Wednesday, October 26, 2016

X-Wing Musings: Play Smarter Not Harder!

For those of you out there who are currently well and truly bitten by the X-wing bug the competitive scene offers a plethora of interesting strategies and challenges for all players. The introduction of the past two waves (7 and 8) have strategically altered the Meta and shifted players towards a new frontier of list building. Sure there are still the top one or two lists per faction that consistently hit the top tables and make the final cut, but the vast majority of lists in a tourney are a great mish mash of 3-5 ship builds with the occasional swarm or 2 ship thrown in. The dreaded Twin laser turret rightfully smashed the default 2 ship build into an option rather than a necessity and now the introduction of guidance chips has finally allowed use of ordnance to pulverise slower turret ships or agile aces in the right situation. It's times like this when the latest meta is shaping and the new upgrades are directly addressing the issues of past upgrades that players are able to do the something else.

The largest problem with the competitive scene is the obsession with copy pasting of lists. I feel like the largest contributor to a stifled meta-game is the playerbases inability to innovate in the face of a challenge. For this reason I have always been a profound advocate for using the unexpected to counter the expected. Players always have the internal dilemma of sticking with what currently works (the tops lists) or trying to solve the puzzle themselves. Unfortunately as a result certain pilots or upgrades are overused and eventually addressed in a future wave when the answer may or may not have already been out there.

As we move into wave 9 the recent Errata/FAQ that was released has decided to pull back on the reigns of the contracted scout U boat build and as a result the re surged Dead eye was reworded to only be available to small ships. Was this the correct decision for the overall design of the game moving forward? The answer is yet to be seen but we have ultimately seen the results of a meta that simply won't shift despite ongoing releases.

The point of this ramble was to simply put into words my current position on the meta argument that ravages the boards on a daily basis. Currently there are powerful lists at the top end of the game that remain consistent winners of events, however the winners of worlds since the beginning have always been counter play lists that think inside but on the fringe of the box. When the game stagnates FFG will release shiny new things into the wild, but it is our mission as players to constantly look for interactions that have yet to be seen and that rarely see play as they may catch an opponent off guard.

Play smarter not Harder!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Mutatawi'a in a nutshell (first impressions)

Greetings Saganaughts,

Here we are again for some of my nonsense ramblings about anything Saga. Today a little look into the play style and first impression of one of the new Arab factions from Crescent and The Cross. The super aggressive and highly volatile force of fanatics bringing the fight to those Christian dogs! These are my initial thoughts on the faction and a based on only a few games and theory so as such results may vary for other players.

To start off with, what sets them apart from other forces? The obvious answer is their martyr ability and sacrificial costs on abilities which sets them up as a very interesting risk/reward faction. Using your own models for fuel truly adds a multitude of new choices and challenges which interested me greatly upon examination. On the outset this mechanic provides very powerful flexibility within your turn but has its fair share of drawbacks. The faction also only has access to warriors and hearthguard meaning levies are not invited to the party. Finally they have access to camels which are the gamed first hard counter to cavalry and look to be an interesting addition to the game.

Picture from Gripping Beast


After a few initial games and some revision my initial verdict on the strengths of this warband lies in the extremely flexible abilities and their tie in with the martyr mechanic. At the beginning of each turn you are practically guaranteed 8 dice for the loss of a warrior. In addition this martyr can be used immediately within the turn along with the combat pool to generate two attack dice for one saga die. This is just one of sooo many combo opportunities with this mechanic which ultimately favours a mindset who likes to think in very logistical manner.

The other major strength is the obvious amount of aggression that is bundled into the faction. Foot soldiers moving like cavalry and explosive combat abilities that are likely to cause havoc to both sides represent a truly fast paced turn that holds nothing back. If you are not a player who likes to give up lives to gain momentum or provide pressure to areas on the table without clear victories this faction is not for you.

Another subtle strength is the faction’s ability to get results out of straggling units of 4-5 models that would otherwise be fodder and a waste of abilities for other factions. These units can be used in the right circumstances to go down fighting very very hard and taking more lives than your opponent would have liked.

