Saga Sunday- Carolingians and Pesky Proelium

It is now five weeks since my first post regarding my Carolingian force. To be honest, the amount of progress I have achieved during this time came as a bit of a shock to me. I have been quite busy since I started painting them, thanks to work, and I have also found dealing with the non-uniform attire and individual shield patterns requires a bit more thought than my usual uniformed forces.

As an aside, I would definitely recommend buying some transfers for shields. I didn’t order any for my army, but ended up using them for inspiration to paint my own designs. This does save a bit of money, although the downside to that is you have to paint them yourself, which is a time consuming faff!

However, somehow, they are all done! The models only require static grass (unfortunately still on order with my FLGS) and then they are entirely they are completed and ready for some games.

Here is the army as a whole:

The composition shown here gives me a bit of flexibility when choosing a force, as I have completed eight points of troops- a standard game being six points . Four of these are of infantry:

  • 3 x 8 Foot Warriors (3 points)
  • 1x 8 Foot Warriors with bows (1 point)

and four of cavalry, plus the Warlord:

  • 1×8 Mounted Warriors (1 point)
  • 3×4 Mounted Hearthguard (3 points)

From the options that are available to the Carolingians, the only models I have not added are Levy (because I have them for my Byzantines and will just steal the models to use if needs be. They are painted in suitably neutral tones to change sides as needed) and Foot Hearthguard, who may be added at a later date. However for now, they have been left out.

The reason for this lies with the force’s description in Saga: Age of Vikings, which describes the Carolingians as primarily a mobile force, who work best striking at the enemy’s exposed areas (ahem).

I felt that this lent itself better to Mounted Hearthguard who, whilst less resilient to shooting, are much faster.

My standard force would probably be something like: three units of warriors, split 6/8/10 between Mounted Warriors/Archers/Foot Warriors respectively, and then three units of Mounted Hearthguard split into two units of six.

This is probably a good time to look at the army’s rules, as I have alluded to the Carolingians working a bit differently in the past two posts on this topic, and this may go some way to explain my list above…

Carolingians Rules (O.K.).

Looking at their battleboard, it is easy to see why the Carolingians are described as a mobile army . Two of their abilities allow them to activate units  to either Charge (Illusio ability) or Move or Shoot (Ardor ability) without incurring fatigue. (If you aren’t a regular Saga player and concepts like activation and fatigue are new to you, you can have a look here for a bit more information).

Combining these two abilities could allow one unit to potentially move twice and then charge without gaining that dreaded fatigue.

  1. Regular move using a Saga dice (1st activation so no fatigue)
  2. Move using Ardor (which specifically says it does not generate fatigue)
  3. Charge using Illusio (which specifically says it does not generate fatigue)

Using cavalry, that is a potential whopping 36″ of movement without any penalty which, in Saga, is the entire width of the board!

That’s disgusting, there must be a catch, I hear you cry! Well, there is. Virtually everything the Carolingians do outside of using dice to activate units is governed by a special rule called Proelium, which represents the cohesiveness of the force. This takes the place on the Carolingian battleboard that is occupied by the Activation Pool for all other forces. Instantly, this marks them as different, as there is no way for Carolingians to gain additional Saga dice.

As if that is not enough of a hindrance, in order to make any of the abilities that you activate any good, you need to commit dice to the Proelium pool.

As you can see, this can take up to three dice. Not only that, they must all show a different face of the dice (as shown below). The maximum Saga Dice your force can ever have is eight per turn, so reaching ‘peak Proelium’ is quite a commitment.

If you choose to fill your Proelium pool, you can carry out a small number of advanced abilities very effectively. The other option is to put less dice in the pool and carry out more abilities, but with lower bonuses.

As space is limited, (I say that, but it’s not: I just don’t want to give away all my tricks to the other Brush and Boltgun guys!), I will focus on one of the abilities that I have already mentioned to explain how this works in practice. Let’s take Ardor, the ability that lets me move and shoot without incurring fatigue.

So here we see that, yes, I can activate a number of units to act without incurring fatigue. The number of units this can apply to is equal to my Proelium. Which is great, as long as I have had the foresight to have committed enough dice to my Proelium in the Orders phase (right at the start of the turn).

If I have three dice in the pool, I can activate three units. If I only have one, I can activate one unit- which begs the question, was there any advantage to using this ability at all this turn?

I think it is quite the balancing act, and difficult to get right. This is especially true with some of the other powers that generate attack and defence dice; having enough units engaged in combat to make use of those Proelium bonuses will be difficult against a wily opponent who will make you use your dice simply getting your troops into combat.

So to all the Frankish players out there, think about what you need to do before assigning Proelium. Is it more important to get in a few devastating abilities or activate the majority of your force this turn?

For all the enemies of Charlemagne, make sure not to give them room to manoeuvre, but be wary of charging into a Carolingian army that has a stack of Proelium on its board and some dice in play to carry out reactions. They really can sting!

What next?

So, I still have some of my Saga figures to paint. These guys are the Steppe Nomads who will be allying with my Byzantine (or Last Romans as they are now known in Saga). I have been doing some work on these whilst I wait for the static grass to arrive:

I am trying to stick to a very neutral palette for these, with only small flashes of colour. I have also tried my first ‘steppe pony’ style paint job on a horse (front right) with white patches on a brown body. For my other armies I have only ever thrown in the odd white sock , leg or nose stripe to add a bit of detail.

Hopefully you think this looks alright. I am hoping to carry it through onto the rest of the models to make them stand out a bit from the Byzantine regulars’ mounts.

And on that note I am off to continue painting! Next time I will show my Byzantine force off with , hopefully with these guys finished, as well as some pictures of the grassed Carolingians. I might even look a bit at Byzantine tactics… although as my opponents of the last four years will doubtless attest, that’s all Greek to me.

If you have a SAGA force you regularly play with, are building, or want to discuss, please shout in the comments! If you have any other thoughts or queries please comment below too, and please consider following us on our other social media accounts:

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