Monday, 9 January 2017

Saga Age of the Wolf first impressions

The start of the year means a new resolve on gaming for me, to play more often. My regular opponent suggested we try Saga Age of the Wolf. I love Saga and dark ages gaming, so I was happy to turn up at the dungeon with not one, but two armies.

Age of the Wolf is a campaign system designed for several players, but we only have the two of us interested in this game and this era, so we are taking two armies each. Whenever a player has choices in the campaign, such as who to attack, we let the dice decide. It means we miss out on the scheming and backstabbing of a real player campaign, but we do get to play lots of games and a story develops as we go along, which is just as much fun I reckon - certainly better than just playing random one-off games.

Danish Levy take on Norman crossbows 
One of my factions is the Danes and they ended up raiding against the Normans, so we generated a battle. This turned out to be a new scenario called scouts, one of three or four new battles to try in the book. The units from each force turn up one by one as the game progresses. The Normans thundered forward with a unit of knights, hoping to ride down a unit of Dane levy, but their plans came unstuck when they were showered in a hail of arrows and the unit fell back dismayed and confused. More caution was then exercised, as both sides tried to organise a battle line as troops arrived on the field.

The Danes had an advantage in the early loss of the knights, plus their battle board ability to pile on fatigue to the enemy. They could afford to hold back and wait, while the Normans had to try to rush forward, especially when they came off worse in a missile battle - the Danish archers once more proving their worth, getting the better of Norman crossbow men. Again, this was aided by the excess fatigue piling up on the Norman forces.

Tired Normans face unyielding Danes
The Norman knights finally managed to calm their horse enough to engage and scatter the Danish archers, but they were quickly tiring. The latter stages of the game saw the Normans cantering and galloping around the trees, trying but unable to gain a decisive charge, constantly hampered by fatigue and exhaustion. Eventually, the Norman Lord over-extended and was set upon by the Danish Lord and his bodyguard. His horse crashed to the ground and it was only the quick actions of his nearby knights that rescued him from certain death. He was carried from the battlefield, dazed and bloodied.

After the battle there is a process to go through, as in-game casualties are converted to campaign deaths or injuries - the Norman warlord will be suffering from that serious wound for the rest of the campaign. Both sides managed to recruit more troops, theoretically the Danes did really well here with five new hearthguard joining their ranks while the Normans attracted lowly levy, though a good number of them. Perhaps those extra arrows will pay dividends in future encounters.

This brief report just scratches the surface of what's in the book. I only had a hurried look but it seems well organised and very detailed. Hopefully the campaign will progress well for all four armies - too many campaign systems allow one side to gain such an advantage that the underdogs just give up. It's early days as yet, with just one game played, but I have high hopes for this gaming adventure.


Michał Kucharski said...

I love Saga system, and thanks for the Age of the Wolf review.

Old Fogey said...

Saga is probably my favourite game. A fuller review of the Age of the Wolf coming soon......

Matt Crump said...

Think the Normans need better horses 😀

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