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"Help me get started with dark ages? (scale? manufacturer?)" Topic

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GrenadierPartha07 Aug 2017 11:41 a.m. PST

Hello all,

I am interested in starting to put together some Romano-British and Saxon forces. My interest initially turned towards this particular period because of the Dux Britanniarum adverts on the Meeples and Miniatures podcast. So putting together a campaign of that at home is probably my long-term goal. There is a group somewhat near me that play SAGA (I assume in 28mm), but in all honesty I am most likely just going to either assemble dioramas, play solo, or play against friends at home.

I am trying to work out what sort of scale and what manufacturer to go for. My two main considerations are budget and space. Ideally I want to keep my initial outlay under £50.00 GBP I do not have a lot of space, and I am planning on making terrain for this venture, so that is pushing me away from larger figures. My main goals are something that looks good (variety of poses and different forces preferably from the same manufacturer), and is reasonably historically accurate. I'm not set on it being able to be used in a game right away but that's the eventual plan.

From the research I have done so far, it seems like the Romano-British should be a mix of the remaining Roman soldiers (particularly cavalry) and Britons (for an Arthurian force I think maybe some Celts are mixed in there too?). The Saxons on the other hand should be on-foot.

28mm: I really enjoy putting together hard plastic multipose miniatures, so the Gripping Beast plastic Saxons are enticing for that reason. I am wondering whether I even might be able to split some of those Saxons away into credible Romano-Brits (maybe with the help of a few additional Roman models). The need for 28mm metal cavalry though, and the scale of the terrain I would have to make and store, are pushing me away from this scale.

15mm: I have a bunch of fantasy models already that I enjoy. I am not as fond of their dark ages models though. I almost placed an order with splintered light but their shipping to where I am (Canada) is pretty high. For UK companies shipping is less of an issue because I am travelling to the UK at the end of this month for business. I guess for 15mm I would game with them just as a scaled-down version of the 28mm?

12/10mm: I have some Warmaster soldiers in 10mm that I painted up last year. I really enjoyed painting this scale, and it seems good for being able to make and store terrain etc. too. I guess I could still game Dux Brit or other skirmish scale games by basing in squares of four miniatures (so 28mm ground scale)? I was looking at maybe Kallistra, but it seems like getting the kind of variety I want would involve ordering a large number of models.

6mm: Some of the miniatures from Baccus look great, but I am concerned that 6mm might be just too small for the scale of wargaming I am planning to do. I am looking into Baccus for some War of 1812 or Great Turkish War projects in the future.

Apologies for the long post. I am very interested to hear your recommendations.

CATenWolde07 Aug 2017 12:00 p.m. PST


I just posted a couple of threads on this very topic!

Photo album of my 15mm Splintered Light Dux Brit project:
TMP link

Photo AAR of above:
TMP link

You should be able to get a good idea of what is possible in 15mm from the photos there. Considering you concerns over cost and space, I would go with a 1:1 15mm project (rather than the big diorama bases I used). The Splintered Light line is perfect for that, as it has all the figure types you need.



Marshal Mark07 Aug 2017 12:21 p.m. PST

I think the GB saxons will be a couple of centuries too late for Arthurian and Saxons of that period. The GB dark age warriors might be better as levy troops, and the Late Roman infantry would also work as early Romano British.
In 15mm you have a lot of options, and you will find historic ranges much cheaper than fantasy. Essex is a good bet for most ancient and medieval periods.
Personally I'd go with 28mm for dark ages as this period is more suited to skirmish games and you are more likely to find opponents with 28mm armies.

Personal logo timurilank Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 12:24 p.m. PST

I am considering purchasing some Essex DBA ready made armies(UK).

Out of curiosity, I noted their Sub-Roman and Saxon armies come to a total of GPD 53.00. I know of players that use the DBA basing system but with other rules, so there are some options.


Making building for the period is not difficult nor expensive. Scroll down to the second post. In the comments section I gave a brief tutorial.

