Postby muggins » Mon Aug 18, 2014 5:44 pm

Stolen from SA



What is Saga? Isnt that an old persons holiday tour company?

Saga is a skirmish game for 28mm (although of course Ive seen people doing it in every other scale) that covers the Dark Ages. Its for warbands of between 20 and 50 minis and uses a very clever yet simple system called Battleboards to pull off cool moves, powerful attacks and combos and also covers a command and morale system. Players who have played skirmish games such as Warmachine or Malifaux will feel right at home with the idea of units and characters with special abilities they can pull off if you use the right resources at the right time.

So Dark Ages? Whats that about then?

The game covers Europe (mostly although there is a lot of fan made unofficial mods) from roughly the 10th C through to the early early 12th C.

There are currently a lot of offocial armies available and as well as the rule book there are 3 supplements with new forces in.

The forces in the original rule book are :

Vikings: Super attacky beserker types
Anglo Danes: Solid defensive types with abilities to manipulate your opponents fatigue levels.
Normans: Mounted knights and nasty crossbow men
Welsh: Super skirmishy hidey types with ponies and javelins.

The expansions cover all sorts of stuff from the more obvious Anglo Saxons (hordey infantry fun) and Franks through to the more obscure such as Rus, Jomsvikings (super tricksy elite), and Bretons.

So is this some super obscure game thats going to take me months of painful research to source figures and make army lists?

Oh no, not at all. Historicals are starting to grasp that people want an easy in, and Saga has very much gone along with this. Gripping Beast are a very good company who are the official partner of Studio Tomahawk (the writers of Saga) and they produce starter forces for each faction available.

(yes I know the website is a bit 2005, but its all there)

They also sell expansion packs where you can buy blisters that will provide you with entire units you will need to expand your forces.

Heres my (mostly finished) Jomsviking starter box. It doesnt look very many because Joms can only have Hearthguard and Warriors being elite merc types, and my force is all hearthguards, so super small and tough.


And heres some of my Breton's- Warlord and Hearthguard (using plastic minis from Conquest Minis Norman range with some minor conversion- lances changed to javelins and roudn shields from the Gripping Beast plastic boxsets I had)


Failing that there are other cheap options, especially if you are going in with a friend. Gripping Beast and Wargames Factory both make plastic multi part Dark Age figures. You can get Anglo Saxon/Danes and Vikings both in armoured and unarmoured variety. For my money the Gripping Beast ones are far superior and take less work to put together, but I know Americans can pick up the Wargamses Factory figures much much cheaper. My gaming group has a mix of both and once they are painted and on the table they look fine. We started out by buying a box each of viking and Anglo Saxon armoured types, and a box of generic Dark Age levy type. We managed to make pretty much 4 starter four point warbands out of that lot which came to under £60.

So you talked about units- how do I make a force, is it again grognardy and takes a lot of research.

Nope, its dead simple. Its a points based system that most wargamers will understand, but instead of buying individual troops you pay by unit. Games are usually played between 4 and 6 points (6 points seems to be the normal tournament level).

Your Warlord, the leader of your force is free. You then spend your points, within the provision/field allowance of your force to buy units.
1 point buys you either:
4 Hearthguard- elite, usually heavily armoured and armed body guards to your warlord types
8 Warriors- Professional soldier types, usually with some armour
12 Levy- peasants and farm types, usually no armour, and often skirmishy type weapons- bows, javelins etc.

Your army lists may also allow you different options to arm your units. For example Viking hearthguards can chose to beserkers instead of regular hearthguard; they lose a bit of armour but have multiple attacks, or Anglo Danes can add in Dane Axes instead of shields and swords, to again reduce defence but give a lot more hitting power.

So how does the game actually work?

