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VAAJ~ ec B~Leus

A Sagc\ : SKiRmishes in the Oc\RK Ages supp{emeoc

Factions designed by : Ale x Buchel Written by: Ale x Buchel and Andy " Lord S" Sherwell Layout, cover and graphic design: Fred Machu Pictures: Wyn Rogers

Figures painted by: Darren Harding, Wyn Rogers, Mystic Spirals, Adey Burt Matt Bazley, Fred Machu and Artmaster Studios. Scenery by: Wyn Rogers, Gripping Beast and Grand Manner

Thanks to Mike Hobbs and the lnner Sanctum for their help and play testing sessions.

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Va rjaz i & Basileus is published by Gripping Beast under license from Studio Tomahawk SARL, 11 Nouvelle Cité, 67380 Lingolsheim. Saga, Skirmishes in the Dark Ages, Northern Fury, The Raven's Shadow and Varjazi & Basileus are © by Al ex Buchel and Studio Tomahawk. ISBN : 978-2-9538053-5-2 No part of this publication m ay be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or any means without the prior written permission of the publisher. Printed in April2013 by l'lmprimerie Gantier (59582 MARLY) © Studio Tomahawk 2013


Faction : The Pagan Rus

Faction: The Rus Princes Faction: The Byzantines Swords For Hire: The Steppe Nomads

Pages 3 to 6 Pages 7 to 10 Pages 11 to 14

Page 15

Lhe p(\gc\11 Rus

The Rus l<ingdom emerged i n the m id -9th century, car v ed out b y Norse traders and adventurers w ho had established settlements along the main river routes and waterways into what is now northern modern Russia.

The Rus ruled over the native Slavs and Finno-Ugarian subjects,

mix ing their mythology, traditions and culture wi th their o w n.

Russian chronicles na me their first l<ing as Ruril< w ho replaced the

Khazars as Lord of Kiev and founded a d yn ast y Russia until the later Middle Ages.

that would rule

Your Warlord is an important noble likely to be a Norseman. He


be a local lord or even a warlike Khagan (a title derived from


Khazars ).


was the tradition in the Norse culture, the lords and leaders

maintained a band of loyal followers and bodyguards. They were likely to be of pu re Scandivanian blood and were either called Varjazi (Varangians) or Druzhina. They fought on foot, in tight shieldwall formations. These Varjazi form the Hearthguards at your disposal.

Most troops fighting for the Rus warlords were Slavs or other natives. Armed with spear and shield, these troops usually made up the militia defending Novgorod, Kiev or any other major trade city. They are your Warriors.

The bow was not a favoured weapon of the early Rus, and was restricted to hunting during

this period. From time to time, sorne scouts armed with javelins would join a warband and be despatched in front of the battle line. These javelinmen form the Levy that your Warlord might muster.


Pagan Rus Warlords, Hearthguards and Warriors are not subject

to an y special rule.

Pagan Rus Levies are armed with javelins.

Unless otherwise specified, Pagan Rus may not include Swords for Hire units.


Sviatoslav 1of Kiev, Prince of Rus, Conqueror of the Khazars

Sviatoslav was born in the mid-9th century and was the son of lgor, Prince of Kiev. As soon as he succeeded to the throne, he lool<ed east and south to expand the lands he had inherited from his father. lnfluenced by Byzantine emissaries, his attention turned to the Khazar Khaganate in the Valga valley and the Pontic steppes. In 965 AD Sviatoslav launched a lightening campaign and he overthrew the rulers of Sarl<el and Kerch, two of the majar cities of the Khazars, befo re destroying and burning the Khazar capital of Atil. In one year, Sviatoslav had fragmented a nation that ruled

the steppes for four centuries.

After the Khazar, the Prince of Kiev turned to the west with the subjugation of Bulgaria as his objective. This threw the Rus in direct confrontation with the Byzantines. The campaign in the Ball<ans was not nearly as successful as the one in the steppes, and in 969 Sviatoslav had was forced to negotiate with the Emperor and retire from Eastern Europe. On his way home, Pechenegs, most lil<ely in the pay of the Byzantines who feared this ambitious Prince, ambushed him . lt is said that his sl<ull made a drinl<ing chalice for the Pecheneg Khan.

Almost nothing /as t ed from his conquests, as he never took time to consolidate them. His sons waged war against each other, shattering what was the largest kingdom in Europe in the 10th


Hero of the Viking Age: Unlike other Heroes of the Viking Age, Sviatoslav the Prince of Kiev only generates two Saga Dice at the start of each of his turn.

Pagan:Although his motherconverted to Christianity, Sviatoslav remained Pagan, fearing that conversion might soften him and lose the respect of his Varjazis. His determination to maintain his reputation had no equal. During any melee fought within M of Sviatoslav, any unit in his warband that doesn't score at least one hit during step 4 takes one extra FATIGUE during step 7.

Sviatoslav, any unit in his

During any me lee fo u ght within M[ of

warband that scores at least four hits during step 4 discards all

FATIGUE at the end of step 7·

Steppe mercenaries: During his campaigns, Sviatoslav made great use of Oghuz and Pecheneg mercenaries. Hence, any warband led by him m ay include any number of Steppe Nomads Swords for Hire, as long as the number of these units does not exceed the number of Varjazis units deployed on the table.

