COLLECTING MOORS -2- (THE MOORS)

Last February 4th I luckily could attend the introductory tournament to SAGA that was arranged by Quino from Painting War at the Club Comandante in Málaga. It was some kind of prelude to a tournament that will be arranged at may 6th and where there will be around 40 players!! In the past event there were 20 players where veteran players crossed dice with some who are learning and have few games on their backs (although it must be said that all of them were experienced wargames during decades…).

I played three games with the following band organization:

- Warlord: standard (0 points)

- Warriors: 4 points organized in 4 units of 8 men each armed with spears.

- Naffatum: 1 point distributed in one figure by unit of warriors.

- Warriors on horseback 1 point deployed in 1 unit of 8 javelin men.

Although everybody knows that there’s no perfect configuration of a band in SAGA, due to the number of variables that intervene according to the enemy band and the game scenario, I am almost certain to have found the units that can be harder to crack in a band of Moors in different situations, almost certainly...

Firstly I had the opportunity to face Norman on a Champions of God Scenario and the Normans have the following configuration:

- Warlord: standard

- Warriors: 1 point organized in 1 unit of 8 mounted warriors

- Hearthguard: 2 points in 1 unit of 8 mounted HW.

- A Point of warriors on foot with crossbows

- One point of levies with bows

- And finally one unit of Flemish Mercenaries

He began the battle with his warlord penalized by the Moors Gold and Doubts, and moved his units across the battlefield painfully advancing. In my first turn I thrown my cavalry to harass the enemy, spending 2 dice and using the rest of dice to damage the enemy strategy. His Hearthguard rattled the hook and threw a charge through the center of the battlefield, recalling that moment to the great Castilian defeat of Alarcos, because, despite his charge and the melee casualties, in the next turn and although I had to employ thoroughly all the infantry with the Song of Drums, the heavy cavalry of my enemy was completely exterminated after being exhausted by the fires of the Naffata. With the center of the enemy army completely weakened, I continued disrupting the enemy plans turn by turn, with the Moors Gold, and Doubts. The Naffata continued doing well their work and finished the task with fury of swords and Impaling Spears of my infantry to the rhythm of the drums of war. And this ability that consumes two dice and allowed me to activate all units of lancers on foot (four units!!) was key in all games.

 In the second game I confronted the Anglo-Saxons of my good friend Bernardo, who commanded by the great Athelstan had the following configuration:

- Athelstan (warlord 1p) (painted by Bernardo Ruiz)

- Mounted warriors with javelins 1p

- 1p of guards in 1u of 4

- 3p of warriors on foot in 2u of 12

The scenario played was the drunken fight to break the alliance, Battle Around the Campfire... I do not know how Athelstan would get to hire a band of Moors as allies, neither where nor when, but what is clear is that He said something while drunk of mead that angered the Moor Warlord…

The chaotic deployment and good luck of the Moors determining the initiative were decisive and Athelstan fell in the first turn, finding himself almost exhausted and, after a charge of the Moorish lancers, a singular combat was fought between the two warlords, but the advantage of the fatigues and that the luck was on the Mohammedan side this time unbalanced the fight to my side... After eliminating the enemy warlord and despite Bernardo's efforts to keep the level high, the nafatta did their work with the rest of his units and although this time they self-immolated to the first shot, caused enough damage to facilitate the work to the later charges of the Arab infantry ... of course the reduction of SAGA dice after the loss of the warlord of my enemy had much to do.

The decisive battle of the afternoon, I fought it against another band of Moors although with a totally different listing!!!

- Warlord (Ben Yusuf 1p)

- 1p warriors on camel

- 1p warriors on horseback

- 3p warriors on 2 u of 12

The Moors faced off in the Hazel Wands, where two champions fight to death in the middle  of the battlefield what gave me the only advantage of this last battle. Initially the two Moorish armies began far back, groping and injuring enemy orders. But Ben Yusuf was more determined and experienced so I decided to throw my Javelin Horsemen to harass and remove from the hole the enemy units ... At the end I saw it was wrong to take the initiative, although initially I got more points than the enemy, the reserve infantry and an unexpected but suspected betrayal well cooked by Ben Yusuf give him the victory and I had to settle for the two previous victories (which is not bad)

With these games, and some more that I will play at home until I have the next project of saga ready ..., I finish the development of my Umayyad band... With clear conclusions that can advice to you if you’re thinking to beginning a Moors warband:

  1. The Moors never take the initiative, remain on the defensive until the enemy is sufficiently disconcerted / exhausted to throw the troops to victory.
  2. Get the idea that three or four of your SAGA dice per turn are going to be invested in annoying the opponent.
  3. Have enough infantry troop if you want to get the most of the Song of Drums ability.
  4. Your band will never give you the feeling of being finished....

And this is why I have already ordered 3 units of warriors with spears on foot and 3 units of warriors on horse from our beloved Footsore to implement my band of Moors up to 12points. The next stage will be to test the Andalusian troops with their shots before or after of the movement…

 

Author: Carlos Caston
Civil engineer by day, painter of miniatures by night. Family man at all times and wargamer when it's possible. Collector of Dark Ages 28mm scale miniatures mainly. Sagaholic and trained to survive in a zombie apocalypse.
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My Introduction to Saga

I was introduced to Saga a year ago by one of my war-gaming friends he in turn by another of our number. I had played Warhammer fantasy battle almost exclusively for nearly twenty years, and was at a loss when it changed to a very different set of rules and background that really didn’t interest me. Saga, however, did, one multiplayer game, Vikings, Normans, and Anglo-Danes, and I was hooked. I ordered what I needed, got playing, and it became my main game out of the three new ones I adopted over the year.

The first thing that struck me about Saga was how easy the rules were to pick up. After one game I felt I had a good understanding of how to play. Once I read the rulebook I felt I had grasped them pretty well, and could play without having to refer to it for every action I performed. Part of this was the freedom of movement and not having distinct phases, the latter being a new thing to me after playing quite a regimented game for most of my gaming life. I enjoyed that I could activate a unit more than once, but if I did so there was the fatigue mechanism to counter balance it. The short range for shooting surprised me at first and often led me to losing my levy unit, until I learnt how to play around it. However, one of the things I liked the most was how no units seemed over powerful, or invincible. I had come out of Warhammer where this had become the norm, and it had sapped my enthusiasm for the game. In Saga I liked that it was a group of men, all of whom could fight and be effective on the table, led by one superior but not god like hero, and all could die if used incorrectly.

