Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Viking reviews SAGA Aetius & Arthur

Stephen Holdeman III (aka Stephen the Viking) recently reviewed the new SAGA supplement Aetius & Arthur for our local SAGA Facebook group.  We've discussed collaborating on this blog so here is our first guest post.  Take it away, Stephen! 

To sum it up, it's an amazing supplement! Without a doubt, this is the most impressed I've been with an expansion. Our group loves how well things were done and the fantastically balanced boards! We've had a blast playing the 6 new warbands against all comers in our Kansas City group. In my opinion, the original charm of Saga is back in full force with A&A. Wonderfully useful mercenary units, unique board concepts, and of course access to models we've all been waiting to bring into the "Sagaverse."

There are probably more typos and grammatical mistakes in this supplement than the others but it doesn't affect readability. The new boards can be as simple or as complex as you like. The only section I wanted more of was content that "retrofits" existing armies to represent earlier versions of the same forces. This was a great idea to give life to factions without giving them entirely new boards, but unfortunately I think a lot of them are a swing-and-a-miss. Many of these offer little more than a new Special Character and don't quite offer changes to make playing the old factions exciting.

For those worried about balance or combining this with other supplements, every Saga supplement is tested against the original 4 warbands and each other! If you remove the historical aesthetic, you still have an amazingly balanced, competitive-as-you-like, fresh game that has no other comparison. The new factions fit so well into the game that it was like they intended to make them from the start. 
For those concerned with the chronological distance between factions, we already have a huge range with the first few supplements! Warbands are commonly going up against foes that are distanced by 300-400 years or from completely far off regions of the world, hidden from their own cultures until many years later. It would be a shame to separate such great boards from a system that was built to handle them! 
Stephen and his Dark Age crew

Stephen and I discuss editorial control of the blog

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Late Romans for SAGA

This warband sprang from Adepticon 2016 and a visit to the Footsore booth.   I knew the SAGA supplement Aetius and Arthur was in the works so I asked Footsore's fabulously talented sculptor Bill Thornhill to help me pick out an army.  13 months later, the Late Romans are painted up and in a campaign.  Bonus!  You can run this warband as Britons too.

With my SAGA painting queue 4 warbands deep, I used speed painting to finish the band in 4 weeks. I primed white, washed with Citadel's Casandora Yellow and highlighted with Vallejo Ice Yellow. Skin was done with the Foundry Flesh 5A, B, C triad.  The Little Big Men Studio shield transfers and a tight palette give them a nice uniform look.  Footsore is hands down my favorite minis to paint. I was so happy with these sculpts I ordered an Early Saxon warband too.  As they say in the UK, in for a penny, in for a pound! 

At the finish line, the warband is made up of:
2 pt levy (manuballista + 18 spear & shield levy).  I treat the bareheaded and hatted figures as spear & shield levy.  
4 pt warriors (32), all in helmets.
2 pt of hearthguard (8), all in chainmail.  
Foot & mounted warlords 

3 games in, no-one is more surprised than I that my Late Romans are unbeaten.  They are a defensive warband with the ability to take a hard punch or two a turn. The manuballista plus the ability to throw darts via the activation Plumbatae seems to drive opponents to make ill timed charges.  
The manuballista is an interesting option for the Late Romans. For 1 point, you get a ballista with a crew of 2 levy and a separate unit of 6 levy. The ballista can't move and is removed once the crew of 2 is dead. It gains a fatigue after each shooting so it exhausts after 2 shots. It has a range of 24". The number of shooting dice is 1/2 the number of models in the unit being shot at. Ideally, you want your opponent to run a 12 pack of mounted hearthguard. Oh, you also get a +1 to your shooting dice! Because the unit is so weak and draws a lot of attention, I park it in a large building with a separate unit of 6 levy to help keep it alive.  

One warband down, three more to go!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Frostgrave warband

In my circle of historical gamers, Frostgrave has become a thing.  Like SAGA, Frostgrave is a fast game, easy to learn and goes well with beer.  We had good turnout for a Frostgrave Day at the club. These low key events are a great way to learn a system, meet new players and learn/copy their tricks and builds.  I was quite happy to finish in the middle of the pack with my Illusionist.

Fantasy painting continues to be a bit of a trial for me.  Honestly, could the Illusionist or apprentice fit one more thing on their robes?  There is an invention called the knapsack, use it! All figures are from the North Star Frostgrave barbarian release.  Great stuff and if I were fearless, I'd add tattoos to the lot.  Maybe someday!

I managed a few pictures of our games.  My rubble terrain looked pretty decent all laid out.  A dusting of snow would be perfect but that would lock my options for basing in Bolt Action and SAGA. For maximum portability, my Frostgrave terrain will remain sans snow.  

