Friday, 26 September 2014

Shifting Sands in Rochester

This isn't a battle report, but I thought I'd post my thoughts on Saracens after playing against them for the first time Wednesday night in Rochester. No photos alas. My opponent was Omer and we played at Rochester Games and Models. This is a really great shop that has whole heaps of stock for a diverse range of wargames etc.

I was playing my Anglo Danes of course and must say that I found it quite entertaining that one of the Saracens' abilities required me to choose a Saracen unit to add fatigue to (Rise of the Crescent). This ability allowed Omer to nominate three of his units, I then chose one to add a fatigue to, with the benefit to the Saracens that the two other units get activations. Of course as an Anglo Dane, it is my job to distribute as much fatigue as possible. I therefore enjoyed watching the Saracens give themselves yet more fatigue with another ability (Shifting Sands). My Anglo Danes received fatigue as well, but by now the fatigue was really mounting on the Saracens. The Anglo Danes won on points (just). I nearly had the Saracen warlord, but he galloped off into the sunset when his hearthguard died around him. Omer claims this was a tactical retreat, but all I could see was dust ;-)

My take on the Saracens is that they aren't particulary strong in melee. One double six ability was effective and helped eliminate one of my four man hearthguard units (Faith Strike - activations and attack/defence dice), but it was only used once during our game so I couldn't really judge whether it was something to really fear. Other abilities benefitted Saracen archers, but they were a bit thin on the ground in the Saracen warband (especially after I trapped and exhausted the levy and then pelted the mounted hearthguard archers with my own levy). If I was playing Saracens, I think I would consider building in more missile armed mounted units, but use them at a distance. In our game a unit of mounted warriors (with spears) managed to outflank the Anglo Danes, but a lack of battle board abilities meant they were whittled down and easily exhausted. They would perhaps have been more effective if they had been armed with bows. Keep them at a distance and shoot the enemy before they can get to you. It's perhaps even worthwhile to move, shoot and then try to use Rise of the Crescent to move back to safety. Yes the unit gets a fatigue, but can be rested next turn. One of Omer's mounted hearthguard units did have bows, but allowed themselves to sit in missile range of the Anglo Dane levy and charge range of hearthguard Dane axes...

There was definitely a lot of gambling going on with the Saracen battleboard and it seemed to me that the gambles failed more than they came off. The ability of Omens in particular made us both laugh, especially when sixes were rolled on a bet of a sword or crescent! It was the first time either of us had played with Saracens so still lots to learn. Definitely fun to play and a big thanks to Omer for a very enjoyable game.

As for the Norse Gaels, well a bunch of Dane axe warriors is nearly finished. They are even varnished! Hoping to get the bases and shields completed over the weekend. I'm playing Space Hulk tomorrow night at the Friday Night Firefight Club, so no more painting until Saturday.




  1. Interesting - without knowing much about it, I've always believed the Saracens to be a subtle military force whose strength was in wearing out an opponent rather than just charging straight in.

    I'm really trying not to get distracted by "Crescent and Cross"; I have far too much to do as it is :-( ...

    1. I think you are right. Saracens would work more effectively at a distance, especially with their mounted archers. It was probably a tough match-up for the Saracens, since several of their abilities resulted in fatigue being acquired. This was certainly something I could exploit playing Anglo Danes.