Monday, 8 May 2017

Thoughts on: Saga Dark Age Skirmishes

If your're under 35 years old and into miniatures wargames you probably got into it through GamesWorkshop.  Your formative wargaming years were probably spent in the world of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000.  I know mine were.  I loved Fantasy and Sci-Fi gaming and used to go to a regular games club where there was a very clear divide,  us playing 40k or the Star Wars RPG one one side and older, bearded men playing Historical wargames on the other.

I was always fascinated by the strange WW2 and Medieval games that were on the table but they seemed so inaccessible.  I had (well have if i'm honest) a very limited knowledge of history and the rules of these games looked so in depth and complicated - and they usually came as photo copied pages in a ring bound folder.  I always wanted to dip my toe into historical gaming but was always put off by this.

In the last couple of years though there has been a big change in Historical Wargames.  Companies like Warlord Games and Osprey Publishing are producing games, miniatures and rules that are much more accessible and user friendly.  One of the best Historical games on the market in my opinion though would be Studio Tomahawk and Gripping Beasts Dark Age Skirmish rules Saga.  A game of battling Viking, Saxons, Normans and the like.

There are so many reasons why Saga is so good for Historical newbies - like myself.  Firstly the buy in point is extremely easy.  The rulebook priced at £25. and this includes the Battle boards (more on these later) to be able to field Vikings, Anglo-Danes, Welsh and Normans.  £25 may not seem cheap for a set of rules but couple this with the excellent price of Gripping Beasts Plastic box sets.  You can pick up a set of 44 Vikings or Saxons for £20.  You can make a full army to use for Saga (with a few models remaining) for £20!  Not a lot of games can boast that!

Saga is, for me, one of the best set of wargame rules I have ever played.  The basic rules are simple, easy to learn and extremely effective.  There are basically three types of model you can field in your army and this is the same for every faction excluding a few special rules (Berserk for Viking, Cavalry for Normans etc)  but what really makes Saga the exciting, tactical and fun game it is are the Battle Boards.  Each faction has a unique Battle Board with faction specific special rules on.  At the start of their turn a player rolls their Saga Dice.  These are custom dice with faction specific symbols on which you can buy, or if you are a tight arse like me you can make your own or use regular D6 and the conversion table in the book.  You then distribute these dice on your Battle Board and and spend them to activate units and activate special abilities and actions making certain units more effective.  It's the Battle Boards that make each faction play n their own style and makes each army feel totally unique. It adds a brilliant resource management element to the game and a "fog of war"randomness to activating your units.   This also makes it much easier for new players to learn as you don't have to remember myriad rules for lots of different unit types but just have to learn the basics and the Battle Board you want to use.  There is very little rules referencing while playing Saga and once you get a you Battle Boards programmed the turns really fly!

I can't recommend Saga enough for anyone that has been tempted to try some Historical games.  It has a great cinematic feel to it so you can enjoy it without worrying to much about historical accuracy and that kind of thing.  This little write up just touches the surface of how good Saga is.  There are supplements for more factions and campaign rules as well as a stand alone set of rules to play the Crusades using the same basic rules.

And I think most importantly...who doesn't like Vikings? C'mon! 

1 comment:

  1. Even when over 35, and living in a country with barely any game stores and the internet not being around, GW was about the only thing readily available (as in, a full 2 stores in the whole of Belgium back then)