On Sunday my buddy Dan and I got together at Mercenary Market in Costa Mesa and played a couple games of SAGA. This was my first outing and so both games were really me just learning the mechanics, how the SAGA dice and battle boards worked, and how fatigue worked.
The first scenario we played was Clash of Warlords. The objective was simple, kill the enemy warlord. We both played with 4 point warbands, each taking two units of warriors, a unit of hearthguard and a unit of berserkers. The game is rather brutal. The first casualties of the game came at the hands of his unit of berserkers who charged a unit of my warriors. After the dice were rolled and tallied both units had managed to wipe each other out! The game ended with his warlord standing over the broken body of my warlord. Overall it was an enjoyable and quick game.
For our second game we played Sacred Ground with the objective being to place units in scoring terrain pieces and the player with the most victory points at the end of 8 turns being the winner. We again played using 4 point warbands with Dan taking two units of warriors, two units of hearthguard and a unit of berserkers. I dropped my berserkers for a unit of levies, wanted to try out some shooting and use the ranged attacks to keep his units off the hill in the center of the table. The game consisted of a lot of back and forth, with my warlord leading a unit of warriors against his warlord and a unit of his warriors to fight it out in a wooded area. However hard I tried, I couldn’t keep him out of the woods and keep my units in long enough to score any points, which gave Dan a huge head start of VPs. Eventually I was able to route his warriors and warlord using a well timed Loki to wipeout his remaining three warriors and then charging his warlord with my warlord. Unfortunately focusing so heavily on one side of the board cost me precious time and victory points on the other objectives as well. Try as the might, my levies’ bows couldn’t do any major casualties to his warriors on the hill and once again we fought a back and forth battle for the hill. In the end his massive head start on VPs meant there was no way I could catch up by turn 8.
SAGA is a fun “historicals-light” miniatures game. For around $100 you can easily get yourself the main rulebook and enough figures to build a solid 6 point viking warband. There is no need to purchase Gripping Beast’s figures (as they are currently somewhat hard to find) due to the excellent plastic ranges available from a wide variety of sources. My Wargames Factory vikings came out very well for an investment of $40. I’m already looking at Conquest Games’ plastic Norman knights and infantry to form the core of a second SAGA warband when I finish up my vikings.
Game wise I found that taking levies in a 4 point skirmish is probably not a good idea. You find yourself hurting by losing 1 SAGA die (levies do not produce any dice) in such a small game. Their shooting is not all that powerful and doesn’t makeup for the lost die. Perhaps in a larger 6 point game they will be able to carry more weight. Also, don’t let yourself get too focused on one area of the board. While it’s tempting to load up SAGA abilities to steamroll on one side of the table, you can quickly loose the overall initiative for the scenario. As SAGA is a scenario based system, this makes sense.
I look forward to future games of SAGA and finishing up my vikings. I plan to sculpt a cloak and fur onto my warlord, do a bit of extra armor and hair on a random selection of warriors and hearthguard, and build some fatigue markers to finish up this warband. Then I will move onto purchasing and building my Norman warband, which will give me two solid warbands for SAGA.