From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.
The original SAGA: the Viking age was released in 2011 it became a surprise hit – unusual for a historical title. Three years later we see a new version of the game with a different historical setting.
The eleventh and twelfth centuries saw constant warfare between Christianity and Islam. This is the setting for the crescent and the cross.
The first upgrade we see is the rulebook presentation. A hardcover book with glossy pages is an improvement over the stapled rulebooks of the original SAGA. The new book runs to 120 pages, and covers the game and scenarios in depth.
Rules are presented in good order, with clear explanations throughout. Even SAGA players with no interest in this later period may find the book provides value enough given the rules have been re-written for clarity.
Rules which were introduced in expansions are here brought into the fold, for example the War Banner rules. Other rules which were undefined in the original have been defined here for the benefit of players’ sanity. Base sizes are one such example. Some people….
Ragnar has taken a back seat to our new host, Hashim ibn Khalid ibn Abad.
One interesting new rule is for holy men who can join warbands, and even be your warlord. You can take these in the new armies or the old (“killing priests and monks is fun!” Ragnar reminds us). There are three different types and they add another new dimension to the game and allow for greater variety among forces.
With three years of feedback under their belt, the writers have anticipated many of the questions that may arise from their rules. Because of this you will often find a rule written two different ways, one after the other. At first I found this jarring, but clearly the writers have learned that different readers respond to different written phrases, so they have included both to try and minimise confusion over how the game’s rules work. Simply reading through the rules for Fatigue taught me a thing or two, for example.
Along with the rulebook you’ll receive six new faction battle boards representing forces fighting from Spain to Asia Minor. There is also a handy reference sheet that will be your new best friend in Dark Age or crescent and cross battles.
To review the factions would be an article in itself, so expect one or two extra articles from me once I have had time to read through the new battle board. There are three Christian and three Islamic factions represented. Each has its own legends, which are detailed in the rulebook. Also, camels are now a mount.
It’s been an interesting journey over the past few years. SAGA was a revelation when it was first released; simple rules provided for great depth of play. This new edition takes the good from the first version and builds on that to create an upgraded version of the game.
Well worth trying out.