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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Invasion of King Canute- a Saga 6 Player Mega Battle

The Invasion of King Canute
Six player SAGA battle

In September 1015 King Canute assembled a combined force of Vikings to conquer England and Anglo-Saxon King Edmund Ironside gathered his forces to defend the nation. We hoped to recreate the flavour of this conflict with a big 3 against 3 game of SAGA using the ‘Brothers in Arms’ scenario rules. We were playing on an 8ft by 3ft battlefield and the game took around 3 and a half hours to play.

The Danes
Commanded by the Ainsworth clan: Alan, Chris and Matt.
Anglo-Danish warband: King Canute, 8 Hearthguard, 8 Warriors, 8 Warriors, 8 Warriors
Anglo-Danish warband: Stigand (Religious advisor warlord), 6 Hearthguard, 6 Hearthguard, 12 Warriors, 4 Warriors, 12 Levy
Norse Gael warband: Standard Warlord, 4 Hearthguard, 4 Hearthguard, 6 Warriors with dane axes, 6 Warriors with dane axes, 12 warriors with javelins, Religious advisor priest

The Anglo-Saxons
Commanded by Jim and Joe with Scot allies commanded by Collette.
Anglo-Saxon warband: Edmund Ironside (standard warlord), 10 Warriors, 11 Warriors, 11 Warriors, 12 levy, 8 Flemish Mercenaries.
Anglo-Saxon Warband: Eadnoth (Enlightened Priest warlord), 12 warriors, 4 warriors, wandering bard, 12 levy, 12 mounted Hearthguard.
Scot Warband: Religious Advisor warlord, 8 Warriors, 8 Warriors, 8 Warriors, 8 Heathguard, 12 levy with javelins, wandering bard.


Turn 1
The Danes advance cautiously with plenty of defensive abilities prepared.

Also a slow advance for the Saxons, but the Eadnoth the Saxon priest uses his powers to get helmet symbols allowing both Saxons warbands play ‘No Surrender’. The Saxon levy unit on the East was activated to move and then shoot twice killing two Anglo-Dane warriors. Not to be outdone, on the West flank the other Saxon levy also shoot several times and manage to wipe out a unit of Norse Gael Dane axe warriors.


Turn 2

With better SAGA dice in turn 2 the Anglo-Danes could start employing their most effective strategy: Both played ‘Trapped’ throwing out 6 fatigues onto enemy units. 2 of these were directed against the Saxon Priest to exhaust him and stop him using his ability. The Norse Gael warriors, furious after seeing their comrades cut down do a double move activation to engage the Saxon levy. Using ‘Duel’ to throw off fatigue, reducing the levy armour to 2 using their fatigue, and howling axes to gain extra attack dice the warriors achieved 11 automatic hits. 6 levy were cut down without a single warrior lost.

In the Saxon turn 2 the levy on the East flank moved to block access to Eadnoth, their Priest, who is hiding in a building guarded by his bard and 4 warriors. The Scot levy moved forward and throw javelins at Canute’s warriors killing one. Edmund’s Flemish mercenaries move into melee with the six battle fatigued Norse Gael warriors expecting to slay unit. A warrior calls out an Ostman’s Fury challenge and swiftly cuts down the mercenary who steps forward. The remaining Flemish have their attacks reduced and so only manage to kill two in return.

Turn 3

The Danes now see an opportunity to take out the strongest enemy unit. Playing Trapped twice they pile fatigues onto the 12 mounted hearthguard, then Canute recalls his Viking heritage and gives a battle cry of RAGNAROK!

The Danish hearthguard on the East flank double move into melee with the Saxon Hearthguard. Using the ‘Ragnarok’, fatigues and ‘Lords of Battle’ the 6 Danish Hearthguard kill three of their mounted opponents losing only one of their own. It would have been much worse for the Saxons had they not played ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ to gain +1 armour back countering the Ragnarok ability.

Elsewhere Canute’s warriors charge the Scot levy thinking to kill them all. The Scots play ‘Give Ground’ reducing the warrior dice and making the attack ineffective. Furious at the ineffectiveness of the attack Canute leads his warriors into another attack on the levy this time slaughtering seven Scots. Canute then withdraws to the safety of the central building accompanied by his hearthguard. The defiant four man Norse Gael warriors remaining on the West flank charge the Saxon levy. Playing ‘Who’s Next’ and ‘Howling Axes’ the Dane axes rip through the levy with such a fury that fatigue is spread to the many Saxon units nearby.

On their turn 3 the Saxons and Scots mostly rest off the now large number of fatigue tokens accumulating. The West Saxon warriors avenge their poor levy by killing the remaining four Norse Gael warriors in melee. On the East side, the mounted Saxon hearthguard rest before using ‘No Surrender’ to remove another fatigue and charge the five Dane hearthguard. All five are killed for the loss of one horseman.


