Hi, I’m Paul, and welcome to Sculpting, Painting and Gaming, wargaming’s answer to Art Attack.
I’ve always been a mark for Arabs and Moors in wargaming. Ray Harryhausen’s trilogy of Sinbad movies instilled an early fascination with the mystery and exoticism of the Far East, and this deepened upon discovery of Mad Mullah Ackland’s Death Commandos and the mysterious Nasir from ITV’s Robin of Sherwood.
You can imagine, therefore, how much I dig Footsore’s range of Arab miniatures, and—having only recently entered tabletop ‘adulthood’ by embracing historical wargaming—how much I’m looking forward to pitting my Moors against crusading knights in Saga. The following article by Carlos Caston—as originally published on Footsore Miniature’s website—perfectly illustrates what I find so compelling about the Armies of the Caliphates: they are at once colourful and dark, exotic and familiar, merciful and dangerous…
…They also look gorgeous on a tabletop battlefield, as Carlos will now illustrate:
My Saga adventure began four years ago. When visiting a friend, I found a copy of the Northern Fury supplement abandoned on his coffee table, and the cover drew me in. I picked it up, read it, and—after lasting a decade without touching a miniature—I found myself hooked by wargames once again.
Anybody who has played Saga will know it’s easy to learn, and yet difficult to master. Getting the most out of a warband is complicated by all the possibilities at your disposal and the variety of bands you may face. Take, for example, the band that I’m playing at the moment, the Moors. It is a band in which the warlord is mounted, the hearthguard are armed with javelins and mounted on horse and the warriors have the option of riding with javelins or to fight on foot with spears. The levies also have the option to go armed with bows or crossbows.
A quick look at the Moors’ Battleboard reveals will reaveal that their effectiveness an be augmented by only fielding infantry, since we have two types of Abilities at our disposal: those that strengthen infantry units not armed with ranged weapons (Song of Drums, Impaling Spears, Dance of Spears and Fury of Swords) and those which serve to hinder the orders and plans of the enemy warlord (Discord, The Moors’ Gold, Doubts, Friendly Fire, and Betrayal). Apart we have a special ability, Corruption: a skill that will have to be used with care since although it is very useful at some point in the battle, it can also favour the enemy…
The attractiveness of infantry is enhanced by having a hero of the crusades—in the form of Ben Yusuf and the Black Guard—at your disposal. Add to this the availability of the dogs of war that are the Daylami, Naffata and Trucomans, and one can see how easy it is to become beguiled by an all-infantry warband. But one must keep in mind that, if your army is mostly cavalry, you can turn it into an Andalusian band in which your riders can fire their javelins before or after movement as if they were compound bows.
All that said, I shall tell you how I have evolved my band.
At first—and whilst growing my collection of figures—I started with two units of foot warriors and two units of guards on horseback with javelins. With this arrangement I faced the Milites Christi several times, and despite hampering the plans of the enemy, I was overcome by the comparatively poor offensive abilities of the Milites. This was because you need three or four Saga dice to thwart your enemy’s plans, which left me with too few dice to use my units effectively in offense during my turns. Add this to the weakness of cavalry in the face of crossbows, and you can understand why my Moors performed to poorly.
During my next game I explored the option of using the Blackguard, for three points I had a unit of eight Heathguards armed with spears plus another two points of warriors on foot and a unit of levies with bows. I decided I needed more dice, so I started using the Priest (Religious Advisor), three points of warriors in two units of twelve, one point of levy archers, and I spent the last point on a unit of mounted hearthguards which I could use as mounted warriors or bodyguards for my warlord.
This force gave me some victories. I used less offensive tactics each time, and focused on defence until the moment I could make decisive charges against a diminished enemy. This new and improved level of performance lasted until I faced the Spanish and discovered that the Priest was completely useless; having that many dice on the board brought no benefit, and I needed to counter the harassment of jinetes’ light cavalry. I changed—thanks to the advice of Monty Luhman—the priest for four naffatum. It proved to be a wide move; the naffata have not stopped giving me joy and have guided me to numerous victories.
I am still exploring all the options available to both my Moor warband and to my style of play, experimenting, for instance, with being even more defensive and trying to find the ideal moment to go on the attack. At the moment I use four units of eight warriors with 1 naffata each, and another unit of warriors on horseback with javelins. I am, however, studying the possibility of using Turcomans in place of the naffata as the ability to shoot before the move and move + C in each activation can be very unbalanced against certain opponents…
in conclusion, I can only say that it is difficult to get bored with this game. The possibilities offered by each warband, considering the combinations required for each scenario, are numerous; I would dare say infinite. I already have one eye on Footsore Miniatures Armies of the Caliphates’ mounted miniatures as I simultaneously prepare a six points Andalusi-Moor warband and increase my collection of Moors to eight or even ten points!
Whetted your appetite? Then discover these magnificent miniatures on the Footsore webstore.
- About Carlos Caston
Civil engineer by day, painter of miniatures by night, Carlos is a full-time family man and a part-time wargamer. He mainly collects Dark Ages miniatures in a 28mm scale. Not only a Sagaholic, he is also trained to survive in a zombie apocalypse.
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