måndag 19 mars 2012

Thinking about Saga

Taking a break from World War II I've been thinking about hairy brutes raiding and pillaging across Britain, taking lives, slaves and gold for Oden. In short, I have been fiddling with my Viking warband for Saga and reading the rulebook, thinking of what to do next.

My warband is assembled although not painted yet. It consists of my warlord with his bodyguard of four hearthguard, leading a band of eight warriors, four berserkers and twelve levies with bows. According to the rulebook the levies are "thralls" but I'm not too keen about that. First and foremost, "thrall" is the old norse word for "slave" and if I decide to go raiding I definitely do not want a bunch of slaves at my back with bows. That one is a no-brainer, if you don't want to get shot in the back, don't give your slaves weapons. Secondly, my bow-armed figures are mixture of old Wargames Foundry viking bowmen, with several carrying swords at their belt and some having cloaks and/or chainmail hauberks. So my levies will be a mix of young men on their first raid and older veterans that might not be fit to fight in the front ranks anymore but can bolster the others with their experience.

Two thirds of the bowmen. So far the only finished figures in the warband.

Work on the warband has been slow, at first due to the fact that I didn't have the rulebook so I wasn't sure what figures I should use. Then I recieved the rulebook, but the viking dice were still out of production. I know, I know, you don't really need the special dice to play, but they are part of the experience in my mind. "Hello, my name is Laffe and I'm a dice junkie." Besides, I didn't have anyone to play against, since of the two of my mates that also have bought the rulebook, Thomas is going to use his 15mm figures, while Håkan wants to play Bretons, which are not out yet.

The holy grail of dice sets...
Suddenly Northstar Military Figures wrote on their facebook page that they had recieved a very small shipment of Viking dice and I hurried to order them. Now that I have the dice I do need some opponents for my vikings, and then it hit me. Why not use proxies? I mean I have a lot of fantasy figures, maybe some of them would do, at least for playtesting? The most suitable figures I had was the GW Lord of the Rings figures, since they are more realistically proportioned than their Warhammer figures.

But now my mind started racing. Couldn't you make a pretty cool LotR game with the Saga system? Magic in  LotR is low key and only used sparsely, except when you face off a balrog or have to drive away ringwraiths on winged beasts of course. Most of the time it's about boosting your own abilities or hampering the enemy, which would make it very suitable for using Saga abilities to represent the magic. Now there's a thought that bears pondering some more.

Ok, let's see. Uruk-Hai are obviously vikings. We have to disregard the figures with pikes, but they are strong, brutish and have berserkers. A natural choice if there ever was one. But since I already have vikings the Uruk Hai are out.

Gondorian dice?
Normans have cavalry, pointed helmets and large kite shields. Sounds like Gondorians to me. Even their dice look like they could be used for Gondor except for that cross thingie... if only they where black with a white tree instead. Well, it sounds doable except that the Norman dice set is also out of stock. Did I mention that I'm a dice junkie? I might proxy the figures but I want to use appropriate dice.

Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Anglo-Danish on the other hand not only look like the Warriors of Rohan, their dice have a horse and are the green colour of the Rohirrim cloaks too. To bad the Anglo-Danish don't get to ride horses in the game (which makes you wonder why they have a horse on their dice). These dice are beautiful and I will get them eventually, but not for now as I traded my Rohan figures away long ago. Using them with orcs or other humans just doesn't feel right.

That dragon looks good... dragons are evil though.
That only leaves Welsh of the original four factions featured in the game. At first I didn't care for the welsh much, mostly because I didn't really know anything about them. As I read up on them it slowly dawned on me that LotR orcs would actually be quite fitting proxies for the welsh. Let's see... they have reduced armour compared to the other factions which might sound a bit backwards considering orcs are supposed to be tough brutes, but could be explained with inferior quality shields and armour. They are allowed cavalry which just cries out to be proxied by Warg riders. A lot of their abilities concerns activating many units at once or negating movement penalties for rough terrain so there is scope for adopting hit and run tactics as well as trying to swamp the opponent. A bit sneaky, just like orcs. I bet they smell about the same too (apologies to any welsh or orcish readers). Now I just need to dig out that box of warg riders from the garage...

Rohirrim or Anglo-Danish?
One downside is that even if you can map the four factions of Saga to four races in LotR, lots of other races get left out. And we need to figure out a way of representing the heroes of the books which are so essential to the story, otherwise we would just be playing Saga with other miniatures.

A stag, a snake and a grouse? Sounds like the elves of Mirkwood to me...
There are some good news though. Gripping Beast has just announced the first supplement to Saga. It's called Northern Fury and features some variants of the original factions like Jomsvikings and Bretons, as well as Scots, an entirely new faction. I have no idea how the scottish faction will play or what abilities they will get, but I do know what their dice looks like!

But I digress... I do intend to play Saga as it was meant to, with vikings bashing the brains out of other warbands over a stretch of sheep-infested land. I have pre-ordered new book as well as some scots and welsh dice. I have no idea if I will be using proxies for them or if I will be building new warbands after my vikings, but it's always nice to have some pretty dice to roll. As for my LotR orcs I guess they will be glad to be out of their box, even if they have to impersonate some welsh to get a game in.

10 kommentarer:

  1. I was thinking the same thing about Saga: great for 'Saga of the Rings'.. I was thinking Dwarves for Anglo-Danish (no mounted troops and some have those 2handed dane axes, sounds right for dwarves!) Orcs or Uruks for Vikings, Normans either Gondor or Rohan, for all the mounted options (just don't use crossbows if playing them as Rohan) and welsh for elves.

  2. I might not have my Bretons yet, but I will be using some roman and numidian cavalry figures as proxies for hearthguard and warriors respectivly, and possibly some spanish skirmishers as a unit of levies.


  3. Proxies make a lot of sense and a damned good idea.....tempting!

  4. Saga has gotten a lot of positive attetion online, and of course I would like to run a Viking warband... Real life has a tendency to intrude rudely on any new gaming project I dream about, which is why I have to doggedly stick with my guns. Priorities, true!

    Anyway, I start to get the feeling that I should load up the car, drive on down to the east coast of Stockholm and ask for a match - provided you furnish two warbands, and I get to play the vikings, of course :)

    The bowmen look great, fingers crossed for some AARs in the forseeable future?

    Well, back to aircraft gaming for me again... Gun the engines! Chocks away! Where did I leave that belt of .303..?

    -Per, the Viking Wannabe

    1. Per, you are most welcome, but right now it would probably be a game of IABSM instead... but you can play the Wiking division if you want to :-)

      Saga is a slow-burn longtime project I fear.

    2. We have Ville from Finland talking about visiting Stockholm for a game too. Maybe we should run our own Nordic Lard gaming convention?

    3. 'Nordic Lard' - I like the sound of that :)

      Thank heavens Saga is a slow-burn project, it is hard enough to stay focused on a single game system, and even harder to keep focused on a single theater covered by those rules!

      Always with reservations for time and budget, a Nordic Lard gaming conventions sounds quite interesting. How many participants might be expected?

    4. Well, we are about 8-10 regular players in the Stockholm area, I'm not sure how many we can lure from other areas, except for Ville from Finland...

      Per, I will send you an invite to our mailing list. Traffic is non-existant right now, but I suspect that any organizing will be done through that list.

  5. Temptations.....

    1. Must!
      Resistance is futile.


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