As Adam mentioned last week, the new edition of Saga has come out and we are all a quite excited about it! Unfortunately, my beloved Normans have changed drastically; the mounted warriors in the list now have to be equipped with javelins, which makes them very susceptible to damage, and they are no longer fit for the purpose that they once served. Whilst this could make for a much more exciting and challenging list to play, it’s more in line with the old ‘Breton’ list, and not really what I wanted from the Normans. The only logical thing to do was to shelve the Normans for the time being (although I fully expect to pick them back up at some point, when I can work out what I want to do with them!), and I have started work on a completely new band – the Anglo-Saxons.

I actually started assembling the parts for this band over two years ago, I had decided that I wanted to have another force to play against Adam with, and that I wanted it to be completely different. This was back in the old days of Saga 1, so I didn’t have the same plethora of battleboards to choose from; Mike had already started his Viking force, and I didn’t fancy the welsh army much, so that left me with Anglo-Danes. I started working out the army, picked up some Saxon hearthguard and hero miniatures from Gripping beast, and received a set of their dark age warriors as a Christmas gift. I got very excited about assembling them, and then (inevitably), they ended up being stuffed in a box before I moved to university, never to see the light of day again… until now!

The assembled levy (at the front in plastic), and hearthguard and warlord at the back in metal (Warlord to the left on the bigger base)

I decided that the army I made would be the Anglo Saxons rather than the Anglo Danes, as they have a slightly more interesting game mechanic. The Saxon board seems to encourage you to take large blocks of levy with spears, which in most forces is a massive waste of points, and levy are difficult to activate in battle, and are, quite bluntly, utterly bollocks in a fight – Plus, Rob wants to make a Anglo-Dane force, and we can’t have more than one of the same army in our gaming group, now, can we?
This is where the Saxons get interesting: in most Saga armies, the more trained your troops are, the more easily they can be activated with your Saga dice. Your hearthguard veterans, and general can use any dice they like to activate, where as your terrified peasant levy can only use a dice on what is essentially a 4+ on a D6. The Saxon board, however has a mechanic where the size of the unit also influences how easily the units activate, which means whilst your levy units are at nearly full strength they activate as if they were heathguard. The saxon levy with spears aren’t too shabby in a fight, hitting and defending above their paygrade, and there’s even an ability on the battleboard that lets them generate more attacks too. Winner!

With all that said, I started on the large levy blocks for the army first. I needed to build two blocks of them with spears, and if I wanted to take any archers I would use the levy I already had from my Norman army (as they are fairly generic looking medieval archers). I assembled them pretty much out of the box, but swapped most of the heads for some from the Gripping beast Saxon Thegn kit, to make them fit in with the army a little bit more. I also decided not to use the shields that came with the kit – I wanted to make the models easily distinguishable from warriors at a distance. Instead, I have started work on some smaller bucker shields that I had lying round from a long dead project. These were completely smooth, however, and looked slightly out of place, so I glued a plastic rivet to the centre of each shield to represent a shield boss, and make them more closely resemble the larger shields wielded by the professional warriors in my force.

Metal bucklers with added nipples… I mean shield bosses!

Then, we were onto painting! I undercoated all 24 with Vallejo surface primer grey, then split them down into two smaller groups of 12, one of which was painted with Vallejo Air colour (VAC) Sand yellow, highlighted with a zenithal spray of VAC Sand (ivory), and the other was sprayed with a mix of VAC Cam. Med. Brown and VAC Khaki brown, then highlighted with a zenthial spray of another mix of these colours, but with more of the Khaki brown in it. I can’t remember the ratios off the top of my head, I’m afraid, I pretty much just eyeballed the mix in the airbrush pot until I was happy with it!

