Wednesday, 24 September 2014

SAGACON 2014


I will be attending a 5 round Saga tournament this weekend called Sagacon. The tournament will be held in my home town of Upper Hutt and has 12 players registered which, while not as many as last year, will still prove to be good local turnout for the tournament. I will be using the Pagan Rus Warband from the Varjazi and Basileus supplement book. Andrew (my brother) will be using a mounted Bretons force

We had to give our Warlords each a name so hence fourth the Pagan Rus faction will be led by the mighty Khargan "Vladislav the 'Orrible".
Vladislav and his 8 trusted and most loyal Varjazis men with their best chain-mail armour and winter pelt coats will as always be rearing for a good scrap. Also his 3 strong units of his tough warriors loyal to his house will be assembled and ready to fight for their Lord. The Khargan has also demanded that the slaves of the village will join in the fun, no doubt they will bring along their javelins to chuck at the enemy before they scamper away and let the real men start their fighting in the dreaded sheildwalls of battle.


I have been using the Pagan Rus faction for a while now in games against my brother, so hopefully I will have a good understanding of the Rus battle board for the tournament. That's the key for being good at playing Saga games I feel, to have a good knowledge of own battleboard and a decent understanding of your enemies board so know what nasty tricks he can get up to.

So far we have the following factions involved :
Crusaders (from C & C book)
Normans led by William the Bastard
Vikings led by Harald
Vikings led by Harald
Welsh led by Maradudd
JomsVikings led by Sigvaldi
Anglo-Saxons
Byzantines
Vikings
Carolingian Franks led by Charlemagne
Bretons
and Pagan Rus

So, looking forward to the weekends gaming ahead of me being the only Saga tournament for the year, hopefully I can get some wins in there, but with only having played against my brother since last years tournament (get to play once or even twice a week lately) it should prove interesting to see how other players will play their warbands and what tactics they get up to.
I would ideally like to set up a Saga games night maybe each fortnight to play different people, but everyone always seem too busy during week nights, and the local wargames club meets on Saturdays which is a sailing day for us so can not attend, frustrating but oh well you cant have everything.

So wish me luck ! unless your a local and playing that is ...
then some smack talk in order instead !

Cheers
Mark.


Friday, 12 September 2014

NEW SAGA BATTLE TABLE TOP .... AND ALFRED THE GREAT MODEL PAINTED UP

Having to play most Saga missions on a 4" x 3" table size, Andrew and I thought we would make up a purpose built top to play on. It would save us the hassle of marking out the table edge every time, and it would look good if we match the colour to our terrain and figure bases.

So with an old 10mm MDF sheet cut to length and some Polyfiller and paint added we have a table to play on. I think it come out rather well, placed some grass tuffs and some pebbles in places but kept it to a minimum, with the idea of being able to place terrain on top when required. Certainly gives the game a much better look and defined area when playing.

The Table top

With some terrain placed on top

Close up of the tuffs and stuff
Also got my Anglo-Saxon Warrior - Alfred the Great all painted up




Wednesday, 10 September 2014

CRESCENT AND CROSS SAGA BOOK - A QUICK REVIEW


A few weeks ago now, I got my copy of the new Saga Crescent and Cross book that has been recently released, and have I have to say its very very good ! needless to say my brother Andrew and I have had numerous games trying out the new factions involved - my pick is the Moors, they have some really neat abilities, I also like the Crusader Faction as well.

The artwork on the cover and inside looks very nice and being a hardback book is also a bonus. They have completely redone/rewritten the rules to make it more clear and far easier to read. The Artist of the book has done an excellent job - love the image of the Milties Christi character. Also the photos of the models and terrain is epic, love the castle and damaged walls, could be a taste of what the later crusades could be about.

Those of you who have read the old rule-book you will quickly notice they have replaced the old Ragnar advice box with a new some what classy Islamic character Hashim ibn Khalid ibn Abad ..... he reminds me of the Antonio Banderas character Ahmad ibn Fadlan in 13th Warrior movie. They have kept the friendly figure of Ragnar with his advice box in the book, but they have placed him only when there is new or additional rules to the old Saga rule book calling him the old Veteran.....  The only thing about the new character, he doesn't give a quick guide or low down of what he thinks of each faction, which I think is sorely missing.


