Thursday, 28 November 2013

SAGA PAINTING UPDATE

Well, with it being Summer over here in NZ, I have been doing a lot of sailing and Windsurfing in the weekends and even some after work, but good news,  I have finally found some time to finish a unit of 12 Levy for my Anglo-Saxon force

I am determined to finish the other two units of Levy before the tournament, but I think that's about the most I could get done before next Saturday's deadline, as I am a rather slow painter. I'm not a huge fan of bringing unpainted models to a tournament, but the Umpire has said its ok as he would rather have people turn up and play.

So the Tournament is 6 points, with 5 rounds over two days - and with no major sailing event to go that weekend, Andrew and myself have decided to give it a go. Have only played 3 games before now but find the best way to learn a new gaming system is to dive into the deep end. I have put together a rather large Anglo-Saxon horde list together with 61 models all up. Brother Andrew is going to use his Pagan Rus list. So I am looking forward to it.

Here is some photos of my unit - I haven't done my shields yet but these can wait until after the tournament - also got to do the eyeballs but for this I need to wait for my model shop to bring in some of the paint brushes I like as they have none in stock and the one I am using at the moment has a wicked kiss curl in it and is no good for this somewhat delicate job.






Also, went around to Andrews house last night and took some shots of his Pagan Rus army he has done so far, being the faster painter, hes managed to finish his 2 units of Hearth-guard, Levy Javelin-men, and Steppe horse unit. (like me he has not done his shields yet either) - Love the winter basing he's done, looks great.

Like the striped puffed out pants on these guys

One unit of Hearth-guard - front and back


Other Unit of Hearth-guard - front and back

His Javelin Levy unit

Like the tweed stripe pants

His Steppe Horse unit



His painted army up to now , still 3 units of Warriors to do and his Warlord


Friday, 15 November 2013

SAGA GAME

SAGA GAME

Played my first proper game of  SAGA last night using 6 points, I have had a couple of practice games playing with 4 points before now but was only using proxy Mordhiem figures, so was good to play with the real miniatures. As it was our first official game we both went into it as an experimentation/practice game.

So my Anglo-Saxon horde was up against Andrews Pagan Rus mob, I didn't take any photos of the battle as both our forces are only base sprayed black so not photo worthy.


My force was simple - Warlord, 3 Warrior units and 3 Levy units (all armed with spear & shields) for which I then split one unit of 8 Warriors into two units of 4 - thus giving me 6 SAGA dice and 61 models.





Andrews force was - Warlord, 1 Hearthguard unit, 3 Warrior units, 1 Levy javelin armed unit and Steppe Horse - for 6 SAGA dice as well and 45 models.



Andrew set-up his force in the middle with his horse unit on my right flank. His Levy were on the left on hilltop.  I responded by placing my force in the middle with one unit on the right to try and stop his horse unit flanking me and being a general nuisance.

Andrew had the first turn and I would now like to point out the fact that I went into the game without knowing that much about the Pagan Rus battle boards abilities, but after Andrew finished his turn I have learnt a one valuable lesson - KNOW YOUR ENEMY'S BATTLE BOARD !!

First turn and with Andrew developing an evil grin on his face, organises his battle board and with his Fear of the Dark skill now in play promptly tells me (between laughing) to exhaust my unit of warriors on the right side by placing 3 Fatigue counters and then uses Endless wastes skill where upon you have to kill X amount of figures in a unit with X being the fatigue you have... so 3 dead warriors ! (must admit its a awesome combo) He then activates his steppe unit and proceeds to shoot and kills another warrior from that unit on the right.

So all in all a horrible start - an exhausted 4 man warrior unit that cant do much! leaving me somewhat sad. My first turn, with the help of the Stout Hearts and Fryd skill I rolled additional 3 Saga dice (so useful) , I get to do my Muster skill where I can activate all units if above 10 models so move units up and have no choice but to Rest the now small unit of warriors on right.

Andrews 2nd turn, and to my peril gets Endless Wastes skill again and I loose another 2 models from the warrior unit (more laughter), and after some good shooting the unit gets wiped out ! Andrew replies by boasting "that's how its done dude!"

