Gigabytes, my favorite game store in the Atlanta area, is a great place to visit when I can get away and look for an authentic game store experience. The store supports a wide variety of sci-fi, fantasy and historical games and they have a new, larger location. Yesterday (Sept 13), the store was the location for a SAGA tournament and so me and another local player made the trip down the interstate to the big city. It was a great day all around, largely because of the expertise of Richard, the tournament organizer and the other players, all a great bunch of gamers.
I had been playing the Irish a lot lately, and I felt like I had a good feel for what they could do.
Game One - Clash of Warlords
Here I played against Vikings. We chose terrain according to bid system in the basic rules and I went for maximum, with four being the result.
I made the most of the terrain throughout the match. Most of my SAGA dice were spent on Sons of Dana (a free shooting) and blocking the opponent with Heirs of Mil (which prevent units from approaching a unit if it is S away). If I had to stand and fight, I tried to make sure I could use Sidh on them.
On turn six, I was probably leading in victory points, and so the opposing warlord took a risk and attacked...but the dogs won.
If this had gone the other way, I did have a unit of hearthguard in reserve that could have double activated and hit the warlord - but as it turned out I was far enough ahead in points to win. In addition to my warlord and two curadhs surviving, a whole unit or warriors and hearthguard survived untouched.
My opponent in this match was Henry at Plastic Pirates. He was a great guy to talk with, and was enthusiastic about the game. Hope to meet him again!
Game Two - Escort
I really, really, really did not want to be the baggage player in this scenario. It was determined by low bid and I stupidly bid 5 points. My opponent was playing Anglo-Danes and with their intimidation and cancellation abilities his desire for the attacker should have been a given.
The set-up: Anglo-Danes closet to the camera, the Irish and baggage on the other side.
Mu whole strategy was to whittle down his units with Sons of Dana. Then, open a lane with levy or warriors protected by Heirs of Mil, and then move the baggage behind it. His strategy was to place fatigues on my baggage, and half their movement or cancel it entirely until the turn count ran out. But, he still had to destroy all three units for an uncontested win.
So I just moved and shielded baggage as best I could. I would like to say that I was intentionally playing for a draw because that was the best I could do against the Anglo-Danes. I could say that, but in reality a good dice roll saved me from a total loss. On the last phase of the last turn, I lost two of the three baggage pieces, and barely survived the third.
Game Three - Sacred Grounds
In this round, my opponent was Skip, who I drove down with and he is my somewhat regular gaming opponent. He brought his Old Glory Normans.
Winning initiative and following the scenario rules were critical in determining the victor. At the end of each player's phase, the number of opposing models on the three terrain pieces are scored. I won initiative, and my opponent had no chance of scoring at the end of my phase. By doing a double activation, I placed two units on a terrain piece, played Heirs of Mil on them, and they remained there at the end of his phase, scoring me eight points. This extra score was very significant, although I did not realize it at the time.
The Norman cavalry scored a lot of points when he put two units of six on a terrain piece, but then lost some of those points, as eight was the maximum scoreable amount per area.
The most dramatic moment of the game was showdown between the two warlords. I played Blood of the Kings and sloughed off three hits. My warlord then brought up three warriors who were (I think) able to take out two of the knights with a missile attack.
After eight rounds, the points were added up and it was a more close than comfortable win for my Irish. Skip is the most gracious and friendly gamer I have ever met. He is the type of opponent who reminds you when he has fatigue and asks if you want to use it against him. In fact, he won the Favorite Opponent Award, and walked away with a hero figure pack.
The pre-game portion of this scenario was again based on bidding - Each player offered a number of points they were willing to be the defender. With the Irish, I announced that I wished to be the raider, and would bid six. My opponent saw things the same way, so we had to roll off to play defense and I lost - but I at least got my six points. I played no curadhs and no dogs - I needed more bodies to occupy the buildings. My opponent had the choice of terrain and he chose none. Didn't want to get hit by random missile fire in the underbrush.
I was easily dislodged from the small house, and put two units of hearthguard and the Warlord in the large church. When one unit + 1 hearthguard were wiped out, I moved a unit of warriors into the church that I was keeping by the backdoor.
Again, my win was based on playing the victory conditions and I still held one building, in which was a unit of warriors, and encircled by javelin throwing levy. But, I was slaughtered in kill points. I lost the warlord, three units of hearthguard and a unit of warriors.
The Saxon player was Sean and we laughed at the amount of dead Irish and Saxons that must have been filling up the doorway of that church. A great guy to talk to and game with, and in fact, everybody I met that day was welcoming and and a pleasure to meet.
I won three and tied one match, which won the tournament by win/loss record, though I don't think I was even in third place in terms of number of kill points or bonus points. I believe Henry took that honor. The last two wins were based on those particular scenario victory conditions. Which is a fair win, I guess, and nobody should ever expect the Irish to stand and fight shield to shield. We hit, run and hit some more.
Also, I need to get sharper for tournament play. I realized that I had been playing movement through uneven ground a bit wrong, and I have a bad habit of not remembering to put fatigues on friendly units if a unit was wiped out within S. I also thought that Warlords were immune to that particular fatigue, but I may have been mistaking it for the special ability of a named hero. Those might be common mistakes, I sometimes see players using the Warlord's Activation for shooting or resting, which is not allowed. So it is good to get out, play with others, learn some new tricks and, most of all, have fun!