Earlier this month, John and I dared to play a game of Saga: Age of Magic on his back porch. We had physical distancing and a nice breeze, as well as face masks for both of us, so we felt that we had taken all reasonable precautions. After a long drought, we were excited to get some newly painted miniatures onto the battlefield, both for John’s Great Kingdoms army and my Masters of the Underearth (Skaven) warband.
The game was a follow-on to the outcome of our previous game, which saw a rout by a ratmen raiding party harrying the defenders of a fortified village. For this game, the ratmen had secured a slightly more … pungent … booty, in the form of three rotting coffins, each containing the noisome remains of a plague victim. The ratmen were scurrying off with the caskets so that their crazed alchemists could use the bodies to brew up some dastardly poisons. Only the stout defenders of House Begovic stood between the ratmen and their goal!
You can see the caskets, being borne by a swarm of rats, in the photo above. The goal was to escort them across the battlefield and exit through John’s table edge. I’d have to keep moving at a pretty good clip to ensure a reasonable chance of winning. No dithering and no time wasted on fruitless combat!
After deployment, I committed most of my forces to the right flank, as seen in the photo above. I was trying to stay as far away as possible from John’s unit of mounted hearthguard. At eight strong, they were an incredibly powerful and hard-hitting force on the battlefield. Unfortunately, the best I could do was delay their arrival.
So I started maneuvering away from them, angling up the right flank and positioning some of my ratmen as blocking units to slow down the attackers. It worked! For a couple of turns, anyway. My newly painted levies with bows occupied this encampment, staying in cover and delivering fairly effective missile fire throughout the game.
Likewise, this unit of levies shadowed the hearthguard on the opposing flank, always threatening to burst from cover and poke the cavalry with their spears. They actually jumped into combat toward the end of the game and, I think, inflicted some casualties!
The caskets moved slowly, and I had to keep the rest of my force arrayed around them to provide a support. It was only a matter of time before John’s hearthguard caught up to them and surged in for a massive assault.
Oh look! There it is. CHARGE!
The charge wiped out an entire unit of warriors that had been protecting the caskets, leaving the poor little rat swarms dangerously exposed to the thundering hooves of the hearthguard. On my turn, I got incredibly lucky with a pair of quadrupedal creatures, which managed to annihilate about half of the horsemen in a single savage round of attacks.
That combat tilted the game in my favor, at least temporarily.
The quadrupedal creatures are Chaos Centigors from Warhammer Fantasy. I love the miniatures and figured I’d get them onto the battlefield alongside my Skaven. After all, why do we play Saga if not for opportunities to mix and match miniatures from our collections?
After that, the game became a rat race — no pun intended. I had pushed through the initial battle line (at great cost) and now had a slim chance to make a break for John’s table edge.
Unfortunately, my rat swarms were mauled and nearing exhaustion. John still had several highly mobile units that were ultimately able to chase them down and skewer the poor rats one by one. Oh well! I take heart in the knowledge that John’s surviving warriors caught the plague and died horribly after the battle was won.
This game represented a personal best for me in terms of rules comprehension and overall grasp of strategy and tactics. Saga is a really complex game, with a lot of decisions to be made at various points throughout the turn. Playing against a worthy opponent like John requires the utmost attention to detail! I am getting better with the Masters of the Underearth army. I intend to use the same army list for my dwarf army, which will be helpful for digging deeper into the tactics of this particular army. We’re playing again soon — stay tuned for more!