Category: SAGA

Wargaming supplies in Seoul: Neighbor Hobby

Scouring around for places to pick up paints and supplies I stumbled across likely the new Mecca for hobby supplies for me, Neighbor Hobby. It’s nestled away unassumingly in the lower floor of an office building. But despite it’s location, they have a pretty amazing stock of model kits of all sorts.
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There is a great selection of military models. Unfortunately for fans of Bolt Action, they carry only Tamiya 1/48 kits, but they seem to have a full selection from that line. As 1/72 and 1/76 scale kits go though, they have a great choice of tanks, soldiers, and terrain. With buildings I usually use 20 mm, even for 28mm stuff as it keeps a smaller footprint on the table and looks okay. I find true 28mm scale buildings just a little too big and even the smallest 2 story house seems to dwarf the rest of the table terrain. So having a lot of building model kits for sale was a pleasant surprise.
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Now for paints, brushes, and other supplies you are set. There is a great selection of paints from Testors, Tamiya, AK Interactive, MIG, as well as my go to for painting, Vallejo. It’s a wonderful amount of choices and stock for both brush and airbrush painters. They also carry a complete selection of Testors and Tamiya sprays. Well worth checking out.
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To get there isn’t too difficult. Take subway line 2 to Hongik University and get off exit number 3. You need to cross the street and footpath park and take a side street, then go right. Once you hit a main street go left and it will be in an office building.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

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The entrance is actually a bit odd. Going behind the building from the parking lot you enter on the first floor. You will follow a long hall towards the elevator, and can find the shop directly.
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However if you enter the front of the building you are actually on the 2nd floor and have to take the lift down to the 1st floor.

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All in all Neighbor Hobby is a fantastic place to pick up military models, paints, and modeling supplies. It certainly is one of the top places to get wargaming model supplies in the city. It’s also in the same neighborhood as Rolling Dice so a great stop to get a double scoop of geek supplies while in Seoul.

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Paint scheme reference cards

PaintRefAThis week just a small tip for folks delving into miniature painting. If you are like me you might have a lot of different game systems and army projects going (sometimes several simultaneously). Once an army is done, going back to add a few troops or units is always an option. However it can be a tad difficult to remember what paints were used before for that force.

Another issue is that occasionally your miniatures will get some dings and dents. You may find needing to touch up a miniature or two. So trying to think back what paints you originally used for a base coat along with the proper wash might be a problem. It’s compounded if you’ve been painting a slew of other stuff since then too.

To get around this I use note cards. I write down the paints used for base coats, washes, and highlights. Additionally I pair this information up with the appropriate parts of the models. Along with the name of the paint, I also place a small dab of the paint color on the card.

This way I know exactly what colors I used for say, the webbing on my US Marines, along with the colors used for the drybrush highlight too. The color reference is also there in case I have problems tracking down a specific paint. I then have a hue to compare to if seeking a replacement paint from a different manufacturer. Another plus is I can take the card with me into the shop to directly compare.

They are very handy. I’ve got a slew of unfinished 15mm Russians I’ve been sitting on for a couple of years now. At least with the paint reference cards I have some confidence I can revisit them again using the same color scheme as I had done in the past, ensuring that my army will have a uniform look. So consider keeping track of the paints you use on your minis. While I find note cards handy, but even a notebook is helpful. After all you never know when you might have to touch up a couple of minis (or add another squad to your force).

Wargames Factory Saxon Thegns

As I mentioned awhile back I’ve been dragging my feet some painting up my SAGA warbands. I wanted to have some flexibility with my models and opted to pick up a few more sets of figures to build both Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Dane warbands. Further a lot of battle board abilities for Anglo-Saxons revolve around 10 man units. Having a lot of warriors seems the way to go, so I wanted quite a few models to explore these abilities more.

