Thursday, 27 March 2014


I have gone and brought myself another Saga Warband, this being the Era of Rus Princes.
This warband is about the Russian's that converted to Christianity during the late 10th Century - with their predecessor's being the Pagan Rus in Saga. So I now in fact have the next generation in Andrews force he has already got. I have played them a number of times now, very good army but may take a bit more practice to get the most out of them I feel, as I tend to say "why on earth didn't I use that ability right now" just having picked up on an opportunity to use a good combo which I had not thought about till that moment.

First of all, the Rus Princes are rather different than their Pagan predecessor's, as they mount all their worthy warriors on horses and rely on shooting to soften up the enemy (the Pagans have no shooting to speak of) so rather a different beast all together, and think again if you thought Christianity has softened the Rus at all - it hasn't - Ragnar says so !!

They have a good range of melee and some neat shooting abilities as well, some orders abilities that rather unique. Some of their abilities are centered around their mounted Dhuzhina (Hearthguard) troops with 3 of them being only accessible to the Dhuzhina and Warlord only, which are marked on the battle board with a holy cross symbol. The foot bound troops make up your Warriors (named City Militia ) and the bow armed Levy (named Militia Archers) of the warband.

Their battle board abilities in more detail then :

PRINCES OF WINTER: Orders/Reaction ability - Until the end of the current turn, the armour values of your Dhuzhina and Warlord units are increased by two against shooting.
This allows your horse units to have armour 6 against all shooting for a whole turn , very handy and must go to skill to use every turn against those pesky shooty type army's 

WINDS OF DESPAIR: Melee ability - Any non warlord unit with less than 4 models that should disengage from this melee is eliminated instead of disengaging.
I like this skill a lot, has huge potential against a large Hearthguard unit, I have only been able to pull it off a few times but for one to lose 3 hearthguard or warrior models when forced to diengage is a big bonus I feel.

GREY WOLVES: Melee ability (Dhuzhina and Warlord only) - If no unit engaged in this melee has any fatigue, your unit gains 4 attack dice.
Another very useful ability for which I use a lot on the attack during the first half of the game, even if the enemy has fatigue you simply spend it and also gain 4 attacks - if on the defense and your own unit has fatigue your opponent will have to think hard weather to use your fatigue against you or not first and then you choose to activate this ability in response.

PARTING BLOW: Activation ability (Dhuzhina and Warlord only) - Activate one of your units, it may be activated for either a movement in which it may not engage in melee but may shoot as if armed with javelins, OR a shooting as if armed with bows. This ability does not generate any fatigue.
I use this ability almost every turn (being only a common dice) makes a 6 or 8 man hearthguard unit a very effective shooting unit that has an added bonus of not generating fatigue if used for second activation

UNDER THE DARK SKIES: Shooting ability - If the enemy has suffered at least one causality from this shooting, it must immediately make a disengagement move as if it was disengaging from this unit in melee.
Very nice ability to isolate ones Warlord from a bodyguard of warriors, as it will isolate him and he will not be able to use his warlords skill of transferring allocated hits on to his warrior unit.

HARDENED: Orders ability -Until the start of your next turn, each time you discard a uncommon or rare dice from your combat pool, the unit benefiting from the combat pool gains one attack and defense dice. (two attack and defense dice each if the dice for this skill was a rare dice)
Very nice, and I use it often - you can gain so many extra dice and on the attack you gain the very useful defense dice as well, you normally wouldn't be allowed.

POWER OF STEEL: Melee ability (Dhuzhina and Warlord only) - Any enemy unit that has more attack dice in their attack pool than yours, he must immediately reduce his amount of dice to match your amount of dice. Units can not gain any additional dice with abilities
I often use this ability in defense - as you wait till they load up their dice to attack you with then you ever so politely ask them to remove most of it , very amusing !  On the attack use it with a two or even a one man unit of Hearthguard and charge in, combine with this ability with Winds of Despair and it can be quite devastating for the opponents unit who was forced to retreat. Of course there is a 50/50 chance that you wont win but its worth the risk .