Picking out colours on the ‘khaki’ models

I basecoated all of the flesh areas with Citadel Foundation (CF) tallarn flesh, then the hair was picked out with a browns and tans that I had lying around on my desk (most of which were Secret Weapon Miniatures (SWM) colours, because I love them so much!), and the hafts of all of the spears and axes where picked out in (appropriately) SWM handle wood. For the metal areas I took a leaf out of Rob’s book, and used paints from the Vallejo Air colour range. Even though these are thinned for use in an airbrush, the metal colours just stick to miniatures and give great coverage, and VAC Gunmetal has replaced citadel Leadbelcher as my metal base colour of choice (which is high praise indeed, because I think Leadbelcher is brilliant!). The linen wrappings on the legs were all picked out in the irreplaceable CF Dheneb Stone, and the trousers on the light tunic batch painted CF Khemri brown. On the brown tunicked models, I used Vallejo Model Colour (VMC) German grey, to provide some contrast, and the shoes and belts on all of the models were painted with a layer of Citadel Base Dryad bark.

Khaki test miniature after the wash stage

After that, it was time to get messy! The entire model, with the exception of the flesh areas, metal parts and weapon hafts was given a wash with a 50:50 mix of Army painter strong tone quickshade  and quickshade mixing medium, I used this mix as I wanted the shadows to be a bit softer than the strong tone is when used neat (before anyone points out there is a ‘soft tone’ quickshade, I know there is, but it’s not the colour I wanted the shadows to be 😉 ). On the tunics and trousers, I was careful not to let the quickshade pool too much, and wiped quite a lot of it away with a clean, dry brush. This left areas that were almost the original paint colour , and created an even greater contras to the cloth without the need for further layering or edge highlighting. After this, the metal areas were given a similarly diluted wash of Army painter Dark tone quickshade, being careful only to pick out the shadows, and the flesh areas washed with (appropriately) Flesh wash quickshade.

Once that was done, I spent a bit of time cleaning up the base colours where needed mostly on the weapon hafts), and started layering the flesh, first with Citadel Layer Cadian fleshtone, then extreme highlights with Kislev flesh. Bases were done with my usual Rhinox hide, khemri brown drybrush then flayed one flesh drybrush method, and the models were done!

I wanted to try and make things as easy as possible for myself with the shields, so I turned back to my trusty airbrush. I stuck the shields to a scrap piece of plasticard using a blob of blu-tac on the back of each, so they stood slightly proud of the plastic, this way I wouldn’t end up causing problems with the primer layer tearing when I removed them later on. The plan was to paint half of the shields yellow as a base and the other half white, then layer colours on top in a mix of quartered and halved patterns. By mixing the patterns and the colours, I would get plenty of variety, without actually using too many colours, or getting bogged down thinking about complex designs. Sometimes I like to make things easy for myself when I’m painting (despite what Adam may tell you!).

FORM THE SHIELD WALL!!!

The shields were all undercoated using Vallejo surface primer white, then half were airbrushed with Citadel base Averland sunset followed by a generous coat of Citadel layer Yriel yellow. I then layered with red, blue and green using the following combination of colours:

Red: P3 Formula Skorne red, CB Mephiston red, edge highlight CL Wild rider red
Green: Vallejo Game colour extra Opaque Heavy Green, WMC Flat Green, edge highlight CL Moot green
Blue: VMC Dark Prussian blue, VWC Blue edge, edge highlight WMC Prussian blue.
Yellow: finished with an edge highlight of CL Flash gitz yellow
Finally the backs of the shields were given a couple of coats of SWM Handle wood (for consistency) and superglued onto the main model

People say that you don’t need to paint the backs of shields, but if I didn’t paint the back of them it would bother me that they weren’t painted… I might have a problem.

And that’s where I’m up to! It’s ironic that in once week I have finished more saxon models than I ever did Norman models, it’s probably because they don’t have horses. I HATE painting horses, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before…?

The finished Levy, in all their painted glory!

I have plenty more units to crack on with, but I think having Adam work on a brand new army at the same time will create some competition and prevent distraction. I should probably also clear the Malifaux models off my desk, they are calling to me…