October 22, 2011


My life seems to FINALLY be returning to normal so I can get in some quality hobby time besides Flag Monday (Don't worry - that feature should continue at least through the rest of the year). I have another unit of AWI militia finished and awaiting photography, a unit of TYW infantry around the half way mark, a load of Warfare Miniatures in the mail, and of course I decided to start something new...

I check in over at Dave Imrie's Saxon Dog blog just about every day and he has an annoying habit of making me want to paint the same period he's working on (and he changes gears as often as I do). A week or so ago, he posted a small Anglo-Dane warband designed for use with the new SAGA game from Gripping Beast. I'd heard some interesting things about this game (including Dave writing "I have played 'Saga' three or four times at the SESW Club and I have to say...I'm hooked!") so I ordered a copy and it arrived yesterday. After reading through the rules (yes I read the whole book in a day - not only does it seem like an easy game, it was a fun read) I can't wait to them out.

Without going into great detail about the rules (I can if anyone wants, but there is a great review at The Man Cave), warbands are built with a very simple point system. The Warlord who leads the force (and your alter ego in miniature) is required and is free. Remaining models cost one point per group and the number of models in each depends on the class of troops you choose... 4 Hearthguard, 8 Warriors, or 12 Levy. The basic intro game requires only four points of models, moving to six points standard once you get the hang of things. Once purchased, models are grouped into units of 4-12 models. For instance, if you spend three points on Hearthguard, you could field them as one unit of 12 models, two units of 6 models, three units of 4 models, etc. You can play your first games with only 30 or 40 models per side.

Here's the great part. I ALREADY HAVE enough Vikings painted to field a four and a half point warband (the half point comes from only having six archer levy)!

These models are left over from a WAB project I started YEARS ago. I have nearly sold off this collection several times and I'm glad I didn't. They were painted with my first foray into the Kevin Dallimore style and happen to still resemble my work today. I want to go back and weather them a bit, beat up their shields to give a more battle worn appearance, and touch up the bases, but with the addition of ten models (4 berserkers and 6 archers which I already have in my unpainted mountain of lead) I can field the following six point SAGA Viking Warband:

1 Warlord (Weglaf Ravenshelm)
2 units of Viking Hearthguard (4 models each)
1 unit of Viking Berserkers (4 models)
2 units of Viking Warriors (one unit of 12 models and a reserve of 4 models)
2 units of Viking Levy (6 models each)

The actual composition might vary once I get a few games in, but you get the idea. This afternoon I dropped enough cash on the Perry site to get a six point Norman army (based on their minis from the Crusaders line). There may be a few anachronistic details for games set before 1066, but I think they will work well enough for a heroic style skirmish game.

I am looking forward to getting back into a regular painting groove and hopefully updates will come on a more regular basis in the future.


  1. Sounds great! I sold off all my Foundry vikes earlier this year because I was totally done with WAB. Then Hail Caesar and Saga come out... I definitely should have kept a few for skirmish battles at least.

  2. This is why I don't like selling my painted stuff. There is allways new rules coming out and all of a sudden it's all go again.

  3. Clarence,

    Can't wait to see where this project goes. I have been rereading the Saxon chronicles by Bernard Cornwell and thinking of getting this period kick started in miniature. Now the big choice for me is to go 28mm Foundry, or pseudo historical with Copplestones new 18mm? Ah the choices!

  4. Ouch! Clarence, unless you opted for an infantry-heavy Norman army, the Normans aren't a great match-up for the Vikings . . . at least using most rules (I'm not familiar with SAGA).

    Why? Because of the mobility of their mounted troops. For most rule systems it means that the Normans can pick where and when to attack and can avoid the Vikings due to their superior mobility. Unless the Norman is set on getting "stuck in", it can be very frustrating for the Vikings.

    Scots or Irish or Anglo-Saxons would probably make a better match-up . . . so, of course, the solution is obvious . . . buy more lead!

    Come on, Clarence, you know that you want to.

    -- Jeff

  5. I JUST bought the Normans!

    I might agree with you, but there are several things to consider.

    1. I think SAGA is different from other rules, though I haven't had the chance to play them yet. Cavalry do have a faster movement rate, but are vulnerable to missile fire. I don't have a lot of fire power in my Viking list, but there are enough bows to keep the enemy cavalry from mincing about too long.

    2. The default SAGA game board is 3x4'... There's not as much room to maneuver (though I think I'll be using 4x4' so we'll see).

    3. The sequence of action is controlled by your SAGA dice and battle board. Hard to explain without going into all of the rules, but the core of the system makes it unlikely that you will be able to activate all of your troops every turn.

    4. Anglo-Saxon lists aren't included in the initial game (seemed strange to me too, but there must be reasons the designers chose to do this - they are certainly due out in the next wave). You can pick from Vikings, Anglo-Danes (the Vikings who settled the northern reaches of England), Normans, or Welsh. The choice may have been made to include 4 very different armies (though I could make an Anglo-Dane army from my existing mini collection by painting up a few double handed axemen).

    5. Many of the scenarios are depending on victory conditions other than slaughtering your opponent. The Viking player will be able to force the Norman player to react to him or watch the objectives fall.

    6. My Norman list does include lots of infantry (12 mounted Knights, 8 Crossbowmen, 8 Spearmen, and 12 Archers), though it is possible to field an all mounted Norman army in SAGA.

    7. The VERY FIRST real wargame I ever played was a Viking raid on a Norman village. Half a dozen long boats pulled up on the shore while militia tried to hold off the attackers long enough for the knights to respond to the peal of the church bells. As I think about it now, the game wasn't very well presented by today's standards, but I was hooked!

    Anyway - the forces need for a game are small and I think I can paint a warband in a month, so I will certainly be adding to my Dark Ages collection!

  6. Ah, so many extenuating circumstances. Weird that the Anglo-Saxons aren't there since 1066 was all about them fighting BOTH Vikings (whom they beat at Stamford Bridge) and the Normans (who beat them at Hastings).

    Sadly this is probably one of those Games Workshop-type ploys to guarantee that you need to purchase their next expansion.

    By the way, I love the look of your figures, sir. And I hope that you get many many hours of pleasurable gaming from Saga.

    -- Jeff

  7. Great figs and blog!

    Franklin, TN