Welcome to the next big thing in fantasy gaming! Or at least that’s my opinion.
At Brush and Boltgun, we love Saga and have been awaiting a Fantasy version of it since it was hinted in the Saga II Rulebook, with pictures of Chaos Dwarfs and demons in what we thought was going to be an entirely Historical product.
Saga’s rules are really simple but with loads of potential for great tactical combinations and thematic tweaks to allow for the different factions specialisms or historical foibles. You can read our reviews of the new editions and Age of Vikings review here and starting an army for the Age of Crusades here.
Today we are going to have a quick look at Saga: Age of Magic, the most recent supplement by Studio Tomahawk. I say a quick look, because I haven’t actually been able to play a game yet. This review is entirely based on having a good old read through and a few draft lists I’ve scribbled down.
The first difference, and it’s a massive one, is that Saga: Age of Magic has different troop types! In all previous versions, you only have Heroes, Hearthguard, Warriors and Levy. Obviously, this fits with historical setting, but doesn’t cover some of the more fantastical beasts that you would have in a fantasy setting: Trolls, Ogres and even Dragons! There are also monstrous infantry, war machines (chariots, cannons and even gyrocopters) and new Hero characters.
Some armies even have special units, such as the Mindless: an undead specific Levy unit with a different profile! Just look at the difference between the Kingdoms selections and the Polish Age of Crusades list:
A number of the new unit types also have a few different profiles to tweak how they interact. You can either take faster, more offensive versions with a butt-load of attacks or higher armoured, slower versions. Armies will definitely be more varied and force choices will dictate more how games go, rather than battleboard specialities.
That said, this is obvious, because all of the factions aren’t just one faction: they are trying to cover a myriad of fantasy tropes, using mainly Warhammer naming conventions, because, let’s be fair, it’s what most people are most used to. The lists are:
• The Undead Legions (Skeletons, Vampires, Werewolves)
• The Otherworld (Angels, Demons etc.)
• Lords of the Wild (Wood Elves, Beastmen, Troglodytes, Lizardmen etc)
• The Horde (any massive barbarian horde you care to think of!)
• Masters of the Underearth (Dwarfs, Skaven etc,)
• Great Kingdoms (any civilized-style nation, Elves, Humans etc.)
If you can imagine trying to write a Skaven army and Dwarf army for the same list, you can see why the unit choices for each army are flexible!
Another change, which again you would think is quite obvious, is that there is Magic! You can commit Saga Dice to a new Orders box called ‘Magic Bonus’, which gives you dice you can allocate to spells or can grant re-rolls.
Magic is so important, I’ll do a while separate post on this. But in short, there is a new Hero you can select: the Sorceror, who can cast spells. The spells come on separate cards (if you want to buy them, they are in the book otherwise).
As with everything Saga, what you can do depends on the dice you roll. You generate a separate pool of Magic dice which you can then allocate to spells. The spells are then cast at different levels, dependent on your dice rolls (low, medium or ‘oh my god the world is ending’ levels). They have all the effects you will love from other games, from direct damage to slowing enemies. And there’s a fun miscast table that you really don’t want to be rolling on…
There are also many more special equipment types than any other Saga Universe so far: you can pitch your game at any level of fantasy, from Medieval-style Game of Thrones games to Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer series, by allowing or disallowing the use of some options, such as the use of the new Firearms equipment.
In fact, based on the lists I have read so far, I can’t see a fantasy army you couldn’t create: from Lord of the Rings to a Samurai- inspired army by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts’ Empire trilogy. I look forward to trying a few of them out soon. I’ll be sure to update you!
If you have played this already, do give me a shout in the comments below with how you have found it and any tips and tricks you have found.
Try following us on social media below for more Saga, I promise there will be more soon, as I try and get some of my old Warhammer Fantasy armies into shape for a Saga game!