This is one of my favourites so far as it allows for a lot of "cavalry action". Always good to see something that should be able to counter the Normans "like for like"!
Lets take an overview of the Spanish Faction (as its not out yet I can't go into too much detail).
You have a Warlord, mounted of course, plus a Hearthguard of Knights called Caballeros, again mounted.
Then you can have Jinetes (mounted Warriors with Javelins) or foot Warriors.
Levies can have bows or javelins, but one unit may have crossbows (there is an extra Fatigue encumbrance for levies using them).
Very usefully, there is a faction summary chart on page 91 of the new book that gives the Armour (mounted and foot) as well as possible armaments for every type of unit.
There are two special Heroes that can taken at the cost of one point...
"Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Campeador, better known as "El Cid" (Charlton Heston to me!) and "Count García Ordóñez", another Hero of this age.
Both have useful abilities that typify their Castilian Noble status and experience. I won't go into their details here, suffice it to say BOTH are pretty tasty for those who love combat!
Now we come to the battleboards. I won't discuss specific activation dice required, just the abilities...
When it comes to multi-use abilities, there are the standard "Activation Pool" and " Combat Pool".
Then there is a difference. There is an activation box for "Caballeros and Jinetes" (mounted activation) and one for "Peones" (foot troop activation). The usual ones for Warlord/Hearthguard, Warriors and Levy have gone from this faction.
The last of these multi-use abilities is called "Iberia". This is an activation/reaction that allows you to activate one of your mounted units for a movement.
Abilities that can be used only once are...
"Opportunity Shot" - Activation/Reaction - if an enemy unit ends its movement within M of one of your missile equipped units but does not engage in melee then your unit gets to resolve a shooting.
"Stunned" - Activation/Reaction -cancels the activation (for movement or shooting) of a unit with one or fatigue. Additionally, the affected unit cannot be activated again this turn(!)
"Exhausting fight" - Melee or Shooting/Reaction -during this activation, ANY unit that rolls more than 6 Attack dice takes one extra fatigue at the end of the activation and may NOT be activated again this turn.
"Desperate Tactics" - Melee/Reaction -each enemy unit engaged in this fight takes an extra Fatigue (at step 0) but in return gets two more Attack Dice. Note: This one seems odd, but remember that fatigue can be used to alter Armour(!) Also, don't forget that this could be a precursor to using "Exhausting fight"....
"Burning Sun"- Shooting -if the target unit loses one model in this shooting it may not be activated until the end of the current turn.
"Light horses" - Activation - a mounted unit with javelins can shoot an enemy unit in range, move, then shoot a different unit, in range. If this isn't useful enough, the target units get -1 Armour(!)
"Spanish Perfidy" -Melee/Reaction -if all enemy units in the fight have at least one fatigue and none of your units does, the enemy only generate HALF their base Attack Dice. Note: I can see "El Cid" being useful here... (amongst his other abilities if El Cid engages an enemy in combat he can give them one of his fatigues and if this happens one friendly unit in M of him can discard one fatigue as well!)
"Battle Chaos" - Orders/Reaction -choose a Warband, redistribute its fatigue counters (with no more than two any any unit, excess are discarded in the unlikely event there are far more fatigue than units(!) Note: this sounds really simple, but ANY warband, and at the Spanish players discretion... wow... now you have the successor ability to "Spanish Perfidy"! You might also like to try to use "Stunned" after this one too...
"Reconquista" - Orders/Reaction -for any one opponent (once they have placed more than 5 Saga dice) for each dice above 5 placed on the battleboard, one of his non-Warlord units cannot be activated this turn. Ouch!
"Broken Command"- Orders/Reaction -an opponent must discard from their battleboard as many Saga dice as their Warlord generated at the start of the turn. Note: another big ouch in the pants for the other guy!
The Spanish appear to be a faction intended for the more experienced player; someone who likes to counter the moves of the enemy during their enemies turn and turn opportunities for combat in their favour while the other guy is planning or moving. In some ways this is a bit "Frankish" but I think this force is a lot more honed toward battle, with plenty of combat adjusting abilities and movement reaction. Like a Spanish orange, I hope they turn out to be every bit as juicy as they promise!
--Note: the rules, battleboards and images are all copyright Gripping Beast/Studio Tomahawk