Wednesday 20 April 2016

Age of the Wolf - More Observations

After more reading of the Age of the Wolf (AoW) supplement I thought I would offer some additional observations (and hopefully some useful suggestions). Only those folks who went to Salute will have the new publication (apparently it goes on general release in May). However, I thought it might be useful to deal with some of the likely queries before it goes on general release. I'll try to keep this as straightforward as possible and cover issues in the order they appear in the book (note - there will be things I overlook so please do add a comment if you spot anything else and I'll update this post). I've also posted this information on the SAGA forum if you prefer to enter comments there. 

Before I get started it's worth reiterating the point that I made in my recent review. The supplement reads as though it was written before Crescent and Cross (C&C) was published. Some quirks will relate to that fact. 

pg. 9 Devout Trait. The Devout trait allows a Warlord to be accompanied by a priest. Players should note that the rules for this priest are specific to AoW and not the same as those detailed in C&C. 

pg. 11 Ulf the Quarrelsome. Ulf is listed as a Hero of the Viking Age that may be used as a warlord with preset motivations and traits. In The Raven's Shadow the Irish Warband rules state that Ulf is not a Hero of the Viking Age and may not be used as a warlord. I think The Raven's Shadow rules should be followed in this regard. 

pg. 16 Homeland Scenario. Homeland is listed as an Invasion Scenario where a Campaigning warband attacks a Defending warband. When the Homeland scenario is played in normal games, each player bids to see who is the defender and who is the attacker. In AoW the situation could therefore occur where the Campaigning warband invades a Defending warband's territory but ends up being the defender in the buildings... I don't think this is too much of a problem. If this situation occurs, just imagine that the Campaigning warband has invaded and is in the process of pillaging when the Defending warband arrives with reinforcements to drive away the attackers. It still works fine I think. 

pg. 18 Setting up Terrain. This is just an observation, but note AoW states that terrain may be set up in any mutually agreeable manner. C&C terrain set up rules can therefore be used without difficulty. 

pg. 19 Warlord Casualties. Two tables are presented for determining what happens to a warlord 'killed' during a battle. One table is for winning warbands, the other is for losing warbands. No advice is given for what to do if there is a draw. I suggest that if there is a draw, each warband should be treated as though it lost (so slain warlords are dealt with using the Losing Warband table). 

pg. 21 War Banners. The AoW rules refer to the original rules published in The Raven's Shadow, without reference to the modifications introduced in C&C and subsequently detailed in the Dark Ages faq. I suggest the updated banner rules are used (ie. in addition to standard rules, war banners automatically remove 1 fatigue from their unit at the end of each Activation Phase if the unit hasn't been activated in that phase).  

pg. 23 Jomsvikings. Jomsvikings are included as a 1 point mercenary unit. In my copy of the main rule book, Jomsviking Swords for Hire are described as a 2 point unit. I wonder though if this reduction in points in AoW is a deliberate design decision by the author (due to the extra point of wealth needed) and therefore don't propose that it is 'corrected'.  

pg.23 Hearthguard Minimum Unit Size. This is just an observation. Players should be aware that there is no minimum unit size. However, the minimum size of a hearthguard unit that can be fielded in AoW games is two figures. I can think of at least one warband where this may prove quite useful... Minimum sizes of warrior and levy units that can be fielded remain as per the standard SAGA rules (4 figures). If units of levy or warriors drop below four figures, they remain on the roster but may not be fielded in games. Note that small units can be merged so there is little risk of a warband ending up with many small units that cannot be fielded. 

pg. 28 The Burh (new scenario). Now this may be me, but there looks to be a discrepancy in the description for troop deployment (within L of the walls or gate if outside the burh) and the accompanying figure (seems to suggest deployment only within L of the centre of the gate). There are also two quarter M radii illustrated in the figure, but I can't see any reference to what they are for in the text. Simplest solution is to simply follow the text description I think. Since the defender has a defended obstacle and gate with any number of buildings permitted inside the burh *and* starts the game with only a single unit of hearthguard in reserve, I'm guessing this may be a difficult scenario for the attacker to win...

