The current generation of wargames tend more toward the skirmish action style, and this means fewer miniatures - better in many respects for actually getting an army finished and games played. SAGA takes this and some nice dice mechanics pilfered from the realm of boardgames and makes a fast and ingenious game.
I've looked at this game for a while, and generally I've only heard positive things about it, but the startup cost I always thought to be a little on the pricey side.
The extra impetus (see what I did there?) I needed to splash out came in two forms. Firstly, my current immersion in all things dark ages as I study the period to create background for my DnD campaign set in 800ad, currently based around the capital of Mercia, Winchcombe. This has also spawned a need for miniatures of the period.
This led to my discovery of the second reason - Gripping Beast Plastic (GBP) Dark age Warriors and Saxon Thegns.
A trip to Colours in Newbury led to a joint purchase of Rules, the two boxed sets and some 4ground Saxon dwellings (which Colonel Bill's did me a good deal on). The good gentleman on the Ainsty stand was also very helpful and saved us £24 on startup cost when he revealed that we don't actually need the SAGA dice, but can use normal D6 as proxies. I already covet a set of Welsh dice, but that can wait until, the coffers refill. Total spend was £85, but some of that was mitigated by the joint purchase, and I could justify it as most of the spend would be useful for DnD too.
So on to the project. In the Dark Ages Warriors (hence DAW) set, there are 40 miniatures, and in the Saxon Thegns (hence ST) there are 44. Here are the sprues:
Two of the DAW sprues went to sweeten the joint purchase which should still give me plenty to make my army. There are three types of troops in SAGA, and a point buys a set number of them ; Levy (12), Warriors (8) and Hearthguard (4). The versatility of having both boxes meant I could make all three from the sprues provided.
The basic rules have four factions - Vikings, Normans, Anglo-Danes and Welsh. My co-conspirator plumped for Anglo-Danes as he could enlist some old Citadel DA figures for his army, but I had my heart set on the Welsh, as that is the direction my DnD campaign will soon take.
I didn't want to over face myself with too many miniatures to make and paint at once, so I decided to build a unit of levy slingers and a unit of warriors for 20 figures on the table and two points of my army.
Construction is not difficult if you're used to plastic figures. There are ample heads and weapons, although the slings require removal of a spear or other hand and transplanting the sling hand. As part of one of my other projects I have a box of Victrix Greek peltasts, javelin men and slingers, so I checked some of the heads for size - they generally fit. So, in the interests of having a varied army, I drafted a couple of miniatures and some parts in from this box.
I made the warriors up from DAW and ST bodies, but used heads from the opposite set on each. The Javelins with which they are armed have been pilfered mainly from the Victrix box, others are cut down spears. I decided to paint the shields on the sprue. To give the the plastics some weight, they've been based on 2p coins (Queen's head down, so it's not defaced). These are among the cheapest bases, surpassed only by 1p coins. 40p to base two units.
After spraying with Halford's grey, I set about adding some colour. I was aware that some colours may have been unavailable or rare, so I set about researching what I could use. I went no further than this excellent blog post and its links by 1000 foot general on dark ages colour palettes - http://1000footgeneral.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/dark-ages-color-palettes.html
To start, I sprayed the whole lot grey, then gave them a white spray from above for cheap zenithal highlighting. I chose four base colours - GW's old Orc brown, Liquitex unbleached titanium, vallejo sea grey and vallejo elf flesh. I painted three coats and three trousers in each colour, alternating which got which. All the shoes I did in sepia, all the leg bindings in grey, then added flesh and four different hair colours en masse.
I used my trusty calligraphy inks and other washes to transform the four base colours into a variety of shades.
The shields I devoted a fair amount of time to, taking cues from the little big men transfers and some books I have on Celtic patterns. They're all freehand though - here's WIP:
|freehand shields WIP|
I decided at this point that the warriors would be the second unit I would complete, and concentrated on the levy slingers. Some tartan on my 'wild men' that use the Greek bodies, and some simple trimmings on their coats came next.
I also detailed all the faces at this point, I think that doing this adds some real character and simplifies finishing each miniature. The shields acquired more detail.
|shields done, more detail on slingers|
With most of each miniature complete, it was time to base - something I needed to do to a lot of miniatures at once, so off I went and pulled out the basing box.
|let basing commence|
I use this to give a nice solid gritty base
The next addition was dried twigs, which make great felled logs and trees
After this I added some tufts and then it was a sepia ink wash and off to the dipping tray.
|the dipping tray|
Here's how that came out:
The warriors didn't get any twigs, but the process was similar:
Time for some final colour additions for their belts, and there's only touch-up to do:
Expect finished slingers in WIP2. More soon.