What a Saga!

March to War is over! The strange feeling that I should be painting every spare hour I get is receding and it is time for something to fill that hobby void.

Over the last few weeks, we have put quite a bit up about Saga II and the new edition of the rules. I have been busy evangelising on the subject, and have even bought another army (my third) for it.

My evangelising has been mightily successful, helped out by the fact that Studio Tomahawk have kept up the releases for this system. Only a month after releasing the Viking Universe sourcebook, they have released the Age of Crusades universe which has set tongues wagging here at Brush and Boltgun.

This has been ably assisted by Gripping Beast who have put together some new, plastic, army deals, so that you can now get a full 6-point force for under £40!

Dave, Mike and I all played Saga already, and after a test game of borrowing Mike’s Vikings (where he came dangerously close to walloping my poor Byzantines off the board), Rob will be joining the Saga train too. Woop!

Speaking with Dave the other day, it turns out that he also has a Saxon warband ready to build and paint in cupboard. So we have decided that our next mini-series will be a Saga-saga, with the rest of the guys joining in as and when they fancy. Salute deals may have provided Mike with some Saracens, but I can’t confirm that intel at the present time

I have stolen a march on the other guys by the fact that this was already my direction at the end of April. I had ordered my Carolingian Frank army with a view to it arriving at the end of March to War.

Work and dodgy house rendering have conspired to get in the way but I still start this series with my army assembled:

As a handicap, I am trying to do a few more points to give me some variation in army selections: there are nine points of models here, plus the Warlord (12 mounted hearthguard= 3pts. 8 mounted warriors = 1pt. 24 foot warriors= 3pts. 8 bow-warriors = 1pt. 8 Steppe nomads= 1pt).

The Steppe Nomads (at the back, in black) are not actually part of this army. They are a unit I have been wanting to add to my Byzantines for ages as characterful mercenaries, Alans or Cumans. Now mercenaries are included in the main rules, they had to go in! They will also work for my Warhammer Ancients Byzantine army, which needed an addition of some light cavalry.

As for the rest of the army, why did I choose Carolingians? Well, firstly, I am a sucker for a complicated set of rules. In the front of the Viking Universe book, it ranks the armies in terms of ‘difficulty’. The two top armies, coming in with three difficulty stars, are Carolingians and Jomsvikings. Mike already has bagsied Jomsvikings, so I had to take Carolingians! It’s always worth me having a bit of a handicap when our group plays as, generally, dice love me.

The Proelium rule means that the Franks’ special abilities are based on how many Saga dice you stash away to boost them. They are also the only faction that cannot gain any more activation dice by cashing in one dice showing the highest roll (effectively a 6, a flag for my red dice). So you have to balance very carefully the actions you take versus how effective you want them to be.

I also like the background to the Franks. They are the biggest empire, so can pretty much be found fighting all the other factions, as well as some that aren’t in this book (Charles Martell commands the Franks during the Arab conquests, so if Mike has Saracens we can kind of crowbar these two forces as able to fight).

Charlemagne becoming Holy Roman Emperor, and being able to manage such a wide swathe of lands when communications were so poor, has also been of interest to me since I studied him in first year history at University an embarrassing number of years ago. Let’s see if I can lose all that territory for him!

In terms of painting, they should be quite simple, the main details being a mix of shield designs (prototype heraldry) and generic dark age colours for the cloth clothing. Hopefully I can get them painted up relatively fast and show you some results, along with the rest of the chaps progress.

Until then, hobby hard, people!

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