The second thing was the battle boards and special ‘Saga’ dice. Each faction generates a number of Saga dice depending on the number of units they have on the table, which are used to activate units and the abilities on a battle board. A player typically starts with five or six Saga dice but can lose them if you lose a unit during the game. Saga is rarely about sacrificing units as you soon become limited in what you can do during the game. Each faction also has their own unique battle board to distinguish them from the next, and it is these that make up the fabric of the game. Different factions have different weapons and some can ride horses but these are not enough to make it more than a once in a while beer and pretzels game. The battle boards give each faction their own flavour and play style as well as an identity other than the historical type of warriors they represent. Anglo-Danes were my first warband, a defensive board that could pile fatigue on the enemy, boost armour, and cancel enemy activations. The board abilities also worked in tandem, I could add fatigue to units with one, and then with another gain a bonus in melee from that fatigue. My friends had Normans and Vikings. The Norman board is very aggressive in combat aiding the cavalry hearthguard with abilities to push them forward, to get them into combat, and trample the enemy underfoot, but also offering shooting abilities to support the warrior crossbowmen and levy archers. However, they have relatively little defensive abilities, and could not remove fatigue short of resting as an activation meaning they could do nothing that turn. Vikings however, do at the expanse of shooting abilities. They could remove fatigue, have some defence against shooting and lots of abilities to boost them in combat. These are three of the first four warbands and were more straightforward in their abilities. Subsequent factions and battle boards become more complex using an ability to support a second, or building on one to boost another to offer players a more rewarding game.

With these in tow Saga continues to be the main game I play. I look forward to each game, and nearly each one is a unique experience. All are fun and offer the chance to play both a laid back game that isn’t dependent on knowing a tome of rules and army specific rules, but also tactical and offering challenges in how you play and respond to your opponent and their battle board. Games are fought on the Saga dice rolled but won with how they are placed on the battle board.

 

 

Author: Andrew Parker
Andrew Parker lives in the South East of England, holds a BA in Ancient History, and has been wargaming for over twenty years. His interest in History spans from Classical Greece to the Modern day with a particular interest in the Medieval world. He has only recently (2016) got into historical gaming via Saga, and is on an adventure of new games and miniatures.
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Footsore Arabs Under the Brush

I’ve had a thing for painting and playing SAGA ever since I painted my first Viking warband. Since then, I’ve painted 14 warbands and published 58 SAGA posts on my Twin Cities Gamer blog.  I’m sharing how I painted my Mutatawwi’a warband hoping it might help a fellow SAGAmite get their favorite faction on the table.  I like lots of options for each faction I paint and play and the Mutts muster out at 2 warlords, 8 Naffatun, 32 warriors and 16 hearthguard.   

Below are the Footsore Miniatures Arab packs I used to build my Mutts:

12 Arab Heavy Infantry = 3 points of foot Hearthguard.

12 Arab Heavy Cavalry = 3 points of mounted Hearthguard.  Foot Hearthguard are versatile but I also love the speed of mounted troops. That means I paint up both.

32 Arab Infantry with Swords & Spears = 4 points of warriors.

8 Naffatun. 4 = 1 point of Dogs of War Naffatun.  Naffatun are indispensable with Mutts because they dish out fatigue easily while the battleboard allows you to shed your fatigue easily.  You can only field 4 Naffatun in an Arab warband but I bought 8 so I could paint 2 sets, one in black and one in color.

Step one is to take your Footsore figures out and admire them!  The level of detail is exquisite and there is LOTS of variety in the poses.  I adore the character sculpted into each face.  After a suitable period of admiration, sort and prep them for basing. Scrape off any bits of flash or lines with an X-Acto knife or small file.  Lucky for us, there’s very little cleanup needed on Footsore figures because they’re superbly cast.  

I use Renedra’s 25mm plastic rounds for basing and attach figures using a hot glue gun. It’s fast, easy and adheres perfectly.  I use FireForge Games plastic spears but metal spears work even better.  Most hands are predrilled but for the few that aren’t, a twist of a pin drill and you’re done.

For flocking, I use a mix of Woodland Scenic’s fine, medium and large ballast (1/3 each).  Apply a coat of white glue (PVC) to the base and dip it into the ballast.  If you miss any bits, put down a spot of glue and dip again.  Once the ballast dries completely, apply a wash of 70% water, 30% white glue.  When it dries, this wash locks up the ballast for good.

Once the ballast is dry, it’s time to prime.  I use Army Painter’s Leather Brown for most Dark Ages priming including the mounted Moors below.  If you leave it intact on the spears, shoes and the back of the shields, it saves some brushwork. I use black for Hearthguard so I can easily drybrush chainmail and metal.  I use grey for the warriors for a neutral base for painting white robes. 

My warrior paint scheme is white uniforms with shields, turbans and sashes done in bright colors.  There are many ways to paint white.  You can prime white and wash for shadows.  You can paint white neatly over a grey primer or light grey base coat, leaving grey in the folds for shadows.   I use a Vallejo Khaki to Sand Yellow to White transition.  Khaki lightened with some white is my base color.

Vallejo Sand Yellow goes on next.  Leave Khaki intact in the folds for shadows.  Work in batches of 8 or more figures for efficiency.

Vallejo Oily Steel goes on all metal bits and is washed with P3 Armor wash. German Camo Black Brown goes on the back of the shields and skin.  White is liberally applied over Sand Yellow.  It’s a bit ragged but remember, gaming distance is 3 feet!

Saturated color alert! A dark base color is applied to sashes and turbans for the highlight color to pop against.  Vallejo Dark Prusia Blue is the base for Deep Sky Blue highlights, Magenta for Squid Pink highlight, and Black Red for Carmine highlights.  If you don’t have these colors, no worries, find a dark and light combo that works for you. 