The new battle-boards look great with their new layout in my opinion, as they have taken the common abilities and put them across the top, which leaves more room for each of the abilities text so makes it clearer.

There are 6 new factions covered in the book which are evenly split between the Christians being the Crusaders, Milites Christi and Spanish, and the Islamic factions being the Saracens, Moors and the Mutatawwia

The Moors: - are all about influencing your enemy through corruption, discord, doubts and even betrayal ... my favorite
The Saracens: - depend a lot on rolling two D6 for their skills, so has a nice randomness to it. Depending on the skill and what you rolled it could be very helpful but with some skills also benefiting the enemy where the lesser dice is given to them.
The Mutatawwia: - are a bunch of suicidal religious fanatics, their battle board has skills where you place the required dice but you also need to sacrifice one of your men from that unit to benefit from that skill, sounds crazy I know, but in doing so they gain a martyr token, which they can use to bring figures back as part of a melee/reaction. Not so sure about this faction - you would have to be calculating player to make sure you dont loose uncessary points in order to do some skills. They only have Hearthguard and Warriors in their force.
The Spanish: - they cancel certain activation for both shooting and movement and also can remove the opponents Saga dice from his battleboard, Nasty! . One skill I like was the Light Horses skill where you can shoot with javelins before you move, then move and shoot again with javelins and the units armour is reduced by one NICE.
The Crusaders: - These have Virtues, where upon yu gain by rolling Saga dice before your turn begins, but with rolling dice for this you then limit the dice rolled you can roll on your battleboard. You can only use skills that you have the virtues to do so with.
Milites Christi: - These have a piety level (similar to JomsViking wrath I guess) they raise this level by placing dice in thier prayers skill (which can only be used once), which when more dice from this skill is discarded than your current piety you gain one level.The remaining abilities depend on what level you have the more benefit you gain.
They also only have Hearthguard and Warriors in their force

Priests - I have yet to try these Priest rules out in a game but they do look interesting - you can also take them in the Viking age game but they would be called Shamens & Soothsayers or Druids and the like. You can also replace your Warlord with a Priest, this is probably the option I would take as it doesn't cost you a point, where a priest is a point.  There is 3 variations of Priest you can take - one is a warrior priest, one enables you to roll extra dice, and one enables you to change the face of dice in the orders phase.

You also get some fancy new Dogs of War units - Bedouin Camel Scouts, Daylami, Troubadour, Turcopoles, Naffatan teams and Fanatical Pilgrims to name a few.
Naffatan Teams , these guys are simply crazy and somewhat dangerous to friend or foe, but man they can dish out some hurt !! Andy placed them in his Saracen army and had used them to very good effect.



Camels are a great new addition and the models look great, and have some cool rules, they drop an armour value for mounted in shooting but also in melee as well. When they engage horse mounted units in melee they make the horse unit halve there number of attacks ... nasty. Another new rule is that when Horses enter uneven terrain, they receive a fatigue marker at the end of the movement, camels do not suffer this penalty, its nice to be a camel.


Also Levy crossbowmen - they have a special rule where, when they shoot they get a fatigue counter at the end of the shooting. I can see them get exhausted quite fast.



The Moors, I can easily see these guys fast becoming my next faction I collect. They have some really cool ability's with the new plastic and metal figures look great.
I plan to go in to more detail in separate post once I have more time.

Thanks for reading
Cheers


Friday, 5 September 2014

CALL TO ARMS ... THE AFTERMATH


Well back from another good Early War Flames of War tournament held at Call to Arms in Wellington, I was using my brothers Polish Piechoty force and I must say I really enjoyed playing them.


Playing Early War has to be my favorite period for Flames of War, as it is a time for many of the nationalities of WW2 to try out their experimental weapons/tanks and tactics, often with disastrous results and some with devastating results (the tank charge through the Ardennes springs to mind) You also have some very interesting looking and also the weird and wacky tank designs such as the Russian T-35 and my personnel favorite the KV-2, the twin MG turret Polish 7TP-dw tanks - of which was a joy to use in this Polish force. Having only rifles fending off a main battle tank charge is what its all about in early war, so much fun.