Finally the big strength brought about by the addition of camels is bound to strike fear into any players who rely solely on cavalry to get the job done. These units coupled with some nasty abilities can provide a leaf blower for cavalry opponents who will likely give up more models then they wish to handle them in combat. Keep them away from foot units and missiles if possible.


The most obvious weakness at the forefront is the sacrifice of you models to activate your abilities. These models are removed and provide slaughter points to your opponent, and as such can make the difference of a win or loss in particular scenarios. Additionally players need to be weary of how much these sacrifices are beginning to impact their plan 3 turns ahead when combats have been resolved and many more models are removed.

Another glaring weakness for me was the faction’s lack of no brainer bang for buck abilities. Most of the powerful abilities come with some kind of drawback in either a model sacrifice or a negative effect after you have resolved it. This makes triggering these abilities rather risky in some situations and could leave you at a loss in both men left to fight and fuel left to gain the upper hand. Some abilities carry a fire and forget mentality which is great for hitting an opponent where they don't want to lose models but will likely result in a "trade off" of figures, thus such actions ultimately require a larger sacrifice to gain the edge.


All in all these guys are an absolute blast to push across the table. Their unbridled aggression and flexibility provides players a great fusion of planning and chaos for the mentally unstable mathematician. Their weaknesses are clear and are open to engagement by certain factions but ultimately will not hinder good player’s plans. I plan on painting up my force and rocking these guys for a while to see if I wish to take them for a trip to Cancon early next year.

Until next time


Tuesday, October 14, 2014


G'day fellow Saga enthusiasts
Today I would like to take the chance to do a little write up of the experience I had recently at a convention tournament. The event was a simple one day 3 game tournament that cultivated into a small group of 6 players throwing down dice and having an absolute blast. The tournament allowed 8 points total as a pool and each player used 6 of said points to play a game. For those of you who have played in such an event are probably well familiar with this idea, personally I loved it and felt it brought about just enough strategy between scenarios to really get you thinking. I decided to bring my Anglo Saxons for a spin hoping to get even more experience in with them and to see how they perform in a competitive environment. Since I heard they were a tricky faction to play and I love a challenge the selection only seemed natural. The force I took included:
-3 points of warriors
-3 points of Hearthguard (2 mounted, 1 on foot)
-2 points of levies (1 with bows, the other with spears/shields)

I felt this allowed me to change up my force enough in between scenarios and gave me the freedom to plan a strategy around terrain and the opposing faction.

GAME 1 vs PAGAN RUS in Clash of Warlords

The first game saw my Saxons line up before a beautifully painted mass of warriors and hearthguard backed up by a group of steppe tribesman. It was my first game against this faction but I was well aware of all the horror stories people grumble about. my plan was to not let him gain too much control over the board and use my warriors and cavalry as a battering ram to go straight for the jugula. For the most part this worked, as I aggressively charged my warband in a large mass of shields and spears across the field while steppe nomads began pelting my units with accurate shortbow fire. I had marched up to his line with everything when the winds went foul and a storm kicked up out of nowhere forcing my saxons to take it slow the following turn. This was the pivotal moment in the game where I had the choice of playing it safe, loading up on defensive abilities and letting the Rus initiate the melee or pushing for the charge and making multiple activation's to get stuck into his warlord. my lucky saga dice roll for 'no surrender' gave me the answer I needed and a bloody and ferocious battle amongst Saxon warriors and Rus hearthguard began to unfold while the two warlords locked horns. The gamble I had made seemed to have payed off for the most part until one final push from the Rus warlord gave him the strength to smite my warlord down without any retainers by his side. When the cries and winds had settled there was but a handful of men left standing by their warlord as the ravens began to circle. Overall this was a fantastic example of why I love this game. The opponents battle board made me think, the aggression I put forward left the Rus player on the backfoot with little table to maneuver and the conclusion was that of legendary proportions. I would like to thank Alan for a awesome game that was well played by all. I still like to think if I had just a little better luck in that moment I could have sealed the deal before most of the carnage occurred, alas that's the way the dice roll and the better man won on the day.  

