New Adventures Await

Last weekend was Salute and I was able to pick up my highly anticipated copy of Age of Magic (AoM) for SAGA.  I’ve always enjoyed playing SAGA as its has a nice balance via the limited resource of your SAGA dice and games feel tactical (well as tactical as a game with no real Command and Control mechanism can) but I’ve not played it as much as some mainly because whilst I have a passing interest in the Dark Ages all the models tend to boil down to beardy men with pointy sticks.  This doesn’t necessarily make for the most interesting painting projects and without a interesting painting project its much harder to drum up enthusiasm for a game.  The upshot was though that when a fantasy based universe was announced (SAGA is split into the core rules and then Universes which are pretty much self contained sets of armies) I had high hopes.

Interestingly around the same time Warlords of Erewhon from Warlord Games was announced that seemed to offer the same sort of game play experience – use whatever figures you want in games of medium figure count game – and the Bolt Action game system is again a very solid performer.  However in the run up to the game being released a series of previews showed that it was actually using a very prescriptive army list system that, to me, seems counter intuitive to what it was trying to achieve – get folks with Oldhammer Armies to get them out the cupboard and start using them again – which meant it was a non starter.  Hopes were all pinned on AoM.

Well having now played a grand total of one game I can say that my hopes are still high as it was tremendous fun.  So things are looking positive.

Rather than saying this is a battle board for Orcs, this one is for Humans etc. Tomahawk Studios have gone for a far more generic and open approach of using fantasy archetypes so our battle yesterday featured a my Barbarians (using the Horde Board) vs. Matt and his Samurai (using the Great Kingdoms Board) He of course says that make him the goodies but I think we all know that they are actually an oppressive regime exploiting the good will of the common man whilst Lugh Silver Hand is a folk hero in the same way as Robin Hood is, rising up against evil and helping the common folk.

Lugh Silver Hand and his Horde
The Samurai (oh and a beardy dwarf)

Enough waffle, lets talk about the game (I’ve assumed that you know some of the basics of SAGA in this)

My Army was as follows

  • 3 points of Warriors
  • 2 points of Hearthguard
  • 1 point of Monsters (Behemoth)
  • 1 Point of Creatures
  • 1 Point of Sorcerer
  • Lugh of the Silver Hand (Warlord)

One of the neat things about AoM is that you can give up deploying models of one type to increase the number of models in another so I only deployed 6 Hearthguard which meant that I could add an extra model to my Creatures.  It sounds confusing but in practice its very straightforward and an elegant way to expand the new unit types without having to get into half points etc.

From memory (and looking at the photo) Matt used

  • 3 Points of Hearthguard
  • 1 Point of Warriors
  • 1 Point of Creatures
  • 1 Point of Levy
  • 1 Point of Monsters (Scourge)
  • 1 Point of Sorcerer
  • Warlord mounted on a beast

He gave up 6 Levy models to add a warmachine and 2 Hearthguard to add an extra creature.

We played the Clash of Warlords scenario from the main rulebook (didn’t want to make it more complicated for ourselves using Book of Battles)

Deployed ready for battle to commence

Now we aren’t the most experienced SAGA players in the world and had to flick back and forth through the rulebook a lot during the game but all for things that after a couple more games will just be second nature so whilst it took us most of the afternoon to play it didn’t seem like it did if that makes sense.

I’m not one for doing turn by turn reports (and frankly I couldn’t tell you when certain things happened anyway) but the game was full of the cinematic moments that both Matt and I play games for.  Early on his dragon came swooping into combat with my poor sorcerer who predictably got eaten – though I’m pretty sure his actual fate is more like Ron Pearlmans character in Pacific Rim – but it then found itself locked in a fight to the death with my Johtun.  My Behemoth marauded up the flank smashing all before him until Matt commited his reserves and finally put the beast down.  The damage had been done though.  Warlords on Beasts turned out to be very tough indeed – Resilience(2) is huge – and whilst I eventually killed him with my Hearthguard they had been mauled beyond all recognition in a storm of gnashing teeth and scything blades.

In the end Matt ran out of SAGA dice generating units and victory went to Lugh 30-17

An awesome introduction to the game.

With the death of my sorcerer early on I had worried that I would be at a major disadvantage but that didn’t turn out to be the case which meant that my fears that a sorcerer was pretty much a must take in every army turned out to be unjustified.  It just another tool in the toolbox rather than being something that you have to have.  This is a good thing.

Not looking good for my poor sorcerer

Monsters and Creatures are tough – lots of Resilience floating around – but not indestructible and if you are gaining fatigue to not die then you are effectively being taken out of the game anyway.  When a game is only 6 turns having your big powerful beastie sitting around only being able to rest for even a turn is a huge balancing factor – SAGA has always been a game about getting as many Fatigue markers on your opponent as possible and this hasn’t changed – in fact if anything its become even more important.

So conclusions.  It’s fantastic.  Solid innovative ruleset which now has a well worked out fantasy twist.  I can’t see it not becoming our go to fantasy game (replacing Dragon Rampant) and I’m pretty hopeful that I can rope more friends into play – nearly everyone I know has at least a couple of Warhammer armies in a cupboard somewhere.

I’m going to be finishing up the painting on Lughs horde over the next couple of months and then will be moving onto the Cult of Set using the Demonic Otherworld board but I have army ideas for pretty much everything so plans could change (and normally do)

Highly highly recommended, 5 stars, etc. etc.

Sure Matts general used to be here

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