Ancient wargames rules are a lot like buses, only smaller! When Little Wars T.v. released a mass battle wargames ruleset entitled “Age of Hannibal” , at the exactly the same time as Tomahawk Studios skirmish set, I knew that it meant trouble. We sent our roving ancient Mariner, Ken to investigate the latest skirmish version based on the old elephant shepherd Hannibal Barca……
When I wrote my fourth review of SAGA and the books that accompanied the game I thought that it would be my last, little did I know that a new SAGA Universe was almost ready for publication. Released on 5th September this books takes me back to my first and probably favourite period in Wargaming,
The Age of Hannibal
It is 218BC. After having declared war on her rival, Carthage, Rome watches the Carthaginian army cross the Alps under the command of Hannibal Barca. This invasion, which brought war to the heart of the Roman Republic was one of the three Punic Wars, a series of conflicts between Rome and Carthage for control of the Mediterranean basin. He inflicted a series of humiliating defeats on his enemies – some of which live on in the annals of military history – but sixteen years later Hannibal Barca was finally defeated on the plains of Zama, in his homeland, by a young Roman prodigy called Scipio Africanus.
But this war between Rome and Carthage involved many nations and cultures. Celts, Iberians, Numidians and Italiotes all had to choose a side in the struggle between the two colossi. And the winner of this titanic conflict would become master of Europe – maybe even the world.
The introduction to warfare in this period, this new SAGA universe covers covers the three Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage that took place between 264 and 146 BC. Introducing as it does six new factions Republican Rome, Carthaginian, Greek, Numidians, Iberians and Gauls some with multiple variants, each with its battle board, history, and special rules. In addition to these factions there are also an array of mercenaries who can be included in your warband.
So begins the introduction of this new book, also being released to accompany the launch are 4 new sets of SAGA dice, Republican Roman, Carthaginian, Greek and Barbarian. More of those later lets start by exploring the book and the Battleboards.
Starting with the Battleboards, they are not as sturdy as the previous releases being of thinner card than usual but, as I always copy them into my computer and then laminate the resulting printout does not represent a problem. I will delve deeper into their contents when I cover the appropriate faction.
Those who are familiar with other SAGA Universes will see that this book starts in the same way with an introduction to the period covered, information in how to use the book and a list of chapters. (Our guide through this book now being Didorus of Sicily)
New Rules and Equipment is next and brings in both expected and unexpected elements;
The first of these is the Elephant, these cost 1 point each and activates like a unit of warriors, they can also confer advantages and a disadvantage with their use from adding 2 to 4 automatic hits in melee through to trampling friend and foe if removed through shooting.
The Sarissa, associated with phalanxes from Alexander onwards this becomes a formidable weapon especially against Elephants or Cavalry.
Chariots are not new to SAGA but this brings in a new set of rules with their use.
Finally War Pigs, flaming pigs were not new to armies of this period, classed as a unit of Mercenary Levies they consist of a unit of 8 pigs and a pig keeper they loose 2 pigs whenever they are used but according to the target can once per turn inflict between 1 and 3 automatic hits..
New ideas continue in the next chapter Ruses. An optional element to the game, you may choose Ruses up to the points value of your warband. There are 4 main types of Ruse, each used in a particular circumstance or situation. The type is indicated by the cards background colour and the cost by the number of cost symbols on the card. These cards like those used with the Book of Battles are downloadable for http://www.studiotomahawk.com. The four types being Recruitment, Preparation, Veterans and Stratagem, some of the Preparation cards are used when setting up a game during placement and deployment. Diodorus, suggests several ways these may be used to spice up a game, the advice being to wait until you have mastered your Battleboard before introducing this element to future play. The unique ruses available to each faction will be listed under each chapter, why not download them from the Studio Tomahawk site to see what each does..
Now on to the main thrust of the book by looking at the main protagonists. Here I will give a short summary of each faction and pick out a couple of the additional abilities available to each faction.
