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Koyote's Britons & other SAGA Stuff


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I'm going to use Great Invasion era Briton models, but I want to add some Monmouth and Mallory to the warband's backstory. This will add some flavor to the warband and guide my modeling and theme.

Rather than build a Briton warband around a heroic Arthur-like character, I want to build it around the infamous Mordred.  I also want Mordred's mother to be present in the warband.  Like many modern adaptations of the Arthur story, I am going merge Mordred's mother, Morgause, with her sister, Morgan Le Fay, making them one in the same.

 To add some variety to my Warband, I'm thinking about inclufing a unit of (Saxon) Sea Wolves or (Cymry) Guides.  Mordred aligning with these foreigners could be evidence of his treacherous nature or simply the product of Mordred's desperation to take back a throne that is rightfully his.  If I don't incorporate Morgan Le Fay into one of my Baggage vignette models, I may add her to the unit of Sea Wolves or Guides.  Do they fight for coin or because Sorceress has beguiled them with her magic? 

My inspiration for building a Warband around Mordred comes from my fondness for Footsore's (previously Musketeer Miniatures') Mordred model.  It's not a grandiose or an especially regal model, but there's just something about it that I really like. The downside of using this model as my Warlord is that I won't be able to field any Briton cavalry. Then again, a Briton Warlord on foot does have some advantages. Hmm?


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I still have to do a lot of work on these models before they are ready for paint, but I have six points assembled well enough for some play-test games.

Warlord -mounted
4 Hearthguard -mounted
8 Hearthguard
8 Warriors
8 Warriors
8 Sea Wolves or Guides


If the death of Arthur and the Saxon conquest of Britain can be though of as the Britons symbolic winter, then the fallout with Lancelot and the rise of Mordred is it's autumn.  As such, I've decided to go with an autumn theme for my bases.  

I wish Skullcraft was still in business.  They sold a very nice Autumn basing kit.


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I still don't know if I want to play an all-infantry Briton warband, but since my Irish were all-infantry, I'd be a nice change to put some horseys on the table.  

Selecting my mounted Warlord was an easy choice.  Footsore Miniatures' King Arthur model is fantastic, plus using an Arthur model as the foundation for my Mordred model is apropos.  One of my favorite features of the Arthur model is the helmed head, but sadly this just won't work for my vision of Mordred.  So, in the words of the Queen of Hearts, it was "off with his head."  


I began with a simple head swap.  I removed the helmed head from the Mordred model and placed it on the Arthur model.  And while I really like the look of the head on the original Mordred model, on the Arthur model's shoulders it's not quite right.  It looked to me like a Romanized Darth Vader on a horse.

This got me rummaging about my bit boxes and sprues, where I found a very nice helmeted helm with a face mask.  The head comes from an Imperial Roman Veteran sprue, It looks like it was based upon the the British Museum's Romano-Britsh Ribchester cavalry helmet.  


Below is the model in its current state.  I had to do a deep v-cut to remove Arthur's head without damaging it (pro tip: if you can reuse a bit that you cut off a model, save it), so I had to rebuild the neck and the fur trim around the head with GS.  I also used GS to make his right foot a bit larger.  This model, like many historical metals, suffers from small-footitis.

I like that the new head's engraved laurels give it a bit of regal look, while the expressionless face mask makes the model look cold-hearted.  Both are attributes that fit my vision for Mordred.

Overall, I don't feel that the model is quite as cool as the original, but by making these simple changes I've made it my own.



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My Morgan Le Fay and wire spears have arrived. Morgan is a Bad Squiddo Games mini and the wire spears are Gripping Beasts' SC57 Wire Spears.

Morgan's sword was way too long, so I cut it down some. The sword and breastplate balanced against the long dress and cloak gives her just the right balance of martial prowess/war leader and the femininity typically ascribed to a non-combatant seductress and sorceress. Yes. I know. I think about this kind of stuff way too much. e5003766.gif


If your minis are armed with spears, I highly recommend 'wire spears' (which is a misnomer because they are made from thin metal rod, not flexible wire).  Spears made from white metal (the metal metal minis are cast from), are too bendy and typically so thick that they look kind of ridiculous in the mini's hand.  Plastic spears are better than white metal spears, both aesthetically and in the bendy-department, but they can break if the model takes a tumble or you snag the spear on something.  Wire spears do not break and they fit nicely in the hands of 28mm models.  