Conqueror: The Prince of Kiev was always on the move, never giving any respite to his enemies. At the start of his turn, the player controlling Sviatoslav m ay decide that his Warlord won't generate any Saga dice. lf he chooses to do so, at the start of an opposing player's next turn, he may designate up to two units in that player's warband. These units will not generate Saga Dice 2t the start of this turn.

Below yo u will find a description of the various abilit ies available to the Pagan Rus player on their Battleboard. We will not deal with the first column of abilities as they are similar to those used throughout Saga: the first three are intended to actívate the different classes of models of an Rus warband, while the last two being the usual Activation Pool and the Combat Pool.

For the Khagan!

Used during step 3 of any melee

This ability will be especially useful with your Varjazis or Warlord, or against an enemy with FATIGUE. When these dice are spent, you compare the Armour value of your target unit with the Armour value of each enemy unit involved in this Melee. lf your unit's Armour is superior to the Armour of all the enemy units, then your unit gains 3 Attack Dice (5 if the relevant dice was spent). With a good cost versus effectiveness ratio, this ability will see frequent use.

The Great Winter

Used during your Orders Phase

Some play-testers felt that this ability actually characterizes

centra l to their tactics. This

ability simply limits the movement and shooting range of all units on the board to §. Note that this does not constitute a reduction of movement or shooting distance, as but rather that it is rather a limitation imposed upon these distances. This has sorne importance when interacting with other abilities, such as the Welsh Children of the Land ability. This al so means that a unit moving in rough terrain would still move at S, as this movement does not exceed the limitation created by The Great Winter. On the other hand, The Great Winter would de facto make any ability that would increase the movement of a troop useless.

the Rus and so the ability was

Obviously, warbands that rely on shooting and/or mounted troops will hate this ability!

Standing like Bears

Used during step 3 of any melee

Standing like Bears is a good and cheap defensive ability that will prevent those using it from causing much damage, but should dramatically the number of hits they will take. When using it, you have the choice of either discarding 3 Attack Dice to increase your Armour value by one or to discard 8 Attack Dice to increase your Armour by two. Of course you can only discard dice yo u actually have!

This ability, combined with For the Khagan! or Bitting like Wolves can turn the tide of most melees.

Biting like Wolves

Used during step 3) of any Melee

This ability has two distinctive effects. Both are resolved at the end of the step 4 of the Melee.

units engaged in this Me lee have at least one

FATIGUE, then your unit adds three extra hits to the hits scored .

Secondly, if your unit did not suffer any hits during this step, it adds a number of extra hits equal to its current Armour.

In both cases, the extra hits may be targeted against any enemy unit involved in the Melee. And yes, it is possible to focus all these hits on a single enemy unit, a Warlo rd for example. Bites from Russian wolves are deadly indeed

First, if all enemy


Used during an ene my Act ivation Phase

Frozen is a very useful ability against warbands that would make use of mu ltiple activations per turn. lt is used once an activation (that must be the second or subsequent activation of the target unit) is declared but before it is resolved. lt cancels the activation and the target unit cannot be activated aga in this turn.

Usually, yo u will not get to

use Frozen, as the simple fact that it

is ready to use will prevent your opponent planning more than a single activation for each of his units.

Cold winds

Used during step 2 of an enemy shooting

This ability will turn shooting against the shooter. lt is use d during step 2 but its eff ects will be enforced during step 3· For each die that rolls a 6 (that is, before any modifier is applied)

the shooti ng unit takes a FATIGU E. lf the relevant die is used to


for this ability, the ss rolled al so produce this effect. Nasty.

Fear of the Dark

Used during your activation phase

This one is a terrible ability that will dictate the deployment and movements of enemy units. When used, you must designate


enemy unit that is more than Ml away from any unit (friends


foes). You simply give the target unit enough FATIGUES to

make it immediately exhausted. Soon, you will see the enemy deploy shoulder to shoulder, like a flock of sheep cornered by wolves.

Endless Wastes

Used during your Activation Phase

Another deadly ability if it is used with the right timing. Once used, it affects al! units on the table, including your own. All units, except Warlords, must immediately eliminate one model for each FATIGUE it has.

Combined with Fear of the Dark, the result on a Hearthguard enemy unit can be devastating!

Eastern Anger

Used during your Activation Phase

You will not use Eastern Anger too often, but when used properly, the results can be devastating. When the dice are spent, you immediately resolve

a Shooting against each unit within Ml of your

Warlord, including your own! Please note that despite being used during the Activation Phase, this does not constitute an activation and may not be cancelled by any game effect that cancels an activation.

Yo u resolve each of these Shootings one ata time, in any order you want. During these Shootings you generate 6 Attack Dice, but there is no shooting unit (your Warlord just indicates the epi centre of this madness, he is not the shooter), so any ability that requires a shooting unit or that affects it Shooting has no effect.

Also, as your Warlord is within Ml of himself, he will be affected too!

