Saga Iberians

The last of the painted but unplayed Age of Hannibal armies finally gets a run out. These are all Victrix figures, from the armoured Iberian infantry and Iberian cavalry sprues with a few additions from the odds and ends of other sprue sets. The armoured and unarmoured sprue sets are identical in pose and weapon layout apart from the chest armour. Everything else being equal the unarmoured set is the better buy as both share the same armoured command and the chest armour modeled may skew the models to the earlier part of our period. The Iberians could be seen as generic European minor nations and run out as Sicilians, Samnites, Illyrians or whatever. Spain was the major setting of the Sertorian War (80-72 BC) with the Roman rebels aligning with native Iberians so the Iberians should still run well in the promised Age of Caesars book. Another plus to running Iberians is that they could make up the majority of a Carthaginian army; add a Punic unit and you are done. The final cherry on the Iberian cake is that through a 3-point ruse the Iberians can run with the Gallic battleboard acting as Celtiberians. It is even possible to swap from the Gallic to Iberian board (but not back again) within a single game although the board options opened up would be best for an experienced Saga player.

The Iberian board is rated as the most complex in the Age of Hannibal book. Some activations gain or require guerilla markers of which the Iberians can hold a maximum of 10. Two guerilla markers can be spent to activate a unit in the opponent’s turn after their unit activation is completed. There are few limitations; a unit can only be activated once in the enemy turn and a unit cannot be activated to rest if it also activated in the previous friendly turn. If there is no obvious activity to be reacted to any unit can be activated; at the very least it is good value to use the otherwise sluggish Levy. Having some guerilla markers stacked up at the end of the Iberian turn (a minimum of 4 is good) affects how the opposition will be able to act. A unit will often start a turn by resting to remove fatigue then charging into melee. After the rest activation the Iberian unit could move out of range. This forces the enemy unit to charge in without resting to keep the target in place but leaves them with any fatigue from a previous turn. A Warlord will often be accompanied by a unit of Hearthguard. If either is moved the Iberian could charge in and attack the Warlord when he is out of support range from the Hearthguard. This requires the movement of the Warlord and Hearthguard to be in a zig-zag with the Hearthguard always shielding the Warlord. An easy way to build up guerilla markers is TAUNT which requires a common die face. An Iberian cavalry unit can be activated to move up to within ‘M’ of several enemy units, activate TAUNT to gather guerilla markers then activate again to move away. That is 3 Saga dice spent and a fatigue gained for perhaps 4 guerilla markers, gaining 2 activations. Although an overall loss in Saga dice the reaction abilities are easily worth the trade off.

The Iberians can run a single unit of Warriors with slings. This is the only non-Levy and non-Mercenary missile unit in Age of Hannibal except for those running with javelins. The slings take the unit’s armour down to 3/3 which is pretty squishy. The Iberian advanced abilities only has FALARICA to benefit missile shooting and it also benefits melee; trading guerilla dice for combat dice. An 8 model slinger unit could use this ability for 4 more missile dice once a turn but this does not make slingers a game winning choice. They do have some additional benefit through using 2 guerilla markers to shoot in the enemy turn and SECOND WIND to remove fatigue both optimise the number of shots a unit could make.

To try out the army we have Warlord (mounted), 1 Hearthguard (mounted), 1 Warrior (mounted), 3 Warriors (on foot, no slingers) and 1 Levy (javelins). Opposing them are the same Romans as in the other Saga reports. Although that list has lost every single game so far they provide a constant against which the other armies in the book can be measured. The Iberians are at the top of the table, the Romans are running units of 8 Hastati and Triarii together with a unit of 12 Velites.

The scenario is based on the random generation tables in Book of Battles. Victory will be on survival points with an additional 2 points for units that end the game further than ‘L’ from their own board edge.

The Iberians move first. Warrior cavalry and Levy foot move to the edge of the woods. The mounted Hearthguard ride up to the Triarii, TAUNT, throw javelins (SOLIFERRUM, no fatigue cost and you get a free guerilla marker) then ride back to their own lines.

The Velites attempt to shoot at the Iberian horse but although the shooting activation is free it is a separate activation and the horse move out of the way.

The Iberians shift around with some taunting and missile shooting.. The only melee action is in the woods where the Velites are driven back.

The Romans push into an Iberian Warrior unit but a single model still holds out.

The Iberians push into the wood and tidy up their lines. Their problem is that loading up juicy advanced Saga abilities leaves few dice to move the army about.

The Romans finish off the lone Warrior model but then the Iberian Warrior cavalry reacts and hits the Hastati unit in the rear and wipes it out albeit with heavy cavalry losses. The Triarii then move up but the Iberian Hearthguard react and charge the Roman Warlord who is more than ‘S’ from his Hearthguard. He is eliminated for no Iberian loss.

It is now the Iberian turn and with a clear advantage in numbers they avoid combat as they want to minimise losses and maximise survival points.

The Romans are short of Saga dice (3) and men. The only hope of doing any good being to attack the Iberian Warlord with the Triarii. He takes fatigue and loses 2 Hearthguard bodyguard but is otherwise unharmed. Ignoring the bonus for being more than ‘L’ from the home edge the Iberians are 20 to 15 up on survival points and 5 to 3 in Saga dice. There is no hope of the Romans evening up the game so the end is called here.

The Iberians caused as much trouble to the Romans in the Roman turns than the Iberian. The Roman board does depend heavily on the Saga dice rolled. Very few uncommon Roman dice were rolled in this battle. They were never able to put the dice together to allow them to run STABILI GRADUI; close ranks and reduce casualties.

The Romans are consistently doing poorly in these test games; their board does seem expensive in Saga dice. EXHORTATION gives 2 attack or defense dice to units within ‘L’ of a consul but needs 2 Saga die to activate. The Iberians can neutralise this by spending 1 guerilla marker per combat if they activate LIKE SHADOWS which only requires a single uncommon Saga die. STABILI GRADUI is another 2 Saga (uncommon) dice Roman activation. It allows a unit to close ranks, ignore their first casualty and if not forced to retreat ignore the fatigue from melee but only works in the opposition turn. Of all the Roman advanced activations 4 can be used on a common die alone. This compares to 6 (Gauls), 5 (Iberian), 5 (Numidian), 4 (Carthaginian) and 4 (Graeculi).