Wargames Factory’s Saxon Thegns come 32 figures per box. There are plenty of head, shield, and weapon options. A few standards and horns are provided. While not specific for SAGA you also get a lot of bows which are great for other game systems (cough…Frostgrave…cough) and if looking to combine this with other plastic unarmored Saxon sets, a good way to have plenty of bows for your levies. There are also hefty 2 handed Dane axes allowing you to deck out some hearthguard if wanted. My one complaint with the weapons would be that the spears look a little anemic.WargamesFactSaxC

My other complaint would be the necks of the models. The manufacturer suggests cutting down the neck some before assembly. This is a bit of a pain and can be difficult to get just right. Fortunately the models are plastic and with the right amount of glue and pressure, you can get them assembled in due order. I would recommend going for a more viscous plastic cement. The figures fit well together, but you might want to fill the gaps in some for the arms.WargamesFactSaxA

The hands are modeled open to allow different arms to be placed in. The thumbs look a bit odd sticking out but once you’ve got weapons set in the hands, they don’t stand out. Overall the models assemble pretty easy aside from the slight hiccup with the heads. The detail on the figures are not bad. Some of the body and arm details are muted, but overall they look good.

You basically have 4 bodies for the set. Yet with the options for heads and arms, along with different angles you can assemble them, the end result is enough different poses to make up for the lack of body types. One more ding to the set is that no bases are provided. So expect to buy some bases along with the box.WargamesFactSaxB

Another manufacturer out there for medieval plastic sets is Gripping Beast. Likely people will want to know how well the 2 figure lines compare. The pic below is from each company for Saxon Thegns. The one on the left is from Wargames Factory and the one on the right is from Gripping Beast. I think they are very comparable for scale and can mix and match them freely. If anything the Gripping Beast figures seem a little more stocky in the arms and shoulders. Yet once painted up and based, they don’t really stand apart from each other.WargamesVsGrippingBeast

There are a lot of positives for the minis in this box. The Wargames Factory kit does have a lot of different weapon and shield options. The head choices aren’t bad (though are a chore some to glue onto the bodies). The price is also reasonable for what you get and I’m glad to have picked them up. However, I’m on the fence about recommending these Thegns. They aren’t bad figures. It’s just that for armored plastic Saxons I think there are better options out there.

Hotz Mats felt fields

A long while back I mentioned that I picked up some battemats from Hotz Mats and wasn’t that impressed with them. At the same time I made my order, I decided to pick up some flocked felt field sets from the same company. Despite me not being keen on the treated felt mats, I gotta say that I do like the flocked fields they offer.

I bought 2 sets of the 20-30mm range felt fields. The fields vary in sizes and colors that look pretty good for that scale. Seems they offer smaller scale mats for 6-15mm. The pics I have here are of 1/72 scale Germans. It does seem that smaller models would look a little off with the larger scale mats.
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The felt fields are durable though and the flock is tightly adhered to the material. Mind you I keep them stored relatively flat tucked in a box of other terrain, so if tightly rolled up I’m not sure how they would hold up. But I have to say they’ve been through some heat and humidity and still look nice. Through normal gaming wear and tear you’d likely have some fields that would last for years.
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The felt fields range in size having one large section, 2 smaller fields (a little over 6″ long), and a mid-sized field. A good mix for a set which looks nice. Throw in some small stone walls or bocage and you’d have a nice bit of rough terrain or light cover for your table. If looking to get some rural terrain and not too keen on modeling your own, they are a good option and worth picking up a set or two.
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Gripping Beast Saxon Thegns

While I enjoy SAGA I need to admit Frostgrave has sort of taken over my painting drive. I assembled my SAGA warbands a long while back but actually giving them a coat of paint has been a chore. I’ve really been dragging my feet on them. Love the game but my spark for painting the figures consistently seems to flare up for only a few days and then die down to a smoldering ember for months.

But I’ve managed to get some troops painted up. One big draw for me getting into SAGA was the relatively low model count and cheap options for figures. I decided to pick up a few sets of Saxon Thegns from different manufacturers as I wanted to build both Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Dane warbands. That way I could switch around some of the hearthguard and warlord models, but keep much of the core force of warrior models the same.

