The non wargaming news is that following an 18 hour shift on Monday the powers that be have relented and got an agency worker in for the rest of this week as I was beginning to look and feel like the living dead. As such not had any time for painting at all. But now I am back to 11 hour days for the rest of the week so I should be able to turn it round.
Now my wargaming news. (don't expect much) Even though I have not been painting I have been buying. God bless this magickal Internet shopping malarkey. Any time, any place, anywhere.... I had a Martini moment and bought the Saga rules. So here are my first impression of the game that seems to be sweeping through clubs at the moment.
Firstly the rules are quite thin. They are about the same size and quality of Spartan Games Uncharted seas with similar paper and cover stock. At first I was a little disappointed wanting more "bulk" for my buck. I was wrong. Thin they may be, but they are not padded out with unnecessary fluff. No maps. Painting guides, No how to make terrain. No unessercay pictures. No bumph no non-sense and no padding. The rules are simple and straightforward with plenty of examples. They do not treat you like a five year old but niether do they leave you to make wild assumptions. Everything is explained and laid out clearly. Overall I am impressed with the style and quality.
As I said the rules are simple. The rules of football are simple too. The simplicity of the rules is not the attraction of the game. In Saga the first thing you do in a game is to roll some dice. As wargamers we all like rolling dice so that's good. You then allocate these dice to your "battle board". Each Faction has their own "Battle board" and it's mostly in the way you assign the dice you roll on the battle board which dictates which units will move, shoot, rest or be ignored for a turn. The symbols on the dice correspond to where you can put them on the "battle board". Therefore levy units for example which have rare symbols and are thus rolled less frequently should following the laws of average move, shoot and fight less. One activation would be to shoot if they have ranged weapons, another to move and another to rest. Not only are the dice used to determine which types and how many units you will activate they can also be used to sway the odds of a favourable out come for attack or defence, but you have to assign them before you activate units so it from first reading appears that a plan of action needs to be formulated before you touch any figures each turn.
Melee happens automatically if movement brings contact, and both contacted sides fight. The loser, (the one who lost the most figures) is pushed back. Attacker is considered the looser unless he kills more than the defender. As the attacker gets to decide who fights who when they move the figures the attacker will most likely selected to double up attackers on lone defenders so this is not as much of a disadvantage as it sounds. Before attack and defence dice are rolled both players, starting with the attacker may use dice that they have assigned on the battle board to sway the odds in their favour. The actual combat mechanism is a number of d6 based on troop quality and number of figures is rolled for both attacker and defending units. The "hits" are then rolled to try to get past the armour. If sucessful it results in a casualty. At first glance this may seem too simple and players might be looking for more depth. I can see that point of view, but when you factor in things like fatigue, troop quality and the all important dice spent on the battle boards I can see the simplicity being a bonus and a more complicated method being a distraction.
It is important to say that a unit may be activated more than once if you have the right dice to spend for this to happen. More than one activation leads to fatigue. Which can be overcome by "resting" the unit as their first action of the turn. And the unit can only "rest" once per turn, after all they only get one first activation. Now fatigue seems very important as the opponent gets to decide what form the fatigue on the unit will take when it's activated. You might choose to burn off one of their fatigue points by reducing their movement. Or you might use their fatigue points to lower the chances of them hitting in combat/shooting. Or you could make their armour less effective as they are to tired to defend themselves properly. But as it is your opponents choice chances are it will not be the one you'd have picked.
Each faction, Anglo-Dannish (I'll call them Saxon no doubt), Viking, Norman and Welsh each has both a different "battle board" and a few special rules which are intended to give a flavour of the force involved. I know they plan to produce more forces, Bretons, Scots etc as time goes on and I await those with much interest. I can see advantages in all the factions, but will need to actually play the game before I can say much more.
In conclusion: While I have not played it yet it does look like a very well composed set of rules. In many ways with the saga dice and battle boards both a combination of traditional wargame and abstracted boardgame.
Thanks for reading talk soon Clint.
Post script: Postman has quite literally dropped off another parcel of goodies for me for the BROADSIDE 2012 game. So with luck I should be able to get some painting done and have something to show on Friday.
All the best Cheers Clint