Somewhere in Vinland…
|The Skraelings line up for battle|
This was the first time I have fought using my Skraelings and so I honestly had very little idea what to expect. I played a six-point game against my friend Andrew who fielded Vikings.
I chose to field two points of Levy and four of Warriors, while Andrew went for six points of Hearthguard, including Berserkers. We played the Champions of God scenario from the Crescent and the Cross rule book.
Terrain comprised a large area of rocky ground, one large and one normal building, and a gentle hill.
|The armies at deployment, viewed from the Viking side of the table|
The Skraelings deployed two units of 12 Levy, one in the rocky ground and the other in the large building, with two units of 12 Warriors and the Warlord between. A smaller unit of 8 Warriors sat on the right flank, the intent being for this to advance and occupy the smaller building.
The Vikings deployed two units of 8 Hearthguard approaching the small building, and a unit of 4 Hearthguard, the 4 Berserkers and the Warlord in the centre, out of sight of any ranged weapons, behind the hill.
|The Vikings make a strong bid to take the small building|
The Vikings had the first turn, so the Skraelings riolled three dice to place on their board. Not a great roll and so all three were placed in their Activation Pool ready for their first turn. The Vikings rolled their 6 Saga dice, placing three on Hearthguard activations, and dice on Frigg, Thor and Asgard. The Vikings began with an attack by one of the 8-strong Hearthguard units. With one activation they had occupied the small building, and with a second they had left it again and contacted the small Skraeling Warrior unit. Making use of Frigg and Thor, they were a little unlucky to only kill 7 of the 8 Warriors, but lost only one of their own. With a final activation, to protect themselves from any shooting they retreated into the cover and relative safety of the small building, job done. Using We Obey, the Warlord advanced onto the hill with the four Hearthguard, keeping out of range of one of the Skraeling Levy units.
|End of Viking turn 1, and a lonely Skraeling Warrior on the right flank is watched by Vikings occupying the small building|
Adding all the dice from their activation pool, the Skraelings were able to have a lot of useful Saga dice during their first turn. Three different dice were placed on Pathfinders and left for the next Viking turn, and one die was placed back in the Activation Pool. The rest were used to activate the Levy in the building to shoot on the 8 Hearthguard in the open, who were just in range. The Vikings used Asgard to raise their armour, and the shooting was ineffective. Then, one of the 12-strong Warrior units advanced, throwing Javelins into the 4-man Hearthguard unit to much better effect. With two Vikings dead, they used their final activation to pull back to their previous position.
|Skraeling Warriors attack in the centre with javelins|
The Vikings rolled their Saga dice, using Loki in their Orders phase to remove the 1-man Skraeling Warrior unit, only to see the Skraelings use Pathfinders as an Orders/Reaction and bring six more Warriors on in much the same place. The Vikings decided to launch an all-out attack in the centre with the Berserkers. Advancing with We Obey, followed by two Activations, they charged into one of the larger Warrior units. With Frigg and Thor, they killed 9, but all died in the process.
|Berserkers lead the Viking attack in the centre|
With a poor roll of Saga dice, there was little the Skraelings could do. Levy shot twice to no effect this turn, and Fatigue was removed from the depleted Warrior unit, while one die was retained within the Activation Pool for future use.
Reduced to 5 Saga dice, the Viking momentum continued in Turn 3 with an attack on the other large Skraeling Warrior unit with their 8-man Hearthguard unit in the open. It was quick and bloody, another 8 Warriors dying, but this time for the loss of three Hearthguard. A bloody, but surprisingly even fight thus far. Fatugue was lifted from the Vikings in the building and the Warlord advanced with his small Hearthguard unit in the centre.
|A lot of death dealing leaves a lot more space in the centre of the battlefield|
The Skraeling Saga dice were a lot kinder. Three different dice allowed all units to be activated, with a few other dice handy to add to the carnage. Both units of Levy shot to good effect this time, killing two of the Hearthguard in the small unit in the centre. Then the smaller Warrior unit charged into what was now a fatigued, two-man Hearthguard Viking unit . Giving the Vikings a taste of their own medicine, using Valhalla against them and using their fatigue to reduce their armour, both Hearthguard were killed in their sacrifice, and the Vikings found their Warlord with only two companions in the centre of the fray (though admittedly with only four enemy Warriors facing them).
The seven Viking Hearthguard lurking in the small building then made their move, charging the six Pathfinders that had appeared out of nowhere in front of them. Effective and bloody, all the Warriors died, but for the loss of two Hearthguard, which seemed quite a high price. They followed this up with an attack on the Levy in the large building, using Frigg and Thor, killing 9 of them, but losing three more men in the process. But they were now in possession of the large building, at least. The Viking Warlord and the two-strong Hearthguard unit in the open advanced again in the centre, using Odin to remove some of the fatigue from their weary units.
Saga dice were now a bit of a problem for the Skraelings. With only three dice available, and an unremarkable cast of the dice, once die was put into the Activation Pool while two were used to shoot at the two Hearthguard in the open, but to no effect.
The situation had become desperate, but the Vikings had a plan to force the win. First, the Warlord would attack the Skraeling warriors in the centre to leave the enemy Warlord alone and vulnerable. A convincing plan, but rolling four F runes didn't help. Three dice were placed on activations, one on Frigg . The Vikings advanced together, then charged into the Skraeling Warriors using We Obey and Side by Side, the Warlord fighting without Fatigue and with an extra attack die from Frigg.The Skraelings focused all their dice on the enemy Hearthguard. All the Skraelings died, but one of the Hearthguard perished too. The Viking Warlord continued his attack alone into the enemy Warlord. The Skraeling, aware of his vulnerability, put all the dice he could into defence. Mutual speding of Fatigue means that armour was not reduced, and he received three hits while dealing an ineffective one. The extra defence dice ensured that two of the hits were saved, and Resilience meant he survived. The Viking Warlord had no choice but to break off.
|Excellent dice rolling, just when you need it|
With only two dice in the Saga pool, and no Warriors left, on turn 5 in a last ditch attempt the Skraelings moved their large Levy unit into range of the Viking Warlord with We Obey, and they opened fire on the isolated Viking Warlord. Six dice, needing sixes - the gods looked on kindly - resulted in four hits. Only two saved - one removed because of Resilience - and the Viking Warlord fell to the ground dead.
But for that shooting, it would have been a draw, and by all expectations should have been. In the end, a very lucky victory to the Skraelings, and a very bloody fight.
Skraelings are certainly a challenging faction to use, I suspect particularly against Vikings who have nothing on their Battle Board they can use to increase the effectiveness of shooting. In this game they suffered from a shortage of Saga dice, and in particular a shortage of rolling three different symbols, but any such shortcomings were more than compensated for by the luck of the combat dice. Next time round I will consider fielding four smaller Warrior units and perhaps a Warlord Priest to increase the pool of Saga dice available.
I'm also not fully clear whether I have been using the Skraeling Activation Pool ability quite as intended and will raise this as a query on the Saga forum to check.
|"Victory is ours! (You may now collect scalps)"|
***Apologies to Andrew for any inaccuracies in the detail - this battle report was compiled after the actual events and the photos are my attempt at a faithful reconstruction. Any inaccuracies are mine, and are unintentional (and anyway, history belongs to the victor!)***