Help support TMP

"Dark Ages Wargaming - Where do I start?" Topic

22 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Medieval Discussion Message Board

Back to the Dark Ages Message Board

1,901 hits since 27 Jun 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

JayCor2000 Inactive Member27 Jun 2017 1:45 a.m. PST

Recently, I've been interested in starting a collection of historical minitures (probably dark Ages/Saxons/Vikings/etc) but I don't really know where to start.

I used to play Warhammer, but quit a few years ago, so I've never really looked into historical minitures and need help deciding which models and rules are best.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Griefbringer27 Jun 2017 2:07 a.m. PST

A couple of question about your preferences:

1.) What kind of conflict do you want your games to represent? Are you looking for small raids and skirmishes with a handful of combatants per side, or for large battles (ala Hastings), or something in between.

2.) Historical miniatures are available in lots of sizes (from 6 mm to 54 mm). Do you have interest in models of a particular size? Do you have any existing terrain collection that you might want to keep using?

3.) Most historical miniatures are in metal, but there is also a limited selection of plastic models out there. Do you have any particular preference for plastic or metal?

Vigilant27 Jun 2017 2:11 a.m. PST

Depends on what you want to do. Skirmish or large battles. Then scale, for large battles there are good ranges in 6mm from Bacchus, for skirmish Gripping Beast's 28mm is probably a good place to start with both metal and plastic. For rules Saga is popular for skirmish games, but there is also Blood Eagle and Open Combat. I'm not sure about bigger battle rules, though I have Martin Hackett's "The Wargamer's Guide To Dark Age Britain" which has rules in the back and details about the period's combat and battles, published by Amberley – – which might be a good start. I'm sure others will be able to add more, enjoy the period.

foxweasel27 Jun 2017 2:30 a.m. PST

I'd recommend 28mm as a good scale to start with for Dark age gaming. You can play skirmish games that are quick and play larger battles that look good. For figures you can't go wrong with 1st Corps or Gripping Beast
Gripping Beast also do rules for skirmish and larger battles. But there's loads of rule sets out there, for every one that someone thinks is great someone else will say they're rubbish.

Frothers Did It And Ran Away27 Jun 2017 3:07 a.m. PST

If you played Warhammer then what you want is almost certainly Saga in 28mm. Gripping Beast will sell you starter armies, rules and dice. Cost is relatively low, figure count is 40-50 so not intimidating. Rules are fun and popular.

Hobhood427 Jun 2017 3:09 a.m. PST

Look at Lion Rampant. This is a rule set for a slightly later period, but there are adaptations online easily available for Dark Ages. There are also tutorials on YouTube. It is fun and I suppose might be described as Warhammer 'light' in style.

For 28mm metal figures, look at Saxon Miniatures – now some of the best around. Footsore Miniatures are also very good. I don't like the current Gripping Beast Viking metal range – too 'chunky' in style. Gripping Beast do some decent plastic figures, however, if you want a cheaper option.

SpuriousMilius27 Jun 2017 3:46 a.m. PST

IMO "Blood Eagle" is a great set of rules for this period & it can be used for pure historical or for Heroic/Mythic games. I also like "Pig Wars" for quick fun multi-player skirmishes. I've amassed metal 28mm Vikings, Irish, Saxons & Picts but if I were starting to game this period now, I'd begin with the plastic 28mm box sets.

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP27 Jun 2017 4:49 a.m. PST

Your first questions should have been… what Dark Age rules do the locals play? What do they play at local conventions? What is the "popular" set of rules currently?
It does little good to paint and base your new army for a set of rules that no one else plays.

Being experienced with the Warhammer system, I too would suggest looking into Saga. And, it is everywhere.

TodCreasey Supporting Member of TMP27 Jun 2017 4:53 a.m. PST

I am with Frothers Did It – do Saga in 28s. It is a really fun game and easy to get into.

At some point your armies may grow enough for you to do something bigger with them so keep movement trays in mind when you do it. Many people do 20mm x 20mm bases so that they can be put on a tray for a larger battle.

Vikings are a good start because they fought everybody.

Mick the Metalsmith Inactive Member27 Jun 2017 7:06 a.m. PST

Song of blades and heros or Two hour wargames ar good skirmish rules. I like blood eagle too..