Frothers Did It And Ran Away07 Aug 2017 1:00 p.m. PST

Go with 28mm, just buy what you can afford now, and get another batch later on. Don't forget that buying figures only takes a moment, painting them takes much longer. Footsore ship from both US and UK, Westwind do a big range, Gripping Beast of course.

bruntonboy07 Aug 2017 1:50 p.m. PST

Don't go with the Essex DBA armies- at least not for the British. Unless they have new figures their choice for that army includes some inappropriate figures mixed from their other ranges as they don't do a specific British set of figures. In 15mm I would go with Splintered Light if you are in the Western hemisphere, if in the Old world try Outpost, Magister Militum or Donnington. For Sa*ons I have a good mix of MM, Essex and Lancashire Games.

Henry Martini07 Aug 2017 3:47 p.m. PST

GB has promised plastic cavalry for this period before the end of the year.

As Marshal Mark says, the plastic Saxon Thegns will do for 600AD onwards (they're in static, shieldwall poses, and wear crucifixes). The Dark Age Warriors are in more dynamic poses, and with armour being less common in the early Saxon period you could justify buying relatively few metal armoured figures to supplement them. The only issues with them are their lack of knife/sword scabbards – and if you want to be historically picky, their hair styles.

Cerdic08 Aug 2017 2:30 a.m. PST

I would go with 28mm. Warfare in this era was very small-scale involving very small armies. There is evidence that an 'army' was considered to be anything more than thirty men. Yes, thirty!

With this in mind, not many figures are needed to get started in this period. The Gripping Beast plastic Dark Age Warriors box is an excellent budget starting point. The majority of fighting men would probably have been without armour, so a bunch of generic figures with tunics and spears is what you need.

There is also a great variety of figures available….


CATenWolde08 Aug 2017 2:46 a.m. PST

Even though I went with 15mm figures, as a fan of the period I have to admit that the 28mm figures available are lovely. However … keep in mind that the figures are just the start of a project. To play a variety of types of games (such as those generated by the Dux Brit campaign), you will need not only "normal" terrain (hills and trees and streams and fields), but also a small village, a church, maybe a watchtower and some city walls, and all the livestock and loot (and villagers and clergy) that you will be fighting over. This can make a 28mm project very costly and even more difficult to store … Using 15mm, not only is everything fairly inexpensive, but I store it all in my desk drawer. Given what you said in your message, and what your primary considerations are, it seems like a good way to go.

YogiBearMinis08 Aug 2017 6:19 a.m. PST

CATenWolde makes some good points. 15mm has everything available you would need, and if money AND space are both issues, go with the smaller scale. Resist the siren song of 6mm, and go ahead with 28mm if the painting and beauty of the figures is the most important. You are lucky to have a choice.

TonicNH08 Aug 2017 8:04 a.m. PST

you mentoned that your planned initial outlay was about £50.00 GBP starter forces would be

1 x Lord
1 x Champion
2 x Noble
3 x 6 Levy Foot
2 x 6 Warrior Foot
1 x 6 Elite Foot
1 x 4 Missile/Skirmish Foot

1 x Lord
1 x Champion
2 x Noble
3 x 6 Warrior Foot
2 x 6 Elite Foot
1 x 4 Missile/Skirmish foot

Just priced up the Saxons and it comes to about £65.00 GBP using Gripping Beast metal 28mm

As pointed out above you'll need scenery and livestock too (if you haven't already got them!)

Based on cost it looks like 15mm may be the way to go especially if space is at a premium. Whatever you decide Have Fun!

GrenadierPartha08 Aug 2017 8:12 a.m. PST

Thank you all for your responses. CATenWolde's Splintered Light setup looks amazing. I might sell a couple of things to get my budget up to cover their Saxons and Romano-Brits. Are multibased figures like that ideal for Dux Brit? I do not have the rules (was planning to hold off until I have painted the models, as that will take a while). They look great like that though.

