A while back, we had a three way game of Saga: Age of Vikings. It had meant to be a four way, but someone dropped out so I had to change the scenario. This time we actually did have four players, so I decided to give the previous scenario a try again with the full set of players.
The table was set out as before, with five hills – one in the middle and the others half way along each of the other sides. The four armies were Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, Jomsvikings and Vikings again. They were all aggressive armies, and in theory the Anglo-Saxons had the advantage in that with horses they would be able to move a lot quicker than everyone else. The player of the Anglo-Saxons though was also new to the game, so my idea would be that things might balance out.
We had six point armies, with a plan for a four turn game.
The Anglo-Saxons went first, and quickly grabbed two of the hills – one along the long side between them and me (one set of Vikings) and the central one. This gave them two points, with two units of 12 mounted warriors claiming their territory.
The other Vikings went second, grabbing the hill between themselves and the Anglo-Saxons along the short edge, and moving carefully towards the other hill along their long edge near the Jomsvikings. This gave them one point.
It was then my Vikings to move, and I started moving towards the Anglo-Saxons and also managed to grab the hill along the short edge near the Jomsvikings (who had declared the hill as “theirs”). This also gave me one point.
The Jomsvikings moved towards both of their hills, but didn’t engage in battle. They also didn’t claim any hills.
Several hills had been claimed, but there had been no combat this turn. My turn had gone badly – I’d placed my units wrong, since I’d really wanted to be able to get my archers over towards the Anglo-Saxons. The Jomsvikings are pretty much immune to shooting, whilst the Anglo-Saxons on their horses are particularly vulnerable. I also hadn’t put as many dice into activating units as I should have, so what units did move didn’t move far.
Turn two opened with the other Vikings forming around their hill but otherwise not doing much, so they continued to gain one point. The Jomsvikings attacked the hill that I’d claimed, driving my warriors off it and claiming it for themselves. So they gained a point this turn.
The Anglo-Saxons used their archers against the other Vikings, but otherwise didn’t manoeuvre much. They continued to gain two points since they still had their two hills. I moved my shield maidens (their first outing) up towards the Anglo-Saxons. I wanted to shift them from their hill, but didn’t really have the units in place to do it. I was also moving my warlord and a unit of hearthguards around the inside of the woods, in order to come at the Anglo-Saxons from the other side as well, but it would be a while before they were in place.
Again, I should have been taking on more fatigue, since as the Vikings I had ways of getting rid of it quickly. I think it was a mix of not getting the right dice and also not thinking clearly about what it was I was trying to achieve.
Turn three started with the other vikings, who simply moved around. They weren’t attacking the Anglo-Saxons, and they weren’t aggressively going for the hill between themselves and the Jomsvikings. They had a battleboard full of abilities, but weren’t willing to take on fatigue to move quickly. Since they had the hill on their short edge, there wasn’t any reason for them to attack the Anglo-Saxons unless they went for the centre hill – which they didn’t. With twelve mounted warriors on it, I’m not entirely sure that I blame them.
The Anglo-Saxons performed some light shooting against the other Vikings, and I charged my shield maidens at the Anglo-Saxons on their hill. I lost my entire unit without killing a single Anglo-Saxon. It was a waste of a unit, and I really should have waited for them to get support from other units.
The Jomsvikings decide to come off their hill near me, and attack my warriors and javelin equipped levees. My warriors were wiped out.
Not much happened in turn four, and it was obvious that most players were happy staying where they were without taking risks claiming more than they already had. I finally got my archers up to within range of the Anglo-Saxons, and forced them to use up some Saga abilities in defence.
I then charged my hearthguards at them, driving them off the hill and claiming it for myself. It got me a final one point. It’s what I should have done earlier in the game, but had failed to do.
At the end of turn four, the scores were as follows:
- Anglo-Saxons 8pts
- Jomsvikings 6pts
- Vikings 4pts
- My Vikings 2pts
It had been a mostly uneventful game. The other group of vikings hadn’t been involved in any melee, and the Anglo-Saxons had only used shooting attacks. The only melee they had engaged in had been when I’d charged them. So it wasn’t an as exciting game as I’d hoped for.
Part of the problem was that there wasn’t an incentive to attack people unless you were trying to push them off a hill, and no-one was really being that aggressive in trying to claim hills – myself included. In our previous game for this scenario, there had been a lot more fighting over hills, with each war band trying to gain extra hills to gain points. This time it didn’t happen. Because there wasn’t much combat between war bands, it also meant players didn’t have much to do between their turns.
I don’t know whether there also needs to be points for charging (which would encourage coming off a hill to attack nearby units). I could bring in the usual massacre points, but that’s harder to track in a multiplayer game, and is a bit more fiddly to work out. I also tend to prefer points for objectives over points for killing/surviving.
So though I finally got the four player game that I’d been wanting, I don’t think it went as well as I’d hoped. The worst problem was lack of activity for players when it wasn’t their turn, due to the lack of interaction between warbands.
But on the bright side, several people commented on my DIY wooden hills.