Tally Ho!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Saga Saracens - review and first battle

Faction Overview

Saladin - the knight of Islam
The Saracen faction offers an interesting mixture of units with a choice of being melee or shooting oriented. The core units are easy consisting of cavalry armed with melee weapons or with composite bows. These are available in either Hearth Guard or Warrior variants, and as usual the bow armed version have a lower defence value than the melee. Infantry is easy - your only choice are Levy bowmen!

So depending on the opponents / scenario you can flex your Warband to be shoot'y or harder hitting. It will however always be mostly mounted, and so may struggle in rough terrain or against massed archery.

The Abilities

These choices are also reflected in the Battle Board in the clustering of the abilities.
  • Some give upgrades in melee with additional attack/defence dice available, hit additions, or enhance melee survivability.
  • Some give shooting upgrades with free shots or hit additions. Most interesting here is Brotherhood, which gives melee bonus if the enemy took shooting casualties this turn.
  • Finally we have a couple of utility actions that help recover fatigue or remove enemy Saga dice under certain circumstances.
  • The top ability (Rare + Rare) is Appeal to the Prophet, which gives all units Resilience (2) that turn, so enhancing survivability considerably.
  • There are no hero only abilities and nothing that really disrupts the enemy, with Ruse removing a Saga dice but only if you have two units within S of the enemy.       
So nothing complex on the Battle Board and very few abilities playing off against each other. Brotherhood is the only one with any interactions and as it can be activated with any dice looks like something you should be using often. Coordination (+4 melee dice and +2 every time a Saga ability is used against you) looked powerful and would be something to use as often as possible needing Common + Common.  

Saracen Army

My Warband

Knowing I would be facing Militias Christi I was expecting large numbers of elite Hearth Guard heavy knights with a few crossbowmen and foot sergeants in support. The scenario has not been determined in advance so I chose a balanced force offering both combat and shooting:
  • 1 x Warlord
  • 8 x Hearth guard cavalry, melee weapons (2 points)
  • 8 x Warriors cavalry, melee weapons
  • 8 x Warriors cavalry, composite bow
  • 8 x Warriors  cavalry, composite bow
  • 12 x Levy archers
Composite bows give activation-free shooting, so guaranteeing plenty of archery and playing well with Brotherhood.

The first game

The scenario chosen involved both sides attempting to capture a holy relic being escorted across the table by neutral troops. So it would be a bit of a race. I lined up with most of my cavalry on my right, ready to cut-off the relic and a small blocking force on the left.

The Militias Christi (Order of Lazarus) did largely the opposite, with most of their troops heading straight for the relic and a unit of brother knights on their left.

The game opened with both sides advancing towards the middle of the table. I pushed my bow-armed warriors quickly into the knights, hoping for a devastating volley.  I was however disappointed due to some poor dice and an annoying ability called Orison, which enables the knights to cancelled up to 3 hits a turn. With the archery failing the knights then barrelled down from their hill and mashed one unit of Saracen's.    

More in hope than expectation I unleashed a shot from the Levy archers. The knights gambled and chose not to use Orison, but this was a fatal error as 75% of the unit fell from their saddles. Just to rub salt into the wound I then captured the relic with my Ghulam's.

The Levy's unleash hell on the knights

The Militias Christi then played their final card and charged the Ghulam's head-on with the last unit of knights. Despite loading up my defences I lost 75% casualties and was pushed back.    

This gave me the breathing space needed though. I formed my own version of the England love-train  and placed a string of units between the knights and the relic. It was now clear that there was simply no way that the knights could fight their way through before the relic escaped, and so a Saracen victory was declared.

Saracen love train

So a successful first outing but its hard to draw too many conclusions. The outstanding turn of shooting by the Levy blunted the knights attack and changed the game in the Saracen's favour very heavily. They seem a flexible faction with some solid melee abilities. The shooting abilities need you to get close, and they can nt really interfere too-much with the enemies plans. Coordination and Brotherhood were my go-to abilities in this game.  

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Take me to your leader

As I near the home straight on my Kings of War Lizardmen army I've completed a batch of officers and heroes. The group compromises
  1. A Hearld - a standard bearer who gives a cheap source of Inspiring
  2. A Clan Lord - an Inspiring hero with decent melee output
  3. A Mage-Priest - a bog standard wizard-type
  4. A Battle-Captain - an uninspiring, but cheap,  melee hero   

The commanders of the Lizard army


Mounted Clan Lord



I've also completed a couple of Troops of Skinks which can either be armed with melee weapons or with blow-pipes. I've done both Troops as suitable for either. Tactically they are useful as chaff units to shield the front-line infantry or as flanking units.

