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"Pig Wars vs Saga" Topic


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14 Jan 2017 6:50 p.m. PST
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Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2012 3:28 p.m. PST

I play Pig Wars a lot--does SAGA have a fairly different flavor or mechanics or scale?


Don Manser26 Feb 2012 3:32 p.m. PST

Similar flavor. More variability in SAGA. Numerous command/reaction combinations.


BCantwell26 Feb 2012 4:27 p.m. PST

I've played both and will say that the scale on each game feels about he same to me.

The flavor of Saga is definitely more 'heroic' and less purely historical. Saga tries to make the different factions in the game have very different play styles and the use of the nation specific abilities on the boards really brings that to the forefront. Differences in Pig Wars are much less. That is almost certainly a much more historical effect, as an anglo-saxon shield wall was not fundementally different from a viking shield wall… or a late imperial roman shield wall, etc. For my own Pig Wars games, I had introduced a number of elements of the heroic sagas anyway, so playing Saga was an easy step for me.

Mechanistically, the two games are very different.

Pig Wars has a bit of a random turn sequence in that units move on a card draw (IIRC), but everyone will move each turn and movement is by fixed amounts, so there is not a lot of surprises in the move sequence. Saga uses special dice (although separate pool of regular dice can easily be used) to regulate movement and access to abilities and units can receive multiple activations in a turn, so there is considerable variability in movement that you have to allow for. Saga plays more in bounds, with it being very uncommon for all of the units on a side to move on a given turn.

Saga units are homogenous in terms of troop quality and weaponry and can be between 4-12 men. Pig Wars unit represent a heterogeneous mix of troop quality and weaponry. In combat, each individual Pig Wars trooper's quality and weapons must be tallied to determine the outcome.

In terms of combat mechanics, Pig Wars is much more "weapon-centric" than Saga. The type of weapon being used adds a modifier to combat and so for instance the change in effectiveness of going from a bondi wielding a spear to a bondi wielding a sword is the same as the change from a spear wielding bondi to a spear wielding huscarl. Saga on the other hand is more "warrior-centric", with a huscarl being twice as effective as a bondi. The individual troops weapons are not importantnless it's one of a few special weapons (dane axes, etc) and in that case all models in the unit have that weapon. Pig wars uses a card based method, comparing the modified results of a draw from a standard card deck and with the victory margin required for success determined by armor. The max result tops out at 13 (a King), even with modifiers, so heavily armored units, especially in shield wall, will exchange blows for many turns before the required combination of high and low cards pops up. Probably realistic, but not always the most entertaining situation. Saga uses a bucket of dice approach, with a roll against the opponents armor followed by a save which will reflect cover. The abilities available on the battle boards can affect the number of dice thrown for either test, offer re-rolls, and other potentially decisive effects. In contrast to Pig Wars, combat is Saga is quite deadly, with models dropping pretty readily. The losing unit must withdraw following each round of combat, so there is no prolonged push of shields.

Morale in Pig Wars is a pretty standard test based on casualties. Failure means withdrawal or rout. As written, the morale failures seldom seem to affect the game much (our modified Pig Wars had more morale tests). Saga does not have any form of unit morale – individual units fight until eliminated. There is a system of fatigue that works very nicely though. The overall cohesion of your force is represented by the Saga dice. The number of these you get is based on the number of units you have, so as the fight progresses, each side's Saga dice slowly diminish.

I have been enjoying the more dynamic nature of the Saga games I've played. You have to stay on your toes as an opening left in the lines can present one side with a chance to push a unit through before you can seal the gap. I also like that the professional soldiers really stand out from the levies and part-timers out there. i think that if you wanted to do a more "historical" version, you could probably do that easily by simply homgenizing the battleboards a little more…

BCantwell26 Feb 2012 4:29 p.m. PST

Sorry to the OP for the explanation of the rules to Pig Wars that he obviously already knows. I thought the comparison would be more useful to others if I explained the PW mechanisms a little

Personal logo Stosstruppen Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2012 4:43 p.m. PST

I for one appreciate the explanations!

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2012 4:53 p.m. PST

Thanks, BCantwell, that was really helpful.

Grelber26 Feb 2012 6:01 p.m. PST

As BCantwell said, in Saga, casualties seem to drop dead, while in PigWars, part of a unit may retreat while other figures rout or stand and fight. PigWars allows you to develop what the RPG folks call non-player characters; in Saga, the only real character is your warlord.

I guess I'm still undecided about Saga: right nowI'm thinking it does some things better than PigWars, while PigWars does other things better, and would be more appropriate for some games.


LeadLair7626 Feb 2012 6:43 p.m. PST

BCantwell, thanks for the comparison it was very informative and interesting to read.

BCantwell26 Feb 2012 7:56 p.m. PST


Your assessment is right on. Either can be adapted easily enough to be more heroics/more historical with a few pretty easy tweaks.

I think you could easily use Saga to develop your non-warlord models in a campaign type environment. There is nothing that says the models removed from play are truly dead… you could easily have the loss of a model represent a whole host of possible outcomes: dead, wounded, knocked silly, ran away, etc. All are equivalent for the current affair – Sven is combat ineffective.

Right now Saga has my attention because I really like games with some uncertainty and friction in the command arrangements. It is also a game that I can easily play as a pick up game at the FLGS (about the only gaming I can pull off right now) but could also easily be a multiplayer scenario game. When I get a few more models painted I'm eager to try replaying some of the scenarios we did for Pig Wars ( link )using Saga and comparing the results.

Pan Marek26 Feb 2012 9:15 p.m. PST

I've played Saga and enjoyed it, it strikes me as a more complex form of chess. As of yet, I don't have a handle on how one develops scenarios any more involved than "capture enemys'flag"/defend flag. Maybe this is a way of saying its interesting, but "gamey"? Once someone figures out how to steal stuff in Saga, then we're getting somewhere.

Samulus27 Feb 2012 9:20 a.m. PST

Interesting comparison. I think I come down on Saga's side, I like the fact that they seem to be trying to differentiate what might otherwise be very similar forces.

teenage visigoth27 Feb 2012 12:01 p.m. PST

I've read SAGA and played PW extensively.
PW rocks for pick-up and 'lighter' Con games.
I look forward to comparing SAGA on those criteria.

Mick A27 Feb 2012 12:55 p.m. PST

Who makes Pig Wars?


ttauri28 Feb 2012 9:50 a.m. PST

Thanks to BCantwell. Might start looking for Pig Wars.

Major Mishap02 Mar 2012 8:53 a.m. PST

You do not need any morale rules in Saga as morale effects are already built into the system. For example each unit on the table generates a Saga dice that is used for unit activation and special abilities. So instead of fighting down to the last man, you will volentarily retreat him out of harms way to keep his Saga dice generation. Also fights are worked out between units rather than individual models, so again you won't be rushing your last man in as it will achieve almost nothing and if the unit is wiped out, it will add a Fatigue to nearby units.

Terrement18 Mar 2012 6:14 p.m. PST


For my own Pig Wars games, I had introduced a number of elements of the heroic sagas anyway, so playing Saga was an easy step for me.

Do you have these collected / written up? I'd love to add them to my gaming if available.



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