The tournament pitted me against some great opponents and I had some great close games which was good, there was one game that was just plain horrible but against a nice chap (just the army was horrible). All my troops were fearless trained which was nice and I had used my bypass unit and night attack rules during some of the games, and countless times of using my Fate of a Nation special rule.

So, onto the games in detail then, well that is from what I can recall from 2 weeks ago that is.

DAY ONE
Game One: Fighting Withdrawal
Was against young Alex Martin who was using a nice but rather small German Kradschutchen force which had some fairly later stages of early war tanks in his force with one Panzer III G and two being the mighty Panzer III H .. with its heavy front armour 4 and ROF 3 AT7 guns !
He had two large motorcycle platoons and some nasty Pak 38 guns and 2 HMG guns. The table was in my favour as it had a large church in the middle to spring ambushes from which was to be my 7TP-dw tanks. I deployed as one would expect with artillery guns and infantry in middle with AT platoon and infantry platoon on each flank.
Alex pushed up with his motorcycles with the recon move but then decided to dismount in his first turn, which I must admit surprised me as their was an opportunity to rush one flank with their superior movement if mounted. He deployed his AT guns behind a hedge on the extreme left with HMG guns mingled within and used these to lend fire support for his attack there. I sprang my ambush behind church and moved within sight of the infantry blob but outside view of his tanks and AT guns, and managed to mow down 5 stands of infantry - love these tanks already - the look on Alex's face when I picked up 30 MG dice in my hands, priceless !
My infantry on the left was involved in several melee actions during the course of the game, but I was able to push Alex's troops off, as Alex was rolling some awful motivation dice. I eventually lost my tanks to Alex's Panzers but they did there job and as I had 9 platoons I could afford to loose them. So in the end it was a 6- 1 win to me, a good start for sure

Game Two: Dust Up
Up against Bede Bailey who was using a German Gebirsjager Infantry force


Bedes lovely painted force of Mountaineering troops


Deployment done with me on close left side with 
Bede is a very good tournament player so this game was going to be tough. I had decided to not use my Bypass rule as I wanted to defend my quarter with max units being two infantry platoons, a AT and my Artillery platoon, but with not using the Bypass in this game was in hindsight I think a big mistake, as Bede has a tendency to be a somewhat defensive type player, so I should of guessed he would of pulled his reserve units over to help the defense of his own objective rather than press onto my own, so I wasted a possible good opportunity there. I opted to use the night fight rule the EW poles have, but as the first 3 turns was uneventful and dawn arrived on my turn 3 ! it was wasted somewhat, my cavalry reserve arrived and saw a chance to exploit the somewhat weak extreme right side (the wood in the middle of the photo) If I could assault the 3 inf teams in that and then rush his artillery that would be good, so my cavalry rush on launch a daring assault with Bede rolling 5 defensive fire dice, of which all 5 hit (poo) and then to cap it off I fail all my saves (double poo) - so much for that idea then !
Bede's reserves started to flow on in the form of his Panzer II tanks which slowly made their way across to his side of the quarter to help out his defense, His pak guns and pioneer unit stayed their to keep my infantry busy. Meanwhile despite my cavalry dying to MG fire, my 7TP-dw tanks and infantry platoon come on and took up residence in the small wood pushing aside the infantry platoon there, but alas try as I might I just couldn't shift the guns and Panzer II tanks, and in doing so Bede begun taking out my units, effectively breaking my army. So a good result for Bede winning 5-2, a good game - just wish I placed the bypass unit in reserve in the start !!

Game Three: Breakthrough
A Breakthrough mission played against Warren Hart who was running a large German SS Infantry force. Warren is a good player who I really enjoy playing against, as Warren always has some very amusing banter to be had while playing, which makes the game a very relaxed atmosphere which is always good especially to the end of a long tournament day.

Warren was running a Blitzkrieg SS force so was all fearless trained troops, had 2 units of Infantry, 2 units of 4 HMG's, 2 units of Pak 36 guns, 6 mortar tubes and a couple of 88 guns.
He also had priority air support with the bonus bit (forgot its name) where you roll two aircraft dice and pick the best one.

