Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Mustering the Byzantines!

My big accomplishment this summer was painting a Byzantine warband for SAGA. The best part of the project was using a bright palette with a Dark Ages army.  That, plus I painted these for myself.

Byzantines are a challenging faction to run in SAGA.  Their battleboard rewards tight deployment and thoughtful interaction between each part of your warband. Levy skirmishers shield the main line. Warriors shield the bowmen, who have the unique in game ability to shoot over their own troops and into melee. Mounted hearthguard are held back until they can charge and recoil from the enemy at a critical moment.  I painted up Steppe Tribes for another option as well!
Warriors (Kontaratoi):  The banners are printouts of Byzantine-inspired iconography. They matched my color scheme and the Little Big Man Studio shield transfers quite nicely!

Bow armed Warriors (Toxotai): These fellows punch well above their weight.  There are a number of plays on the Byzantine battleboard to keep them safe and to shoot into combat or support of combat.  If you're successful at shielding them properly, it'll be a maddening game for your opponent.
Javelin-armed Levy: Thanks to a battleboard ability that allows them to activate more than once in a turn without fatigue, they'll be more than a nuisance to the enemy.
Steppe Tribe:  Treated as levies, they too can activate more than once a turn without generating fatigue and that makes them a great one-two punch with javelin-armed levy. The downside is they generate no SAGA dice. With two units of levy, you'll have to make up your SAGA dice elsewhere in this warband.

These Foundry's Scythians are Perry Bros sculpts. They're stupendous sculpts with loads of detail.  I was looking for an excuse to paint these ever since I acquired them last year.  Once I confirmed Scythians served in Byzantine army, I put them on the table for this warband.  By 700- 900 AD,
Scythian fashion was surely changed from whats portrayed here but I'm using them anyway. Eventually, I'll paint up something more historically accurate to replace them.  For now, they're quite lovely and annoying to my opponents as they race in to shoot, shoot again and then race away.
Hearthguard (Kavallaroi):  Though few in number, they're critically important for delivering a knockout blow. The KONTOS ability allows them to roll a die for each figure ending a turn in melee. For each die roll of 4 or more, they dish out an extra hit.  And that's before you roll your melee dice!  

Greek Fire turn counter:  This was just a nice bit of fun and a way to put these nice figures to work in SAGA.  Great figures, Gripping Beast,  and this turn counter helps me keep track of the turn!

Warlord (Strategos): I fumbled this one a bit.  The detail on the horse's armor was very shallow so I used thinned base colors.  When I hit them with a wash, it settled into the grooves and gummed up the detail completely.  From gaming distance, its not noticeable. Close up, its a mess. Ah well, onward and upward!
Surprising everyone, the Byzantines are unbeaten in our summer SAGA campaign. I'd like to say it's due to my brilliant generalship but that would be a fib.  All my games were close, with the Byzantines getting hot down the final stretch.  Heads up to all Byzantines're required to shout "For Basileus!" before throwing your dice during critical moments.  It's worked for me all summer long!  

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Desert terrain

I joined a SAGA Crescent & Cross campaign this summer.  My desert terrain collection was stuck at "none" so I had a bit of work to do to get ready for our games.  Since we play in a FLGS, I needed a portable playing surface that was suitably desert-y. I want to make a desert gaming mat some day but for simplicity, I bought desert-colored felt from Joanne's Fabrics.  For under $10, it looks quite nice and travels well. Score!   

I then put together my 4Ground Arabic dwellings. These superb kits are easy to assemble, packed with detail and each has an accessible interior.  I also flocked and painted some MDF to serve as hills, wadis, dunes or rocky outcroppings as needed.  
This Architects of War's  resin kit well went together nicely. Water effects are done with Woodland Scenics' Realistic Water.
The palm trees are by Pegasus Hobby. Primed, painted and flocked, they're a nice down-payment on my own grove.
I had some painting to do for our campaign as well as we're allowed to field two warbands.  My first is the Spanish as they're simply a blast to play. I buffed the Spanish with Gripping Beast's El Cid figure.  I'll run him as warlord and perhaps as the Hero El Cid as well. Clearly, the warlord and his bannerman have the same great taste in colors.   

I've had unpainted Byzantines in my lead pile for almost a year.  Byzantines fit in perfectly for the Crusades so I painted them up as my second warband for the campaign.  My post is getting quite long so I'll post up the Byz next time.  Cheers! 

Friday, August 14, 2015

WQB is out and...

I made the cut!  My article "SAGA Do's and Don'ts" was published, along with some of my SAGA painting.  It's an honor & pleasure to be published! Time for a beer or two to celebrate. This is the weekend after all! Millsy and his mates have done a fabulous job so again download your PDF copy here.

About the blog going cold...I've been struggling with my vision a bit.  I sit in front of a PC all day at work.  At night, I blog, surf and paint for hours on end. It's little wonder that I earned myself a really bad case of eye strain. I cut way back on my screen-time and painting this summer to turn it around.

No worries!  Even at a much reduced rate of painting, I finished Byzantines in time for a SAGA campaign and I have Russians for Bolt Action under way. This bump is a reminder that I'm not bulletproof and that balance in life is important.  Lesson learned!