On the 8th June 793AD the quiet monastery of Lindisfarne on the north-east coast of England was attacked and plundered by sea-borne raiders – the Age of the Vikings had begun. For more than two centuries, the fury of the northmen was unleashed across the British Isles, inspiring awe and abject terror. War waged between Anglo-Saxons, Welsh, Vikings and Normans until, finally, the Normans achieved domination on top of Senlac Hill at the Battle of Hastings, 1066.
This period of history was an age of endemic warfare that saw mighty warlords at the head of their warbands struggle for power, wealth and glory, writing their legends with steel and the blood of their enemies. Dark times that brought us the tales and deeds of legendary heroes like Harold Godwinson, William the Bastard or Ragnar Lothbrok.
Saga is a skirmish wargames set in the Dark Ages. You need around 30 figures a side to play, rulebook, a set of special dice and a battle board. This is a really nice game with quite a different and unique mechanic (at least in my experience). You have a number of saga dice dependant on the force you take which are rolled to produce a random selection of symbols that equate to various options available on an A4 battle board (supplied with the rules). The actions on this board allow you to activate units, gain bonuses and react to your opponents moves. This gives a fair amount of tactical depth for a skirmish game and important some important decisions to make such as whether to activate all units or use dice to buff attacks for that big push and makes for an interesting game.
Saga is a really popular game, and has quite a few supplements bring a whole host of other factions to the mix from across Europe during the period. It also has some spin off games such as The Crescent and Cross, covering the early crusades, and I believe there might be a late-Roman Britain/Arthurian version coming out also. The rules are written by a French company called Studio Tomahawk and distributed by Gripping Beast. There are plenty of figures available including plastics I’ve sourced most of mine form Wargames Foundry as I think they make the most characterful models.
Finally one of the great things about this period is that generally the base troops are very similar in appearance allowing you to field a variety of factions from a relatively small selection of figures. For example Anglo-Saxon figures can also be Anglo-Danes, Welsh figures can be Irish, etc. It’s an efficient game!
Edit: Saga 2 is now out, with many updates and changes to the game. When I eventually get a copy I’ll get this page updated!
I’ve got a Saga Dark Ages gallery which can be found here.