The highlight color is carefully applied to the turbans and sashes, leaving the base color intact in folds for shadows.  Shields are painted with simple geometric shapes using a pallet of black, white, red and yellow.  Repeating color themes and a tight palette help give a warband visual unity.  Skin is painted last to avoid the trial that comes from getting stray paint on painted flesh.  Foundry Flesh 5A is the base, then a flesh wash, followed by Flesh 5B for a highlight.  Spears are Vallejo Iraqi Sand.

Script on the shields is a done with a Black Micron pen or a 000 paintbrush.  I tried copying Arabic script and decided squiggles work better for me.  I add grass tufts to the bases for visual interest and finish with a protective coat of spray-on Matte sealer. 

That’s it in 19 easy steps, more or less!  I still need to paint a linen banner and mounted Hearthguard to finish the warband.  These Footsore Mutts are my second Mutt warband.  My first (below) was painted in all black which is another option. I love the bright colors and exquisite detail of my Footsore Mutts so much that they’re going to the US Grand Melee with me in March.

When you paint your next Footsore warband, remember, it’s your lead and your brush.  Have fun bringing your vision to life! 

 

 

Author: Monty Luhmann
I'm a Minnesota hobbyist who's passionate about gaming, painting and history. SAGA introduced me to skirmish gaming and the Dark Ages. I'm looking forward to the Aetius & Arthur SAGA supplement and the chance to paint and play new warbands.
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Byzantines for Saga part 2

Hello again reader, in my last article i talked about how and why I chose Byzantines to take to the Grand Melee and the thoughts behind the initial army build. In this post, I’ll talk about my play test games, what I learnt and the changes I subsequently made.
One caveat I’d like to make is that Saga is such a varied game what didn’t work for me might suit your playing style and work for you, and if it does please get in touch and let me know I’m always eager to learn new tricks and tips!



I’ll start with my lovely Cataphract cavalry, as I noted before the initial plan was for the bow armed hearth guard to move up first then have the Cataphract's charge now being able to use abilities like Support archers that require a unit to be within M. No plan survives contact with the enemy however and this one didn’t while it could work in practice I ended up using 3-4 dice to get the combo to work and for that many dice it simply lacked the punch needed for the investment.

It was this that made me re think my plans and start to play more as a slow moving wall of mutually supporting warriors with the cataphracts on a flank or behind ready to counter charge or roam out as the scenario dictated.
This is where I should talk about Kontos these are the long spears or lances Cataphracts used but in Saga it’s a rare and common dice ability that lets you charge and roll 1 dice for each model in base to base contact and on a 4+ it adds an automatic extra hit the enemy has t save when they roll saves. It sounds great and sometimes It can be, one particularly memorable moment was a first turn William the Bastard kill where I moved up and charged with Kontos and then got all 8 models (both units of hearthguard in one big unit) into the unit of 7 levy in front of William Rolled 7 hits with Kontos and another 8 with the remaining attacks killing them outright for 1 loss and then activated again to charge into William who had a fatigue on him from the levy dying which I spent to drop his armour to 4 so even if my opponent spent it to raise it back up id still hit on a 5+ (which he did) and killed him outright. This is the exception rather than the rule, in practice I found unless I was well within the 12” charge range of the Cataphract's it was difficult to get more than 4-5 models in base to base so was only generating 2-3 extra hits for the 2 dice, one of which being rare proved very situational.

So it was left to the rest of the army to pick up a lot of the heavy lifting, the 2 x 8 spear warriors backed up with 8 warrior archers proved a reliable backbone of the army. Abilities like Friendly shields and Mutual support allow them to maintain a tight formation and support each other even when i was attacking. For example in the Sacred ground scenario my opponent had take the center hill with 8 hearthguard and i was able to move the first unit of warriors up, then engage with the second and even though my opponent used Saga abilities I transferred the casualties with Friendly shields and was able to whittle the the defenders before attacking a second time to drive them off the hill.

You have probably gathered by now that the Byzantines are all about overlapping support and nothing really shines on its own, however in my opinion the one exception to this is the humble levy because of Scouting. Activating up to 3 units of levy for 1 uncommon dice is really powerful. The javelins are a weapon that activates on a move so they can run up shoot and then do it again and take no fatigue which catches opponents out. I rated this ability so good i very nearly dropped a unit of Cataphracts for a second unit of levy to enable me to run 3 units 9,9,6 throwing 26 shots for 4 saga dice. However time got in the way of this plan so I never got to try it and is pure theory Saga but i think it might have legs so i will be trying it out down the line.



No overview of the Byzantines would be complete without a discussion on Basileus. It's one common and one uncommon dice and allows you to activate as many friendly unit within L of your warlord as you like without taking fatigue but then your warlord gains one fatigue per unit activated. I cannot overstate how good this is it really allows the combined arms of the Byzantines to shine for example you could move both units of spear warriors forwards 6" then use Basileus to move them both again taking no fatigue and now having now moved 12". If that was into combat you could then use any breakthrough to bring the cataphracts in to exploit the gap or hit the enemy unit again all for 3 saga dice! You could soften the enemy up by moving your levy up for shooting, then using Basileus shoot again, before combining with Scouting to shoot a total of 3 times and ending with no fatigue. The combinations are endless however once you've got this pile of fatigue its then quite hard to shift it so try to save it for those moments when it will win you the game because remember once your exhausted (which is quite likely when using this ability) you can't use Saga abilities. It is possible to get two uses out of it per game practically by on the first occasion stopping short of exhaustion then using it again which will exhaust. (Of course you can rest however i found having the free warlord activation to get into a better position was more important).


I can say with total honesty the army i thought i was buying is not what I need up with but the Byzantines are a challenging and fun army totally different to anything else I've seen in Saga, master the tricks they have and you'll find it very rewarding but unforgiving.
In the next article i will talk about the Grand Melee its self and what i can remember of my games!

 

Author: James Blair
James Blair is a 30 something wargamer from Coventry UK. He has played miniatures games for over 20 years, is a passionate hobbyist and enjoys a wide range of games from Saga to X Wing. He also writes for the Konflikting Opinions blog. Having played Saga got 3 years it has become his favourite game with the Steppe tribes being his preferred faction. 

