Sunday, January 29, 2012

Shield Maidens

       Shield Maidens, or female Vikings, are most definitely a non-historical creation, borne out of a combination of fantasy literature, mythological archetypes and modern feminism.   Nonetheless, these Foundry Shield Maidens can make a neat addition to a dark ages skirmish.

One of the Vinland sagas relates a story in which attacking Skraelings (Native Americans) were scared away by a screaming and topless Norse woman.  I haven't found a model to represent that yet...


While any scenario involving female warriors on a Viking raid may be considered fantastic, it is not out of the realm of possibility to include women as defensive fighters at a homestead.  Stories from the Viking age testify to the bloody feuds that drew whole families into combat.  

Further Reading:  My second favorite story arc from Brian Woods' often brilliant series Northlanders is titled, appropriately, "Shield Maidens." It creates a plausible scenario that pits three Norse women against a party of vengeance minded Saxons.  It is included in the collected graphic novel, Northlanders Vol.3: Blood in the Snow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Saga Custom Dice

My homemade saga dice started as blank white dice, 24 for less than $10.  Printed the custom dice overlays from the Saga message board.  After cutting out a strip of the 6 symbols for an individual die, I sprayed the back of each strip with Elmer's spray adhesive.  

I found it easier to spray the adhesive on a strip of six, rather than spraying six individual symbols.  The longer strip tended to stay put, and the adhesive was more easily distributed.  After affixing all six sides and drying, I sprayed a few coats of a satin varnish.  I haven't quite achieved a glossy, slick finish but the dice roll and tumble just fine and look pretty cool. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Recommended Welsh Reading - The King Raven Trilogy

     Duke William's rapid conquest of England ended quickly at the traditional borders of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.  The Saxon earls, still not fully united behind Harold Godwinson, were not organized and enough to resist the Normans and their innovative use of horse and missile weapons. 
      Shortly after conquering England, the Nornans pushed into the land of the Welsh, or Cymry, as they called themselves.  On the face of it, the Welsh should have been more easily conquered than the Saxons. Political cohesion under a high king was non-existant since the death of Gruffyd ap Llwelyn. Lacking little sense of ethnic or national unity, the eleventh century Welsh also lacked the production and trade centers necessary to acquire heavy armor and weapons.  The Welsh were skirmishers, lightly armored and with bows and javelins.  Duke William and his successor William Rufus left the Welsh problem to the marcher lords, barons intent on acquiring the and developing the pastoral lands of the west. Nonetheless, the Welsh effectively resisted an outright Norman conquest and some Welsh kings were able to deal and submit to the Normans on favorable terms.

     This is the setting of Stephen Lawhead's King Raven Trilogy.  Lawhead places the Robin Hood legends among the Welsh resistance to Norman encroachment in the first volume Hood.  After Norman machinations lead to the death of his father, and more importantly to him, his land, feckless Welsh prince Bran of Elfael finds himself alone and near death in the ancient forests of Wales.  Under tutelage by old crone, Bran heals and begins collecting an assortment of followers including, as later titles indicate, Scarlet and Tuck.  The hero's journey by Bran is not surprising.  The reader knows that he will become the legendary outlaw hero, but Lawhead's gift is in not rushing it.  Throughout the early chapters, Bran grows as a leader and as a brilliant insurgent tactician, yet he remains frustratingly impulsive and short-sighted. The conclusion of the series is unique and it brings together some of the Christian ethos that were a subtle undercurrent throughout the series.
     The Robin Hood/Richard I connection has been played out so much that we take it for fact now, but a Robin Hood enthusiast looking for something fresh, and gracefully written, should buy all three volumes. All three are sold for the single price of $8.99 on the Kindle currently.

King Raven 3-in-1 ebook

Monday, January 9, 2012

Welsh Light Cavalry

Before starting SAGA, I had enough models to skirmish with Normans, Vikings and Saxons.  The Welsh faction was a notable hole in my collection.  I did stumble upon the idea of using Wargames Factory ancient German cavalry as a base for conversion.  

The bearded fellow in front is just a German painted in a late dark ages scheme.  Welsh at this time period were predominantly beardless, but that doesn't preclude a warrior with a shaggier personal preference: 

This is a conversion involved using a Gripping Beast Saxon head with a cape made from Green stuff:

A group shot of some Welsh priodaur:

Finally, a conversion that's a WIP for a Welsh warlord combines a Conquest Games Norman body with a WF Saxon head.  I love Conquest's Normans.  The extra bodies in each box have a great deal of conversion potential.


Although in hindsight, this one looks more like Charlton Heston in El Cid than a Welsh nobleman. project:  Conquest Normans into El Cid Spaniards...
With this blog, I hope to channel some of my long standing interest in the tenth through twelfth centuries into a somewhat regular series of postings on my miniature projects, books I am reading and articles I hope to write. Much of this will be centered on the SAGA game system, although I hope to give Clash of Empires and Hail Caesar a try this year.

I have a sizable reserve of finished Normans, Vikings and Saxons to post, and I am really interested in tips on photographing miniatures with ordinary digital cameras - if such a thing can be done.