Barren Lands

Used either during your Orders Phase or during an enemy

Orders Phase

Barren Lands is a very focussed ability that targets mounted troops. Once used, it reduces by one the Armour values of all

mounted troops against shooting and in melee for the whole turn. Quite simple, but this will probably make the Byzantines, Normans or Strathclyde Welsh think twice befare invading the

lands of the Rus


Ragnar speaks

Russia is a terrible country. 1t is cold, colder that our North, populated with harsh people in an inhospitable landscape. This is exactly what you will feel when facing the Pagan Rus. Your movement will be limited, any mistake will be paid for dearly and once you finaffy manage to catch them, they've got more than a one trick to use.

Some of their abilities combine reaffy weff, and they are usuaffy a quite a defensive warband, ready to exploit any of your weakness. The Great Winter wiff be used almost every turn, especiaffy if their enemy fields any mounted units, and they wiff make great efforts to split his an enemy warband, making it possible to exploit their foe's Fear of the Dark.

The other abifities focus on defending and counter· attacking. There are many combinations to explore, but Standing like Bears with For the Khagan! is an obvious and very effective one.

1 might add that javelinmen, despite being brittle, are quite useful in a Pagan Rus warband, as the reduction of shooting range has less impact on javelins than on bows. 1 hate writing that but overlooking these pet slaves would be a mistake.

Lhe Rus J)Rinces

In 988AD, Prince Vladimir the Great of Novgorod and Kiev converted to Christianity. Although his conversion was to ensure his marriage to a Byzantium princess, this once proud and rampant Pagan embraced his new Christianity. He ruthlessly tore down his kingdom's Pagan idols and sites of worship and built many churches. Mass conversion of the Kievan Rus unsurprisingly followed.

V/adimir and his family fought many campaigns against Byzantium, Croats, Pechenegs as we/1 as his fellow Rus as he sought to make Kiev the pre-eminent city of the regían.

During this period, mounted followers of the Princes rep/aced the Varjazis as the nucleus of Rus armies . Foot militias supported the mounted elite, fighting in shieldwal/s or armed with bows. Mounted archers, drawn from the ranks of the steppe nomads, were a frequent sight in these armies, and were used even against their fellows.

Your Warlord is a Prince of a Russian city ora Voevodo (mi litary commander). He holds great power and maintains his own bodyguard of Druzhinas.

The Druzhinas formed the professional soldiers that made up the core of the standing armies of the Rus Princes. Druzhina means "fe llowship" and its members are Drugs (comrades) who shared an oath and were death-bound to their lord. With the flo w of Scandinavian immigrants drying up and the mixing of Norse and Russian blood, Druzhina are mainly of Slavic origin, though foreigners could join them from time to time. These Druzhinas are the Hearthguards of your warband.

Urban Militias were by far the most numerous component of the Rus armies in our period. They had their own commanders.

Their equipment and training largely depended on the wealth of their city. Larger towns could provide reliable equipment to their mustered troops while poor or insignificant ones would have to improvise with the available material. Tribal levies could join the urban militias, and these tribal Voi were known as Smerds, meaning peasants. Their motivation and loyalty was not above question, obviously.

The militias fighting with spears and shields form the Warriors of your warband, while the ones that are equipped with bows are your Levies.


Sorne Rus units may be fielded mounted. Mounted units are subject to the following special rules:

- The Movement of mounted units is increased to L but reduced to § when moving from, through, or into uneven ground.

- Mounted units may never enter a building but they can engage in melee any unit occupying a building in the normal manner.

- The Armour of mounted units is reduced by one when they are the target of a Shooting attack.

- Mounted units may never benefit from any kind of cover, in melee or shooting.

Apart from the restrictions mentioned above, mounted units behave like ordinary units. lf a unit starts the game mounted, it must remain mounted for the whole game and may never dismount.

Rus Warlords and Hearthguards are mounted.

Rus Warriors are not subject to any special rules.


Unless otherwise

may include only Steppe Nomad Swords for Hire units.

Levies are armed wit h bows.

specified, Rus warban ds


The Malaia Druzhina, lron Fist of the Rus Princes

The Druzhina were divided into two classes: the Grid (Junior) Druzhinas and the Malaia Druzhinas. The Malaia were veterans of war, hardened by their conflict with the steppe nomads, the Byzantines or rival cities. They were the best- equipped troops at the disposa/ of a Prince, and would follow

him un ti/ death, through

years of success, i/1 fortune or failure.

Thunders of the Viking Age: You may upgrade a single unit of your Druzhina Hearthguards to Malaia Druzhina. This unit cannot exceed 8 models and this upgrade wi/1 cost you one point.

Veterans: A unit of Ma/aia Druzhina generates two Saga Dice at the start of each turn, rather than one like any other unit. They are mounted, and equipped with bows. Due to their superior training and experience, neither their mounted status nor bows reduce their armour in any way. They ha vean Armour of 5 against

shooting and in melee, lil<e foot

Hearthguards .

lron Fist: The Malaia Druzhina unit benefits from the Warlord Determination, as described page 37 of the Saga rulebook. lt also cancels the first hit suffered during each shooting or melee, in the same way as the Warlord Resilence rule (see Saga page 37).

When the last model of the Malaia Druzhina is removed as a casua/ty, al/ other units in their warband immediately take one FATIGUE, in addition to any FATIGUE caused by the fact that the unit was removed from the tab/e (e.g. if it was eliminated in melee).

