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Subject: Initial thoughts on Saga rss

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Dan
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Taken from my blog article, in full [blog=444]here[/blog].

Saga is an enjoyably playable set of rules with lots of period flavour. If you've followed my design notes for Dux Bellorum, or read Song of Arthur and Merlin or Glutter of Ravens, you'll know that I want my Dark Ages battles to have a distinct feel to them. Saga does that and therefore manages so stands out from most other Dark Ages skirmish games.

How does it do this? Well, other than not overburdening itself in complex rules (which would be so unsuited to the period's feel), three things make the game stand out for me:

* Battle boards: each faction - Norman, Anglo-Dane, Viking, or welsh - has a choice of tactics suited to the historical army, rather than all armies acting in the same way.

* Saga dice: this is clever ... The command choices you have each turn are a game within a game. Choosing tactics based on how the dice roll is seldom seen in miniatures games and more akin to resource management boardgames: a game within a game. And they're collectable, as each faction has it's own icons on it's dice; we all like new collections of shiny stuff...

* Fatigue: not entirely new, but put to good use in Saga. Each unit can be pushed to do more in a turn, but becomes more vulnerable by doing so. Most importantly, your opponent chooses how to exploit your unit's weariness. This makes the game nicely interactive between the players.

Aside from that, game mechanics are pretty simple: easy movement by group, simple combat rolls (roll to hit, roll to save, die - or be wounded for better warriors), and so on. Saga works well for me as it combines elements common to boardgames (Saga dice and Battleboards) with the visual appeal of a miniatures game.

The best Dark Ages games I've played in the past have captured the feel of heroic combat as portrayed in the poetry and, erm, sagas of the era (whether that's accurate of not): Blades of Crimson, Age of Arthur, and curiously enough, The Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game and Song of Blades and Heroes, both of which were designed for fantasy skirmishes. One of the weakest games I've played really tried to capture the feel of the period but fell well short for me: Pig Wars, the mechanics of which could be used for any spear & shield skirmish rather than giving a unique Dark Ages feel. Saga very definitely fits into the former group, and I'm looking forward to the printed rules and Saga dice being released. I'm already painting up my new Welsh army.
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Rob Francis
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Aberystwyth
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“"To Aetius, now consul for the third time: the groans of the Britons ... The barbarians drive us to the sea; the sea throws us back on the barbarians: thus two modes of death await us, we are either slain or drowned".” ―Gildas
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Thanks for this.

I am very excited about Saga. With a smaller battlefield and troop count this system looks like it will be very manageable and a huge ammount of fun.
 
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Dan
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Absolutely, it has a really nice game vibe to it - very interactive and my brief game made a real impression. Although the table size is quite small at 4x3 , you do need a bit of extra space for the a4 sized battle boards (one for each player). Out in August, I believe...
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Mike M
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Thanks for the review. I'm anxiously awaiting my pre-order!
 
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Dan
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I think it must be selling well, the GB website says they've sold out of the special dice you can buy....
 
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Carmin Carotenuto
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Does the game use regular 6-sided dice in addition to the "saga dice?"
 
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Dan
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It does. Six sided for fighting,etc, and the Saga dice for commands.
 
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Carmin Carotenuto
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Thanks!
 
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Duncan Flint
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I've played this game once, really enjoyed it, enough to start a Norman Army. My one gripe is the cost; £25, for a (very nicely presented) magazine and 4 battle boards. As my friend (who bought the game) said. "It's a £25 game, Im just not sure it's worth £25".
 
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蓝魔
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The Battle Boards make a SAGA battle more interesting but also more prone to lucky SAGA dice rolls.

Not quite sure how I feel about this factor yet, after only 2 plays ..
 
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Craig Hebert
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This is a sleeper hit, garnishing little attention. Coming from both worlds, if ever there was a wargame with some "euro" applications more than this one, I'd like to see it.

I'll give a thorough review down the road. Trust what the guys above say - it is truly a great game that is only going to gather momentum with the passage of time. Having released the 2nd book, they now have 8 official armies one can play. The only real downside is the dice are $20 for a set - and you need 2 to play - yikes.

Because they are so pricey and have generally not even been available (constantly out of stock), there are several "official" dice graphics one can use with wooden blocks from Hobby Lobby or similar.

I'm going to post the dice file here for those who are interested. I also recommend going to Miniature Market for a couple of boxes of Vikings and Anglo Saxons from Wargames Factory. You get about 34 figures per set for a mere $14 - a great deal and all you need.

Just how many figures you need depends on what you are trying to accomplish. I think the smallest 4 pt army for the Vikings can actually be just 13 figures - 1 warlord Harold Hadrada (a special character in the game - besides being a historical character), and 3 elite units combined into 1 12 man "super" unit - his Varangian guard.

I'll post more when I can.

Quote:
The Battle Boards make a SAGA battle more interesting but also more prone to lucky SAGA dice rolls.


You can mitigate the dice rolls, and generally always do something useful. The boards are powerful of course, but rolling well in combat on attacks and saves, is probably the more random luck aspect of the game.
 
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Duncan Flint
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The dice are expensive (and hard to obtain) but we just use D6's. The symbols equal 1,2,3 4,5 6 so Its pretty easy to work out what you rolled.
 
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Andrés F.
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Kitescreech wrote:
£25, for a (very nicely presented) magazine and 4 battle boards.

I'm enthusiastic about SAGA and like it, but I'm not sure its printed material is well presented, considering its price. It sure looks nice, with colorful pictures and good paper quality, but at least the English language version is annoyingly full of typos (just one example: the Vikings battleboard has "RAGANAROK" as one of their abilities...) and weirdly worded rules. If it costs this much, it should have been proofread better.
 
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