14 July, 2021

28mm Cretan and Balearic Mercenaries for Saga Age of Hannibal

When planning my Age of Hannibal armies for Saga (Iberians and Epirotes), I took a long look at the mercenaries section to see what mercenary units were available and which I thought would work best for the two armies I was planning (Iberians and Epirotes).  

There are 8 different mercenary units included in the Age of Hannibal book, with armies only allowed to use those they historically employed.  For the Iberians, the only mercenary unit they can use is the Baelaric slingers so those were an easy choice.  If I don't use them as mercenaries there is an option to arm 8 Iberian warriors as slingers so there is a second option to use them.

The Epirotes can choose from 6 mercenaries, and I chose to build the famous Cretan archers.  They were used by most of the Hellenistic successor armies and should also be in the future Saga book Age of Alexander.  So in addition to providing support to my Epirotes they should be usable in some other armies in the future.

When ordering my Epirotes I bought part of the army from from Aventine Miniatures in Northern Ireland, including 2 packs of skirmishers to use as Cretan Archers.  They come with separate small pelta-size shields that attached easily.  This is the first time I have used Aventine and they are great miniatures.  The forthcoming Saga Age of Invasions book will include Sassanid Persians; if I like the battle board I will definitely be using Aventine to make the army.

I painted the Cretan tunics black since I have seen depictions of them in black, plus it gives them a distinctive look.  When trying to decide whether to leave their shields as plain bronze or to paint a design, I looked at the terrific Ancient Battles website by Jeff Jonas.  There is an article on Cretan shield designs, which heavily inspired the designs I painted.  You can find it and many other good articles on wargaming the Hellenistic period at:

Ancient Battles

For the Baelaric slingers I used the same color scheme as my Iberians; tunics in various shades of off-white with red stripes on the borders.  The miniatures are from Crusader, one of my favorite 28mm manufacturers for Ancients.

30 June, 2021

Saga: 28mm Scots

To mark my appearance on my friend Mike's Saga-related podcast, Saga Ohio (Episode 15) to discuss using the Scots in Saga, I finally took some photos of my Scots army.  They were my first Saga army that I painted back in the fall of 2012.  There is a WIP post of them on this blog from December 5, 2012.  Mike's excellent Saga podcast is available several places online including at:



I am a long-time player of Scottish armies.  The first ancients/medieval armies I painted were 15mm Medieval Scots and English way back in 1989-90 for the WRG 7th edition rules.  I have a deep interest in Scottish history.  When I started with Saga they were a natural choice for me.  As a bonus none of the local players had them.

I view my Scots as representing the period from the mid 9th century to the late 11th century.  The earlier part of the period is when the Viking raids are in full swing; the Vikings defeated a combined army of Picts and Scots in 839 and killed both King Eoganan of the Picts and King Aed of the Dal Riata Scots.  That accelerated the process which led to the eventual combination of the two kingdoms of Dal Riata and the Picts around 850 into what was first called Alba and later Scotland.  The end of that period corresponds to the Norman Conquest, which is the latest army in the Saga Viking Age book .  So while the army list is called Scots, I see it as consisting of a mix of Dal Riata Scots and Picts in various stages of integration and gaelicisation between 850 and 1100.  I like to play my warlord as King Constantine II, who ruled from 900-943 AD, fought both the Vikings and Saxons, and took part in the battle of Brunanburh in 937.

When I was looking for miniatures for the Scots I chose the range from Crusader.  I am a big fan of their miniatures and also use them in my Viking and Iberian armies.  They are consistently well-sculpted and for the Scots their appearance fit the time period I wanted to represent.  I wanted to have a clear visual difference between the hearthguard and warriors for both aesthetic and gameplay reasons.  Crusader offered spearmen in mail so I used those for the hearthguard, and used the unarmored spearmen for the warriors.  Crusader also has a command pack of 2 leaders, a standardbearer and a musician and I got those as well for some extra varierty.  For my warlord I used the Crusader Scots Chieftain pack, which has a mounted and foot version of the same miniature.  Once I bought those initial miniatures and started painting the army, I added some Gripping Beast levies and a unit each of Gripping Beast hearthguard and warriors for a total of 8 points for Saga.

