Saga 2nd Edition in 6mm Age of Vikings – Twilight of the Thundergod

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I had a very  nice day at Salute yesterday, but have decided to reflect on that next week as I think his blog post is long enough – but in summary of Salute I can say “a lot of people, met some new and old friends, the games looked great, got some gifts(!), picked up some stuff and bought some more, What a Tanker from Too Fat Lardies looked fun, a fantastic GNW battle from Michael Leck – from my perspective the Show rolled a Six.”  More next week on this and some further on the progress on the Horka Project.

 

 

 

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Ok, one picture for now of what I think was the most stunning table on the day and it was simply based on the colour schemes used – it was very nice.  Yes other tables had more impressive buildings and clutter but in terms of overall visual appeal and artistry this was the one to beat on the day – I think colour and composition goes a long way and this one I think proved that point.   This was put on by “A Few Brits and the Hobby” and was depicting the Battle of Leros in 1943.  It was a demonstration game and was depicting the last successful German invasion of the war (WW2) when the island of Leros was taken in November 1943 as part of the Taifun operation (yes you are right another operation in 1941 was carried out with the same name).  From the guys own blur for the game “Despite being outnumbered by the defenders, the Germans managed to gain local numerical superiority in various small battles and used total air supremacy to defeat the enemy despite heavy losses.  Leros was another British disaster in the eastern Mediterranean and Germanys last major campaign victory in the region.”

 

 

 

 

back to the main theme….

I decided to start this blog on the back of doing a participation game of Saga in 6mm with the gentlemen from the eminent Meeples and Miniatures podcast (link here) for the Joy of Six in 2016.  The demo game was Saga in 6mm and I went all out and did starter armies (4pts) for the 12 factions from the three first books for the Age of Viking era (a total of 15 official Age of Vikings factions were produced for the first edition rules, if we exclude semi-official ones like the Skraelings, Revenant and Steppe Tribes).

This is the 100th blog update since the start and I felt it appropriate to do an update on Saga on the back of the Second edition being published earlier this year.  It is a long one but I do hope you will find it of some interest.

For this special occasion I asked Neil Shuck for a few words as a kind of preface (thank you Neil).

“When I had a conversation with Dave Luff on the podcast about the possibility of gaming Saga in 6mm, we had no idea of the forces we were about to unleash.
Dave was on one of his ‘it’s only a counter’ monologues, and with the fact that that very nice Mr Berry had just brought out some more of his Dark Age range, we were discussing the idea of being able to play Saga in a smaller scale, and what impact that might have on the game.  As with many of our ideas, it never got close to the painting table, so imagine our surprise when Per contacted us to say that he had taken our idea and moved it to the next level.

We may have planted the seed, but Per is a force of nature when an idea takes hold, and the rest is, as they say, history.  Per did a fantastic job creating all the forces, plus building the tables, and the games were very well received on the day.  More importantly, the game still works – if anything, the grander scale created by the smaller models gives it a more epic feel.  Congratulations Per, you have done a fantastic job with this.” 

– Neil Shuck, from the Meeples and Miniatures Podcast (link here).

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Here is a link to that very first blog post with a postscript that makes a few notes and links to the other relevant posts.  Note that the Factions are presented again in the text that follows, I will not repeat the information in the Part 6 to 8 sections about terrain, buildings and painting.

We had a blast on the day of the Joy of Six 2016 Show and Neil wrote about his experience on the Meeples and Miniatures webpage here and my report on the Roll a One blog is here.

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From the 2016 event – we ran two table – The Queens table and the Kings table (you can see the Lewis chess Queen overseeing the proceedings on this table and the king is blocked by the Sign overseeing the other).