The Chernye Klobuki, The Black Hoods

The Chernye K/obuki (also spelled Chrrni Klobuki) were semi- nomadic Turkish tribesmen of the Ros river basin who fought as mercenaries for the Rus Princes during the 11th and 12th century.

They were established south of Kiev in the north of the territories of the Kipchaks. The tri be was made original/y of immigrants that

had fled their homeland when rival

characteristic feature was a black hood from which they derived their na me. They were much wealthier than other tribes, hence better equipped, and were highly va/ued as auxilia ríes.

steppe tri bes invaded. Their

Thunders of the Viking Age: lf your warband includes a unit of

Steppe Nomads, you may upgrade this unit to Chernye Klobuki for an ex tra one point.

Black Hoods: The Black Hoods are subject to the rules of the




the following


and additional


- They count as Warriors rather than Levies.

- They generate one Saga Die at the start of each turn.

- They have an Armour of 4, reduced to 3 against shooting (as usual for mounted units).

- They are considered as Druzhina for the sake of using Rus Saga abilities.

- They generate one Attack Die per mode/ in melee.


Below yo u wi/1 find a description of the various abilities available to the Pagan Rus player on their battleboard. We wi/1 not dea/ with the first column of abilities as they are similar to those used throughout Saga: the first three are intended to actívate the different classes of models of an Rus warband, while the last two being the usual Activation Pool and the Combat Pool.

t lf this symbol appears in the ability description bo x, it indicates that it only Dru zhina and the Warlord may use it.

Princes of Winter

Used during an opponent's Orders Phase


is their weakness against shooting. Princes of Winter offers a

cheap way of protecting your Druzhina, and to a lesser extent

yo ur Warlord,

until the end of yo ur opponent's turn, your unit 's Armour

against shooting is increased by t wo, to a ma x imum of

This simply means that they wi ll have an Armour of 6, leaving them free to outmanoeuvre the enemy without getting too anxious about those nasty shooters.

is w ell known that the main dra wback of mounted models

against ranged attacks. When this ability is used,


Grey Wolves

Used during your Orders Phase

Grey Wolves is a good and effective ability. lt will usually work quite differently if your unit is attacking or if it is attacked. Simply said, if none of the un its engaged in this melee has any FATIGUE markers, then it wi ll give you 4 extra Attack Dice.



lf your unit has FATIGUE, your opponent will have to make a difficult decision; either take off your FATIGUE to gain its benefits but giving you 4 extra Attack Dice, or leave you with the FATIGUE. In both cases, the Rus are winners!

Under the Dark Skies

Used during step 2 of a Shooting

This ability is meant to disrupt an enemy's plans. Used during your Shooting, it will force the enemy to make a disengagement movement if the target unit suffers at least one casualty. This movement is made with the same constraints as a

disengagement movement in Melee (see Saga page 27) except that if it cannot be performed, the shooting unit does not have to disengage instead.

Useful to push back a vindictive enemy, orto push out of the way some unit left near their Warlord to actas meat for a his Resilience.

The Power of Steel

Used during step 3) of any Melee

The Power of Steel will punish those players who enjoy piling up loads of Saga abilities and have in their hands a shedload of Attack Dice. Simply said, it reduces the number of Attack Dice the enemy has to the number of Attack Dice your own unit has. lt prevents your unit gaining new Attack Dice during this Melee, but depriving an enemy his Attack Dice advantage is invaluable.

The Power of Blood

Used either during step 3 of a melee or during step

2 of an enemy' s shooting.

The Power of Blood is a unique Saga ability that can change the way a Melee or Shooting is done. lt may only be used by Hearthguards, fortunately. During the relevant step of the Shooting or the Melee, when this ability is used, you must also discard between one and six Saga Dice from your Battleboard. These dice m ay come from any ability but the die discarded for paying for the Power of Blood does not count toward that number.

For each die discarded in this way, you may designate one Hearthguard figure. This figure cannot be killed during this Melee or Shooting. "Cannot" is here an absolute: nothing can override that effect. This effect also affects you in that you may not choose as casualties any models that cannot be killed as a result of this ability. So, if your unit is made of 6 models and you discarded four dice, the casualties suffered must first be selected from the two models that may be killed before moving to the "immortal" ones that will simply cancel the casualties.

Of course, discarding 6 dice for a unit made of 6 models means that your unit will not take any casualties during this melee or shooting. Your opponent may still roll his Attack Dice if he likes the sound of the cubes on the table or if any other game effects depend on the number of hits scored.

Also, note that models that cannot be killed cannot be sacrificed to save a Warlord making use of his Resilience special rule. This cost the life of at least one proud Russian Warlord during the playtest, so be careful!

Winds of Despair

Used du ring st ep 3 of a mel ee

Winds of Despair require that your unit wins this Melee

and forces the enemy to disengage to ha ve any effect. lt is

al so useless on units of more than 3 models or against

a Warlord. But any other unit of 3 or less models is

simply eliminated instead of disengaging. lt might not be very useful in the early turns, but can dramatically

change the ti de of the game in

the final stages .