If you purchase wire spears, be mindful of the thickness.  I ordered some wire spears from Arcane Scenery & Models, but I failed to read the description of what I purchased.  The diameter (thickness or gauge) of the spear shafts is tiny (about 1mm). If cut down to the right length they'd made good arrows for 28mm minis or perhaps good spears for 15mm minis, but they don't work as spears for 28mm minis.  Doh!


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Last night's hobby time was spent arming and (re)equipping Morgan Le Fay and the dreaded Sea Wolves.

I think Morgan looks much better with a shield.

The Sea Wolves are Footsore Miniatures' Early Saxon Infantry and their leader (the guy with the axe) is this year's Adepticon SAGA mini, which is made by Gorgon Studios.  The FS Saxons came with small shields (I put one on Morgan), but since I picture these guys a proto-Viking mercenaries from Juteland or Frisia, I want their shields to look cruder and a tad bit larger, so I replaced their original shields with shields that came with my FS Irish.



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My cavalry pill-shaped bases (made by LITKO Game Accessories) arrived in the mail yesterday, so I spent last night's hobby-time moving my cav to their permanent bases.  

The bases look a bit thin in the photo, but they're actually the same thickness of the Renedra & Renedra-style bases that I mount all of my SAGA minis on.  Like my Irish, all of my Britons will be mounted on magnetic bases.  The magnets that I inserted are glued to both the surrounding wood and the bottom of the metal horse base, so hopefully they won't pop out.

Despite the fact that all of these minis were originally made by Musketeer Miniatures (now Footsore Miniatures), King Arthur's horse (now Mordred's horse), is noticeably smaller than the other MM horses.  I can't have my Warlord being dwarfed by his men, so I used pieces of styrene sheeting to give Mordred a little boost.  

The Companion to the left of Mordred is the bannerman from King Arthur set and the Companion to the right is from Late Roman Cavalry Command set.  I'm still not 100% sold on Companions, but I need the models for play-testing.

I don't like using duplicate models in a warband, but I really like the overhand pose of one of the Late Roman Heavy cavalry models.  I solved this problem by twisting the model's head so that it's pointed to the model's left rather than to the right.  White metal has some give to it, so you can do a certain amount of bending and twisting without breaking the model.  The challenge is to twist the head without crushing its features or putting pliers shaped grooves in its head.  My solution is to use a small piece of cork sheeting to cushion the teeth of the pliers (SEE below).  I used the same technique on the crested helmeted model, third from the left.  I moved the head from facing left to facing forward.

One of my frustrations with two part, metal cavalry models is that they rarely sit on the horse properly.  I always end up taking my hobby knife to the horse's saddle and rider, but even then the fit is far from perfect.  To get the fit just right, I stick some GS to the bottom of the rider, wet the saddle with some water, and then gently place the model on its mount.  Once seated, I apply a little bit of downward pressure to get the model seated just right.  Then I remove the model from the horse and use a clay shaper and hobby knife to clean things up.  It may require multiple seatings to get the right fit.  

Since you want the GS to conform to the shape of the horse's back and keep that shape when the rider is removed from the horse, you may want to stick the GS to the bottom of the rider and then let it cure  for a short while.  Partially cured GS is less viscous than newly mixed GS, so it's less likely deform while it cures.



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My Britons are ready for their first test-game on Tuesday.

I'm going to give the Companions a go, so two of the Hearthguard (front row), will be sitting on the sidelines during Tuesday's game.  Also, while I suspect that I will select (Cymry) Guides over Sea Wolves, I'm going to test out Sea Wolves on Tuesday.

Before I can start putting paint on these fellows, I have to figure out exactly what I'm going to do with their bases.  In keeping with my Autumn theme, I was going to add some GS pumpkins to some of the bases, but after a bit of research I learned that like the time traveling potatoes that the Irish kids are throwing during the Sons of Dana order, pumpkins didn't arrive in Europe until after the "discovery" of the New World.  Alas, no pumpkins for Mordred.

My plans for Mordred's individual display base involve a leaping mastiff and a hapless Saxon -both have been ordered.

I also need to do some GS work to add a few details and to repair the spear hands damaged when I drilled through them with my pin vise.