It was a nice project to get done and all-in-all I did 2,474 miniatures in a total on 324 bases (25mm square).  Each base contained between 3 to 10 miniatures depending on type, but in general:

  • Mounted – Warlord 5, Hearthguard 4, Warrior 3
  • Foot – Warlord 10, Hearthguard 9, Warrior 8, Levy 4

After the show the Little One and I played a fair few games of Saga and we really enjoyed it.  We then drifted away to other things and the models have been left standing relatively still for a while (apart from a few sessions using the eminent Dux Brit rules from Too Fat Lardies, a test of the Sword and Spear Rules and a few games of Saga here and there).  In the beginning of the year (2018) Studio Tomahawk released the updated edition of Saga (I will call is Saga 2) – where there is a core set of rules and then a book for each era (e.g. Viking, Arthurian, Crusade, etc.).  I was debating on whether to get the new rules or not as we found the old ones more than satisfactory, but as I stated in an earlier blogpost.

I have all the old Saga books and I am aware this version will probably not blow me away in the same way as the first set, but it is on the basis of that very first set I bought the second edition. Saga is a fantastic game and I, and especially the Little One, want to be part of the ongoing process of making it even better.

I got the basic rule book for £8.50 (this contains the basic rules) and the Age of Vikings (this has the Viking factions and 12 battle boards) supplement for £25.50, which I believe is very competitive, from Dark Sphere (link here) with free postage (as at 14/03/18). That is a total of £34.

The original Saga Rules were typically sold for £25 and gave you 4 battle boards, three additional supplements (actually four if you count the campaign supplement) were produced cover the Viking Age at a typical total cost of say £42.  This gives a total comparative cost at £67 vs. £34.  So this new packaging is more cost effective, although the start-up cost is higher (£34 vs £25) as you need some battle boards to play the game.

The only thing that slightly irritated me is that there is only one base scenario in the basic rules – Clash of the Warlords, and that there are no specific scenarios in the source books  either – instead there will be a specific scenario book.  I really hope that this scenario book is something really special as I honestly think that some more scenarios could have been included in the basic rulebook or in the supplement(s) – so the comparison above is not fully a like for like.

On the back of having read the rulebook and the Age of Viking supplement and had a few games, I personally think it was worth the upgrade. I can use all of my existing models to play and the Saga Dice are the same (I have two sets of each type of dice as I used them for demo gaming and that allowed a higher number of combinations to be played over two tables at the same time) with one exception (the Last Romans, see below).

On the other if you have the old rules I am not sure I would be a position to strongly insist you should do or feel the same.  It is still Saga after all. However, I do hope that more supplements covering other Ages will be developed and made available on the back of this re-release.  The pictures of some Samurai warriors in the rulebook gives an interesting hint.

This blogpost will re-introduce the factions presented in those old blog posts, with what I hope are better pictures. In addition there are some changes to the composition and I have now enough figures to do starting warbands for the 10 of the 12 included in the Age of Vikings supplement.  I will further include some notes on changes to the rules (that only makes sense if you know the first edition) and finally show a few pictures of from some of the games we have played over the Easter Period with some friends and family.  I hope it is of some interest – it was nice to get them on the table again.

 Factions (4 pt Starter Armies)

 Anyway let us look at some of the miniatures (again!, note I do not have miniatures for two of the factions but are repeating the advice I gave in Saga in 6mm – Part 12).  All models, with the exception of the Irish Dogs, are from Baccus 6mm (link here) and the codes are from their catalogue to indicate what miniatures have been used.  The original picture showing the whole 4pt warband have been reused here, but I have also included close ups of each unit.  I am in two minds about this as I think 6mm is best shown in mass not as individual close ups (well I let you form your own opinion).  When you paint bulk and fast like I do for my projects it does not always look that great in a close up – but then why not.  All are on 25mm square bases, you may want to refer to that as an inch at your own peril of being 0.4mm out!

A few changes are noted in the text basically:

  • Reduction of a Battle Board (-3)
    • The Welsh and Stratchclyde Welsh now share a Battleboard 
    • The Normans and Bretons now share a Battleboard
    • Their is no longer a Pagan Prince board, but I assume this one is now assumed included in the Pagan Rus board (as one of their heroic options are a Pagan Prince)
  • Renaming of Battle Board (+/-0)
    • The Frankish board is now renamed the Carolignian board
    • The Byzantine battleboard is now renamed the Last Romans (and actually needs a set of dice I do not have (yet!) – the Roman/Briton dice that were introduced with the Saga Aetius and Arthur rules. 

