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!
 Fabulous work all around! This right here is part of what makes this event so special.

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!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Painting Footsore Arabs

Reader's post is a bit wordy.  I’m sharing how I painted my Mutatawwi’a warband hoping it might help someone get their their figures on the table.  I like lots of options for each faction I paint and play in SAGA and these Mutts muster out at 2 warlords, 8 Naffatun, 32 warriors and 16 hearthguard.

Below are the Footsore Miniatures Arab packs I used for the Mutts:

12 Arab Heavy Infantry = 3 points of foot Hearthguard.
12 Arab Heavy Cavalry = 3 points of mounted Hearthguard.  Foot Hearthguard are versatile but I also love the speed of mounted troops. That means I paint up both.
32 Arab Infantry with Swords & Spears = 4 points of warriors.
8 Naffatun. 4 = 1 point of Dogs of War Naffatun.  Naffatun are indispensable with Mutts because they dish out fatigue easily while the battleboard allows you to shed your fatigue easily.  You can only field 4 Naffatun in an Arab warband but I bought 8 so I could paint 2 sets, one in black and one in color.   

The detail on the figures is exquisite and there is LOTS of variety in the poses.  I adore the character sculpted into each face.  After a suitable period of admiration, sort and prep your figures for basing. Scrape off any bits of flash or lines with an X-Acto knife or small file.  Lucky for us, there’s very little cleanup needed on Footsore figures because they’re superbly cast.  

I use Renedra’s 25mm plastic rounds for basing and attach figures using a hot glue gun. It’s fast, easy and adheres perfectly.  I use FireForge Games plastic spears but metal spears work even better.  Most hands are predrilled but for the few that aren’t, a twist of a pin drill and you’re done.

For flocking, I use a mix of Woodland Scenic’s fine, medium and large ballast (1/3 each).  Apply a coat of white glue (PVC) to the base and dip it into the ballast.  If you miss any bits, put down a spot of glue and dip again.  Once the ballast dries completely, apply a wash of 70% water, 30% white glue.  When it dries, this wash locks up the ballast for good.
Once the ballast is dry, it’s time to prime.  

I use Army Painter’s Leather Brown for most Dark Ages priming including the mounted Moors below.  If you leave it intact on the spears, shoes and the back of the shields, it saves some brushwork. I use black for Hearthguard so I can easily drybrush chainmail and metal.  I use grey for the warriors for a neutral base for painting white robes.

My warrior paint scheme is white uniforms .  Shields, turbans and sashes are done in bright colors.  There are many ways to paint white and this one is a bit more work than it has to be. You can prime white and wash for shadows.  You can paint white neatly over a grey primer or light grey base coat, leaving grey in the folds for shadows.   I use a Vallejo Khaki to Sand Yellow to White transition.  Khaki lightened with some white is my base color.  Vallejo Sand Yellow goes on next.  Leave Khaki intact in the folds for shadows.  Work in batches of 8 or more figures for efficiency.

Vallejo Oily Steel goes on all metal bits and is washed with P3 Armor wash. German Camo Black Brown goes on the back of the shields and skin.  White is liberally applied over Sand Yellow.  It’s a bit ragged but remember, gaming distance is 3 feet!

Saturated color alert! A dark base color is applied to sashes and turbans for the highlight color to pop against.  Vallejo Dark Prusia Blue is the base for Deep Sky Blue highlights, Magenta for Squid Pink highlight, and Black Red for Carmine highlights.  If you don’t have these colors, no worries, find a dark and light combo that works for you.    

The highlight color is carefully applied to the turbans and sashes, leaving the base color intact in folds for shadows.  Shields are painted with simple geometric shapes using a pallet of black, white, red and yellow.  Repeating color themes and a tight palette help give a warband visual unity.  Skin is painted last to avoid the trial that comes from getting stray paint on painted flesh.  Foundry Flesh 5A is the base, then a flesh wash, followed by Flesh 5B for a highlight.  Spears are Vallejo Iraqi Sand.

Script on the shields is a done with a Black Micron pen or a 000 paintbrush.  I tried copying Arabic script and decided squiggles work better for me.  I add grass tufts to the bases for visual interest and finish with a protective coat of spray-on Matte sealer.  
That’s it in 19 easy steps, more or less!  I still need to paint a linen banner, a troubadour and the mounted Hearthguard to finish the warband.  These Footsore Mutts are my second Mutt warband.  My first (below) was painted in all black, which is another option you might consider. When you paint your Footsore warband, remember, it’s your lead and your brush.  Have fun bringing your vision to life!