Parting Blow

Used during your activatio n


A useful ability restricted to your Druzhina or your Warlord that

will surprise an opponent or soften his unit before engaging melee. When used, it leaves you the choice of activating your

unit for a Movement or for a Shooting. lf activated to move,

it will shoot as if equipped with javelins at the end of this

Movement (and that Movement may not be used to engage melee). lf activated to shoot it will be considered as equipped with bows for this Shooting.

In both cases this activation will not generate any FATIGUE, making it useful after your unit has manoeuvred around the enemy.


Used during your Orders phase

Hardened is a very good ability that will dictate the way your Saga Dice are used during this turn. When used, it will boost all Saga Dice spent from the Combat Pool that display either a horse ora helmet. Both will grant you with an ex tra Attack and an extra Defence Die. So with Hardened triggered, any horse discarded for the Combat pool will give you two Attack Dice and a Defence Dice or one Attack Dice and two Defence Dice. Note that if used during an enemy's Shooting, gaining Attack Dice is rather useless!

And if yo u use a helmet to pay for this ability, each time yo u use

a horse or helmet Saga Die in the combat pool yo u will gain two extra Attack Dice and two extra Defence Dice!

The Long Dark

Used during your Or ders phase

The Long Dark is an ability really different to the ones Saga players are used to dealing with. lt is used during your Orders phase, and only if you have not used an Orders ability previously. When used, yo u must immediately discard all Saga Dice from your Battleboard, which is a high price to pay. But during the forthcoming Activation Phase, all your Rus units will get any number of activations for free (but won't be able to Rest however) and generate two extra Attack Dice in Melee. At the end of the turn, each of your units receives one FATIGUE that comes in addition to the FATIGUES gained during the turn.


Used either during step 3 of a melee

This ability makes the coupling of Warlord and Druzhina extremely effective. lt is used during the step 3 of a Melee involving your Warlord. Until the end of this Melee, any time your Warlord takes off a nearby friendly model to avoid being killed, you roll one die. lf you roll less than the Armour (in melee) of the sacrificed figure, it is not eliminated but the original hit remains cancelled. So used in conjunction with Druzhina, hits absorbed with Resilience will be cancelled

on roll of 4 or less. Of course, if the model to be sacrificed is

himself engaged in the me lee, the Armour val ue to consider is

its current value, that may have been modified by Saga abilities


Ragnar speaks








Christianity has softened in any way our Rus. They emerged from their conversion tougher than ever, and





The warband is radical/y different





relying on mobility and shooting to sea/ dominance on their enemies. By studying the

Battleboard you wi/1 have noticed that quite a lot of abilities make them hard nuts to crack Between Prince of Winter that almost make their elite almost

invulnerable to shooting, the Power of Blood which prevents you from killing them and Bodyguard that ensures that the Druzhina wi/1 suffer loads of punishment for their Warlord, you should be ready

to fight a long struggle against them. As a Rus, you should ensure that your opponent pays the high price

for any melee he engages. Using the aforementioned abilities should ensure that he wi/1 suffer the attrition much more than you do. Then, when weakened it wi/1 be time to let The Long Dark fa// and deliver the killing

blow. At least, that is the plan. And Rus have plenty tricks in their pockets to ensure that everything wi/1 work according to the plan.

Lhe ByMIDtines

The Byzantine Empire came into being when the Roman Empire was split into two parts by Diocletian in 285. Following this great leaders like Constantine and Justinian enabled the Empire to grow and become powerful. However, like a/1 Empires it also went through many upheavals and reversals of fortune until eventually it fe/1


For over 1000 years the Byzantines fought off many enemies, including the Slavs, the Bulgars, the Rus and notably the armies of Islam from the East. The 4th Crusader army first breached the Harbour walls in 1204 but it was the Turks who finally tare down the great walls and invaded the great city. Militarily the Byzantines adopted the thematic system to protect their territories, dividing the Empire into fortified provinces, the themes. Each theme was militarily and administratively independent and supplemented when needed by the central field army, the tagmata, based around Constantinople, the cultural and economic centre of the Empire.

The commander of a Theme was a Strategos, assisted in his duty by various ranks of officers, from the Comites to the Drungarios. lt is likely that your Warlord is such an officer with a long service in the Byzantine army.

The cavalry was the most prestigious arm of the Byzantine army. Their deployment and tactics were strictly organised and their equipment provided by the central authority. lt consisted of a kontarion (a long spear about 10 feet long) ora bow, a sword, a shield, and a lamellar body protection. These Kavallaroi are the Hearthguards of your warband.

The bulk of the Byzantine army was made of professional soldiers, fully equipped and well trained. They fought on foot, either with spears and large shields- Kontaratoi; oras archers- Toxotai. These are the Warriors of your Byzantine force.

lt was a common practice to have sorne skirmishers ahead of the

infantry formations. They were more often than not irregulars, subjects of the Byzantines. These are the Levies of your warband.


Many Byzantine units may be fielded mounted. Mounted units are subject to the following special rules:

- The Movement of a mounted unit is increased to JL but reduced to § when moving from, through, or into an uneven ground.


- Mounted units may never enter a building, but they

engage in melee any units occupying a building in the

normal manner.

- The Armour of mounted unit is reduced by one when they are the target of a Shooting attack.

- Mounted units may never benefit from any kind of cover, in melee or shooting.