Two Skink Troops line-a-breast

Skinks deployed as a Regiment

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

ACW Campaign - Week 3

For our second battle of 1862 we had an attack vs defence scenario. The slightly outnumbered Confederates were dug-in behind an embankment, with the Union forces seeking to oust them from their position.

The Rebs had to hold at least 10 bases off table as reinforcements until turn 7, so opted for a 6 stand infantry regiment and an 4 stand cavalry regiment. Their deployment was a simple one - they lined the cover and interspersed guns across the front.

Reb left

Reb centre

Reb right

Faced with a solid defence the Union decided to assault the flanks with infantry attacks made through cover and place a grand battery in the centre to bombard the Confederate lines.

Union left

Union right

As planned the Union flank attacks moved out smartly in columns of march to close the ground before the Rebs reinforcements arrived to strengthen the defences. A withering bombardment quickly destroyed half the Union artillery as they attempted to manoeuvre into the firing line - so much for the grand battery!  

Nice little stroll

Very pretty

In an attempt to disrupt the Unions attack, the Rebs pushed troops forwards from the relative safety of the embankment and into some rough ground.  This led to them being charged by three units of Eager Union troops and rapidly pushed back into the defences for the loss of the gun.      

The Rebs form a salient

Union attack goes in

Rebs pushed back

As the Rebs stood-to in their defences the Union flank attacks developed with units infiltrating forwards and opening up a lively musket fire on their serried grey-clad ranks. On the Union right this was enough to weaken the Zouaves opponents and allow them sweep gloriously across the embankment to secure a foothold.

All quiet on the southern front

Union right

NY Zouaves attack

The Reb right under threat

Despite the Union penetrating the defences on both flanks the losses incurred had pushed them close to the army breakpoint. This was the point when shortage of command cars for the Rebs bit hard - although the Union was close to breaking the Rebs opted to skip a round of shooting in order to move some badly needed reinforcements into the line.

Zouaves face-off

Tally ho

This decision gave the Union a chance they had not expected - some solid shooting and a lucky roll meaning the Rebs reached the army breakpoint just ahead of the Union.

Rebs hanging on

Reb cavalry makes ready but all a bit late

So a slightly unexpected Union win and the first for an attacker. Previous form was restored in the  post-battle phase though with the Federal forces again suffering heavily with the pox and receiving little by way of replacements. With both sides below the minimum force size, they each received a unit of Cautious Recruits to bring them up to compliment.  

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

ACW camapign - week 2

Week 2 of our Longstreet campaign featured an encounter game - a classic ACW battle, especially if it involves fighting over shoes....

Both sides deployed in one corner to the table, with the simple aim of destroying the enemy forces and pushing them back. The respective plans were heavily influenced by the outcome of the campaign reinforcements from the last battle.  The Confederates were strong in infantry and so opted for an attack on their left, hooking around a wood while holding their right with cavalry and the remaining infantry. The Union being stronger in artillery and opted for a defensive posture with some optional digging-in.

Rebs ready to move out on the flanking attack

The field from the Union deployment zone

Union ready to shake-out
The Rebs began with a rapid advance on the left moving quickly to establish an artillery position on the hill  and pressing forward in columns. Mean while the Union deployed to meet this threat and to manoeuvre so as to be able to able to bring flanking fire on the attacking Confederates.

The hill falls to the Rebs

The Blues establish a position
Sneaky use of cards enabled the Union to plonk a patch of stony ground in front of the Rebs in the hopes of slowing them down or channelling the attack. This gave them time to establish their blocking force in strong position and deploy a cavalry skirmish-line to further inhibit the Rebs.    

Where did that come from?

Union position develops

NY cavalry forms a screen for the main line
The Rebs pressed forward, but fearful of being flanked diverted one of the attacking regiments into a more central position. Shaking into line they came under effective fire from the dismounted cavalry but were unable to inflict much damage in return.
Reb columns attack

A firefight breaks out
Over on the Union left they saw that they were not heavily opposed, so feeling the attack was well covered they advanced on the dismounted confederate cavalry in the hopes of damaging them.

Union attack develops

Blocking force looks well set

We then entered what proved to be a decisive turn for the battle. After some light Confederate shooting the Union unleashed a fire-storm of musket and artillery fire, assisted by some powerful shooting cards and good rolling.

This turn left the Rebs cavalry all but destroyed, an artillery piece ruined and two confederate regiments at 50% losses. A truly devastating onslaught that pushed the Rebs beyond their breakpoint and left the Union the winners.  

The survivors of the Texas cavalry

Confederate attack stalls
The reinforcement phase was somewhat the obverse of last time, with the Union receiving plentiful infantry and the Rebs receiving artillery.  What did not change was that Union losses from the pox again outstripped battlefield losses.