The final part of my foray into SAGA this time covers the SAGA Universe, Aetius and Arthur and is then completed with short descriptions of the two books I do not have, The Age of Crusades and The Age of Magic
Although Aetius and |Arthur was published before Age of Vikings, it was produced for version 1 of the rules and it is the small supplement, Age of Invasions that updates it to SAGA 2 complete with updated battle-boards. The two together forming the the version 2 that I will describe here. .
Again I wasn’t disappointed; this book which is well up to the standards the modern player expects it covers and the period of the Late Roman Empire in the West when the central authority was beginning to crumble due to the pressures of the various invaders and civil wars that racked the empire at this time. It introduces six new factions; Romans, Huns, Goths, Britons, Saxons and Picts which I will describe more later. (At the time of writing this book seems to have gone out of print, hopefully awaiting a reprint with version 2 fully incorporated)
Under the Heading of “Today’s friends are tomorrow’s enemies” it describes how to use some of the factions in earlier publications to update them to the time of the great invasions: these are the Salian Franks, The Eastern Romans, the Scotti and the Cymry. If this wasn’t enough it also then adds mercenaries to the mix in the form of Steppe Warriors, Foederati, Sea Wolves, Hounds, Vascones Scouts, Guides and Deserters. There are four new Scenarios and a mini campaign system for two players called Limes (Lee-mes, the Roman name for the frontier and the origin of where we get our word Limit) that represents an isolated frontier post resisting the incursions of an invader, this includes some interesting elements in the rules.
The Battle boards that form the heart of a SAGA game are again well presented and offer a number of innovative abilities. Because of the upgrade to version 2 provided by then Age of Invasions I will be describing the new set of battle-boards included in this supplement. The basic abilities are are still laid out across the top of the board and this is then followed by a banner with the name of the faction and the advance abilities are laid out below this in the way we are used to seeing them. I will as before select a couple from each to try and give an idea of each faction.
The Romans have a new element called Impetus that controls which of the abilities can be selected depending on its level. A Roman Player starts with an Impetus of 4 and as this cannot be increased above 4 or reduced so that it is below 0, there are abilities that cannot be used if you would break this rule. For example, if your Impetus is currently 3 you cannot use Barritus which gives extra attack dice in melee and shooting, as this would reduce your impetus by 4 taking it to minus 1. Likewise when your Impetus is 4 you cannot use Limes to increase your armour value by 2 as this would also increase your impetus by plus 1, taking your Impetus to 5.
The Huns, this mostly Cavalry Army has a lot going for it as you would expect. Panic when triggered at the end of an opponent’s Orders phase will force him to either pace two fatigue markers onto two of his units or activate them for a movement but he cannot shoot or engage in melee with them. It also then allows you to activate a unit of Huns. Steppe Wolves used when you are attacking will give you up to three extra attack dice if you have less fatigue than the unit you are attacking.
The Goths, another faction with plenty of built in ability. First Blood will gain a unit three attack dice if it has no Fatigue markers and Faide will allow an extra attack die for shooting and 2 extra in melee during you activation phase against a single nominated unit.
The Britons, these are the Romano/Arthurian Britons and bring in a concept called Galvanised to represent the Charisma of your Warlord:- a unit must be within a Very Short of your Warlord to be treated in this way. An example of this is the Stubborn ability which gives a unit 2 extra defence dice but also gives an extra two attack dice if it is Galvanised while Steel Wall allows a unit to cancel hits as if it was in Hard Cover and to ignore the first un-cancelled hit if it is Galvanised.
Saxons provide a suitable foe for anyone. Implacable, gains a unit a number of additional attack dice equal to half the number of enemy figures engaged and Death Is Nothing inflicts a number of additional automatic hits equal to a third of the number of hits they have inflicted on you.
Picts, the last, but by no means the least able of the factions, enables your Warlord to be mounted in a War Chariot. Savagery gives a unit a number of attack and defence dice equal to its current armour value and Sacred Tattoos give a unit four extra defence dice.
I could keep on about all these abilities but suffice to say that I think they are well balanced and leave it to player to use the abilities provided by the battle boards along with good tactics to end up victorious. I look forward to expanding my forces to try all of the options now available to me by this book. The AGE of INVASIONS is the supplement that brings Aetius and Arthur into line with the second edition of the rules mainly by providing the updated Battle-boards.
Like any additional books the supplements are not complete without the base rule book. So, lets hope this introduction has tempted you to look further. You-tube has a number of videos dedicated to the game but the following series of videos is amongst the best ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2aGqUbHWhA ) I have sufficient figures to field 4 different factions; Saxon, Viking, Late Roman and Arthurian.
The two final books which I have not been able to explore fully are Age Of Magic and Age of Crusades. The descriptions below come straight from the Gripping Beast Website
SAGA Age of Crusades is a SAGA Supplement which covers the wars of faith fought in the West and the East from the First Crusade to the Mongol invasion of Europe. his Universe offers 12 factions from the period covering each arena of battle, each one accompanied by its Battle Board, its legendary units and its special rules. The book also provides you with auxiliaries to recruit, and a variant of the standard game which transforms your game into a battle for the faith!
Finally, the SAGA Age of Magic Universe offers 12 factions from the period covering each arena of battle, each one accompanied by its Battle Board, its legendary units and its special rules Fantasy is the crucible in which the most heroic tales are forged. In these worlds, a simple barbarian can become a king, an ancient sorcerer can unite whole races to make a stand against the shadows, and an army of the dead can rise.
Dragons, sorcerers, and paladins descend upon SAGA’s gaming tables in the Age of Magic. Assemble a war-band from one of six factions, recruit new units like Monsters, Creatures and War Machines, and confront your opponents with the aid of powerful sorceries.
The Age of Magic is a complete SAGA Universe that includes:
6 archetypal factions from the worlds of fantasy so you can use your collections of fantasy figures to play SAGA.
Legendary units and war-bands for each faction to let you personalise your units.
New rules and equipment to represent these worlds’ most iconic units.
Complete rules for Magic.
A Grimoire of more than thirty spells divided into six Domains of Magic.
An impressive photo gallery of armies and battle scenes to inspire players in building their own war-bands. The Age of Magic was designed to give players all the tools they needed to use their existing collections of fantasy figures, and to create their own gaming universe. I do not normally play fantasy or science fiction games but, this could provide an interesting diversion from my normal games. I will have to look into this once I can access the shops again.
SAGA in my opinion is one of the best skirmish games on the market today and one that I really enjoy playing. No two games can have the same outcome, they are fast paced and often bloody. I hope you have enjoyed reading these introductions to the SAGA Universes, if so let me know via the comments and I will provide descriptions of other skirmish games I play and enjoy. But why leave it at that, if you have a particular set of rules you enjoy using why not share your experience with the rest of us. Mike is always looking for contributions to this blog and you never know, you may be providing just the encouragement someone needs to take that step into a new game or period and in doing so provide yourself with a new opponent. Think about it.
Ken has recently been in hospital and is thankfully on the way to recovery. All the Tercio pray for his swift recovery and look forward to him gracing the tabletop with his prescence! Rules for a Saga campaign will follow soon- nothing keeps this fellah down!