Friday, 3 February 2012

Anglo-Saxon Army for Warhammer Ancient Battles

This army started as stock for my now defunct on-line model shop. They are excellent Renegade Miniatures figures, and I'd simply bought two packs of each set in the range to have as stock, rather than planning what I needed for an army. I just happened not to have put them into storage when I wound up the shop, as they were not a big range.

I had planned to field a Romano-British army for the annual 'Winter King' Warhammer Ancient Battles tournament that my new club has every year, but although I had three units painted and some more to paint, I realised that I was quite a bit short of a full army and would need to lay out around £150 for more figures. This was not at a time a tempting prospect and my first thought was to 'cheat' by painting up some of these figs as Romano-British. In the process, I counted up all the figures I had, compared it to the 'Shieldwall' supplement and realised I had virtually the perfect number for a full Middle to Late Anglo-Saxon Army!

So a week or so into December, I thought I'd throw caution to the wind and see if I could paint this army up. The problem was I had to get them done by mid-January!

It certainly was a real push and at several points I thought I wouldn't make it. Fortunately most people were slow in starting their first battles for the competition, so I kept my head down and kept painting...and by the end of January...I was close enough to take a chance and book a game for the next week...though I was sweating right up to the a couple of hours before the game on varnish and basing glue drying...only to find my opponent turned up, but the army he was hoping to borrow didn't!

Still everything done, I set a date for a battle for the next week. All told I have a unit of 24 Huscarles armed with two-handed battle axe - using this makes it a later Anglo-Danish army- and enough painted for 4/5 units of thegnsand coerls (depending on whether I make them 24 or 32 figure units), plus 34 'gebur' skirmishers. The unit above is the one I use for the Cyning's own unit.

Here's a close up of the figure I'm using for now as my Cyning (King), but he may get displaced by a 'Gripping Beast' King Alfred figure once I'm happy with the paint job.

I've also got another 30 or so more thegns and coerls left to even start painting, and 30 odd more unarmoured earlier period 'West Wind' Saxons, which can easily be used as coerls. Once I've don't these I can field the army as a Middle-period (ie. 8-9th century) Anglo-Saxon army- and to be honest could be used for earlier too- up to 2200 points.

I didn't get time to buy the excellent 'Little Big Man Studio' flags before putting them in the field (I have since), but fitted them out with a few 'print offs' of them - complete with 'spoiler' green lines, just to get the size of their flagpoles right. This is one unit equipped with their large cross flag.

The army list lets you field an 'Abbod', well worth having as a unit so equipped gets to re-roll all its misses in the first round of combat. I couldn't find a figure I like for this, looking and failing to find something 'Dark Age' but 'Clerical' in my Fantasy figure collection. But I did have a 'Gripping Beast' unarmoured priest, which with a cardboard cross on stick became my standard bearer.

These are my Huscarles, which by rights should be the bodyguard for my Cyning in a later period army, but one of the big weaknesses of an Anglo-Saxon army is that the thegns have pretty poor morale (just 6) so need as many characters as you can afford to lead them. The Huscarles have a morale of 9, so as 'Winter King' tournament rules limit armies to 1850 points if you use more than 4 characters, it is a bit of a waste of your Cyning to have him lead the Huscarles when you need every character you can get.

Above is another mixed unit and below a separate shot of some Coerls who aren't very visible in the other shots as they found up behind the thegns in these mixed units.

I was hoping for an easy first outing against Tony's Picts. Tony is a very experienced WAB player (and I'm not, in fact although I'd had the rules for ages and read them many times, at my former club no one was into WAB so this was my FIRST game), but Anglo-Saxon thegn-led units should go through Picts like a knife through butter.

Unfortunately, Tony has decided not to use his exquisitely painted Pictish army and painted up a Late Roman Army instead. Anglo-Saxons are mainly armed with thrusting spear, not good in the first round of combat if they charge, but great if they can survive the first round of combat. Tony had armed all his Late Roman's with heavy throwing spear, which maximises his deadliness in the first round of combat-especially deadly when given to his 'warband' allies which will break any enemy they charge if they win in the first round....

...the result? Three of my five heavy units broken in the first turn of combat, at which point my general's unit rolls at 11 for a panic test (they had won their combat and only needed at roll 9 or less!). So all my army except the Huscarles-who didn't even get into combat-were running and game over!

And it was not much consolation to follow Tony's suggestion and -just for fun!?!-test to see if they would rally next turn -and find three of the units would have!

Still, I don't think I really did anything much right in the game, so there you are! Let's hope for better luck next time!

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