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Anyway here are the Warbands:

Irish Starting Warband

The front figure are from the ALR04 Lanciarii (from the Late Roman Range) and a banner miniature I do not know from where. The two row of warriors are from EMV02 – Unarmoured Spearmen (vikings!).
These are actually two Hearthguard (Fianna) Units and I used the ALR04 Lanciarii (from the Late Roman Range) to represent these Javelin armed units.
These are my favourites they are the Warrior units and I used EMV02 – Unarmoured Spearmen (vikings!).
The Irish have the option to field a warrior unit of war dogs and who could honestly resist that? I needed to find some 6mm dogs. Baccus does not do any dogs but I did not need to get to any extreme measures as Perfect Six (link here) do some nice ones (and since I ordered my dogs they now also do wolves that could represent even more terrifying dogs – mine were border collies painted grey rather than the less intimidating Lassie look) so I ordered enough dogs to do 8 No. bases with 5 dogs and a dog handler on each. I used AMO01 Moorish infantry from the “Rome and Enemies range” for the dog handlers. These were leftovers from another project and I felt that the movement in these skirmish type figures were suitable to act as “leaders of the pack”. The war dogs may be more legend than reality but I think they add flair to the game.

Welsh Starting Warbands

I have two Welsh starting warbands as there were two separate boards in the first edition – one for Welsh and one for the Mounted Strathclyde Welsh.

Welsh

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For the Warlord I used the unarmoured spearmen (EMV02 – from the Viking code) fronted by 2 spearmen figures
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For the Hearthguards I used the unarmoured spearmen (EMV02 – from the Viking code) fronted by an individual model from the Late Roman lanciarii code (ALR04) to mark the units as being armed with Javelin .
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These warriors were made by using a front line of  models from the Late Roman lanciarii code (ALR04) to mark the units as being armed with Javelin, with a back line of the EMV02 Viking unarmoured Spearmen.
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A Javelin warrior unit bases on ALR04 – Lanciarii
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For the bonnedig (levy) I used Norman Archers (EMN05) – to get some balance versus all those Javelins.

Stratchclyde Welsh

Stratchclyde Welsh Warlord – Modelled with AG003 – Gothic Heavy Cavalry. For the miniature holding his hand up I have no clue.
Stratchclyde Welsh Hearthguard (Teulu) – AG003 Gothic Heavy Cavalry.
Stratchclyde Welsh Hearthguard (Teulu) – AG003 Gothic Heavy Cavalry.
Stratchclyde Welsh Warriors – AG004 Gothic Medium Cavalry.
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Stratchclyde Welsh Warriors – AG004 Gothic Medium Cavalry.

Scots Starting Warband

Scot Warlord – the mounted miniature a AG003 Gothic Heavy Cavalry, the man with the axe from the EMA05 – Saxon Leaders and command set, the first row of soldiers a mixture of figures from various sets, the backline from AG001-Gothic infantry
Scottish Hearthguard – AG001 – Gothic Infantry
Scottish Hearthguard – AG001 – Gothic Infantry
Scottish Warriors – AG001 – Gothic Infantry
Scottish Warriors – AG001 – Gothic Infantry

Viking Starting Warband

Viking Warlord – The mounted Vikings are from the EMV05 – Viking Luminaries and Loonies pack and the foot from the EMV01 – Armoured Spearmen pack.
Viking Hearthguard (Berserkers) – the hero models are from the EMV05 – Viking Luminaries and Loonies pack and the foot from the EMV01 – Armoured Spearmen pack.
Viking Hearthguard – the hero models are from the EMV05- Viking Luminaries and Loonies pack and the foot from the EMV01 – Armoured Spearmen Pack.
Viking Warriors – EMV01- Armoured Spearmen
Viking Warriors – EMV01- Armoured Spearmen

Norman / Breton Starting Warband

As for the Welsh this is now one Battleboards for what used to be two – the Normans and the Bretons.  The difference is that the mounted Hearthguards have Javelins.