GAME 2 vs ANGLO SAXONS in Twilight Battlefield
This match up was incredibly interesting for me as the scenario was totally new and the opposing Anglo Saxon force was radically different to my own in makeup. With both of us warlords not wanting to give ground our deployment ended up quite conservative with battle lines being drawn across the center of the table. My plan in this game was to attempt to push his warband back and try to grab a sneaky table quarter before pulling back to defend winning by 1 point. Anglo saxons however....are a tough cookie to crack (something I should have foreseen no doubt). Even with my early turns aggression I was only able to push him back into his own table quarters but not enough to risk pushing further in fear of giving up my own. This resulted in a very cagey tactical ballet of sorts in which we both poked and prodded each others defenses for a chink in the armour. In the end both our shield walls proved too tough and we went home with a draw. This was a result neither of us were shooting for but goes to show just how much the scenario can completely change the style of gameplay you use. This game was by far the most difficult of the day and I give my regards to my fellow Anglo Saxon opponent who put up a bloody good fight without giving an inch (despite my overly aggressive nature).

GAME 3 vs VIKINGS in battle at the Fjord

Ah the river ran crimson this day that is all that is certain. This game was the most brutal display I had ever seen in SAGA. After deployment the vikings sprinted across both sides of the fjord and threw themselves onto the Saxon shieldwalls. The push was a very aggressive play by my opponent and something I wholeheartedly wished to return. Beyond the 3rd turn there was but a handfull of models left on the table and I was beginning to wonder if there was going to be anyone left to score points at all. on the right crossing Ragnar and his faithful hearthguard carved a path through a large group of warriors and continued into the ranks of more, while the saxon levies on the left held strong against wave after wave of berzerkers and warriors (don't ask me how this happened...they were incredible this game). The brutal conclusion of the game saw the last of Ragnars retainers fall to the combined charge of cavalry I had held in reserve and the Saxon warlord. The Viking legend himself put up a masterly fight until he was finally brought down by the Saxon warlord and his hearthguard which ultimately resulted in a quick dash across the bridge to secure victory. This game was super fast and super bloody. We were both looking over at other peoples tables who were still maneuvering around the field to get that strategic charge to happen while we had less then 15 models left on the battlefield. Todds vikings put up a great fight and truly put the fear in me with his brutal 8 man hearthguard unit. While it was bitter sweet to see the big guy Ragnar fall it was great to see my Saxon warlord claim another name. Big thanks to Todd for showing up and getting the balls out for this one, hugely entertaining and what SAGA is all about.

So after three rounds with perfectly mixed results I somehow managed to claim 3rd place and best painted. Allen from game one deservedly got first place while David and his Britons snatched up second. The day was a fantastic look into how SAGA functions as a tournament game and was a huge success. The simple win, loss and draw scenarios with a built in victory points system meant the game played smoothly straight out of the books while the 8 point army selection meant that most players never felt cheated by a scenario because you could cater to the party. All in all I would wholesomely recommend attending or organising a SAGA tournament if you have the players. The simple and elegant system of rules backed up by the individualistic battle boards meant the best man won on the day and allowed for some of the best gaming I have yet experienced.

A special thanks goes out to Hall of Heroes for putting this tournament together and providing prize support.

With this all wrapped up I will be looking at writing an article about my further more conclusive thoughts on Anglo Saxons and how i feel they play in the competitive scene.

Happy SAGA

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Crescent And The Cross Faction Breakdown!

G'day all
I hope we are all having a jolly release from gripping beast with the new crescent and cross. I'm sure our minds are all brimming with ideas, purchase lists and nasty combos to wipe the smirk off our gaming buddies faces. Today rather than doing a review of the book (which has been aptly covered by several other bloggers who have done a bang up job), I thought it would be interesting to explore the factions in the book to showcase the play styles, strengths and weaknesses of the 6 new kids on the block.