POWER OF BLOOD: Melee or shooting reaction ability (Dhuzhina only) - Discard between one and six SAGA dice off your battleboard. For each dice discarded this way, designate one Hearthguard figure in your unit. The designated figure are not eligible to be taken off as a casualty during this shooting or melee resolution and cannot be killed
This is a nasty ability that I tend to use a fair amount of - basically charge in with a small unit of Dhuzhina, use the grey wolves to do some more damage and remove extra saga dice so your unit cannot be killed in return - too good .... They cannot be killed in any way at all , awesome. 

BODYGUARD: Melee ability - During this melee each time a friendly figure should be eliminated as part of the use of your warlords resilience special rule, roll a D6. If you rolled less than the armour of the eliminated figure, it is not eliminated and the hit on your warlord is cancelled.
Very handy if used in conjunction with your Warrior unit - simply move the warrior unit up to a enemy, then charge your warlord in (keeping the VS zone of a friendly warrior) then place any hits on the warrior(s) as part of resilience rule and then cancel all hits - yet another way of reducing casualties ... nice

THE LONG DARK: Orders ability - Discard all your SAGA dice. Until the end of your turn, your Rus units may be activated for free any number of times for free, generate two extra attack dice in melee, but may not rest. At the end of turn each unit takes one fatigue.
This ability is often used during the later stages of the game, but when done it can be very effective. You will not be able to use any abilities as you effectively do not have any Saga dice on your board after this ability (and has to used first). But having your whole army being able to activate for free as many times as you can (until its exhausted that is) can be horrible for your opponent. Just keep in mind his next turn you are going to have a lot of fatigue counters on all your units so waiting until the end phases of the game is a good idea - not a good idea to try it in the first turn that's for sure.

The Rus Princes have no Hero's of the Viking age, but can upgrade some units to those stated below, and you may not have any swords for hire (except for Steppe Nomads - so no Monks or bards .... rather upsetting as monks would work quite well with this force I feel.

If you have included a unit of Steppe Nomads, you can upgrade this unit to be Cherne Klobuki (the Black Hoods) for an extra point. They act as Warriors not Levies so generate a Saga dice. They also considered to be Druzhina for all purposes when it comes to using abilities so can benefit from Power of Steel, Parting blow and Grey Wolves. They also follow the Steppe Nomads Swords for Hire unit abilities as normal. I have yet to try these guys out but can see some potential there.

You can also upgrade one unit of Druzhina Hearthguard to Malaia Druzhina (veterans) up to a maximum size of 8 models. This unit costs one point from your allocation for the game. They generate two Saga dice and are mounted with bows.Their elite status gives them no penalties for being mounted and armed with bows so have armour 5 all the time. The unit gets the Determination ability (normally used only for the Warlord) so you can ignore the first hit suffered and they also get there first activation for free like the warlord. There is only one downside to this unit - when the unit dies, all the rest of your units take one Fatigue each including the warlord (ouch) so keep them busy and protected with some skills (Power of Blood perhaps)
I have played a game with these bad boys in it recently, it was verses Andrew's Pagan Rus warband and turned out to to be a very close game indeed.

Have made and based all the models I need for this, just need to put some where in the painting queue.  I love the fact that all the Militia models have some sort of robe/cloak over them and they are very similar in style to each other- shall be fun to paint - some photos of my models below.

My Bow armed Levy with Spear armed warriors behind

My Rus Princes Warband  -  4 points of mounted Hearthguard,
also 1 point each of foot bound Warriors and Levy Bowmen

My Warlord - not sure I like the pose however


  1. Great summary Mark, they look like tricky opponents who can really inflict a lot of damage.

  2. Very nice write up Mark, thank you. I've been thinking about doing this warband, just wish more models were available out there. Nice seeing them in bare metal though as they look better than I thought. Everything looks good except for that warlord, might have to convert up my own. Thanks again.

  3. Beautiful minis and great post...