 

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Choosing a Colour Scheme

As well as Saga I also play Chain of Command, a World War 2 skirmish game.  The Dark Ages and WW2 share something absent from most other historical gaming periods; the potential for very boring colour schemes.  There are some exceptions, but in general it’s not as visually stimulating on the wargames table as massed ranks of brightly coloured Napoleonic miniatures, or cohorts of imperial Romans.

One of the hardest parts of painting an army can be choosing a colour scheme, and even when the colours have been selected it’s important to get the best out of them.

In addition, a warband is made of multiple figures, so the colour scheme and painting style shouldn’t be solely focussed on making individual figures look good, it should give a great overall impression when the miniatures are massed together on the gaming table.  Ultimately though, the warband is yours as is the colour choice, so I can only talk from my own experience.

I’ve found that an interesting colour scheme makes the painting process much more enjoyable.  I also find I get the figures painted quicker as I don't dread picking up my paintbrush.  When I started painting my Anglo Danes I knew that I wouldn't be able to manage hour upon hour of staring at grey and brown paint as I painted my warband, I needed something more interesting.

With this in mind I decided to take my colour choice to the other extreme and try to choose colours that wouldn't have been seen before on a warband, but which colours?

There is plenty of inspiration available in nature, TV, on the internet, or from looking at painting armies at a local gaming club or show.  One of my preferred points for inspiration is the ‘Realm of Chaos’ books from Game Workshop.  Produced in 1988 and 1990 these were a huge influence upon me as I started gaming in my teenage years.  They are packed with colour photos of bizarre chaos creations, so can give plenty of ideas when looking for something out of the ordinary.

For my Anglo Danes, I eventually settled on two bright colours, green and pink, supported by grey and a couple of browns. 

As I was keen to get the models painted in a short period of time I decided to use a variant of the ‘Three Colour System’ where a base and two highlights are used for every colour.  To add some extra depth I also used a shade wash and occasional extra highlights by adding white to the final highlight.  I’m a fan of Games Workshops paints, so I made sure I had the three shades in each of my colours.

I’ve found that I can paint best and fastest when I’ve got everything to hand; I arranged all the paints I needed by colour in a handy box, and kept it with my brushes, palette and other essentials on a piece of plywood which I could grab when I had a spare 15 mins to paint.  When painting a lot of figures, this is the only way I can do it; have everything ready to go and grab a few minutes to paint at a time.

 

It took a lot of time to get them all painted, and on reflection, they are a bit bright, but I’m happy with them and they certainly stand out on the table.

There was a final surprise though; after choosing my colour scheme and painting my warband, I found this in the bathroom cabinet at home, I wonder where I really got my inspiration from?

 

Author: Frugal Dave
Frugal Dave lives in the south west of the UK and can be found on twitter @thefrugalgamer.
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Early Saxon Army In A Week

A new wargaming project can have one of several results. It can be a glorious addition to your ever growing collection, a poorly painted, disappointing blot on the hobby landscape or worst of all a box of treasures consigned to the ever growing pile of stuff that has been earmarked ‘to paint’. As a hobbyist who has made a habit of always having far too many amazing figures in that final bracket and a graveyard of unopened boxes nagging at my conscience every day, I was determined that my next army would not fall to the same miserable fate. So after ordering my brand spanking new Early Saxon Skirmish Warband, I set myself the somewhat ambitious goal of completing the whole lot, from bare metal to ready for the battlefield, in a week. Not as easy as I thought……

The Early Saxon Warband is a perfect starting point for someone wanting to explore the new Aetius and Arthur saga army list, a leader and four core units to provide you with a solid four point army with which to get started. My army arrived on the same day as the accompanying shield and banner transfers I’d ordered from Little Big Men Studios, and I set about getting my project underway. The army consists of a Saxon Warlord and his attendant Banner Bearer, suitably resplendent in the finest armour available and two figures I had wanted to paint since first laying eyes on them a long time ago. They are joined by two four-man units of Thegns (which count as Hearthguard units for Saga) – spear wielding, chainmail clad brutes ready to defend their Lord and punish his foes. The set is finished off with two eight-man units of Fyrd – unarmoured spearmen comprising the bulk of the force and giving you two solid units of warriors for your Saga battles.

Unpacking the box and cleaning the figures up, I was happily impressed by the lack of flash and minimal mould lines on the figures themselves, whilst being equally happy with the range of figures in the set that ensured my units would not look too similar on the battlefield. After a few hours spent cleaning up and basing the figures, a black spray undercoat had them ready for day two and the beginning of the basecoats.

I grew up as a Warhammer painter and had the discipline (and lack of money!) to be content painting figures one at a time, completing one blister pack of minis whilst saving up for the next one. Batch painting was never even a thought for me, but the benefits certainly became more obvious as I moved on to larger and larger projects. I’d recently finished my Late Romans (featured in my last article) using the same method, so decided to stick with the same formula.

Over the black basecoat, I gave all the figures a solid drybrushing with silver to highlight all the metal areas - armour, buckles, rings, sword and scabbard parts, which makes the rest of the model much easier. I then painted the flesh areas (26 faces and 52 hands over the course of a couple of hours and my vision began to blur) which brought me to the end of day two.

Day three saw the boots, pouches and spearshafts all done in various shades of brown, before beginning work on some of the large cloth areas. I tried to stick to the colours from the excellent demo figures on the Footsore website, with the mix of pale, natural tones a good representation of the natural dyes that would have been available at the time. Finishing the trousers, cloaks and tunics took me through to the end of day four, and the figures were really starting to come to life.

Day five was “beards and hair morning”, various tones to offer enough variety whilst being realistic, and I began work on the shields in the afternoon, firstly applying a white basecoat before adding the shield transfers over the top.

Day six I began to panic that I wouldn’t get finished – there still seemed so much to do. The morning was spent starting the bases – I use Army Painter basing materials and began with their Brown Battlefield gravel to start with, before spending the afternoon checking through all the models and painting over any slips or bits I had missed (including, unbelievably, two pairs of trousers), before giving all the figures a liberal dark brown wash and leaving them to dry overnight.

