Saturday, April 13, 2013

Today's Saga battle: Vikings vs. Scots, round 2

Two games, the crossing the bridges scenario and the hold the sacred ground scenario.  Six points each, my Vikings and Bill's Scots.  Bill's shooting and my lousy dice rolling cost me the bridge game, but my incredible die rolling and some general bad luck on Bill's part cost him the second.  So to date, we're both 2-2 in this game.

Here's some pics:

Anyone having trouble getting to Cyborg Trucker's blog?

Google Chrome is consistently blocking Cyborg Trucker's blog on the grounds that it has malware content.  Since I really don't want to risk going, I can't inform the blog owner of this problem.  It's been this way for a couple of weeks.  Is anyone else having this problem, or perhaps could let him know?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday update: Viking Bondi

I had really hoped to be making more headway on these guys over the last two days, but it didn't work out. Their flesh and some of their clothes are base coated but that's it. Hopefully I can make serious headway on Friday.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Recruits 2013: Rum Luck

So I've never been to Recruits before, and in fact haven't been to a wargaming convention in ages, but Bill over at Wargaming from an Armchair talked me into going despite the fact that he couldn't be there himself.  Recruits is located in a high school gymnasium in Lees Summit, MO, just about an hour from where I live.  Because of some schedule issues I knew I'd be able to get there in time for the 9-12 session Saturday, bum around the sellers' booths for a bit, then head back home.

After meeting the Baron for the first time (and learning that his game was already full) I wandered over to a guy putting together a pirate game with some truly outstanding looking ships.  Apparently the game, using the Warhammer Historical pirate rules Legend of the High Seas, was a bit of a demo for the company, Laser Dream Works.  Like I said, the ships looked great and the pirate miniatures were very well painted.  The rules were pretty easy to learn, being derivative of the Lord of the Rings rules.

The scenario was a large British ship and a small on-shore contingent of marines were being attacked by three small pirate ships in hopes of overtaking her.  Where the game fell apart was that the large ship had been given large cannons, which were capable of blasting apart a small ship in two shots easily, while the small ships had small cannons that couldn't sink the ship even after it had been hit a dozen times.

Unfortunately my crew, in an attempt to quickly close with the ship and get into melee combat took an early cannon ball, lost half its hull points, and then my captain failed a courage check and the crew dove into the sea.  By the end of the game the pirate crew (short a few members who couldn't swim) made their way to an island, where they fought and lost to the on-shore contingent of marines.

Here's my collection of pics from the game.

That would be my crew, abandoning ship despite not a single person being killed.

There was a lot of good humor and gentlemen at the game, so I had a great time.  I cruised the vendors but didn't see anything that demanded my attention except a couple of cheap used AD&D sourcebooks.  I may have to order a viking ship from Laser Dream Works, though.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My thoughts on Saga

I promised some initial feedback following my first two games of Saga: the Viking Age.  Both games were played with four points, a bit small for Saga, but still good to get a feel of the game.

My first thought is how large a role dice play in the game.  Not the Saga dice, which I'll get to later, but just general dice rolling.  Most units, placed head to head, are going to be fairly balanced, first because there is not that much difference between the two main units (Hearthguard and Warriors) but that any advantage Hearthguard have is likely balanced out by numbers.  Some math wonk can tell me what the odds are of eight warriors rolling a 5 or a 6 on a d6 versus six hearthguard rolling a 4, 5, or 6, but in game terms it felt like I could run a hearthguard unit into a warrior unit and have them win, then do the exact same thing again and have them lose.  That's a randomness which could appeal to some but be off-putting to others.

The difference, really, is in the Saga dice, which for those who don't know are the special army-specific dice which are rolled each turn and then used to "empower" your army at various times.  In addition to just simply activating units, the dice can do things like improve a unit's abilities in combat, remove small units of your opponent out of play entirely, etc.  With unit vs. unit combat being fairly balanced, the effect of the special abilities can make a significant difference.

These abilities vary depending on the army and its shall we say stereotypical qualities.  My Vikings, for example, had abilities that more often than not aided them in their offense, while the Scots seemed to have abilities related to defense and maneuverability.  With the small number of dice being rolled (it's related to army size) we didn't see too many "high power" abilities being used, but I could definitely see the ability to re-roll misses and the ability to negate an opponent unit's shooting for one turn to become my "bread and butter" moves.

Because of the importance of the Saga dice, warlords become very important because they don't count towards the army's point total but generate two dice (the same as two whole units of warriors or hearthguard).  A warlord is impressive in close combat, practically a unit unto himself, but losing twice the number of dice should he die will make you think twice about deploying him recklessly.  Plus some scenarios revolve around preserving him.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the game plays out at six points, and what kind of difference that makes.  I'm curious to see if levies have any real tangible value except to chip away at units before they get into close combat.  And I'm curious about the different scenarios, which affect gameplay and strategy substantially, at least as it looks on paper.

The game has its downside, the top of which is the funky dice, or rather the price.  For that matter, it isn't the cheapest game: the rulebook and a single set of dice (which only work for one army) will start you off at $60.  But the game is very playable and fun, and doesn't take a long time to bang out a game.  I played twice, slowly going through rules, and had lunch in there over a five-hour period.  And there was a lot of conversation in there too, so it really probably works out to about an hour a game.

In short, I like it.

Wednesday Update: Viking Bondi

The Viking Bondi are attached to their base, had grit applied to the base, and are primed black.


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