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!  

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