10 June 2011

SAGA Review

Like many of you, I have seen this new game advertised around the web and in magazines, and been envious of those who may have had a chance to play demo games

Gripping Beast has given us this update:
I know we've been a bit quiet about SAGA recently but that's because we've been really busy buffing and polishing it ready to go to the printers (which it should be doing in two weeks....)
In the last few weeks we've been pleased to play host to visits from Wargames Illustrated and WSS who came down (seperately!) to Beast Towers for a run through of SAGA. Both magazines will be running articles with pictures in either their next issues or the following ones.
Dan at WI enjoyed himself so much that he came back a week later with Rick Priestley and stayed two days: on day one we played the Battle Of Maldon using Rick's Hail Ceasar ruleset on our lovely board that some of you may have seen at Salute and on day two we introduced Rick to SAGA and played through a scenario specially written for a forthcoming WI issue. Make sure you check out Rick's thoughts on SAGA in WI shortly........

Those of you who have been to the shows this year may well have seen our SAGA Introduction participation game expertly run by chum Mike Hobbs ( a wholly owned subsidury of GB.) Mike has written a short overview of the game and posted it on his web-site

 Mike's article follows:

Over the last 6 months I’ve been playtesting a set of Dark Age wargames rules called ‘Saga’ and as the release date of the rules is getting nearer and nearer I thought I would do a review of the rules so you can get an idea what the game is all about.

Saga is a mid scale skirmish game set in Dark Age Britain and is written by Alex Buchel, Jean-Baptiste Folley of Tomahawk studios and Darren Harding and Andrew Sherwell both of Gripping Beast, so it has some pedigree.

The game itself requires about 40 figures aside and a 4ft x 3 ft table to play on with a normal game taking about an hour to play which makes it perfect for club nights.
So onto the mechanics, movement and combat are both nice and simple and dead easy to pick up, but the true beauty of the game lies in the battleboards each player has and it’s the use of the battleboard that will decide if a player is victorious or not.
In brief before the game starts each player will purchase a number of different types of warriors to create his or her warband and once purchased these warriors are split into units ready for the game.
For example you might buy 12 Hearthguards (these are the best kind of troop), 16 warriors (your bulk basic troops) and 12 levy (untrained peasants’) and from these figures you then form units. Each unit has between 4 and 12 figures in it of the same type, so following our example we could make this army
  • 2 Hearthguard units (both 6 man strong)
  • 2 Warrior units (1 x 10 man strong, 1 x 6 man strong)
  • 1 levy unit (12 man strong)
On top of this you also have a single warlord figure who counts as a unit on his own.
You then work out the number of Saga dice you get to play with by counting up the number of units you have plus 2 for your warlord, oh I forgot to say that levy units don’t count in working out Saga dice. So again working through our example we would have 6 saga dice to play with, 2 for the Hearthguard units, 2 for the warriors and 2 for the warlord. It’s also worth noting that you dice total is worked out turn by turn so as you lose units the number of dice you get reduces.
I guess you need to know what these Saga dice do that makes then so important, well Saga dice are used with the battle boards to activate units during a turn and to give player some advantages during their and their opponents turn, so the more dice you get the more options you get. Oh these Saga dice are special as they have different symbols on each side instead of numbers, and the symbols match those on a battleboard. So each turn a player will roll his Saga dice and then place them on his battleboard and it’s that act that decides what he can do this turn
Here’s a pretty picture of a battleboard with some dice on it so you get the idea
Each battleboard is laid out the same, with the left hand column used to activate units and the center and right hand columns giving you abilities that can be used during the turn, each faction in the game has a different battleboard which play’s to their strengths and gives the game a really good feel.
When a unit is activated (by removing a dice from the battleboard) it can either move, rest or shoot a ranged weapon. Movement is done using movement sticks although a normal tape measure is acceptable, and a unit can be activated any number of times per turn, however if unit moves or fires more than once per turn the unit starts to collect fatigue points, I’ll come onto fatigue later.
Combat is also easy with each figure involved in the combat generating a number of attack dice which are rolled to generate hits, if you roll equal to or over your opponents armour value you score a hit which the opponent has to save. Any unsaved hits result in a figure being taken off, unless it’s your warlord as he needs 2 hits to be made against him in a single combat.
Right getting back to fatigue, fatigue is generated when a unit moves or shoots twice or more in a turn and also after melee, these fatigue counters will over time cause the unit to become exhausted which means they can’t move or fight. There are only 2 ways to get rid of fatigue that is by resting the unit or by your opponent using your fatigue, but why would he do that I hear you ask, well mainly because your fatigue can be used by your opponent to give him an advantage in melee, movement and shooting.
It’s a very simple but very subtle rule and really makes you think about what you are doing.
Well that’s a brief rundown of the rules, currently there are 4 factions included in the first book, which are Anglo Danish, Viking, Norman and Welsh. Each one has a different battleboard and will use different Saga dice which will be available separately, a sheet of the symbols that can be stuck onto normal d6 will be made available for download so you don’t have to buy the special dice if you don’t want to.
As I said at the beginning I’ve been playtesting the rules with members of the Penarth and District wargames club for the last 6 months as well as doing demos at various wargames events in the UK and I have to say it’s a real belter of a game, it’s fun, easy to pickup and really does reward good tactics.
Hopefully it’ll be on sale in July and from the feedback I’ve had I know it’ll be popular.

From Mike's blog here    Lots to look forward to then!

I also found some more SAGA Game writeups from an ongoing campaign here:

We are still enjoing 'Age of Blood' but I'm sure I'll end up with a set of these too!


  1. Saw it at Salute and I must admit the rules are interesting.

  2. Definitely interesting. Thanks Paul.

  3. I had a little go of the rules at Salute and was mighty impressed, I for one will be buying the rules, putting on a game.....well that's a different matter??

  4. Very interesting I have not heard of this. I wonder if there will be any sort any way to run any type of linked campaign of if this will be a one off game.

  5. BRILLIANT.........just bloody brilliant. Now I have to buy/purchase/possess another set of rules. Sorry, cant help myself but they do look very interesting, cant resist a good skirmish game. As soon as Maelstrom gets them in, they're mine..............

  6. Looking forward to this set and painting up a warband later this year. thx for the review

  7. Ha. Here was I thinking that 'SAGA' stood for 'South Australian Gamers Association' or somesuch! The twist with the fatigue rule looks like one of those classic 'jujitsu' kinds of choices which good rules create for players within their simplicity. Simple is not easy.

    Adding you to my links, btw.

  8. hey paul! i just had a chance to play saga this weekend using my vikings vs vikings (my mate's) and had a blast. now i'm looking at normans. read some tmp posts on what to get. sigh... another project...

  9. You can download full SAGA in HQ PDF by www.druzhina.org

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