The following turns I had learnt my lesson and the game was a little more balanced which involved multiple melee's and after a couple of hours playing (which went by very fast indeed) I eventually take out all 8 steppe horse, some warriors and a score of his Levy. Andrew managed to kill a heap of warriors and some Levy ... (sorry cant remember exact numbers) which I think we worked out to be small win to Andy.

I like my Bretwalda ability where upon my warlord can afford to rush out by himself and launch an assault against a weakened enemy unit. The skill jumps his armour to 6 and allows for him to re-roll all failed defensive dice, nice. My Shoulder to Shoulder and Clash of shields abilities are also very handy as a Melee/shooting reaction skill. My Defenders of the realm (giving me extra attack/defense dice) and Saxon Kingdoms skill (treat Levy as Warriors) are my favorites.

Andrew used his Biting like Wolves and Standing like Bears melee abilities very effectively and The great Winter skill is most annoying as it limits movement and shooting ranges. His Frozen skill is another useful skill where upon he can cancel enemy activating the same unit twice.

Saga is a fun and challenging game system that with time spent studying your battle board skills and learning what the enemy can do, will no doubt pay off in competition play. All up another fun night gaming where I have learnt more about my army and to beware of Andy's nasty skill combo's he has got up his sleeve, so until next time - with a little more painted up figures and some photos to share !

Friday, 8 November 2013

WHAT SHOULD I DO FOR NZ WARGAMING NATIONAL CONVENTION ? AND SOME CHANGES TO ARMY'S WITH REVISED RED BEAR RELEASE


In New Zealand we have a National wargaming convention held over Easter each year, which is shared around the country with the North Island's Hamilton, Central Wellington and Chirstchurch in the South Island each having a turn. I have been to every one so far since year 2000, so 13 years worth all up, and is slowly becoming a tradition at Easter for me !

The sad rumor is, that the organiser for the Flames of War tournament at next year's NATCON is only going to put two periods on offer, with those being Mid War and Late War only , so very annoyed there is no Early war ! , especially since there was no early war at Nationals last year and also now that Valleycon has changed its format this February to Late War as well. So yet again my Vichy French EW force has been put on hold for a while.  With the new Early War books that have been released I thought there might of been an increase in popularity but maybe not the case in the South Island perhaps. Early War is still my personnel favorite period I have to say (also is Andrews favorite as well)

So with this sad news, what do I run at Natcon next year ? ? 


OR


Also heard that they may be running a Saga tournament at Nationals so I may very well go to this in the end if they indeed go ahead with it, apart from encouraging me to paint my rather large Anglo-Saxon force it does sound interesting and is something different, which is always good to do now and again. I have only played the game twice so far (with proxies) so will no doubt have to have a few more practice games before long, but going a new system to a new tournament is a very good way to learn the rules and on how to use your own army, as your multiple opponents will teach you more than any practice game's with mates will - so in that respect it would be worth it I think.

If there is no Saga tournament on offer, then I am more than likely to take a Late War army, and will probably take use of the recent changes in the revised Red Bear book and either go my Light Assault Gun SU-76M army or the KV-1e Guards Heavy tank army that I have yet to finish.

Both armies have had some significant changes made to them, lowering their points a fair bit for the SU-76M and adding extra Weapons and Support options for the Heavy tank army, which is a welcome change for me. The KV-1e army which I posted back in September would have the following changes.