Norman

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Charging cavalry (EMN01) was used for the Warlord (but with one of the fronting figures from the EMN06 – Norman Leaders pack).
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For the hearthguards (Knights) I used the Charging cavalry (EMN01)
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Another unit of Hearthguard (Knights) using the Charging cavalry (EMN01).
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The crossbow unit are Warriors so I decided to put 6 on each base (mainly as I only had one pack of 48 miniatures EMN07 – Norman Crossbowmen at the time and it divides nicely with 8, if you remember your times table).
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The archers are Levy and based on the EMN05 – Norman Archers

 

Breton

 

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For the Warlord I used EMN01 (Norman Armoured Cavalry) , however in doing it again I would have used the EMN03 (unarmoured cavalry) code for all mounted Breton units – to represent the more Javelin oriented Breton cavalry.
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For the Hearthguard unit I also used EMN01 (Norman Armoured Cavalry), with the same comment as for the Warlord above.
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Another Hearthguard Unit using EMN01.
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These are the Warriors using the EMN03 – Norman unarmoured cavalry code and represent the Javelin armed mounted Breton soldiers.
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These are the Warriors using the EMN03 – Norman unarmoured cavalry code and represent the Javelin armed mounted Breton soldiers.
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Javelin armed levy using ALR04 – Lanciarii.

Anglo-Danes Starting Warband

Anglo-Danish Warlord – Mixture of Leaders and personalities from the early medieval range as well as EMA01 – Huscarles with Spear.  Technically this should perhaps be a heavy weapon (e.g Dane Axe equipment and this is how we play and just remember it).
Anglo-Danish Hearthguard – EMA01 – Huscarles with Spear and leaders from
Anglo-Danish Hearthguard (Heavy Weapons) –  EMA02 – Huscarles with Axe
Anglo Danish Warriors – EMA01 – Huscarles with Spear (look at the unit in the front left, seems like someone did not listen to their orders)
Anglo Danish Warriors – EMA01 – Huscarles with Spear

Anglo-Saxon Starting Warband

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For the  warlord unit I used the Huscarls with Spear (EMA01) fronted by miniatures from the Saxon Leaders pack.
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For the hearthguard  I used the Huscarls with Spear (EMA01) again fronted by miniatures from the Saxon Leaders pack.
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For the warriors I used EMA03 – Fyrd Spearmen
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Another unit of warriors, again, using EMA03 – Fyrd Spearmen
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These are the Ango-Saxon shield and spear levy and I used a thin line of  Fyrd Spearmen (EMA03).

Carolignians / Franks Starting Warband

For the Warlord I used the Norman charging cavalry (EMN01).
For the hearthguards I used the Norman charging cavalry (EMN01).
Another hearthguard unit (EMN01).
A warrior unit using the Norman armoured infantry (EMN01).
As one warrior unit can be armed with Crossbow I did so with Norman Crossbowmen (EMN07).

Norse-Gael Starting Warband

 

 

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For these domesticated Vikings I used armoured Viking spearmen (EMV01) for the warlord unit (fronted with miniatures from the Viking and Norman leader packs – leftovers from EMV05 and EMN06).
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For this hearthguard unit (heavy weapons) I used the Viking axemen (EMV03)
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This Warrior unit is using the  armoured Viking spearmen (EMV01)
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This warrior (heavy weapons) unit is using Viking axemen (EMV03)
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The final warrior unit used the unarmoured Viking spearmen (EMV01) fronted by the good old Lanciarii (ALR04) as these are Javelin armoured warriors.

 

Jomsvikings Starting Warband

The warlord is using Armoured Spearmen (EMV01) fronted by mounted characters from (EMV05).  I used a uniform look for this legendary mercenary norse warrior warband which is probably not very likely – but I like the overall effect.
This is a Hearthguard, again using the Armoured Spearmen (EMV01) fronted by characters from (EMV05).
Another Hearthguard unit, same as above.
Warriors using the unarmoured spear (EMV02).
Again, Warriors using the unarmoured spear (EMV02).