Other Suggestions:

1) Victory Points. There is no discussion of how many victory points warlords are worth. In the standard game, warlords are worth 3 victory points and Heroes of the Dark Ages (named characters) are worth 7 victory points. Since even standard warlords will acquire traits and special rules in AoW I think this difference in points will need to be addressed. By the end of the campaign standard warlords with randomly determined abilities may be more powerful than the more costly Heroes. The simplest solution is to make all warlords (including Heroes) worth either 3 or, better still, 7 victory points. My suggestion though is to start off standard warlords at 3 victory points, but increase their value to 7 when/if they acquire the 'Hero of the Viking Age' special rule (pg. 10).  

2) Priests. The rules for C&C priests are not included in AoW. The simplest solution is therefore to ignore C&C priests and use AoW as written. If players wanted to incorporate C&C priests, the Devout trait (pg. 9) could be modified to permit a randomly generated Warlord Priest. d6 roll 1-2 = Religious Advisor; 3-4 = Warrior Priest; 5-6 = Enlightened. I also propose that non-warlord priests can only be recruited by Atheling Warlords that roll 'Reinforcements 1D6 Hearthguards' on the Fate Table (pg.20). In this situation the player may either recruit the specified hearthguards or recruit a random priest. Priests take up a unit slot on the roster. Atheling Warlords are those with a Power rating of 15 or more - Power being a value determined by resources and available units.

If a standard priest is killed during a game a roll should be made on one of the following tables:

Winning Warband 
1-3 Minor Wound. The priest is ok and accompanies his warband into battle as normal.
4-5 Heroic Wound. The priest fought a heroic battle gaining a reputation point for his warlord. The priest may continue as normal. 
6 Seriously Wounded. The priest is seriously wounded and must miss the next game to recuperate. 

Losing Warband
1-3 Seriously Wounded. The priest is seriously wounded and must miss the next game to recuperate. 
4-5 Dead. The priest has been slain in battle and is removed from the roster. 
6 Captured. The priest counts as seriously wounded (as above) but is also captured by his opponent. A ransom must be paid, so the priest's warlord loses one Wealth and the captor gains one Wealth. 

3) Swords for Hire. Only two Swords for Hire units are mentioned in AoW. These are Steppe Nomads and Jomsvikings. I really think it is a shame that other Swords for Hire Units are not included since they work so well as mercenaries. My suggestion is as follows. Swords for Hire units can be included as mercenaries using the rules detailed in AoW for Jomsvikings (pg. 23). In summary, a Sword for Hire unit can be included as a single point mercenary for an additional point of wealth. For example, if a unit of Angry Monks was hired it would form a single 1 point unit for an overall cost of 2 wealth (1 wealth for including mercenaries and an additional wealth for the Swords for Hire). Since they will cost an additional Wealth resource, I suggest all Swords for Hire units cost only a single point (even if their rulecard states they cost two or more points). Standard rules for hiring Swords for Hire will apply (eg. Monks cannot join Viking warbands). 

OK, that's it for now. This is a long post but hopefully everything is relatively straightforward. It's worth pointing out that given the volume of information presented in AoW, the relatively small number of queries and anomalies presented above is a testament to how well written the supplement is. Yes there's a lot to digest in AoW, but it really is worth the effort. I'm looking forward to reading about how other folk get on with it. 


  1. Wow, that's very thorough! I'd love to get this supplement and play a campaign, but my gaming time is so irregular at the moment that I can't see it happening. I doubt that the book is worth the money for just the new scenarios?

    1. Thanks! The two review type articles I've put up recently should give an idea of how much I've enjoyed reading through the supplement. That said if you really don't think you will play a campaign, I'm not sure the five included scenarios are worth £15. However, buying and reading the supplement will I'm sure encourage you to play through a mini campaign. You could do just 2 or 3 seasons with just 3 players and still have a great time. Since the campaign starts with just 4 points you could probably get 2 seasons finished in a single afternoon.

  2. Excellent added commentary on AoG. My friends and I are going to be ordering from GB in the next week or so (mass order to save on shipping). I believe 3 of these books will be getting bought, as well as a few boxes of the new Romans:)


    1. Thanks Kevin. Keep an eye on the SAGA forum as well. Other folk are starting to add their own thoughts on the supplement.

  3. ThanKs for this post, I'm preparing a campaign with my club mates in Alicsnte Spain and, after first read, I've very similar doubts so it's very useful

    1. Thanks Carlos. Also check out the SAGA forum since players are posting other queries there as well.