A Viking's Life For Me
Growing up in Sweden, you'd likely stumble upon stories set in a time where Scandinavians travelled far and wide across the world. We didn't learn about a "Dark Age" in school, but instead something we call the Viking Age. We were told about an adventurous era that we experienced through children's books about the clever boy Vicky the Viking, ruled by dieties we met in the Valhalla comics, filled with tall tales of daring deeds and close calls in classics like Frans G. Bengtssons The Longships, or gritty cold blooded vengeance glimpsed through cult classics movies like When the Raven Flies.
Despite all this, and after many years of miniature wargaming, I still haven't put together a real Viking force. With the skirmish game Saga gaining steam locally after the second edition arrived, and with several companies putting out some very nice looking miniatures lately, it was getting more and more tempting. You could even say that the sparks of Muspelheim were aligned on the severed skull of Ymir when our sister club Scattered Dice threw down the gauntlet and challanged me to paint up a Saga army.
But where to begin?
Getting my Starter Force for Saga
Army construction is Saga is, fortunately, quite straight forward. One point buys you 12 crappy guys, 8 decent guys or 4 tough guys. A starting army is four points while six points is the more popular standard. Those are the basics, and some armies get special options, but Saga armies are not really that big nor complicated.
Looking at my options for miniatures, Victrix new plastic set of Vikings seemed just perfect. Their kits have really improved in quality lately, and the set is full of warriors with various weapons and different degrees of armour. However, I didn't see a need for 60 of them, so I ended up making a deal and splitting a box with a forums friend. 30 roughhousing rascals would be enough for three units of 8 warrios, so that's a big chunk of the army sourced.
My next investment was some shield maiden from Footsore. Those can be fielded as normal vikings or as a special mercenary option, which sounds like a nifty way to make the army a bit different from your standard Viking army. I also couldn't resist including one of their warlord miniatures.
Finally, V&V miniatures has some impressive looking resin vikings. I've been curious about how the look in person, so I included one of their four-man kits in an order of Avanpost Napoleonics that I was going to make from Mezzer's Miniatures anyway.
Pushing Myself Through Painting Goals
Lately I've started to try to make painting challenges for myself when I start new projects. It's a good way if you want get unstuck frmo a plateau in your painting, in that you get confortable in painting in exactly the same way. While that works well for getting an army painted, sometimes it can be fun to learn new techniques or ways to paint, and add that to your arsenal of painting skills.
For this Viking army, my option was very obvious: freehand painting. Nothing says Vikings like shields with intricate designs and patterns. Freehand painting is something I've generally avoided, as it's easy to botch and there are many easier alternatives such as transfers. But for this army, I promised myself that I'd squeeze in at least one freehand painted detail on every mini. The low model count would hopefully help keeping me from going insane at the end.
First Unit - Shield Maidens
Once the box from Footsore arrived, I just had to paint up these shield maidens first. The sculpts were great, and they just look badass overall.
The first shields were a bit shakey, especially the bird one, but after a lot of very slow painting and erasing mistakes, the decision to freehand was already paying off better than I expected. I decided to wait with banners until I had practiced on the 40ish shields involved, and to decide on the basing scheme once the starter army is all painted.
The "grunts" of the unit, carrying various weapons.
I even squeezed in some attempts at a pattern on the yellow tunic.
The leader and standard bearer. I think the latter was the best sculpt in the set, I love that stoic pose.
A second attempt at a simple pattern on the tunic. While not perfectly executed, I think these small details will add to the overall look of the army once finished. I've always liked miniature armies filled with small "easter eggs", so that you can spend a long time looking at it and still find new things.
With these fierce ladies done as a flying start, next up I'll cover some of the Victrix Vikings that will form the backbone of this army. See you then!