So Saga - what is it?
Saga is a 28mm Dark ages miniatures skirmish game published by Gripping Beast, it's played using 2 opposing forces consisting of between 20 and 50 models depending on game size and forces used.
|Gripping Beast plastic Vikings with shield transfers|
There are quite a few armies available over a range of supplements and rulebooks, these supplements contain the background and battle boards for the forces - wait what's a battle board? Well I'll come to that in a bit.
More info after the jump:
The current forces that are available are:
- Rus Princes
- Steppe Tribes
And probably some more I've forgotten about. Now this list can look quite daunting, but there are a couple of things you need to be aware of. For one we're talking about the dark ages here, a man is a man is a man, so the majority of these forces look pretty much the same, you might get the odd different shield shape, or helmet but a viking levy slinger is pretty much the same as a Norman Levy slinger, this means you can share models through different forces.
Another thing is that there is no such thing as an 'army list' at least not in the traditional sense. A Saga army is normally between 4 and 6 points, 1 point gets you a unit, the quality of the men in that unit determines the unit size, I'll run through the units below:
Warlord - this guys is free, he's the head of your force and is quite nasty.
Hearthguard - you get 4 of these guys for 1 point, they are normally heavily armoured, or might come on horses.
Warriors - as these guys are less armoured than your warlord/hearthguard you get 8 of these guys for 1 point.
Levy - The proles of your force, normally have low armour and ranged attacks like slings or bows, you get a massive 12 of these for 1 point, but they're not very good in combat and don't provide you with any saga dice.
Saga Dice?? - what one sec, just got a couple more things to mention about the army lists - Weapons wise that will be determined by the army you choose, although mostly this determines if you have a close combat or a ranged attack, there's no weapon real stats here, a swordsman is the same as an axeman, there's only a few rare occurrences that change this - for example the two handed Dane axes. Finally you arrange your bought units into on-table units, you can combine several into one big unit or split them into smaller ones, this helps you with your number of saga dice.
|Gripping Beast plastic Levy and Warlord Games Celts|
Right, so how does it play?
So you've got your two forces on the table and want to have a scrap - well you'll need the battle boards for each of them and the relevant saga dice.
Saga dice are standard 6 sided dice, but with special symbols on them, at the start of the turn you roll a number of dice equivalent to the number of units you have on the board (excluding levy as they're too puny to provide them), you also get an extra one for your warlord. Depending on the symbols that come up on your dice you assign them to your forces battleboard to activate units or give them rerolls or special rules.
The battleboards are what gives you the flavour of the armies - each of them contain a number of order boxes, you can activate units, give them re-rolls or special rules or do damage to your opponent. This means as the game progresses and you start to lose units your options reduce, you might start off with 6 saga dice to roll, but end up with only a couple and have to make important choices on what units you wish to activate.
Apart from that game play is pretty familiar, you roll dice to hit and damage your opponent and the objective of the game is determined by the scenario you're playing, there are several in the rules from a straight killfest to getting across a river, or forcing your opponent out of their homes and taking their village.
I've managed to collect a couple of armies since starting the game a few months back, I've got Vikings (which can be used as jomsvikings as well) and also the ltd edition Skraeling army that gripping beast released for Salute a couple of years back, these allow me to recreate the ancient sagas of the vikings traveling across the atlantic to north america.
As with most historical games the per-model cost is quite cheap, there are several manufacturers out there that produce generic plastic boxes of vikings, saxons etc - out of one box of Gripping Beast vikings (~£25) I got an entire 6pt Viking force which makes it one of the cheapest games on the market - of course if you go for an all mounted scots army or similar the costs start to creep up, but still nowhere near the cost of some other games.