Fogou Models rubble terrain is superb! I need to put in an order for their Dark Ages beehive buildings.

Last up are How it Started pictures.  The murder of Crows are from Zombicide and a great bit of color for SAGA or Frostgrave.  And Zombicide too I supposed.  I've got plenty more Frostgrave to paint but it may be some time before I'm brave enough to put fantasy up on the table.  For now, its back to SAGA and my Late Roman warband with Footsore miniatures!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Terrain for Bolt Action, SAGA and Frostgrave

Inspired by the terrain at the US Grand Melee, I decided to clear out my terrain queue and buff out my meager collection.  Good terrain & nicely painted figures are key to walk-ups when you play in a public space like I do.

First up is the Warlord Games Plastic Ruined Hamlet.   The set was easy to assemble and paint with black primer and drybrushed shades of gray.  I mounted the ruins on MDF so I could do rubble-strewn floorboards.  Modeling pigments break up the sea of gray.  These will pull double-duty in Bolt Action and Frostgrave.

Next are Grand Manner's burnt cabin ruins.  With superb casting and detail, these too were a breeze to prime black and drybrush with shades of gray.
With Frostgrave, I can finally get these lovely statutes by Scribor Miniatures on the table.
I've been a fan of the Fenris Games Viking Rune Stones since I laid eyes on them. The marshy theme was a bit of work but makes them flexible.  In SAGA, I can drop two of these in a terrain element and call it rocky ground OR a marsh. The leaf litter is Green Stuff World's Natural Leaf Litter.  I'm not entirely sure the split grey and brown basing works.  I can circle back and change it in the future if it bothers me enough.

This run was a nice boost to my terrain making confidence.  Now to get a game on and put it out on the table!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

US SAGA Grand Melee!

My Christmas in March has come and gone, and I'm a bit blue that it's over.  Impossibly, Eric Hagen raises the bar each year. We have a group of players who make the annual pilgrimage from all over the US and the UK too. When we get together, we talk about our projects, our painting, our warbands and display boards, our real lives and history too. We talk about tactics and battleboards. We have dinner and drinks together.  Oh yes, we have a tournament to play too!

I got to meet the amazingly talented Bill Thornhill at the Footsore booth and I picked up a Pict army too.  The Pict scuplts are dead gorgeous and now I want to sneak them to the front of the painting queue.  Up on the Footsore Facebook page, Bill has a video where he catches me conceding a late night game with words, "I have jack sh*t."

So how did my Mutatawwi'a warband fare? They went up in flames like a Naffatun grenade, finishing with 3 losses, 2 wins and a tie.  It was a bit of a shock, since I was smashing opponents in most of my practice games. Someone asked me what went wrong and my answer was "A bit of everything." Bad matchups, bad decisions and bad dice made for a terrible trifecta.  As Odin is my witness, I will never field Naffatun again.

With Swiss pairing, you play someone with the same record in each round.  Day 2, I was stunned to see Tracey Beech across the table in game 5.  She is one of the best SAGA players around and she put on a clinic in Sacred Ground.  I tried to puzzle out what she was up to but was always one step behind.  On the last die of the last turn of her last move, she stole a victory. They say losses can be more instructive than wins and if that's true, I'm a SAGA genius!

Some players shared whiskey, especially with the "walking wounded." When whisky comes out in SAGA, everybody is a winner.

The Kansas City Crew was back, playing the entire tournament in kit.  These lads bring such joy and color to the show.  Stephen the Viking (in chainmail) finished 3rd overall and won the "People's Choice" with his amazing Steppe Tribes.  As we were leaving, Stephen shared some very kind parting words with me.  I was going to give him a handshake but went in for a hug instead.  Big mistake, he gave me a bear of a hug that almost cracked a rib! With that, I've now learned two things about Vikings:
  1. Never drink with them, and
  2. Never hug them.   

I got a decent set of battleboard pitctures.  Tracey Beech won "Players' Choice" with her Bayeux Tapestry themed board.  This was my favorite and I just couldn't help but stare at her creativity here.

Andy Lyon was just behind her with his Hollywood movie set for his Byzantines.  Brilliant!

A fellow from Seattle won "Best Painted" with his Irish.  He and his bud also won "Best Painted" in the Doubles as well.  Nicely done!

On Friday, I ran my Spanish.  On Saturday and Sunday, I ran my Mutatawwi'a.  I got in 11 games totaling nearly 24 hours of gaming with all great opponents.  And that is what our hobby is all about right? An opportunity to move nicely painted troops across a board, chat with your opponent, laugh and throw dice.  Mission accomplished. Same time, next year!