Carthaginians; these can contain a mix of forces from Carthage and allied cities and also some powerful contingents of mercenaries. A warband can contain a unit of Heavy Chariots but cannot field Elephants at the same time. Citizens of Carthage are your Hearthguard and as well as your Warlord you must also have at least 1 unit of Citizens,. All other units are classed a contingents (Warriors and Levy) and this modifies some of the elements of you Battleboard when activated. Sacred Band is used in melee and here your opponent must re-roll 1 successful defence dice or three if the unit is made up of citizens, where Tenacity allows the re-roll of two defence dice that did not cancel hits, or 4 if a Contingent unit. This chapter concludes with the ruses applicable to a Carthaginian Warband, Army of Xanthippus, Alliance with Philip, Punic Perfidy, Regular Pay, Blood of Barkids and March of Elephants.
Republic of Rome; you start by determining if your Warlord is a Tribune or a Consul as this can modify the options you have when selecting your Warband and also has some special rules to be used when your band is led by a tribune. The Maniples rule also is interesting as it only affects Hearthguards or Warriors on foot who do not have the Mercenary rule. This faction has some powerful options on the Battleboard, Ad Triaros Redisse, allows Hearthguard defenders to inflict 2 automatic hits on an opponent, 3 if outnumbered and Pilum, allows a shooting attack with a range of M also allowing a subsequent charge that does not cause a fatigue. Alternately it allows a unit to have a shooting attack against and opponent before their charge is resolved. Ruses allowed to Romans are Flaming Pigs, Penal Legions, Tactical Positioning, Roman Discipline, Flaming Pigs and Roa Tradoriu non Praemiat (Rome does not pay traitors).
Our Southern Gauls were formidable opponents and at this time as well as expert horsemen still used chariots. In this game the Hearthguard and Warriors also have an ability called Fervour, this represents different groups competing against each other to perform feats of courage. When you trigger an advanced ability from your Battleboard you can choose whether to trigger its Fervour effect or resolve the ability without triggering this effect. Fervour when used is recorded by a marker placed on the unit and no unit can have more than three markers nor can you have more markers than your unit has figures. The ability Ritual Challenge, allows you to roll 1, two dice if your unit are Hearthguards. For each result of 4 or more the enemy unit takes a casualty but for every 1 rolled your unit takes a casualty. The Fervour option allows you to add 1 to the result of your dice. Before the Wave allows a unit without ranged weapons to be activated and count as being equipped with Javelins during the move, the Fervour option adding and automatic hit during this attack. The Ruses available to Gauls are Soldurii Druidic Counsellor, Thirst for Blood, Fanatics, End Them! and Enthusiastic.
Graeculii: The Greeks at this time were present around most of the Mediterranean and for SAGA your warband must choose one of three possible variants, Epirus, Siracuse and Italiots and Magna Graecia. For the advanced abilities, Agema grants 3 bonus defence dice if the unit is a Phalanx otherwise 3 bonus attack dice in the ensuing melee when it has been activated for a charge and Hetairoi gains you 2 attack dice or 4 if your unit is mounted. Ruses for this faction are Army of Tarentium, Roman Alliance, Tight Formation, Wall of Shields, Pressure and Hypaspists.
Iberians: These superb warriors fought both for and against both Carthage and Rome and can recruit Baearic slingers who count as warriors, one of the few factions that cannot field Elephants. Three of the advanced abilities use Guerilla markers although many add them, you cannot have more than 10 at any time and at the start of each turn turn unused ones are removed. Ambush grants you two attack dice an 1 Guerilla marker in a Melee whereas, Like Shadows allows you to spend 1 Guerilla Marker to discard two of your opponents attack dice. Unique Ruses for these are Oretanii, Celtiberians, Harassment, Without Pity, Trap and Coordinated Attack.
Numidians: Last but not least by any means this faction has no Hearthguard as Merecnaries were always recruited to take on the role of shock troops.
As the main supplier of Elephants during this period they will always along with excellent cavalry have plenty to call on. Their advanced abilities include Born Horsemen which allows a mounted unit to move with 3M rulers instead of 2 until the end of the turn and Incapacitating Shot which allows to to re-roll any attack dice which roll 1s or 2 and if you inflict at least three casualties the target unit also receives a fatigue after the shooting is resolved. Ruses in this case are Jugurthas Revolt, Syphax’s Army, Surprise Attack, African Horsemen, Withdrawal and Execution.
