lunedì 27 marzo 2017

Lion Rampant - Armies on the cheap #1 Dark Age

Today I'm starting a new series of article: Armies on the cheap.

It will discuss mainly about the chance of recruiting a new army without spending too much. Of course whenever possible the armies will be done using plastic miniatures, because they're cheaper and provide great chance for conversions. (I warn you, I'm not a fanatical historician, so I'll sometimes proxy miniatures, where historically correct alternative are not aivalable).
I'll focus mainly on Lion Rampant retinue, but you can feel free to exploit my considerations for whethever ruleset you desire.

As general rule of thumb I'm going to make an overview of the plastic miniatures aivalable on the market, then I'll speculate about what you can actually build using them.

First issue: Dark Age. The excuse is the publishing of Gripping Beasts plastic dark age archers


Dark Age Archer, here (18£): 30 archers suitable for almost anything western army from 4th to 10th century. Fantastic for formed archers and skirmishers. Can be found in a pack of six for 8.5£.

Dark Age Warriors, here (22£): 40 not armoured warriors, with round shields. They looks barbaric, so you can use them for barbarian people from the Barbaric Invasion to the late 10th century (as levy), through all Europe (included very early feudal Spain, Carolingians and Lombards), and British Islands, at least until 1066.

Saxon Thegns, here (22£): 40 armoured saxon warriors, upper class. They represent the nobilty of the Saxons. I feel they can be appropriate to represent the nobles either of the Barbarian invaders of the Roman Empire or the Saxon at Hastings 1066. They should work for Ostrogoths, Lombards and all the others barbarian kingdom during those centuries: the archeological evidence is so poor, any attempt to differentiate the various barbarian warriors is extremely hypotetic. With some regards, they could work as Italian Lombards of the IX century or Merovingian French (I hope I'm not being too heretic here).

Vikings Hirdmen, here (22£): 40 fully armoured Vikings. Ok here it's easy. Vikings noble. Mix with the Saxon Thegns for variety, just pay attention to some helms and weapons typically Vikings. (any horned helm, anyway). Good for fighting Skraeling, too.

Late Roman Infatry, here (22£): 44 late Roman (Eastern and Western) auxilliary or legionary infantrymen. 16 Archers, 16 Unarmored Spearmen, 8 Armoured Spearmen, 4 Commands.

Please notice also that: GB offers a discount for three plastic boxes deals (60£ instead than 66£), and
LBMS provide decals for all the plastic GB dark age boxes (3.5£ for 12 decals sheet).


Mongol Horse Archers, here (27€) : 12 horse archers: they should work fine for any Steppe horsemen from Hunnic to Mongol Invasions. So I'd field them as Huns in 5th century, as Avars, Cumans, Pechenegs and so on.

Steppe Warriors, here (27€): 24 steppe warriors, well, see above.

As some of the readers may have noted, there is pratically any option for Dark Age Cavalry in plastic.

Roaming the net, I found an interesting conversion possibility. I must thank Bob's blog (specifically this entry) for the idea. He basically suggest to convert the Conquest Games Norman Knights plastic box (here, 20£ for 15 knights) into Saxon heavy cavarly.

Judging from the result that could work. If you're not so picky, you can obtain, sacrificing some miniatures, basically heads and shields: Late Roman cavarlymen, Saxons (or Goths) Noble cavalry. I know it's not much, but better than no options. 

So let's see which fantastic list we can build with those awesome miniatures! I will take into account the chance to divide the sprues between two gamers/armies. So the cost is effective per sprue. If you are alone (or your club mate don't need an other army), Lead Forum offers a topic to discuss about sharing sprues. I use as reference, the author (Dan Mersey) post on Dark Age armies for Lion Rampant, as well as Field of Glory Companions: Legions Triumphant, Wolves from the sea and Decline and Fall.

Lists (reference)  

To convert Conquest Games Norman Knights (a) you would require helmtet wearing heads and shields from Saxon Thegns or Viking Hirdmens, for (b) from Late Roman Infantry.


1. Vikings 

2 Foot Companions* @ 12 points -> 12 models, from Vikings Hirdmen
2 Upper Class Spearmen @ 8 points -> 24 models, from Vikings Hirdmen
1 Archers @ 4 points -> 12 models, from Dark Age archers

My own version, I changed the Warriors, i.e. Berserk, with Archers, because there is no suitable model for Viking Berserk in plastic, unless you recicle some Hirdmen. Of course you can throw in some Saxon Thegns or Dark Age Warriors for more variety, but here I'm focusing on being cheap.

2. Anglo-Saxon 

2 Foot Companions* @ 12 points -> 12 models, from Saxon Thegns
1 Upper Class Spearmen @ 4 points ->12 models mix of Dark Age Warriors and Saxon Thegns
2 Lower Class Spearmen @ 6 points -> 24 models from Dark Age Warriors
1 Skirmishers @ 2 points -> 6 models, from Dark Age archers

3. Generic Barbarian People of Migrations (Saxons, Juti, Angli, Goths, Franks)

2 Mounted Companions* @8 points -> 12 models converted Conquest Norman Knights (a) [or new Gripping Beast Dark Age Cavalry §)
1 Upper Class Spearmen @4 points -> 12 models from Saxon Thegns
2 Lower Class Spearmen @6 points -> 24 models from Dark Age Warriors
1 Archers @4 points -> 12 models from Dark Age Archers
1 Skirmishers @2 points -> 6 models from Dark Age Archers

Ok this is a very generic list, so feel free to play with it: upgrade or downgrade the spearmen, drop a Mounted Companion unit for more archers or mixed formations of archers and lower spearmend (suggested for 6th century Italian Ostrogoths), add a unit of mercenary Huns horse archers (Raiders@4 points->6models, using Fireforge Mongols).

