Mustering the Wargames Factory Anglo-Saxons
The Wargames Factory figures occasionally get some bad press, mainly for a few things: 1) the necks are too long, 2) the poses look awkward, 3) the bow armed troops look especially funky, and 4) they are a lot of work to assemble due to having separate arms, heads, and weapons. The first two can be fixed (or at least greatly improved) if you are willing to invest a little time during the assembly process and the last point is one of those blessing and a curse things
The Wargames Factory Saxons boxes each have bodies for 32 figures, a wide assortment of heads (helmeted, bare, and with phrygian caps), and assorted weapons, shields, and equipment. The weapons/heads sprues are the same in the Fyrd and Thegns boxes.
So my plan is to use these to create both an Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Danish warband. To that end, I am equipping all of the fyrd with the round shields. These are typical of the earlier Anglo-Saxon period and were replaced later by increasing use of kite shields in the Anglo-Danish period. However, I figure the less wealthy part-time warriors of the fyrd are not exactly going to be at the cutting edge of early medieval battlefield fashion. The thegns on the other handed, being wealthier and more concerned with fighting would be more likely to follow the trends from the continent and so switch to the kite shield. With that in mind, I’ll use the fyrd box with round shields interchangably between Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Danes and divide the thegns boxes, outfitting half with round shields and more of the older style spangenhelm helmets and outfitting the remainder with kite shields, Dane axes, and more of the newer style one-piece nasal helms.
The other thing I wanted to do with the fyrd is to really give the impression of the spear and shield as the primary weapons. Each box of the Wargames Factory Saxons comes with 4 weapons sprues, each with 5 spears. A good number, but not quite enough. Fortunately, I was already planning to make some dane axes, etc. from the thegns, so many of their spears got reassigned to the fyrd. In the end I was able to make up 26 of the 32 with spears, so the units definitely bristle. The rest are armed with seaxes or axes and a couple will be carrying banners. I’m not sure how many banners a historical Anglo-Saxon force would carry, but they look great on the table top, so they are going in! Finally, having lots of head options allows you to plan for different options in your games. The Anglo-Saxons in Saga may use levy spearmen (levy in Saga are normally missile armed only) and levy come in increments of 12, so I made exactly 12 of the fyrd with bare heads, allowing me to easily designate a levy unit on the tabletop if needed.
The Anglo-Saxon thegns have been assembled and are ready as well. Nothing particular of note here, just 16 professional warriors in mail armor. Most are equipped with double-edged sword or spears and there is a banner and a dragon windsock in the mix for some flair.
The weapons sprues come with one dragon on each and I only needed a couple (one for the Anglo-Saxons and one for the Anglo-Danes) as it seems there would have been one of these carried with the host. A few of the others sacrificed their banner poles to make a few extra spears (using the spear heads from the free WGF Numidians I got at Historicon a couple of years ago – that pack also yielded a number of sheathed seax made by cutting down the Numidian’s swords). The rest I intended to mount on bases to make markers for various uses during game play, e.g. if I activate a Saga ability and want to mark it to remind myself.
Finally, I wanted some missile troops to harass my enemies. As I mentioned above, the WGF sets contain bows and quivers to make archers, but they just don’t come out right. The bows are sculpted bent back as if drawn, but none of the arms provided is appropriate for a figure drawing and arrow. Trying to make bowmen just seems like a waste of a figure that would make a decent melee fighter. So all of the fyrd went into the shield wall (and no self-respecting thegn would skulk around the battlefield with a bow) and I searched out some alternative missile troops at Historicon this year. I ended up getting the Gripping Beast Anglo-Saxon slingers pack packaged for Saga. This has 12 models with slings in 4 poses. All are bareheaded though and I wanted to tie them in with the rest of my force, so I attacked them with the saw, drill, and files to remove the heads on a number of them and replace them with heads from the WGF set wearing the phrygian cap. These turned out very nicely and definitely make the slingers a cohesive part of the force.
The Anglo-Saxon warband is rounded out by another Historicon purchase – Gripping Beast’s Anglo-Saxon warlord.
So the Anglo-Saxons are on washers, primed, and ready to enter the painting queue. I have 32 fyrd, 16 thegns, 12 levy slingers, and a warlord. This makes about 9 points of troops for Saga, and since the standard warband size is 6 points, I have plenty of options for a standard one-on-one game and I’m well on my way to being able to do multi-player games with these guys.
Going forward, the Anglo-Saxons just need a couple of things. First, I need a few more leaders to use in multi-player games. Second, I think I want just a few more fyrd so that I could arrange the troops in a few more configurations. I’ll probably pick up a couple of packs of Crusader or Gripping Anglo-Saxons – about 8 unarmored guys with spears and about 4 armored thegns – which will give me a little variety and some leaders. If I want to add more thegns, I have another entire box of the WGF thegns. I also need to get the Anglo-Danish part of the force ready, which will start off with 8 thegns carrying kite shields and 8 thegns with two-handed Dane axes.
Now to just get them painted. That could be a while – many exciting (and time consuming) things going on in the real world of the Cantwells.