For those of you thinking about using metal spears, blunting the tips is quick and easy.  Before trimming the spears to length, hold them in your hand like pencil and spread them out so they form one row.  Then brush them back and forth against a file. As you do this, keep the spear shafts pointed up, at a fairly high angle, so the file's teeth are blunting the spear tips, not sharpening them.  By slightly rolling the row of spears between your fingers in between brushes against the file, you can rotate the spears in order to ensure that you file down the tips evenly.

Using this method I was able to blunt 30 spears in a matter of minutes.



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Okay, you've been warned...

With much of my warband assembled, it's time to get to work on my baggage models.  

I'm going to stick with what worked for me in the past and use my baggage models as an opportunity to tell a story. This particular story depicts Mordred's plot to seize the throne of Britain.

As the legend goes, Arthur and the bulk of his warriors have crossed the Oceanus Britannicus and landed in Gaul.  Depending upon what version of the story you prefer, they are either pursuing Lancelot or fighting against the Romans for control of Gaul.  Mordred, Arthur's nephew has been left in charge of the kingdom during Arthur's absence.  Because Arthur is Uther's bastard son, born from rape, Mordred believes that his claim to the throne is superior to Arthur's.  As such, Mordred has seized the throne and begun to consolidate his power.

The first baggage model is titled, Merlin's Arrest.  Mordred must silence Arthur's most trusted (and devious) advisor, so he has ordered his warriors to imprison or kill Merlin.  The tree adds some height to the diorama and gives me a place to put an owl, which, like Merlin, is a symbol of wisdom and watchfulness. Merlin's magic is comes from Britain's pagan past, hence the rock with the Celtic swirl engraving.

What's going on in second baggage model, titled The Death of Gawain, is much less obvious.  Grievously wounded by Lancelot, Sir Gawain returned to Britain to recover, where he quickly learned about his brother's move to seize the throne.  Gawain may be a paragon of knightly virtue, but the wounded knight is no match for Mordred, who slays him in a 'death duel.'  In my version of the story, Mordred has had Gawain's head removed from his corpse and paraded about (à la Joffrey) to serve as a warning to others.  

The second baggage model shows one of Mordred's warriors holding Gawain's head aloft (which is an ironic nod to the story, Gawain and the Green Knight) and a gore stained axe.  Gawain's sword, helmet and battered shield, are also on display.  In the background a warrior holds aloft Mordred's banner and second warrior blows a horn to draw the common folk to the spectacle.

According to the Inter-netz, Mordred's coat of arms depicted a double headed eagle.  As a former 40K player, I have plenty of Imperial Eagle bitz collecting dust, so I had no trouble finding a good banner pole topper for Mordred's standard. Gawain's coat of arms is either a gold pentacle or , like his brother's coat of arms, a double headed eagle.  So Gawain's heraldry isn't confused with Mordred's, Gawain's battered shield will display the gold pentacle.


The third baggage model, will depict Guinevere's fate.  In at least one version of the Arthur story, Mordred abducts Guinevere and forces her to marry him. In others, she evades capture and escapes to the Tower of London.  Since I'm on Mordred's side here, she doesn't get away. Whether she's in chains or just under heavy guard will depend upon me finding just the right miniature for her.


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I found the  2006 Salute model, Arthur & Mordred, on eBay.  Below is a photo of the original green.  The Mordred model is pretty cool, but of the two it's the Arthur model that really shines.  I like this model so much that I'm torn between fielding an all-foot warband (if a Briton warlord is not mounted, then no mounted HG), and a the mix of infantry and cavalry that I'm using now.  Of course, I can do both, but I can take only one of them to the Grand Melee.  Perhaps I'll use one for the team tournament and a different one for the singles.


Below is a pic of the WIP foot-Mordred and his Companions.  If I go all-foot, I still want Mordred will be my Warlord, so took the head from the MM (FS) Mordred model, hollowed out the inside, and placed it on the base.  I'll probably add some battle damage to the helm so it looks like Mordred took one to the melon and tossed off his damage helm.  The model is sculpted so that it's looking down at the kneeling Mordred, so to raise up his eye line a bit, I put a stone under his right foot.

The Companion on the left is (ironically) West Wind Productions' Mordred.  There can be only one Mordred, so I replaced the Mordred helm with a different WWP head.  Since taking this photo I've replaced the head with one that I like better.  

