Saturday, 31 October 2015

Fantasy Saga

Over the past couple of years I have enjoyed many a game of Saga, pitching my Vikings and Anglo Danes against Saxons, Welsh, Irish, Normans and other sundry dark ages types. Saga is a fairly simple game to pick up, but with extra layers built into the battle boards there is great replay value. While it appears to be one set of hairy men with spears fighting against an almost identical set of hairy men with more spears, the battle board mechanics ensure that the opponents are very different - the aggressive Vikings play a very different game to the wary Welsh. I have been thinking about exploiting this feature to design boards for my fantasy forces, but somebody has beaten me to it. Take a look at Fantastic Saga, a set of four boards to play Dwarfs, Elves, Undead and Chaos.

Behind the basic website lies a very professional looking set of add-on rules to the Saga ruleset. The free to download pdf is nicely put together, a better effort than many a ruleset I have paid for. The rules are nicely laid out, there's some good quality artwork and everything seems pretty well thought out - admittedly I have read through them just a couple of times and played only one game, but the signs are that it could be my fantasy skirmish game of choice.

Our test game took place in Matt's gaming dungeon, pitching Dwarfs against Chaos. We both took a variety of troops, just to see how it played. We stuck with the very simple Kill the Warlord scenario to ease ourselves in. The basic Saga rules are unchanged - roll Saga dice, activate units, give them abilities, accrue fatigue, that's all unchanged. There are additional unit types to cover more fantasy like elements - creatures and contraptions, warlocks, beasts and such like. So the dwarf force included a warsmith (runesmith) and a contraption (bolt thrower), while the Chaos force contained a giant, a troll, sorceror, hounds, ogres. The 10 point forces we used gave a good sized large skirmish/small battle game.

The game played out in classic Warhammer style. The dwarf right flank was loaded with missile troops. Buffed by magic from the warsmith, the thunderers and bolt thrower made short work of the hounds and marauders. The chaos forces sensibly switched to the other flank, where a unit of ogres and dwarf slayers butchered each other in one gruesome round of gory combat. A giant lumbered in and made short work of dwarf warriors, then set about cutting the dwarf lord down to size (of course there are size puns in a dwarf battle report!). The lord took a terrible beating, but fighting defensively and with his well crafted armour he was able to fight off the giant. His bodyguard flung themselves into the fray and toppled the great beast, though only a third of them survived the fight. In the final showdown the Chaos Lord and his bodyguard squared up to the Dwarf Lord and his bodyguard. It was very close, but the exhaustion from battling the giant told on the stout Dwarf and he fell, broken chaos and dwarf troops all around him.

The best thing about this is that the author(s) have obviously spent a lot of time thinking about the game. They clearly have Warhammer backgrounds, the boards really do evoke classic Warhammer Fantasy gaming. Added to that are the usual difficult decision making that Saga games involve. It's certainly a far, far better experience than Age of Sigmar. If you are looking for an alternative fantasy skirmish game, I highly recommend that you give it a try. It's given me an enthusiasm for fantasy gaming that I have not had for a good long while. And that's after just one game! I am eager to try the Elves and Undead boards, while the authors are planning even more boards. It could well be the start of a Fantastic Saga - watch this space.

2 comments:

Gordon Richards said...

Great. Hadn't heard of this so thanks to bringing it to my attention. Downloading now...

Dai said...

My son will be happy to hear his old man's "boring" historical games now come in a more interesting flavour. Thanks!

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