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Mīn Wandrian-Scyf Ful Ælen Is

Then did Oshere, war-lord and goodly

Gather up his arms and raise high the war-banner

A coat of Frankish mail adorned his manly shoulders

The helm of his grandsire on his brow was resting

Linden was his battle-shield, rough hasped in iron

Iron was his sword, and iron were his hearth-men

Spear-points sky-biting as they rode to the battleground

From The Lay of Oshere of Hamtunscir (trans. Prof. Innis Ertnemhir, Scunthorpe Institute of Dubious Literature)

Saga Warlord

My normal experience with the games I have played is to have one model per base. I like this way of playing, it gives an “every man counts” feeling, rather than anonymous blocks of men. Also those massive blocks have a lot of people in them, and I would probably lose interest halfway through. Saga generally caters to my tastes quite well, but in one area multibasing seems quite popular: warlords.

While there is nothing in the rules which says a warlord can’t go on a normal sized base, the internet is replete with inspiring warbands led by generals on big bases, sometimes with a retainer or two. I knew this was the route that Krognak was going to go. I had based my warlord on a normal base, for use in smaller, skirmish games, but I wanted a big base as well. So I got on to eBay and started ordering.

Oshere with his favoured retainers, banner man and priest. Names to come later.

The size of the bases was not quite what I had in mind, but I ordered what I could get quickly. After some consultation with Krognak, who was good enough to remind me that the maximum base size allowed by the rules is 60mm, I decided to cut down the base to size.

I used Flesh Tearers Red contrast paint to draw round a Games Workshop 60mm base, which I had decided was too tall and wouldn’t fit in with the rest of the army. Then I got to work with clippers, knife and file.

Definitely would have been easier to get the right sized base from the get go, but I was back on track. The next thing to do was to build up the texture on the base, leaving space for the figures to sit in there like a movement tray. Once I had established where I wanted the models on the base, I put a second renedra 25mm base underneath Oshere to raise him above his compatriots, as is only right and proper.

It’s a subtle difference, but it helps establish him as the focal point of the base, and his retainers as secondary figures.

I use cheap filler to texture my historical bases and disguise the transition between figure base and the renedra circles. They are then dipped in sand to finish. This was how I planned to build up the warlord’s base, but how to keep the gaps clear for the figures to sit in? I decided to use more 25mm bases to “mask off” the areas I wanted to keep untextured.

Because of their additional height and sloped sides, I decided to use Games Workshop bases as my masking tools. I also had an inkling that the slottabase style would make them easier to remove later. I WAS VERY MUCH RIGHT. If you choose to follow these steps, for the love of all that is holy use slottabases. The lone blank base was an ungodly nightmare to remove. Anyway, blissfully unaware of my error, I blu-tacked the bases down and got to work with the filler and a texture spreader. Once the base was covered to my satisfaction, I put it in the sand tray.

Then, without waiting for the filler to dry, because then it would be impossible to shape, I removed the masking bases. For the slottas this was a simple matter: find a nearby metal model that uses a slottabase, insert dry into the base, a quick twist and wiggle and the whole thing comes out a treat. For the blank base I recommend using plastic glue to glue on a spare pair of legs, trying to pull it up, realising you haven’t given the glue long enough to dry, swearing, leaving it 5 minutes, trying again, swearing some more, before drilling through the base with a pin vice and levering it up, terrified that at any moment your drill bit will snap.

Still, once that was over, I had the base largely how I wanted it. I used the texture spreader to slightly pull the filler out and away from the holes at the top, so they sloped away nicely for ease of inserting models. I then grabbed some nearby ceorls to take the place of their betters while the filler dried.

“We will never again be so favoured.”

Once the base had dried, I painted it up. With no oil washes or anything fancy it was a quick job; a basecoat of GW dryad bark, drybrushed with sylvaneth bark and then tyrant skull (immediately after the sylvaneth bark and using the same palette, so that the two mix a little – thus avoiding overly stark highlights). To finish I added a variety of foliage types from Gamers Grass. Their basing materials are amazing, if pricey. I think I’m using a heathland selection, with some swamp tufts.

I finished with some magnets to hold the figures in place. Krognak has recently been going magnet crazy with his bases; I’m actually starting to become worried for him. Still, he was happy to give me the number of his dealer name of his supplier, and I ordered 40 0.5mm thick magnets. They raise the figures slightly higher than I had originally intended, but the added security is more than adequate compensation. Were I to make another warlord and base I might allow for the magnets when I added the filler, but they were something of a last minute addition. Nonetheless I am pleased with how the base has come out.

The models click in securely and can be easily removed for skirmish games, or if I decide to put a war banner in a unit. Conceivably one could make a base where the additional figures could be removed to represent fatigues, but that is a project for another time.

Hearthguard and Houses

Also this weekend I finished my next 4 hearthguard. For these models I deliberately chose almost offensively bright colours, relying on the oils to tone them down. This worked well, except for on the Gripping Beast model second from the left. Whether it was the colour choice or the comparative lack of folds compared to Victrix, he still looks rather gaudy. Still, it’s one model, and I’m not going to worry too much about it.

With the thegns done, I did start work yesterday on basecoating the unit of Ceorls shown in Brush Hour 4, but found that I needed a change of pace. I therefore dug out a Rohan house from Games Workshop that I had bought when they were released a year or so ago, and had begun assembling. A little more work saw it fully made, and I set to work painting. I had carefully built it to be as setting neutral as I could – by restricting the use of the horse themed parts it makes quite a decent Viking Age dwelling, and the planked construction is I think not unknown (certainly they are building a planked house at Butser Ancient Farm, and you would hope they know what they’re doing).

I pretty much slavishly followed the painting guide from Warhammer TV, the only difference being that I did the detail above the door in red and white, not gold. This was partly to tie the house in with the shields of the warriors, but mainly because I don’t think many Saxons, certainly not those living in houses of that size, could afford to slap precious metal all over their door frames.

With a warlord, 8 hearthguard and a house done, I thought I would take some photos on my hairy grass mat, which I had bought thinking it would work nicely as a battlemat, but is instead rather inflexible and sheds like a husky in late spring. Still, it was nice to see the warriors in context, and Krognak kindly put in a sky rather than the inside of my bedroom, which nobody needs to see. While I tried some with and without the warlord base, I must confess my favourite was the one where all were on their 25mm bases in a rough shieldwall, standing shoulder to shoulder against the heathen.

Next up are, of course, the ceorls, who should thicken the shield wall nicely, like adding oats to pottage. Other than that, I have 12 archers on the way from V&V miniatures, and Krognak’s Azakarnul setting beckons, so I’ll start working on some content for that over the next few weeks. Stay safe, and if you, like me, are in the UK:

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