Thursday, May 14, 2015

SAGA Do’s and Don'ts

One thing I love about SAGA is that locally, it keeps attracting new players.  With that in mind, I 'm going to play the role of "Average Dad" and dole out some advice to new SAGA players.

Don’t play the same warband against the same enemy in the same scenario over and over again.  I did this as a new player, only to see my Normans repeatedly whipped by the Irish. All those losses can lead a person to conclude that the game or faction is broken.  Trust me, it's not. Every faction has unique strengths and weaknesses that play out differently in each scenario and with different opponents.  Change up scenarios, change up opponents and you’ll change up the results as well. 

Do keep it fresh.  There are 7 scenarios in the original rule book and 8 more in The Crescent and The Cross.  Additional scenarios are posted on the Studio Tomahawk forum, along with variations on the originals.  Try dicing for a random scenario to play  and play back-to-back games if you have time.  Variety is what makes SAGA really shine!

Don’t let your lone warband hold you back from playing other factions.  When you get down to it, the Jomsvikings look like Pagan Rus, who look like the Vikings, who look like the Anglo-Danes, who look like the Anglo-Saxons.  The Irish look like the Norse-Gaels and the Normans look like the Bretons who look like Spanish who…you get my point.  You don't have to worry about insufferable historical purists in SAGA as they're all in Napoleonics (kidding!).  As long as your opponent can tell your warriors from your hearthguard, you’re good to go. I also recommend you proxy a warband you're thinking of painting to make sure you enjoy their style of play.  

Do use SAGA as an excuse for a deeper historical dive!  Thanks to SAGA, I've read about peoples and periods I'd never read about before.  Painting Byzantines led me to Lars Brownworth’s superb “Lost to the West.” From there, I continue to read, think and dream about the Byzantine empire.  Painting Norse-Gaels led me to the Battle of Clontarf and the story of the Vikings in Ireland. From there, I discovered the fascinating story of the Norse conversion from paganism to Christianity. Beware! Once you start down the rabbit hole, you'll likely find you cannot get back out.  
Don’t judge a battle board by its cover. You can’t see the strengths and weaknesses of a battle board without putting it in play.  When The Crescent and The Cross was released, I dismissed some faction out of hand because the battle boards looked weak.  The first time I played the Spanish, I moaned about their terrible board until suddenly, it clicked.  I found a sweet combination that helped steal a victory!  The Spanish have gone from "terrible" to my current favorite faction.  Take a chance and you might find a new favorite too.

Do try this game with your favorite beverage of choice.  It's not so hard that you have to be a Jonathan Nash (A Beautiful Mind) to manage the rules.  Field of Glory, I'm looking at you!

Don't let perfect be the enemy of good enough painting.  Setting the bar too high for yourself can result in a warband that you never finish. Block paint or block paint, wash/dip if you like. The key is to keep moving forward and put a warband on the table, not win "Best Painted of 2015."     

Do have fun!  After all, that’s the reason we all come out to play!

On the painting front, I finished 8 more jinetes for my Spanish warband, including a linen war banner.  My 4th try is my best yet, I think!  I worked up from black to hull red to red/yellow to the highlights. I followed Michael's advice and painted in a wet-brush fashion so some of the black base color peeks through.

I also finished a pagan and Muslim priest for our upcoming SAGA campaign. At some point, I'm going to have to paint up a bard as well.  The fellow in black took a couple of tries to get right.  I tried neat, dark triads but at the finish line, he had turned grey.  Out came the black paint for a reset and just the lightest touches of grey over it.  This was a time when less was better!