This weekend found me in Fishponds again with a chance to try-out Gripping Beasts' Saga dark ages skirmish rules. I've seen them at lots of shows over the last few years but not got around to playing them for myself.
The game uses small units of figures from 4 - 12 strong, with lower quality troops usually appearing in larger units than the more elite troops. The basic rules are a super-simple IGOUGO structure with very simple combat rules. At the heart of the though system is the use of "Saga Dice"
and "Battle Boards"
. Players throw up to 6 Saga Dice
a turn with each having 3 * uncommon symbols, 2 * common symbols, and 1 * rare symbol each. The dice are then positioned on the battle board
before each move to allow you active troops, perform special abilities, or even interrupt the opponents turn.
Another interesting twist is that units accumulate Fatigue
points as they fight or move rapidly, with up to 3 being stacked until you must rest. However the Fatigue
can be spent by your opponent at any point to slow you down or maker you less effective in combat.
I found myself using the Viking faction which has mostly attack oriented special abilities on its battle board, allowing me more chances to attack my opponent or to sacrifice troops to go into various berserk rages. I was faced with Saxons how have a very defensive board that allows them to save wounds more effectively or stack Fatigue
on their opponents to slow them down.
So to the game - a simple scenario in which we each had to kill the others Warlord. Sides were even with 1 * warlord, 1 * heardguard (4), 2 * warriors (6), and 1 * levies with misses (12) per side.
|The Saxons form a strong looking line|
|My Vikings in a deep formation|
I opened proceedings by attacking the Saxon archers with my levy javelin men. I beat them back but was then mauled by a unit of advancing Saxon warriors. I eventually succumbed to them but crucially did them enough damage that they in turn fell to my own warriors.
|My skirmishers advance|
|The field once my warriors had killed their opposite numbers |
At this point I was feeling fairly confident - I had 3 heavy units to my opponents 2, So I attacked with vigour, killed his hearthguard, and wounded his warlord. With time running-out I attacked his warlord with my own in single combat. The result was mutual annihilation and so a friendly draw.
|Viking hearthgurads |
It was an interesting first outing for Saga, and we certainly had an enjoyable game played over about 2.5 hours. The key to the game is using the battle board
correctly and in some cases you need to be planning 2 moves ahead to get the best from your abilities or build powerful combinations.
It likely works best as a 1-1 game as the interactions between the opponents and your abilities are where the subtly come into the game. A nice feature is that you have abilities that occur in the opponent's turn and you can spend their Fatigue
so you can nt just zone-out while they move.
One to try for a mini campaign and I think I can field an Irish force without much effort