When I painted these in 2012 I was primarily painting 15mm miniatures, with some 28mm for Doctor Who games mixed in.  The Scots were the first 28mm historicals I painted and since then I have gradually shifted to painting almost exclusively 28mm miniatures.  I added decoration to many of the tunics and cloaks, mainly stripes, though I avoided the full Scottish plaid as that is a later historical development.  I sprinkled in a few woad tattoos to reflect a lingering Pictish influence.  Most of the shields are transfers from Little Big Men Studios though a few are hand-painted.  While they are not my best-painted Saga army I do think they still look good and they are my favorite army.

Warlord (Crusader): A set of the same leader mounted and on foot.  I've never used the mounted version in a game.  My Scots are all on foot in order to use their long spears to full effect.

Thanes (Hearthguard by Crusader): Four spearmen in mail and helmet with very long spears.  They serve as the offensive punch in the army.

Thanes (Hearthguard by Crusader): A second unit of four spearmen in mail and helmet.

Thanes (Hearthguard by Gripping Beast): I don't use a third unit of hearthguard often but I have them just in case.

Command//Hearthguard or Warriors (Crusader):  These four miniatures came as a command pack.  I  mix them in with the warriors to make 10-man units to add some variety or use them as a 4-man warrior unit.  The banner adds some visual appeal to the army, though I don't use it as a war banner under the Saga rules.

Warriors (Crusader): Eight unarmored spearmen, the backbone of the Scots army.  They are ready to use their long spears to hold off enemy attacks until ordered to attack.

Warriors (Crusader): Eight more unarmored spearmen.

Warriors (Gripping Beast): Still more unarmored spearmen.

Levies (Gripping Beast): Twelve skirmishers armed with javelins; very useful as a screen for the rest of the army and for missile fire.

The full army deployed for battle.  Javelin-armed skirmishers as a screen in front, backed up on each wing by a unit of warriors.  Two units of thanes in the center, and a third line of warriors on the left and thanes in the center and right.

28 April, 2021

Saga: 28mm Iberians

When my copy of Age of Hannibal, the new Saga army book, arrived last fall, I spent a lot of time thinking about what army I wanted to build.  No matter which I chose I would have to start from scratch.  Although I have a large collection of 15mm ancients, I didn't have any in 28mm.  Going by historical interest my first choice was the Epirotes led by Pyrhhus.  However I had some doubts about the viability of the army due to its slow movement and battleboard abilities.  I was also interested in the Iberians.  Their battleboard interested me with the Guerilla mechanic and I do not have another Saga army that relies on maneuver abilities and the use of terrain.  They also have some nice combat abilities  I explored the miniature options for both over a couple weeks and eventually made the classic wargamer's choice:  I bought miniatures for both!

After receiving everything for both armies from Caliver and Aventine I decided to paint the Iberians first.  I had worked out that I could build most of the army with one pack of Victrix Armoured Iberian Warriors (40) and two packs of Victrix Iberian Cavalry (12 each).  I supplemented them with two command packs from Crusader: Spanish Caetrati Command and Lusitanian Warrior Command (4 each).  Crusader are one of my favorite companies for Saga miniatures and have a wide range of offerings.

This was my first time building an entire army out of plastics.  After some experimentation with the first groups of infantry and cavalry, I found the assembly process fairly easy.  The main reservation I have about these figures is the fragility of the weapons.  Several times during painting the first unit  I broke javelins with only a small amount of pressure.  They always broke at the hand and were easy to repair with plastic glue, but I consider it a real drawback compared to the metal figures I normally use.  I have some doubts as to their long-term durability but I am happy with how they turned out and hope they last.  I look forward to playing them when I have a chance.

I used a limited color palette for the Iberians.  I have a 15mm Ancient Spanish army that I painted many years ago (also posted on this blog), and after looking at them and consulting my copy of Duncan Head's Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars (an invaluable resource), I had the basic scheme: tunics in various shades of off-white with red borders and a few blue borders.  Some tribes wore black, so I would use that to add in some variety.  I used a slightly darker skintone than I use for my Viking Age armies, reasoning that my troops would spend much of their time outside in the Mediterranean sun.  