The core mechanics are very simple, anyone familiar with things such as WFB or 40k wont be lost here. Roll to hit, roll to wound, roll to save etc. Nothing difficult. It does give you a bit more control as you can allocate dice to attack or defence as needed but its very straight forward. Movement is even easier, you have measuring sticks, and movement is basically all infantry have Medium move and Cavalry Long move. The game comes with range rulers, or loads of companies make lovely MDF/plastic ones. The measurements in game are consistent and no matter if its missile fire, movement or unit coherency it uses the same system: Very Short (VS, that equals to 2″), Short (S, that equals to 4″), Medium (M, that equals to 6″) and Long (L, that equals to 12″)

You mentioned Battleboards. Explain.

Yep while the core mechanics are dead simple, the meat of the game is the battleboards and Saga dice.

(Welsh Saga Dice)

Saga Dice are unique to each faction (well not totally true, many share the same dice) and are d6's with 3 symbol types on. I symbol will be common and appear on the dice 4 times, 1 symbol will appear twice and one will be like rolling a 6 and appear obviously once!
Your army generates a number of these dice a turn. You get 1 dice for your warlord and 1 dice for each unit of Hearthguard or Warriors. Levy generate no saga dice. However you can never generate more than 6 dice via your troops.

The dice are rolled at the start of your turn and are used on the battleboards.

Let me explain the battleboards.
Each army has a unique “battleboard”, that is a page filled with 3 columns of boxes, where are described the unique abilities of that army.


Each ability requires a certain die (or combination of dice) to be activated. Obviously the more powerful the ability the more difficult the combo of dice needed- a really powerful ability might need the equivalent of a double 6 to pull off. Obviously you never have enough dice to pull off every abilty you want to activate, but theres a further tension too. The Saga dice are also used to activate your troops.
The Battleboards have 3 columns, the last 2 columns are abilities, but the first column is the activation column. The clever part here is the better your troop type, the easier it is to activate. For example Hearthguard can usually be activated on any dice face. Warriors however would need to be activated on either the most common dice face, or the next common, ie like rolling 1-5 on a d6. Levy, being untrained and undisciplined rabble will activate on the least common face and the middle one, ie like rolling 4,5,6 on a d6. Hope that makes sense.
Your Warlord can also activate 1 nearby unit for free.

The fun in the game is trying to balance activating troops at the right time with pulling off some vicious and clever combos of abilities on the battleboards. Its a simple mechanic that captures activation, morale (as in as your units die/break, you have less Saga dice to roll each turn) and special abilities.

The last important mechanic to mention is fatigue.
A unit can be activated more than once a turn (which will strike a chord with any Infinity players), butevery time they are activated after the first, they generate Fatigue tokens. If they get into a combat, they also generate a fatigue token afterwards. Your Fatigue tokens can be spent by your opponent to make any attempt done by that unit more difficult, like making it harder for an Fatigued enemy archer unit to hit your infantry, for example, or reduce the distance you move with that unit. If an unit accumulates more Fatigue than it is allowed, it becomes Exhausted, and cannot do anything on that turn besides resting. You can get rid of Fatigue tokens by spending actions to make your units rest as well. Some factions can use their battleboards to also remove fatigue or even add it to other units. The Anglo Danes are especially good at this and can even convert fatigue tokens into opponents casualties. You really have to think ahead in this game.

So tell me about the expansions
Other than 3 expansions covering the same period as already mentioned, last week Studio Tomahawk released a stand alone product called Saga: The Crescent and the Cross


This is a stand alone product that covers the early Medieval period concentrating on the Crusades and Spain/ El Cid. The core rules are the same as the original Saga although its more of a 1.5 version, the errate and FAQ have been addressed within the rule book and its all laid out in a much clearer way.
Of course Gripping Beast are releasing starter forces of Crusaders, Moors,Saracens etc and there are lots of other options, including plastics out there.
I think the forces are compatible with the original Saga releases, but not 100% sure on that. I havent got my copy of C&C yet but will update when Ive got it.

So basically what you are saying is that Saga is easy and reasonably cheap to get into, hugely fun, has a tournament scene for those who like that sort of thing, wont terrify people new to Historicals, has simple but very clever mechanics and is all about hairy blokes smacking the shit out of each other.

Pretty much, yes.

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