The rules for this faction are in the "Varjazi and Basileus" expansion to the Saga wargame.
As you can see in the picture below from the Gripping Beast website, the Rus Princes make a colourful addition to your collection. Apart from being decorative they have some useful abilities too.
|A formidable Gripping Beast Rus Prince Warlord!|
In addition to the mounted Warlord you can take...
Hearthguard ("Druzhina"), which are also mounted.
Warriors ("City Militia"), which have no special rules.
Levies (Militia Archers"), who are armed with bows.
You may include a unit of Steppe Nomads in your force. See the link to our Sagatapestry.com article here.
You can also upgrade the Steppe Nomads be the Black Hoods, the Chernye Klobuki, see our Sagatapestry.com article here.
You may also upgrade a unit of up to eight Druzhina to be Malaia Druzhina, it costs a point but gives some extra benefits.
|...and the Gripping Beast Rus Militia...|
The left hand multi-use abilities are all "standard", so lets move on to the unique ones (that can be used once per turn)...
Princes of Winter - Orders/Reaction (one uncommon die) - a powerful ability that increases armour by two levels against shooting for your Warlord and all Hearthguard units. This is pretty exceptional in Saga to get such a high boost. You may want to take some Druzhina!!
Grey Wolves - Melee (one uncommon die) - if your units in this melee have no fatigue you gain 4 attack dice. A nice little combat bonus for your fresh troops.
Under the Dark Skies - Shooting (one common die) - if the enemy take one or more casualties from shooting they must make a disengagement movement (as if losing combat). This one is great to get your levies pushing the enemy away from an objective. Would be good for the Sacred Ground or Battle at the Ford scenarios to push the enemy away from objectives. Even pushing troops away from their Warlord (bodyguard?!) or the baggage in The Escort mission. Lots of uses!
The Power of Steel - Melee (one rare die) - the enemy must reduce its Attack dice down to the same number you have (if they had more). Note: you cannot gain any more Attack dice in this melee. This one can help level a difficult playing field so keep it for when you come face to face with the likes of Viking Berserkers or Scots spears!
The Power of Blood - Melee or Shooting/Reaction (one common die) - by removing one to six Saga dice from your battleboard you can make one Hearthguard per dice unkillable in melee or shooting reaction. Another useful ability that is unique to Rus Princes.
|...and the levy archers....|
Winds of Despair - Melee (two common dice) - a non-Warlord unit with less than four figures that needs to disengage from combat is instead eliminated. This one will probably be played in combination with other abilities where you will be reasonably sure that the enemy will lose the fight. Requires some skill in working out how the combat should go and what you need to do to get the result you want...
Parting Blow - Activation (one common die) - the unit gets an activation that generates no fatigue. It can move and act as if it had javelins (and shoot with them at the end of the move). Alternatively the activation can be for shooting as if the unit were armed with bows. A flexible way of moving a unit for no fatigue and the bonus of some shooting as well!
Hardened - Orders (one uncommon or rare die) - this ability allows you to make better use out of any Combat Pool dice this turn. You will get an Attack Dice and a Defence dice for each uncommon Combat Pool dice, and double that if you discard a rare dice from the combat pool. This REALLY boosts your Combat Pool ready for some action...
The Long Dark - Orders (two rare dice) - As long as you haven't used any other Orders ability this turn you can play this one. You then discard ALL your Saga dice. In return you can activate ALL your Rus units for free (no dice). You may not REST your units. This means when they are exhausted you will effectively dead in the water, so use wisely. You also generate two extra Attack dice in any melee this turn (!). At the end of the turn, your units each take one fatigue. The payoff could be units that take a long time to shed fatigue. so be careful when you use this one! Save it for a rainy day!
Bodyguard - Melee (one uncommon dice) - This one gives your Warlord's bodyguard a save against death when using the Resilience rule. Each use means you roll a dice. If you get under the bodyguards armour he survives and also gets to cancel the hit on the Warlord. Neat!
Note: only the Warlord and the Druzhina may use the Grey Wolves, The Power of Steel and Parting Blow abilities.
I have yet to play this force but looking at their abilities they should be able to give the Byzantines a good run for their money! Lots of Attack dice and combat oriented abilities here! Give them a try... if you dare!