The first group I painted was a unit of 12 caetrati, skirmishers armed with javelins and the small caetra shield (levies in Saga terms). If I don't want to use them as levies, they could also pass for Lusitanian scutarii who historically used the caetra shield.  Four of them are Crusader miniatures with Victrix shields substituted so I could use the LBMS transfers I had: in the first group the only one with a sword; in the second group the one pointing ahead, the standardbearer and the hornblower.

I have three units of 8 scutarii armed with a mixture of spears and swords (warriors in Saga).  Two of the units have the same range of off-white tunic colors so I differentiated them by painting their helmet crests either black or red.  The group with black crests has 2 miniatures from the Crusader Lusitanian Command pack: the hornblower and the officer near the center with a sword and 3 plumes.  The third unit of scutarii has black tunics and represent an allied tribe.

I have two units of 8 cavalry armed with spears and swords (mounted warriors in Saga).  To tie them into the army I used the same color scheme as the foot, with one unit in off-white tunics and one unit in black tunics as warriors from an allied tribe.  I don't normally use mounted warriors in Saga so these will be something different for me.

I wanted to have some tougher cavalry for a strike force, so painted a unit of 4 as nobles (mounted hearthguards in Saga).  They are distinct from the rest of the cavalry with red tunics, white or gray cloaks with a red border and larger shields.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what to use for my warlord.  When initially looking at options for buying the army I didn't see any miniatures that fit what I wanted for a warlord, so I decided to wait until later.  It turned out that I had enough foot to spare two for a warlord base.  Looking at the Crusader command miniatures I already had, I chose one of the leaders and the standardbearer from the Lusitanian command pack.  They both had scale or mail armor and greaves, while the leader had a cloak and the only beard in the entire army.  I gave him a red tunic and a white cloak with a purple border, using some of the same colors as the rest of the army but with some added color.

For a mounted warlord I had fewer options.  I only had the Victrix cavalry, but there were only three different bodies so I decided to attempt a conversion (one of my least favorite things to do).  I cut off the torso of a plastic foot command pose and cut one of the riders in half.  I glued the two parts together and was able to conceal the join.  None of the cavalry heads looked distinctive enough to me, plus I had used at least one of each of them for the other cavalry.  I ended up taking a head from the Macedonian phalangite set with side crests, removing the central Thracian peak from the helmet, and gluing on a central crest from the Iberian set.  Painting him in a mix of red and purple tones also makes him stand out from the rest of the army.  My general must have gotten his elaborate helmet as a gift from a Carthaginian envoy seeking an alliance.  Buying the Epirotes at the same time was obviously the right choice!

The entire army drawn up for battle:  Caetrati in a screen out front with scutarii behind, cavalry to each flank and the noble cavalry in reserve.  The completed army has 7 points for Saga.  I have enough extras to make another unit of scutarii so may add those in the future but am done for now.  The Iberians have the option to arm their warriors with slings but the Victrix sets don't include any.  I do have a unit of Baelaric slingers on my painting desk now that I can use as Iberian warriors or more likely as a mercenary unit.

26 April, 2021

28mm Mutants

Today's subject is a batch of 10 28mm post-apocalypse mutants that I snuck in between batches of Iberians for Saga.  They are a mix of 5 from Brigade Games that I bought way back at Historicon 2016 and 5 bought from Battle Valor Games in June 2020.  They all have obvious mutations, such as claw arms, two heads or tentacles.  The Battle Valor ones are chunkier with more equipment but I think they mix well.

I used a variety of different skintones and a mix of Vallejo/P3/Iron Wind/Army Painter/GW contrast paints.

I have painted many of the Brigade post-apocalypse range before but I've been holding these back until I was in the mood to paint them.  There are more mutants in their range that I don't have and they are all very different.  I envisage using the two-headed one as the leader.  I think my favorite is the second from left with all the tentacles; there is even one coming out of one the mask's eyeholes.  I wasn't sure how to paint the fly's head but I think it turned out ok.

These four are the Pulp50 Waste Marauder pack from Battle Valor.  Lots of deformed arms and weird eyes.  As with the previous Battle Valor minis I painted, I really like the variety of equipment they are carrying.

Also from Battle Valor is the Sci-Fi 40 Yeti with Marauder Rider pack.  I left the rider off.  He is armed with an axe.

With one of the Brigade mutants to show scale.

The mutant mob has assembled.