The Companioon on the right is Footsore Miniatures' Vortigen. The half drawn sword and the face are what drew me to this model.



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A few small updates.

First, my Little Big Men Studios Arthurian shield transfers and banner have arrived. I cannot recommend LBMS transfers highly enough.  They are really easy to use and they look great.  Best of all, they are a relatively quick way of getting your shields.  Once they are sealed with some brush on matte clear coat, you can modify the designs to your liking by painting directly on the transfer.  I did this to some of my Irish shields to get a fairly consistent shade of yellow and to cover up bits of symbols that I don't like.

I knew that the symbol that looks like a combination of the letters P and X was associated with Arthuruan Britons, but until very recently I had no idea what it meant. This symbol is called a Chi Rho (pronounced "KEE-roe").  It is a Christian symbol consisting of the intersection of the capital Greek letters Chi (Χ) and Rho (Ρ), which are the first two letters of "Christ" in Greek (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, Christos). It's use as a military symbol is purportedly based on Constantine's use of the symbol after receiving his famous vision before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 AD.


Last night, I added the hard-basing to my Sea Wolves and most of my Britons.  For the larger rocks, I used small pieces of plaster of paris leftover from another project.  I used my snips and a hobby knife to shape them an cut them to size. I've also added some debris from an old battlefield (e.g.  damaged shields, weapons, helmets, etc.) to most of the bases.  


(You can see the full size image by right-clicking on the photo and selecting 'View Image'.)

It wouldn't be an old battlefield if it didn't have some skulls and other bones scattered about.  For these I used Toad King Casting's Skull and Bone sheets.  For years, I've been cutting up plastic skeletons to add bones and small sections of rib cage to my bases. These sheets will make that task largely unnecessary.  The quality is quite good, but many of the bone fragments are really, really small. They are dwarfed by a grain of rice, small. Nevertheless, $3.75 a sheet is a good price for the usable bits.


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Last night, I did a little work on my Warlord's display base.  

Putting a Warlord on a big base looks cool, but during game play I prefer keep his footprint on the table as small as possible.  This makes it easier for me to move my Warlord in between my units and around enemy units and obstacles.  My solution to the cool vs utility problem is to base my Warlord on a regular base (my "game base") and then create a large display base with a magnetized insert for my Warlord's base. Below is an example of what this looks like.



The last time I did this I placed the Warlord's game base on the display base and puttied around it with grey-stuff.  This technique worked fairly well, but the sides of the insert weren't vertical so I had to reshape the hole with a hobby knife.  This time, the plan is to use a styrene cut out to create the insert.


Because of my Warlord's pose, the other models on the base need to be in motion.  My plan is to have Mordred accompanied by huge mastiff.  The war hound will be leaping at a hapless Saxon warrior who is reeling back in terror.  The mastiff and victim models haven't arrived yet, so the mock-up pictured below includes a stand-in for the war puppy.  

The 60mm base doesn't leave much room for Saxon, so I've ordered some 4 inch (102 mm) bases from LITKO.


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The display bases at this year's Adepticon SAGA tournaments put mine to shame, but next year, things will be different.  Well, at least I hope so...

Like many of the best display bases at this year's event, I want my display base to tell a story.  Inspired by my mounted Mordred model, which looks like it's about the chuck a spear into some poor bastard's chest (or back), my display base will depict a battle scene.  More specifically, it will portray the rout of a Saxon warband.  Casualties will lie scattered on the ground where the Saxon shield wall once stood. The ranks of my Britons will be advancing and on one flank the Briton cavalry will be galloping ahead of Briton infantry, in pursuit of the fleeing Saxons.  

The models that I will use for the prone casualties arrived this afternoon.  They are made by Curteys Miniatures and sold by 1st Corps, out of the UK.  The two columns on the left are Saxons and the two columns on the right are Britons.  The models are resin and the detail is amazing.  For casualty models, I give these 4.5 out 5 stars. Or, if you prefer, 4.5 out of 5 butchered Saxons.  e14144.gif


I ordered some blisters of birds from Kromlech, hoping to get a good crow/raven for Morgan Le Fay's base.  In contrast the Curtey models, these models are terrible -poorly sculpted and cast.   e14093.gif Nevertheless, I was able to find one that, with a bit of GS, will work for what I need.

