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Skirmish outside Antioch, 1097


The Dark Ages, Saga, 28mm

Last week we played a Second World War skirmish using Bolt Action rules, but like an idiot I forgot my camera. Sorry – I was obviously having a “senior moment”. It was a nice little skirmish set in Normandy – a chance for Alan Bruce to try out the rules. We’ll do it again in a week or so, once he’s had a chance to read them through. So, after jumping a week, we land up in the Middle Ages – with a Saga game set in the Crusades. Saga is a late Dark Age skirmish set, but Alan has Crusading figures, and we decided to try some online amendments to cover the use of Saracens. This was very much an experimental game, using whatever kit Alan had to hand. This included plastic Crusaders from Fireforge, and metal Muslims from the lovely Perry range. Both sides had a 4 figure “hearthguard” (elite) cavalry unit (knights and Mamelukes), 8 “warrior” cavalry ( Arab cavalry and mounted sergeants), an 8 figure “warrior” shot unit (mounted bowmen and foot crossbowmen), plus a 8 figure warrior unit of spearmen apiece. Oh, and we had a mounted leader each.crus-004This being a learning exercise rather than a proper game we both got stuck in right away, with no nice subtleties or feints. My knights charged the Saracen horse archers, but both sides suffered two casualties – not good when you only have four figures in the unit. Another knight fell to bowfire the following turn, leaving me with a solitary knight still in play. Strangely Alan’s Saracens did the same – they charged my mounted sergeants, and got bounced, taking two casualties to one of mine.crus-007So – frontal attacks with your “hearthguard” clearly isn’t a good idea! By now we were learning how to “stack” the Saga battleboard. In Saga, both sides have their own board, and units are activated from it, or given special bonus powers, like extra dice in melee, or a special defensive ability. The basic rules are very simple, but the subtleties of the battleboard will take several games to figure out.crus-010Next up, the Saracen mounted warriors charged my foot sergeants, and amazingly the infantry stood firm. HAving thrown caution to the wind I sent my remaining knight charging into the enemy’s flank, and sent the Saracen noblemen packing. This seemed like a good idea, so having given my Crusading leader special powers I charged my Saracen counterpart, who was accompanied by what remained of his bodyguard. The result – come to think of it – was inevitable. Both leaders were killed after a brief but hard-fought mounted melee, leaving what remained of their little forces floundering around on the tabletop!crus-008In theory we’d both lost, as the objective was to kill the enemy leader. Still, we played another couple of turns, just to get a better handle on the battleboards and Saga dice. My crossbowmen ended the game without any casualties, and my mounted sergeants were still in play, having seen off their Islamic counterparts. Unfortunately their counterparts on foot were busy being driven from the table by the Saracen horse archers, having been seen off by the Saracen spearmen. The game was a small one – four points apiece in Saga terms – but it was very enjoyable. Alan has just bought some nicely painted Normans – ideal for the First Crusade – which might well replace the Third Crusade-era plastic knights. Then we’ll have another game, by which time we might know what we’re doing!crus-006Incidentally, we used the Norman battleboard for the Crusaders, while the Saracen battleboard came from a website where some kind fellows called Tobi and Ax  produced everything we needed for a Saracen battleboard. I made the Saracen dice by putting stickers over regular dice, following their example. Thanks for sharing your efforts, guys!

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