Friday, 10 June 2016

A tale of 4 gamers part 4

hi all

Welcome to the 4th part to our recent series of blog posts by the "nerd herd", my gaming group consisting of Chris, Rich and Damon as well as myself.  We have over the last few weeks been collecting and painting miniatures for our warbands using the Saga ruleset from Gripping Beast Wargames and then Blogging about it in the style of the White Dwarf series of the same name.

We're really starting to get to the core of our warbands now, the elite of the elite, the right hand men to our warlords, bodyguards and drinking buddies - the Hurscarls.  These warriors are often landowners in their own right, they are certainly professional fighters and the most trusted members of a warlords retainers. 

Remember to score each faction out of 5 for the fluff provided and 5 for the painting standard, sit back and enjoy our tale......

Andy's faction

Thunk!! The sound of the long handled "Dane Axe" splitting through the torso of the foolish Norman who had charged at Signar, reminded him of the familiar noise of felling trees in his sulung back in Ciollodene. With a practiced flick of the wrist he freed the blade from the bloodied remains of the French slug's pelvis and turned to face the next foe. Across the muddy tracks that split the half dozen or so houses of this tiny hamlet, a visibly shaking crossbowman lifted his cowards weapon and aimed it in Signar's general direction.
"Ha!" spat Signar, he was a Hurscarl, sworn man to the eternally angry Waelwulf the Fierce, armoured in the best chain mail and helm and armed with a monstrous axe that was easily as tall as himself and capable of rending these Norman swine in twain in a single stroke.  He had no fear of a french peasant with a girl's weapon who had already pissed his breeches.

With a roar Signar ran full pelt at the fool, axe held over head, the blood of the last Norman streaming off the polished steel like a macabre pennant fluttering in the wind. The frenchman tried to steady his aim in the face of the fierce warrior in gleaming mail bearing down on him and even pulled the trigger, the bolt speeding across the short distance between them and burying itself in the loose dirt just in front of Signar.  Gulping he dropped the crossbow and reached for the long dagger at his hip just as Signar swung the axe hand over hand.......Thunk!!

So this post and the next we are painting and showing the elite fighters of our warbands before the last one featuring the big man himself, of course there will follow after some articles regarding games that we are fighting, but that should bring each of us up to the required 6 points.  So onto my additions for this post, I have been busy painting Hurscarls and to this end I produced a couple of units.  Now the elite troops come in units of 4 fighters, although they can be banded together to make bigger units.  These first 2 units are from the plastic Anglo-Danes 4 point army boxset from Gripping Beast and I put them together with a mix of armaments.  What i wanted in the first unit was some Dane Axes - the large two handed great axe that were reported in the Bayeux Tapestry as being able to sever a horses head in a single blow! yes please! Disappointingly this option wasn't available in the box set (what the hell GB, sort it out!) so I had to make some myself.  Taking the spear armed models I lopped off the spear head and replaced it with the hand axe heads that were supplied and voila

now what you get is some vicious looking weapons!  all of the models are wearing chainmail and helmets to reflect their richer status as well individual shields to represent their own "coats of arms" as wealthy landowners in their own right.

The second unit was a mix of hand weapons just to be a bit different, with the paint jobs I stuck to limited palette to reflect a uniform of sorts as I wanted them to look more professional which more fits the ethos of a standing army of professional soldiers as opposed to the Fyrd who were only recruited in times of need. Plus to reflect their wealth they have a gold trim to their helms.