KV-1e with mine rollers
Existing army I had worked out had been:
HQ - KV-1e tank
Combat - KV-1e x 3 with two having a mine roller
Combat - KV-1e x 3 with two having a mine roller
Combat - KV-1e x 3 with two having a mine roller
Combat - KV-1s x 3
Support - Submachine-gun Company - 22x SMG teams
Support - Artillery Battalion - With 8x ZIS 3 guns and 4x 122mm obr 1938 guns
Add Observer team and PTRD anti-tank rifle

And now with the New Red Bear changes, it has :
HQ - KV-1e tank
Combat - KV-1e x 3 with a mine roller
Combat - KV-1e x 3 with a mine roller
Combat - KV-1e x 3 with a mine roller
Combat - KV-1s x 3
Weapons - Assault Gun Recon platoon - With 9x R/MG recon teams
Weapons - Assault Gun Sapper Company - 6x Pioneer rifle teams
Support - Anti-Aircraft Company - With 4x 37mm obr 1939 guns
Support Artillery Battalion - With 8x ZIS 3 guns and 4x 122mm obr 1938 guns
Add Observer team

So for the loss of the Submachine-gun company and AT rifle team, I have picked up another platoon in the form of some vital Air protection, also some recon infantry unit and a small but useful Pioneer platoon - so 8 platoons in total, not bad at all.


My SU-76M model 
Or should I do the SU-76M army perhaps? It has had some significant price reductions made in Katyusha's, Churchuills and SU-76M, so army picks up 10 platoons in total being ..

HQ -  T-70 obr 1943 tank
Combat - Assault Gun platoon with 4x SU-76M
Combat - Assault Gun platoon with 4x SU-76M
Combat - Assault Gun platoon with 4x SU-76M
Weapons - Assault Gun Recon platoon - With 9x R/MG recon teams
Weapons - Assault Gun Sapper Company - 6x Pioneer rifle teams
Support - Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy Company with 4x Mark IV (Churchill's)
Support - Flame Tank Company with 10x OT-34
Support - Tank Destruction Company with 4x 57mm ZIS 2 guns with PTRD anti-tank rifle
Support - Strelkovy Company with 15x R/MG teams with one platoon upgraded to SMG's
Support - Guards Rocket Mortar Battalion -  4x BM-13-16 Katyusha's with extra crew
               with 2x DShK AA trucks

Army has a bit of everything now, with a large Recon unit, Heavy tanks, AA, Pioneers, Rockets, AT 11, Flame tanks and a bucket load of assault gun dice all volley firing. The Infantry are needed to protect the SU-76 as they don't have any MG dice to speak of, so rather vulnerable to infantry assaults.

Another option would be to drop the Flame tanks and put in some PT-34 mine roller tanks (just cause they look cool .....  so army would be something like this :
HQ -  T-70 obr 1943 tank
Combat - Assault Gun platoon with 4x SU-76M
Combat - Assault Gun platoon with 4x SU-76M
Combat - Assault Gun platoon with 4x SU-76M
Weapons - Assault Gun Recon platoon - With 9x R/MG recon teams
Weapons - Assault Gun Sapper Company - 6x Pioneer rifle teams
Support - Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy Company with 4x Mark IV (Churchill's)
Support - Mine Roller Tank Company with 10x PT-34
Support - Tank Destruction Company with 4x 57mm ZIS 2 guns with PTRD anti-tank rifle
Support - Strelkovy Company with 7x R/MG teams upgraded to SMG's
Support - Guards Rocket Mortar Battalion -  4x BM-13-16 Katyusha's with extra crew

So I would loose one platoon of the Strelkovy and the DShK AA trucks
Think I prefer the first option, but have never used the Mine Roller unit and would be good chance to try them out I guess, and I do like the model

But I guess its still early days yet, so plenty of time to decide and work on.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

SAGA MODEL UPDATE ... AND VIKING BOOKS

SAGA MODEL's

I received my Anglo-Saxon army with Andrew's Pagan Rus army in the post a couple of weeks ago. Have to say the models look great and am looking forward to painting them up. Andrews Pagan Rus with their rectangular shields and the Steppe bow armed horsemen are fantastic models too. These will be the first 28mm models I have begun so will be interesting for me. I have done Warhammer models but never done that many human figures per-say.

So I have been busy cleaning off the sprue lines and making them up with spears and what not. Based them up with poly filler and all are spay painted black ready for some painting attention.

My army just un-packed out of the box.

Anglo-Saxon Army ready for painting!



