måndag 2 april 2012

The Fury of the Northmen is upon us!

Got a surprise from the mailman today; it was parcel containing the Fury of the Northmen expansion for Saga from Gripping Beast. Now, it is due for release tomorrow but the nice Beasties apparently decided to ship them out as soon as they recieved them from the warehouse.

Dice! Scot Warlord! Rulebook! Battle boards! Weeeeeeeee!!!

The Scots Warlord
I haven't been able to read through it all, but the rulebook features four new factions and a new scenario. Along with the rulebook you get four Battle Boards, one for each new faction. I also got the Scot warlord for free since I preordered, and I decided to buy the Scots dice at the same time. Learning from how hard it was to get the Viking dice I thought it better to get them immediately. (All the original dice sets are now out of print, again!)

The four new factions are Anglo Saxon, Bretons, Jomsvikings and Scots. The first three use their own battleboards but the dice from Anglo Danish, Normans and Vikings respectively. This seems appropriate since they are more or less variations on the old factions. Nevertheless they have some special rules making them quite different to play, at least what I could glean from the quick flick-through I had while the kids were watching Transformers on the TV...

  • Anglo Saxon are a bit like the Anglo Danish. In fact there has been quite a lot of confusing the two factions with eachother, at least figure-wise. The Anglo Saxons are the guys living in England before the Normans show up, while the Anglo Danish are the guys coming over from Denmark to live in England... (My archeologist friends will now chime in to tell me how wrong I am.) Playwise the Anglo Saxon loose the Danish axes, but gain the ability to mount their Hearthguard on horses. They use throwing spears and the Battle Board has some smart abilities that favour large units to represent their tendency to fight in close ranked units. Special characters include Alfred the Great.

  • Bretons are the Norman competitors and as such also has the ability to field lots of cavalry. However they also use Javelins and their Battle Board has a lot of distance attack abilities. This faction will hit fast and shower their opponents with lots of pointy sticks only to ride away again, which they will want to do since their Hearthguard are more vulnerable in melee than other factions.

  • The Jomsvikings are real bad-ass vikings. They get to use two-handed axes like the Anglo-Danish (why ordinary vikings can't use two-handed axes escapes me though) and will not fight along serfs and slaves, so they have no Levies.  Furthermore, If you field Sigvaldi Strut-Haraldsson as your warlord you can only take Heartguard! They make up for their lack of numbers with a special rule called Wrath. Wrath is tracked on the Battle Board and accumulates during the battle. Some activations have a choice for the opponent; either suffer something nasty or add points to the Wrath track. Some of the Jomsviking special abilities use the accumulated Wrath to literally Unleash the Fury of the Northmen on their opponents. This makes the Jomsvikings the ideal faction for someone who want to use few but tough as nails figures.

  • Lastly the Scots are, well, scots. They are celts of Irish descent and may mount their hearthguard on horses like the Anglo-Saxon. Their warriors fight on foot with spear and shield and the Battle Board has some good, defensive abilities they (and any spear-armed hearthguard) can use. The scots are very much a defensive faction that lets the enemy exhaust himself on their shieldwall before striking back. A fun tidbit is that you can field Macbeth (yes, the one from "the scottish play") as your warlord.
Last in the rulebook is a four-player scenario which looks interesting. Players are organized into two teams, but can change sides during the first four turns of the game. Cue some serious backstabbing and name-calling, I think.

The addition of four new factions is welcome and the fact that three of them use the same dice as the original factions ensure that you don't have to spend a lot of money on dice to be able to use the new factions. That said, the new Scottish dice are beautiful; dark brown with yellow animal motifs.

All in all Northern Fury is a good little expansion. The book is a bit thin, but the contents are excellent. I won't give it a score since this is not a real review, just a first look. However I think it's well worth the money if you like Saga. 

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