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Why we fight: SAGA by Tomahawk Games

Few cannot have noticed the current strain on household finances. I think it was me who said, “ the future lies in skirmish gaming!” The current raft of skirmish games are cheaper, easier to set up and can be a whole lot of fun for a reduced outlay. The grand- daddy of all modern skirmish games is of course SAGA by Tomahawk games, now in its second edition.

Even Alexander must keep an eye on finances!

Is it ungentlemanly to mention cash? Well, I think once we have established that you are going to have a lot of fun, perhaps the next question is maybe concerning practicality. We all may plan to refight Borodino but really? 3D printing has great potential for churning out the affordable minis but you still have to paint the beggars and store the armies somewhere.

Hopefully not a thing of the past! Marsden Moor St. George’s Day 2021.

I must admit to shying away from skirmish gaming for many years; not enough of a spectacle on the table and mired in superfluous detail. SAGA was a breath of fresh air. Firstly they increased the figure count to between thirty and sixty. So, with a following wind, at average pace, you can have a complete force ready to play in two months ( I hope you are reading this Mr. Gallacher!😳)

Anglo -Danes being prepared this very weekend.

Secondly, and most brilliantly, Studio Tomahawk came up with a fast play system that is easy to pick up, cheap ( there’s that word again) but beautifully produced. The rules and faction materials really are exquisite. The genius lies in the “ battle board” , a means of enhancing your missile fire or combat. The period character is enhanced and the dice management decisions add a whole new layer to the game.

Careful placing of the activation dice is essential.

This bank holiday weekend it was our monthly visit from John “ the Thunderbolt” Gallacher and we were fired up to play the “ Clash of Warlords” scenario, in this case two bleary eyed paladins stuffed with Chinese food!

Chance inspiration ; my mind set in motion by a chance Facebook post

My choice of force was the Romans from Age of Invasions supplement. With supporting artillery fire my mounted arm would cross the shallow river and sweep all before me! That was the plan at least…

Artillery on the bottom right. Oh those poor Saxons!
To stop the Saxons affecting a mad cap dash over the beige. Unlikely but….

John took the Saxon host, including an eight pack of hearthguard elites in the centre and twelve levy archers on the hill overlooking the bridge. But, it was the lesser warriors who were first to see the effects of the Roman technology. I allowed myself three Russel Crowe shouts of “ unleash hell!” and we were off.

The gallant equite!

The Saxons opposite the artillery were reeling and the Roman horse crossed the river. What could go wrong? John’s notorious knowledge of arcane battle board is what went wrong!

Forward the horse!
Why do I never learn? The horse only had to sweep up the depleted Saxon warriors but it was too much to ask!
Chastened and reduced by a half! John’s skill/ nefarious deal with the Devil saw my elites embarrassed. He also silenced my supporting artillery with “ jeers” : an activation that piles fatigue on shooters if they kill Saxons! How I laughed😳
This s not the timid John of old. As my cavalry milled around ineffectively in the pasture, hairy Saxons charged across the bridge. I’d underestimated my bearded foe.
It would take the sacrifice of three of my units to stop the fearsome Saxon lunatics!
He even dodged my carefully positioned archers😥

Hopefully the pictures go some way to capturing the fun we had! Even in abject defeat, when the Saxon warlord came over the bridge like some murderous Billygoat gruff( remember that tale?) it was cinematic fun. Stupidly I left me remaining legionaries close enough for the warlord to slaughter Roma’s finest! it’s always a good sign when you can’t wait for the next game / defeat.

Gentlemanly fun

Gentlemanly enjoying oneself has always been a priority for Cardiff Dice Studz. Hopefully we have covered most of the reasons why we class SAGA as a firm favourite. Large skirmishes also includes in my estimation Bolt Action and Pikeman’s Lament, both to be covered in later episodes of “ why we fight.” I hope you agree with our opinions and if you haven’t got into SAGA then why haven’t you?????

See you soon!


  1. Give John my regards, haven’t seen him for some time, I think it was Attack 2019 in Devizes. Saga is one of the best games out there at the current time, although it doesn’t stop me from looking for one. Still (somewhere) in the pipeline there are three Universes yet to explore; The Age of Alexander; The Age of Caesar and the Principate and The Hundred Years’ War. so plenty to look forward to in the future. I am still looking for a good Napoleonic Skirmish game for the future as well, do any of you really like one?

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    • Musket and tomahawk by the same studio! Muskets and shako is a variant of it for Napoleonics! Some very good YouTube battles available; I bought everything needed for awi and French/ Indians wars!

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  2. I too am a favourite of skirmish games, but when battle board and character creep came in with Saga our group stopped playing it in favour of Dan Mersey’s Strongsword which has an interesting mechanism where players decide on their bands stance each turn. Works very well like most of his systems.

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