Thursday, 13 November 2014

Milites Christi for Saga: The Crescent & The Cross

The completed army
Having finished my Mutatawwi'a in double-quick time (see my earlier blog post) it was only common sense to make some opposition for them, so I set to work on a Milites Christi army. This is a good option if you want an army that is reasonably quick to paint as it doesn't need very many figures. That said, a lot of them are mounted, which do require a bit more work.

Apologies, but this time I've not posted pictures of work in progress, just the completed figures.

Army List and Figures

The unique strength of this army is the ability to field as many crossbow-armed Warriors as Hearthguard, so the obvious six-point Saga list is:

16 Hearthguard
16 Warriors

I decided that I would make this army using plastic figures from Fireforge/Deus Vult, so bought three boxes of figures as follows:
  • Templar Knights
  • Templar Foot
  • Mounted Sergeants
And only then realised that I would be four crossbowmen short of the above list. So the list was modified slightly to:

16 Hearthguard
12 Warriors (crossbow)
4 Warriors (mounted)

I also made up a banner bearer on foot to accompany the crossbowmen.

These are really nice figures but are intended to represent a slightly later crusades period than the 1100-ish date (end of the First Crusade, capture of Jerusalem) I wanted them to represent, so I planned to make the following modifications:
  • I would only use one of the barded horses, this for the warlord;
  • All Hearthguard were to have kite shields;
  • The mounted Warriors would have round shields;
  • I would preferentially use heads with Norman style helmets for Hearthguard, and not use full face helmets;
  • The Warriors would have simple pot helmets.

This raised a couple of issues:
  • There weren't enough kite shields in the combined boxes;
  • I would be two unbarded horses short.

I solved the above issues by scratch-building the five additional shields required from plastic card and stealing two horses from a box of Conquest plastic Normans that I had bought to convert to Crusaders (which will hopefully be the subject of a future article).

After much indecision I finally decided to paint them up as Knights Templar. I wanted them to be relatively early in the Crusades period, which restricted my options, and also didn't want to do Hospitallers like the ones in the rulebook, even though they do look very nice. The Templars wore a red cross on white robes - fairly straightforward to paint. The Templar flag was a black horizontal stripe over white and sometimes they used this design on shields as well as the red cross, so that would allow some extra variation.

Figure Preparation

A lot of limbs were cut and realigned during assembly, especially the crossbowmen, so that I could get more figures in shooting poses. I assembled half of the Hearthguard to have lances held upright and half couched. I trimmed the plastic lances away (these are massive, overlength, horrible things that look like they belong in a Warhammer game). Their telegraph pole weapons were replaced with sensibly sized spears made from brass rod. Once trimmed of lances, hands were drilled to take the new spears.

Parts were glued together with Humbrol liquid poly and when dry, visible gaps were filled with Milliput.

I put some extra effort into the Warlord figure, adjusting his horse so that it appeared to be rearing up in mid-turn with its head slightly to the left, and with rider's arm outstretched pointing his drawn sword aloft. I gave him a non-helmeted head from a Gripping Beast plastic Dark Age Warrior, just to be different.

Foot figures were based on 25mm repair washers to give a bit more weight. I added weight to the mounted figures firstly by filling the void space in the body of each horse with Milliput and secondly by adding coins to the bases (2p piece on a 40mm round base for the Warlord; two 1p pieces on each 2cm x 5cm base for other mounted troops). This doesn't add a huge amount of extra weight but it does make them a bit more sturdy on the table. I added cloaks made of green stuff to the Warlord and about half of the Hearthguard.

Bases were textured with a mixture of Polyfilla powder, builder's ballast, PVA glue and water, sprinkled over with very small stones followed by Chinchilla dust.


The figures were undercoated white, and the bases painted with Crown Brown Sugar and then dry brushed with Crown Biscuit. I then went back to each figure and undercoated armoured areas in black.

I normally use Vallejo paint but had recently bought some Coat d'Arms acrylic paints for horse colours and I used these for the first time on this army. They're good, but oilier than Vallejo and it took a couple of coats to get the colour depth right. Horses were painted in black, chestnut, brown and bay, with darker shades added for hocks, and manes and tails appropriately painted for the horse types concerned, finishing off with socks and nose markings in white.

When dry I painted the saddles, bridles and other tack in Vallejo Leather Brown, highlighted with Vallejo Saddle Brown and then moved on to the men themselves. Starting with the eyes, I painted the faces of each figure, progressively highlighting in lighter flesh tones to get the desired effect. I painted the hair and beard of the Warlord in progressively lighter shades of brown.

Armour areas painted black were then touched up and cloth painted in Vallejo London Grey. I then painted their crosses in Vallejo Dark Red, correcting minor errors as best I could as I went, then painted belts in Vallejo Leather Brown. I highlighted the crosses in Vallejo Scarlet and grey areas in a lighter shades of grey ending in white, and belts with Vallejo Saddle Brown.

Armour was lightly brushed with Vallejo Gunmetal and small areas of exposed metal in Vallejo Brass, Copper and Silver.

Crossbows and bolts were painted in Vallejo Beige Brown, highlighted in Vallejo German Camo Beige and flight feathers in light grey highlighted white. Finally, I painted spears in Vallejo German Camo Beige and spear tips in black with silver highlights.

All figures were varnished with a protective coat of Vallejo Gloss and, when dry, sprayed with Testor's Dullcote.

Standard bearer and Warlord

Hearthguard with raised lances

Hearthguard with couched lances

Mounted Warriors

Foot Warriors with crossbows