The Siege of Osgiliath

Tony F returns us to Middle-Earth.

For the second of our Lord of the Rings games, we chose to depict a small part of the Siege of Osgiliath. Phil took on the task of creating some scenery for the game, and we both put together a 500 points force. Again, it’s too far back to remember too many details, but I do remember using Faramir’s Rangers as a pretty lethal sniper unit, there was one heck of a scrum around a tree inside a courtyard, and the final act of the game involved Phil’s leader, Gothmog, alone and surrounded.

The Road Goes Ever On

Webmaster Tony sorts through his photos and tries to get organised…

Since the Games Workshop Middle Earth rules first appeared to coincide with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy (way back in 2001!), Phil and I have been amassing an ever-growing collection of figures. I don’t know about Phil, but I’m well over 1000 now (although I’d rather you didn’t ask how many were actually painted…). We used to play quite regularly – in fact, the very first game report on the then fledgling club website was a battle between Rohirrim and Uruk Hai. But as with all wargamers we moved onto something newer and shinier, and the figures had been gathering dust in our respective lofts for a while.

At a loose end two or three years ago, we decided to dig them out again and have a game. Since then we’ve been putting on a regular game at the club every six months or so, including one at the Open Day last year. The idea has been to do something different each time that required us to paint at least a handful of new figures. I’ve always taken plenty of photos but never seem to get around to writing them up, so now I’ve decided to sort through the hundreds of photos and put up a report for each game. Actually, they’ll be more of a photo gallery, the actual reports for each game will probably be quite brief since many of the details will have been forgotten!

The first of those games, in May 2016, was based on the capture and abduction of Merry and Pippin by Saruman’s Uruk Hai. In our game the Orcs are fleeing across the Open plains with their captives but are being tracked simultaneously by the Three Hunters (Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli) and a group of mounted Rohirrim.

Details are sketchy three years on, but from what I remember the three heroes made short work of a number of the Uruk Hai but the Rohirrim were held up by Orcs and the two Hobbits were spirited away by Warg riders, giving victory to the evil minions of Saruman. The photos of this game aren’t great, they were taken on an older phone – hopefully things will improve as the games go along…

The Road to Hel

Stephen slips toward the Underworld, accompanied by the strains of Chris Rea…

I’ve had Osprey’s Of Gods And Mortals for a long time now but it’s taken me an age to get together a warband for it.

Well, I did have one. I thought I’d go with the Norse because I have loads of dark ages stuff, so coming up with one warband was easy.

I just had to put together another.

To keep with the Norse theme I thought I’d go with Hel and her undead minions.

At last week’s SELWG there was a trader who had a stand with some of the Reaper Bones figures. I looked through them and found one called Svetlana The Ice Giant (or something like that) and I thought that would do.

This was my first Reaper Bones figure. I casually noticed it said ‘do not undercoat’ on the back. Wondering why that would be I did a quick Google and it seems that if you use solvent based materials on them they go all sticky.

They certainly are made of an odd material. It’s not the usual ‘hard’ plastic. Nor is it resin. Nor is it vinyl. Not sure what it is (they say it’s made from recycled material).

I gave it a good clean up first and then, wary of the stickiness issue, I used normal brush-on Humbrol acrylic to undercoat it.

Some of the spiky bits are a bit soft and flexible. And the detail is not the sharpest.

If I was to buy another Reaper Bones figure (and I’m sure I will) then I wouldn’t buy a normal ‘human-sized’ figure. I think for the larger pieces it’s OK, but for the smaller stuff I think it’s just a bit too rubbery.

Anyway, so Hel.

I decided she needed a sombre paint job, as befits the Goddess of the Underworld. I didn’t want to go with all over black because that would be too much. And she had to have glowing blue eyes, obviously.

For Hel’s brother, Fenrir, I used a GW wolf. Being GW it is a suitably big wolf figure as you would expect for Fenrir.

The zombies, skeletons, and undead berserkers are from Brigade’s Celtos range.

I used round shields to make them look like they’ve got Norse origins. I also did weapon swaps on the flesheaters/berserkers; again, to make them look more Norse. I have more of these figures to bulk out my Hel warband.

The only other thing I’d like to add is Hel’s other brother – the serpent Jormungandr.

Middle Earth Miscellany

Tony F shows the latest painting additions to his ever-growing collection of Middle-Earth miniatures.

I’ve once again been splashing some paint on a random selection of characters, mostly from Games Workshop’s range but with a few extras from other manufacturers to fill some gaps. One I painted just for fun is shown above – it’s a younger (Martin Freeman) version of Bilbo from The Hobbit, outside a really nice hobbit hole that I picked up on a Kickstarter. I don’t have an immediate use for him but he didn’t take too long to paint.

