Friday, 13 May 2016

A Tale of (now) 4 Gamers - the first units.

hi all

and welcome to the second post following the tale of 4 Gamers. The first post if you missed it can be found here. Of course it was then the tale of 3 gamers but then we recruited another - Damon. So onto the post and this time we are looking at the first units that we decided to produce.  The brief was that we would paint up at least one unit every two weeks, starting with the lower castes - Warriors and Levies.  This was primarily to keep up the appetite for the painting side of the game, by producing the largest units and the lowliest we can work up to the more elite and interesting Hearth Guards and Warlords. We needed to give some thoughts about colour schemes and maybe even some "fluff" about the units.

So with no further ado I give you the 4 gamers.....

Andy's faction - Anglo Danish

So we begin with me, as i wrote the brief i thought i'd better step up!  I actually painted both of the warrior units for my warband at the same time as it was easier when I got into the swing of things to paint in batches. The models themselves are from the 4 point starter Warband from Gripping Beast.  This plastic set has got all you need to build a warlord, 2 units of Hurscarls, and either 2 units of Ceorls (warriors) or 2 units of Geburs (levies) for either the Anglo-Danes or Anglo-Saxons.  So lets get on with the pics and then I can explain!

Aelf Garling's mob, the Fyrd of Garlinge

Athelstan Elling's mob - Fyrd of Remmesgate 
So as far as building the miniatures goes i made up most of figures as warriors, I already own 8 slingers for my ancient Britons (Hail Caeser! ruleset) and they are generic enough to be re-purposed as Levies, i'll add the spare 4 from the sprues to make it up to 12.  because of that I had enough to make up 2 units as stated earlier and I wanted them all to carry spears apart from a couple of models per unit to represent a leader and a horn-blower to give the units some character. I didn't paint the models all the same colour as this would have been unrealistic, there was no uniforms as such in the Fyrds (warriors who could be called upon in times of war) but I wanted to tie the models together to give it a unit feel none the less, so I decided to paint the shields in the same colours.  I kept it simple as warranted by these part-time warriors and gave them colours that would have been readily available as dyes in Kent at the time.  Reds, although rare for Vikings and Northmen were quite common in the South East due to the proximity of Frankia and so can be used for these fine fellows. I wanted some local flavour and so named the Fyrds from East Kent where i live and searching the web for local history found an excellent article that named families and places from around the Thanet area, a place steeped in Anglo-Saxon and Dane history.

So we have the Fyrd of Garlinge, a village near Mergate (modern- Margate) which housed a monastry amongst it's people mostly from the Garling families.  we also have the Fyrd of Remmesgate (modern- Ramsgate), which funnily enough also housed a monastry and an abbey - what a pious people.....  i chose these places as Garlinge was the village i grew up in and Ramsgate is where i currently live.

Warlord Waelwulf could hardly conceal his disdain as he looked over at the arriving Ceorls of the local Fyrds.  Ragged and ill-equipped, these farmers turned warriors although fierce looking, as befitted sons of Kent were far fewer than he hoped when he'd been promised men by the Priests of Canwareburh.  Pointing at the leader, an older fellow with a rusted sword he beckoned him over with a curl of his finger.

"Where are the rest of you?" he demanded of the poor man, "I was promised the Fyrds of Garlinge and Remmesgate, there are not much more than a dozen or so of you."

"Forgive me my lord but this is all the Abbot would spare with the harvest under way, he would not see the fruit unpicked nor crops uncut." mumbled the farmer, looking forlornly at the armoured feet of his Warlord.

"Or his fat, corpulent belly unfed!" shouted Waelwulf, turning his back on the shocked face of the man.

Considering himself dismissed, Aelf Garling slunk back to his kin from the village near Mergate and distant kin the Ellings from across the peninsula way over in Ellington near Remmesgate. With a snarl he thrust his sword into his cousin Alff's hands "sharpen that cousin, that young blasphemous pup means to use us fiercely I fear."  Cocking his head to his second cousin from his wife's side Athelstan Elling, he stalked over to the mead tent that some serfs had set up and glowered at them until they fetched him a horn of ale.

