Byzantine tactics and reinforcments (SAGA)

Been taking the Byzantines out on campaigns during the summer and found out some things that I want to share with my fellow Strategoi. In this post will describe what army compositions I’ve been using and some tactics that I learnt.

Initially I was fielding this 6 point force:

1 Warlord
8 Hearthguard Lancers
4 Hearthguard Mounted Archers
8 Warrior Spearmen
8 Warrior Archers
12 Levy Javelins

An army made from the Starter Warband with a few additions. It lacked offensive power and most abilities on the Battle Board were quite weak with it. The strength of the Byzantines in SAGA is their ability to activate multiple units, usually for shooting with easy to get dice. After being unable to win 10 or 15 games, I decided to take out the mounted Hearthguard archers. They were too few to do damage and easy to kill. Switching them out for 1 point of warriors I could instead bring:

1 Warlord
8 Hearthguard Lancers
10 Warrior Spearmen
10 Warrior Archers
4 Warrior Spearmen
12 Levy Javelins

This army performs much better, it can pump out more shots per activation and it is more survivable. The small 4 man warrior unit, is just as tough as the mounted Hearthguard archers. The 10 man warrior unit can be powerful in close combat when attacking together with the Warlord.  Some of the abilities, like Strategikon and Support Archers work much better on large units.

The 4 man unit works as a fatigue dump from the Archers and the Warlord with the Common Efforts ability. The only difference is Massed Archery becomes weaker, only one strong shooting unit is there to use it. Didn’t count the levies as they become casualties too quickly. Massed Archery is somewhat expensive, can be stopped by cancel activation abilities which leave the shooters in a bad position. It could probably work with a large bow armed hearthguard unit or two large warrior archers.

My favourite abilities are Basileus and Support Archers. Their flexibility and low cost is fantastic. Support Archers is somewhat poorly written, but it is a good offensive and defensive ability. Basileus has a lot of use, usually it means a second shooting activation or repositioning. But it can launch the cavalry L+L away and hit units that thought they were safe and then Withdrawing to a safer position.

I replaced the mounted Hearthguard Archers with these newly painted warriors. These are all Gripping Beast miniatures.


For 4 point games, I ditch one point of Cavalry and the Levy. The levy are excellent, they can throw a fair number of javelins with Scouting but most importantly, stand in the way. I usually split the 12 into 5 and 7 man units. Byzantines are weak too shooters, blocking sight with Levy or placing dice in the Combat Pool are usually the best options. This is why I prefer the Psiloi to Steppe Archers.

As for tactics, the battle board abilities require units to be bunched up but do it sparingly. When close together (i.e within S),  traffic jams occur (no moving through your own units in SAGA) and if something gets wiped out in assault, everybody gets fatigues. The Cavalry unit is used for counter attacks and require gaps of atleast S between the units to manouvre. When the horse mounted nobility fights, Withdrawal sees a fair bit of use.

I try to keep everyone important within M of the Archers and L from the Warlord to use Basileus and Support Archers each turn. The small 4 man unit stays close to the Archers or Warlord to soak up fatigues. I only bunch up if the Cavalry gets involved and I need to use Friendly Shields or Strategikon.

Can’t wait to bash some heads in our mega cool upcoming November Tournament.


Patterns were kept simple as the padded armor provides plenty of intricate detail.
The Kentarchos looks badass enough to led the 10 man warrior unit.
The fellows with raised spears are the 4 man warrior squad.
Next up in the are the Psiloi Levy. I kitbashed this one from Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors and the head is from Conquest Games Medieval Archers. The shield is a metal one from the Gripping Beast range. I also gave him an axe to misrepresent an tzikourion.
I intend to keep the color palette a lot more simplified for the Levies. It means 12 of them will (probably)  get painted this year. The javelin is painted in a lighter, freshly cut wood scheme to differ from the spears. I also used different shield design on the Psiloi.

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