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Saga – My Vikings

Saga – My Vikings

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Project Blog by dugthefug1644

Recommendations: 66

About the Project

My first steps into SAGA were to get a Gripping Beast plastic Viking boxset. Imagining that this would be all i need to get into the game cheaply, plus the rules and some homemade dice; the number of minis in the box seemed more than enough. Well this is still one of the cheaper games to get into, but I soon realized that if I was going to get games i would need to get an opposing army so i could demo and play as an advocate for the game. I have expanded beyond that box and wanted to share my progress of painting my collection and thought processes as my collection grew. Also check out my other Saga projects at https://www.beastsofwar.com/project/1213608/ (Normans) and https://www.beastsofwar.com/project/1245542/ (Anglo-Dane / Saxons)

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Black Tree Designs.

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Black Tree Designs.
Black Tree Designs.

I think I have criticised Black Tree Designs at times during my Saga projects, but these two characters hold up against a host of models. The trouble is I didn’t like the other two minis in the 4 mini blister at all. The wonder that is ebay saw me sell the unwanted two minis for the same price I bought the blister for. 😊

I still suggest the plastic options out there if you are starting out and maybe splashing out on a nice warlord and Berserkers, but check out Black Tree Designs if they have sales on, but be selective. What you see is what you get. If you don’t like the look of the minis in the bear metal they present you with on the website, I think you’d have to be an awesome painter to raise them over and above any negative first impressions you might have.

Version 2 first impressions

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Version 2 first impressions

I like it. The change to version 2 rules has been really positive.

Losing the warlord joint charge into combat isn’t a big loss and was a confusing rule for new comers to the game.

The straight lines movement isn’t that difficult to get used to either.

The fatigue acting like wounds once the Warlord fails to make saves is a really fun mechanic.

Still haven’t beaten the Normans in this version or the last. 😊

The alternating activating abilities during combat seems an important step to remember, because it really effects some abilities.
My opponent let me off, but he threw down 3 abilities in combat against me, then I used a Viking ability that gives you 2 extra attack dice for every ability your opponent uses against you.
I should have used the ability first off as part of the alternate turns, so maybe he may never have committed the 2nd and 3rd abilities against me (that ended up giving me 6 extra dice to attack him with.)

Still learning the battle boards and still considering my lists; the game still has me hooked and will be painting more minis soon.

6 points is the aim

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6 points is the aim

The Vikings have no access to mounted troops in the game.

Apart from a few advantages that mounted troops obviously give you, the Viking battle board would give you nothing in the way of abilities for mounted troops.

So if I can’t clash against cavalry with cavalry of my own, I guess I can prey on one of their few disadvantages, in that they are a minus 1 to their armour value when under ranged attack.

To help complete my 6 points list of Vikings I went for 12 levy archers.

6 points is the aim

To make my archers look as individual as i could I turned to a box of Conquest Games Medieval Archers and kit bashed them with Gripping Beast Vikings and Wargames Factory pieces. This was enormous fun.
I had already made a couple of archers for Frostgrave and was happy with how they had turned out.

I did wonder whether the Medieval archers would look out of their era in Dark Age battles, but have been reassured that they look fine and match history fairly well. I have spoken to Dark Age reenactors and they have said their main gripe with Viking miniatures is padded armour (an addition from much later in history) and the number of pouches on display. A sack was a far more likely carrying device, because it takes skill with leather work and costly in time to make a clasped good quality pouch. The clash comes when most war gamers want to paint their armies and often want to paint something more intricate and interesting than just a smock with a belt. Pouches and purses offer variety too, even if they weren’t as typical during the era as they are on our gaming tables.

6 points is the aim

I used the sand and grass basing to try to continue the theme throughout my force. Even with the Viking helmets I would probably get away with using these as levy archers for another faction if I needed to and I doubt anyone would object.

Dice

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Dice
Dice

Originally I wasn’t sure I was going to commit to the game and over £10 a pack of dice just grated a little.

I may invest in something nicer one day, but for now these look fine.
The dice faces are available on the Tomahawk Studio’s website along with several interesting downloads for all their games.
The blank dice are from The Dice Shop online.
I didn’t colour match the green paint well on my first attempt, but again, it was all about a cheap jump off point to try the game.

