Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kit Bashing Dark Age Skirmishers

SAGA's push to the east, beginning with the Byzantines and Rus in Varjazi & Basilieus has pushed further into Asia with the release of the new Steppe Tribes board in Wargames Illustrated 311.  It is a welcome move, for it is a time period and location in which I have a a great deal of interest and background.

As I have been putting together levies for SAGA and Hail Caesar lately, my expectation is that cheap (low quality) troops need to be acquired cheaply (low cost).  While there is no perfect, dedicated solution for plastic Eastern European and Central Asia armies in the Dark Ages, there are some acceptable substitutes.

A Byzantine Army was one of the first historical armies I began putting almost ten years ago.  Most of my psiloi were archers and a few slingers from Crusader and Gripping Beast, but no javelin-bearers, as SAGA specifies.  Below is a half-unit of Byzantine skirmishers put together from Wargames Factory Numidian bodies, Saxon and German heads as well as a couple of Gripping Beast plastic unarmored heads.  As with any mod, it is a bit of a compromise.  Byzantine troops with standardized tunics and shields would probably have had better footwear and trousers, but I think it works well enough for a game.

Steppe tribes used slaves, captured enemies and even women and children as foot skirmishers.  A favorite tactic of the Khitans and Mongols would be to drive captured enemies towards their own city's walls to create confusion and hesitation among the besieged.  With that in mind, these steppe skirmishers were meant to be a diverse and poorly clad lot that could have come from anywhere between Kievan Rus and Mongolia.  Again, the bodies are Wargames Factory Numidians and Gripping Beast heads.  

More brightly adorned and better equipped are the archers pictured below.  They were intended to look like city militia or merchant guards for the Silk Road cities, such as Samarkand or Bukhara.  These bodies are from Wargames Factory's Persians along with various German and Viking heads.  

Thanks for stopping by, and my next post will be some historical fiction recommendations for Byzantium and steppe tribes before the Mongols.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Samurai for Osprey's Ronin

I now have a few points worth of Samurai to fight the Sohei monks for Ronin. Below are three early Samurai from The Assault Group. In the Gempei Wars (1181-1185 CE), mounted Samurai considered the bow, not the sword, to be the elite weapon.

 It would be very difficult to use all three of these horsemen in all but the largest Ronin games. By my reading of the rules , a samurai on a horse (Hatamoto) with a yumi will cost 42 points each and are Rank 4.  Three of them adds up to 126 points.  Additionally, the faction rules for Bushi require that for each Rank 4 model there must be at least one Rank 3 model, which will add in another 72 points.  Then, there must be at least two Rank 1/2 models for every Rank 3+ model.  That means 12 Rank 1 Ashigaru, costing 216 points.  The minimum to get three mounted Samurai into a game is 414 points, which might be good for the campaign rules in the book, but not in any match I plan to play this early in my learning curve.  The photo below is a more modest 150 point force of just six models.

Below, is a samurai from The Assault Group flanked by two bushi by West Wind. While they are not as crisply detailed as TAGs, they are also not as hefty and are more realistically proportioned.

Playing with a photo filter for some faux-Kurosawa.

In SAGA developments, I picked up Wargames Illustrated 311 in my local game store this weekend for the Steppe Tribes faction.  I already have a number of Khazars, Seljuks and Pechengs to fill out the mounted troops, and will try this week to knock out some levy archers from Wargames Factory's Persian and Numidian bits and bodies.