Monday, November 17, 2014

The Mutatawwi'a Battleboard

One of the new factions in the "Crescent & the Cross" Saga expansion are the Mutatawwi'a.
This army of fanatics can field camels and use Martyr's in an attempt to defeat their enemies.

So, what abilities can this faction take to help them. Lets take a look....

A Mutatawwi'a Warband (copyright Gripping Beast)


Fanatics (Hearthguard) and Chosen Ones (Warriors) are activated with the normal multi-use abilities.

There are no levies in this army.

The Mutatawwi'a are a little different to other factions in that some of the abilities on their battleboard require a Martyr to power them instead of (or as well as) Saga dice. Each time you use one of these ablates you get a token in your "Martyr Pool" (this takes a slot on you battleboard to store them). These can be used later in a kind of payback scheme.

The "Allah Akbar" ability is a melee/reaction that allows you to spend Martyr tokens to get back a man to the unit engaged in combat.

The "Combat Pool" ability allows the usual Attack dice bonus but if you also spent a Martyr Token with that die you gain another Attack dice. Can be good for piling on the hits if you need the boost!

These are the once-per-turn abilities that the Muttatwwi'a can take...

"Like Djinns" - Activation - a foot unit activates for a movement. Move is L in the open or M in uneven ground. If you don't get into melee with this move the unit gets 1 fatigue.

This one is extremely useful to get an infantry unit to move at cavalry speed in the open and engage an enemy unit. Having an extended reach like this is worth a lot in Saga where getting into combat before you can be targeted by missile fire is important.

"Invoking the Name" - Activation - This one requires you to sacrifice one of your men to power it up. You then get a token for your Martyr Pool.  You then get EITHER two or three Saga dice to roll and add to your battleboard OR you can activate a unit (without it adding a Fatigue if a Fanatic was sacrificed). This is VERY useful for helping move a unit a longer distance without penalty. Example: if you combine a normal move followed with this ability then maybe using "Like Djinns" to engage an enemy, your foot unit could move 24 inches in open ground (M+M+L) into combat with just one fatigue point added for all of that movement. Even if an enemy were to use that fatigue to slow you down you could still make an 18 inch move to get into combat and that without fatigue during melee. Very nice too!

"Prayer of Vigour" - Activation - you activate a unit with a Saga dice and a Martyr and in doing so your prayers get to remove a fatigue from any friendly units within M of the 'preying' unit. It's not cheap but the ability to remove fatigues at those important times is really useful. For example, if you want to send a unit with a fatigue into battle, having it within M of another unit that uses "Prayer of Vigour" will strip the fatigue. 

"Distraction" - Activation/Reaction - This cancels any activation. In addition, if you sacrificed a Fanatic to power this one then the enemy unit also gets a fatigue.

"Paradise's Promise" - Orders - during your turn if ANY units are destroyed by shooting or melee any friendly units within M of that unit remove one fatigue. So, if you have this powered up and you destroy an enemy in combat (or are close to any unit destroyed) you lose a fatigue. As it is AFTER the resolution, that fatigue you would gain from being in a combat is effectively negated. Nice indeed. Another combat anyone?

"The Hijrah" - Orders - allows a unit within S of another to take the 'sacrificial hit' when using Martyr's. This is going to be useful if you want to get a Saga ability on a unit without that unit itself losing a model. Especially useful for your Warlord to use abilities that require a sacrifice(!)

copyright Gripping Beast.

"Fatal Blow" - Melee - You can force your opponent to re-roll 3 or 5 of his Defence Dice that succeeded.
Useful but the cost of a Saga dice and a Martyr may be off-putting. May be good for targeting an enemy Warlord....?

"Suicidal Charge" - Melee - if your unit engaged an enemy on its own then you can get extra automatic hits based on the number of hits you did. This could be half or double for sacrificing a Chosen One or a Fanatic. Again very useful but very situational as it costs two Saga dice and a Martyr to power this one up. The real big downside is that your unit does not get to roll any defence dice. The clue is in "Suicidal..."

"Allah Provides" - Melee - you gain a number of Attack, two for every model less in your unit that in the enemy unit (AFTER taking away your sacrifice for this ability). If you time this one after playing some of the other Melee abilities covered then you could be talking about a lot of dice. Note: you can never get more than twice the amount of Attack dice your unit generated at the start of the combat.

"Fight to Death" - Melee/Reaction - this allows the fight to continue at the end of a melee. Any unit that disengages takes three fatigue points. If no one disengages the fight starts back at step 1 again.
This can force an enemy to fight on rather than take the fatigue hit or allow you to finish off a unit, possibly by playing other melee based abilities.


The Mutatawwi'a are something of a finesse faction to my mind and will not be everyone's ideal first choice. You have to combine timing, movement, supporting units AND Sacrifices to get the best out of this force.

While they seem complex, you can get a lot of gallows humour out of a force that loses its troops to give the best chance of winning. Not sacrificing your army out of the game is going to mean being frugal as well as bold. It is a fine balance.

The battleboard itself is not in anyway over-charged, each ability having downsides in effects or in loss of models. Saga tends to be a very balanced game.

Enemy units had better be wary of Mutatawwi'a units that can suddenly rush forward and hit hard in combat (without any fatigue if you can manipulate your units and abilities). Keeping these guys at arms reach seems to be the key to defeating them and hitting them when they have run out of Saga dice.

Remember that they can still use one of their abilities without the need for Saga dice to get a fatigue-free activation.

An interesting faction that rewards careful positioning and timing.

copyright Gripping Beast.


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