Chris's Faction

Olaf paced in front of the shield wall. His chants and praises to Thor and Odin getting louder and more frenzied. His excitement and exhilaration growing. This is what he lived for. In the centre of the shield wall the Jarl smiled to himself. He knew what was coming, the poor band of Saxons in front of them had little if any idea of what was about to be unleashed on them. Three days since they had landed. Three days without being challenged, although the small hamlet inland had provided milk, cheese and eggs and .....entertainment. The jarl could still smell the smoke on his cloak....and hear the women's screams. He grinned again. This morning the small band of Saxons, some thirty spears had blocked the road. There they were still. Some hundred paces ahead of them. Hunkered down behind the interlocking shields, spears bristling like some bizarre hedgehog. All morning they had stood there. Fine so be it. The Jarls warband had tucked into liberated eggs and cheese, whilst members of the warband had tormented the Saxons, showing them trophies taken from the wretched hamlet. Throwing a girls head at them had caused consternation and the shield wall had buckled and stretched before order was restored. They would break the Jarl knew and when it gave the slaughter would commence in earnest, and he had just the men to break it. Now rested and fed the Viking shield wall faced off against the Saxon. In between stood Olaf the Ugly and his three companions. Slowly the strange dance of the beserkers rose in pitch and energy. Pacing up and down between the shield walls, chanting to the gods, cutting themselves with their axe blades till blood ran freely. Intimidating the Saxon shield wall over and over. Slowly as they reached the end of the line they would turn and head back towards the other end of the shield wall, but with each turn they moved a pace or two closer to the Saxons and the Viking shield wall would move subtlety a pace forward. The Jarl had seen this game before. Despite the apparent madness and growing frenzy, the Jarl knew what Olaf was looking for, the first sign of fear, the first sign of a gap in the shield wall, a way in. Louder, faster and more violent the dance became, closer and closer it edged........then without braking stride Olaf was tearing towards the shield wall...the fourth shield from the left had dipped and slipped out of alignment, just one step back. One step that would spell death for all. Olaf had seen it and launched himself towards it, ignoring the half hearted spear thrust, the weight of his body impacting on the wavering shield, pushing it back another pace, right arm bringing his axe straight onto the shoulder of the neighbour, severing the arm, the shield falling to the ground, it's owner howling in pain and stumbling forward out of line, only to receive an axe in the head from the next beserker. Soon all four Beserkers were inside the rapidly expanding breach, a whirling, howling frenzied but calculated circle of violence. Soon the shield wall began to buckle, these Norsemen seemed impervious to pain, their strength inhuman. "Demons! Save your souls!" was the Saxon cry. But salvation would not come, only death for the Viking shield wall had moved up behind the frenzied charge. Measured and irresistible like a Phalanx from centuries before, only breaking its formation as impact neared. But by then the Saxon wall had disintegrated........

So now onto the elite troops of Jarl Ingulfs warband. Vikings may upgrade one unit of Hearthguard (Hirdmen) into Beserkers. No Viking army is complete without these. They are the point of the blitzkrieg, the Norse shock and awe! How do I view these guys? Well take the kamikaze, mix with giant slayer, cross breed with gobbo fanatics, add some illicit substances, shake, stir, bring to a rapid boil and then unleash. I don't expect them to live but I do expect them to kill. These guys can deliver phenomenal amounts of damage...up to 32 attack dice in SAGA......come on you girly Normans! To be honest a late Viking army circa 1066 shouldn't really have Beserkers...the cult was outlawed in 1021 but they are so unique I'm having them. Tough. It's my party and you will cry when they hit you. The figures I went for were Wargames Foundry. I love foundry figures especially the early Perry sculpts. They are pricey but worth it. Every other manufacturer just didn't cut it. I wanted these guys in bear skin capes. Makes the mini bigger and far more imposing. Painting again was fairly simple once they'd been prepared. White undercoat. The flesh was army painter barbarian, bear skins were foundry tan triad, base coat and dry brushed and a cream for the lining of the bearskins. I kept hair predominantly yellow to make a contrast from the browns and used foundry lemon. Leather and gold jewellery and stripey breeches for one. The biggest dilemma was the bearskin claws. In reality they should be black. I tried this but there was just not enough definition to them. So I went with an off white in the end.....assumption is the wearers have repainted them. I may go back and add some colours to the claws to reinforce this idea. Not sure. Then they were painted in Army Painter medium dip and once dry highlights were added. I left the flesh unhighlighted. I'm actually really pleased with the way AP worked on large areas of skin. I had thought about tattoos but the Vikings used potash to tattoo with and I thought black tattoos would just dull the flesh down and add no real benefit. In all I'm really pleased with them. Phenomenally easy to paint and let's just hope the gods are with them.

Damon's Faction

The Toisech came running back into the camp. Mungo walked over to Lachlan and started talking in a low voice, he joked that they had spent the afternoon laying down watching a bunch Sassenach & Norman scum kill each other. Munglo reported that just over 3 miles away was a village and the Sassenach had taken it from the Normans. 

