Late Romans vs. Saxons
Fellow gamer Timo from our Nopat & Taktiikka Club had also acquired the newish Arthur & Aetius source book for Saga and a bunch of Saxon miniatures (OK, I sold some of them for him). When he suggested in August, that we would give the Limes Campaign System a go, I had no reason to say no!
Read on to learn how we prepared for the campaign and how the first
Then it was time to make the pregame phase choices, I had 10 time units (TU) to spend (based on the value of the choices Timo had made for his barbarians). In this campaign system the defending player (in this case my Romans) has a six point army to start with - and has to continue with the same army, replacing fallen legionaires with new recruitments bought with TU - while the Barbarian Attacker makes choices each "winter" to rebuild his forces and to play nasty stratagems... After hard studying of different Frontier Works and Preparations -choices, I opted to immediately complete two buildings:
Watchtower: to able to know the choices the barbarian player makes during the preparations and to allow me to place a building on my deployment zone
Granary: to counter (make more expensive) some of the nastiest stratagems the barbarians have.
Army: I could only recruit on foot HG and warriors, so I went for a large unit of 9 HG (one extra gained from Granary) and 32 warriors + the Warlord of course.
Here's how my campaign roster looked (ok, this is actually after the first game with casualties removed):
In this standard scenario for the campaign, barbarians get points for units (2 points each) and models (equal to slaughtering points) exiting the battlefield from the Roman table edge. Romans get VP simply for slaughtering the barbarians.
Timo had built a 6 point warband with WL, 8 HG and 24 warriors and 12 levies with slings. He had chosen stratagems to give him 6" longer DZ (Mist) and Dawn Attack, which reduced shooting ranges to short (4") for the first round and a stratagem that extended the game duration from 5 to 6 rounds.
I placed 2 X 8 warriors with bows in my buildings (The Roman fort in the back just indicates the edge of the battle field), 12 warriors in my right flank (left in this picture), 4 warriors in the middle (die reserve) and my WL with the 9 HG next to the watchtower in my left flank. Barbarians had lot of small units, there were 5 small units of warriors to the front, 2 X 4 HG in the back with the WL and 12 levies hiding in the forest to the right.
I got to start the game and as my shooters were obsolete due to the dawn attack stratagem, I chose to spend most of dice to my HG; the sweeped forward in the left flank, stopped for a moment to rain some darts on the Saxon levies and then proceeded to charge them! All but two levy peasants were put to the sword and spear! One elite legionaire fell.
In the end they rallied around the banner to lose one fatigue.
On my right flank the large warrior unit moved into position, with their flank covered by the forest - ready to intercept on anyone trying to make a run for it...
Saxons watching with ignorance as their peasant slaves
Saxons sent a small warrior unit to counter my HG. Only one
of these fools survived the encounter, but this time their Saxons tricks
(Death is nothing) took down 3 of my HG!
As this attack had been boosted with several abilities, rest of the Saxon army just stood in their places... I thought their goal was to push though my table edge!
Round 2. WIPAs most of the Saxon battle line was still standing in their starting positions I decided to press this advantage and keep them reacting to my "playbook". My large warrior unit moved block the route and showered Saxons with darts - mainly to harass and to annoy them...
My HG also pressed forward, one man warrior unit and two man levy unit were just too easy prey not to be taken out. None of elite was lost in these swift melees. This also "donated" some fatigue to nearby Saxon units. Obviously this was a risky move as it left my HG stranded and fatigued in their own and facing a seriously enraged Saxon horde. Then again, should Timo send forces against my HG, they would be moving to a wrong direction considering the scenario targets. Biggest risk for me would be to loose too many HG as they are costly t replace in the campaign...
Situation in the end of my Turn 2.
My flank move and the slaughtering of two Saxon units had clearly irritated the Saxon WL as
he sent his HG to attack them
I chose a defensive stand and switched half of my attack dice to 3 extra defense dice.
I took 5 hits and unfortunately managed only to negate one of them 8 dice!!!
Only my tesserarius was left standing. Oh dear!
In my right flank my large unit had been attacked by Saxons as well and casualties had been suffered on both sides. Finally the Saxons were slowly moving forward.
Round 3. / Mid gameSaxon Warlord committed himself and his bodyguard and attacked my warriors on the right flank. Several of my warriors fell, but the cost for Saxons was dear: all remaining Saxon HG went down and their WL was left a bit stranded.
As it my turn again my warriors rested and then charged the fatigued warlord. Him having a fatigue and my warriors not was critical because I could use the combo of dropping his AV to 4 with F and then using the Roman BB ability to be able to turn the result of 3 dice to match my current Impetus (4).
In this way I was able to deliver so many hits on the WL, that after his not so god save rolls even using two "human shields" from nearby units would not have saved him.
This was obviously a suicide mission, even if one very valuable. Last of my large warrior unit was moved down by the Saxon HG unit, that finally arrived from their detour...
So far only one Saxon unit with 3 warriors had made it through to my table edge (giving 2 +1,5 VP)
and as my victory points through slaughtering very closing on 20, Timo really needed to think what would the best outcome he could get out of this: making the gap in VP smaller to avoid dramatic drop in the Saxon determination or to take out as many Romans as possible to make my life harder in future battles of the campaign.
He chose to try to first option and dashed his HG towards my table edge, while my Centurion (WL) moved forward with my warrior reserve.
Then one of those classic wargaming occurrances took place: a single Saxon warrior survived 2 charges from my 4 warriors and one charge from my warlord!!! This burned my dice and my Centurion couldn't charge the escaping Saxon HG with my bow armed warriors (in the building)...
So my archers had to take their chances without their Centaurion... luckily the stars were once again posed correctly for the now infamous combo of fatigue usage and the "By this sign..." ability. All the Saxon HG were taken out by my archers! This was truly adding insult to injury!
As a final icing for my victory cake my Centurion (very much WIP)
took out the annoying Saxon warrior, whom had stood on his way so defiantly.
Brutal and total...
- My Romans had just won a total victory: the difference in VP was more than 13 (around 20) and this meant that barbarian resolve would drop by 5 (from 10, if it reaches 0 the campaign is lost)
- The cost of victory was high: 8 / 9 HG were casualties and almost half of my 32 warriors as well
- After throwing casualty rolls I had 4 HG and 25 Warriors standing. 5 HG and 7 warriors were buried as heroes with Roman ceremonies
- I think I had won the game before it started. This was Timo's 3rd game of Saga and he was still very much in the learning process. This was clearly demonstrated in him splitting his forces in so many small units. I can understand this tactic through some of the Saxon abilities, like "Death is nothing", where you can use small units to cause auto hits to larger / more elite enemy units
- And as gaining plenty of VP for crossing my table edge, since the attacker gets 2 VP for each UNIT crossing the TE as well as the slaughtering points as per the value of models
- BUT this resulted in a situation, where Timo simply didn't have enough dice to move his units (he consistently failed to roll any rare symbols for 3 rounds!) AND small units were no match for my larger / more elite Roman units AND were very vulnerable to my shooting; warrior unit with 2 models is really not worth spending Saga dice on.
- In addition to that, my bold, if costly, flank move with HG distracted him from any battle plan he might have had, and kept him reacting to my moves
- I think he should have just rushed forward with larger units - I guess he was a bit intimidated by my two archer units in the buildings. Should he have dashed forward in one "shield wall", my shooting would not have had enough impact to stop him
You can follow our campaign progress on a project page here.