Hey everyone. I finally got hold of my copy of SAGA, and I thought I’d do a quick review of it. I don’t want to get into the habit of reviewing games that have been out for years, and have exhaustive reviews elsewhere. But I think most of the people who read this blog are like me – not really historical gamers – and so may not have read much or anything about it. Plus, what else is a blog for but sharing your thoughts? So I’m just going to say a bit about how the game looks to me, and offer my thoughts on some of the (few) criticisms I’ve read.
Right, so firstly I can confirm that everything I’ve read online about the positive qualities of this game seem borne out. The rules (not counting faction descriptions, scenarios and the rest) are short; about 30 pages probably. Compare this to, say, the upcoming behemothic 7th edition of Warhammer 40,000, which has some 200-odd pages of rules alone. The SAGA rules are clear, consistent and look fun. I read the book through once, and I feel confident that I understand how the game works. This is much more than I can say for many other games out there. It looks simple to play and well- balanced.
There’s something I’d like to mention that I haven’t seen anyone else point out: this book is quite funny. It has that beer-and-pretzels feel that I associate with early Warhammer, and that I think GW still struggles to foist on their players now with mixed results. For example, in all of the official SAGA scenarios, the rules state “Roll a D6. The winner goes first. In the event of a tie, the player with the most impressive facial hair goes first.” Tough luck for shield maidens I guess! And the brief background for the Anglo-Danish faction has this to say:
Huscarls of the prosperous Anglo-Danish kingdom were characterised by their use of the latest military equipment: long mail hauberks, the fearsome Dane axe capable of severing a horse’s head in one blow, and, of course, the magnificent moustache.
Maybe I just really like cracks about facial hair, I don’t know. But it gave me a chuckle. The whole book has this rollicking, light-hearted tone which somehow befits a game about Vikings.
What about negatives? I’ve heard people say the book seems a bit overpriced, and I’ve seen one blogger say they didn’t like the beer-and-pretzels feel. To the latter concern I’d say it’s probably a matter of personal preference and of how much you like that style. But I’d like to emphasise that the game itself looks tight. The tone of the rules should not be taken as an indication that this game requires something like a “gentlemen’s agreement” to play properly or competitively. That’s not true at all. It’s obvious that Tomohawk Studios have put a lot of thought into designing a game that is easy to collect and play, yet deep, and that can’t be won in the list-building phase.
The price is a different matter. To be honest, I felt the book was a bit overpriced at $55. It’s full colour, but it’s also quite slim and has a soft cover. My editor’s eye picked up a few typos, which is unfortunate. I personally think $40 would be a better price for what you get. I suppose you get good quality card Battle Boards too, though, so maybe it’s fair. Some people aren’t going to bat an eye, but my budget for games is not the biggest.
All in all I’m very keen to play. I’m getting some money together to order some Scots and Vikings, and my brother is going to sculpt himself an Anglo-Danish warlord and start getting some troops together too. Hopefully more updates soon…
All the best,