I opted for one box of Gripping Beast Saxon Thegns. They are a nice set of plastic figures for a decent price. You get a whopping 44 minis, including a sprue to make a standard bearer, horn blower, and some details like a cloak to deck out one model making it your warlord. For Anglo Saxons a lot of battle board abilities revolve around 10 man units. I’ve puttered around with a few hearthguard but I’m now leaning towards using more warrior units to take advantage of the 10 man abilities. So having a lot of extra figures is welcome.GrippingSaxonB

The plastic figures are well detailed with some nice armament options. You get 5 bodies per sprue with a few extra to make up the command elements. They assemble well and are pretty easy to glue together. Square bases also come with the set including some larger bases for single ranks. I’m using round bases instead but it’s nice to have some included in the box. I’m no expert but the gear and figures seem historically accurate and it’s nice to see a ton of spears in the set also.

I’m slacking on the historical accuracy some though. To keep things clean with WYSIWYG with the warrior units in SAGA, I’m keeping them in mail armor and dropping the shields. This is passable with the figures I’ve got, but I’ll admit the right arms are sculpted to accommodate shields. I decided to base them without shields, saving those for the hearthguard.GrippingSaxonA

Now another manufacturer floating around with nice medieval plastic sets is Wargames Factory. I imagine a lot of folks would like to know how they stack up and could you mix and match them. The pic below is of two Saxon Thegn figures from each company. The one on the left is from Wargames Factory and the one on the right is from Gripping Beast. I think they are very comparable for scale. The Gripping Beast figures seem a little more stocky in the shoulders and arms, but painted up they don’t really stand apart from each other.WargamesVsGrippingBeast

Overall if I was pressed to stick with one set over another, I’d go with Gripping Beast figures. The minis have a little more detail. There are some nice small bits that stand out (like necklace crucifixes) with the Gripping Beast Saxons. They really are fine minis for a good price and work great for getting up a core force of rank and file figures for your SAGA warband.

Cigar Box battle mats review

Ever on the quest to find some cool gaming mats I stumbled across Cigar Box Battle Mats and had to pick a few up. A while back I had gotten some Hotz mats for my Bolt Action and Firestorm Armada games. The star field mat was okay while the green mat was a little lackluster. Further, they were treated felt. The surface looked like it could handle pilling but it was stiff and kept wrinkles if folded up.

The battle mats from Cigar Box are made out of a thin fleece material. It’s very supple and has a sheen surface that will not snag on miniature bases. Most come in 4′ x 6′ with a few mats measuring 36″ x 36″. You can machine wash the mats and the surface appears to be screen printed making it look pretty resistant to your normal wear and tear.

The star field mat is very muted, but has a nice generic look. All of which allows you to plop down whatever terrain you have and not look too out of place clashing with something printed on the mat itself.

The generic grass field has a nice textured look to it. As the material is so yielding, you can put hills under the mat. This is something I found an issue with the Hotz mats as the treated felt was rather stiff. For a basic open field, the Cigar Box mat looks good with just a little contrast to break up the entire surface.

Digging through the store, there are also more elaborate patterns which can highlight roads, fields, and forests. A few even are set up to portray classic civil war battles, but could work for different historical engagements too. There is a pretty impressive variety and fortunately some generic mats are also available.

I think one ding to the mats would be that you’d have to double up if needing a 4′ X 8′ mat as the size options are limited. The mats are also ideal for free miniature movement as there are no hex or grid options.

The service was quick and I got my order via international air mail about a week after it was shipped. They were also very quick to respond to any queries via email. I highly recommend these mats. They are durable, provide a good gaming surface, and look great. Well worth picking them up for your games.

Litko game tokens as holiday gifts

Say you want a stocking stuffer for your significant nerdy other, or want to give a small gift to a gamer pal. Litko makes quality plastic acrylic game tokens and other miscellaneous game items, offering a great gift for them. A long while back I made no bones about my preference using tokens and markers around the table. Having a tactile marker to represent a condition, bonus, or temporary status is great over just using pen and paper. So I’ve had a long affair of enjoying Litko products for years now. They’ve got wonderful stuff for just about any gamer you’d like to get a gift for.