I was defending on a nice desert table with lots of buildings and small walls and a nice looking mosque , I placed 2 platoons of my infantry on the flanks of my quarter so they would advance onto the objectives, also placed some AT guns to help them out. My Artillery was nicely protected by the numerous buildings in my quarter, My tanks and cavalry unit also hid among the buildings as they didn't want to be caught out by the German air-power. Warren places his 6 mortar tubes and 2 units of HMG on a central hill and one unit of infantry ready to advance on the town. Everything else was put in the flank delayed reserve. The first couple of turns saw Warrens air support wreck havoc on my infantry blobs moving to the objective, but my tanks were having a jolly time machine gunning Warrens infantry platoon, and then the cavalry moved up and killed them all. His planes then took revenge and killed a couple of cavalry stands and a few tanks.
Warrens first reserve turned up, a infantry platoon which quickly took up residence next to my platoon that stubbornly refused to dig in, needless to say they got assaulted and then they obviously thought they had enough so I had to withdraw them to a nearby tree line. I move my next unit up to contest the objective, then realized that the objective isn't live till turn 6, panic over !
Meanwhile Warrens planes are still giving my some headaches, but I manage to get my tanks and cav unit into his mortars and a HMG unit, so lots of action in this game so far.
Warren jumps up a gear and starts to clear me off and around the objective so he can claim victory as its now turn 6. I move my 2IC up to contest the objective through a narrow corridor of his troops and is just within 4". We eventually get told time is up, we both look at each other and ask where has 2.5 hours gone - I end up with a solid 5-2 win



Saturday nights entertainment
Spent the Saturday night playing board games with young Issac inviting himself over - as  Issac was staying around the corner from us in Upper Hutt (he was visiting family in the area, being a Hamiltonian lad) So had a couple games of playing Castles of Burgundy - great game !  Issac was a quick learner - although starting off slowly to earn points by the time he finished he was miles in the lead leaving myself and Andy behind fighting for second place. So much for going easy on the beginner (well that's what I tell myself at any rate).

DAY TWO
Game Four: Free for All
Game was against John Fletcher, a good player who is also a fellow blogger and a good mate. I have known John for 15-20 years at a guess, going way back to when I belonged to the Waniuomata Grey Knights club, where I headed over the hill once a week on Friday nights to play 40k and Warhammer and when Flames of War was in its infancy with its version 1 days, good times.
A busy but good table, lots of cover to be had.
Needless to say I was in for another great game against his new horde of Russian Strelkovy backed up by two companies of 45mm guns, 76mm Artillery and 2 T-35 monsters.
John has done a smashing job and written up a nice report already for this game on his blog, so press the link here to found out what happens.
There was many assaults and blood shed on both sides so was a very exciting game, I managed to bring my bypass unit in turn 5 or 6, coming on right where I needed them to, so was fairly lucky as they allowed me to grab the objective to get the win.
I won 6-1 only having lost one platoon, but having said that the score doesn't reflect how close this game was, as I passed more than a few platoon motivation tests to stay on the table, so the game could of easily gone the other way.

Game Five: No Retreat
I now found myself playing for first place in the final game !!
(I know right - who would of thought it) ..... So I was up against Issac who was a few points ahead of me, so I had to win with a big margin to get the top prize.

I have known Issac for many years now, as I have spent many years going to the Hamilton annual Early War Rallypoint event in the past, with Issac travelling down to Wellington for this event so was good to get to play him.  Issac was running a Jap tank force, I had been involved in play testing the Japanese force, but I was mostly playing the Jap infantry force as others were concentrating on the tanks, so I knew they were are hard bunch to crack with some neat night fighting abilities, but OH MY GOD !!! the tanks ... are quite a horrible bunch if I am honest as the Jap tank special rules allows the tank while bailed of bogged to still get to hit in close combat, now that might not sound that bad with one platoon but when Issac runs 6 platoons of the buggers that's quite nasty.
Issac's force (for some unknown reason the photo refuses to rotate for me- sorry)
The deployment with me in the shattered town
I deployed two infantry platoons within the ruined town buildings spanning between the two objectives which are deployed with one back at central building at rear and forward building next to the dice in the photo, I also place the Artillery along the 3 main buildings in middle with AT guns in ambush. Predictably Issac forms up his tanks on one side - there's so many and its also night time. The Japs push forward with the two AT guns and infantry doubling at night forward. My turn and I place my ambush within the front buildings - I roll to see how far my guns can see - I roll nothing over a 3 - so only 12" not very far so no shooting ..... not a good start then. The following few turns saw the Jap tanks effectively and efficiently destroying my gun teams for minimum return fire. my reserves arrive in the form of more AT guns but being night time they can only slowly move forward. Issac then starts to launch a relentless series of assaults into the buildings to kill my infantry, some bog on the way but this is no way a hindrance, and when I hit back I bail some, but my motivation tests let me down and I have to fall back, I bring up my tanks but being only armed with MG I can only contest the objective, and hope I double bail his tanks, a long shot I think. Eventually the Japs move into the town pushing back infantry and guns and killing my tanks leaving the objective in the nasty Japanese hands.