Lachlan smiled and shouted to his men " Gather round". Once he had the attention of everyone he shouted "Tonight we feast over the bodies of those dirty Sassenach!" He was greated with shouts and cheers and the chant "Lachlan Lachlan Lachlan" rose in volume to you would think they would wake the old gods from their slumber.

Lachlan gazed across the fields at the village, the dirty Sassenach were celebrating after their victory over the Normans. It would be short lived. He crawled backwards down the mound and turned to his Toisech and growled "we'll take the Sassenach and show them the way to hell" His Toisech murmered ascent knowing that if they cheered it would alert the Sassenach.

Lachlan beckoned Douglas, Dougal, Mungo and Sholto over his most trusted Toisech and told them to flank round to the left and take the barn back from those dirty Sassenach and try to keep the livestock alive, don't let them burn the barn down"

"The rest of you sorry bunch of miscreants follow me and lets kill us some Sassenach and send those dirty barstards back to the hell they came from."

I approached these 4 heathguard with trepidation. I knew I had to do tartan so out came the magnifying glass and away I went. I am really pleased with the result to be fair and I love Mungo (who would've guessed that Mungo would have been a gaelic Scottish name, classic) with his bald head and grey hair showing your never too old to kick butt.

Each tartan took several goes to get it right. A mistake here and there meant re-doing it but the easiest way was to paint one colour and then paint another over thinner over the top. I have looked at pics online but not watched any tutorials I just went with my gut feeling and I am really pleased with the result. I have persisted with the doing the eyes and these look a lot better then my previous efforts.

Rich's Faction

Hugh was proud, as he arrived at the outskirts of Caen he stopped to rest, and as he did so he gazed at his fighting men who were with him. The peasant archers whilst not skilled were immensely loyal to their new master, he knew when he asked them to fight for him they would do so and readily die if need be. Gerald and his men would be there when Hugh called.
With the money he has stolen from his fathers tax haul he had recruited or rather bought men who were trained soldiers skilled with the sword and more importantly the crossbow. These men had travelled from the Norman provinces in Italy to join the rumoured and now certain to happen invasion of England.  They had been happy to accept Hugh’s coin and whilst he couldn’t perhaps trust their loyalty yet the way he trusted Gerald’s he could trust in their skill and experience.

But it was not enough, Hugh knew he needed warriors, knights who would ride into battle with him, and that was why they had stopped here outside Caen at the Town of Nee. There were knights in Nee, they had gathered for the tournament, one of the many springing up around Caen with so many fighting men gathering in one small area.

Hugh had been put in contact with one such Knight named Francois Pinochet, Francois was a disaffected man his master had some how died on the road to Caen the rumour was his men had killed him after being embarrassed by his cowardice, whilst jousting he had lost, embarrassing enough for his loyal knights but worse Brave Sir Robin had run away! Chickened out and Buggered off when his opponent a Mercenery Dane named Kirsten Deathbringer had knocked him from his horse and approached him with his axe swinging high for the kill.

As Hugh and Pinochet spoke they discussed payment and terms. Hugh needed these men and they knew it and Pinochet needed Hugh to be able to get a ship to take them to War. They spoke for a while and agreed terms. As the men shook hands Pinochet spoke again. “So my lord you have won our swords and spears with your coin, I wonder will you win our respect ?”
“ A master should have his men’s respect without question,” replied Hugh. But the look in Pinochet’s eyes made Hugh realise he had to earn it by his sword.
“what would you ask of your master, Pinochet ?”
“My lord we will follow you to battle without question, but beat the Dane and we will follow you to the Gates of Hell themselves!” The gathered knights cheered as one as Pinochet raised his voice to be heard by all.
“Very well,” said Hugh confidently,” I will fight this Dane, after all any good Norman should beat these foreign scum with ease. Your master was truly a coward to have run away”
“A coward he may have been my lord, but maybe you should wait until you have seen the Dane fight before you comment more.”

“My boys,” Hugh paused as he framed his words, “I will fight him, I will kill him, and then we will ride for Hell!!!”

