Wednesday 28 August 2013

SAGA: Macbheatha's Scots Warband


2 weeks ago, I showed my starter Viking warband and bemoaned how long it was taking me to paint up their opposition.  Well, I was so inspired by the positive responses that I have not only finished the starter Scots force who will face the Vikings, but I've also played my first game of Saga!  You'll have to wait a little for the game report though; this article will be used to introduce my second warband.

The Warlord

 Macbheatha is the leader of my Scots force.  He's accompanied by his faithful hound "Bran".  Unusually, he has scale armour instead of chainmail.

 Note that the Scots in my collection can be distinguished from my Vikings in several ways:
  1. The Vikings wear trousers, whilst the Scots have bare legs.
  2. Each force has a different colour of rim on their bases.  For the Vikings I used the same dark brown as for undercoating the bases, while the rim of the Scots bases are the same pale brown as the dirt's top highlight.
  3. Some of the Scots clothing is more highly patterned, whereas that of the Vikings tends to be a single block of colour.


This warband has 8 thanes in it.  Unlike the Vikings they're all just "vanilla" hearthguard, though usefully  they all count as spearmen for the purposes of the Saga battleboard.

I've used decals from Little Big Men for both the shields and the flags on all my figures.  Saga didn't originally have rules for standard bearers, but I'm sure they've been published as an update somewhere.  At least I have the option of using these rules if I desire.


Most of my Scots warriors have spears.  These are rather longer than those preferred by many Dark Age fighters, but they hint at the "pike"-armed schiltrons of later centuries.

I'm well aware that the modern notion of tartan is only a couple of centuries old (and highly contrived, at that).  However, it suits the narrative for these guys to wear patterned cloth, though whether the patterns would have been this form in the Dark Ages is anyone's guess.  Anyway, what I've painted isn't technically tartan (there aren't enough different colours), so there!

Like the thanes, my soer-chele (warriors) have a banner.  They also have a horn blower, though I'm not aware of any special rules in Saga for such equipment.  As far as I'm concerned, he's just a regular warrior - but slightly louder than average, I suppose.

Initially, I tried to paint tartan (sorry, patterned cloth!) on some of the cloaks as well as the tunics.  I soon found that the non-rectangular shape of most of these made the results come out very strangely, so they were quickly covered up with solid colours.  It's a pity, but I just couldn't do it to my satisfaction.


Once I finally got round to it, I've enjoyed painting these models.  Now my mind is full of plans for expansion: a small unit of cavalry and some skirmishers, perhaps?  What about one of the heroes of the age?  Or a bard?  I really fancy getting a group of monks as well, especially some armed brothers who've just had enough of the Vikings!  So many things I could do - and that's even before having played with them!


  1. Nice! Looking forward your report!

  2. Scotts. Remind me good old days about my games of Medieval Total War (the first) Viking Invasion.

    1. "Scots", with only one 't'.

      Ah, the good old days, when Vikings would kill your young men and steal your valuables. Where people and cattle slept in the same house. Where tuberculosis and other diseases were common and 50 was a really advanced age! :-)

      I don't know Medieval Total War - I imagine it's a computer game?

    2. It was an early 2000 game where you could have massive battle and see each of the soldier fighting. It was good

  3. Excellent looking bunch of Scots and I do like the idea of the longer spears as a distinction in addition to the bases etc. Chequered cloth would indeed have been in use and you're right when you say it's a pain to paint !
    Looking forward to the write-up of your first game.

    (There is a 17thcentury woodcut of Scots in the 30yw portrayed wearing "kilts" of a chequered cloth)

  4. Thanks Joe. Actually, it was kind of fun to paint something other than simple block colours. Not that I'd want to do a whole lot more, mind...

    As for the write-up:

  5. Actually you can call it plaid. Plaid patterns or tartan as its now called, have been around for thousands of years. The oldest being a red tartan unearthed from a burial site in Western China that is over 3,000 years old. The second oldest coming from a field in Scotland that predates the coming of the Romans.