Heroic Ages skirmish game
Saga is a skirmish game designed to represent exceptional leaders leading small war bands. The original version of SAGA was written for the Dark Ages, but the system has been expanded to cover any "Heroic Age", be it historical, mythological or fictional. There is a single core set of rules and separate supplements for each period or "universe".
The first supplement is the Age of the Vikings This period of history is defined by the game authors as the period from the first Viking attacks on England in 793 to the Norman invasion of 1066.
Saga is designed to be played with 28mm models, and a typical game will have 30 - 50 models a side. Models are "purchased" using a points system, with 1 point buying 4 elite hearthguard, 8 normal warriors or 12 levy. Thus a force for the normal 6 point game will have the warlord leading something between 24 models (if all elite hearthguard) and 72 models (if all levy).
The game is an "I go, you go" system, but you can often activate abilities in your opponents turn.
The game designer's objective was to develop a fun game that you could play after having a couple of beers, so its not as complicated as some historical rule sets. However while the rules are simple its still a tactically challenging game.
Saga is normally played on a 4' wide by 3' deep board, so as to fit on your typical kitchen table. A game of Saga will normally take one to two hours to play.
As the units do not differ that much between factions (eg a Viking Warrior and a Anglo-Dane Warrior have identical stats and abilities) the historical flavour of each faction is given by the battle board for the faction.
The battle board is an innovative mechanic where you roll specially marked SAGA dice and allocate them to different abilities on your battle board. These abilities you choose may be to activate your units (to charge, move, shoot or rest) or may be faction specific abilities that improve your chances in combat or affects your opponent in some way. Each ability requires different symbols on the dice, so there is both luck (what symbols came up on the dice) and skill (which of the available abilities do you choose) involved.
You won't have as many Saga dice as you could want to use. This means that you have to decide how to make best use of the dice. Do you forgo moving or shooting one unit so you can use the Saga dice for an ability that will help another unit win a decisive victory?
The battle boards are unique for each faction, and are designed to provide abilities that reflect the historical organisation or tactics of that faction.
The Viking battle board can be described as offensive. It includes 3 abilities that remove fatigue from Viking units (so they can move further and fight longer), 1 ability that help protect against shooting and 6 abilities that help attack in melee. The Anglo-Dane battle board can be described as defensive. It includes 3 abilities that add fatigue to enemy units and 2 abilities that help defend in melee. The Norman battle board includes 4 abilities that make mounted units more effective and 2 abilities that help shooting. The Anglo-Saxon battle board encourages the use of larger units, with 6 abilities related to units of at least 10 models.
The other interesting mechanic of Saga is Fatigue. Your units normally gain fatigue markers if you make them charge, move or shoot more than once a turn, or if they are involved in a combat. Your opponent can use your fatigue markers to reduce your movement, make it harder for you to hit them, or make it easier for them to hit you. If you have two fatigue markers on a unit, your opponent can use them to cancel an activation of that unit. Once you have 3 fatigue markers, your unit is exhausted, when it can no longer charge, move or shoot until it has been rested.
You remove a fatigue marker by resting, that is activating your unit using one of your Saga dice on the battle board and choosing to rest rather than charging, moving or shooting. This means that it takes a Saga dice to activate your unit and remove one fatigue. You don't count as resting if you just failed to move or shoot your unit this turn.
The other way that fatigue is removed is when your opponent uses it against you. For example if your unit had a fatigue marker and was in combat your opponent could remove that marker to reduce your armour by 1 or improve his armour by one. If your unit had two fatigue before the combat and was activated to charge and your opponent could remove the two fatigue markers to cancel the charge. Your unit now has no fatigue. If you had enough Saga dice left for another activation of the unit you could now charge.
Fatigue brings an element of resource management into the game and also means that each player has decisions to make during his opponents turn that can affect where the opponents units can move to and how effective they are.