Here we are again for some of my nonsense ramblings about anything Saga. Today a little look into the play style and first impression of one of the new Arab factions from Crescent and The Cross. The super aggressive and highly volatile force of fanatics bringing the fight to those Christian dogs! These are my initial thoughts on the faction and a based on only a few games and theory so as such results may vary for other players.
To start off with, what sets them apart from other forces? The obvious answer is their martyr ability and sacrificial costs on abilities which sets them up as a very interesting risk/reward faction. Using your own models for fuel truly adds a multitude of new choices and challenges which interested me greatly upon examination. On the outset this mechanic provides very powerful flexibility within your turn but has its fair share of drawbacks. The faction also only has access to warriors and hearthguard meaning levies are not invited to the party. Finally they have access to camels which are the gamed first hard counter to cavalry and look to be an interesting addition to the game.
Picture from Gripping Beast
After a few initial games and some revision my initial verdict on the strengths of this warband lies in the extremely flexible abilities and their tie in with the martyr mechanic. At the beginning of each turn you are practically guaranteed 8 dice for the loss of a warrior. In addition this martyr can be used immediately within the turn along with the combat pool to generate two attack dice for one saga die. This is just one of sooo many combo opportunities with this mechanic which ultimately favours a mindset who likes to think in very logistical manner.
The other major strength is the obvious amount of aggression that is bundled into the faction. Foot soldiers moving like cavalry and explosive combat abilities that are likely to cause havoc to both sides represent a truly fast paced turn that holds nothing back. If you are not a player who likes to give up lives to gain momentum or provide pressure to areas on the table without clear victories this faction is not for you.
Another subtle strength is the faction’s ability to get results out of straggling units of 4-5 models that would otherwise be fodder and a waste of abilities for other factions. These units can be used in the right circumstances to go down fighting very very hard and taking more lives than your opponent would have liked.
Finally the big strength brought about by the addition of camels is bound to strike fear into any players who rely solely on cavalry to get the job done. These units coupled with some nasty abilities can provide a leaf blower for cavalry opponents who will likely give up more models then they wish to handle them in combat. Keep them away from foot units and missiles if possible.
The most obvious weakness at the forefront is the sacrifice of you models to activate your abilities. These models are removed and provide slaughter points to your opponent, and as such can make the difference of a win or loss in particular scenarios. Additionally players need to be weary of how much these sacrifices are beginning to impact their plan 3 turns ahead when combats have been resolved and many more models are removed.
Another glaring weakness for me was the faction’s lack of no brainer bang for buck abilities. Most of the powerful abilities come with some kind of drawback in either a model sacrifice or a negative effect after you have resolved it. This makes triggering these abilities rather risky in some situations and could leave you at a loss in both men left to fight and fuel left to gain the upper hand. Some abilities carry a fire and forget mentality which is great for hitting an opponent where they don't want to lose models but will likely result in a "trade off" of figures, thus such actions ultimately require a larger sacrifice to gain the edge.
All in all these guys are an absolute blast to push across the table. Their unbridled aggression and flexibility provides players a great fusion of planning and chaos for the mentally unstable mathematician. Their weaknesses are clear and are open to engagement by certain factions but ultimately will not hinder good player’s plans. I plan on painting up my force and rocking these guys for a while to see if I wish to take them for a trip to Cancon early next year.
Until next time