Chris's Faction - the Vikings

UNIT 1 Warriors (Bondi) I had two criteria for my SAGA Vikings. They had to be cheap and quick to paint. So the research began as well as thinking about how I wanted it to look. Time on various gaming, living history and archaeology websites is always well spent. My Bondi being the rank and file of the army were to be fairly plain in appearance with only minimal colour. Drab homespun tunics and breeches was the look I was going for. Colour would come from the shields and colour would become more obvious as units rose in status. Next decision was plastic or metal and which manufacturers. Again off to Google it was. The obvious choice was the Gripping Beast (GB) plastics for the bulk. One box of Hirdmen was purchased thanks to unused Xmas vouchers. 44 armoured was figures way more than I needed but there were plenty of Norse helmets as research had shown that GB Dark Age troops were all bareheaded and I wanted unarmoured but helmeted. Happy now another box of GB figures was purchased. 88 figures now in my possession..enough for a second warband, expanding current one or conversion. Only berserkers and Warlord to source. I didn't want to use the GB ones....Warlords were too dynamic. I wanted a stationary, come on if you think your hard enough pose. So Wargames Foundry minis were chosen for the remaining. Construction of the plastics was easy. Nice minis that are nearly up to Perry plastic standard. I made up 8 Hirdmen and 24 Bondi mixing boxes around where possible and another 4 Hirdmen with Dane axes. Yes I'm going straight for a 6 point warband....keep up Rich. Painting....well these needed to be done fast. I'm halfway through my Austrian Napoleonic army and that's my main focus. Army Painter (AP) it is then. So I started with 12 Bondi. White undercoat...AP dulls colours so using white keeps them bright to start with and no I'm not paying £12 for a variety of sprays I may only use once. Then basic colours. Mainly Foundry paints. I used the 3 shades of rawhide separately for clothing and a few primary colours, red, blue and green. These will be the only main colours I will use to pull the warband together. Spears, belts, helmets etc. Then the figures were coated in AP. I don't dip, I paint it on, keeping white spirit to hand to keep it workable. 12 figures is maximum I would AP in one go. Go back to the first and start to clear the AP as its pooling one figure at a time, then start back at the first again. Left to dry overnight then in with some basic highlights on clothing, blade edges and detailing laces on tunics and jewellery. Shield fronts were painted white again ready for decals. I used Battleflag decals. There not as good as LBM studios but were slightly cheaper and yes they have blood spatters already on the decals! When dry they were sealed with PVA, cheaper than varnish. Bases were PVA with builders sand (sieved). Agrax Earth shade washed then dry brushed. I wanted a moorland look so large tufts were applied. Then base edges were touched up and all given two coats of satin varnish spray to dull down the AP gloss finish. The whole warband will get a light Matt varnish at the very end. Painting time not including drying, decals etc about 3 hours.

* apologies to Chris the pics are small and i have enlarged them the best I can.  I have also posted the smaller, original versions so you can see the detail in sharper focus - dGG

Jarl Ingulf and his son scanned the deserted beach ahead of them. The oars were stowed and the sleek longship was gliding across the waves under its own momentum. The only sound was the waves lapping the beach. Closer and closer the wide expanse of sand came. "Ready yourselves...the Gods are with this day" shouted the Jarl, a faint trickle of blood leaking from the corner off his mouth. There it was....the first lurching of the longship as its shallow draft made contact with land. "Now" bellowed the Jarl, raising his shield high in the air despite the ripping pain it caused in his chest. The first twelve of his men were over the side in an instant, landing in knee deep water and pushing towards the shore. Farmers and labourers all. The bulk of his men folk. Farmers, plain in attire they maybe, but Norsemen all. Trained in the brutality of war and the belief in the good death it granted, veterans of the shield wall and baring the scars of veterans. In seconds they were on the sand, coming together quickly and forming a shield wall, long spears bristling, as they moved forward ahead of the longship as it slowly ground to a halt on the beach. Slowly the Jarl scanned the beach. Silence...only the distant screech of a seagull gave a hint of any life on this desolate beach. The Jarl smiled to himself. Soon there would be noise. The screams of the dying, the sobs of their women and the crackling roar of fire.....the never ending roar of fire as Jarl Ingulf and his men turned the sky black with smoke and the land red with blood. The Norsemen were back and death had come with them.