Phil and I have a game due soon based on a fictitious (as in not-mentioned-in-any-of-Tolkein’s-books-but-it-could-well-have happened) attack on the village of Bree. This is the village where the four hobbits were due to meet Gandalf soon after they left the Shire, but instead bumped into Aragorn and the Ringwraiths.

According to my Atlas of Middle Earth, the village is one of three that surround Bree-hill (the others being Combe and Staddle). Bree is sited on the west of the steep hill which serves to protect it from the north and east, and a large hedge and dike keeps marauders at bay from the south and west. The population is mostly Men, but a number of hobbits live in holes on the slopes of the hill.

My defenders will come from three sources – the inhabitants of the village (both men and hobbits), a small number of Grey Company rangers and Dunedain, and a few random travellers who might be staying in the Prancing Pony when the attackers arrive. There aren’t really any official GW figures that I could use to represent the villagers, so I had to look at other manufacturers and came up with this mean looking bunch from Gripping Beast. They’re arrayed before a Caliver Books butter market surrounded by plenty of Ainsty bits and pieces.

Leading the Grey Company is Halbarad, a Ranger who helps guard the borders of the Shire – he’s another minor character who has a bit part in the books (he carries Aragorn’s standard onto the Pelennor Fields where he meets his end) but is left out of the film adaptation.

Talking of the Battle of Pelennor Fields, and looking further ahead to a rather ambitious game we have planned for later in the year, I’ve also been painting Rohirrim – lots of them. For someone who has a rather irrational dislike of painting horses, an army made up entirely of cavalry seems like a bad move. I’ve made a start with the King of Rohan, Theoden, painting the superb new plastic model released late last year.

I’ve also painted the version on foot and at the same time painted Gamling, the King’s standard bearer (although he appears to have lost it in this version of the figure).

And finally, just for now, a few dwarves. This is a version of Balin from The Hobbit, along with a small retinue of dwarf rangers.

Open Day 2019

Open Day Coordinator Dave Sime gives the low-down on this year’s games…

Open Day, 22nd June 2019

The Open Day will be held on June 22nd from 11am to 4pm at our usual venue in Linton, just outside Maidstone.

Below is the list of games for the 2019 Open Day – over the next few weeks each game sponsor will be giving us more details on their respective games.

Just to whet your appetites, here are a selection of the games from last year’s event…

Grendel Stalks the Night

To kick off 2019 at the first meeting in January there will be a game of Dragon Rampant based on the story of Beowulf and Grendel. Stephen sets the scene…

“In off the moors, down through the mist beams, god-cursed Grendel came greedily loping…”

The game will involve two sides – Grendel and his marsh demon minions against Beowulf and the assorted heroes of Heorot.

All models and materials will be provided. Just bring yourself and a desire to roll dice in good company. There’s no need to know the rules either. Dragon Rampant is an easy game to pick up and, though it’s open to anyone, I’d be particularly keen to have players who’ve never played the ‘Rampant’ family of games before or new players to the club.

So if you fancy a go then join us on the 12th Jan for a bit of mythological dark ages fun.

“For a brief while your strength is in bloom but it fades quickly; and soon there will follow illness or the sword to lay you low, or a sudden fire or a surge of water or jabbing blade or javelin from the air or repellent age.”

Defenders of the Shire

Tony F updates us on his latest painting efforts

I had a bit of a Middle-Earth break after the efforts of the Open Day game, but I slowly eased myself back into things in September. On the shelf next to my desk is a small row of based and undercoated figures, and I find that if they stare at me long enough I end up getting having to paint them – at the front of the queue were two trios of rangers.

The first threesome are a set of Dúnedain, descendants of the men of Númenor. Known as the Rangers of the North, they patrol the borders of the Shire and keep that peaceful land (mostly) free of the perils of the rest of Middle Earth.

The other set are members of the Grey Company, a group of Dúnedain led by Halbarad who accompanied Aragorn through the Paths of the Dead and went on to capture the ships of the corsairs – their arrival at Pelargir turned the tide of the Battle of Pelennor Fields. They’re distinguished by their grey cloaks fixed by star-shaped brooches.

The official Games Workshop model of Halbarad is currently out of production, so my rangers are lacking a leader. Over the years I seem to have accumulated quite a few different Aragorn figures, so I picked a spare one of those and painted him up as his father, Arathorn (there is GW figure of Arathorn but, like Halbarad, he’s been out of production for some time and goes for silly money on eBay). The ‘conversion’ consisted of painting Aragorn’s dark locks grey, but he’ll do for me unless or until GW bring their official Arathorn figure back.

Wargames Illustrated Druid

Andy goes all mystical in his second painting report

This figure was free when taking out a WI subscription at shows this year and will likely appear in some Dragon Rampant games.

He’s a little taller than most of my dark Ages figures, but that makes him more imposing!

