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Interview with makers of SAGA and Muskets & Tomahawks

Saga

In relation to the Saga-tournament ran in our club a while a go I came up with an idea to ask a few questions from the good people at Gripping Beast and their game designing partner  Studio Tomahawk.

The key question was “How GB came about to produce Saga?”

Here are the results – ENJOY!

How GB came about to produce Saga?

SAGA is the brain child of Top Chum of The Beast, Alex Buchel of Studio Tomahawk. He had been working on it for a couple of years in secret but as soon as we saw it we fell in love. We immediately abandoned our plans for a big battles rule set and started play-testing SAGA. Soon games after work turned into games at lunch time and after work. Then before work, at lunch and after work!
Studio Tomahawk publishes the French and other ‘foreign’ language editions and GB published the English version.  Our Chairman, Lord S, translated Alex’s French/English hybrid into English although it has to be said that his French is not as good as he thinks nor is it as good as Alex’s English so it was pretty easy.
Since then, GB and Studio Tomahawk have collaborated on the supplements although Alex is definitely the Guardian of the SAGA System and his word is LAW.

See Alex’s bloq at http://mousquetstomahawks.blogspot.fi/

What do you think it’s the secret of its success?

SAGA’s success is primarily down to the beauty of the rules and the way they produce a game that is easy to learn, difficult to master and that is redolent of the Dark Ages. Players really get immersed in the game and their warband – many a mild mannered chap turns into a raving psychopath during a game of SAGA. The battleboard and dice provide a new and interesting tactile dimension to the game without tedious book-keeping and the dice are a nice touch both in terms of game-play and adding to the players’ experience.
Another key feature is that the game supports many levels of playing styles – it’s suitable for a light-hearted game with beer and mates but also  works at a tournament level without draining all the fun elements. We recently held the first SAGA Grand Melee Tournament in Strasbourg, France, and had competitors from across Europe. All the factions were present and no two warbands were the same. Everyone there had a different style of play yet there were no rules questions and no arguments all weekend – but plenty of laughter!
We have an extensive network of highly committed play-testers across Europe and all new releases are subject to months of play-testing to ensure balance and fun is maintained and that no Super Faction appears.

How many copies of rules have been sold?

Embarrassingly we’ve lost count but it is over 6k of the main rulebook alone.

Any idea on how many to Finland?

No, probably no more than 20 direct from here but then we do supply several distributers and shops throughout Europe and no doubt some have found their way to the Frozen North from these outlets too.
(editor’s notice: our club members have some 10 of them…)

Who’s Ragnar?

Ragnar is the Viking Spirit of SAGA and guides new (and experienced) players through the Rules and Factions. For the next book, we will be introducing a new character……

Ragnar

What expansions can be expected?

Many! On the immediate horizon is campaign book for Dark Ages England using as a framework the 1066 Campaign but it will be flexible enough to allow you to use the system no matter what factions you have. We also have a scenario book that has been compiled from scenarios entered into our Scald competition. In fact, we are probably going to make this a free download rather than a book as a thank you for all the community support SAGA has received since it was launched.
We also have the Grand Hall being released shortly. This is a HUGE model of a Lord’s Great Hall, made for us by 4Ground out of laser cut MDF. It really is a beast. It will come with a book of rules for fighting in large buildings and 6 scenarios. We’ve had immense fun play-testing this and the whole lot should be released just after Christmas – we wanted to release before Christmas but that did not leave enough time for all the play-testing to be completed and we don’t want to release anything before it has been thoroughly tested, even if that means we miss a great marketing opportunity such as Christmas……

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Next year in the Spring we will be releasing the SAGA Crusades Book – this is a major, major release that will have many new factions for the 1st and 2nd Crusade and the Reconquista in El Cid’s Spain. It will be several books in one package (or individually!) but the main core rules will not change. You will be able to play with your existing book or better still get the Crusade version with new examples and artwork etc! Currently scheduled for release at SALUTE next year.

Any plans for further dark age plastics?

Yes, indeed. The new set will be released at SALUTE next year (they take ages to do properly) and will be very popular although Lord S says that we are not to tell anyone what they are just yet…..

Your favourite faction?

Lord S only plays with Anglo-Danes.
Darren (who actually runs GB on a daily basis) loves his Vikings as does Wodger (Chief Caster)
Wyn the photographer plays with the Welsh (but then he is Welsh so can be excused)
Most of the time the rest of us are busy play-testing the new factions (apart from Lord S who, as I said, will ONLY play with the Anglo-Danes) and so we rather like them all!

Your sneakiest tip on tactics (for that faction or in general)

Know your Battleboard! It’s amazing the number of players, especially casual player, who only use a few of the abilities and forget what sneaky things you can do if you know what all your abilities do. Read the description of your faction’s battleboard in the relevant supplement and listen to the wise words of Ragnar.
Once you know your battleboard inside out, take some time to familiarise yourself with the other factions. Keep a copy of your opponents battleboard by you when you play and be mindful of the interactions he can have with your plans – especially those nasty Skraelings!
The other key area is knowing how and when to use Fatigue and how to control your own units’ Fatigue –many people get this wrong and that leads to disaster and embarrassing routs.
But most of all, remember to enjoy the game win or lose!

Edit:

Here’s a quick analysis on different factions of the game:

Anglo-Danish : Core Rulebook : Defensive
Normans : Core Rulebook : Shooting + Cavalry
Vikings : Core Rulebook : Aggressive
Welsh : Core Rulebook : Skirmish / Hit & Run

Anglo-Saxon : Northern Fury : Defensive / Large Units
Breton : Northern Fury : Shooting / Hit & Run / Cavalry
Jomsvikings : Northern Fury : Defensive / Aggressive (with wrath)
Scots : Northern Fury : Defensive

Franks : Raven’s Shadow : Reactive (most abilities played in opponent’s turns)
Irish : Raven’s Shadow : Skirmish / Shooting
Norse-Gaels : Raven’s Shadow : Aggressive
Stratchclyde Welsh : Raven’s Shadow : Cavalry / Hit & Run

Byzantines : Varjazi & Basileus : Cavalry / Shooting / Unit support
Era Of The Princes Rus : Varjazi & Basileus : Cavalry / Aggressive
Pagan Rus : Varjazi & Basileus : Defensive / Control

Skraelings : Skirmish / Hit & Run

Source: http://forum.wwpd.net/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=10266

Thanks a lot for Gripping Beast!

You can get Saga products from their webstore: http://www.grippingbeast.com/shop.php?CatID=2396

(Unfortunately they are not available in game stores in Finland)

And fellow gamers – you’re most welcome to join our Saga-games.

Next one is this: http://www.nopat.fi/2013/skenaariot/saga-brunanburghin-taistelu-20-10/

Here you can read about the mentioned Saga-tournament: http://www.nopat.fi/2013/tapahtumat/saga-turnaus-kerholla-14-9/

 

 

 

 

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