One players saga of getting started
I first heard about SAGA on the What Would Patton Do (WWPD) Flames of War podcast. On the basis of their ringing endorsement I had picked up the rulebook when I saw it on special, but I didn't read it until after a 6 hours Flames of War game made me yearn for a skirmish level game I could play in 1 to 2 hours. Once I started reading the rules and following the forums I was hooked. A cheap, fun, interesting and easy to play game was just what I needed.
The core rulebook includes the Vikings, Anglo-Danes, Norman and Welsh factions. The Welsh didn't appeal to me, and I didn't want mounted figures to start with so that ruled out Normans. Rather than choose between Vikings and Anglo-Danes, I decided to build a warband of each. Because I wanted to keep things cheap I decided to go with the Gripping Beast 28mm plastic sets of Vikings and Saxons (which I would use for the Anglo-Danes).
These boxes are AUD$44 each, so $1 per model. For details of the contents of the boxes, refer to SAGA plastics.
Each plastic box contains 44 models, but how to split these between Hearthguard models and warriors? The Gripping Beast metal 4 pt starter sets have two points of Hearthguard and two points of warriors, so that would be my starting point. Thus my initial idea was to make 8 Hearthguard models and 16 warrior models for each of the Vikings and Anglo-Danes.
In the metal ranges the Hearthguard models have more armour than the warrior models. In the plastic models, the Vikings and Saxons boxes the models all have chainmail and there's not any unarmoured models. Thus I decided to distinguish the units by using swords or axes for the Hearthguard models and spears for the warriors. I realise that this is not historically accurate, but it suits me for game purposes.
To lead my warbands I decided buy the metal warlords from Gripping Beasts. At AUD$7 each they are much more expensive than the plastics, but still ridiculously cheap in comparison to Games-Workshop prices. The Anglo-Dane warlord, SA01a Anglo-Danish Warlord A, is a really nice model that I am very happy with. The Viking warlord, SV01b Viking Warlord, is out of scale. While the Viking warlord does measure 28mm vertically from feet to eye level, he is lunging forward at close to 45 degrees and measured along the line of his leg and body is actually 34mm from foot to eye level. If the other models are representing 5' 10" men this makes the Warlord over 7'. On the painting table it just looks wrong, but I'll wait and see how it looks on the gaming table.
Another thing I purchased was a set of 40 Renedra 20mm square bases for AUD$7. Each of the plastic box sets come with a sprue of bases, but the sprue has only 16 single bases and the remaining bases are 2x1, 3x1, 2x2 and 5x1. In total there are enough bases for all 44 models, but this relies on using the multi-model bases. The multi-model bases would be great for WFB but I wanted to mount each Saga model singly. Rather than cut up the multi-model bases it was just easier buying the set of single bases.
Finally, to add some visual bling to the models I purchased shield transfers from Little Big Men Studios.
For the Vikings I started with 4 models with hand axes and 4 models with swords to give me two units of Hearthguard. For the two units of warriors I used 8 models with spears held vertical and 8 models with spears held horizontal.
After a couple of games I realised that 4 man Hearthguard units were a bit on the small side, and decided that units of 6 models were the way to go, so I added a couple more each of swordsmen and axemen. This also had the advantage of giving me 5 points worth of models to allow me options in four points games, or only needing a unit of levy to make a six point warband.
6 Hearthguard with hand-axes
6 Hearthguard with swords
8 models with spears, used as warriors
8 models with spears, used as warriors
The warlord, leading his warband
Adding 12 slingers (from the Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors box set) gives me a six point warband.
From the Saxon set I started with 4 models with 2-handed axes (weapons from the Viking set), 4 models with swords, 8 models with vertical spears and 8 models with horizontal spears.