Day seven came and I had plenty of little finishing off jobs to do. I started by completing the bases – I used a mix of flowers and tufts to add some colour and match the figures up with the Late Romans they will soon be battling. Next task was completing the shields, painting the metal bosses before carefully completing the rims in colours to match the transfers. Gluing them to the figures they began to feel complete, and as early afternoon came I took my foot off the gas a little as I applied the excellent standards to the warlord and banner bearer and sat back to look at a job well done.

I’m delighted with the outcome. They’re far from ‘pro-painted’ as so many eBay listings will claim, but I’m happy with how they look and the figures were an absolute pleasure to paint, as I’ve found all Footsore minis have been in the past. This month, I’ll be adding to the force by picking up a unit of 12 Early Saxon archers to give my spearmen some missile support, and another point of Warrior Fyrd with 8 of the Young Saxon Warriors. I’m going to mix these in with my current warrior units to add even more figure variety to them, and those extra units will bring me up to a solid six-point Saga force. While the new recruits are getting trained (painted) up for war, we’ll see how my new army stand up to the challenge on the battlefield as they try to carve out a new kingdom for themselves on the British shores. I’m looking forward to taking these guys out onto the battlefield and seeing how they stack up with a new Aetius and Arthur campaign, they have a date on the battlefield with some Romans and possibly a horde of marauding Picts…..

And as a final thought, never let 8 year old daughters near your gaming table, or cantankerous droids might lay waste to your forces in double quick time…… thanks to Seren for the Star Wars invasion……

 

 

Author: Carl Marsden

I'm a writer based in York, UK and have been painting and wargaming for the last 25 years.

My main project currently is Saga, fuelled by an (un)healthy history obsession and the occasional drift into Malifaux and Guildball. 

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The Moors

My adventure with SAGA begins four years ago in the house of a friend, with the supplement “Northern Fury” strategically abandoned on a table so that when I passed by its side I noticed of the cover and its bloody attractive, then I get hooked to the wargames again after ten years without touching a miniature.

And this is saga, hook fast but difficult to master. Get the most of a warband is very complicated with all the possibilities that you have due to the high number of bands that you can face combined with all the available scenarios.

Take, for example, the band that I’m playing with nowadays, the Moors. It is a band in which the warlord is mounted, the HG are armed with javelins and mounted on horse and the warriors have the option of riding with javelins or fight on foot with spears. The levies have the option to go armed with bows or crossbows, with extra fatigue in the last case.

A fast look to the moors battleboard and immediately we will realize that the maximum match to the abilities is taken away having units of warriors on foot, since we have two types of abilities at our disposal, those that serve us to strengthen infantry units not armed with ranged weapons (Song of drums, Impaling spears, Dance of spears and Fury of swords) and those which serve to hinder the orders and plans of the enemy warlord (Discord, The Moors gold, Doubts, Friendly fire, and Betrayal). Apart we have a special ability: Corruption a skill that will have to be used with care since although it is very useful at some point in the battle, it can also favor our enemy...

Not forgetting that we have at our disposal a hero of the crusades as Ben Yusuf and the Black Guard, in addition to the dogs of war that would be the daylami, naffata, trucomans...

On the other hand you have to keep in mind that if your army is mostly cavalry you can turn it into an Andalusian band in which your riders will be able to fire their javelins before or after the movement as if they were compound bows.

All this said I tell you how I have evolved my band.

At first and while growing my collection of figures I started using 2 units of foot warriors and 2 units of guards on horseback with javelins. With this arrangement I faced the Milites Christi several times, and despite hampering the plans of the enemy, I was overcome by the hardly offensive abilities of the Milites, and is because you need 3 or 4 saga dice  to screw the enemy plans which left me few dice to activate offensively the units during my turns besides the weakness of the cavalry of hearthguards in front of the crossbows.

Then I tried the option to use the Blackguard, for 3 points I had a unit of 8 Heathguards armed with spears plus another 2 points of warriors on foot and a unit of levies with bows, playing six points already, but it was such a disaster the first time I faced Milites again and have not used that warband again.

At this point I thought I need more dice so I started using the Priest (Religious Advisor), 3p of warriors in 2 units of 12, 1p of levy archers and the last point as a unit of mounted hearthguards or mounted warriors as bodyguards of my warlord. This disposition was the first that began to give me some victorys, using less offensive tactics each time, reserving and remaining defensive until the moment of making decisive charges when the enemy was sufficiently diminished ... Until I faced the Spanish  and discovered that the Priest was completely useless because having many dice on the board did not bring me anything good and needed to counter the harassment of jinetes’ light cavalry. So I changed the priest for 4 naffatum (thanks to the advice of Monty Luhman)

The naffata have not stopped giving me joy and have helped me to get some victories although I am still finishing to determine my moors warband and my style of play. Being more and more defensive and trying to find the ideal moment to go on the offensive, depending on the opponent and the scenario at stake.

Nowadays I’m using 4 units of 8 warriors with 1 naffata each (5p) and another unit of warriors on horseback with javelin although I am studying the possibility of using Turcomans in their place since the fact to shoot before the move and move + C in each activation can be very unbalanced against certain enemies...

As a conclusion I can only say that it is difficult to get bored with this game, the possibilities offered by each band, considering the combinations that occur in the scenarios are many, I would dare say infinite if I take into account the time that leaves my “normal” life to dedicate to the game, without going any further I tell you that I already have one eye on the armies of the caliphates mounted figures from Footsore to prepare a 6 points Andalusi-Moors warband and increase my collection of Moors to 8 or even 10 points!!!

 

Author: Carlos Caston
Civil engineer by day, painter of miniatures by night. Family man at all times and wargamer when it's possible. Collector of Dark Ages 28mm scale miniatures mainly. Sagaholic and trained to survive in a zombie apocalypse.
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Painting the dark age Irish Warlord and companion

Recently I’m working on a larger project of a dark age Irish warband for Saga. It is about 10-12 points with lots of options for various equipment for hearthguard (javelin/great weapon/horses), curaidhs on foot and mounted, a unit of dogs and other goodies. It enables many different warband compositions.