If I do, on occasion, play my Britons as all infantry, then I need 5 HG on foot to replace my 5 mounted HG.  I distinguish my HG by their cloaks -HG have them, warriors don't.  I'm not going to include any War Banners in this warband, but I want each Briton unit to have a Roman style Draco.  I ran out of cloaked models that are suitably posed, so I broke out the GS and added a (passable) cloak to the standard bearer from Footsore's Mordred blister.


The models the foreground will be my auxiliary unit of foot HG. The models in the year will be my first string HG foot.  I love the model holding its helm in its arm.  It's made by West Wind Productions.  



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Below is a (very) rough sketch of the plans for my display base.  

Guides are A&A mercenaries that are armed with javelins and not slowed by uneven ground.  Guides permits the owning player to: 1) move one element of terrain, or 2) remove one element of terrain, or 3) add to the table one M x M element of terrain.  I have the perfect piece of 6" DIA modular terrain (made by Worldsmith Industries), that I will rest in a circular insert in the display base.



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I've played a few games with my Britons and I'm beginning to wonder if I should add some 'shooting' to my list.  The Sea Wolves' Marauders ability gives me a nice advantage in scenarios where the objective is to be somewhere or capture something, but Guides, Deserters, or Briton Levies will give me shooting attacks to degrade certain types of units that I'd rather not tackle in melee, such as Beserkers, Attecotti, or mounted Hearthguard.  Also, shooting attacks can be used to encourage a reluctant opponent to close with me.  

Hmm?  More play testing required.  e5017366.gif

Also, my first test-model is ready for painting.



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I didn't make much progress on my Britons this weekend.  I spent most of my hobby time assembling some Vikings for use in demo games.  

I did get my Cymry Guides (Footsore Miniatures' Scots), assembled and mounted on bases. So they aren't confused with Picts, I equipped them with the bucklers that came with my FS Early Saxons. Because these fellows operate best in uneven terrain, I used the extra white-stuff to sculpt some logs and stumps for their bases.  



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Queen Guinevere arrived in the post yesterday.  The model is made by Dragon Bait Miniatures, which sells several lines of quirky minis.  I am very pleased with my purchase.  Both the sculpt and the quality of the cast are quite good and my order arrived fairly quickly. It's hard to make out in the photo, but her wrists are manacled and connected by long chains.

The Bishop, who is extolling Mordred's virtues and trying to convince Guinevere that her impending marriage to Briton's new king is certainly no reason to cry, is made by Gripping Beast.   The guard is a Footsore mini.  



The other two baggage models include a bird (the owl and the two headed eagle banner topper), so I added a feathered friend to this model as well.  The bird reminds me of this little fellow:


"Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin’s Day will shine upon the key-hole." e5003766.gif


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I finished my test model.  I think it turned out ok. 

Painting eyes is always challenging, but painting them in the recesses of a helm is even harder.

I tried something new. I added a light red wash to the models lower lip. 

As always, I am very pleased with the LBM shield transfers.  I went with the iconic white and red motif that you see in many modern illustrations of shields from this period.  I also have the same design in white and black. I haven't decided if I'm going to mix them or use the colors to distinguish different units or just stick with the red.

I tried using some of my Skull Craft Autumn Mix Leaf Scatter to add some fall leaves to the base, but it just didn't look right, so I removed it.  More experimentation needed.



About a month ago, I ordered a set of very cool mastiff mins from Sgt Major Miniatures, but after receiving the order confirmation I haven't heard a peep.  No minis. No notice of shipment.  Nothing.  He won't respond to my email so I opened up a dispute with PayPal.  It's too bad, because the set included a mastiff posed perfectly for my Mordred display base.  Oh well, Sgt Major Minis' loss is Footsore Minis' gain.  Looks like I now have an excuse to order Footsore's new wolfhound minis.  Oh darn. e5003766.gif

In the meantime, to give you a better idea of what I have planned, I have place a proxy war hound on the base along with the Saxon casualties.  The doggy is one of the Dog Companions from Zombicide.

So I can play this warband as either Britons or Romans, I purchased Gripping Beasts' Late Roman Manubalista kit.  I question its effectiveness, but how could I resist trying out SAGA's first war machine.



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