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A dicey topic

Greetings friends, this post is aimed mainly at new and interested in SAGA although veteran SAGA players may of course join in and comment should they desire. The opinion is always welcome and can help to build hobby communities. For the purpose of this post, I shall be debating the value of the SAGA dice in regards to how far can a few quid (insert your relevant currency here) can go. When dabbling in a new game we like to experience it before dipping our toe. And rightly so, building armies is a labour of love (and pain and frustration). For those in or close to Britain, I do recommend seeking out the SAGA Ironman events, Richard Keenan will provide a day of gaming and you just bring yourself and perhaps, dice. For this, I shall be reviewing the value of each set of dice with some commentary on models thrown in. This is more for those who have yet to buy books, but as stated it may be of interest to others too. I shall state this is for the historical saga and not the Age of Magic. There is a post on that topic and I do plan to do more.

My dice collection. I have excluded the age of magic dice.

So I thought I would have a look at how many armies you could potentially use with any one set of dice and then perhaps a low model count, by which I mean a single army with perhaps a different unit or two to get by. Please note at the time of writing Age of Alexander is not out in print yet (you’ll love it when you see it) so this will be taken from the current books as of August 2022.

A note on names on the dice. Those with access to all the books will notice that some of the dice share names and some change names depending on where they are represented. To avoid any confusion I shall include a picture reference for each type.

The Saxon Dice

These dice feature in the Age of Vikings and Age of Invasion books only as main faction dice, you can take Pagan Raiders from the old friends’ new enemies section of the age of crusades book which uses the Saxons board. This means that the dice are effective in three of the four books. With these dice, you could use the following boards

  • Anglo Saxons
  • Anglo Danes
  • Pagan Raiders (Saxons AOI)
  • Goths
  • Saxons
  • Franks
  • Lombards (Goths AoV)

For those buying into Age of Invasions, these do represent a large proportion of the dice used. the Dark age box sets, warriors cavalry and archers would be a good pick for a new player as you could easily use them for the Anglo Danes and Saxons, Franks and probably Saxons too. More horse based by you could probably do the goths for the full set. Just remember the PPE for the Visigoths. Be seen be safe (Jest)

Gaelic Dice

These can be found in the Age of Vikings and Age of Invasions books also feature in the Old friends’ new enemies for Age of Invasions. They can be used to field the following armies

  • Irish
  • Scots
  • Picts
  • Scotti (Irish AoV)

Again, Gripping beast plastics would be great here, Irish or Pictish boxes would be good for any of these. It is important to note that the Picts are the odd ones out here. While I believe you could use the same models, they are not the same people, The Scotti represent those who crossed from Ireland and ultimately occupied the area now known as Scotland. The Picts would have been the ones the Romans built a wall named after some hipster dude of an emperor, Hadrian some called him. Another traveller.

Celtic Dice

These dice can be found in the Age of Vikings book and the old friends’ new enemies section of the age of invasions book. In all cases, it will be for the Welsh battle board. While this looks a little limiting, the welsh board offers a very entertaining and certainly competitive play style. You can use these dice with the following lists.

  • Welsh
  • Alt Clut & Manaw Gododdin (Welsh AoC)
  • Camry (Welsh AoC)

The Welsh Gripping Beast plastics are again very good for these, while there will be minor differences between the three, I think that you could get away with one that does all. Possibly even Gauls and Picts too. I have used Hail Ceasar models in the past to represent Celtic and Gaelic troops although I have expanded now.

Runic dice

I feel it is safe to say that at some point or other, most of us that play SAGA will engage with these dice. The Vikings and the others that use these dice certainly have sway with people. They are useable with factions from the Age of Vikings (shock) book as a main faction dice for the following armies

  • Vikings
  • Norse Gaels
  • Pagan Rus
  • Jomsviking

Regarding the models that you could use for these, they are not too different in looks. The Jomsviking will be slightly more elite battle-hardened models and the Pagan Rus would benefit from a winter theme. However standard Viking models would absolutely do in a pinch.

Continental Dice

These dice feature in the Age of Vikings and Age of Crusades as part of the main factions. They also feature in the “Old friends new enemies sections of the age of invasion book as well as the Age of crusades. They are usable for the following armies.

  • Normans (AOV)
  • Carolingians (AOV)
  • Polish (AOC)
  • Arpadian Hungarians (AOC) old friends new enemies
  • The Vandals (AOI) old friends new enemies

More of a mix here, and plenty of options within the mix. The Carolingians for example can also be fielded as Merovingians and Capetians which have some deadly attacking options, able to get multiple shots off. Models wise there will be a good number of mounted troops in whichever you go for. The use of the Carolingian board which has 4 different versions within it often benefits from big units. With these, you will be sacrificing three saga dice for the greater good so don’t worry too much about how many you generate.

Roman Dice

These dice can be found for the regular factions in the Age of Vikings, Age of Crusades and Age of Invasions books. They are also available as old friends new enemies in the Age of Crusades book. While there are Romans available in the Age Of Hannibal book, they do have their own dice which is unique to them. This is probably because the Roman dice above represent later Roman war bands post Constantine. Following a vision he had, he started to adopt this symbol which is called the “Chi Rho”, it is the first few Greek letters for Christ. (Not that the Romans had a thing for Greek stuff) He got a victory in his next battle out of it at least. See Eusebius for more details although beware this chap is considered an unreliable source. He is however contemporary. That’s the history bit out the way, these dice can be used in the following armies

  • The Last Romans (AOV)
  • Byzantines (AOC)
  • Romans (AOI)
  • Britons (AOI)
  • Cilician Armenians (AOC) Old Friends New Enemies

The Models for these forces will be more of the regimented professional look. most will have a box set but they will be different, Romans and Last Romans will both be of imperial age with minor changes, this represents a long period where there was a change from the famous Lorica Segmentata to the more familiar mail armour (Or Chainmail) The Britons would be a little rougher looking than the others but still at this point and hundreds of years of Romanisation from the chariot dancing warriors they were, what was left would be heavily influenced by the invaders.