Hopefully this will help any of you out there that have either not purchased the book for lack of information or are simply waiting for the bug to bite.

The six new factions included are:
-Milites Christi

Overall these factions each bring something new to the game and are mostly unlike anything seen in previous releases. It is also worth noting that these six factions have alot more freedom or options then their dark ages elders. For example the Saracens have the option to take Hearthguard with or without bows and warriors mounted with or without bows or on foot. This seems to be the going number of options in each Warband and is more than the early dark ages counterparts with their 1 or 2 options at most. I would stress that these options don't make these factions any more powerful in my opinion, but simply give players more flexibility in playing each of them in their own way. Before I get stuck in it should be noted that all thoughts below are exactly that... thoughts. I have yet to play these factions so at this point the below breakdowns are a first impression and are likely subject to change as we play them out.

Saga dice distribution:
 4 x common
 7 x uncommon
 6 x rare

The crusaders from the outset seem like the most workable force in the book allowing just about any option for each unit type. however the makeup of said options will dictate how the board is used. The crusaders battle board is somewhat locked up at the beginning of the game and the player can attempt to unlock the rest (virtues) via saga dice sacrifice for that turn. This means the Crusaders from a theoretical position require the player to have a plan and stick with it as the cost of unlocking other sections of the battle board do not favor overall efficiency. Their spread of dice across the battle board also shows that their abilities can be quite expensive when taking into account the attempts of unlocking virtues. I'm not too sure how difficult these guys will be to play but they seem like the calculative generals style with allot of thought going into pregame rather than mid game.

Saga dice distribution:
4 x common
8 x uncommon
4 x rare

The Saracens look like the Norman-esque cav+ shooting army but with a emphasis on mobility. unlike the Normans however alot of the Saracen abilities involve a large amount of randomness which can range from very good to very poor results. there are of course ways to mitigate this randomness on their battle board but at the cost of saga dice. The Saracens overall will suit the players out there who love their roulette and enjoy the highs and lows of tabletop gaming. For those out there that have shaky relationships with the dice gods...steer very clear.

Saga dice distribution:
6 x common
7 x uncommon
5 x rare
Again we have a christian force that involves sacrificing of saga dice each turn to boost their abilities and options. unlike the crusaders however they are much more of a professional force leaving the levies at home. This force looks to me like the resource managers go to faction. the piety resource you gain by sacrificing saga dice can be used in many different ways and allow the player to store piety early on to hit hard late game, or simply use it throughout the game to power up abilities as you need them. While they mostly seem more able to respond to threats than the crusaders the wrong use of piety could surely leave these guys in trouble.

Saga dice distribution:
4 x common
5 x uncommon
5 x rare
The Mutatawwi'a are a free peoples Muslim force built around the concept of model sacrifice to boost abilities, to put these guys simply they are the pure aggressor faction in this book. They have access to camels which are the rock to the horseman scissors and their infantry can charge forth like cavalry if need be. majority of their abilities will require a model to be sacrificed producing Martyr tokens which in turn can be used to bring models back to life later. players who enjoy getting in someones face will love these guys and the Martyr rules create an interesting dilemma of life vs power.

Saga dice distribution:
6 x common
6 x uncommon
3 x rare
The Spanish offer subtle but interesting changes to the battle board and as such require a little more finesse than the others at first glance. First of all their activation boxes for units only specify mounted or on foot models rather than hearthguard, warriors and levies. furthermore allot of their abilities seem to favor being used in the opponents turn similar to the franks and would suggest a more reactionary battle plan. Theoretically I am willing to say these guys are the tough or hard mode faction in the book. they represent a challenge to veterans and reward to those out there who enjoy playing reactionary. Also These guys have access to what can only be described as "Tau jet pack" units which can move>shoot>move>shoot in a single activation...nasty.