I have since used a paint package to have the faces print off in a green colour i can settle with (close enough to the blank dice colour).

ADVICE – use super glue. I used PVA to stick the symbols down, but they kept falling off after a few months of only occasional use. Since i started putting them back with superglue they have stayed put more often.

If I get a faction like Scots or Irish I will just buy the actual dice from Gripping Beast. It seems like a waste of time crafting them now I am so heavily invested into Saga. Only if i had a cool idea that involved more than just cutting and pasting like these would i bother making my own again.

There are some awesome ideas out there.

Joe Rogers from Wisco Tabletop on YouTube did a great video.

Differentiation

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Differentiation

I still had the problem that warriors and hearthguard models looked too alike in my force. Though I loved the variety of my shield designs, I realized that if I gave my hearthguard the same shields as the warlord that they had sworn to protect, that this would make it more obvious that they were his bodyguard. I painted these models with that in mind and i will be picking another 4 of my Gripping Beasts miniatures, 4 that I like the shield designs the least on, to have the same red, black and white design.

I also saw a part of a weekender with BoW Lloyd showing off his Saga Rus archers hobby efforts. He had removed the chain mail by simply filing the chainmail sculpting off of their arms and painting them as normal sleeves. Genius!? I think so. Thank you @lloyd

Not sure I will go back and do the same for all my warriors, but is definitely food for thought and would help define which troop type is which.

The other defining factor for my Vikings was my basing. I decided that one guy with a sword and shield can often look like any other guy with a sword and shield so went for the storming up the beach look. The Vikings are obviously most famous for their raiding, so for all my Vikings I have the front half of the base being grass and rocks and the rear half being sand.

Warlords

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Warlords

I got the Harald Steptoesson miniature from Warlord Games with another purchase. I enjoyed painting him. The shield with an Odin’s eye symbol was one of my first efforts.

Warlords

I thought that maybe I could have Ragnar Lothbrok with my warlord as an extra point in my army. I found out that if you take a hero they generally replace your warlord. I liked the look of the model any way, so got him at Salute from Gripping Beast.

Berserkers - A journey to find the right mix of gore and crazy

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Berserkers - A journey to find the right mix of gore and crazy

I used the warlord model from the Gripping Beast box, gave him two swords and decided that that could denote his berserker status. I gave another guy two axes and used the dane axes in the set to complete the 4 models i would need in game.

After a while i revisited them and decided that they just didn’t stand out enough on the battlefield. To remedy this I put some Frostgrave barbarian spare heads on the base as severed bloody evidence of their savagery.

Berserkers - A journey to find the right mix of gore and crazy

This did help make them stand out but I soon realized that a lack of armour or care for your own safety is a big element of the berserker attitude and also that the dane axe models would be really useful for my Anglo Dane army i was planning.

With that in mind i bought some metal berserker models at Salute one year and added two of those. The Dane axe models were removed and I am happy with my current team of berserkers.

Berserkers - A journey to find the right mix of gore and crazy

Redbull free stencils :-)

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Redbull free stencils :-)

Whilst looking for inspiration I discovered that a ring pull from a can of Redbull has a punched design of their symbol so I used a thin fineline marker to give me the shape on a shield. It might be easier or better to use with an airbrush, but i don’t have one. Not sure that the stylized images of animals as they were at the time really would have shown a bull to be this shape, but it was certainly fun to try out.

Shield designs

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Shield designs

The most fun was looking into shield designs on Google. It is said that historical games painting can be restrictive. The uniforms of an era would usually have been in a limited range of colours and that some historical gamers might criticize you if you get it wrong? Well I know that you may run the risk of this against some opponents, but when you go as far back as the Dark Age, the amount of available and reliable written history is pretty limited. The freedom to go nuts on the shield designs is within reason completely yours. I found myself limiting my pallet for clothing to muted browns and linen colours because i researched that some brighter dye colours were so rare that only royalty could afford it.

Shield designs

Initial steps

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Initial steps

I bought the Gripping Beast Viking plastic box set. I looked purely at the price and the miniature count and thought it was a bargain. It was a bargain but now that I know more about the game I realise that all being in full chain mail looks as though they should be classed as hearthguard troops. To make an army you should have a mix of levies, warriors and hearthguard. At the time though I was having a blast looking at shield designs and stretching my freehand efforts.

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