My client mostly ordered figures from one specific manufacturer but thought to spice up the army by adding more characteristic and individual looking models. Thus he chose a handful of dark age Irish models from Footsore miniatures. The sculpts are great and each of them is truly an individual character. What a pity that there’s only 10 of them. They were a joy to paint so far. (I still have to finish the shields but otherwise they are done.)

Irish of the dark ages are well known for the intricate tartan design on their clothes which Is quite difficult to paint on a 28mm figure. On the other hand these figures were chosen to make the army look more interesting and they are supposedly the welthier ones given their clothes and equipment so I had to try to do my best when painting the designs in order to represent their higher status. They want to show it off after all I guess.

When it comes to dark age color schemes I try to follow the rules to paint the clothes mostly using beige, light brown, light grey or olive green giving a more natural, dull or worn look to the figures. But for the fancy guys I went for a bit more interesting color schemes using more vivid colours blue, green and in some cases red while having some of the more natural colors also maintain consistency with the rest of the warband. I tried to pair more contrasting colours for the stripes and checkered patterns on the clothes to make them more visible from a tabletop distance.

In terms of their hair, moustache and beard the aim was to paint them mostly with reddish, brownish colours (the only exception is the venerable druid like guy with the grey hair and beard). The sewered off heads some of them are holding is on the contrary was painted blond and light brown as I imagined these are the heads of some rather unfortunate vikings from a recent raid.

Shields in my opinion really set the look of the dark age figures in general so it is important to make them look striking. These guys have smaller shields then I got used to so I wanted to paint simple designs rather than anything too intricate. Just to be on the safe side and not to mess up things. Thus I simply quartered or halved them or painted a cross into the middle. I think they turned out ok.

In terms of basing the whole army has an autumn theme so I needed to keep that one here as well. Modelling sand was used to cover the surface of the bases. These are painted with dark brown and than highlighted with a beige color using a drybrushing technique. For vegetation I always use various static grass and/or tufts of at least 2 colors. I often go for the ones with a contrast next to each other. Let’s say a yellowish or beige tuft and darker green static grass or brown tuft and a lighter coloured static grass. Clump-foliage and flowers are also added to finish it off. In my opinion it provides a quite compact and natural look.

The warlord and the banner man that comes in the blister based individually in order to have an extra standard bearer who could join a unit of warriors or hearthguard by replacing another figure.

The command group blister contains four figures, one hornblower, a standard bearer, a veteran soldier and a venerable druid looking guy. Plenty of options here. The druid could be easily used to represent one of the priest figures in Saga if mounted on a larger base (40 mm in most cases) or could be also added onto the warlord’s base acting as an advisor for the chieftain. The veteran guy looks perfect for add-on to a hearthguard unit or even a curaidh on foot.

The other two blisters are Irish heroes two of them equipped with great weapons the rest is with hand weapons and shields. These are obvious choices for curaidhs but also perfect additions to hearthguard units.

All in all, these figures are great additions to any dark age Irish warband. With some additional purchase from Footsore miniatures (e.g. adding some Irish warriors) could make up their warband on their own.

 

Author: Márton 'Marcello' Megyeri
Marcello is a wargame enthusiast and hobby hero for 14 years (and counting). Passionate for painting, modelling and tabletop wargaming. Co-organizer of the Saga focused club event and gaming community, Friday Night Holmgang located in Budapest, Hungary.
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Coming back to SAGA

SAGA is a game that I have not played for some time. A few years ago I picked up an Anglo-Danish warband and fought many battles against my friends Vikings. But with so many games to play, SAGA ended up taking a back seat to Warhammer Fantasy and Bolt Action. That is about to change. Next month, Gripping Beast is releasing a new supplement for SAGA - Aetius & Arthur and Footsore Miniatures has a perfect range for the new book - the Romano-British.

 

The combined powers of my interest in the Arthurian legend, a desire to paint historical models in bright schemes and the excellent SAGA game have created an irresistible pull to dive back into SAGA. But not just yet. With Adepticon less than two months away I am buried in Bolt Action and Warhammer 40,000 prep. Luckily SAGA has a large presence at Adepticon and I will be able to not only pick up a copy of the Aetius & Arthur supplement but I will get to chat with both players and organizers of the various SAGA events. Armed with the knowledge of tournament players I will be more than equipped to pick out the models I need to start a well-rounded warband.

That being said, no matter the recommendations of other SAGA players, my warlord be mounted on horseback and will be none other than Footsore's fantastic King Arthur. Thinking back, it was the release of this King Arthur model that first rekindled my interest in SAGA. And once I got word of the Aetius & Arthur supplement and the realization that I would be able to play an Arthurian warband, well, I am all in. Maybe my love of the Rohirrim from the Lord of the Rings movies draws me to this warband and these models. The vision of the white and green banners waving in the breeze along with green and gold shields shinning in the sunset is an evocative image and I hope to capture just a bit of the majesty.

As for painting I’d like to go for a classic green, gold and white. I tend to over exaggerate my colors when painting historical models to achieve a vibrant look on the table top. In the great debate between painting miniatures in the actual colors used versus painting miniatures to look sharp on the table, I am firmly planted in the latter. Look no further than my Bolt Action Chindits, no combat troop would were a uniform that bright in the heart of the Burmese jungle, but boy, did they stand out on the table.

  

Without the rules I cannot go much further on what my warband will contain. That being said I will surely feature multiple unites of Hearthguard (at least one will be mounted) and multiple units of Warriors. I feel that thematically an Arthurian warband would be centered on mounted veterans with little in the way of Levy support. But then with the rules still a month away that could all change. I am by no means a Win At All Costs player but I do not want to bring an unbalanced warband either.

Although I cannot wait to get started with this project it must wait until after Adepticon. There is simply too much left to do in preparation for the largest miniatures event in the United States.

 

Author: Andrew Verticchio
Andrew has been collecting and playing hobby games for over fifteen years. As the founder and editor of ChicagoDice.com Andrew continues work on an ever increasing amount of projects and that pile of unpainted miniatures never seems to get any smaller. He can be reached at andrew@chicagodice.com
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Starting Normans

My interest in SAGA first started with its unique premise. SAGA is a game about exploring the Dark Ages as your alter ego, who leads his own personal warband of followers to victory.