The Last Romans (Byzantines)

Did not make this faction, but here are my ideas (I have the miniatures and just need to get them done).

Starting Army: Mounted Warlord (CIS01 – Seljuq Turk Heavy Cavalry), Mounted Hearthguard (CIS01 – Seljuq Turk Heavy Cavalry), Mounted Hearthguard with Bow (ASS02- Armoured Horse Archers), Warriors (EMV01 – Armoured Spearmen), Warriors with Bow (ALR05 – Archer).

Pagan Rus

Did not make this faction either, but here are my ideas (I have the miniatures and just need to get them done).

Starting army: Warlord (EMV01 -Armoured Spearmen), 2 No. Hearthguard (EMV01 -Armoured Spearmen), Warrior (EMV01 – Armoured Spearmen) and Levy with Javelins (ALR04 – Lanciarii)

Starting Army (Rus Princes based): Mounted Warlord (CFR04 – Turcopoles), 2 No. Mounted Hearthguard (CFR04 – Turcopoles), Warrior (EMV02 – Unarmoured Spearmen) and Warrior with Bow (ALR05 – Archer).

Playing the Game

Changes to the 2nd Edition Rules

You may want to skip this sections if you have no interest in what the changes are between the two versions, as this only makes some sense if you are familiar with the rules.

When reading the two rules again side by side (pun not intended) a few changes can be noted between the versions.  In addition to what I will cover here the battleboards have changed but I have not yet analysed them and probably will not.  I have played most of the old battle boards at least once but would felt it a step too far for the purpose of this. Doing this review/rough notes took me longer than I wanted it to take, I do not pretend I believe it is complete and may have missed or misunderstood something:

  1. The Warlord model (base in our case) can no longer use the side by side ability
  2. Resilience ability now allows 1 fatigue to be taken instead of 1 hit  up to its limit (see below – but to lower your suspense it is now 3 fatigue markers for all units).  
  3. Only a Hearthguard model/base (within (S)hort distance) can be used to sacrifice/taking damage on behalf of the Warlord. 
  4. We obey ability now allows free activation of any action – not just movement. 
  5. The Warlord now has 8 attack dice (previous he had 5) and only generate one Saga Dice (previously it generated 2 dice)
  6. Heroic units gets the warlord abilities as well.
  7. Levies now generate Saga Dice if the unit has 6 or more figures – previously they did not generate any at all.
  8. Warriors generate Saga Dice if the unit has 4 or more figures – this avoids the 1 man warrior unit being withdrawn to generate Saga dide.
  9. The Saga Dices left on the battleboard from a previous round does not affect how many you roll in your next turn (unless the total of dice on the board + allowed Saga dice from units is higher than 8. As 8 Saga Dice is still the maximum in play at any given time).
  10. In combat you can use 2 fatigue to cancel an enemy activation
  11. You can spend 1 fatigue to reduce the movement of an unit activating to S(hort)
  12. In shooting you can spend more than 1 fatigue to decrease the defending units armour, and in melee the same and also for increasing the attackers armour.
  13. All units are now exhausted when it has 3 fatigue markers allocated to it (3 is the maximum accumulation allowed), this gives -1 to all attack dice.
  14. All units in a group fight if they are engaged with another unit.
  15. Movement is done in straight line (including charges/attacks) 
  16. Models (bases in this case) in a unit to stay within S(hort) from the first unit being moved – this technically means that levies at 12 models cannot create a long line. For our purposes not a big problem, we tend to play the units as 2 deep by 6 frontage (levies), 2 by 4 warriors and 1 by 4 for hearthguards.  This to simulate some kind of depth in shield wall concept typical for the “Age”.
  17. Movement is free (cost no Saga dice) if you are at L(ong) range away from any enemy and movement ends up L(ong) range from any enemy.
  18. Shooting – combat pool maximum at Step 1 at 8 dice, final maximum at Step 3 16 dice.  There is no limit on the number of defence dice that can be applied (previously twice the number of hit was the maximum).
  19. Meele – a unit can only be engaged with one enemy units. There is no longer a step 0 (the reaction abilities are no longer being used). Maximum combat pool is now 16 at Stage 1 and double at Stage 3.  As for missile there is no limit for the number of defence die than can be applied.  Defending unit may choose to Close Ranks and gain the effect of solid cover but only gets half of its normal number of attack dice (The old rule of sacrificing attack dice to get defence dice is no longer used).  Note this rule is not available to mounted, bow/crossbow armed units and heavy weapons (e.g. dane axes).  So perhaps a better name for the ability would be to “Form Shieldwall!”.  Defenders in solid cover never withdraw if they outnumber the attacking unit, other units may end up less than VS if there are terrain restrictions.
  20. If all the figures are in cover, the cover counts – if not it does not count.
  21. Dangerous terrain introduced – works like uneven terrain but also causes 1 fatigue to the unit.
  22. Changes to the dimension of the sizes of terrain – I let you go a figure this one, I do not tend to care about these things – sorry!.  It is getting late.
  23. Equipment /Weapons – clarification of modifications and restriction, changes to rules for composite bows (free activation and no fatigue), crossbow (+1 to attack instead of -1 to Armour, and can only shot once per turn), javelin (+1 melee attack dice when charging, an example of this is the classic roman infantry attack I suppose), there is a new improvised weapon category.