My Anglo-Saxon army I had decided for in the end was rather on the large scale, as I invested in a Warlord, a unit of Hearthguard, 3 units of Warriors and 3 units of Levies, all of which are armed with spears and shields. You have no doubt spotted this is in fact 7 points but I thought the extra point of models will offer some change to the army to mix things up.

Andrews Pagan Rus army has his Warlord, 2 unit's of Hearthguard, 3 units of Warriors and 1 unit of Levies with Javelins, he also got a unit of Steppe horsemen as well.

Andy's Pagan-Rus army
Andy has all ready painted up one of horsemen, still has to apply a
final highlight to face and other areas and to flock up the base ... but looking good so far.

So hope to get the first unit of warriors all finished within a couple of weeks and a practice game in as well.
Will no doubt have to make some terrain for this as well, as our flames of war is slightly off scale.


Also, I have just started reading the Warrior Chronicle series from Bernard Cornwall with the first book of five being "The Last Kingdom" which is all about the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings era.  Andrew has read them all and with picking the Anglo-Saxon force for Saga, he has recommended me to start, and I have to say I have enjoyed the book and now know more about the army I have picked.


The Last Kingdom, like most of Bernard Cornwell's books, is firmly based on true history. It tells the tale of "Uhtred who is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of ninth-century Northumbria. Orphaned at ten, he is captured and adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred's fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the only English kingdom to survive the Danish assault. The book outlines Alfred the Great and his descendants and of the enemies they faced, Viking warriors like Ivar the Boneless and his feared brother, Ubba".  Its a great read and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series titled "The Pale Horseman"

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

REBEL RAIDERS ON THE HIGH SEAS, THE BOARD GAME




 "Rebel Raiders on the High Seas" - I got this game at the same time I brought the " Wilderness War" game from GMT games back in August, as with our interest in anything to do with the Civil war period having visited many of the battle sites and forts with our multitude of trips to America and reading many books on it, this game had a lot of appeal to us hence the main reason in buying it. We have played two games of it since then, with the first being interesting but as always I always seem to get a few things wrong on the first outing of a board game so after a re-read of the rules Andy and I played another game of it in the weekend (finally!) and it was a really fun and interactive board game.

It is a 2 player game all about coastal and river battles and raids including blockade runners (gathering supplies), screw sloops, gunboats and the mighty Ironclad boats of the period between the Confederates and Union during the American Civil War. The game spans from 1861 to 1864 with 3 periods to each year giving it 12 turns each.


The concept of the game for the Confederacy player is to gain victory points through carrying cargo from the European and neutral ports to the CSA ports using blockade runners and also to conduct raids against the Union shipping using Raiders. These points are then converted into build points where you can purchase more boats and gun batteries. These will form the defense you will need to repel the Union assaults from land- and amphibious-based attacks.

The Federal player has to try to prevent the Rebels gaining VP by sinking raiders and blockade runners, blockading ports and coastal areas with patrolling ships to prevent the blockade runners from getting through and to advance the land and river campaign by taking vital river ports and towns (Richmond and Atlanta) by force thus reducing the effectiveness of the Confederacy.

The victory conditions are for the Union to capture at least 16 Confederate cities, one of which must be Richmond or Atlanta as well as all the green river ports, with the Confederacy is in a negative VP score. The Rebels have only to prevent this to win. There is also an Union "instant win" condition by capturing Richmond AND Atlanta while controlling the Mississippi river ports at the same time that the Confederacy has the negative VP score.


First impressions of the game - The map looks good but it is a fold out paper map, rather than cardboard mounted, so was a little disappointed in that aspect - but the graphics look great and have the names of all the Union places/generals etc facing the Union player and the Rebels facing the other way, so all information relative to each player is easy to see, which is clever. The pieces look good as do the playing cards. There is quite a wide variety of cards on offer as well, so gives the game good replayability



So on the weekend I was playing the rebel confederates while Andrew was playing the Union side, I had some good luck with my blockade runners and raiders early on, while Andy massed river boats and assaulted up the Mississippi river and captured all the vital river ports, and then across inland to Atlanta, but he was denied the overall win as he failed to take Richmond from me and I rarely dropped into the negative victory points, but it was a close run thing, and my cards were good to me in the dying turns.