What makes SAGA stand out against its competition of miniature wargames is quite simply its great ruleset. The game is easy enough to learn which lends to its accessibility. However it has enough depth through the use of its unique board system so that mastering the game is always a work in progress. 

The battle boards are what test your abilities as a commander in SAGA. They focus your mind into considering what you want to accomplish with your battle plan against the reality of your ever dwindling resources that are your SAGA dice. 

Something that elevates the accessibility of SAGA over other miniature wargames is its simple list building mechanics. Instead of the game being decided on how many hours you spent constructing your list beforehand. A full tourney legal list can be created within 5 minutes, simply by considering quality vs quantity of troop types. What follows now are some of my thoughts when I put together my first SAGA army at around the suggested 6 point game value.

When I first started out in SAGA, I was attracted to the Normans. Anyone with some basic knowledge of English history knows that the Norman invasion of 1066 and the Battle of Hastings changed the future of England forever. William the Bastard used a combined force army and with a little bit of luck managed to break the Anglo-Dane shield wall. I hoped to do something similar with my own war band of Normans.

 

Here is my full 6 point Norman army ready to take to the field of battle.

Warlord – 1pt (Hero of the Viking Age: Ivo Taillefer)

Priest – 1pt

Hearth Guard – 2pts

Warriors –1pt

Levy – 1 pt

The Warlord in my army is represented by a fallen soldier as inside joke to Ivo Taillefer; the Norman knight who charged the Anglo-Danish shield wall and was subsequently hacked to pieces. Ivo’s special rules allow him to remain unaffected by fatigue and he also helps take off fatigue from units within M range of himself. Heroes of the Viking Age cost 1 point versus your normal Warlord’s free cost. However they bring with them certain rules that can bend the game to your benefit and should always be considered a viable alternative.

The Priest is an optional supplement from the Crescent and the Cross rulebook. He brings in the utility of being able to take fatigue himself in exchange for rolling more SAGA dice at the start of your turn. I often find that Norman abilities on their boards are quite expensive for what they do. Any chance to increase the efficiency of my SAGA abilities is a trade worth taking in my personal opinion. I combine this with Ivo Taillefer’s ability to take away fatigue from units close to him in order to create an almost consequence free priest cycle.

The Hearth guards are the elite of my army. I tend to keep them in a large block of 8 models within 1 unit. This creates a scary, mobile, and most importantly hard hitting unit that can take full advantage of the Norman’s battle board abilities.

The Warriors I spilt into 2 units of 4 models each in order to generate initial SAGA dice. In addition to this, their smaller size allows them to quickly seize areas of importance for when you are playing scenarios as well as act as bodyguards for my Warlord.

Last is the unit of levies made up of 12 models. The Normans have unique battle board abilities that favor ranged units to add into their combined arm effects. The catch of course is that you cannot use these ranged abilities if you do not bring any ranged units. Hence the purpose of bow armed levies.      

The Normans have a tendency to be harder to play due to many of their better SAGA abilities requiring rare dice or double dice to use. This war band relies on maximum generation of SAGA dice so that you can power your units to their max potential. In addition to this, Normans have no real help to get rid of fatigue other than their standard rest. With Ivo on the field he can provide some form of fatigue management in addition to being a hardened fighter on the field, especially when you consider the Norman’s Dex Aie ability with Ivo’s fatigue exceptions. 

Normans more than anyone require a little bit of luck and quite a bit of forethought on how to best use your battle board to maximum effect on individual units. Similar to the plight of the actual William the Bastard, you will have to consider how to best impact the battlefield. Should you keep focused and the dice fall in your favor then you will find the Normans to be a challenging yet rewarding faction that brought a swift end to the Viking Age.

 

Author: Jeffrey Sithi-Amnuai
Jeffrey Sithi-Amnuai is a college student who has been playing miniature wargames for well over a decade. With a keen interest in history, writing, and painting he has been exposed to all sorts of different types of tabletop games. While he still struggles to pick a favorite, there are certain games that regularly make the rotation. He has become quite infamous among his local hobby shop for his inexplicable ability to roll lots of 6’s when the dice gods deem it necessary to intervene on his behalf.
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My Thoughts on Saga

“I drink to your safe return in English ale.  I wish that it were English blood!”  with a hearty cheer from the surrounding villagers  the warrior on horseback swigs from a barrel of beer then smashes it to the ground.  The warrior is Kirk Douglas and this is a scene from the 1958 swashbuckling classic ‘The Vikings’.

Like many other historical movies from the fifties and sixties, The Vikings is a glorious Technicolor romp, which like Saga (the game of Dark Age skirmishes) has a grounding in history but doesn’t get bogged down in the detail. 

I’ve been gaming for a few years and always preferred smaller skirmish games to big battle games.  I’m not an early adopter, so Saga had been available for a couple of years before I picked up my copy.  I’d heard positive reviews and the relatively small starting forces didn't seem too much of a painting commitment to take on.

I convinced my friends to give it a go and we’ve been playing at home, using proxy models and primed models at first, but slowly building our games up.  We tried the game at 4 points, and are now playing 6 points each where the game really comes alive.  Good tactical awareness and forward planning become much more important, but the game is as fun and bloody as ever.

The rules of the game are simple and fun.  Reviews of Saga often talk of ‘innovative activation systems’ and ‘resource management’ and they’re right, Saga offers these.  But it’s not just one for statistics nerds; it’s also a set of rules which gives advantage to the player with the most impressive facial hair!  This mix of simple rules, supplemented by options on the battleboards creates a game which is easy to learn but where the tactics of a warband can take many games to fully understand. 

My choice of warband is the Anglo Danish, but since I have as much respect for historical accuracy as the makers of The Vikings film, they don’t look like Anglo Danes.  Just like the costumes of Kirk Douglas and his fellow Hollywood Vikings, the colour is cranked up to make the make the models pop on the table.  

Warbands don't contain hundreds of figures, so it’s possible to collect a number of forces.  Saga has many available making it easy to find a couple to recreate any pre-gunpowder period of your choosing.  I’m tempted to use the latest Roman rules to represent early republican Romans and refight some skirmishes from the Punic Wars (can I fit an elephant into my warband?), or even find a battleboard which I could use for a Samurai warband.

