standard scenarios, like ‘Sacred Ground’, ‘Champions of God’, and the Challenge’, we decided that it was about time we stirred things up a bit. So, after a short discussion we settled on playing ‘the Last Stand!’ from the Crescent and the Cross rulebook, which is a challenging scenario for both defender and attacker alike. I really wanted to make sure that I got to attack in this scenario, mainly because the Crusaders are quite an aggressive army, but also since the risk of not unlocking virtues in time can make defending extremely hard and annoying. This scenario uses an interesting but tricky mechanic where both players bids a secret number between 1-10, which is translated to the number of turns each player thinks he/she can destroy the enemy army in. The lowest bidder automatically becomes the attacker, which basically means that you have to wager between a bid that not only gets you the role you want to play, but also gives you a chance of winning should you become the attacker. I opted to bet for 7 turns, while Herman placed a total of 8 turns in his bet. As I was the lowest bidder I became the attacker, set to destroy Herman’s entire army (not counting the Warlord) within seven turns. The scenario also allows the attacker to use the ‘Endless Warband’ special rule which means that warriors and hearthguard that have previously been killed can form up fresh units that can re-deploy on the table as the game progress – this in turn means that the defender will have to watch out and not try to kill too many soldiers from the attacking force. A tricky situation to handle even for a skilled player!
I took the following army:
8 Mounted Hearthguards
8 Hearthguards on foot w. great weapons
9 Warriors on foot w. spears/shields
7 Warriors on foot w. crossbows
Herman’s army consisted of:
1 Charlemagne, Emprah of the West
8 Mounted Hearthguards (Charlie’s bodyguard: armor 6. Please note that we played this unit a bit wrong as it can only consist of a total of 6 models)
4 Mounted Hearthguards
8 Warriors on foot w. bows
8 Warriors on foot w. bows
The Crusader force, mainly consisting of the fleur of Norman nobility, scum and villany.
The army’s punching capability have improved after I recruited some more axe hurlers from the Kingdom of Scicily!
Crusading knights on their V4 mustangs ready to ride shiny and chrome!
Foot sergeants make up the center of the force and are eager to pillage their way to the Holy land!
An army led by the young and bold Charlemagne, of course a heretical Norman duke in the eyes of the Crusaders, is a force not to underestimate.
The Imperial bodyguard unit gets an increase to their armor which really makes them a tough nut to crack!
Herman has really improved his painting skills with this army!
These 16 archers will be a real threat to the Crusading cavalry should they get into a good firing position…
Herman deploys his entire force on the board. The attacking units will start the first turn by moving in from the table edges without any SAGA dice on their battleboard.
In order to secure his Warlord from a first turn cavalry charge, Herman deploys Charlemagne in the very center and shields the flanks with his Hearthguards. He also uses the terrain to his advantage!
The Crusaders take their first turn. Since no SAGA dice are generated for the first Orders phase in this scenario, I roll all 8 dice to unlock my first Virtue, and -oh my! There’s that flag which opens up both “Ascalon” and “Birth of a Kingdom”! The Crusaders are now kickstarted and ready for some Deus Vult!
The axemen from Scicily advance up the center to threaten both the archers and the bodyguard cavalry on my left flank.
Signeur Bohemond de Roz gallops behind his battleline who approach the Franks in cover of the farmhouse.
By using my Warlord’s ‘Determination’ activation I’m able to send the first wave of knights into combat (generating a fatigue for activating twice). Hopefully I can clear off these pesky outriders and chew up a unit and a SAGA dice from Herman’s army this early in the game.
Since Herman opts to halve his attack pool, and played “Anticipation” which grants him an extra three defense dice, as well as increasing his own armor to 6 using the fatigue marker on the knights, I only manage to kill two Frankish chevalliers while losing one knight in return. So much for my easy pickings…
As the Franks disengage Herman picks up his 6 SAGA dice and enters his first Orders phase.
Herman opts to play “Exploitation” thus forfeiting his offensive power in order to roll up 8 fresh dice on his battleboard. Using regular activations, Charlemagne’s extra ‘We Obey’ effect and “Oppression” He moves all of his cavalry out of the Crusaders threat range!
The archers who are left behind are ordered out of the woods to form a first line of defense against the latin zealots. Herman ends his turn with the “Interdiction” and “Anticipation” abilities ready to react to my activations…
At the start of my second turn I manage to unlock the ‘Justice’ virtue using three dice, which boosts my offensive powers even more! Being somewhat limited with only having 5 SAGA dice left, I put three dice into Hearthguard activations, one dice on “Victory!”, and one dice on “Taking the cross”. I then send in the dismounted knights against Herman’s “defending” archers and slaughter them to the last man while losing 3 men in return. “Victory!” reduces my armor to a dreadful 2, but is neccesary to counter Herman’s “Anticipation” which grants him extra defense dice.