Playing it over Easter

We decided to play a few games over the Easter Period and we only used starter warbands and I used my 2 by 2 terrain tile (famous from sessions of Pikemans Lament last year) as this one can easily be accommodated in a house full to the brim of family and friends. As we had mixed familiarity of the rules this was sufficient to get a few games played, starting within direct engagement distance.

We play the rules exactly as written, one a base is the same as a base in the 28mm version, no adjustments for ranges of missile weapons or movement.

Here are a few pictures from these games, the games flowed nicely and went really well.

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The Easter set-up – all games played with the same terrain constellation and with the same opponents – Vikings vs Normans.  For the normans we used 3 units of 4 Knights/Hearthguards and a unit of 8 Sergeant/Warriors and the Lord himself.  The Vikings had a unit of 4 No. Hearthguard Berserkers and a normal 4 base strong Hearthguard unit, supported by two units of 8 warriors (and the Warlord himself, mounted on a horse but moving like a foot unit).
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The new rulebooks and  battleboards – they have the same feel as the old Crusade boards (if you are familiar with these).
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Let us ride down those Norsemen!
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I like the effect of this picture!
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I know there is only 1 No. One rolled here but I needed to roll 5 or more to hit, with 8 base and 3 bonus dice for my warriors. I hit shit all with that roll!

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Very powerful if used at the right time.  I got my warlord sacked by this ability being used.
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The Norse Warlord fighting unit of 4 Sergeants (Warriors)
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A Viking attack on the Norman Warlord
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The Normans breaking through my shield wall
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The Guys on the bench. It must have been when I played the Normans! A row of Hearthguard taken out!

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Conclusion:  Saga is still fun and works really well in 6mm whether you have the old or the new set of rules.  In its base it is a simple I go you go – you roll to hit and then your opponent rolls to save kind of game.  But with the addition of being able to use your opponents fatigue to gain benefits and the battle boards it is a unique game and I, and the Little One, really like it.  

Note: I have played six games with the new version and lost five. 

/ I hope that was of some interest, below two bonus parts one about music and the other some old Saga battle shots!

Bonus 1: Old Battle Shots 6mm in Action

Bonus 2: Music for you musings

In the original postings we included some recommended music whilst painting your warbands – so here are a few oldies and a few new ones

Amon Amarth starting with their Twilight of the Thunder God (that incidentially would be a fantastic title for a set of wargame rules in the Age of Vikings) followed by At Dawn’s First Light and Pursuit of Vikings – it does not get much more Viking melodic death metal than this.  This is perhaps not everyone’s cup of, sorry I meant horn of mead!

If that was too heavy for you do not despair there are some equally good options (youtube is full of this kind of things – should get your warbands done in an afternoon or give you plenty of inspiration to crush your opponents on the wargames table).

 

 

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