Friday 29 August 2014

Dun Beag

Dun Beag ('Small Fort') is a well preserved broch that I visited with the family during our recent holiday on Isle of Skye.



Dun Beag is situated on a hill that provides an ideal vantage point overlooking the surrounding countryside and nearby loch. The broch was almost certainly occupied by an important local warlord...



...who would have woken each morning to quite a view!



Brochs are dry-stone round-houses that were built on the Scottish Hebridean island during the Iron Age (between 700 BC and 550 AD). They were constructed with double-skinned walls that supported each other making possible a high building that was still relatively lightweight. Rather tantilisingly, amongst the Iron Age items found around the broch were also some Viking artefacts including a gold norse ring and buckle; suggesting the broch may have been raided (and even occupied) during the later Dark Ages.



Thoughts of Norse Gael warlords surveying their conquered lands seem to have gone to Mighty Kyle's head!



Since the broch was constructed from stone, there are lots of surviving features of interest. The double-skinned wall can be seen next to Kyle, while a small room is visible next to the entrance in the photo above. Stairs that descend into the broch are shown below.



If nothing else, the broch offered a fascinating glimpse into the lives of early Skye inhabitants and the rugged landscape provides good inspiration for terrain.


One things for certain, purple heather will definitely appear on the bases of the Norse Gael! Something that struck me on Skye was how pale many of the rocks and boulders appeared amongst the heather. This is certainly something I want to pick up on in my terrain painting.
On closer inspection it appears that much of the pale colour is derived not from the rock itself, but from the surface lichen.
The last photo is not very Dark Age related, but to be fair it's not everyday you see a dinosaur footprint on the beach! This one is located at An Corran and can be seen at low tide.


Wednesday 13 August 2014

I Do Like the New Terrain Set Up Rules...

A little something arrived in the post today.

There are no dramatic changes to the main SAGA rules, but it's good to have all the tweaks and corrections now available in a single volume. A very nicely produced volume at that.

There are of course new factions, new scenarios and priests! The spoiler in the title gave away my favourite addition though. New terrain set-up rules that appear at first glance to be only slightly different than before, but will I think be well received by most players. The old table that randomly determined where terrain was placed is gone. Within certain constraints, players now choose where their terrain is placed. Terrain placement is going to become more strategic, with players better able to position woods and inclinations to block enemy archers and slow down advancing cavalry (there are still no hills - only 'inclinations'. But that's a whole new blog post...). If horse mounted units end their movement in uneven ground they gain a fatigue! Oh yes, my Anglo Danes like that one! A new terrain table means that players can attempt to move (or even discard) one item that an opponent has placed.

Really looking forward to taking this for a spin. I rather suspect that there may also be some camels on the horizon...

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Next up - Norse Gaels!

Now I have a six point Anglo Dane warband fully painted, it's time to start thinking about something for Kyle. We've played a range of different factions and Kyle tends to like warbands that get stuck into the action... After a good review of all the available warbands and a few practice games we've decided on Norse Gaels. Kyle hopes to field this warband at John F's Canterbury SAGA event this November.

Here then is the six point Norse Gael warband. Assembled, deflashed and stuck to their bases. There are two points of hearthguard (both with Dane Axes). One unit is composed of Gripping Beast figures, the other formed from old Citadel miniatures. There are three warrior units. These include two 10 man units wielding Dane Axes and 12 warriors armed with javelins. One of the warrior units is primarily composed of Gripping Beast metal figures, while the rest are made from various plastic kits (mostly Dark Age Warriors and Viking Bondi). A few Saxon arms have been included for their double handed posture. Axes are not quite full length in all figures, but I'm not overly concerned and the overall effect still works.

My Anglo Dane warlord has a relatively simple base (just sand and grass tufts). For the Norse Gael warlord I have decided to do something a little more elaborate and the warlord stands atop a rocky outcrop. The base is completed, but I will paint the warlord separately. Bases like this can look good when displayed, but I wonder if they are a bit too much when used in games. Oh well, time will tell. 

So there we have it, six points of Norse Gaels just waiting to be undercoated. I'll post a few photos of painted units as and when they are completed. 

Monday 11 August 2014

Undead Wraiths

A little while ago I mentioned how playing Kings of War provided an opportunity to paint old figures. I already have three wraiths that I painted in the late 80's. I've also just invested in a new portable photo studio set-up. Still getting to grips with using it (not helped by only using one light due to a blown bulb...), so apologies that the photos are a tad dark. I tried using the flash, but they were a bit too overexposed.



The middle figure is The Witch King from an old GW boxed set (Nazgul on Winged Beast) that is still in its box and waiting to be assembled and painted. One day...


In order to use wraiths in KoW I need a minimum of five. So I painted another three...



These are old Grenadier figures and a bit on the small size.


I think I would prefer a light blue background in the photos. Will look into changing it when I get a new bulb. In the meantime (just for the hell of it), here's another old painted figure - one of my vampires...



Sunday 10 August 2014

Weekend of Mayhem!

We've certainly packed it in this weekend! On Saturday we took a trip into Sussex. Anybody recognise this view...



Senlac Hill anyone? Imagine an Anglo Dane shieldwall stood on the hill with William's cavalry charging the left flank and a rain of Norman arrows dropping from the sky... This place has became very famous indeed.



Whilst the true facts surrounding Harold's death will forever remain a mystery, his reign as King of England most certainly came to an end on 14th October 1066.



There's something that makes the hair tingle when you walk around one of the most famous battlefields in the world. Looking at the site now, with its rather tame terraced hill and crumbling abbey, it's difficult to imagine the ferocity of the battle that took place all those years ago. Although English Heritage (who now manage the site) had no re-enactments organised during our visit, a chance glimpse of a sign earlier in the week revealed that The Free Men of the Blean were holding an event at Druidstone on Sunday. Fortunately for us this is just up the road from where we live (close to Canterbury).


Despite poor weather Sunday morning (the tail end of Hurricane Bertha would you believe), the afternoon proved bright and sunny. Vicious Norse Vikings have invaded Kent, even going so far as to set up winter camps on the Isles of Sheppy and Thanet. After successfully landing they sent raiding parties inland, where they found a lightly defended village...



The Viking berserker was a bit lethal with his Dane axe...



Luckily, the Anglo Saxon reinforcements arrived just in time.



It was certainly action packed!



As the Hirdmen charged, who was stood facing them in the shieldwall?



Mighty Kyle!


Well not really... What a great afternoon though, we really enjoyed the battle and talked with the participants afterwards learning all about the correct use of spears, shields and of course the awesome Dane Axe.



My own Anglo Dane warlord doesn't look quite so impressive now...