I think I had in hindsight stuffed up my choices for the units to be kept on the table and the ones for my reserves  in this game! I thought if I had two units of Infantry I could keep out the tanks out of the town and then push the guns into firing positions to keep them at bay. What I should of done is place all my AT guns on the table and place my infantry and tanks in reserve. Would of been a lot better, but that's hindsight for you, and you can always learn more the hard way in my view so with this I now know better for the next time. A good solid win for Issac ... 6-1 win


I ended up placing 4th in the end out of 20 players, so a very good finish for myself using my brothers Early War Poles , Andy has since told me that's probably the last time I get to borrow them if I do that well with them .. haha he finished in 13th place. So until next time - hopefully we might see more early war at Call to Arms next year, especially with the long waited Barbarossa book coming out soon .

Monday, 1 September 2014

WEEK OFF WORK - SAILING

Its been a while since I have posted anything on here ! but I have a good excuss

 I have spent the last week off work on holiday with most of it sailing in the lovely Wellington Harbour, as my brother Andrew has recently brought a new Trailer Yacht - Elliott 7 class Yacht. The Elliott 7 is a Sports class Trailer Yacht that is 7m long (hence the name)  The boat is easy to sail (especially with us being mad keen dinghy sailors ) and can be sailed with a minimum of 2 to 5 crew, with 4 crew being the optimum for racing conditions which is what we eventually want to get in to.

Thats me skippering, I like doing the crew work mostly but
occasionally I get to skipper when Andy lets me!

Brought it in mid July and have been out in the harbour sailing some weekends weather permitting sailing with my nephew and father, but thought we would take a week off to get some serious sailing done, and what a week it was, very nice weather for this time of year in Wellington (usually its windy and wet), but we were fortunate to have a nice 10-15 knot southerly and easterly winds in sunshine for the most part with one day of variable 5 knot winds so very lucky.... even got sun burnt one day! well its not hard for me being a red head I guess


So we had got to go out sailing for 6 days over the time off taken, mostly 2 handed with just Andy and myself and 2 days with my Dad also sailing with us which was fun. Sailed around Sommes Island and Ward Island, off the shore of Evans Bay/Oriental Parade and even out to the heads one day.

Also to break up the weeks sailing we traveled up to Turoa Ski field for a day, which was a sunny clear mountain with a good abundance of snow ! was a good day but leaving home at 4am (3.5 hours drive) and arriving back at 8pm made it a very long day indeed, needless to say had a good nights sleep.


Blog Stuff to follow - SAGA and CALLS TO ARMS WRAP UP
So... I will endeavor to spend some time this week when I can to get some posts about War-gaming and such done. I have not done much painting but have made a start on my Rus Princes Saga force, also I have brought a copy of the new Saga Crescent and Cross book and I have to say the book is very good, it clearly defines the rules with good diagrams and is well worded compared to the original Saga book. The new factions outlined in the new book look great and I will soon write a review of the Moors Faction, as I am very keen to start this faction, they have some pretty good abilities.
Andrew and myself have spent some nights last week playing the new factions (using proxy models) and playing the new missions as well. Lots of fun especially with the new endless warbands rule in play (get to recycle your troops).
Also have to write up a quick review of my games I played at the recent FOW Call to Arms Tournament ...... so lots to do so stay tuned.

Cheers
Mark