Turn 4

The remaining Norse Gael forces make a general advance on the Western side. Canute’s Danes charge the three man Scot levy seeking to slaughter them and further spread fatigue but the canny Scots have seen the plan and play ‘Running Away’ to evade the attack. On the Eastern edge the second unit of six Danish hearthguard move into melee with the eight mounted Saxon hearthguard. The ‘Trapped’ ability had been played twice again this turn leaving adding two more fatigues to the Saxon hearthguard exhausting them. The Danes only kill two Saxons but the horsemen are left with three fatigues making them very vulnerable.

In the Saxon turn ‘No Surrender’ is played again with a Helmet on ‘Stout Hearts’. On the East side the Saxon levy bravely charge the Danish Hearthguard killing two and losing six of their own. Then the six mounted Saxon hearthguard follow up the attack wiping out the last Danish hearthguards on the Eastern flank. This minor victory comes at a cost though as the five remaining Saxon mounted hearthguard are left with three fatigues. On the Western side Edmund’s Saxons rest and prepare for the Norse Gael attack expected in the next turn. In the centre a Scot warrior unit moves to charge some of Canute’s warriors. But the Danes expect the move and both Canute and the Stigand, the Danish priest, use ‘Intimidate’ to block the charge twice.

Turn 5
Canute spots some easy kills on the Eastern flank and both Anglo-Danish battle boards launch fatigues from ‘Trapped’ onto the Saxon hearthguard. The mounted Saxons now have five fatigues taking them beyond exhaustion. The Danes both play ‘Exhaustion’ and four Saxon hearthguard fall dead from their horses without a single attack dice rolled. On the West side the 12 man Norse Gael warrior unit moves up and launches javelins but with the Saxon defensive abilities the attack does nothing.

Edmund senses the battle is being lost but he might have a chance if his forces can surround and slay Canute. He demands his Scot allies prove their worth. The Scot hearthguard move up using Reach and then into melee with some of Canute’s warriors killing them all and spreading fatigue to units nearby, including Canute himself who watches the slaughter from the central house. The 12 Saxon warriors in the East also move to attack Canute’s warriors by the house but the Danes again play ‘Intimidate’ twice cancelling the activations.

Final Turn
The Danes start their final turn again by playing double ‘Trapped’ and then ‘Exhaustion’ to kill the remaining Saxon hearthguard. The 4 man Norse Gael hearthguard have finally moved into position and charge the seven Scot hearthguard. The Norse issue two challenges ‘Who’s next?’ and ‘Duel’ to kill two Scots and exhaust the unit. Thanks to the Scot’s strong defensive they are able to hold off the rest of attack. But before the Scots have a chance to regroup, Canute himself charges out of the building accompanied by his hearthguard. They mercilessly cut down the exhausted Scots. A nearby unit of Scot warriors are also exhausted by this point and they too are trampled down by Canute’s hearthguard. On the West side the Norse Gael warlord charges the Flemish mercenaries using an uncontested challenge to reduce their attack dice. But the warlord is astonished when his Dane axe bounces off the strong Flemish armour and not a single one is killed.

By his final turn Edmund Ironside looks across his army and sees his allies beaten and bloody. His own forces are largely unharmed and so it is down to him to snatch a victory. Edmund leads his Saxons in a charge on the Norse Gael warriors. The West Saxons are hungry for battle at this point and cut down the Norse losing only one of their own. One the East side the unscathed unit of 12 Saxon warriors ‘Muster’ enough activations to ignore the ‘Intimidation’ and move into melee some of Canute’s warriors killing seven. Following the example a nearby Scot warrior unit also charge the Danish warriors killing several more. But as Edmund surveyed the battlefield he could see his opponent had won. He ordered his forces to retreat and vowed to fight on another day.



Halfway through it looked like the Canute’s Danes would have a huge victory but the Saxons had a successful final turn and managed to claw back some points making it a close finish.

Canute’s Danes achieved 37 slaughtering points while Edmund’s Saxons and Scots finished with 36 points.

The strategy of using ‘Trapped’ and ‘Intimidate’ twice nearly every turn was very powerful for the Danes. They had a clever plan to fatigue enemy Priests in order to stop them from using their abilities or exhaust units ready for the melee charge.

The Saxon strategy was to use the Scots in the centre with strong defensive powers to deflect attacks and split the enemy advance which worked reasonably well. The enlightened priest was also very useful to create Helmet symbols for both Saxon forces (scenario rules allow team members to swap SAGA dice). The big unit of Saxon Hearthguard was intended to charge around the flank to attack vulnerable priests or even Canute himself – this was a total failure as fatigues from ‘Trapped’ and the presence of ‘Intimidate’ made it difficult to move the big unit much.

Playing a large game of SAGA is great fun and we were astounded by how close it was in the end. Giving the game a theme of a real conflict worked well and there is plenty more which could be done around Canute’s invasion one thousand years ago.

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