The wargamer – They offer tons of sets and individual packs for tokens. From command and casualty markers, to range band and blast templates, Litko offers some fantastic tokens and markers.

The board game fan – Litko has branched out and now provides game token sets for popular board games too. Imagine spicing up your Pandemic game with these tokens…

Not to mention some really wonderful X-Wing token and marker sets…

And I’m certain Netrunner players would enjoy having these on the table…

The RPG player – Litko also offers a lot of sets and tokens for RPG games also. You can find lots of tokens to mark temporary conditions….

and complete sets are also available like this one for Savage Worlds.

They offer some more interesting items like paper figure miniature stands…

or markers for indicating which character miniature is holding a torch…

And other bits for gamers – Litko also makes a variety of bases for miniatures and other really clever items like counter dials….

and a variety of portable dice towers which can be taken apart and thrown in a zip lock bag. Perfect for those gaming tourneys.

So I encourage folks to give them a look. Several online retailers also carry their products. And if you aren’t sure about what they’d really like, well just give them a gift certificate instead. Hope folks enjoy the holidays with family and friends (and get some games in too).

Scratch built scouring pad trees

My Bolt Action platoons are shaping up and I’ve been on a bit of a kick to get some terrain whipped up. One thing I sorely wanted were trees. However I’m just not able to bite the bullet and pony up cash for them. Looking around for pre-made scenery, trees are a bit expensive. A long time back I had gotten a bulk pack from woodland scenics where you could construct your own trees. It was a mess to put together and while great for a diorama, it just couldn’t handle the wear and tear for my wargaming table.

One tutorial I dug up described using cleaning pads for pine trees. Just right for my budget, so I jumped right in and looked into making some up. I picked up some scouring pads for less than a dollar and kept some skewers from some street food after a late night of drinking. I liked these skewers as they were thick ¼” diameter wood pieces.

I cut the pads into rows and then in approximately 1 ½” to 2” squares. I then trimmed the square pads into rough circles. I made sure to save a lot of the small corner bits of pad after cutting the major sections into circles. Some of the pads I cut into smaller circles of about 1 inch to serve as the top section of the tree, and followed this up by cutting the tree ‘trunks’ into 3-5” lengths. I found while larger trees are more realistically scaled, they are almost too big for wargaming.

As the I had to get the center wooden piece through the pad sections, I made a small cut in the center of the pads. Then came the more tedious bit. To give the pads some bulk, I teased apart the pad material for each section. This would almost double their thickness by simple pulling the material apart some.

With a hot glue gun, I added a dab to the center dowel and skewered a single pad section, moving it down to little over ½ the length of the wood. I repeated this, adding more glue higher up the wood shaft, adding more sections. I ensured the last section was a smaller diameter circle piece. All in all, I found 4-5 pad sections was enough for the trees to give them some bulk.

For the tops of the trees, I used the leftover parts of the pads from making the circle sections. Really teasing them apart, I could add 2-3 sections to the center wooden piece after placing some hot glue. This gave a nice small tapered top to them.

To mount my trees, I cut up some old software CDs, carefully rounding the edges. I placed a thick drop of hot glue in the center and then set the tree on the base. I decided rather than using watered down PVA and flock for the bases, I’d use a drybrush over a layer of modelling ballast. I wanted to do this partially to keep from getting flock all stuck up in the trees and also to ensure the trees could take a little punishment with storage and transporting.

I put down a layer of watered-down PVA glue and after letting the model ballast dry, set to painting it. I gave each tree a good coat of green spray paint. A nice part of this is that the paint will also act as a sort of cement for the ballast, and stiffen up the pad sections of the tree too.

After letting them dry, I painted the trunks a nice brown coat, and followed it up by drybrushing the bases with a lighter green to simulate grass and low brush. More chunks of flock could be added if needed, but overall I liked the effect it gave.

