Clash of Warlords

We were hoping for a four player game of Saga Age of Vikings this week, but this is a type of game that seems to elude me. We ended up with a two player game, Vikings against Jomsvikings. It was Harald Hardrada of the Vikings versus Sigvaldi Strut-Haraldsson of the Jomsvikings.

We had six point armies, and went for a random Clash of Warlords game. This resulted in the following scenario rules:

  • Scenary: Unknown Lands
  • Deployment: Pincer Attack (split each army in two)
  • Length: Until Dusk (6 turns)
  • Special: A Good Day to Die (no special rules)
  • Victory: Show of Force (survival points, with some special bonus points)

We ended up deploying with our strongest units on the East side, and some weaker units on the West flank. Harald had his Varangian Guard in the East, and we had our two warlords in the East as well.

The special bonus objectives were to get at least one unit to the other side of the table, which would grant a bonus +3 points. Despite mentioning it at the start of the game, we completely forgot about the other special bonus – an extra +1 for each melee combat won. When we calculated victory points on the evening, we forgot to take these into account. Since I have notes of what happened, I’ve been able to retroactively calculate those points to see if they made a difference.

The Vikings went first, using Manoeuvre to get themselves in position and build up their battle board abilities. I responded with the Jomsvikings using some abilities to give themselves wrath, then taking Song of Steel to activate units for movement and giving them javelins. I moved two of my Hearthguard units (the Jomsvikings only had Hearthguard) and threw some javelins at the Viking levee, to absolutely no effect.

This was maybe a bit too aggressive for my first turn – I possibly should have been building up my wrath tokens instead and readying for offensive actions later. But I was also moving a unit up the board to go for one of the scenario objectives – get a unit to the opposing table edge.

Two Jomsvikings hearthguard units throwing javelins at the Viking levee

Turn two opened with the Viking levee throwing javelins at my Hearthguard, They missed, then much to my surprise they charged. Six of them died for their impudence, but they did kill one of my Hearthguard. I had used Hammer of Thor to soak up two further kills.

The levee fell back (+1 victory point to the Jomsvikings), leaving room for the Vikings warriors to charge in. This didn’t go as well for me, and the remaining three Jomsvikings were killed, in exchange for three Viking warriors. This gave +1 to the Vikings.

On the Eastern flank, Harald moved up with his Varangian Guard.

Jomsvikings: 1; VIkings: 1

The Jomsvikings continued to move a unit up the western flank, then charged the warriors with their other hearthguards. The Vikings closed ranks, but one of them was killed in exchange for no Jomsviking casualties. The Vikings fell back, +1 points to the Jomsvikings.

I then activated my western most unit again, giving them fatigue but they got within range of the far side of the table, gaining 3 points.

Back on the eastern flank, where not much was happening, my units fell back. I didn’t want to have a fight against the Varangian Guard (I’ve used them myself) without a good stash of battle board abilities and wrath tokens.

Jomsvikings: 5; Vikings: 1

Turn 3 is where everything happened. Despite having taken lots of casualties, the Vikings still had enough figures in all their units to get 6 saga dice.

Jomsvikings (painted) v Viking Levee and Hearthgaurds

On the Western flank, two units of Vikings ganged up on my single unit of Hearthguards. Javelins from the Levee got one kill, then they charged into melee again. Four of them died, to one Jomsviking. The Vikings fell back, and the Jomsvikings scored +1 victory point.

Then the warriors charged, and with only a single Jomsviking the outcome was obvious – the unit was wiped out, and a single Viking warrior was slain. +1 victory point to the Vikings. These two combats now meant that the Vikings were down two saga dice, and the Jomsvikings were down another one.

On the Eastern flank, Harald moved up again surrounded by his warriors, but wasn’t able to engage.

It was back to the Jomsvikings. I had one unit on the Western flank which I wasn’t able to do anything with because the East was where all the important stuff needed to happen.

Two Warlords face each other, surrounded by their bodyguards

I used Song of Steel to move my units into position (without fatigue) and give them javelins. Despite two vollies of javelins, only a single Varangian hearthguard died. Then I charged a unit into them, though I forgot one of the +1s (I had heavy weapons, but I also had javelins due to Song of Steel). I had 8 dice in the attack, the Vikings had 14. I took 4 casualties – my entire unit, the Vikings lost one. +1 points to the Vikings.

Then it was time for my second unit to charge in. The Vikings had used most of their special abilities by now, so this fight went my way. I lost two Hearthguard, the Vikings lost 5, taking them down to 1 man. This was +1 point to the Jomsvikings.

Jomsvikings: 7; Vikings: 3

By the start of turn 4, the Jomsvikings didn’t have many people left. Apart from the full unit of Hearthguard I still had over in the West, I just had two Hearthguard and my warlord on the Eastern flank.

Somewhat fewer bodyguards on both sides now

My two Hearthguard was an obvious target for a full unit of Vikings. 3 Vikings died, but they wiped out the last of my potential bodyguards. +1 points to the Vikings. Fortunately that left the hearthguard blocking Harald Hardrada from charging Sigvaldi. He had to move out to the side, and then charge with fatigue.

It was a bitter battle between the two warlords, and eventually Harald was forced back. He had two fatigue and had lost all his bodyguards, and Sigvaldi was exhausted with three fatigue.

It was now down to the Jomsvikings to decide what to do. I only had two Saga dice. I used Storm Rising, and the Vikings allowed me to remove fatigue rather than gain wrath tokens. I gave myself Song of Steel to move Sigvaldi and use javelins, then charged Harald, using Holmgang to give me bonus attack dice and reduce his attack dice.

The last viking Hearthguard went down, as did Harald. But so did Sigvaldi. Both our warlords were dead.

Turn five started but the Vikings had no saga dice so couldn’t do anything.

The Jomsvikings had one unit of Hearthguard, but given that they were currently in the lead on victory points there was nothing to be gained by attacking, so they didn’t.

Jomsvikings: 7; Vikings: 4

By the end of the battle the Jomsvikings had only four hearthguard left. This gave me +4 survival points. The Vikings had 2 levee (+1 point) and 3 warriors (+2 points). So the final score was:

Jomsvikings: 11

Vikings: 7

So victory went to the Jomsvikings. I had assumed the Vikings were going to be left with more survivors (including their Warlord), but the final couple of fights changed that. I don’t think the Vikings had been quite so optimistic about their chances. If they’d moved one of their Hearthguard units just a bit further south to my table edge, they would have got +3 points for reaching the opposite edge. They may also have had survivors as well to boost their survival points. But then possibly Sigvaldi would still be alive.

It was a good game, and a lot bloodier than last week where I had been a lot more careful (some might say cowardly) in how I played. We both had very aggressive units, and the Vikings are definitely getting better at how they use their battle board abilities.

For a game like this, where points are scored, I think it would have been better to award tokens to each side as the points are gained. This would make it more obvious how things were going, and possibly affected people’s actions. It would have helped as well if we’d remembered about the extra points for winning at melee (it didn’t make a difference in the end).

Samuel Penn