SAGA is a skirmish game set in the late Dark Ages (~800-1000 AD). It features mainly the classic contestants on the British Isles such as Vikings, Saxons, Danes as well as some more esoteric forces (e.g. Pagan Rus).
SAGA pioneered the “Battle Board”, a unique game mechanic that allows the use of very generic unit statistics while giving each force a unique historical flavour. Thus, Viking Bondi and Anglo-Saxon Ceorls will have exactly the same statistics – reasonable since they are all just semi-trained guys with basic hand weapons – but very different battlefield behaviours: Vikings favour the rapid attack while Anglo-Saxon Ceorls perform best in dense shield walls.
History: SAGA is a collaboration of Gripping Beast (Miniatures & Distribution) and Studio Tomahawk. Both entities are relative newcomers to the Wargaming market but have quickly made a name for themselves. Beyond the basic SAGA game, which was itself expanded a few times, they also offer SAGA:Crescent&Cross which uses very similar rules to cover the early crusades.
Scale: SAGA is designed for individually mounted 28mm figures. A wide variety of metal and plastic models are available from many manufacturers. Given the visual similarity of most Dark Age forces – at least in north-western Europe – it is usually very easy to build a warband with a unique visual appearance without having to pay a lot of money (unlike Games Workshop models, historical models are cheap and plentiful). A typical warband will have a few dozen models which makes SAGA slightly larger than traditional skirmish games (100 models).
Basing & Painting: For basing I used my standard technique: Black pumice with a few rocks embedded for variety. After a few layers of brown and beige drybrushing, I add a variety of tufts from the Army Painter Battlefield series as well as little spots of clump flock.
Painting Dark Age models requires a key decision early on: colourful or bland. Bland or pastel colours are more historically accurate, especially for poorer warriors who would be clad mostly in leather or poorly dyed cloth, but it makes for a fairly boring visual experience on the table top. In my case I opted for using stronger colours, including reds, greens and blues that would be very difficult to achieve with traditional plant-based dyes. Not perfectly accurate, but simply more attractive. Beyond that, painting Dark Ages models is easy as variety is king and there really isn’t any uniform standard to adhere to.
Terrain: SAGA uses standard field terrain. I painted up some MDF pre-cut houses to give a Dark Age flair as well as a small boat for raiding scenarios. SAGA also heavily relies on counters which, to be more visually attractive, are made from bases with little counter-wheels in them and models on top.