From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.
Crescent and Cross gives us three Christian factions, representing those fighting under the cross from Iberia to the Levant. For SAGA players there are three quite different factions to explore.
The first caveat is that it’s best not to think of these as slightly different SAGA factions, but rather as brand new factions. If you keep comparing abilities to ones that are sort of like it in SAGA Dark Ages, it will colour your perceptions of the forces in ways that are not helpful. I will try and minimise such comparisons.
The Crusaders are a very flexible battle force and will suit many players who have a favourite play style, simply because they support so many options. A Crusader warlord may be mounted or on foot. If on foot he may have a heavy weapon. Hearthguards and warriors are treated similarly, and warriors may additionally include one unit with crossbows. Their levies have no options, but generate more attack dice than other levies, so there’s that.
Crusaders are suited to aggressive play, and will appeal to players who like to move across the board and get stuck in with a minimum of fuss. One style of play this army won’t entertain is hit and run. They prefer to hit and hit some more!
The Crusaders’ battle board is a strange one. You begin the game with fully seven abilities unavailable to you. If you put your efforts into unlocking those abilities, your entire board will be available to you on turn 3 at the earliest. You don’t have to acquire the virtues in any particular order, but you will need to dedicate SAGA dice to this task. Consider carefully when you’ll need the abilities of a virtue before you dedicate your pool to this task. The sight of a Crusader warband stopping to pray in the first turn of a game will likely be a common one.
Your default abilities support aggressive movement, with the ability to increase the movement of your army, or activate two levy units with one SAGA dice. The unlockable abilities continue this theme, and add more options plus abilities that will increase your combat ability.
The Crusaders are a versatile faction that can be built a number of ways, but will always be interested in getting to grips with the enemy sooner rather than later.
The Milites Christi are another aggressive faction. The lean towards mounted troops, and Warlords and hearthguard must be mounted. Having warriors mounted is optional. Crossbows are also a warrior option and your crossbows are unlimited, except that they may not outnumber your hearthguard. There are no levies in this faction.
This faction runs on Piety, which can be gained by rolling SAGA dice at the start of your turn. The higher you want your Piety to rise the more dice you must dedicate, and you can only raise your Piety by one per turn.
Battle board abilities lean towards melee, and with a mostly mounted faction you should be able to use them from turn 2 forward Some abilities work better with a high Piety level, other abilities work the same regardless of your Piety level. It’s important to keep this in mind, as your best options will change from turn to turn depending on your Piety level and the tactical situation.
Milites Christi are an aggressive faction that will give experienced SAGA players a tricky set of options to explore each turn. Newer players may find they are better off focussing on a few abilities and exploring the rest of the battle board in future games.
The Spanish faction comes with a warning in the rule book: this faction is intended for experienced players only.
This faction is less flexible at the top end, as Warlords and hearthguards are always mounted and have no equipment options. Warriors may be mounted with javelins, or on foot with spears/ swords. Levies may have javelins, bows, or crossbows. The latter weapon causes the firing unit to become fatigued after using them. Someone needs to feed their levies properly!
Many of the battle board abilities are reaction abilities designed to be used in the opponent’s turn. You will frequently hand the turn over to your opponent with four or more SAGA dice on your board, waiting for the right moment to be used. Playing in the opponent’s turn is easy for some players to understand but confusing for others, which I suppose is why they felt it necessary to add the caveat in the rulebook. The power of these abilities can be extreme – ever wanted to redistribute fatigue through your opponent’s army? Played well, the Spanish simply won’t let their opponent into the game.
The Spanish are a faction that will reward players who build an army by starting with specific battle board abilities, and taking the force that can use them best. In general you will expect to weaken enemy units with shooting and hamstring them with battle board abilities before charging in with your Warlord and hearthguard to finish them.
Taking the Cross
The Christian factions form three very different warbands, and you’ll find the priest options will offer each of these factions something extra. While I didn’t cover them in this review, there are two legendary heroes for each faction to add yet more variety to your warband options, including, El Cid for the Spanish.