Saturday, October 5, 2013

Old Man Wargaming with Bryce: SAGA

Hey again dear readers, and welcome to those from Hitting on 3s.

This one is a little trick of the blogging trade, I have a lot more easeof use on my own blog, with pictures and stuff, but I want to write for the Ho3s. So thanks for following the link.

Today I will be doing the first textual installment of OMWGB and talking about SAGA, a 28mm Dark Ages skirmish game from Studio Thomahawk and Gripping Beast.

So crank up the Korpiklanni or Amon Amarth, grab a beer or better yet some Texas mead and let's talk about Vikings.

SAGA as I said is a 28mm Dark Ages skirmish game, you'll  only need about 20-30 figures plus a leader, depending on the group you play and what units you take. I'll talk about good sources for figures later.

But first, what makes SAGA unique and why should you give it a go?

SAGA has a interesting "gimmick" (a future topic for my podcast segment). It uses custom dice to activate your units and utilize special abilities themed around what group you are playing. So not only does this create a resource management aspect, the interaction of SAGA Dice with the Battle Boards allows for actions worthy of the sagas told for generations.


Scots (the most beautiful I think)
Here we have some of the SAGA Dice Gripping Beast makes. 
They also have the symbols on their site to make your own if you are cheap like me. 

The way SAGA Dice work is you have a certain amount of them, up to 6 normally, based on your warband, you roll them at the start of your turn and place them on your Battle Board. A leader provides 2, units of Hearth Guard and Warriors each provide 1, and Levies provide none. We'll get into the units a little later. First up, Battle Boards.

Shamelessly taken from The Tapestry, WWPD's excellent SAGA department. 

So you place the dice you roll on the squares you want. The dice you need are shown next to the text. Basically it means common(1,2,3), uncommon(4,5), and rare(6), these allow you to pay the cost to activate a unit or use a special ability. Ones with multiple dice mean any shown can be used, if there is a "+" then both of the dice shown are needed to use the ability. For example, your Leader or Hearthguard can be activated with any type of die, whereas your Levy need uncommon or rare to activate. They don't follow orders as well. 

This is where the resource management comes into play, you can't always do everything you want to. You have to decide which units to activate and which abilities to use. Also, the number of dice you roll depends on what units are still on the table, so if you lose a unit of Warriors, you lose the die they provided too. So both offensive and defensive tactics come into play. 


A quick note on how range and movement work. Everything is a set length, Long(L 12in), Medium(M 6in), Short(S 4in), or Very Short(VS 2in). For example, bows shoot L, troops move M, or move through uneven ground S, and a unit must keep its models with in VS of each other. 


In SAGA there are only 4 types of units, a Leader, Hearthguard, Warriors, and Levy. When making an army to play a game(usually between 4 and 6 points), 1 point= 4 Hearthguard, or 8 Warriors, or 12 Levy. You get the Leader for free. Hearthguard have the best armor and roll the most attack dice, Warriors are in the middle, and Levy are lightly armored troops usually armed with missile weapons. 

Now there is more variety added in individual army lists, for example the option (or requirement) that certain troops be mounted, as with the Norman knights. Or the option to take special weapons, like Danish great axes or Norman crossbows, or Welsh javelins. 

The heart of the rules is the interaction of SAGA Dice on the Battle Board, the skeleton is how units fight. Basically you roll a certain number of attack dice against the enemy, those that meet or beat their armor value are a hit, the enemy then gets to roll defense dice, on a 5+ the hit is cancelled, otherwise a model is removed as a casualty. Each side does this when a melee is fought. 

Ok, that is super simple right? That's the whole point, SAGA is layers of simple systems stacked to make a delicious cake of a fast fun wargame. Here are a few more of the layers, different unit types have different numbers of attack dice and armor values. You can also chose to give up a number of attack dice to gain more defense dice. For example Hearthguard have 2 attack dice each and an armor value of 5, while Levies have 1 attack die per 3 models in melee and an armor value of 3. Also, there are shooting attacks, which is where Levies "excel", they get one attack die per 2 models, and usually a L range, the enemy can't attack back with ranged attacks. 

Here is SAGA's other really cool mechanic, Fatigue. This is gained when a unit activates more than once in a turn, after melee, and if another unit is wiped out near by. Fatigue on your unit can be spent by your opponent to gain a bonus. Such as reducing movement by one step, or in melee you can spend the opposing unit's Fatigue to gain one armor, and/or reduce their armor by one. Also, if a unit is shooting at you and has Fatigue you can spend their Fatigue to gain one armor against the shooting attack. 

This is one of the trickier parts of SAGA, though it's still pretty simple, so how about an example? 

Your opponent's unit of warriors has one Fatigue from moving previously in the turn, they activate a second time to move into contact with your warrior unit. So when they move into contact, you can spend the Fatigue  on the opposing unit to reduce their movement by one step, so fewer models make it into contact, or you could reduce their armor by one or raise your armor by one. So the score you need to hit the opponent would be a 3+ after spending the Fatigue, or the score they need to hit you would be a 5+. You can do one of each of the three options in the same melee if there is enough Fatigue. 

Alright that's enough about the rules of SAGA. If you want more information, go get the book or find someone local that plays. It's a very cool game. 

There are a lot of great manufacturers for SAGA appropriate minis out there. 

First of course is Gripping Beast, they have excellent plastic boxed sets of Viking Hirdmen, Saxon Thegns, and generic Dark Ages warriors I think they come 20 or 30 men to a box. Also metal sets designed as 4 point starter sets of SAGA. 

Next on the plastic wonderfulness is Wargames Factory, they have Vikings and Saxons, both armored and unarmored, I bought a box of each for my SAGA Viking guys. You can often get them $15 a box at online retailers, and there are 32 minis per box, with swords, shields, spears, and bows. 

Next for guys who love metal I would recommend Atrizan Games, all of their miniatures have a lot of personality, though you will need brass rods to make spears for them, they sell these as well. 

For Normans, you can't get much better than Conquest Games, they have plastic knights and warriors, as well as a set of eight metal crossbowmen, perfect for the Norman's unique warrior unit.  

There are plenty of other companies, these are just ones I've found and like, or have heard good things about. 

Thanks again for stopping by.