Apart from the restrictions mentioned above, mounted units behave like ordinary units. lf a unit starts the game mounted, it must remain mounted for the whole game and may never dismount.

Byzantine Warlords and Hearthguards are mounted. Hearthguards may be equipped with bows, but due to their small shields and light body armour, their Armour in melee is reduced to 4·

Byzantine Warriors may have bows or spears. Given their lack of protection, bow-armed Warriors ha ve an Armour value of 3· Spear-armed Warriors are not subject to any special rules.

Byzantine Levies have javelins.

Byzantine warbands may never recruit Swords for Hire.


The Warlord below may lead any Byzantine warband. Unlike the usual Warlord, the Basileus costs 1pt, like the Heroes of the Viking Age. lf a scenario needs to determine how many victory points the Basileus is worth, it is considered as a Warlord that is worth one extra victory point.

The Basileus

The Basileus was the Byzantine Emperor. This name replaced the Roman title of Augustus in 629, and was used from Justinian 11 onward. The Emperor wears the colour purple that clearly demonstrates his status as leader of the Eastern Roman Empire, and governs one of the most civilised Empire of his time.

Unlike other Heroes of the Viking Age, the Basileus represents al/ Byzantine Emperors that ruled the Eastern Empire from the 7' h century up to the 11'h century and is designed to portray al/ Emperors from Justinian 11 up to Basil Bulgaroktonos.

Her o of the Byz ant ine Emp ire : As the most important character of the East, the Basileus generates three SAGA dice at the start of each turn, and not two as other Warlords.

The Emperor: The Basileus has an Armour value of 4 and only generates one Attack die in melee. He is also not subject to the "Warlord's Pride" special rule. lf the Basileus is removed as a casualty, the game ends immediately, and all other friendly Byzantine figures on the tab le are considered as having been killed. The Basileus is always mounted, as you would expect as the ruler of the East.

Imperial Bodyguard: A warband that is led by the Basileus may only field Hearthguards.

Varangoi: Varangians were Norse or Anglo-Saxon mercenaries that served in the Emperor's Bodyguard . Any number of Hearthguards in a warband led by the

Basi leus may

Hearthguards fight on foot and have a base Armour of 6; t hey may also be armed with Dane axes (see rulebook page 43). A Varangian unit that starts any Movement Activ a ti o n more than M[ away from

be upgraded to Varangians. Varangian

the Basileus takes a FATIGUE at the start of that Activation. A Varangian unit that ends any Movement Activation more than M away from the Basileus takes a FATIGU E at the end of that Activation.

Kataphracto i: Kataphractoi were the heaviest cavalry employed by the Byzantines and rode armoured horses. Any number of Hearthguards in a warband led by the Basileus may be upgraded to Kataphractoi. Kataphractoi have an Armour of 6 (reduced to 5 when shot at as other mounted models). Kataphractoi units take one additional FATIGUE for every movement activation after the first (i.e. they take two FATIGUES after their second movement and two FATIGUES after their third movement).

Harald Hardrada, Capta in of the Varangian Guard

Harald spent nearly ten years in the service of the Byzantine emperors during which time his legendary leadership, loyalty, martial prowess and rugged good-looks ensured he quickly

attained an enviable

campaign throughout the Empire, serving as far afield as Jerusalem and Sicily. He amassed great personal wealth through battle-plunder and 'loyalty bonuses' from successive Emperors. Eventual/y imprisoned by Michael V, who was concerned by Harald's loyalty to the previous Emperor (although other sources, and no doubt Harald himself, would have it that it was because

.) Harald

he spurned the advances of powerful Empress Zoe

escaped and fled back to Scandinavia where he used his riches to

reputation . He led the Varangians on

finance his reclaiming of the Norwegian throne.

Her o of the Viking Age: Unlike other Heroes of the Viking Age, Harald Hardrada on ly generates one Saga Die

He may, at the

start of his turn, take one or two FATIGUE to generate a number of extra Saga Dice equal to the number of FATIGUES taken this way.

Pagan: Despite being Captain of the Guard of Byzantium, Harald was a pagan, and was trained in the Old Norse ways. The Saga Dice generated

at the start of each of his turn.

by Harald are Runic Dice (also known as Viking Dice, see Saga page 6) and may be used on the Viking Battleboard. Hence, a warband led by Harald will use t w o Battleboards, one Byzantine and one Viking.

Sa g a Dice generated b y Varan g ians ma y be either Runic or Continental Dice (also kno w n as Norman Dice see Saga page 6 ), as chosen by their controlling pla yer at the start of each turn. Saga Dice generated by other units in Harald's w arband must be Continental Dice .

Varangians : Any Hearth guard unit in Harald's w arband must fight on foot and ma y be equ ipped w ith Dane-a x es ( see Saga page 43). Thanks to their sh iny equipment pa id for w ith the Byzantine gold, these Hearthguards ha ve an Armour of 6, in melee and against shooting. The number of Hearthguards figures in Harald's w arband ma y not exceed the number of


include any mounted model.

of other classes . A w arband led by Harald ma y never


IMPORTANT : You may ha ve noticed that no Byzantine ab ilit y starts w ith either " Discard this d ie" or " Discard these d ice" . W e

ha ve remo ved these sentences to

ha ve more space w ith in


abilit y bo x es

for their description. Th is does not mean that


relevant dice are not discarded. Consider that each of the ability start w ith the relevant sentence, and that the die or combination of dice MUST be discarded in arder to use the ability. The rules of the first column of Saga abilities are described page so of the Saga rulebook.