6 x common
6 x uncommon
5 x rare
Finally the Moors seem like a very straight forward faction but with a minor twist. That twist is corruption of the enemy forces. Some abilities in their hand punish enemies for leaving units outside their warlords influence, and resting as well as taking control of enemy units for a turn. this is backed up by some solid defensive abilities which favor their warriors on foot. The Moors look like the perfect faction for those who wish to dictate their opponents movements and options. They do not present any amazing hard hitting abilities that will melt face but will cost an enemy warlord who is not paying full attention the game.

All of these new factions look exciting to play with and against so Alex Buchel has surely outdone himself this time. I would also like to thank Ian and John at War and peace games for being super on top of this release and getting this book in my hands ASAP. I am very much looking forward to getting stuck into more Saga!


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: Wargames factory British infantry, american war of independence 28mm

I know the current hotness for myself is mostly in the saga camp, but occasionally I love to dabble in the idea of black powder era. In the past twelve months our gaming group has jumped into the other studio tomahawk game 'Muskets and tomahawks' and found its short, simple and story driven games to be a breath of fresh air that leaves me reading about and collecting more and more miniatures from the 18th century.

This leads me to picking up a new kit that I have been oddly anticipating for a few months. The kit in question looked to be a great way for players to accrue a small starter force for musket tomahawks so I was more than happy to dive in and grab some british infantry to fight a good mates Americans.

The contents
So whats in the box? The contents like many plastic kits these days are an array of several diffrent bodies and plenty of arms with weapons enough to create the many diffrent common poses of line infantry. There is also plenty of diffrent types of heads and arms to create and represent line, light and grenadier infantry. At first glance of the sprues instructions the kit may seem restricted in poses, however with a little patience and kit bashing skills many more poses are possible to create. In addition to infantry there are several command figures that cover all bases including 2 officers, a drummer, two colour sargeants and a regular sargeant. Overal I found the contents of the box to be impressively flexible and without a doubt there has been alot of thought put in to maxamise the users options.

The sculpts / quality of miniature
Anyone out there who has been following the wargames factory story would know the variable quality and number of faults past plastic kits have contained. Ranging from lack of detail, odd poses and utter frustration in reading sprues during assembly, wargames factory has had its fair shair of hits and big misses. The good news here is that all of these issues are not present at all in this kit. The detail and sculpting is crisp, professional  and represents the company's evolution in CAD skills. The poses are realistic, subtle and reminiscent of ranked line infantry of the period. And finally the contents of the box come with easy to read instructions that practically hold your hand as you construct each figure. It is important to note the scale and makup of these miniatures fit into more 'true' scale proportions and mixing with other company's infantry might look a little odd, fortunatley this choice in anatomic proportions suits this era quite well.

Group shots and quick painted examples

Line infantry and officer
 Light infantry
 Painted and primed

Final verdict/ thoughts
There was two reasons why I felt compelled to review these miniatures on here. Firstly the outstanding leap forward in quality and a accessibility of this kit has  succsessfully drawn my attention to future wargames factory products. If they continue along this range of miniatures with this quality they will have a set of 18th century figures that rival heavy weights like the perry's and north star. Secondly I wanted to bring attention of these to any gamers out there who want to ease their way into black powder era gaming without breaking the budget. Musket and tomahawks is a fantastic game that will have you retelling many crazy exploits of heroic or moronic proportions and this kit allows you to build a british force of around 200-300 points (the basic level) very easily.

I am honestly excited for the rest of this range as I feel it is an untapped era for multi part plastic kits and I cannot wait to get a hold of the rest of the range. Well done wargames factory! *golf clap*

For those interested the kit retails at around 28 ish dollars (AUD) and contains all the parts to create the following british units in muskets and tomahawks:
- british officer
-british line infantry
-british light infantry
-british grenadiers

Tally Ho!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Initial Thoughts on the Anglo saxons

G'day all

To start this blog with some kind of intelligent discussion (that will more than likely erode with days to come) I decided I would bash the keyboard with some of my Anglo Saxon musing for the fantastic tabletop game that is Saga. After playing several games at both 4 points and 6 points I have found the faction challenging and rewarding at the same time. For those fellow Anglo Saxon players out there ill attempt to break down what has worked and what hasn't worked thus far and give thoughts on the faction overall (from my opinion of course).

