A few days ago I scored a copy of Gripping Beast's SAGA ruleset, a Dark Ages skirmish game. I've always had an interest in the Dark Ages since I was little, especially Vikings and Normans. I've never had a try with ancient or medieval miniatures, as I've not wanted to invest a lot of time and effort into getting started. This is where Saga is perfect for me.

I've finished reading through the rules and my first impression is that the system is very simple and gets people playing very fast. It features four 'factions' including the Vikings, Normans, Anglo-Danish, and Welsh. Each has their own battle board with all sorts of special Saga abilities. I read a review of Saga in a recent Wargames Illustrated article and I remember hearing something about the designer's card game background. As a cardflopper myself, I can certainly see the correlations and I can see a lot of crossover from the two backgrounds.

The game utilizes a lot of combos to help your warband to victory. Your force is about 17+ figures, so you can get started relatively quickly. There is a little room for expansion, with missile troops, cavalry, etc. but the depth and complexities in force construction that you'd expect from other systems isn't there. That's not to say that its a bad thing, quite the opposite! Saga emphasizes playing games over other aspects of the hobby. One doesn't have to worry about historical formations to get going. They just have to pretty much build the warband they want to play and they're off!

I'd say the only downside to the game is that some players may find the lack of depth as frustrating. But, knowing the nature of cardgame design, the depth that appears at first to be missing, is certainly being developed with other factions, combos, and scenarios.

Plus the SAGA dice look pretty cool! The game mechanics are based around these dice. You roll them and then allocate the symbols to your battleboard to activate special abilities during the game. Norman ones focus on mounted and archery tactics, while Vikings rely on shedding fatigue counters and devastating melee abilities (as you'd expect!)

Anyway, I'm keen to get my troops into action. True to my 11-year-old self I've got a Viking and Norman warbands. With the easy entry point for Saga, I'll likely grab some Danes as well at some point. Then I might as well do some Welsh to round things out!

I'm going to start with the Normans, I've got two boxes of Conquest Games' plastic mounted Normans, so I've constructed 16 mounted knights and a warlord. I need to grab some crossbowmen, knights on foot, and maybe some Levy archers too.

Anyway, if you have the opportunity to get Saga, I seriously recommend you pick up a copy! Figure-wise, all you need is two boxes of plastic figures to get started. So I'll likely have a few posts of the Normans as they come together.

More Info here:
SAGA at Gripping Beast ...

Thanks for reading!


  1. I got a copy of the rules and while they are very cool, I thought it was a bit pricey. I have some plastic vikings heading my way and look forward to getting them painted. Will make a nice change from Olive Drab.


  2. thanks for the review, sounds interesting will have to keep it on my back burner for a future investment

  3. Hey Mike, keep us updated! I tried to get a copy of this for my birthday, but the game and dice were all sold out at the places I was looking... :-(


  4. I will have to keep a heads up for it ...

  5. Its a great game. Got to play a few games with Wayne and Sean on Sunday. We had a great time, and well worth the effort to get a copy!


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