The Life of Brian (Boru) : Laurens Vannijvel’s Fledgling Irish Force for Saga

Hi, I’m Paul, and welcome to Painting, Sculpting and Gaming, the blog of tabletop life goals.

Today’s article is a brand new piece by Laurens Vannijvel, and it focuses on his new Irish Saga warband. Full to the brim with photos of Laurens’ gorgeous miniatures, it’s not only a feast for eyes, but also a perfect advert for Footsore Miniatures. At once elegant, detailed and dynamic, these miniatures are a not only a joy to paint, but they also—as Laurens will now demonstrate—make great eye candy…


Having decided I wanted to build a new warband for Saga, why did I pick the Irish? Usually I pick an army for a single reason: how much I like the models. In the case of the Irish, however, several other factors were at play:

  • I find their Battle Board in Saga quite interesting
  • They can be pushed into service as other Gaelic factions without too much of a hassle
  • Besides a few exceptions, their equipment changed very little between the Late Antiquity and High Medieval epochs
  • For bigger rulesets they can be fielded as allies for my Late Roman/Arthurian army
  • A new, fairly comprehensive and still growing model range from Footsore to choose from (available, of course, from the Footsore webstore)

So five good reasons to start an Irish force!

So, after dropping a few not-so-simple hints with my loving girlfriend, she gifted me the Irish starter warband from Footsore Miniatures for my birthday. As I unpacked the models I noticed two minor flaws with the order: the axe head of one of the Fianna had broken off, and the warlord model had been erroneously replaced with a duplicate standard bearer model. Not to worry! I sent an email explaining the problem and, after about a week, I received a small box with two replacement models. Top marks for service! I soon ordered a few more packs of models: the Brian Boru character pack; two more packs of warriors; a pack of Irish champions with great axes; and a pack of warhounds with handler.

The Irish Starter Warband, available from Footsore Miniatures


The models themselves are top notch. They’ve been cast very cleanly, with very few mold lines and next to no flash to remove. They’re sculpted in a very exact style—the sculptor has rendered every bit of detail with care—but without it resulting in sterile looking figures. In terms of proportions I’d say they strike a nice middle ground between the bulkiness of Gripping Beast models and the slender proportions of Perry Miniatures.

One pleasant advantage Footsore Miniatures offer is that of variety in sculpts. Whereas most companies only have four to eight different sculpts for your average warrior type, Footsore, as an example, offers sixteen different Irish warriors. Granted, the differences are small—mostly head swaps and different kinds of clothing—but it’s definitely a plus; I want these irregular kinds of troops to be as irregular looking as possible!

As far as assembly goes, the spear (or javelin) wielding fellows in the warband will require their right hands to be drilled out. Spears are not supplied. I used steel pikes, cut down to the right size. Other than that, those models with shields will need those glueing on. Neither do they come with bases. Although I will mostly be using these models for Saga, I used square 20x20mm MDF bases for WAB or Hail Caesar purposes. My starter warband has thus been based separately; future additions to the army will likely be put on 40x40mm bases.

On the subject of price: at an average of £1.50 per model for your average foot soldier, these are about averagely priced. The starter warbands basically give you your warlord and a standard bearer free, which is a small but welcome bonus.

All in all, what’s not to like? With that out of the way, on to the miniatures!


The Warlords

As always, Footsore has delivered some fantastic character figures, and whilst their Arthurian range features some excellent personalities, the Irish offer a little less variety, but that’s mostly down to their more basic equipment.

The important exception, however, is Brian Boru and his two attendants, as shown below. The standout among these three is the standard bearer; he looks like an immensely stoic fellow who’s willing to die holding his master’s banner! I used suitable yet rich colours on the High King to further denote his importance, including some gold trim and a flowery pattern for his robes.

Brian Boru and attendants


The fine chaps shown below include the free Irish Warlord two-pack contained in the starter warband. As you can see, I have based him on a larger base; he’ll be my warlord in Saga, and in ranked games he can double as a unit filler. I’m still sourcing a suitable Irish banner for this command stand; suggestions are welcome!

Also shown is the free Warlord model offered by Footsore way back when. A wonderful sculpt—especially the face—he looks positively wistful. I used a slightly warmer palette for his clothing, and the pelt was painted using successive drybrushes towards the outside of the pelt followed by a brown wash.

Irish Warlords


The Fianna

These are the Hearthguard of the Irish in Saga. Unlike the elites of other factions, these guys are only slightly less poor than the lower ranks. They are equipped with comparatively little chainmail shirts or helmets, and not a whole lot of decent swords either … apart from what they looted from dead Vikings and the like! Still, there’s other ways to make them stand out; you can use a bit more colour on their tunics, and perhaps some more freehand patterns, too.

First off, here are two champions drawn from the Fianna, a specialty of the Irish in Saga:

Irish heroes with Dane axes


I chose to take the pack with two great axe-wielding fellows—Footsore sells another with a pair wielding swords and shields—as these two champions wear chainmail and so are easy to distinguish from the other Fianna. As you can see one of them holds a severed head; I couldn’t resist adding some blood effects from Games Workshop.

Irish Fianna with axes


Pictured above and below are the other Fianna. There are only eight of them for the moment, but I may buy those armed with spears and shields at a later date, as well as some more guys with great axes. Again, they are great sculpts; I particularly like the one leaping forward with his axe!

More Irish Fianna with axes


The Bonnachts

The meat and bones of the warband: its warriors. These are your average Joes (or Patricks, if I may) armed with javelins and shields and, if they’re lucky, a vest and/or pair of trousers!

Sixteen different sculpts means these guys have quite a lot of variety among them, as mentioned previously. I have one or two doubles; try spotting them!

As you can see I used the same colours for my shields, albeit with a few different shades of yellow. Although totally historically inaccurate or, at least, entirely speculative, I believe the combination of green and yellow can quickly convey the fact these guys are Irish.

Irish Warriors



Another specialty of the Irish in both Saga and games like Warhammer Ancient Battles are warhounds. Who could ever omit these from their warband? I currently have just the pack of seven warhounds and an Irish packmaster, but I’m looking to add the Pictish version of the pack, too. The hounds were painted with simple drybrushes of browns and greys over a black undercoat, whereas the packmaster was painted just like the rest of the warriors. Sadly, bite marks are a little hard to reproduce in 28mm scale…

Irish handler and wolfhounds


Finally, I purchased a pack of command figures for my warriors for when they’re needed in Warhammer Ancient Battles. Again, severed head means bloodied blade! I’m very fond of the leader who’s waving his troops forward with his sword; I think the colour combination came out well. Otherwise I did use the more muted colours of the warriors for these guys.

Irish Infantry Command


About Laurens Vannijvel

Laurens is a Belgian chap who learned how to batch paint before he learned how to paint. His work is to be inspected at He spends his downtime with his girlfriend, his cat, his kitchen pots and copious amounts of beer.


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About the Author

Paul L. Mathews
A born-again wargamer since 2015, Paul L. Mathews is now the editor at War Banner. He is also the head honcho at his own freelance enterprise, Tabletop Creative. A dull boy, Paul's interests include editing and staying up past his bedtime

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