Societial Disorder is Situation Normal for the Great Kingdoms

Am I suffering from hubris or not? Of course not, I am one of the ruling class of a Great Kingdom. So get back in your box you miserable piece of dung and leave me to my business.

The Great Kingdoms faction in Saga represents order, a strong ruling class and pretty much a desire to be left alone.  If you are out to conquer the known world, deliver rampage and mayhem then this is not the faction for you.  But if pristine ranks of beautiful equipped troops tickles your fancy then the Great Kingdom’s might be the faction for you

My wargaming cabinet is full of Great Kingdom suitable armies from WHFB and playing ancients.  High Elves, Bretonnians, Dwarves (which we also covered with Masters of the Underneath), Caesarean and Early Imperial Romans and ancient Greeks. So my challenge is to find a few playable version of the Great Kingdoms rather than just a one size fits all list.

The Great Kingdoms have the Winged Mount option for all heroes and heathguard units, given then flying cavalry with the associated manoeuvre benefits counted by their inability to every hide without magic.

So what makes the Great Kingdoms faction great?

However being rather civilised and all that jazz, means that you only have access to a single unit of creatures (either biped or quadruped) and single monster. 

Your lieutenant options is the Captain who’s special ability is to bully any heathguard, warrior or levy units into action with “we obey”. Unfortunately creatures, monsters, war machines and other heroes think the captain is a self opinionated git and just ignore him.  However a captain in your warband means that you can keep one flank active whilst your warlord is off on the other.

The second special unit is the Paladin which effectively costs 1/2 a point (i.e. 2 x HG, 4 x warriors, 6 x levy or 1 creature.  You can have unto 2 paladins in your warband and have the Heroic ability. Heroic doubles the paladins aggression in melee (5 to 10) against any monsters or creatures, plus increasing its resilience from 1 to 2.  So the Paladin is primarily your monster/creature killer and therefore being mounted as normal or on a winged mount gives you are high threat range again monster creature intensive warbands, but with nothing special to offer if there are none of them around!
The Great Kingdom’s sacred ground is the Memorial, which allows you to reroll one of your Saga dice in the orders phase so long as you have a unit of 8 figures or more within VS and no enemy within S.
Your sorcerers have access to Energy and Light magic which give you some interesting options to synergise with your battleboard and unit selection.

Warband Selection and how to make it both pretty and effective

I have primarily being using the Great Kingdoms for introduction games to Age of Magic with my Bretonnian miniatures. So I am 100% up front and honest when say that I haven’t been looking at this list on a competitiveness first basis, but it has been fun to put on the table and play.
Warlord – Winged Mount
Lieutenant – Captain and Mount: Animal (1/2 point)
Paladin – Mount: Animal (1/2 point, so 1 full point on the Lieutenant and Paladin)
Sorcerer – Mount: Animal. (Bolt <energy>, Laying on Hands and Blinding <light>) (1 point)
6 x Heathguard – Mount Animal (1 1/2 points)
6 x Heathguard – Winged Mount (1 1/2 points)
12 x Warriors (2 points – cull 4 warriors for the war machine)
12 x Levy – Bow (1 point)
1 x War Machine – Static
In general I see the Great Kingdoms faction as a bait, absorb and counter force.  It doesn’t do shooting well enough to force your opponent to stand off.  Nor does it have the grunt and impact to charge overrun all comers.  It is definitely a combined forces warband and heavily reliant on your heroes to make it work.
 The Great Kingdoms battleboard has 2 x Orders or Orders/Reactions, 3 x Melee or Shooting/Reaction s, 2 x Activations and 1 each of Melee, Activation/Reaction and Orders/Reaction. As only Legendary Hero (common+rare) and Last Defence (rare+rare) require 2 dice, it is a very easy battleboard to fill up and use with average or even less than average dice rolls. 

The first principle of this warband placing defendable terrain and creating a clear field of fire for your levy and war machine.  

Levy bow have a range of L and because they have none of the hitting benefits of crossbows or firearms you want to ensure you get as many shots as you can. 12 bow levy in defensive terrain is tough to budge but also hard to ignore.  Positioning the Captain near your levy means it will always be able to shoot and maintaining a M+ gap between it and your war machine means you can use Enfilade (common) to shoot twice.  The key here is that you need to be able to shoot with both units in order to use Enfilade so you need to keep those levy within L.   The Static War Machine can target anywhere on the board it can see, so you also want to give it they best field of vision you can.  However this also means that it is generally in vulnerable position to chargers and therefore it is a must to ensure that you have it behind uneven terrain, as it means no-one can get to you without having to spend at least 1 turn within aggression 4 range.  As war machines count uneven and dangerous ground as impassable I play that you can’t deploy in them either.

The second principle is that you are going to have to draw them in and risk some pain first.

In addition to shooting, you can use your sorcerer’s Blinding chance of cancelling an enemy units activation within L to slow down an advance and Bolt to inflict damage in addition to shooting. 
Repel the Shadows (any dice), Shield of Bravery (uncommon) and Exhortation (uncommon) are all abilities which give you defence dice. Against shooting or in melee, Repel the Shadows gives you 2 or 4 if the enemy has at least 12 attack dice with a +1 bonus if you use a Phoenix, and Shield of Bravery is a flat 3 defence dice.  Exhortation is an Orders or Orders/Reaction ability which gives all units within M of a hero 2 bonus defence dice at the cost of the hero taking 1 fatigue.  With dice on these abilities you can risk having your levy bow or warriors up in the front line as bait as 5-7 bonus defence dice dramatically increase the survival of these units.  Ideally you have your levy bow in ruins, rocky ground or even a marsh (using the fatigue your enemy will get on charging to buff your armour) and you warriors in a position to close ranks.  Your levy and potentially your war machine also have the opportunity to use Closing Fire (uncommon) which gives them a free shooting attack before melee is resolved.   
In short you want your opponent to charge your.  They probably don’t want to so you shoot them instead until they do, and if they don’t then you are probably doing more damage any way and keeping them out of your kingdom so it is still a win!

The third principle is to hit them when then bounce and to hit them hard.

Your captain is there to ensure you can shoot, take fatigue through Exhortation on defence and with Inspiration in attack. So you want to position him so he can be within M, but also move M+M to support the counter attack.  You don’t want your captain in melee.  However your Paladin is another matter entirely and you want to ensure that he is in a position to intercept or countercharge any creatures or monsters.

Your flying heathguard and warlord are able to fly over your own troops or terrain to countercharge.  This means you can engage in melee with already fatigued and/or depleted enemy units. Your mounted heathguard don’t have the same flexibility as the flying HG but should also be positioned on a flank to engage too.
Banish Evil (all) and Inspiration  (common) both add attack dice and Warcry (common or uncommon) is a great activation ability which forces the charged unit to close ranks and discard 2 attack dice every time it uses a Saga ability or fatigue.  This is great to use when you opponent has that full battleboard awaiting to crush you only to face a damn or be damned dilemma.

Final musings.

I have chosen Laying on Hands (2 dice) as the ability to remove fatigue from your heroes maybe critical during the game, especially given the fatigue generating abilities of the battleboard or the option of using Legendary Hero
This is only one way of playing Great Kingdoms, e.g. if I had more flying troops and heroes then this list could easily be tweaked into a “Flying Circus” switching out Laying on Hands for Mists as it will need increase protection from shooting.
The above list is probably the most mobile of my options, but I look forward to trying out other options.  I have so many figures to use it would be a shame not to bring them out to play.

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