Saturday, 8 October 2011

First Look: Saga

I happened by Orcs Nest the other day and noticed that they had Saga the new Gripping Beast / Studio Tomahawk Dark Ages rules in stock.  I was wondering whether to pick up a copy, and hesitating at the £25 price tag, but having heard good things about them I decided to take the plunge.

The rules are softback, in full colour and run to 75 pages.  You also get four battle boards, one for each of the four factions within the rules - Vikings, Normans, Anglo-Danes and Welsh - which are single sided colour card.  There are special sets of dice you can also buy for each of the factions which look nice but at £12 a set could make the total package a little pricey; however, you don't need the special dice to play the rules as they do provide a translation table for standard d6.

After a brief introduction there is an overview of the basics and then the rules are covered in sections.  This is followed by a complete turn example which takes you to about 35 pages in total.  The remainder of the book covers mustering your warband, an overview of each of the factions and abilities.  Then there are 6 generic scenarios plus a section on how to play with four players as opposed to the usual two, often overlooked rules and sections for you to photocopy with the measuring sticks, fatigue markers and the QRS.

The rules are clear, explained well and accompanied by diagrams and summaries.  There are a sprinkling of photos of some nicely painted miniatures and I only spotted a couple of typos and the inclusion of some designer's notes is always a nice touch.

Saga is clearly aimed more at the game rather than simulation end of the spectrum.  The dice and battle boards provide what feels like a modern boardgame approach with combinations of dice allowing you to take various actions or gain certain advantages in the turn.  Movement has been simplified with everything being referred to in Very Short, Short, Medium and Long terminology which allows easy conversion to different scales/table sizes if needs be.

Troops are of four types (although each faction refers to these by different thematic names) - the warlord, the hearthguards, the warriors and the levies or peasants.  Obviously the warlord is your leader and the others represent the different levels of capability of the fighting men combined with their experience.

My first impression of these is they look like they should give a good, thematic game.  I am hoping to try them on the table next week and will report back.


  1. Looking forward to seeing how you get on Al :)

  2. Had my first game now and really like them (there's a brief post on it). Looking forward to getting to know how best to use the factions I can field (which will take quite a few plays I suspect!)