Used during your Activation Phase

This ability wi/1 help you mimic some of the actual tact ics used by the Byzantines and their bow men. This ability activates two

units (this may be any units, mounted or dismounted, le vies,

Hearthguards or Warriors) and they are activated for Shooting. When this Shooting is resolved, during step 1, you may ignore any friendly unit that would otherwise block the line of sight between the shooters and their target. An ability clearly useful for units of bow-armed Warriors that would be deployed behind

a screen of spearmen .


Used during Step 3 of an y

Me lee

Strategi kon is an abilit y that is real/ y useful , but wi /1 necess i t ate a bit of planning and w i/1 usual/y be more frequently used w hen one of your un its are engaged in melee. W hen the dice are discarded, you must designate a fr iendly un it that does not take part in th is melee. The unit that uses Strategikon gains a number of Attack or Defence Dice (ora mix of both) equal to half the number of dice

generated by the models of the designated unit

§ of your unit. So, for ex ample, if y ou ha v e three Hearthguard

models w ith i n §

g ain 3 d ice. The best use of this ability is w ith a deploy ment of

t wo units one behind the other, w ith the frontal unit gaining dice

for the presence of their comrades beh ind.

that are w ithin

of one or more of the models of y our un i t , y ou ' /1


Used during your Act ivat ion Phase

Moving levy units is alwa y s a problem in an y arm y, but by using

one dice


Byzantine commander can activate t hree


units at once; these activations have the added benefit of not

generating fatigue . Usef ul if you 've mo ved le vy units up earlier in

the turn and you no w want to m ove them out of danger la ter on,

or if you w ant to concentrate fire from mult iple

un its onto an enemy


Used during step 3 of any Melee

A surpnsmg




al/ow s the Byzantine player to resolve a

Shooting during a melee. After the dice are

discarded, yo u must designate

armed friendly unit that is w ithin M[ of any unit involved in this melee. You immediately resolve a Shooting,

w ith the

and one of the enemy units engaged in this melee as the target. This is resolved like a standard shooting sequence, with the notable exception that any of your units engaged in this melee are ignored when it comes to determining

the line of sight between the shooters and their target.

a bow-

designated unit as shooters,

Note that the unit of " support archers" is not activated for a

shooting, and any ability that affects a Shooting Activation is of

no use. This shoot ing sequence, though inc/uded in the me lee, is a

separate sequence entirely; hence the casualties inflicted are not added to the casualties taken during the melee to determine who wi/1 fa// back.


Used during your Activation Phase

The most expensive ability of the Byzantine Battle board, Ko nt os is also a deadly one! lt activates one of your mounted units (that is not equipped with bows) for a Movement. lf with this

movement, your unit engages an enemy unit, you immediately

ro/1 one

die for ea ch of your model that is in base-to-ba se co ntact

with an enemy model. For each die that scores a 4 or more, you

wi/1 gain one extra hit during the forthcoming melee. These hits are added to the hits you score during step 4 of the me/ee. With a good sized unit of eight Hearthguards, you can expect a bloodbath for your opponent!


Used du ri ng step 3 of the M elee.

Apparentl y, W ithdra w al doesn't loo k /ike a v ery useful ab i lit y. But

a clase stud y wi /1 reveal that it is actuall y rea/l y po w erful w hen used properly. When the die is discarded, you designate a friendly unit of mounted mode/s engaged in th is melee. During step 8

your unit w i/1 disengage, even if the opponent was also

to disengag e dueto the me lee outcome. lf both the attacker and the defender have to disengage, the attacker mo ves first. Also, the movement of th is d isengagement move is JL, rather than the usual § .


You can see t wo different uses f or th is ability. lf you expect to

me lee, it means that the increase of mo vemen t of t he

disengagement w i/1 bring your un it far aw ay f rom the enemy into

lose the


safer position. lf you pla n to win that melee, the fact that you


i/1 disengage at a long distance w i/1 bring your unit far aw ay

from any enem y counter-attack in his o w n turn . Do not over/ook

this ability; it is one of the most useful on the w ho/e Byzantine



Used during step 3 of the M elee.

Friend/y Sh ields is another c/early defens iv e abili t y. The die is

during step 3 of the melee, but the abilit y won't have

any effect until step 6. When you cometo step 6, yo u may cancel each casualty sustained by removing a friendly non-levy figure that is within § of the unit that benefited from the abilit y. De facto, it means that yo u trade the casualties suffered by your unit


with models taken from a friendl y un it. Very interesting if you

remove Warriors to avoid /osing your precious Hearthguards!


