My interest in SAGA first started with its unique premise. SAGA is a game about exploring the Dark Ages as your alter ego, who leads his own personal warband of followers to victory.
What makes SAGA stand out against its competition of miniature wargames is quite simply its great ruleset. The game is easy enough to learn which lends to its accessibility. However it has enough depth through the use of its unique board system so that mastering the game is always a work in progress.
The battle boards are what test your abilities as a commander in SAGA. They focus your mind into considering what you want to accomplish with your battle plan against the reality of your ever dwindling resources that are your SAGA dice.
Something that elevates the accessibility of SAGA over other miniature wargames is its simple list building mechanics. Instead of the game being decided on how many hours you spent constructing your list beforehand. A full tourney legal list can be created within 5 minutes, simply by considering quality vs quantity of troop types. What follows now are some of my thoughts when I put together my first SAGA army at around the suggested 6 point game value.
When I first started out in SAGA, I was attracted to the Normans. Anyone with some basic knowledge of English history knows that the Norman invasion of 1066 and the Battle of Hastings changed the future of England forever. William the Bastard used a combined force army and with a little bit of luck managed to break the Anglo-Dane shield wall. I hoped to do something similar with my own war band of Normans.
Here is my full 6 point Norman army ready to take to the field of battle.
Warlord – 1pt (Hero of the Viking Age: Ivo Taillefer)
Priest – 1pt
Hearth Guard – 2pts
Levy – 1 pt
The Warlord in my army is represented by a fallen soldier as inside joke to Ivo Taillefer; the Norman knight who charged the Anglo-Danish shield wall and was subsequently hacked to pieces. Ivo’s special rules allow him to remain unaffected by fatigue and he also helps take off fatigue from units within M range of himself. Heroes of the Viking Age cost 1 point versus your normal Warlord’s free cost. However they bring with them certain rules that can bend the game to your benefit and should always be considered a viable alternative.
The Priest is an optional supplement from the Crescent and the Cross rulebook. He brings in the utility of being able to take fatigue himself in exchange for rolling more SAGA dice at the start of your turn. I often find that Norman abilities on their boards are quite expensive for what they do. Any chance to increase the efficiency of my SAGA abilities is a trade worth taking in my personal opinion. I combine this with Ivo Taillefer’s ability to take away fatigue from units close to him in order to create an almost consequence free priest cycle.
The Hearth guards are the elite of my army. I tend to keep them in a large block of 8 models within 1 unit. This creates a scary, mobile, and most importantly hard hitting unit that can take full advantage of the Norman’s battle board abilities.
The Warriors I spilt into 2 units of 4 models each in order to generate initial SAGA dice. In addition to this, their smaller size allows them to quickly seize areas of importance for when you are playing scenarios as well as act as bodyguards for my Warlord.
Last is the unit of levies made up of 12 models. The Normans have unique battle board abilities that favor ranged units to add into their combined arm effects. The catch of course is that you cannot use these ranged abilities if you do not bring any ranged units. Hence the purpose of bow armed levies.
The Normans have a tendency to be harder to play due to many of their better SAGA abilities requiring rare dice or double dice to use. This war band relies on maximum generation of SAGA dice so that you can power your units to their max potential. In addition to this, Normans have no real help to get rid of fatigue other than their standard rest. With Ivo on the field he can provide some form of fatigue management in addition to being a hardened fighter on the field, especially when you consider the Norman’s Dex Aie ability with Ivo’s fatigue exceptions.
Normans more than anyone require a little bit of luck and quite a bit of forethought on how to best use your battle board to maximum effect on individual units. Similar to the plight of the actual William the Bastard, you will have to consider how to best impact the battlefield. Should you keep focused and the dice fall in your favor then you will find the Normans to be a challenging yet rewarding faction that brought a swift end to the Viking Age.
Author: Jeffrey Sithi-Amnuai
Jeffrey Sithi-Amnuai is a college student who has been playing miniature wargames for well over a decade. With a keen interest in history, writing, and painting he has been exposed to all sorts of different types of tabletop games. While he still struggles to pick a favorite, there are certain games that regularly make the rotation. He has become quite infamous among his local hobby shop for his inexplicable ability to roll lots of 6’s when the dice gods deem it necessary to intervene on his behalf.