Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Flemish Mercenaries

First up today are 8 Flemish mercenaries by Gripping Beast.  Famous for their heavy spearmen, the Flemish served as mercenaries for the Franks and Normans. At the Battle of Hastings, they were part of William’s army. After the conquest of England, they offered their services to local magnates.   

In SAGA,  Flemish mercenaries can be included in a warband as Swords for Hire. The Flemish are 8 foot warriors with an Armour of 5, reflecting their heavy equipment and formation. Their movement is reduced to S in open terrain and they do not generate Saga dice. The Flemish may be activated once a turn for free. They do not benefit from any SAGA abilities. Lastly, when engaged in melee by an enemy unit or are the target of a shooting, the Flemish are treated as being in hard cover. In short, Flemish mercenaries are a slow but powerful defensive unit, useful for holding objectives and terrain.

A few weeks back, fellow blogger and painter Iowa Grognard asked if I'd paint these for him. Having followed Jeff's AWI painting for years, I was thrilled to do so.  Jeff and his wife both play SAGA and he anticipates a bidding war for the Flemish sellswords. To round out the job, I also painted two Anglo-Saxon warlords.  Basing was left undone so Jeff can match these to his current collection. Thanks Jeff for this splendid opportunity.  It is a lucky man who shares this hobby with his spouse!

We're 2 weeks away from the start of fall, a season routinely cut short by winter here in Minnesota.  I've been on the hunt for winter painting projects and I found a good one. This lot traveled all the way from Denmark to get into my painting queue. I've painted up a bit of WW II for Chain of Command but none of it ended up in my own collection.  This is my first step to fielding a WWII force and also putting Chris Stoesen's "In the Name of Roma!" to work in an East Front campaign.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Riders on the Storm

September 20th is the SAGA Storm, an all-day SAGA event at Fantasy Flight Game Center. Organizers Eric Hagen and John Stenz are porting their experience running Games Workshop events into SAGA and the results to date are impressive!
Eric created a game day T-shirt and dice. I'm in for both, of course. My only worry is that wearing a T-shirt will clash with my plan to dress Berserker-style for the day.  Eric is a master painter, battleboard creator and terrain guy. He's got 10 themed boards ready for the event, each for a specific scenario.  You might find your warband raiding or defending a Viking village, escorting livestock through the Scottish highlands or fighting on the shores of Normandy. That's only 3 of the 10 scenarios!

John and his wife are master tournament organizers. When I saw John's 40K tournament this spring, I was awed by it's size, professionalism and organization.  35 tables preset with wonderful terrain, pro-painted armies, close to 100 attendants, digital clocks, organizers on the floor and loads of swag. In contrast, we can hardly get 6-8 guys out for our historical game days. All the hard work is paying off as interest in the event is very high. All signs point to an amazing day of SAGA, great company and beer.  I can't wait!

I've been running my Norse-Gael warband to warm up for the big event.  In what may be a sign of things to come, I'm finding it hard to earn a victory with these barefoot fellows.  The NG battleboard requires good dicing during personal challenges to unlock many of their abilities. Clearly, I need to get my hands on Eric's new SAGA dice because the ones I have are broken.

There is nothing quite like a big event to power up one's painting mojo.  Even though I have WW II and Old West aging out in the queue, I'm sticking to my Dark Age painting for a bit longer.  For the last 16 Norman warriors, I chose a Reconquista color scheme.  That makes these a down payment on my future Spanish warband for Crescent & the Cross.

Just when you thought you couldn't possibly look at another Spearman, I've got an angry band of Flemish Mercenaries on the tabletop with a few Anglo-Saxon warlords thrown in.  There is a story behind that, and I'll save it for my next post.  Let's close to the slow, dark notes of "Riders on the Storm." And I'll have whatever Jim is having, thanks!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Painting Normans, step by step

SAGA is catching on big here in the Twin Cities. Hoping to help or inspire new SAGAmites everywhere, I'm sharing my Dark Age painting process in a single, overly long post. How fortunate that I have 48 Norman spearmen waiting for a quick coat of paint! 

Basing and priming: I used a glue gun for basing as it's fast, reliable and the glue smooths out the "pitcher's mound" on the base of the figure. I primed in brown to save a bit of brushwork. How much of the primer you keep intact is your call. The back of the shields, spears, and shoes are all good options.

Paint in sets: To maximize efficiencies, I sorted the Normans into 6 sets of 8 figures. I then block-painted each set with a single color. I'll mix sets at the finish line to achieve an irregular look. 

Block and wash: After block painting, I washed the figures with Vallejo's Sepia Game Color.   My other go-to wash is Army Painter Strong tone. Both give great results in shadows and shading.

Highlights: While painting for speed, I want my Dark Age figures to mix well.  Therefore, the Normans got highlights like the rest of my SAGA war bands.  While the primary blocking color was identical in each set, I varied my highlights slightly for variety. I avoided highlighting folds and recesses to keep a shadow effect  At gaming distance, the contrast looks quite nice.

There's a saying in miniature painting that it's all about "faces, bases and flags." To that end, I put use Foundry's flesh triad. I painted the flesh last to avoid the trial that comes from stray paint getting onto a face that is not my own.

Shield Transfers: I use Little Big Man Studios shield transfers for my SAGA painting as they both lovely and a time saver. Transfers were applied over white painted shields. Each shield got a coat of my lightest grey and then white since I can't get one coat coverage with just white. 
Color coordination: I sorted the transfers by color-red, green, blue and brown-and matched them to the warrior set painted the same color. While perhaps ahistorical, color coordination is pleasing to the eye and I do want my warriors to look good.
Paint the shields in: LBMS transfers are not a tight fit over the rimless kite shields. That's where you need to paint the transfers in. By feathering your paint just over the edges of the transfer, you'll fool people into thinking your shields were hand painted. I won't tell if you don't! 

Sealer:  I sealed the transfers with Future acrylic finish. Army Painter Matte varnish knocked down the shine at the finish line.

Basing: Bases were a mix of 1/3 fine & 1/3 medium Woodland Scenics ballast and 1/3 of a larger grit.  The bases were painted with Americana Milk Chocolate, a wetcoat of Cocoa over that and then a light highlight of Sand. I put tufts down and hit everything with Army Painter Matte Finish. With that, 32 Norman spearmen are done.  Time to crack open a frosty beverage and celebrate!  The next 16 Normans are well under way but I ran out of shield transfers, dang it.  

I'm planning to use these figures to turn my SAGA Norman warband into a playable Hail Caesar or Impetus army. To that end, I need many more mounted warriors. And Warbases bases to rank up my skirmishers. And more shield transfers.  And a local opponent would be good unless I want to paint up both sides.  I guess my last bit of advice today is to look before you leap!