If I was going to multibase I have also stumbled on Pendraken's 10mm selection which look great (and don't seem to be moulded into strips, so I could use 2x2 on square base to replace a single 28mm figure). The sense I have about 15mm vs. 10mm is that the detail on a 10mm model isn't necessarily worse than on a 15mm, but the smaller size is more forgiving.

TonicNH08 Aug 2017 8:26 a.m. PST

As written, Dux Brit uses singly based figures but I can't see my reason why not to use multi based ones as long as you can keep track of casualties.

If you go with 15mm I'd suggest basing lords champions and nobles singly, splitting 6 fig units into a 1x3 1x2 and 1x1 bases and 4 fig units into 1x2 and 2x1 bases. Alternatively you could base them all singly on pennies and use movement trays like the ones from warbases link

Likewise if you go for 10mm there's nothing to stop you multi basing on square bases and call 1 base = 1 figure

hope that helps


CATenWolde08 Aug 2017 9:34 a.m. PST

Dux Brit is written for single figure casualties, but (as you see in my AAR) that can be gotten around by using micro-dice, markers, etc. If you want to stick closest to the rules, and also go a pretty quick and cheap route for the project, then individually based 15mm figures organized in movement trays is probably the way to go. That's what I was going to do, until I got sucked into the diorama bases … ;)

Pendraken's Late Romans are indeed great figures, although they lack a bit in good opposition choices (the sculptor did the Late Romans as a test project and then got popular!). I'm actually a long-time fan of 10mm figures (which is why the 15mm figures seemed big to me and demanding more individual treatment), but leaders, characters etc. don't stand out as much as they can in 15mm.

Good luck and good gaming!



GrenadierPartha08 Aug 2017 12:19 p.m. PST

That 1x3 + 1x2 + 1x1 idea is really clever. I guess ideally you'd find or make some 2x6 rectangular lipped trays to arrange them in?

TonicNH08 Aug 2017 12:28 p.m. PST

No need for lipped trays unless you really want to… Dux Brit allows 2 ranks to fight so just put a 1x3 in the front rank and a 1x2 and a 1x1 in the rear rank for easy casualty removal :-)

WillieB08 Aug 2017 3:50 p.m. PST

GB has promised plastic cavalry for this period before the end of the year.

As Marshal Mark says, the plastic Saxon Thegns will do for 600AD onwards (they're in static, shieldwall poses, and wear crucifixes). The Dark Age Warriors are in more dynamic poses, and with armour being less common in the early Saxon period you could justify buying relatively few metal armoured figures to supplement them. The only issues with them are their lack of knife/sword scabbards and if you want to be historically picky, their hair styles.

Not exactly what you're looking for but STL Finder has a free file to print Roman Gladii complete with scabbards. They are a bit short for the period ( semi- spatha would be better) but look good on the Dark Ages Warriors. There's acompany that sells them printed as well Think it's called HeZE An alternative would be the metal sword pack from Gripping Beast of 12 semi- spathas. They are without scabbards but can easily be painted as such.Both are easily attached to the figures. Mirliton too has several packs you might be interested in including one with nothing but daggers. Not exactly a saex but close.

Sobieski09 Aug 2017 4:21 a.m. PST

I prefer 10mm, but they aren't the obvious first choice if you have a taste for skirmish-y stuff.

GrenadierPartha11 Aug 2017 8:54 a.m. PST

I see what you mean about the lack of early Saxons in the Pendraken line. I wonder whether I could split the late Roman range up into Romano British and credible Saxons. I'll do some research.

CATenWolde11 Aug 2017 11:57 a.m. PST

There are a lot of "hairy guys with shields and spears" that you could repurpose in various Pendraken lines.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2017 4:53 p.m. PST

I went with 15mm for space and price as you are dealing with. ( I play solo so have to fund both armies and all terrain.) I have enjoyed it immensely. From Canada I would check Khurasian miniatures. Nice figures from New York. A little pricey for 15mm but still way cheaper than 28mm and very nice figures.
Here is a post from Feb. The Huns are primarily Khurasian and the Goth warlord is also. link
Good Luck and welcome to the period.

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