A Saga of Saga - Creating a Welsh army - part 1

I was recently introduced to the Dark Age skirmish game, Saga, by my friend KT. KT was the first of the group to pick it up back when it was released but it sat on his shelf for a number of years before it gained enough traction to start getting some play. Personally, I love it. LOVE it. It really pushes a lot of my gaming buttons all at once.

Anyway, KT has just started blogging his creation of a new army for Saga on the Greenfield Redshirts group on Facebook (Greenfield Redshirts is our local miniatures gaming club). He's agreed to let me repost his blog here. So, without further adieu...

A saga of saga.

It's probably pretty obvious by now that I am a huge fan of Tomahawk/Gripping Beast's Saga game.

Jason, Jay and I have been really enjoying it, and the deeper we get into the system, the more and more we like it.

We have already mentioned in other posts what the game is more or less about, and people should have an idea at least of what a game of saga looks like. And from those posts there is a, perhaps tentative, but growing interest, not only from the Redshirts, but folks who have come into the store on days we were playing it.

Only a few of the group have a lot of "traditional" miniatures game experience, and fewer still have historical miniatures game experience. So for those new to miniatures gaming, looking at a game of Saga, and hearing people talking about it may seem a little overwhelming. Or perhaps they have skewed sense of the time and money commitments required to get into Saga, or the miniatures gaming hobby.

That said, I'm working on a new project, that I hope will not only help to generate more interest and enthusiasm for Saga, but perhaps miniature gaming in general. Over the next few weeks, I am going to post a stage-by-stage "blog" of the purchase, assembly, painting, and finally gaming with a Saga warband.

Before I go into how I selected and purchased my minis and dice, I would like to first say that given the opportunity, I would have ordered these through Greenfield Games. There is a strong possibility the product line will be available from our favorite brick and mortar soon, so definitely check in with the folks in the know before purchasing. I'm sure that if and when it becomes available through GG, we will post here with much fanfare! So, the first installment.....

The first step before taking the plunge a slapping down your hard-earned cash on a mess o' minis is: do your research. Be sure you are either familiar enough with the game, or have knowledgeable people of whose brains you can pick beforehand. Nothing blows more chunks than buying a bunch of minis it turns out you can't use for the game. Again, the rulebook is a good place to start. However, an experienced player may be able to provide with with more saavy army building advice that the rule book can.

Since I am touting this project as a low-cost way for a new player to get into Saga, I have chosen the Welsh army as my subject. For all the right reasons: Their list is in the core rulebook. So no need to purchase any ancillary supplements. Indeed, so long as no one in your group is running the same army, you could probably borrow the battleboard from someone who has the rulebook. There are three core rulebooks in the hands of group members at the moment. And one "Crescent & Cross", and one "Northern Fury". Initially, there is no real need for a new player from our group to get the rule book. At first 

A quick aside on Saga Rulebooks: There are really two rulebooks to choose from when you get into the system. The original is Saga. It includes the core rules and the army lists for the Vikings, Anglo-Danes, Welsh, and Normans. The other option is Crescent & Cross. This covers the armies of the Crusades. And has army lists for Christian and Muslim armies of the period. Both books include essentially the same core rules. The C&C book is hard cover and all together a higher level of production quality so is more expensive. But if you know you are going to do a Templar force or something, that's the book you would want.

So, if I'm borrowing the battleboard what do I need? Well, minis and Saga Dice.

Architects of War are the US distributors for all things Gripping Beast/ And a perusal of their somewhat oldschool site will make it clear that Saga is well represented. With all the books, minis, dice, measuring sticks and what not you could want/need. You don't need most of it.

So let's take a look at what I do need, and how to most efficiently and economically put it together.....

The Saga dice. You just need them. Could you make your own? Yes. Do you want to? Probably not. A set of dice, of which you will only need one set for whatever warband you are doing, costs $19.00. They are available from Architectsofwar.comthewarstore.comnobleknight.com,frpgames.comebay.com, etc...... They are almost always 19.00. There is no need to pay more than 19.00. Some dice, like the Viking dice, may be hard to find at the moment. If you are jonsed for a set of dice like that, you can always get them from the UK where they are nearly always available. Like grippingbeast.com.

So, I went to thewarstore.com (fast shipping from Long Island  ). Added one set of Welsh dice to my cart. 19.00. "in-stock" Cha'ching!

Next the minis. When you go to architectsofwar.com (Saga HQ USA), you will see all these super dope starter warbands. They are sweet, but can get spendy. Word to the wise: if you like cavalry, your army will cost more. Something to be remembered is that these starter sets are made of GB's metal miniatures, and the price reflects that. So, looking at the Welsh starter set, it comes in at over $70.00. But no worries! Plastic makes it possible!

Lots of great plastics have been hitting the market of late, and the Dark Ages has not been overlooked. And in fact, most of these plastic sets feature superior miniatures to the various aging lines of metal miniatures out there. Gripping Beast and Wargames Factory both make affordable plastic sets that can build anywhere from 32-40 figures per set, ranging from 25.00 to 35.00 a set. Not bad. However, can one of these sets make a warband? Yes and no. There are not enough plastics on the market to cover some of the more "esoteric" Dark Age armies, but you can do quite few. Off the top of my head, with the plastics available you could make: Irish, Scots, Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Danes, Vikings, Jomsvikings, Hiberno-Norse, Norse-Gaels, and of course - Welsh. There re pitfalls with the plastics, as you will want to be certain the sprues included will allow you to equip your troops as you want them to be represented. In most cases, you will end up needing to either get a second box of plastics, or a blister or two of metal minis to fill in the gaps.

For my Welsh I chose Gripping Beasts plastic "Dark Age Warriors" set. $35.00 retail. It can be used to build up to 40 figures, but more importantly for a Welshman, it also can make a whole Welsh warband from a single box. That's half the cost of the metal starter set from AoW. (AoW also of course carries GB plastics so no skin of their teeth  ).

Here's what I can make:

Warlord w/ hand weapon
4x Hearthguard w/ hand weapons
8x Warriors w/ Javelins
8x Warriors w/ Javelins
12x Levy w/ slings or bows


Warlord w/ hand weapon
4x Hearthguard w/ Javelins
4x Hearthguard w/ Javelins
8x Warriors w/ Javelins
12x Levy w/ slings or bows

There are a couple of other ways I could probably put them together, but you can see how with a single box of models a complete force can be built. So, add one box of GB "Dark Age Warriors" to the cart "in-stock"....ch'ching. Checkout!

There it is..... Models purchased. If all things go well I should have them by Freya's Day or Saturn's Day, when I'll post the "un-boxing" and assembly of the individual figures etc....

All said and done, I purchased all of the figures and dice needed for a Saga Warband for $54.00 plus shipping and handling. These are retail prices, so should be the same through brick-and-mortar with tax replacing shipping - so you'll not only be supporting an FLGS but also lining the pockets of our Bostonian Robber Baron Overlords - Woot!

There are other costs to consider when one is getting into miniatures gaming completely from scratch: paints, brushes, hobby knives, glue etc....I'll go over some of that next time. But if you are already more or less set up to build and paint figures, getting into Saga is easy!

I'll let you know when everything arrives! Happy games! You died as you lived - in a flash of the blade!

More posts as they happen...