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The SAGA Book of Battles is a supplement of over 50 pages dealing with how to organise and fight battles across the various SAGA settings.
The book is organised into several sections, each of which deals with a slightly different way of organising your games. From basic meeting engagements to multiplayer madness, this books covers a lot of options.
My favourite section is the first one. Called Skirmishes, it contains a simple table and some terrain rules. You can use the table to auto-generate a terrain type, deployment method, and victory conditions for your game. This can keep players entertained for years by itself, if five pages long, and absolutely should have been in the main SAGA rulebook instead of in a supplement.
One aspect that hit me as I read the version 2 SAGA rulebook was that it contained no rules for organising a battle. Something of an oversight in a wargame I would have thought. For veteran wargames this is filed under ‘no big deal, I can work it out’ but for newer gamers it represents a needless barrier.
I’m happy with the Skirmishes content, but it’s in the wrong book.
The following section of the book is simply called Battles and is a more detailed version of the Skirmishes section. You’ll find more detailed deployment rules and scenario rules too, such as baggage.
Following this is the Legends section which focuses more on narrative play and inter-warlord rivalries. After that comes a few pages of massed battles, and then the final section, called Sagas.
The Sagas section has a progression system for warlord. This remains fairly simple but with good opportunities to tie back into the narrative play sections.
Ultimately I think the Book of Battles is part of a flawed lineup of quality products. As far as skirmish games go, I could wander out today and buy Warcry, from Games Workshop – hardly a name associated with value in the wargames industry. However there I would get the equivalent of everything in the SAGA rules, Age of Magic, and this Book of Battles, along with models and terrain to play the game.
SAGA for me is turning into an endless list of books to buy before you can really settle in and play the game. In the 1990s this was okay, but today I expect companies to do better.
There’s nothing wrong with any of the content in the Book of Battles, but I question the wisdom of the current way in which SAGA is being published and sold. I don’t think it’s a good method of bringing new people into the hobby, and existing players are prone to book fatigue. SAGA risks turning into a good game that’s just too expensive to start playing, even when you already own the models you need to play.