The artwork on the cover and inside looks very nice and being a hardback book is also a bonus. They have completely redone/rewritten the rules to make it more clear and far easier to read. The Artist of the book has done an excellent job - love the image of the Milties Christi character. Also the photos of the models and terrain is epic, love the castle and damaged walls, could be a taste of what the later crusades could be about.
Those of you who have read the old rule-book you will quickly notice they have replaced the old Ragnar advice box with a new some what classy Islamic character Hashim ibn Khalid ibn Abad ..... he reminds me of the Antonio Banderas character Ahmad ibn Fadlan in 13th Warrior movie. They have kept the friendly figure of Ragnar with his advice box in the book, but they have placed him only when there is new or additional rules to the old Saga rule book calling him the old Veteran..... The only thing about the new character, he doesn't give a quick guide or low down of what he thinks of each faction, which I think is sorely missing.
There are 6 new factions covered in the book which are evenly split between the Christians being the Crusaders, Milites Christi and Spanish, and the Islamic factions being the Saracens, Moors and the Mutatawwia
The Moors: - are all about influencing your enemy through corruption, discord, doubts and even betrayal ... my favorite
The Saracens: - depend a lot on rolling two D6 for their skills, so has a nice randomness to it. Depending on the skill and what you rolled it could be very helpful but with some skills also benefiting the enemy where the lesser dice is given to them.
The Mutatawwia: - are a bunch of suicidal religious fanatics, their battle board has skills where you place the required dice but you also need to sacrifice one of your men from that unit to benefit from that skill, sounds crazy I know, but in doing so they gain a martyr token, which they can use to bring figures back as part of a melee/reaction. Not so sure about this faction - you would have to be calculating player to make sure you dont loose uncessary points in order to do some skills. They only have Hearthguard and Warriors in their force.
The Spanish: - they cancel certain activation for both shooting and movement and also can remove the opponents Saga dice from his battleboard, Nasty! . One skill I like was the Light Horses skill where you can shoot with javelins before you move, then move and shoot again with javelins and the units armour is reduced by one NICE.
The Crusaders: - These have Virtues, where upon yu gain by rolling Saga dice before your turn begins, but with rolling dice for this you then limit the dice rolled you can roll on your battleboard. You can only use skills that you have the virtues to do so with.
Milites Christi: - These have a piety level (similar to JomsViking wrath I guess) they raise this level by placing dice in thier prayers skill (which can only be used once), which when more dice from this skill is discarded than your current piety you gain one level.The remaining abilities depend on what level you have the more benefit you gain.
They also only have Hearthguard and Warriors in their force
Priests - I have yet to try these Priest rules out in a game but they do look interesting - you can also take them in the Viking age game but they would be called Shamens & Soothsayers or Druids and the like. You can also replace your Warlord with a Priest, this is probably the option I would take as it doesn't cost you a point, where a priest is a point. There is 3 variations of Priest you can take - one is a warrior priest, one enables you to roll extra dice, and one enables you to change the face of dice in the orders phase.
You also get some fancy new Dogs of War units - Bedouin Camel Scouts, Daylami, Troubadour, Turcopoles, Naffatan teams and Fanatical Pilgrims to name a few.
Naffatan Teams , these guys are simply crazy and somewhat dangerous to friend or foe, but man they can dish out some hurt !! Andy placed them in his Saracen army and had used them to very good effect.
The Moors, I can easily see these guys fast becoming my next faction I collect. They have some really cool ability's with the new plastic and metal figures look great.
I plan to go in to more detail in separate post once I have more time.
Thanks for reading