Used during

the enemy's Activat ion Phase

This abilit y is used in reaction toan enemy Movement Activation. As soon asan enemy unit is activated for a movement w ithin .M[ of one of your bow-armed units, yo u discard the relevant die. For

this movement, the activated enemy units may not engage in

melee any of your bow-armed unit if he could engage a unit not

equipped w ith bows with this mo vement. Ho w do es it work ? lt is quite easy. Befare your opponent moves his figures, check if he

would be able to engage a unit that is no t equ ipped w ith bows (respecting a/1 the rules for engaging an enemy and movi ng).

lf that is the case, then an y movement that w ould end with an

engagement of any of your bow-armed un its is forbidden for the

activated unit. Note that the restriction also may apply to you as the Byzantine player. For example, if you have a spear armed unit anda bow armed one in the same building, and you use this ability, you won't be able to designate the bow-armed unit as the

unit acting as defender as this wou/d make the engagement of the building impo ssible.


Used during your O rders Phase or during any e nemy's Orders


This is a cheap but potentially very useful ability. You may use it

during your Orders Phase or during any opponent's one. Choose

one of your units, take up to two FATIGUES from that unit and

place them on any friendly unit with in §. Non e of these units may be le vies.

Of course, the FATIGUES are not discarded or taken -off, but

removing t w o FATIGUES from you r Heart hguards and put them on that four mode/ strong Warrior unit remains inva/uab/e.


Used during your Activation Pha se

Th is is an ab ility that demonstrates the h ighly organized military structure of the Byzantines. When these d ice are discarded, yo u may des ignate any number of units, a/1 wi th in lL of you r

W a rl ord . A/1 these un its are acti v ated , and

not g enerate any FATIGUE w hen resol ved. lmmed iately after the un its ha ve been des ignated, but befare their Act ivations are reso lved, place on your Warlord a number of FATIGUES equal to

these act i vat i ons wi /1

the number of units that benefited from th is abilit y. This best kept to unleash the decisive blow to the enemy!

Ragnar speaks

ab i lit y is

The Byzantines /ove come on the battlefie/d dressed in proper uniforms, with each soldier aware of his role and his task in the organisation of the force and their general shouting orders that are instantly fol/owed. Quite boring We/1, the Byzantine player cou/d make

a worse use of his time than studying the Strategikon to /earn the proper

employment of his troops, as the Battleboard is al/ about un it cooperation. A lone Byzantine unit is a help/ess (and /ost) one. They shine when they support each other, as most of their Saga abilities demonstrate. Deployment is the key here, and ensuring at al/ times the battle line is drawn according to the plan is vital if yo u want to be successful. They are quite difficult and tricky to use, but very rewarding if you /ike proper combat manoeuvres, the inter-arm approach and al/ these things that 1never learnt.

¡:óR hiRe

Eastern Europe and the endless Steppes of the Central Asia were the homeland of a large number of Steppe nomads tri bes such as the Avars, the Magyars or the Pechenegs.

On a regular basis, these tribes would sweep across Europe or against the Rus, plundering and pillaging befare retiring safely into their homelands.

They were valued as mercenaries, joining Rus and Byzantines as auxiliaries, and were famous for their accuracy as archers, their maneuverability and their cruelty.

Swords f or

Hire: The Steppe Nomads may be

included in any Pagan Rus, Rus Princes or Byzantine Warband (that are not led by the

Basileus or Ha raid

Hardrada) for one point.

Nomads: The Steppe Nomads are made of 8 mounted models that count as Levies. As Levies, they do not generate any Saga dice, but may be activated or benefit from any eligible Saga abilities on your Battleboard. They have an Armour of 3 in melee, 4 against Shooting

Lhe Steppe Nomads

(reduced to 3 dueto being mounted) . They are worth Y, victory point per model, like Warriors.

Horsemen: Steppe Nomads are born in their saddles. When they move as part of a movement activation (and do not engage melee) their movement benefits from a S distance bonus, for a movement of IL(or M)+§. This bonus is never affected by terrain or any FATIGUE spent.

lf the Nomads decide during the step 2 of the melee to reduce their number of Attack Dice to gain Defence Dice, they must

discard ALL their Attack Dice to gain one Defence Die per Attack Die discarded (and not half the number of Attack Dice discarded

as it is usually the case) .

Short bow: Steppe Nomads are equipped with deadly short bows. These short bows count as javelins (see Saga page 23), with the exception that the Shooting may be performed either befare or after the movement. The Nomads may not engage any enemy unit if they shot during their Movement activation.

Eagle Eye: When shooting, the Steppe Nomads automatically benefit from a +1 modifier to their Attack Dice rolls.

Varjazi & Basileus isa full colourmini supplement for the SAGA rules and is the last one to cover the factions of the Viking Age. Contained within are all the rules and background for three new factions, one of which, the Byzantines, has already been the subject of a article in a Wargames lllustrated magazine. The other two are the Rus Pagan and their successors, the Era of The Princes Rus. Also included are a new Swords For Hire unit, the dreaded Steppe Nomads, who can be in the pay of all three of these factions, and a new Hero Of The Viking Age for the Byzantines, Harald Hardradda, Captain Of The Varangian Guard. We wanted to end this cycle with a bang so it is presented in a card folder to hold your SAGA Viking Age collection. This full-colour folder can accommodate your Battleboard collection, Rulebook and a supplement.

Varjazi & Basileus also contains 3 Battleboards which can not be sold separately. Varjazi & Basileus is not a complete rule-set as you will also need the SAGA Rulebook.