Aetius & Arthur’s out. I flipped through it.
I can’t say I read it, because I left the battleboards in the game room, and: why in Sigmar’s name do they not include the actual battleboards in the actual book? Yes, they’re shrinkwrapped on there, but it means I cannot reference a force’s rules with the book (nor can I reference an army’s rules with their board: I need both). This has always been and remains fucking incomprehensible to me, and it means that my eyes passed over words, but without the accompanying boards, those words didn’t have a lot of meaning.
I like/liked Saga quite a bit. It’s at the upper limit of what I want to paint models for, plays fast and interestingly, and has the gold standard for army construction rules, I think. Initially, the battle boards’ rules were clean and clear: Vikings are about getting in and axing people, Normans are effective with their cavalry & shooting, etc.
As the supplements have continued to come out, though, it’s harder and harder for me to understand what the actual fuck is going on with it. In most games, it’s easy to look at an army and understand how they play: these guys are glass hammers, those guys are slow and tough, etc. I can’t get my head around how the different armies play. Why would I pick, say, Crusaders, over Milites Christi? I’m sure that if I played a bunch of games with both, I’d understand the difference but at that point it’s too late: I want to know what I want to build and paint.
A&A escalates this by getting pretty specific about steps in which things happen, too: where earlier, you’d see things like “Gain 3 attack dice” (comprehensible), they run more along the lines of “Gain 3 dice in Step 2 of the melee” (uh… I better look some stuff up). Maybe that’s an insignificant difference (in which case, why make it?).
(A related issue that isn’t really their fault: when Saga first came out, you could pretty much just grab some Dark Age Warriors and go: a Dark Age Saxon is close enough to a Dark Age Viking to not matter, so build a bunch of models and you can run a bunch of battle boards. Now, jeez, this is not the case. So many factions are so fundamentally different, you’re not going to be very successful with that.)
I do like the persistence of the tables: what options a faction can take and a summary of what how they work is fantastic.
Only about half the book are new factions: there’s a lot in there about adapting previous battleboards to be more era-appropriate. I think this is inspired.
They add a few new types of units: I dig the War Dogs, and I like how Romans can take little war machines and that Picts actually get Chariots.
The book is printed GW-level quality (which makes the so-so art and so-so miniatures within kind of stand out), but this is nothing new.
It makes me want to play Saga again (yay!) but further discourages me from being up to actually doing so (boo).