Note I did not highlight the trees any. I feel one solid color, with potentially a wash was enough. Drybrushing the tree leaf sections would likely only highlight the overall pattern of stacked pads even more. With one solid, uniform color of green, the detail of the tree leaf sections are muddled some. Afterwards I went ahead and gave the trees a matte varnish spray.

I think they look pretty decent and you simply cannot beat the price. I may very well likely pick up a few model trees and expect if I mix them in with the lot I made, they will look even better on the tabletop. This was a pretty fun project and an evening’s worth of work (minus the time needed for letting the trees dry due to spray painting). Now to just get some more games in!

Hotz Mats gaming mats

Since I was sorta on a terrain kick making asteroids for Firestorm Armada, I wanted to get a better gaming surface than a black cloth. For a while I heard about Hotz Mats which make a variety of felt gaming mats that can serve for some really nice space tables. They are screen printed and have a variety of options with printed hexes or grids, or even mats that are double-sided with an option for one side being gridless. The mats come in a variety of dimensions with 4’ x 8’ being the largest.

So I went ahead and ordered two mats at 45” x 72’ with one being an earth green mat for my WWII and SAGA stuff, and another deep space mat for my Firestorm Armada games. The mats are felt. However they are supposed to be treated with a fabric binder that reduces the wear and tear of the surface, lessening the pilling you typically see with felt.

The mats are a decent thickness (if just a tad thin) and can get a bit creased. However really deep folds can be carefully ironed out. The surface of the painted side is somewhat stiff which I assume is the fabric binding material that is sprayed over the surface. This does keep models from snagging up as much compared to regular soft felt. I could push my ship model stands around without having them get caught up on the material.

The deep space mat is pretty nice for a generic background. A little color is thrown in aside from the star background which is nice. I think if I were to get another I might splurge for the enhanced deep space mat.

I am a little disappointed with the earth green mat. I was hoping maybe a little extra paint to add some texture to it. However it’s really just a bolt of green felt yet still has the fabric binder coated on it. This gives it a decent surface and likely a hex printed version would serve great. Overall the one I picked up is a plain, muted surface for wargaming.

Now to go a bit on the customer service of Hotz Mats. Bluntly, I found it lacking. I do know they pretty much make the mats custom order. And I would put money on a lot of the mats being done in one go, and maybe needing some time to dry out in the open. Coming from Canada, this might mean delays due to poor weather (humidity) mucking up the production.

It took my order an extra two months to arrive. Email responses from the company were also sporadic and I didn’t get any indication my order was shipped. So I will give a huge caveat for buying their mats directly. It’s going to be delayed. Don’t expect a prompt (or any) response to emails. I can understand production delays, but I’m a little less understanding with the lack of communication. Consider the 3-5 weeks deliver to only be valid if you live within the province.

Now I understand they are moving to a new studio. This might alleviate some production delays. If you order from them, I think you need to take a zen-like approach and just accept that after several months you’ll get what you ordered in the mail.

The game mats are decent, seem like they can take a little punishment, and can easily be stored away. However simply put Hotz mats aren’t worth getting as there are better gaming mats out there that are comparably priced. What really pushed it over into the no buy column for me is the abysmal customer service. Seems you’ll get your mats… eventually… when they decide to get them into production… and bother to ship it. There are other options available for gaming mats which provide much better customer service. I can’t recommend buying Hotz gaming mats.

Review: SAGA

I never really had the calling to get into ancients or medieval wargaming. A long while back I was into Warhammer which seemed to scratch my itch for medieval-type gaming. Big blocky units moving in formation, a crash of cavalry in a wedge charging a flank, rows of archers and siege weapons, it just was more fun for me to collect and paint minis for fantasy armies than a historical game. I dumped my Warhammer stuff years ago but lately I’ve considered getting into historical ancient gaming. However I really didn’t want to go the route of a huge army. Maybe something smaller scale. So along comes SAGA from Gripping Beast and Studio Tomahawk.

