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The three Muslim factions in the Crescent and Cross book give players a wide choice of armies and play style to choose from, just as the Christian factions do. From Spain to the Caspian Sea, your warbands can originate from a number of places on the map, so feel free to choose your favourite!
These three factions again present a different approach to using the Battle Board. It’s not the case the Crescent and Cross factions are better or worse than their Dark Age antecedents. This re-presentation of the game brings different considerations tot he table, so battle boards are best approached fresh, without any preconceived ideas of how they ‘should’ be used.
In the Moorish force your Warlord and Hearthguards will always be mounted. Hearthguards carry javelins, and have lower armour. Warriors can be mounted with javelins or on foot with spears. Your Levies are on foot and make take either bows or crossbows. Levy don’t normally get a crossbow option, and Levy that shoot with crossbows take one fatigue after the shooting is resolved. Still, Levy with crossbows.
The Moors are a infantry-focused army. Four of your battle board abilities are either for or work better with your warriors on foot. It’s best to base your army around these units, with a unit of Hearthguard or Levy to weaken or finish off depleted enemy units.
Your other battle board abilities disrupt the enemy, adding fatigue or else turning your enemy’s shots or even units against them!
The Moors only have one hero of the crusades to add to their force, and this is fine, as the other options of to upgrade up to eight of your Hearthguards to Black Guard. The Black Guard will form the heart of your infantry-based Moorish force, and I expect we will see this option used more often than not.
With a core of Warrior infantry and the right support at the right time, this force will be the bane of your opponents.
The Mutatawwi’a warband uses a unique sacrifice ability that makes it a different force to many others you can muster in SAGA.
Your warlord can be mounted on a camel or a horse (camels are better in rough terrain and horses don’t like them) or else on foot. Your Hearthguard have the same options.
Warriors are on foot and may have bows. The Mutatawwi’a are similar to the Milites Christi faction in that they have no option for Levies.
This faction is aggressive, and wants to close the distance quickly to get into melee with the enemy, bringing the full force of their battle board to bear. Many abilities on the Mutatawwi’a battle board require the sacrifice of a model from the target unit in addition to any SAGA dice cost. Don’t worry though, the benefit outweighs the cost, and you can replenish models later in the game by cashing in the sacrifice tokens you receive each time you do this.
If your idea of tactics are to get into melee as quickly as possible and stay there until you or your opponent are dead, then this is the faction for you! Battle board abilities let you move faster into melee, and keep you uncaring of casualties, and can even force a second round of combat.
While the Mutatawwi’a represent militarised Muslims dedicated to removing the invaders from their lands, you can also transform this into as assassins army by taking the Old Man in the Mountain as your general. This changes the character of your Mutatawwi’a force, making it a warband of the feared assassins sect.
The Saracens are something of a grab bag faction, representing anything from Turks in Asia Minor to Arab city militias or anything else you can think of.
Your Warlord will always be mounted. Your Hearthguards are always mounted too, and may have the option of bows. Warriors can be on foot, or mounted, or mounted with bows. Levy units are always armed with bows.
The Saracens are a faction for players who like rolling dice to see how well they do. Five of your battle board abilities rely of dice rolling for their effectiveness and a sixth allows you to change the dice rolls you make. Not my cup of tea, but probably just what some player have been waiting for all this time.
The high variance in how these abilities might work makes it difficult to evaluate the board abilities at a glance, or even within a single game. I guess that is how the dice roller like it. The ability arrows and shields for example has you roll 2D6. Your shooting unit gains attack dice equal to the highest score rolled, while the defending unit gains defence dice equal to the lowest score. This could result in you gaining five dice more than your opponent, or none.
Saracens combine a fairly open list in terms of options with a closed battle board in terms of play style.
The six new factions in SAGA Crescent and Cross offer new ways of approaching the game of SAGA, and this will appeal to new and existing players alike