Monday, 21 September 2020

The Necromancer Comes Forth

I decided to have another solo game of SAGA Age of Magic on the weekend. This time it was the Undead Legions v's The Elven Realm. I got to use my nice new undead which have been sitting in a box since I finished painting them last month. My Elven host has grown since I last put them on the table but I didn't get to use all of them.

Both sides had 8 Point armies: The Elves are using the Great Kingdoms battleboard and they had: a unit of mounted knights, 3 units of spears, some levy archers, a lieutenant, a mage and a dragon. The Necromancer also had mounted knights, a Black Captain, as well as 2 large units of warriors, two undead creatures, wraith bodyguards (hearthguard) and a zombie dragon. Because I'm using a Necromancer as a warlord, the undead don't need a mage/sorcerer because the Necromancer is able to cast spells.
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On the borders of the Erlkings Realm a portal has opened. It is a portal to the lands of the dead and it must be closed lest the dead invest the forest and turn it into a place of evil and despair for the living.

From the portal issued ghostly specters, skeleton knights mounted on the carcasses of once proud steeds, wraiths and other dead creatures lead by the Necromancer with his Black Captain and all surrounded by darkness and dread. 
The host of the Erlking stood arrayed in all their splendor on the banks of a swift running stream. Spears, bows and the lances of the Emerald Knights are all that stood before the forces of Death! The Elf Queen, the Prince in the Scarlet Robe stood with the Erlking ready to do battle. The dragon Blueflame and the Rosy Knight also stood with them.
The elves advanced all along the line ready to battle the dread foe. 
The elves got the initiative and rolled only 3 SAGA Dice. Luckily they managed to add more dice to the pool so that the whole force could activate.
And as the elves advanced so the host of the dead swept forward urged by the will of their dread overlord.
The Emerald Knights surged forward and charged into the skeleton cavalry. Dead flesh and bones fell beneath their lances as the necromantic spells that bound them broke. But brave elves also fell and the knights found themselves stranded. I had originally put aside a SAGA Dice to activate them again and bring them back to the main line. But things were happening and I used that dice for something else (which I now forget).
Blueflame and The Rosy Knight took to the air and landed on the Necromancer's left flank.
As the Dead surged froward the Necromancer with his guard of wraiths took up a strong commanding position overlooking the battleground.
"Look apon me, and despair. I am Death!" 
From the skies the zombie dragon alighted to the earth behind the elven line. It stalked forward and let out it's icy corpse-breath killing one of the unwary elves. Flying creatures (such as Dragons) can take off from clear terrain and land in clear terrain anywhere on the table as long as they are a "long" measurement from all enemy units.
Urged on by the Black Captain the skeleton horse counter-charged the Emerald Knights. Boosted with some battleboard abilities they killed the remaining elfin knights but were also killed off in the process. But they did not care if they died, for what is death to those already dead?
Taken by surprise the elf spearsmen turned, regrouped and charged the zombie dragon. A viscous fight saw more elves fall but the dragon was also beginning to falter as the magic that filled it with unholy life began to wain.
The forces of Necromancer started winning the field and so the Elf Queen stepped out of the forest. She held, aloft her staff and began a magical incantation. A spear of bright energy shot forth and smote the Necromancer and his wraith guard who fell before the queen's might. But such was the power of the spell that it surged back and a vortex of power engulfed the queen. When the air cleared three wraiths were burned to dust, The Necromancer was shaken and cowering on his plinth and the Elf Queen was staggered but still standing.
(She cast the spell Spear of Light at maximum effect and the ensuing roll on the Abuse of Power table was almost enough to kill her. She did survive but with two Fatigue tokens. The actual spell effects hit very hard).
Blueflame let loose his fiery breath but only dissipated one of the marching spectral warriors.
On the other side more of the specteral warriors were urged on by the Black Captain and charged the elven spearmen. The fight was short and sharp and the elves were hurled back with great loss by the undead host. 
The zombie dragon once lumbered forward into the fray. Brave elves died battling the beast but the creature was on the verge of collapsing under its own weight as the foul magic animating it was losing power by the moment.