Since the mounted knights are too close to the Franks in the field they have to engage once activated. This sends them into an unneccecary melee as I’d rather kill these plebs using sergeants, but I didn’t measure this before allocating SAGA dice. The knights charge!
The knights get some easy kills but fail to wipe out the unit of warriors who cut down two knights while defending their position.
Herman takes a really fast turn and decides to stack up on more control abilities like “Interdiction”, “Planification”, “Protection” and “Domination” in order to try and stall my next wave of assaults!
I decide to not bother unlocking the last Virtue and get really lucky by rolling two flags in my third Orders phase which enables the Crusaders to roll up 8 Dice on their board. All aboard the PAIN TRAIN! Herman responds by removing “Birth of a Kingdom” using “Domination”. I Start my turn by moving my units into position with regular activations and then go for “the Siege” which lets me activate my entire army. As the crossbowmen fail to inflict a single wound on the warriors in the field they generate an extra fatigue after shooting.
The foot sergeants are sent in to clear out the crop field and slaugther the remaining archers.
Two units down, two to go!
I then proceed to activate the knights (still using “the Siege” ) where I plan on trading as many knights as I can using both “Victory!” and “Ascalon”, but alas, Herman proves to be a slippery eel and reacts using “Planification” and simply moves his cavalry out of reach which means that the crusading knights take a fatigue from “the Siege”. Frankish cowardice and trickery wins the day as my combat abilities are left on the board withouth any more activation dice.
Herman starts his third turn with a somewhat unlucky roll in the Orders phase. After deciding not to counter attack without the right combination of abilities, and since there are no archers left, all he can do is to retreat and put more ground between our forces.
During their fourth turn, the crusading infantry continue to force their way up the center of the board in an attempt to establish a threat around the flanks should the Franks try to make a run down the sides of the table. Bohemond de Roz has to stay back to help activating the infantry.
With “Taking the Cross” activated the Crusaders are at an advantage in terms of mobility and striking distance. I Decide to throw away the remnant cavalry and take as many Franks with me as possible!
After combat a single knight is left standing while Herman loses two of Charlemagne’s bodyguards.
Herman decides to make a run along his own table edge, and scoots Charlemagne along with his hearthguard around the remaining crusader.
Using his dented unit of hearthguard to clear off the final knight which strips me of a SAGA dice for one turn!
Starting my fifth turn I’m able to re-deploy the entire unit of mounted knights along one of the short table edges as per the ‘Endless Warband’ special rule.
This puts Charlemagne within striking distance as I’m starting to get tired of Herman still rolling a lot of SAGA dice even after losing half his army!
I send in the knights for a short pit stop to bash some skull on the way…
…which splash some fatigue to the nearby unit of bodyguards.
I then launch the SCUD missile of axemen across half the table, once again thanks to the fantastic “Taking the Cross” ability! I decide to go MAXIMUM FIREPOWER and activate both “Victory!” and “Birth of a kingdom”. This should be bloody…
But as the SAGA dice Gods have their way, I completely fail to put a dent in the bodyguard unit and lose all of my axemen in return.
Having nothing but a sinle hearthguard activation left I send in the cavalry to desperately snip off Charlemagne’s head. Thanks to some good saving and nearby bodyguards the false Emeperor escapes death once again!
As Herman is now running low on SAGA dice he once again makes a run for it, while staying away from the table edges where crusading reserves can re-enter the game. In return, the Crusaders have quite a bad SAGA roll for their sixth turn which means that the slow infantry line staggers forth to close the gap and control the flanks. The fate of this game will be decided in the final, seventh turn…
Sensing the final battle of the game Herman decides to play defensively, rather than running away, and puts a dice in the “Combat pool” as well as a dice in the “Protection” ability which basically cancels the amount of hits taken. The closing battle will be a nail biter indeed!
Since the crusader cavalry is out of reach for anything but a tripple activation, I decide to bring on those axemen who recently got slaughtered…
Easy plan here: First, the Warlord will kill Charlemagne using “Ascalon” and “Birth of a Kingdom” (remember I have to kill his non-Warlord units but ‘Warlord’s pride’ kind of gets in my way here), then…
…Er, I only manage to score two hits out of my ten attacks which are shrugged off by saving throws and the ‘Resilience’ rule. Second of all, Charlemagne manage to land two strikes on my holy warrior which kills him outright. This was NOT supposed to happen…
This forces me to activate the hearthguard who were supposed to go in together with the crusader Warlord for the final assault on Herman’s non-Warlord unit…
But as the Dice Gods taketh, the Dice Gods giveth! Herman rolls an abysmal saving throw in the final combat!
The axemen from Scicily steps up to save the day and secures a victory for the Crusaders! As the final Frankish head rolls down the hillside, peace and order are once again returned to these lands. Jeebus is pleased.