If you are going for big battles and lots of figs, 15mm is a nice scale where you can still paint some colorful shields and if based rights can be used for skirmish too. L'art de guerre rules are pretty good, or DBA.

Frothers Did It And Ran Away27 Jun 2017 8:42 a.m. PST

Many people do 20mm x 20mm bases so that they can be put on a tray for a larger battle.

That's a point worth making. Saga is basing neutral, so using 20mm x 20mm squares will seem familiar from your Warhammer days, and be useful if you decide to "upgrade" to a big battle game later on.

Seeing as you're UK based, if you do decide to go for Saga, try Triple Helix Wargames online for a steep discount – as long as you don't mind waiting a couple of weeks while they order it in. Otherwise Gripping Beast themselves will usually get stuff to you the next day.

arsbelli27 Jun 2017 8:45 a.m. PST

If you are interested in larger 'mass' battles with 28mm figures, you may wish to check out Swordpoint: link, published by Gripping Beast and designed by Martin Gibbins (author of Warhammer Ancient Battles 2.0). The rules work very well for large-scale Dark Age battles. The basing system would also work perfectly by grouping together on larger movement trays 28mm figures individually mounted on 20mm x 20mm bases for infantry and 25mm x 50mm bases for cavalry. So you could easily use the same figures for both skirmishes with SAGA: link, and for larger mass battles with Swordpoint.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP27 Jun 2017 8:49 a.m. PST

Pig Wars- for skirmish.

Goober27 Jun 2017 9:35 a.m. PST

Dux Britannium from TFL is a nice "big skirmish" game:


Dux Bellorum from Osprey is element based, with each element being around 50 men, so is ideal if you want to play in a smaller scale:



Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP27 Jun 2017 10:05 a.m. PST

As others have said, Saga in 28mm is probably a good place to start.

Saga gives a good game and doesn't require loads of figures. It is fairly popular so you should be able to find an opponent!

28mm figures will be most familiar to someone from a Warhammer background, there is loads of choice available, and they look really good. Put them individually on 20mm by 20mm bases and you have the flexibility to use other rules in the future.

Gripping Beast, 1st Corps/Curteys, Footsore, West Wind, and Foundry are all good manufacturers to have a look at.

There is a list of who makes what here. Click on links in the right-hand column for photos…


Ney Ney27 Jun 2017 12:57 p.m. PST

Saga and plastic gripping beasts are no doubt the best way to get started. Plenty of other rules to buy into after that and many other armies to buy too!!! Welcome to the club!!

uglyfatbloke27 Jun 2017 1:06 p.m. PST

Saga 's a great set of rules if you like trading off a raft of special rules that don't necessarily make any sense and don't mind the vikings being superior to anything else.
Lion Rampant is a Hollywood style romp…nothing wrong with that. If you want history-type stuff make your own rules; if you're not so fussy play whatever your neighbourhood gamers play.

TodCreasey Supporting Member of TMP27 Jun 2017 1:57 p.m. PST

That's a fair point about Saga – it's a great game set in the Viking Age rather than being a historical simulation. I don't agree with Vikings being superior (they routinely get beaten by Scots and Pagan Rus in our club) but they are a good place to start and move on from if you don't like them.

My Dark Ages big battle project took 4 years – the Saga battles I played in between helped me keep working to completion.

coopman27 Jun 2017 2:46 p.m. PST

IMO, the warlord in SAGA is too powerful.

Sobieski Inactive Member27 Jun 2017 4:49 p.m. PST


furgie28 Jun 2017 2:23 p.m. PST

Indeed, can I add a vote for 28mm and Saga – Quite a range of books and armies to choose from. Rule set is simple, it's fast play and fun. If you've not seen it, you role order dice and use them on a "battle Board" – these add extra abilities or traits to your chosen army. Makes the game fun and adds a little complexity


steamingdave4729 Jun 2017 5:46 a.m. PST

Dix Bellorum rules from Dan Mersey and 28 mm figures. Saga would be my second choice, I think it is rather an expensive way of getting into Dark Age gaming, as the battle boards, special dice, rule set etc all add up. The Mersey book is around £10.00 GBP and you would be buying figures anyway.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.