I was wondering how the Undead could get fatigued and thus gain Fatigue Tokens. I decided that it wasn't the undead creatures themselves that suffered the fatigue but rather the necromantic spells that kept them going that suffered the fatigue. So Fatigue is just the lessening of the potency of the magical spells.
The Necromancer revived and cast his evil spells. These spells sapped the strength of those close by. The Elf Queen slumped to the ground and even the Erlking felt the weight of years press on him as the Necromancer's incantations took their toll. (The spell was Decay which, at it's effect can inflict Fatigue on an opponent. Bothe the Erlking and the queen took a hit. The Queen became exhausted and was almost killed). 

Seeing an opening the Black Captain charged the Erlking but, even weakened, the king of the elves cannot be defeated by a mere underling. He hurled back the Black Captain with ease. However, the Erlking did gain another Fatigue and that would weaken him further.
The Queen struck back as she rose, once again to her feet. She unleashed a bolt of energy which killed the last of the wraith guards. Another lance of light smote the undead sorcerer but he still stood defiant and deadly.

The Rosy Knight and the dragon assailed the spectral warriors killing many and throwing them back in disarray. But the effort took it's toll and both knight and dragon were exhausted after the terrible fight.
Elfish spears then drove the dead warriors back again.
After seeing the assault on the Erlking, the Prince in the Scarlet Robe charged forward to the fight to his opposite: the Black Captain. Light and darkness fought and the dark knight fell. The prince stood where his enemy had fallen as a hoard of dead warriors fell on him. With all of his last reserves he fought them off still holding his ground: exhausted. (He used a Battleboard effect that was set in place from the second turn of the game. It enabled him to fend off all hits but he would be left Exhausted at the end of the fight).
The Necromancer's incantations were having less effect now (poor dice rolls) but two large undead creatures emerged attacking the belabored dragon and knight. They fought well, killing one of the creatures but were laid low in the end.

Things were getting hard for both sides. SAGA Dice were down to 4 for the elves and three for the undead. The Elves had better rolling and managed to get several extra dice over the next few turns. The undead didn't.
The Erlking now took the fight to the Necromancer. He climbed onto the ancient ruins to confront his enemy. First he would need to get through the remaining dead warriors. The Necromancer had already enhanced their numbers but the Elf Queen's spells had countered the dark magic. The Erlking killed two specters and the last one fell back. 
The Erlking was close to his limits. He faced his enemy: "Go back, go back to your land of the dead." he cried.
The necromancer laughed and more specters appeared. He cast his spell of Decay again but the Erlking was not cowed. The specters moved forward and this time the Erlking left none standing. They all went back to the dust.

Because there was still one dead warrior after the left after the previous fight, the Battleboard effect: Necromancy allowed the unit to regain two more figures. Thus there were three of them to attack the Erlking again. All they needed was one Unsaved hit and he was dead. But he used their Fatigue Token to improve his armour to 6. The Erlking rolled really well and the specters didn't.
When the fight was over, the Necromancer was gone, drawing back toward the portal that had brought him to this plane from the land of the dead.

The Necromancer just used two activations to run away before the elves had their next turn.
The elven archers, who had played only a small part in the battle, now loosed their arrows and saw off the last of the spectral warriors. 

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Conclusion:

I really like the way that this game lends itself to a good narrative. Because I'm playing solo it's difficult to out-smart myself but I do make mistakes. When I do I don't go back on the mistakes because they lend the game a bit of that ever elusive: Fog of War. You can see that this happened above when I forgot about the elfin knights and I spent their extra dice to do something else. 