His overcoat is modelled as if made up of various patches sewn together, so I used Vallejo German Camouflage Dark Brown as the base, with a variety of other browns for the various patches. His under tunic and sleeves were painted a mid-grey and washed with a blue wash.

I used a mix of Medium Flesh Tone and Pale Sand for his skin, as I wanted a pale complexion.

His staff was painted Beige Brown and then washed with Army Painter Dark tone.

First Line of Defence

Tony F previews an Open Day Lord of the Rings battle

The Rammas Echor was an ancient defensive wall around the Pelennor Fields, where the great battle was fought before the city of Minas Tirith during the War of the Ring. It was intended to protect the area around the city, which was mostly farmlands. If you’re not familiar with the books and have only seen the films you wouldn’t know anything about it, as Peter Jackson chose to omit it from the Return of the King (understandably perhaps, as it’s only really mentioned in passing). It was repaired and strengthened by Denethor II as the threat from Mordor became apparent, but was never manned in sufficient numbers – it was after all around 35 miles long – and fell quickly.

We’ve adapted a scenario from one of the Games Workshop sourcebooks, involving Faramir and a small number of rangers returning from the battle in Osgiliath and attempting to reach the relative safety of the wall. The defenders then have to hold the wall as long as possible.

I’ve built a section of the wall from insulation foam, with battlements cast in resin. The style of the battlements and colour of the wall are based on the Minas Tirith city walls seen in the films, although the walls are substantially lower (the dimensions I based on the size of Hadrian’s Wall). Taking a further cue from Hadrian, I added a small wall fort, just an enclosed courtyard with a couple of small buildings for the Garrison. A dirt track will lead to the front gate, with a more substantial road from the rear gate which leads off to the city. The area in front of the wall has been cleared to allow the defenders a good field of fire, with nothing but a few trees and rocks for cover.

Holding the wall is a company of warriors from Minas Tirith armed with swords, spears and bows. They also have an Avenger Bolt Thrower and crew on one of the bastions. Reinforcements are desperately awaited from the city, and whatever stragglers make their way back from Osgiliath.

Middle-Earth May

An Open Day update from Tony F

Following on from my progress in March painting Lord of the Rings figures for my Ramas Echor Open Day game, I had a fallow April (the demands of Salute took up all my time that month). However, I was back in the saddle (literally) in May, with over a dozen figures on the painting table.

I’ve had a box of Swan Knights of Dol Amroth which I’ve wanted to paint for a while, and this game was the ideal chance to get them on the table. There are six altogether, which I’ve assembled as a captain, standard bearer, musician and three knights. I kept the horses and riders separate during painting to make things easier. I started by spraying the riders a dull silver and airbrushing the horses in Vallejo French Blue (I also masked off and airbrushed the riders’ flags and pennants in the same colour). The horse coats were then washed and highlighted with Citadel paints and the horses themselves painted in various shades of brown. The Knights were washed with Citadel Nuln Oil (black) and drybrushed again in a brighter silver, and details picked out. The barrel on the base of the catapult is a very old Peter Pig casting.

I’ve also finally assembled my Avenger Catapult, a resin Finecast model – this will be very handy against the Trolls and other large creatures from Mordor. Gondor warriors are all fairly monochromatic – most of the figures are covered in silver armour, and the bits that aren’t silver are mostly black. I painted the armour the same way as the Knights (Army Painter Platemail spray basecoat, Nuln Oil wash, Citadel Necron Silver drybrush), then painted any exposed cloth black with dark grey highlights, along with the shield. Other than that, their faces (the tiny bit you can see) were painted flesh and washed with a dark flesh wash, and I picked out a few straps and spear shafts brown and added a few gold details.

I also painted up three more plastic warriors of Minas Tirith and a metal standard bearer – these were already assembled and undercoated so it made sense to finish them at the same time as the catapult crew.

With just over three weeks to go, I have ten more figures to finish, which shouldn’t be a problem – however, there’s still the minor matter of the Ramas Echor itself. The first photo below shows the rough layout of the piece of wall I’m building – the centre section will have a gateway, and behind it is a small wall fort with a couple of buildings as accomodation for the garrison. The other two wall sections will have a bastion for archers or the Avenger Catapult.

This is a nearly-finished section of wall with the battlements in place. These are based on the Minas Tirith city wall design, which I’ve cast up in sections in resin before gluing them in place (the resin just happens to be exactly the same colour as the insulation foam that the body of the wall is made from).

Finally, I finished two half-painted figures which aren’t needed for the Open Day game. On the left is the Mouth of Sauron, who is a man (probably a Black Numenorean) in the service of Sauron. He’s been 3/4 finished for ages, so I didn’t need to do much other than finish a few details and paint his base. On the right is a Captain of Rohan, the mounted equivalent to the figure I finished a couple of months ago.