Mercenaries: This chapter outlines the mercenaries available to each of the factions in table form and includes any special rules associated with each type. In turn they are, Cretan Archers, Tarentine Cavalry, Balearic Slingers, Mercenary Hoplites, Ligurians, Psiloi, Samnites and Thureopori.
Epic SAGA: forms the final chapter of this book, this variant of the rules can be used with any of the SAGA Universes to allow for games of 12 and 18 points with one or more players on a side. All the original rules apply but this provides options and a new structure to stand beside the standard rules. Each force consists of three warbands of between 3 and 8 points totalling up to the maximum for the game. Changes are made for the allocation of scenery and the table size now becomes 3ft by 6 ft, army composition, sequence of play, sharing of Battleboards, demoralisation and routing are also covered. There are also 9 inspiration abilities which can be available to your Warlord , allocation of these and the cost of them are also covered and these abilities along with being in the book are also downloadable.
Like the other Universe books you will need a copy of the Saga rulebook to use this supplement.
I now realise that Aetius and Arthur was not to be my final foray into the world of SAGA and anticipate that there will be new Universes to explore in the future. Before then my next submission will be in the form of a suggestion for a campaign system that can be used for a competitive or friendly group of players, written primarily for SAGA but easily adaptable to other rules and periods.
A SAGA Campaign
As promised here is my idea for setting up a SAGA campaign, not just for SAGA though as the table arranging the games can be used for a campaign in any period and the setting up and victory conditions could also be modified. The rest of the method table would remain the same.
It takes the form of a suggestion for a campaign that can be played over several months that will also allow participants to take part in other games at the same time would be a round-robin, with up to 8 players, all get to play each other over a period of say 7 months (the duration will be decided by the number of participants). It is a system that is adaptable to the number of players and if required I will rearrange the matches to suit so please let me know via the comments, if you are interested. However, it will be difficult to feed someone into the campaign once it has commenced unless another member drops out or unless we leave a couple of places vacant from the start.
Each of the participants will be allocated a number and then play an opponent according to the following
Month 1 (1V2), (3V4), (5V6), (7V8) Scenario from Book of Battles p10 Battle of Heroes
Month 2 (1V3), (2V4), (5V7), (6V5) “
Month 3 (1V4), (2V3), (5V8), (6V5) “
Month 4 (1V5), (2V6), (3V7), (4V8) “
Month 5 (1V6), (2V5), (3V8), (4V7) “
Month 6 (1V7), (2V8), (3V5), (4V6) “
Month 7 (1V8), (2,7)), (3V6), (4V5) “
You will have a calendar month to arrange a battle with your opponents according to the draw and submit the result to me so that I can publish the results to the group
The players 6 Point Warband can be different for each game and all participants will select a warband fro the same SAGA universe book, The Age of Vikings Book would make a good first choice although any would be valid.. Scoring will be as follows a Win, 3 Points or a Draw 2 Points 1 point for taking part. No points for a missed battle. If a player does drop out without being replaced I will award a Bye and 1 point for each future match they were anticipated to take part in.
Setting up of the scenario, will be as per the Book of Battles with all conditions selected according to the methods table on page 11. See below; the descriptions of each entry are as per pages 12 to 14 inclusive.
Show of Force
A Good Day To Die
A Dash of Nostalgia
Once you know who your opponent will be on any given month you can set up the above variables in advance, this may determine your choice of force for that occasion. If at the end there are players with an equally high score we can then arrange a play-off between them. If you happen to have a particular piece of scenery that you like and is not available at Firestorm please bring it with you.
Let me know if you are interested so that if I have at least 4 players I can set this up to start as soon as the current pandemic allows. This should give payers sufficient time to build a force if necessary and also allow new players the chance to arrange some practice games.
For those interested there is an excellent forum on-line at forum-eng.studio-tomahawk.com
A forum dedicated to Studio Tomahawk games
A forum dedicated to Studio Tomahawk games