Damon's Faction - the Scots

I purchased my Scots second hand as I am a little tight with money to be fair and the description said painted but chipped in a playable condition, some needed basing. Cost me 20 coins instead of 40 for a starter army and I can field a 6 point army with the models I have. This was before I had tried my hand at painting. They arrived and I was a little disappointed as the paint was not only chipped but flaking of in parts too, on every model.

This prompted me to contact both Rich and Andy to see if they would be willing to give me a very very beginners lesson in painting. They both said yes but Rich got the honours as he was available soonest. So of I went round to Rich's with some unassembled zombies, the free figs I picked up at Salute an unpainted german stug tank and 2 badly painted russian mortar crews. Just a little selection.

After a brief consultation it was decided to repaint one of the mortar crews and I did an ok job and Rich was a very patient teacher so I felt a little bit confident about painting figures and Rich was kind enough to have got all his old paints and brushes for me together in a box for me to take home. I was well chuffed as I was not looking forward to parting with the amount of money I would've had to as paints are not cheap.

The following day I had a go at painting the other mortor crew and did an ok job again so was confident that I could patch up the Scots I had bought. So I took one of them out and found a match in colour for its cloak and started to paint and it didn't go well as some of the old paint got stuck in the brush as it came away as I brushed over it. So I cursed went out to the garage set up my table with some white spirit, cloths and newspaper and set about wiping done all the models to remove all lose paint whilst 30 seconds from Mars and Hollywood Undead blared out. This left my Scots all patchy looking, bare metal in most places with a patches of colour all over them. I left them to dry and air out.

Next day I undercoated them all using a spray primer but only very lightly so I could see the colours underneath so I could use them as a guide and left to dry. The bases on them were only things that didn't need painting or doing so I covered them before applying the primer. I then selected one of the unbased ones to re-paint ready for the deadline knowing that as I came in late to the 3 gamers series I didn't have the time to get 8 warriors done in time.

I found as best I could in the paints I had matches to the original colours of the model and started to paint the model. I cannot remember the colours I used as I tested a few before I was happy with the one I went with. I didn't have any sand like Rich had used when teaching me so I used builders sand that I've got in my garage and I really liked the result to be fair. I tried to make this model look dirty and patchy as they shouldn't be nice and clean from this era.

I have a further 29 models to paint and I am looking forward to doing it as I find painting very relaxing, I would say its like meditation for me which when reading this Andy will find hard to believe as he tried to get me painting when I was younger and it didn't go well at all.

Now a bit of fluff about my one model completed so far, I know the others had a deadline to get a unit finished for today but I was late in joining this series so have been given a pass on this deadline but I need to have 2 units done by the next.

Rob had been surviving since he returned from hunting one day and found his village on fire. His father and mother were no where to be found and he felt utterly alone. He had tried to get work on another farm but had been turned away so he had been sleeping in the woods, eating whatever he could sometimes even stealing from others when there backs were turned. 

Then he had come across Lachlan Carlton and his 8 Toisech travelling south and he was starving when found their campsite had been welcomed in and invited to join them for their evening meal when he approached. Rob soon learned that Lachlan was heading south to raid the Normans and whom ever wanted to join him could for a share of the spoils. So Rob with nothing to lose signed up and for the first time in a long time, as he looked round the campfire at his new comrades, felt like he had found where he belonged.

