jeudi 19 mars 2015

Saga for beginners, Pt. 2

Here the second part of our series of articles dedicated to Saga beginners. In this post, we will take a look at the factions available in the different books, and how they work from a beginner’s point of view.

Saga is a game based on the factions Battleboards, and the complexity of the gameplay largely depends on the complexity of the aforementioned Battleboard. Some faction have their own distinctive mechanisms, use more or less complex synergies and combos and some might even be hard to understand, reducing the « fun » aspect of the game for newcomers.

To help them, we will divide all existing factions into 3 different categories, hoping that this classification will guide them in the choice of their first faction.

Basic factions are the easiest to play, having clear strength and weaknesses and generally speking very reliable. That they are simple does not mean they are less efficient!

Advanced factions require a bit more experience to be played correctly, sometimes using their own mechanism or special rules.

Finally, expert factions require an extended knowledge of the rules, of the timing of the different phases of a turn and of the synergies of the Battleboard. We recommend not to start the game with these factions.

For each faction we indicate which supplement featured that faction, and some comments about the choice we made.

Basic factions

Vikings (Saga: Dark Ages) : one of the easiest faction to play with. It has plenty of very efficient melee abilities, can handle its Fatigue and some protection against shooting. The Berserkers remain one of the most feared unit in the game!

Normans (Saga: Dark Ages) : The Normans have two winning engines : devastating charges and deadly shooting. In both these aspects of the game, they are frightening. A common tactic is to soften the enemy units with bolts of your crossbowmen then unleash your knights!

Crusaders (Saga: The Crescent & The Cross) : Despite their own unique mechanism (the Virtues) the Crusaders are a simple faction to play with. They have a good array of abilities, covering melee, shooting and protection.

Pagan Rus (Varjazi & Basileus) : Despite being defensive, this is a simple faction to understand, and will prove efficient quite quickly, especially against a heavy mounted enemy warband, that are usually tricky to face for beginners.

Irish (The Raven’s Shadow) : A popular faction that has a large choice of colourful units, and some nasty but easy to grab combos of their Battleboard.

Welsh (Saga : Dark Ages) ) : Once the player has understood the way the Activation/Reaction abilities work, this is a simple and interesting faction, as it offers a lot of tactical choices. It can focus on melee, shooting, outmanoeuvring the opponent, or any mix of these. We recommend starting with a foot warband, as the Welsh mounted unit are very vulnerable to shooting, and will require some experience to be manoeuvred properly.

Advanced factions

Anglo-Danes (Saga: Dark Ages) : The Anglo-Danes rely on a proper management of the Fatigue of their opponent’s warband and will take some time to be handled properly.

Anglo-Saxons (Northern Fury): A faction based on large units, with some tough choice to make during the organisation of the units making up the warband.

Bretons (Northern Fury): With a limited melee potential, the Bretons require some practice to make the best use of their movement and shooting abilities.

Byzantines (Varjazi & Basileus): A lot of the abilities available to the Byzantine player are based on the cooperation of th edifferent units in the warband, supporting each other. Deployment is the key of the success, and will require practice.

Rus Princes (Varjazi & Basileus): The Rus Princes have powerful abilities, but a few of them will require some practice to be used properly. Most Saga players who faced them fear their mounted Hearthguards units!

Jomsvikings (Northern Fuy): This faction uses its own mechanism, the Wrath. Understanding and making this aspect of the faction work will take some time.

Norse-Gaels (The Raven’s Shadow): Like the Jomsvikings, the Norse-Gaels have their own game mechanic: the duels. As a badly planned duel can backfire, this faction will need some training games to be properly mastered.

Strathclyde (The Raven’s Shadow): The Strathclyde Welsh take benefit from keeping some of their units off-table. The way and timing of their arrival on the battlefield is crucial, making them clearly an « advanced » faction.

Moors (Saga: The Crescent & The Cross) : A defensive faction, the Moors like to take advantage of the mistakes of their opponent, and turning back their units against them. The learning curve to use them at their best is steep, but highly rewarding.

Milites Christi (Saga: The Crescent & The Cross) : In a similar way to the Jomsviking, the Soldiers of Christ use Piety to boost their abilities. The management of Piety and the resources devoted to increase it is an essential part of any game with this faction.

Saracens (Saga: The Crescent & The Cross) : The Saracens have effective abilities, but as some of them use a random factor to determine their effects, i twill need some time to get used to it.

Scots (Northern Fury): The Scots have some of the most powerful combos in the game that can produce for their opponent unexpected effects. However, these combos are not immediately apparent, and you will need a few games to discover them.

Expert factions

Franks (The Raven’s Shadow): The Franks are one of the most complex and rewarding faction, as it relies heavily on a Battle Pool that dictates how most of the abilities of their Battleboard work. Some abilities need to be closely studied to understand their full potential and there is an unequaled wealth of synergies to explore. Saga veterans will enjoy that!

Steppe Tribes (downloadable on the Studio Tomahawk website): Anopther fairly complex faction, that takes advantage of the turn structure and the movement options of mounted troops.

Skraelings (downloadable on the Studio Tomahawk website): The actual efficiency (or lack of!) of the Skraelings depends a lot of the knowledge their player has of the enemy’s Battleboard. Their main strength is to deny their enemy its best abilities, copy them, turning their strength against their foes. Of course, a extended knowledge of most of the factions is required to make this work!

Spanish (Saga: The Crescent & The Cross) : The Spanish have an incredible amount of abilities that can be used during their enemies Activation phase, meaning that they play as much during the opponent’s turn as they do in theirs. Of course, these abilities are quite complex to use, needing as much knowledge of the rules as proper tilming. But this is a very rewarding faction to play with!

Mutataw’wia (Saga: The Crescent & The Cross): This faction is based on the sacrifice of your own troops to fuel your abilities. These sacrifice rules are simple, but winning a game of Saga is hard enough without killing yourself your own retainers, so this faction is best left to the most seasoned players!

This closes our review of the Saga factions from a beginner’s point of view. Of course, many veterans will disagree with our take on this subject, but hopefully, it twill help the newcomers to determine the first faction they want to lead to glory in the world of Saga.

If you have more questions, our forum is the best place to discuss this!

4 commentaires:

  1. It's great that you've done these articles (and the tactical articles) as I've only ever played one game of Saga and that was with Darren and my ex at the York show over a year ago!

    Not many play it at the club but I think one or two might, so, I may yet get a few games and get to grips with the rules etc.


  2. Thank you very much for these articles. I have just bought my first war and following your article: Normans !!!!
    Next, It will be Jomsvikings for my son, and finally I will buy a Spanish one.
    Now, I'm reading the rule book and looking forward to play my first game.

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