Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Mutatawwi'a for The Crescent & The Cross: The Saga Continues

Reinforcements for my Mutatawwi'a army
Having played a handful of games with the Mutatawwi'a army from my earlier post The 20-Day Challenge and learned a lot I decided to expand the troops available so that I could have a bit more variety in my army list. Several reasons for this. First of all, it was a quick lesson to learn that this is a very tricky army to handle. The battle board is good, but very finely balanced and it is all too easy to see your own force dwindle rapidly through over-extending and becoming vulnerable, or over-enthusiastic self-sacrifice - both of which I seem to be prone to do. Secondly, it's just a shame not to have all the options available, especially when one of them is camel-mounted Hearthguard.

I also realised that I had made a very basic error in my original list concept - Mutatawwi'a aren't permitted mounted Warriors (oops!).

So the additional troops I have put together for the list are as follows:
  • 4 x more horse-mounted Hearthguard (to add to the four mounted from before, which we can now consider to be Hearthguard rather than Warriors);
  • 24 x bow-armed Warriors (giving the option for pretty much any of my Warriors to be fielded as bow-armed);
  • 1 x additional standard-bearing Warrior (giving an option to field two large bow-armed Warrior units with War Banners - which I thought might be worth a try in some circumstances); and
  • 8 x camel-mounted Hearthguard (because, I am told, you just have to have them, don't you?)
Mounted Hearthguard (on horses)

I could have bought some more Crusader Miniatures Berber Cavalry for these, to match the other figures I already had, but having had a search around on the web I liked the look of the Saracen cavalry castings by Black Tree Design, so ordered a pack of three of them. I already had one Crusader Miniatures model left over from before so the idea was to make an additional 4 mounted Hearthguard from these.

The Black Tree Design models took 25 days to arrive after ordering but I was expecting this based on other people's experience and wasn't in any hurry. That said, there were extenuating circumstances and I received an unexpected apology from them as well. Not necessary, chaps! And in any case, they were well worth the wait. Lovely castings and on first look at them I know I will be buying more from this company in future. That said, there were a few strong mould lines and a fair amount of flash on the horses, some of which was quite heavy and took more work than usual to make good. Riders were fine though, nice castings and easy to clean up.

I removed the flash and cleaned up mould lines on the figures. I filed off the fittings for the shields on the left arms of the riders, as I intended to replace the shields provided with slightly smaller ones. My intent was to use some of the shields from Crusader Miniatures Saracens, as these are lovely, but Crusader don't supply separate shields. So I scratch-built some using 12mm washers, drawing pins and some green stuff. Not as nice as the Crusader ones, but almost exactly the same size and reasonably straightforward to make. I clipped off the pin from the drawing pin, leaving a short bit attached so that I could fix it to the figure. I glued the washer to this so that the shield was slightly enlarged and provided with a rim. When this was dry I made shield bosses from a couple of small blobs of green stuff.

The process of adding scratch-built shields
I drilled a hole in the rider's left arm to take the remaining stump of the drawing pin and attached with glue. Figures were then assembled and attached to bases. Using some green stuff I filled gaps between riders and horses, added veils across their faces (to match the rest of the army) and cloaks, so as to differentiate these four Hearthguard from the other four should I field them as separate units. Finally, I made short spears from 1mm brass rod and attached these to the figures.

I also made four extra shields and attached these to the four mounted Hearthguard I had previously painted.

Mounted Hearthguard, cleaned up (some with textured bases!)
Bow-armed Warriors

I bought a second box of Gripping Beast plastic Arabs for these, adding arms with bows and quivers, plenty of which were left over from the first pack, to make up the numbers.

Figures were assembled in a variety of poses and based on 25mm repair washers. Using green stuff I added veils across faces and some cloaks.

War Banner

This chap was made in very similar manner to the previous banner man out of one of the Gripping Beast plastic Arabs. His banner is a square cut from a small piece of cotton, fixed in position with superglue.

The slogan I painted on the banner is the same phrase as used previously - Allah is great.