A detailed look into the game then :

The movement of ships are links between Mississippi River ports, Ocean Ports, Blockade stations, coastal and ocean spaces and each type of ship has different movement values. There are five types of ships - Rebel Blockade runners - these spend most of their time running the gauntlet of the blockade stations to get vital cargo through, then there are the Rebel Raiders - which raid sea zones and the vital whaling zones. Stopping them is the Union Sloop-ships which are forever on search and destroy missions in the coastal and ocean spaces. Their movement points can be spent to search as well as to intensify a search. You can use different methods to search with groups of or individual searches. They can enter the river but only as far as Vicksburg. The other ships are the Ironclads and the Gun boats which both sides are allowed, both can only move in rivers and coastal sea zones only, and the Ironclad must be towed at sea. The gun boats help in the protection of the blockade stations and is useful for attacking batteries and other gun boats up the river. The Ironclads are very hard to kill in assaults making them very valuable in defeating / defending vital ports and river ways.

Combat is rather easy to work out, where ships roll a number of attack dice depending on type and also whether it is sheilded or not by batteries or Ironclads. There are different combinations of ship-to-ship, ship vs. battery and mixed battles, with some ships "protecting" others and so forth. Combat lasts until all ships are destroyed or retreat, with limitations on retreating based on where the combat occurs.

Land combat consists of a die roll between each player, basically a comparative die roll, with the highest die roll chosen from a number of dice which varies with year and card play modifiers. There's an option for the Union to trade dice for a +1 on the die roll (up to a maximum of 3) and a extra bonus for rolling doubles, triples or quadruples.


Reinforcements come in the form of year-variable build points, which are converted to various types of vessels. The rebel also get 2 free batteries each turn and the Union receive 2 guns boat a turn, as well as two amphibious/land assault pawns per turn. Advance planning is needed here so that you have enough assault pawns,  as you have to "buy" extra assault pawns (which allow you to conduct land and amphibious assaults) the turn before - the Union can buy two more for a total of four. The Confederacy has only one counter-attack pawn and has to pay in advance, and paying in advance for an Assault marker that you might not have the opportunity to use (or worse, use and fail) is a tricky consideration.

The supply is rather simple as well, its called "withering on the vine" in the game as it is when Rebel river forts and inland forts are not connected from a previous assault by the Union and is cut off, so depletes vital VP's from the confederacy by rolling two dice (or 3 sometimes) and taking the difference between them.

Cards are played to create permanent or temporary global (or location/situation specific) effects - i.e. Some cards prevent the play of other cards, some cards cancel the effects of others, some cards allow ongoing benefits or penalties. Others are combat specific, being played in certain circumstances in combat to add modifiers (various "named" ship cards), take units out of play or modify their abilities or to add (or remove) dice used in assaults.




Still others add or subtract build points or allow "free builds" of units, there are also cards which represent leaders in play and add dice to assaults in certain locations.

You can play cards at any time unless a specific phase or situation is dictated on the card - and a fairly detailed hierarchy of play order is specified - we never ran into ambiguity on that count.

You are dealt three cards to start, and then gain another three cards during the build phase of each turn, unless the Confederate player has negative VPs (in which case only two cards are added) and in later 1864 turns, when the Union player gets four cards. Cards played are not replaced (except by specific card instructions to do so) so hand management and play of cards are important. Your hand limit is six cards, which is enforced towards the end of the build phase.


There are a multitude of strategies that come to mind when playing the Union side on how to win the game, the first is to smother all the 6 vital coastal areas with ship sloops and make it harder for the blockade runners to get through, while capturing vital remote sea ports such as Key west. Another is too concentrate on the Mississippi (as Andrew had done) and sweep inland. Another would be to take Richmond early on and thus capturing their capital for which looses them vital points each turn as their supply roll has an extra die.

 The game has lots of different ways of playing it I feel, so looking forward to the next game.