Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Saracens by Gripping Beast Plastics for Saga: The Crescent & the Cross

I have recently discovered the fine game 'Saga' by Tomahawk Studios, though it's been around for a while. I actually avoided it for a bit as I knew once I got started I would be hooked and I had several other major projects I wanted to put behind me before I added another. It was a good call overall but I am glad to be going full bore back into the Dark/Middle Ages. Having completed some Vikings, Anglo-Danes, Welsh and other assorted Dark Age bad asses, I decided to turn my attention to the Crusades. Since I have a friend with some Normans, I opted to go Crescent and started the Saracens a few weeks ago. (Don't worry, my own Normans are on order.)(I have always tried to have at least two armies that were historical opponents whenever I delve into a new game. That way, at least I know I'll get to play, even if it's solo.)

I really like the Gripping Beast Plastics. They are really nice moulds, usually plenty of poses and relatively cheap. Well, the infantry are anyway. One can purchase a box of 40-44 infantry for about $38.50 USD. That's about the same price you would pay for the bases for a few GW models. The cavalry are more expensive though. For the same price, you only get 12 dudes. That's a lot of money for plastic models. But what's an addict to do?

So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to my latest army.

The whole shebang, Prolly slightly more points required for a standard game but it gives me options, especially if I purchase one of the historical leaders that gives me a ton more tactical flexibility; eg: the horse archers become Turcomans and are equipped with composite bows. While they don't shoot as far as regular bows, they allow the unit to move *and* shoot. If you activate them twice in a row they can move into range and then shoot. For their second activation they can then shoot and move back the where they were. This nicely simulates the very tactics that drove the Franks bonkers when they first met these guys. The Franks would break ranks chasing them and then get picked off in small groups.

My (temporary) Warlord and his Ghulums lead the pack. He's temporary until my Sala Al-Din model arrives from the U.K, then he's demoted back to plain old warrior.

I know you're wondering: the buildings are scratch built by my brother Chris for the game. I need to decide on colors and paint them soon. How fucking nice are those???? I mean seriously, look how beautiful they are; scenery is what makes mini's games. I'll be the envy of every gamer who sees them. Thanks, Chris.

Ah, the levies. Forced from their dirt farms to swell the Caliph's ranks. And yes, I am quite aware that Saracens don't get slingers, only archers. But this is one of those cases where there were only two poses for the archers. I threw in some slingers for the eyes only. Don't get your burkha in a bunch, they behave exactly like bowmen.

The first group of foot warriors. Someone has to slog it out with all those Franks whose horses died since leaving Europe!

Warrior unit #2. All the shield transfers are from Little Big Men Studios. Cracking good stuff and easy as pie to apply. The hardest part is cutting them to the shape of the shield, round or teardrop. The transfers are made for GBP's, so they fit nicely if cut correctly.

Mounted horse warriors or 'Ghazis' in game terms. I'm a little disappointed in how some of the colors showed up in the pictures. I'm actually very happy with the shades of chestnut I achieved but you can't really tell here. I took the easy way out and did mostly dark colors but I have another unit of these and one of Ghulums still in the box which I will prolly do with some dappled greys and whites.

Nice fez, dude.

With apologies to my brother Mark.

Ghulums are mean. These guys were a Christmas gift from my wonderful missus. I am so glad I have her permission to to play with toy soldiers.

Since these guys are the elite of the force; 4 guys equals a unit (for purchasing that is, you can combine them after paying for them). For the same 1 point you get 8 warriors or 12 levies. Pretty fucking neat, huh?

Ghulum unit #2. Can't wait to fuck me up some Crusader knights!

So, that's them. As mentioned, I still have a few more units of cavalry that I can paint but I have a pretty good force here. I want the infantry at this point. Saga is really a finesse sort of game. A force needs played multiple time to really start to learn the finer points of each. (As each has what's called a separate 'Battle Board' which defines the force's capabilities.) So, the forces are supposed to mimic the armies they represent. Do they? Dunno, didn't go on Crusade.

I finished these guys today and already started my Late Imperial Western Romans/Romano British. Very, very cool and right in my wheelhouse. 

Now, where is that Notitia Dignitatum?