SAGA is a skirmish wargame set very loosely in the mid-11th century. Players form small warbands and battle it out over a small stretch of earth, pitting each warlord-led host against each other. True historical scenarios are somewhat thrown to the wayside and the game pretty much embraces a ‘what-if’ sort of vibe, which is just fine. You aren’t recreating historical battles here. It’s pretty much small unit action of a group of 30-60 men and mounted horses.

The scale is man-per-model and is about 20-28mm. Ranges are set increment range bands. So Very Short is 2″, Short is 4″, Medium is 6″, etc. with ranges maxing out at 12″. Movement is typically 6″ with shooting at maximum ranges of 12″. All references to distances use this nomenclature of range bands. What is particularly nice about this range system is its flexibility. If you wanted to run a 15mm game, just alter the range band scales from inches to cm. Simple.

A key component of the game is the battle boards. Each faction has its unique chart that describes the various actions and special abilities related to common tactics and characteristics of that group. Players roll saga dice, these special d6 (although a normal six-sided die could also be used) and allocate them to different sections on the battle board. The saga dice themselves are 3 symbols unevenly distributed. Effectively one symbol represents 1-3, another 4-5, and the last symbol is a ‘six’. During their turn they spend upwards of 6 order dice removing them from the board and activating certain abilities (some allow more dice to be used up to a maximum of 8). Once they spent the dice they care to, their turn ends and their opponent takes a turn doing the same.

I love it. Certain units will only activate on a particular die range, with the most trained units being able to always activate. You have special abilities that enhance attacks. You also have abilities that can be spent on defense during your opponent’s turn. So deciding what dice to use for activating units and attacking, while keeping a precious few in reserve for your opponent’s turn is a key part of the game. It’s a surprisingly dynamic system where you have to plan out attacks and be prepared for charges.

As lesser trained levy units don’t activate as much (50% of the time) and they share an activation die symbol with more powerful combat abilities, in effect you have leadership become part of order dice allocation. It’s an exceedingly clever system. It builds in that unknown of not being able to count on poorly disciplined units when you need to. To bypass this, you have a warlord for your warband that can order movement to units within range. So if you really need to move those peasant archers, you can bypass the die order allocation with judicious placement of your warlord.

Another nifty point is that units can activate multiple times. So you can take that elite unit of troops and go all out in a fight if needed. However each order beyond the first accumulates fatigue. Units also get a fatigue marker for shooting or being in melee. Fatigue can also be gained if nearby units are wiped out. If a unit has a certain amount of fatigue (which varies depending on the unit quality) it cannot do anything but rest, removing a fatigue token while it does so. If attacked while fatigued, the unit will also fight significantly less effectively. Essentially it incorporates some aspect of morale for units.

Fatigue can also be spent by your opponent. They can be used to decrease a unit’s combat effectiveness in a melee, or be spent to increase the likelihood an enemy will land a blow. This all adds a tactical layer to the game making it very engaging. If I push a unit to move and attack, I’m decreasing the chances I can use it again on later turns. Even worse, an opponent could use that accumulated fatigue against me if that unit is charged by the enemy. Meanwhile, my opponent seriously has to think about that decision of using my fatigue. If they can’t inflict significant casualties, my unit will be able to activate on future turns (as they’ve removed fatigue markers on my unit). This is a really cool feature of the game and allows both sides to be involved, despite it being one person’s ‘turn’ to activate their units.

Combat is a basic affair. Units roll a single d6 to hit with the number of dice depends on troop type, where elite warriors might roll two dice per man, to rolling a single die per 3 models for levies. Warlords are a force unto themselves generating 5 melee attack dice for a single model. Both shooting and melee work against equaling or exceeding a specific number (again more elite units are harder to hit, compared to easier, lesser-trained troops). For each successful hit, the dice are passed to the defender and they can try to make a save, either 4+ or 5+ depending on it being shooting or melee, respectively.