I didn't plan the undead army well. They can have levy units of 20 Mindless. I thought they looked rather weak but after playing the game, I can see how they work. They're there to swarm forward and swamp the enemy and all the time their numbers can be replenished with the Necromancy SAGA Ability. I'll have to paint more figures to make up some numbers. I also spent too much on Hearthguard (3 points for the wraiths and skeleton cavalry). I'll have to have another look at the list and improve it. I mean... The elves outnumbered the dead!!!

At the end the Necromancer withdrew because he isn't able to stand up against a full (even fatigued) Warlord in a fight. He only has 2 attack dice. He's not made for fighting he's made for spell casting.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Ancient Quickie

I painted up some more ancients during the week. This time it's some light infantry because I think, after some games, that I need some more. Another reason is to get them out of the lead pile where they've been sitting for some time.

First up: I finished up some Italiote javelinmen from Xyston. I've painted some of these before and they're pretty easy. Painting the shield designs is fun. I think I have a few more and I'd quite like to get a fourth unit for the table to go with the four units of spears that I've finished.

These ones are Hellenic peltasts from Forged in battle. These are the first FiB infantry that I've painted and they're not bad. They're very easy to prep with minimal mould lines and the fact that spears and shields are part of the mould makes life even easier. 

The FiB figures are a little smaller than my Xyston Successors but they'll be in separate units so there should be no problem. However, I could also use them with my Ancient Greeks and that may be a bit of a problem. My Greeks are AB Figures which are 18mm and the size difference is pretty noticeable. To add to that, the AB Greek peltasts that I've had for years are almost 20mm and they look big next to the AB hoplites. Next to these guys they look like giants. Maybe the the old figures will have to go.

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P.S. This is the first post I've done using the New and Improved Blogger format and I don't like it very much. It seems to give me much less control about how I want the formatting of the post to appear and how I can post images. It also seems that all of my labels have vanished too.
I'm not very happy with this change. I wonder if I can move this blog to another platform?


Monday, 14 September 2020

Mama Mia, I've Got Socii!

After a bit of ancients wargaming, I decided to get some of my 15mm lead pile painted up. What I'm really lacking is cavalry, so that's where I started. I finished painting the Roman Equites that have been sitting on my desk, half painted and looking at me with their big brown eyes... They looked unloved and forgotten so I gave them some love. I should get some more but I don't think I will.
Then I finished off the horrible Xyston Tarentine cavalry. I finished what I had and I have vowed to never buy any more of them! They look okay once painted but they are crappy figures. One of the horses needed some sculpting done on its legs to get it up to scratch, and another was so badly cast that it couldn't be saved and I replaced it with a spare Macedonian Companion horse that I had in a box. One of the riders needed to have a new foot sculpted. I really don't like these figures at all!
And now for the Socii you've all been waiting for...

Next came some Italian heavy cavalry. These figures are from Forged in Battle. I've had a few packs of FiB figures for a while but these are the first ones I've painted. I'm pretty happy with them. They are a tiny bit smaller that Xyston but, they're not in the same unit so they'll look okay. They add a nice dash of colour and variety to the Roman's and can also be used to fight against the Romans. The only thing I don't like about them is that there is only a single horse pose. Other than that, they're easy to prepare, nice to paint,and they look pretty good.
I had a look through this blog before posting these new figures because I wasn't sure what I'd painted and posted before. My last efforts for painting ancients got sidetracked into doing my 6mm Siege of Rhodes back in December 2018. Nothing unusual for me, but it does make me lose track of what I've previously done.

Anyhow, the Italian cavalry above, is intended to go with my other ancient Italian infantry. These troops make up my Socii.  And a beautiful bunch Socii they are. I discovered that I'd never posted the finished project. I'd posted the light javelinmen and a few of the spearmen but not the finished result. So, here they are: better late than never:
I have more of these to do and I will do them in the future (about enough for another half a dozen stands). But I currently have 4 units of spearmen and 4 units of light infantry javelins. That's enough for the moment. They are colourful and they look really nice so I'm pretty happy with them.

Something I don't understand is why most wargamers make the ancient world look dark and dull. I blame the movie 300.