That's the story so far and I’ve already got some plans for the coming year. The Anglo Danes are fun but defensive, I need something fast or aggressive so an Irish warband with packs of dogs is likely to be next onto the painting table.  Until now I’ve only played single unconnected games, but there’s also the ‘Age of the Wolf’ campaign rules, which I’m planning to try out this year.  Maybe I need to start building some more terrain as well?

That’s my history with Saga and why I enjoy the game so much.  It’s about smashing barrels of ale and running headlong at the enemy, it’s about bright colours and glorious tales of victory.  The game doesn't claim to be a true depiction of life in the dark ages; what is delivers, like the Hollywood films of old, is fun, action, and a sense of adventure which will leave your head spinning. 

 

Author: Frugal Dave
Frugal Dave lives in the south west of the UK and can be found on twitter @thefrugalgamer.
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SAGA, Simplicity, and Salience

I’ve played many miniature games in over a decade within the hobby: Warhammer, 40k, Lord of the Rings, Warmachine, Guild Ball, Hell Dorado, Relic Knights, Anima Tactics, Muskets and Tomahawks, Judge Dredd, Wild in the Streets, Of Gods and Mortals, X-Wing, Mordheim (plus its fan-created variants), and Infinity for a short list. SAGA will likely never be my primary and only miniature war game. SAGA contains many translation, editorial, and typographical errors to the point of annoyance. Yet, in the past 5 years, SAGA has never left my cycle of games. I’ve never gone more than a few months without pulling out my Jomsviking warlord, Heri Tyrsson, and adding another verse to his poetic epic. Very rarely do I spend as much time, research, and attention to painting an army for any miniature wargame as I did with SAGA. With this medieval-themed game, Studio Tomahawk created a magnum opus that teases the dichotomies of simplicity and complexity, ease of comprehension and strategic planning, and historical accuracy and accessibility.

Firstly, please let me indulge in a bit of biography so you may understand my perspective and reasoning that SAGA rates so highly in my large repertoire of wargames. I entered the war gaming scene, as so many war gamers do, with Games Workshop’s series of games. Sometime in high school, my preferences changed to Privateer Press’s flagship Warmachine. In college my attention and preferences grew to encompass more skirmish-level wargames. I graduated with two Bachelor degrees in 2015, one in Comparative Literature and another in French Modern Language and Literature. To date, I continue my studies through graduate school. I’ve studied Medieval Literature, Scandinavian Sagas, Faroese dance-ballads, the political and social efficacy of the English and French applications of the knight throughout the Middle Ages, among other interests. I write this not brag or a failed attempted to impress the reader but rather to stress the following.

Through my studies and playing many different games, I have thought a lot about this time period (more than any other era), and SAGA provides an unequaled fun and balanced view of the “Dark Ages” without bogging itself down in the unnecessary complexity of other war games. The flavorful, (and at the time of its release) rarely-explored time period and simple gameplay mechanics makes the game easy to learn, simple to remember, yet difficult to completely master.

Heri’s hearthguard face down a Norman charge desperately trying to dislodge the Vikings from their hill.

Why you should play SAGA

This will provide the briefest of introductions to why myself, my friends, and many people I’ve met through the war gaming hobby fall in love with SAGA. All the following points will hopefully be expanded upon in further articles.

Simplicity

The required reading for SAGA rules number less than 50 pages. The game takes less than 3 hours to read, a half-dozen games to comprehend fully, and yet years to master. Most game mechanics are based on a simple progression or equivalence system (one hearth guard is about the equivalent two warriors or three levies, and all three tiers of warrior cost the same in army composition). Each bonus in army composition will likely also net you a penalty (ex: heavy weapons will make it easier to hit your opponent but also means it’s easier to hit the unit). Taking a few months’ break from the game won’t hinder your enjoyment; the basics will be easily remembered and the specifics will return after a 30-minute review of the rules.

The battle boards are probably the most difficult thing in the rules to understand (and it’s just assigning dice to abilities). Most people will understand in just a few games.

Cost

I’m a sucker for good looking miniatures. I’m an even bigger sucker for cheap good looking miniatures. This is especially important as I’m a graduate student with only a part-time job in Southern California. Many producers, from our own Footsore, to Deus Vult, Wargames Foundry, Warlord, V&V, and Perry make inexpensive Medieval models in plastic kits, resin individuals, white metal blisters, and everything in between. You can be up and running with a SAGA army for less than a month’s worth of gasoline or a half-dozen meals at a restaurant. If you’re like me, you may start inexpensively with a plastic kit and slowly add characterful units in resin or white metal to differentiate your units and warlord, spreading out the total price for the army over several months or more, and at the same time adding variety to the war band composition. To field the vast majority of battle boards, you can get away with two dozen generic cavalry units and just as many infantry models. How much you spend is entirely up to you, but the frugally-minded can easily obtain a full, tournament worthy 6-point tournament army for 60 USD or less.

Army Size and Time Requirements

The time for both game play and painting are minimal for most SAGA armies. Most players will field 25-40 miniatures. This game belongs to the skirmish-level of wargame which allows minimal effort when compiling and painting a war band. The maximum unit size fielded is 12 models. This means, each unit can be assembled, painted, and fielded with less effort than games where unit composition starts at 10+. Also, due to the simplicity in army composition and game play, the longer SAGA matches will rarely last more than 2 hours. This means that the competitively minded can have a full four round tournaments in a single day and those with limited time can play several games during an evening or weekend.

Jarl Heri Tyrsson leads his fellow Vikings in a Saxon raid. Unfortunately, like his namesake, Heri lost his arm in the pursuit of justice.

I hope this provides a solid introduction to why I play SAGA as both a scholar and hobbyist and why you should too. It is my hope that through my articles, I help you develop your understanding of the game so that when we meet on the battlefield, you may prove a challenge and may prove worthy to become one of Heri’s trophies. To Valhalla, friends!

 

Author: Gareth O’Neal
Gareth O'Neal is a Southern Californian who has for over a decade glued his fingers to little metal men. He shares his passion for table top miniature games and painting through conventions and hosting tournaments with his local club, Play it Painted. He studies Medieval Literature and History.
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