SAGA: Age of Magic, King of Fantasy Skirmish
Studio Tomahawk has gone from strength to strength over the years. Their SAGA series of wargames in particular are an unmitigated success. With their SAGA: Age of Magic (AoM) release they hit on the perfect recipe for all things fantasy wargaming. AoM is a broad umbrella wide enough to include every fantasy genre and trope while still allowing a specificity that will appeal to gamers trying to bring a specific force to the table. It’s also released in a way that is a clinic for how to pay the bills with rulebooks and accessories alone, and not the attached model range.
Bring Out Yer Dead! AoM is the perfect excuse to dust off your old fantasy models – and which gamer among us doesn’t have at least a couple of (dozen) Games Workshop figures, or entire armies, in the vault? You know that with the SAGA game system underpinning the AoM specific rules, the game play itself is solid. I’ve found AoM the perfect excuse to add some GW Beastmen to my old Ogre Kingdom figures to create a new rampaging horde. My Privateer Press Everblight army has been given new life as a force of the Otherworld, and I finally have an excuse to buy one of those super cool gargantuan models. You can cherry pick your favorite figures from all your favorite ranges and mash them together. There’s sufficient scope both within and across the six factions to include all your favourites. Below are previews of the faction specific QRS available for download at the bottom of the post.
And let’s not stop there. AoM is an equally good reason to break out your historical armies and add a splash of fantasy colour to the mix. Would you like to have your Crusader army led by Richard the Lionheart on a winged pegasus or, what the hell, a winged lion? How about a Viking shield-wall parting to reveal a charging titan-sized Odin, Frigg, Thor, Loki or Fenris? Mars or Ares leading your Roman legions or Greek hoplites into the fray? Egyptian chariots and massed troops cycled back to life by a necromancer avatar of Osiris or Anubis? You get the idea. The rulebook displays armies from at least 10 different manufactures without a GW or Privateer Press model in sight. AoM is a broad and inclusive church, no matter how you’ve worshiped in the past.
Heck, you could play with Christmas ornaments if you wanted to. Oh, wait, someone pretty much did that already!
Without a range of figures to peddle, there is no power-creep here as newer, proprietary, and increasingly more expensive models are needed to stay competitive. You are welcome to make your own models out of your or your kid’s lego collection if that’s what floats your boat. Add any-figure-goes appeal to the fact that all the factions are included in one book and you’ve got a self-contained game system that expands rather than limits your options for getting toys on the table.
All this is not to say that there isn’t specificity through army lists and restrictions within the rules. Generally, each of the six factions have several archetypal options available to allow you to explore that faction in thematic ways. For example, you can play The Undead Horde as a shambling mass of zombies animated by a necromancer or as a legion of swift and winged demons spewed forth from hell and led by a Arch-Demon warlord mounted on a blood thirsty dragon. Each of these Undead options plays differently depending on which archetypes restrictions and advantages you choose to employ. The other factions offer a similar level of choice and theme. With a little imagination, every single one of the models you own can find a place in an AoM army.
Age of Magic’s greatest strength is also a potential weakness. The same ‘game in one book’ and a lack of power-creep appeal also means that there’s no continuous release of new figures, books, and campaigns. There may be another release, but it’s doubtful. Even with a lively FB page, once you have the dice, cards, and rulebook, AoM is frozen in time and will not evolve or grow as many other game systems might. A small price to pay for an evergreen game that’ll not cost you another dime to play, unless you just can’t help yourself and buy figures to customize and expand your existing collection.