Camel-mounted Hearthguard

After scouring the Internet for quite a long time I decided to use the camels from Black Tree Design (and this was the main reason for purchasing anything from them). I much prefer the shaggy, slightly cartoony look they have over the relatively clean lines of the Gripping Beast models (sorry, Andy & Darren, just my personal preference). I was a bit concerned about all the camels being in the same pose though - on some of the pictures on the Internet they look very regimented - but I reasoned that I could almost certainly move some legs around and vary the overall impression if I put my mind to it, so I took the plunge and ordered three packs, one of each of the spear-armed camel-mounted Saracens they produce, so as to get even more variety.

I was not disappointed. In fact, there are three camel poses, and the figures are absolutely gorgeous. As with the Black Tree Design horses, there was a lot of heavy flash to be cleaned off  - so much in fact that I had to use a drill - but after a morning's work they cleaned up very nicely and I think they look great.

Two of the figures were cast with weapons held against their sides. I much prefer open hands to equip with spears for all these figures so carefully removed the arms concerned and replaced them with spare arms from the Gripping Beast plastic Arabs, removing plastic spears and drilling holes to take wire ones later. Replacement arms were pinned in place strongly by reinforcing the joint with wire.

I added scratch-built shields, cloaks and (longer) brass rod spears in the same way as for the cavalry, and made good the gaps between riders and camels with green stuff once the assembled figures were dry.

Cleaned up camels
Basing and Painting

All the figures were based with a mix of PVA glue, Polyfilla, water and builders sand, spread over the bases and textured with a sprinkling of small stones and chinchilla dust. Before this dried I washed any overspill of this mix from the feet of the figures concerned.

As usual I primed the figures with an off-white emulsion and painted bases Crown Brown Sugar highlighted with a dry brush of Crown Biscuit.

Figures were painted in exactly the same way as described in my earlier post The 20-Day Challenge, but with the following additions:


Generally sandy brown coloured, but they can be quite light, with almost white patches. I undercoated some camels in Desert Yellow and some in Brown Sand, and added various levels of lighter highlighting to get a variety of appearances within the same overall colour tone.

Half-painted camels
Mostly-painted camel

I chose two shield designs, one for the cavalry and one for the camels. These used brown, black and brass in the same colour scheme and general style as the shields for the foot warriors described in the previous post.

The photo sequences below show the progress of each of these shield designs.

Shield design for horse-mounted Hearthguard
Painting sequence for camel-mounted Hearthguard shields
The Finished Figures

Overall I think they look really nice and they will definitely be a handy addition to my Mutatawwi'a army.

Horse-mounted Hearthguard
Camel-mounted Hearthguard
Bow armed Warrior unit #1
Bow armed Warrior unit #2
War banner bearer

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Random Vikings for Saga

Here's something a little light hearted that I hope people will enjoy.

In Saga, you can choose a Hero of the Viking Age to lead your warband. Heroes of the Viking Age are special characters with names and special characteristics which express his particular traits and personality.

Saga is a small-scale game. It has a 1:1 figure scale, which means that one figure represents one fighting man. So really, there's no reason why they shouldn't have individual identities too. Now I am not advocating special rules for individual characters here - if you want that there are other rules than Saga that would do the job better - but there's nothing to stop you giving them names.

With this in mind, I have created a handy spreadsheet that does just that. At the moment, it's only available for Vikings (hence the title of this post) but you never know, if anyone's interested and if I find myself with sufficient spare time, I might expand it for other factions as well.

The names shown for the men in my earlier post about Egil's Band were generated using this spreadsheet.

Not that anyone would need one, but the spreadsheet will also work as a handy list checker for your Saga Viking faction. Just bear in mind that the list checker will only handle Warbands with 8 or fewer units, and doesn't cater for Swords for Hire, though it does allow for Heroes of the Viking Age that can lead a Viking warband, as well as options for a Priest and a Wandering Bard.

Please feel free to download and use as much as you like, and let me know what you think. Enjoy!