Friday, November 30, 2012

Saga Dice - Luck or Judgment?

The title of this article is really a grand way of saying that I want to talk about the way the number of Saga dice you have affects the game you can play out with them. In particular, your choices on using "rare" dice based abilities get less and less as your Saga dice go down.
Note: "rare" meaning the rarest symbol that is on just one side of each Saga dice. There are two uncommon symbols and three common symbols.

Saga Dice!
This article follows on from my thoughts following a forum post (link) where someone posted about losing a game where that person started with five Saga dice and their opponent had six. Five Saga dice may have have handicapped the player when playing against six dice in a four point game.

First, I need to explain that I am not a 'mathmagician' and have no doctoral thesis in probability. I wanted to keep my analysis strictly 'beer and pretzels' which suits me down to the ground. The aim is to run something past the Saga gamer that they had not necessarily thought about, but is worth considering especially before going into a tournament setting or even choosing the faction you may want to run.

I have rolled a number of scenarios to demonstrate the so-called "Law of Averages" for 3,4,5 and 6 Saga dice per turn and how that affects the number of rare dice you can get.

Rolling 6 lots of 6 saga dice represents a game lasting 6 turns and having 6 dice to roll each turn. Unlikely as the game goes on but useful for working out the odds of getting the rare results. In this scenario I tried the same thing 10 times over. This meant 360 dice rolls. The number of dice that scored a rare symbol was 63. Just above the average of 60.

I tried this scenario again but with 5 dice for 6 turns, 10 times over. This gave 300 rolls in total. The number of rare's was 57.  

Rolling once more using only 4 Saga dice, the number of dice rolls was 240 and the actual number of rare's rolled was 43.

Finally, I tried with 3 dice per turn for 10 turns, 180 rolls. I got 23 rare's.

The results seem to show that with 5 or 6 dice, there is a decent probability of rolling the rare symbol in each turn.

The cut off appears to come between 4 and 5 dice. The number of 'rare' results you get falls dramatically.

The chance to make up the better abilities falls as does your chance to get extra dice from the Activation Pool ability.

Once you have little chance of getting rare dice you find yourself relying on more basic saga abilities from the left hand side of the battleboard (unless your battleboard is skewed toward more common dice rolls).

Here's a list of the 12 book based Factions in descending order of the number of rare dice based abilities...
(note: only the 'once per turn' abilities are examined, not the basic abilities on the left of the battleboard)
Faction Rare only Rare dice
Welsh       6      7
Normans       5      7
Anglo-Saxons       4      7
Anglo-Danish       3      7
Vikings       3      6
Scots       2      6
Franks       2      4
Strathclyde       2      4
Jomsvikings       1      8
Bretons       1      6
Irish       1      5
Norse-Gaels       1      4
Edit: Since the release of Varjazi & Basileus I have added the three new factions below, out of any order:
Rus Princes           2                3       
Byzantines             1                4
Pagan Rus             1                3

Edit: the Steppe Tribes were added in Wargames Illustrated 311 and are added below for completeness:
Steppe Tribes         3                5   

Note: the column above for "Rare only" is the total number of rare dice that are REQUIRED to activate an ability (there is no choice). The "Rare dice" column represents the total number of abilities that CAN be activated by rare dice (there may be alternatives to activate).
For example, the Welsh faction have a total of 7 rare symbols on the right hand ability boxes, but only 6 abilities that MUST have rare symbols to activate them. Take a look at your battleboards.

At the top of the list, the Welsh and Normans rely more heavily on getting rare symbols to power more of their abilities. The factions at the bottom of the list can make use of abilities that need fewer rare symbols. With less saga dice to roll, the factions at the bottom of the list can 'make do' with less impressive results to carry out their strategies.

Some factions can get around the restrictions by use of other abilities, for example, the Anglo-Danish can use the 'Noble Lineage' ability to change a die to another symbol. I am not going to go in depth into all the factions here, merely to show that you need to examine the battleboards carefully yourself to see what the alternatives may be if you find yourself without one or more rare dice.

The size of the game you play and which force to take matters a lot. If your faction is at the top of the above list you are most likely to want to play in a 6 point game and not a 4 point game as you have the ability to take MORE units that create Saga dice. If you are at the bottom of the above list, you will suffer less for playing in a 4 point game per side. Remember that Levies do not usually generate Saga dice, so in low point games, they can reduce the number of Saga dice you may start with. Even a reduction from 6 to 5 dice has a small effect. Losing units in battle too quickly can lead to the game rolling up more quickly when your faction relies on abilities that require rare dice. The factions at the top of the list above need to work to keep their Saga dice.

To summarise, you need to be aware of the types of dice symbol that your battleboard relies on. There is little point in relying on a strategy that requires rare symbols to get you where you want to be when you have dropped below 5 saga dice. Either find a faction that works to the strengths of more common dice symbols or try to maximise the Saga dice you can use each turn.

Alternatively, take another beer and throw those men forward into the Shieldwall!

The Rare Saga Symbols - 1 in 6 chance!

Notes: Saga is a wargame from Studio Tomahawk.

About the Author: "ambler" / Mike lives in the North West of the UK. After years of RPG's and GW wargaming he now plays in a long running Amber Diceless RPG and plays Flames of War at the NWGC in Stockport. Saga is a recent addition to the games-under-the-belt collection. Check out his blog: www.not2oldtowargame.wordpress.com


Top Posts Within 30 Days

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...