4. Late Romans (West)

1 Mounted Companions* @6 points -> 6 models, converted Conquest Norman Knights (b) or §
2 Lower Class Spearmen Mixed Weapons @10 points ->24 models from Late Roman Infantry
1 Archers @4 points ->12 models from Late Roman Infantry
1 Skirmishers@2 points ->6 models from Late Roman Infantry

The mixed weapons represent the Auxiliary mixed formations with archers behind the spearmen, the  Upper Class the Legionary Comitatenses. Feel free to add Barbarian Mercenaries, either as Upper or Lower class spearmen, or as Cavalry or as Horse Archers.

5. Huns

2 Expert Raiders*@12 points ->12 models, from Mongol Horse Archers
1 Mounted Companions@4 points-> 6 models, converted Conquest Norman Knights (a)
2 Lower Spearmen@6 points->24 models, from Dark Age Warriors
1 Skirmisher @2 points ->6 models, from Dark Age archers

The Germanic type here represent the subjected people the Huns lead in battles. You can use Steppe Warriors, instead, but I feel this would be more appropriate.

So, final considerations. Most of the armies can be made by 2 to 3 boxes, and a lot of variety can be achieved sharing the sprues. For example the Norman Knights to convert can be easily divided between two armies, and also the Mongol horse archers for variety. You would rarely need all of them. So 2-3 boxes, means an army for 40-60£. Can be done in lead? Of course. Can be done better? Probably. Can be cheaper? I don't think so (I haven't checked, to be honest). By the way 3 boxes is what you need to have some discount from GB, and the option of purchasing just 6 archers for the skirmisher unit it's really handful.

Well, I hope I gave you enough things to reflect upon! Let me know what comes to your mind about this topic, and if you buy a new army I'll like to see it!

Next issue: Early Feudal Armies! Stay tuned, because some units will be usable also for the lists I imagined in this post.

PS. I made a mistake. I knew Warlord Games took rhe rights over the Wargames Factory plastic boxes and didn't released them. I didn't realised they had some suitable plastic. They're branded for an earlier period, but could be a nice addition to any Barbarian (or semi Barbarian, for late Romans) force. It will also enable you to field  mounted and foot skirmisher armed with javelin. Could provide also viable models for Viking Berserkers!!! I'll had them there:


Ancient Celts Cavalry (here, 22£) -> 10 cavarly, useful for lighty armoured raiders (javelins, at least!)
Tribesmen of Germania (here, 22£)-> 43 early German infantrymen (bare chested warriors for berserkers!)
Ancient Britons (here, 22£) ->40 early Britons, could do as Pict?
Others (Dacian Falxmen and Noble, Ancient Celts Infantry here)

So the new list aivalable (straightly from Mersey's blog) could be:

Pictish and Scottish

·      2 Riders with Javelins* @ 6 points ->12 models, Ancient Celts Cavalry
3 Lower Class Spearmen with Javelins @ 12 points ->36 models, Ancient Britons
3 Skirmishers @ 6 points ->18 models, mix archers and javelinemen

    Edit (December 2017)

    Now aivalable from Gripping Beast: Dark Age Cavalry, it allows to build up to 12 cavalrymen, which can be used to depict almost any barbarian people as well as German foederati cavalry, using late Roman heads. (marked with § in the text)

12 commenti:

  1. And you can use the Dark Infantry for the Baltic Pagans

    1. Yeah, I take them into consideration, but I decided to use them for the next post, together with Medieval Russian. As I wrote the period overlaps a bit! Stay tuned!

  2. I seem to recall a Russian company doing plastic figures in 1/56 (roughly 28mm). I thought they did some of the late dark ages Russian troop types. If I find a link, I will share it.

    1. Now that you mention it, I remember them too. But cannot recall the brand. Anyway Medieval Russians will be in the next post!
      Stay tuned!

  3. My mistake. I was thinking of Zvezda, and the only 28mm line they have is fantasy.

    However, the Wargames Factory figures are great, and the Vikings, Saxons, and Germans might all be useful. You can find them reasonably priced on eBay.

    1. I was undecided if add them or not. Their Auxilliary Roman Cavalry was perfect for conversion into later Roman Cavalry (mainly change the hedgear), but I decided to avoid unreleased brands!

  4. Good article. It's useful to have all the different options in one place. You could also consider Conquest Games Medieval archers. Although marketed as "Medieval" they are unarmoured and have a good mix of different heads, some with beards or moustaches, and with a variety of different bow arms. They could easily be used as Dark Age archers.

  5. If you want to pack out an army as opposed to a skirmish game, the Hat Spanish figures are quite useful you can also stick Perry or gripping beast heads on them, they pretty economical, I'm going to use them for Dux Bellorum, so I need a few more than lion rampant.
    Best Iain

    1. Hi Ian, thank you for comment!
      I'm exactly ending writing a post detailing the following period (feudal age) in which I talk about Hät Spanish range. I've seen in real life just their infantry, so I'd be interested in your opinion. Next post out in few hours, stay tuned!

  6. Great article! I was thinking this week with my sprues, that these saxon thengs work really nice for late roman barbarians, and i'm thinking i'm not the only! Now gripping beast has some dark ages cavalry who will work really well too!

    1. Yeah, I noticed it! I'll take this occasion to edit the post and add this awesome new opportunity!