The rules are a hoot to read. The writing style is presents clear rules but with a great sense of humor. It makes it fun to get through them. The game is pretty simple, mechanically, but the mechanic of the Battle Boards is where it takes on a deep strategic flavor that I think most veteran gamers will really appreciate. The basics flow of the game is I Go, You Go with individual unit activation. A unit activates, does all of its actions then the next unit is activated. All of your units go, then your opponent does the same. The combat is also quite simple, with figuring out attack dice, trying to meet or beat the armor value, then defense dice to try and avoid wounds. If you’ve played any of the Warhammer games, it will seem very similar but not exactly the same.
Where the game moves into it’s own greatness is with the battle boards. Each army has it’s own battle board. You roll Saga dice at the start of your turn and these dice help you figure out which of your battle board options you can choose. It’s based upon icons on the dice, with a 3, 2, 1 distribution. The more powerful options require the icon that only comes up 1 in 6 times. Some options can activate on multiple dice but others REQUIRE multiple dice.
These Saga dice also determine what you can activate. This is where it gets rather interesting. The strongest troops (hearthguard or knights) can use any Saga die. The Warriors aren’t as flexible and levies are much more difficult to activate. AS it should be!
Another innovation I like is the armies are really easy to pick out. All armies have three tiers of troops (Hearthguard, Warriors, Levies). Each faction has a few basic rules that allow you to equip your troops differently than the other factions. The benefit here is that army generation is really quite simple and there isn’t a lot of gaming the point system.
Overall, the game looks to be easy to explain, reasonably fast play and has lots of period flavor delivered through a clever mechanism. There is more to it than I’ve written here. I am certain that many gamers, the first thing they will think about is “how can I adapt this system to X” with X being one or more of the following:
- Other Ancient periods
- Star Wars
- Modern Afghanistan
- Pod Racing
- Giant Monster Games
Ha, you think I joke. Read the rules. You will love them and you will want to find as many uses for the concept as you can. It’s that good!