Historical wargaming can be a tricky thing. Some players like as much realism as possible right down to the layout of their boards, but others enjoy the general idea of historical wars more than recreating them in precise detail. "Saga," produced by Gripping Beast and Studio Tomahawk, is a wargame of medieval combat that rests squarely on the side of entertainment. This might scare off a few hardcore history enthusiasts, but don't fret! A large degree of historical accuracy is maintained in the look of the minis, and you can't beat a game that's quick and fun.
"Saga" is more of a skirmish game than a wargame, but it comes with all the tactical possibilities you'd expect from a good tabletop game. Typical battles are played with 6 points-worth of troops who are broken up into three categories: Hearthguard, Warriors, and Levies. These are essentially elite, regular, and weak troops, but each faction uses a different name for them, and while the units themselves don't come with different abilities, the Battleboard system takes care of distinguishing each faction style of play.
Battleboards are cut-out boards that tell the player what special abilities are available to the player. Each faction comes with dice specific to them, and you roll one for every unit on the board but max out at 6. Each ability on the Battleboard requires different combinations of runes, the faces of the customized die, but dice are also required for regular actions like movement. This means that players must delegate their dice effectively to maximize abilities and maneuvering.
Combat requires typical opposed rolls but doesn't require massive quantities of dice or complex math to figure out. Generally the only thing you'll be doing is modifying rolls and results by a couple of dice and rounding the results.
Since "Saga" is a historical game, every faction is a recreation of actual medieval ethnicities. The core rulebook includes information and Battleboards for Anglo-Danes, Normans, Vikings, and the Welsh. The expansion, Northern Fury, includes the Anglo-Saxon, Breton, Jomsvikings, and Scots while the second expansion, Raven's Shadow, includes Franks, Irish, Norse Gael, and Strathclyde Welsh. At this point, you should either be thinking, “man I love those guys!” or rest assured that each one of these groups were very real and should inspire a bit of reading.
Nothing forces players to recreate battles in history, but it's always an option for history buffs. However, if you want to recreate a scenario it's important to know that you might have to tweak unit stats to better reflect real-world variables the game might not encompass. "Saga" is more about taking warriors from history and reflecting their fighting style in an entertaining way.
Where to find it:
"Saga" hasn't gained widespread popularity, so your local tabletop store might not carry it. If that's the case, you can check out Gripping Beast's product page for everything you'll need to play. It's important to note that while the game isn't as well-known as "Warhammer or "Warmachine," it's gaining popularity so fast that Gripping Beast sometimes has difficulty keeping up with demand.