Richs's Faction - the Normans

So with my thoughts in place about my army choice and the fluff in my head it was on to painting. I started with my levy unit of 12 Archers on the basis that this was the biggest unit and also probably the least fun to paint. As a notoriously slow painter I knew I would have to sacrifice much of my usual detail in order to hit deadlines that Adolf Nash had put in place.

I try and avoid dry brushing as much as possible but I knew I would have to this time in order to keep things simple I want for some plain earthy tones on the basis that poor farmers etc would have had to provide their own uniforms when called to arms and would therefore most likely be using plant dyes on their clothes.

Initially after the first base and dry brush I was pretty worried about how it looked but after a couple of washes and basing the rest of the model things started to come together. I used consistent Browns and a couple of other spot colours to bring the unit together as an army that looked a little bit like it should be in the same unit. On the whole certainly not my best painting effort but I'm quite pleased with the results I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Now onto my warrior unit. Where did I put that damn crossbow !

Gerald Depardeux knew he was in deep trouble, the noose was put over his blindfolded head and he felt has bladder beginning to drain as fear took hold.

Shooting the Dukes Fowl was a capital offence but his family were starving after the harvest had failed. Who would feed them now he thought who will keep them alive when the winter came.

Just then he heard that voice. The voice which Gerald would  now do anything for  these six months later. “Stop this at once that man is mine”! Hugh Fitz Baldrick was barking at the executioner .Gerald knew him once as the youngest wimpish son of his master but now Hugh was ordering his executioners to release him. The words became more muffled as the executioner and the young master discussed Gerald's fate. He heard the unmistakeable chink of coins being passed between hands and with the the noose was removed and the condemned man was dragged from the platform.

“Thank you good sir you saved me how can I ever repay you”, Gerald's words were muffled between his tears of elation at his reprieve. “ I haven't saved you, you will die, but not today and not here. I need all the archers I can get but you won't be hunting birds, from now we hunt Saxons, now stop your whimpering and come along man, we have much to do”. 


So that's it for another fortnight, Damon our 4th gamer has got a week's grace to come up with the goods bearing in mind his late start.  We have also come up with a way to hopefully involve you - the readers of this blog.  With the agreement of all of the players we would like you to grade the painting and the fluff out of 5, that's 5 for painting and 5 for fluff for a total out of 10 per entry.  We will add that to VPs accumulated in games for the length of this series for a total at the end with the loser buying drinks at an "end of season" drinking session (quaffing for Chris and his Vikings!!) and the winner gaining bragging rights and claiming the title of "Chief Nerd" of the "Nerd Herd" (our group name).  What i would like you to bear in mind is that Damon has literally only just begun his painting career at the end of last week having not lifted a brush for over 25 years - the last time he did was memorable only for the complete pigs ear he made of it (his words not mine). So grade his painting in that light, although fluff is up for grabs so....

hope you enjoy


  1. Big thumbs to all four of you. I do like your idea of reader participation, Andy, so I'll get the ball rolling.
    Andy - painting:5, fluff:3, TOTAL = 8
    Chris - painting:4, fluff:4, TOTAL = 8
    Damon - painting:3, fluff:3, TOTAL = 6
    Rich - painting:4, fluff: 5, TOTAL = 9
    Congratulations to Rich and commiserations to Damon.

    1. thanks Bryan, I knew I could count on you to get involved. I will start a running total at the end of each subsequent post to keep you up to date ;-)

    2. It's ok if I score lower in this part as my hardy Scots are kick everyones arse's all over the battle field!!!!

    3. I'm sure you will, Damon! My surname is Scott so naturally I want your force to do well!

  2. Fab effort by all involved they look marvellous!

    1. Thanks Simon, I think it's coming on as a project

  3. Thank you Bryan clearly an educated man !

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks Martin, more is a mere 2 weeks away :-)