Wow! I have finished them, I knew this last two weeks would challenge me to the limits as a painter. I wanted to give them a good paint job and I knew that I would need time so I approached this last two weeks with a plan.

Not only had I got to paint my Hero’s I had to paint them on Horseback too, I have only limited experience painting horses and knew I would need to give myself plenty of time to have a chance of hitting Andy’s deadline.

So with several painting sessions planned into my schedule I got to work. Unlike Chris and Andy I like painting horses so I decided to try some different colour schemes, Tan, Black, Dark Browns, Grays and even a Dapple . I also wanted to paint some markings on their noses heads and legs. I hope you enjoy how they have turned out I am pretty pleased with the result although another week would have allowed me to really go to town with layering etc. In the end I did have to rush things a little and I think that does show through. My biggest regret is not having time to paint the shields freehand. I really wanted to try this but it just wasn’t possible. However with the final part of my army the mighty Hugh himself left to paint I hearby promise you all dear readers to expect a freestyle shield.

Hopefully with only one miniature (or maybe two, if you read my fluff you can probably guess who!) to paint this time I will give it my all to come up with a really good paint job.

Hope you like them.

Rich – nerd4life

So that's it for another fortnight, I hope you're enjoying these posts and the eye candy that the nerds have offered up for you.  Next time we have the last of our elite units and then the main man himself.  Hopefully what follows is a summer of gaming with our warbands and of course you guys will have the batreps/results for them (if all goes well!)

don't forget to leave your comments, i'm sure the rest of the "Nerd Herd" are itching to hear what you think (there's a cream for that....)

hope you enjoy


  1. Replies
    1. glad you enjoyed it Fran, i think the boys are lifting their game each week any higher and i'm not sure i can compete!

  2. A very enjoyable post and you guys have made it very hard to score for me, as the standard is being raised very high by all of you. I know you're all wondering what I'll score for you, so here goes.
    ANDY. Fluff 4, Painting 4.5, Total 8.5
    CHRIS. Fluff 4.5, Painting 4, Total 8.5
    DAMON. Fluff 4, Painting 4, Total 8
    RICH. Fluff 4, Painting 5, Total 9
    Not much in it. Special praise to Damon, whose painting is improving all the time. Tartan is never easy to paint but you did a great job of it. I couldn't find fault with Rich's painting so had to award him maximum points, which was enough to put him in first place. Great work all round, and you should all be proud of your achievements.

    1. thanks Bryan as always. those scores are getting closer and closer together!

    2. Once again Bryan you have demonstrated excellent judgement ! R

  3. Well done chaps! Love those berserkers they look awesome.

    1. they do look great don't they - kudos to Chris for a cracking job!

  4. Fantastic Post great stories however I disagree with Francis's points scoring; I award the following;
    Andy Fluff 2 Painting 1
    Chris Fluff 1 Painting 1
    Damon Fluff 5 Painting 5
    Rich Fluff 1 Painting 2

    There was not much in it between Chris Rich and Andy but Damon was leagues ahead......

    1. shame you got the wrong commenter then dude, as it was Bryan who scored it!! loser ;-P

    2. Minus five points for missing deadline AGAIN Damon.

    3. I have accrued no penalty points. I have evidence to prove it

    4. Err Francis didn't scored us all 0 dude

  5. Nerd it!
    Great post, had to stop for a cuppa and a sandwich halfway through....

  6. Nerd it!
    Great post, had to stop for a cuppa and a sandwich halfway through....

    1. 'Twas a long post mate but hopefully not too taxing!
      Hope to see you and the rejects tomorrow at Broadside :-)

  7. I feel I m in no way qualified to comment on these guys' and your efforts. As I can't paint that well and I don't do fluff I'd have to give them all top marks!
    I do appreciate the four of you getting together for this -I'm very jealous!
    Looking forward to some batreps from you - My son is 'into' Saga and with a bit of luck he may even allow me to put some photos of his stuff on my own blog.

    1. We have our first meet up on the 27th for The first games, so batreps will follow after. Chris's immense table means we can all play at once so there should be lots to write about Joe!

      I think it would be brilliant to see what your son has done dude, get it up there!