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.