I wanted to take a look at building Saga armies on a budget. Two key ways of doing this are first to buy plastics, as you get more bang for your buck. The other is to share to cost with two or more players. This way you can get more choice than just buying one box yourself.
After running a poll recently to see what the most popular armies are, the top two are Danes and Scots. After that Bretons then other including Normans, Vikings and Irish.
Two players can band together and buy one box of Gripping Beast Saxon Thegns (Hearthguard) and one box of GB Dark Age Warriors. These boxes are currently around 19 to 20 pounds in the UK.
This gives you 44 Armoured Saxons to use and 40 Unarmoured figures.
From this you can get:
1 (Saxon Thegn) Warlord (Armoured figure, Dane Axe required)
20 (Saxon Thegn) Hearthguard (some can have Dane Axes to your taste) - 5 points.
12 (Dark Age Warrior) Unarmoured Levy with slings - 1 point.
Note: you can use any of the models for these troops. Make use of the unarmoured models with the fancy leggings and keep the plain legs for the Scots! There are 12 hand axes in the Saxon box set and 8 longer hand axes in the Dark Age Warriors box set. There are four longer Axes in the GB Viking Hirdmen box set if you have access to that and plenty more in the Conquest men-at-arms set.
Approximate cost based on the models per box is: GBP£16 (USD$25)
1 (Saxon Thegn) Warlord (armour, helm, spear, round shield)
12 (Saxon Thegn) Hearthguard (spears and round shields) - 3 points.
24 (Dark Age warrior) Unarmoured warriors (spears and round shields) - 3 points.
Note: use the unarmoured figures with the plain legs from the sprues as much as possible.
Approximate cost based on the models per box is: GBP£18 (USD$29)
At the end of the above exercise you should have left 10 Armoured Saxons and 4 Unarmoured Dark Age plastic Warriors.
Keep hold of those models and spare parts as you may need them for spares repairs, bannermen or to build on more factions! Four of the Warriros may be needed in a moment....
Want mounted forces...?
For Bretons and Normans, you will need to purchase more box sets. Two players can share the cost by purchasing the following items...
2 x Conquest plastic Norman Knights (15 to a box, armoured, kite shields, swords, spears).
1 x Conquest plastic men-at-arms (44 to a box - no missile weapons, but spears can be used as javelins).
Note: if you have fours spare Dark Age Warriors from the Dane/Scots factions above then you do not need the next box of Dark Age Warriors... or if you get an alternative infantry box with 48 figures by substituting the Norman men-at-arms for Fireforge foot sergeants, a little more expensive but a few more figures per box.
1 x Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors as Unarmoured warriors or Levy (see note above).
If you need to provide bows and crossbows one source is here (metal). Perry do War of the Roses infantry with 30 bows. EBay is another source. The Fireforge Foot Sergeants box contains a fair number of crossbows.
1 Warlord (mounted, armour, shield)
12 Hearthguard (mounted, armour, shield) - 3 points.
8 Warriors (men-at-arms) with spear/shield and padded armour, kite shield) - 1 point.
8 Warriors (men-at-arms) possibly with crossbows or just spear shield and padded armour) - 1 point.
12 Levies (men-at-arms) least armoured as levies with bows) - 1 point.
Note: the above makes use of the range of Norman abilities while also keeping some foot contingent for a mission like "Homeland" or to split the spear unit into two groups of four to maximise Saga dice.
Note: When assembling the men-at-arms, do not use the eight figures in chain mail (the most armoured), these can be used elsewhere (e.g. a unit of Flemish Mercenaries!). It is possible to use other 28mm kits to source bows. For example, I used a box of Perry Miniatures 'Wars of the Roses' infantry, which has 30 sets of longbows, arms, arrows.
Approximate cost based on the models per box is: GBP£31 (USD$49) which does not include the cost of buying bows and crossbows.
1 Warlord (mounted, armour, any shield, javelin)
16 Hearthguard (mounted, armour, any shield, javelin) - 4 points.
8 Warriors with spears and shields (men-at-arms with padded armour, and type of shield) - 1 point.
12 Unarmoured Levy with javelins (8 men-at-arms, 4 Dark Age Warriors) - 1 point.
Note: the above makes use of the range of Breton ranged abilities but without having to buy a lot more cavalry (plastic unarmoured cavalry for this era is difficult to say the least - a gap in the market?) while also keeping some foot contingent for a mission like "Homeland" or to split the spear unit into two groups of four to maximise Saga dice. By combining the Hearthguard into two units of eight and splitting the spears into two lots of four, you still get six Saga dice.
Note: use the spears in the box set as javelins. cut them a few millimetres shorter if it helps make them look different. The Foot Warriors do not seem to have javelins, only mounted warriors). Also, when assembling the men-at-arms, do not use 8 of the figures in chain mail (the most armoured), these can be used elsewhere.
Approximate cost based on the models per box is: GBP£32 (USD$51)
Wondering what you can do with those leftover figures? A follow up article will deal with buying armies for a group of 7/8 players, building on the factions shown here.
Typical Box Prices:
Conquest Knights GBP20 / USD32 / 15 models / price per model = £1.34 / $2.14
Conquest Infantry GBP20 / USD32 / 44 models / price per model = £0.46 / $0.73
GB Saxons GBP20 / USD32 / 44 models / price per model = £0.46 / $0.73
GB Vikings GBP20 / USD32 / 44 models / price per model = £0.46 / $0.73
GB Dark Age Plastic Warriors GBP20 / USD32 / 40 models / price per model = £0.50 / $0.80
Fireforge Foot Sergeants GBP28 / USD35 / 48 models / price per model = £0.59 / $0.73