Composition and Saga dice

The immediate draw for me to join the ranks of the Anglo Saxons was the diversity of options in the warbands composition. This means I can field cavalry, warriors, and archers in the same force which makes me a happy warlord. The Anglo Saxons are also capable of fielding melee equipped levis, which can prove to be a formidable and efficient unit under saxon kingdom.
On the saga dice front the Saxons suffer from being forced to run large units and end up with less saga dice overall being generated each order phase. In larger games this isn't noticeable initially but after you lose a unit or two you will notice your saga dice begin to decline.

The Muster

The first thing I had noticed with the Anglo Saxons is there tendency to group together in larger units of between 10-12 models to make use of all their abilities and as such warriors and levy are the favored selection of men to fight in your warband. To add to this majority of their abilities offer largely defensive benefits to ensure you maintain any numbers advantage as well as the 10 man threshold to boost the aforementioned abilities. This as I have noticed is a double edged sword due to the length of time it may take to grind an opponents force down with your warriors. having large units on the table limits the amount that you can accomplish over a turn without taking on too much fatigue, and in turn you will find your force surrounded and hounded from multiple assaults. Solid abilities like 'defenders of the realm' and 'shoulder to shoulder' offer powerful means of keeping an anchor unit of warriors alive if used together and should be able to repel most offensive moves (bar loaded bezerkers) however at a hefty cost of 3 saga dice. So its obvious the Anglo Saxons require a little more finesse than pushing models forward and rolling dice than I originally expected from the 'horde' faction of Saga.

Combat the weakness

It is of my understanding that while the Anglo Saxons need larger units to benefit from their abilities it is how the supporting units of hearth guard and the warlord act that can swing the battle your way. I believe it is important to note that wasting any units simply for kills is not advised. The Saxons posess amazing defensive abilities at your disposal to keep units alive, to this effect your warriors are your anvil and hearthguard and warlord are your tactical hammer. Let the warriors and levi take the fight to the enemy and hold ground while the warlord leads from the front with hearthguard striking at weak contingents of your opponents force. Mounted hearthguard fill this role beautifully by giving you options in threat range. The warlord loaded with bretwalda followed closely by warriors is nigh unkillable and can be used as a battering ram into opponents lines.

While this does not work every time, I have personally found the amount of success I have with the Saxons largely hinges on the performance of the hearthguard in tandem with the warriors.

To sumarise these ramblings from the little experience I have mustered, the Anglo Saxons are the stalwart and surgical warlords dream. If you enjoy playing large solid defensive groups of warriros that grind down the opponent while key pieces strike weak elements of the opposing force you will enjoy the Saxons. If you expect them to throw down hundreds of models, roll perfect saga dice and steam roll opponents you will likely have problems. To finish off I would like to stress that the above thoughts and opinions have been built around how I have played them thus far and are likely subject to change as I try new things. In addition others may have completely diffrent interpretations on how this faction works and I would love to hear about them.

Hope this has been helpfull to some Saxon warlords out there.


The beginning

G'day all

 I must confess I am very new to this whole 'blogging' thing despite my age and hobbies, but it was not until I became involved more in online gaming communities through Facebook and forums etc that I begun to witness some fantastic tabletop eye candy and articles from everyday gamers like myself. So naturally I thought it only fitting that I begin my own blog to bring the miniatures, games and adventures of our local gaming group to the world wide web in the hope that someone may stumble across it and enjoy it as I have many times in the past with others. I doubt anyone will read or keep up with these postings but if it documents some of my local gaming groups miniatures, battles and thoughts I shall enjoy posting it all the same.

To kick off I thought I would simply list the games and miniatures that will likely appear on this blog:
- Bolt action
- Saga
- Muskets and Tomahawks
- Dead mans hand
- X-wing

others are likely to appear on the horizon of course

and finally to jump start with some eye candy

cheers all!