I think the Hundred Years War makes a great period to use Saga with. The chevauchée is nothing if not a series of extended skirmishes strung together into one narrative. The first problem to solve is what to use for the battleboards and faction rules. No problem: someone is working on them on the Saga forum. We downloaded the files and decided to give it a go. Don chose four points of French and I chose four of English.
I chose one point of mounted Knights (hearthguard), one point of dismounted Knights, one point of Longbowmen retainers (warriors), and one point of retinue (warriors with melee weapons). I chose to use each point as the unit, so I had four units. With the Warlord granting two that gave me six Saga dice to start.
Don chose two points of mounted Knights, run as a single unit, and two points of retinue, run as two units. With the Warlord granting two dice that gave Don only five Saga dice to start.
This would be interesting. Although Don had a dice deficit, something I played with in our first two games (and did not like), he had a single fast, powerful unit that would be hard to stop.
The Faction Rules
I don't really have any problems with the faction rules, except for the inclusion of the archers stakes for the English. Although it may seem historical and flavorful on face value, we have to remember that this is a skirmish game, not a battle. Longbowmen running around with stakes all the time does not sound historical or logical. I did not use them anyway.
I haven't done the math, but just reading over the board the night before I could tell that there might be problems. Granted, some would be a result of us using four point armies rather than the standard six, but three things struck me about both boards:
- About half of each board was dedicated to a specific unit type (longbow-armed infantry for the English and mounted troops for the French). If you ran out of useful units in those troop types, half of your board became unusable.
- Both boards required rare or uncommon dice for a substantial number of Saga abilities.
- Both boards required two dice for a substantial number of Saga abilities.
Although we played on a 4' by 4' board, I have learned from earlier games to concentrate my force. This, in turn, forced Don to contract his front a bit.
After a couple of moves I push my longbows forward in the center (just out of 12" move range from the French Knights, but not out of Full Gallop range, which is 18"). My mounted Knights and retinue await the French on the flank, but still stay close to the longbows.
The French invoke the Full Gallop and Charge! abilities, which lets them move L + S (18") if the move ends in melee and give them buckets of dice. They charge and wipe out five of my longbows. Note that the French have two fatigue due to the Charge! and melee.
On my turn I charge in with my retinue and kill one French Knight, at a loss of three of my men. Note however that the French Knights have four fatigue, and thus are exhausted, because of the No Prisoners ability of the English, which gives the enemy an additional fatigue at the end of melee.
The English Knights, along with my Knights Commander, charges in and utterly wipe out the remaining seven French Knights, but with a loss of one of mine.
With the loss of his Knights, Don throws caution to the wind and his Knights Commander charges my dismounted Knights. He kills two of mine, but I kill his Commander. Game over.
Our initial impressions were that we did not really like the abilities all that much. Part of it was the lack of troops; it is too easy at four points to run out of troops that get benefits on the board. Part of it was not having the troops we would have liked to use. But, I think that the abilities are simply too expensive for what you get. Too many require a rare or uncommon die, or worse, a combination of dice with one often being a rare.
I really want to game this period and these figures again, so I think I will have to come up with my own battleboards. The strange thing was, I expected Don to want to play the English, as they are more oriented towards shooting, which is the reason he chose the Welsh in our previous games.
I think he just loves cavalry more than shooting infantry is all.