The composition of the force is points-based, with a typical warband ranging from 4-6 points and your warlord being free. Units range from a minimum of 4 models up to a maximum of 12. Units are bought in groups where elite trained warriors are in groups of 4, warriors as units of 8, and levies as a single group of 12. For each unit you have, you get one saga die. Your warlord automatically gives you 2 saga dice and levies offer no dice if you field them.

As force composition goes, it’s an elegant system to ensure a fair fight and something to carefully consider. As you lose units, you lose saga dice reducing your tactical options. Smaller units are cheaper and generate more dice compared to larger, well-trained units, but suffer from being more easily wiped out. Likewise the cheap, large units of levies might be able to soak up a lot of fire and casualties but don’t award any order dice.

The game details 6 simple scenarios, with a bonus multiplayer/faction one. Rules are provided for even larger engagements of up to 12 points. The scenarios range from simple battles for the field to others requiring the taking of terrain objectives. There is even a scenario where an attacker tries to steal a baggage train from the defender.

Out of the book there are 4 factions: Anglo-Danish, Normans, Vikings and Celts. Aside from each faction gaining a unique battle board, every group has special rules. Special heroic warlords can also be bought with rules for fielding these larger-than-life warrior leaders.

The Good – SAGA is an enjoyable skirmish medieval game. It moves and plays unit based, melee combat very well. The order allocation and fatigue mechanisms are interesting ideas and provide a dynamic experience on the tabletop. It provides just the right mix of varying leadership and uncertainty of executing orders through a different process from other games.

The book is well written with lots of examples. The photography of colored models is quite nice. The softback book is printed on quality, glossy paper with oversized pages. The battle boards themselves are decent cardstock and look like they can take some handling wear.

The Bad – Some might consider the special SAGA dice somewhat a gimmick. There are rules and charts for converting the die results to a normal d6. Still it’s a bit of a chore interpreting the symbol on the faction boards with a specific die roll, and the dice set themselves are pretty expensive.

Every faction revolves around a separate battle board. There is not a copy of the board within the rulebook so if you lose one, you’ve effectively lost the ability to play that faction. This relates somewhat to the overall expense of the book. You are paying about $40 for a 72 page softback book (with a fair amount of whitespace on the layout of each page) and a few special cardstock charts. Compared to something like the quality of Osprey’s Bolt Action rulebook, it’s pretty steep. I’m also put off a bit a little by the cheapness of Gripping Beast related to what is available for SAGA online.

Clearly piracy is on their minds, with no online resources for PDF versions of their battle boards (and none in the rulebook itself). There is also this adherence of using special dice for each faction (instead of offering pre-made charts that could work with regular d6). The rules are simple and sparse, with much of the meat of how a faction works parsed off to a single page. It seems that they want to push people buying a set of rules that are a tad overpriced for what you actually get, with limited online support like copies of the faction boards.

The Verdict – While I complain some on the relative cost of the book, and the push for using special order dice, SAGA is a good game. It offers a very engaging system for medieval skirmish wargame action. The order and fatigue system allows for play that’s surprisingly dynamic in action. Despite the limited number of factions in the book, each one has some truly unique abilities giving what would be simply a mob of armored men, some different tactical abilities on the battlefield.

I really like this game. It brings something different to the table in relation to historical skirmish games. The rules are simple and easy to grasp. All the while, choosing what abilities to assign to your troops and when to use them is a challenging tactical experience. Additionally, you may have to consider the limited orders and maneuvering you can accomplish during a single turn, meaning strategic planning is needed to execute complicated moves. It’s surprisingly deep for what appears to be a simple rule system.

If you’ve had a fancy of dabbling into historical wargaming, SAGA is a great system. There are some dings to how the rules are presented and the peripheral items needed for the tabletop. However with a little work they can be bypassed. It really is an enjoyable game with a pretty low model count to make for a fun afternoon on the table battlefield. Consider picking up these rules if you’ve got the itch to have men cry for Valhalla over the clash of steel and crashing of bodies into a shield wall.