Christian Dice

These dice can be found in the Age of Crusades books and represent some of the Christian factions during the crusades in the various locations, there is also a little extra section after the old friends new enemies to cover some of the more specific crusades. There is a brilliant podcast called “History of the crusades” for those interested, it does cover all of them. These dice can be used with the following factions

  • Milities Christi (AoC)
  • Crusaders (AoC)
  • The Catharsis (AoC) A matter of faith and peace
  • De Montfort’s Crusaders (AoC) A matter of faith and peace.

As well as the normal sources of Gripping Beast, Templar forge produces some excellent miniatures that can be used for both factions and perhaps the Ordenstaat as well. (At a pinch) on a side note there are always good deals on Templar forge to be had at game shows. I forget the chaps name but I always walk away with boxes of models.

The Muslim Dice

These are the opponent if you will of the Christian dice through the Age of crusades, although not limited to one book in the same manner as they also feature in the old friend’s new enemies section of the age of Vikings. They are available for the following factions

  • Moors (AoC)
  • Saracens (AoC)
  • Mutatawwi”a (AoC)
  • The Umayyads (AoV) Old friends new enemies

For these models and with the exception of camels, the Arab plastic gripping beast sets are a good option to allow you to cover all three factions with a degree of acceptableness. Also, hot off the press but too late for this author, Templar forge has announced its own line of troops perfect for this.

Teutonic Dice

These dice look very good but sadly are only one faction set at the time of writing. My set was very kindly given to me by Lord S at Salute the year that Age of Crusades was released, he is a lovely chap you know. The dice are used for the Ordensstaat

Regarding models, the already mentioned Templar forge has some good options

Eastern dice

These dice as the name suggests are representative of the eastern factions such as Mongols, Huns etc. they can be used in the Age of Crusades, Age of Invasions main books and as old friends new enemies in the Age of crusades and age of Vikings books. They are used with the following factions

  • Pagan Peoples (AoC)
  • Eastern Princes (AoC)
  • Mongols (AoC)
  • Huns (AOI)
  • Cumins (AoC) Old friends new enemies
  • The Steppe peoples (AoV) Old friends new enemies

Models for these can be divided into groups, at a pinch you Can, I won’t say use but get away with Huns and Mongols as the same models, obviously, the Mongolian forces have the famous war drummer which no army should be without. Norse-style warriors for the pagan peoples and Eastern Princes would do, I use Pagan peoples a lot, I like to keep them light as I feel they represent a very mobile force.

Roman Dice

Some of you may have noticed here that this is the second set to be called Roman Dice, they don’t appear to be called anything else, fortunately, at the time of writing, this is the other dice set that is dedicated to one faction and that is the Republic of Rome, that is to say, the system that was in place before Augustus. This covers the Punic wars and much of Rome’s expansion. For some great tips and information, see top chum Mike Demana’s podcast episode 26 which at the time of writing was his latest. Models wise I went with Victrix for these and they are a great option, shame I’m not sponsored by these companies, oh well.

Barbarian Dice

These came out alongside the Age of Hannibal book and are used at the time of writing with this book, they can be used for the following armies

  • Gauls (AoH)
  • Iberians (AoH)
  • Numidians AoH)

Three very different options here for the model collection so a little complicated for the newer players, all three are good choices though on their own if not a tad complicated to master. Victrix is your friend here though.

Phoenician Dice

These also arrived with the Age of Hannibal book but are not exclusive to it. The keen-eyed will note that in said book, they are referred to as eastern dice. I have chosen to refer to them as Phoenician dice as named in the Age of invasions book as we already have a set of eastern dice noted. These dice can be used for the following armies

  • Carthaginians (AoH)
  • Sassanids (AOI)

Again we have two very different armies represented on the dice, both will require an elephant or two as both work very well with them and some good coordinated attacks. Victrix can be your friend here to some degree with Carthage. For Sassanids keep your eye out for Persian-looking models there are a few manufacturers on the market

Hellenic Dice

Last on the list and last of the dice that entered the game with the age of Hannibal book. They are usable with the Graeculi which themselves can be fielded in two different styles and make good use of the Greek models on the market.

Well done for getting this far. I do hope that this may be in some ways helpful to anyone starting the hobby who wants to have some level of flexibility. To summarise the dice I have prepared a “what you get” Chart.

  • Saxon Dice 7
  • Continental dice 5 (7 if you include the Carolingian variants)
  • Eastern dice 6
  • Roman dice 5
  • Galic dice 4
  • Runic dice 4
  • Christian dice 4
  • Muslim dice 4
  • Barbarian dice 3
  • Phoenician dice 2
  • Teutonic dice 1
  • (Republican) Roman dice 1

I will update this list as new books are published. The next book will be Age of Alexander which we are all looking forward to.

By Jim

I spent most of my days on building sites involved in and around brickwork. I've recently been following my passion for history and decided to jump in fully by starting university in my 30's.

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