Encounter at Cwm Gwyn

Stephen reports on a battle twixt Good and Evil in the Welsh Valleys…

On the border of Shropshire and Denbigh there is a lonely valley that is known locally as ‘Cwm Gwyn’ (White Valley). It has long been said that it is a haunted place. At the head of the valley there is a single stone tower – the White Tower.

For services overseas, fighting against the French, King Richard II gave the land to Sir Ursus ‘The Bear’ FitzArkus. All that was left was for this worthy knight to explore his new holdings and find out exactly what lay at the heart of the mystery of Cwm Gwyn.

This was a game of Dragon Rampant. Each side had 24 points.

Sir Ursus had with him two contingents of billmen, a contingent of crossbowmen, and his household knights.

Slowly they made their way down the wooded valley. It was only when they came to a mountain stream, the Afon Ddu, they heard the sound of a warhorn.

It would seem that rumours of a haunting would be more accurate than anyone dared imagine…

Knights advance down the stream
Crossbowmen take aim from the hill
Zombie horde
Zombies and crossbows clash
Billmen check the zombie advance
Skeletons advance
Lord Ursus descends upon the skeletons
Charge!
Things are starting to look dicey
Kluruch holds the field

We’ve All Done It!

A constant of all miniature wargamers has always been to come up with your own set of rules. Every gamer has either written a set of rules (unpublished of course!) or heavily modified a published set of rules (just to to improve it), although to be fair to the club a number of home grown rules are used on a regular basis.

Jeremey takes us through such a typical Wargamer project and what happened to it.

Back in 2009 I fancied getting into mass battle fantasy games. I’d played a bit of 2nd edition Warhammer in my youth but was in a period of preferring smaller scales. I picked up a copy of Warmaster but it didn’t really grab me, the movement section with 20 plus pages (slight exaggeration) explaining how to perform a wheeling movement, just looked very similar to many of the historical rule sets that put me of historical wargaming for years.

Like all Wargamers in this situation I naturally started writing a set of 10mm fantasy rules of my own, I went with units based on round bases with no need to worry about detailed facing and movement rules.

When writing rules I’ve always had a weakness in needing actual miniatures to test the game with. I hate testing just on paper or with stand in’s, so I  created two whole armies first!

picture of skeleton miniatures
Pendraken 10mm Skeletons painting up nicely

I decided to go with 10mm fantasy miniatures from Pendraken miniatures. Pendraken’s miniatures are cast individually which meant I could put them on a round base. Most other 10mm fantasy miniatures were cast on strips for 40mm wide bases. I used standard 40mm round bases and put 10 foot or 6 cavalry miniatures on each base. I was really pleased with the results but the first crack in the plan appeared as all the miniatures needed to be painted before putting them on the base and flocking the base was a pain to get between the miniatures.

Regardless I continued to torture myself and carried on creating two armies (Undead vs Barbarians).

picture of 10mm armies
The Barbarian army faces down the Undead hordes

Unlike a number of other rule sets I’ve written I did get to playtest this set which I called ‘Battle Fury’ (often referred to as Battle Furry!), it was a very simple ruleset with no unit facing so you just moved where you needed to. There were typical bonuses for combat based on charging and having multiple units ganging up on the enemy. Activation was done by players taking it in turns to move a unit. I also went with 10 sided dice as I’ve always found the range of a normal 6 sided dice does not offer enough variation. 

Picture of miniatures
Battle in full swing

Games of this type often suffer from needing lots of markers for activation, wounds etc. But I had the genius idea (in my opinion of course) of making flags for both sides that showed the number of hits the unit had remaining (see the skulls on the flags!). The rules had the units roll a number of dice based on the number of hits remaining so you could see at a glance how strong the enemy or your own units are.

Picture of miniatures
Fight between the Barbarian Mammoths, Skeleton Cavalry and a Skeleton Giant

The game worked fairly well on the playtest, the forces came out quite balanced and I got the kind of game I wanted with big beasts fighting it out and plenty of back and forth action allowing for tactical moves.

Picture of fighting miniatures
Barbarians and Skeletons in full Close Combat

This project taught me a lot about writing rules, having a clear idea of the kind of game I wanted from the start really helped. But it also taught me a lot about creating games and mistakes that can often be made.

The use of round bases for this scale hasn’t really been done and so the idea that wargamers would be willing to rebase their armies is unrealistic. However the round bases packed with figures looked good and better reflected warfare in an undisciplined world where armies just charged at each other and fought to the death. The flags that could be changed to reflect the hits of a unit felt like a good idea, but having to create enough to show the correct number of hits as units suffered damage became quite a challenge.

And so this project came to a halt and the miniatures are back in the pile of unfinished ideas (which is quite large if I’m honest), although after writing this I might revisit the flag idea for my WOTR army instead of the mini dice added to the base.

A Dark Ages Miscellany

After the scenery pieces Andy finds his inner animal.

I decided to do some figures that had come out of my painting pile but hadn’t been started yet.

These comprise a Viking warlord obtained from Colonel Bill (original manufacturer unknown), a Saxon Noble from Gripping Beast Plastics Saxon Thegn set and a couple of ladies from Belt Fed Miniatures, Gwendoline the Welsh Princess and Freyir the Norse Witch with her wolf companions. I also had another half dozen other wolves so decided to do these together.

In the picture above the two wolves on the right are those that came with Freyir. The three smaller wolves in the front rank are old Ral Partha figures; I don’t know who made the three larger wolves in the second rank.

All of the figures were started the same way, Halfords Grey primer undercoat, the humans then had skin base coated Brown Sand, as was Freyir’s hair. The skin was then painted with Medium Flesh Tone

First up is Freyir and her wolves. Her hair was Dry-brushed with Dark Sand, loin cloth and boots matt painted black, and then the loincloth dry-brushed London Grey.  The tunic and panels on the belt were painted Chocolate Brown and her staff Beige Brown. The boot tops and wrist bands were painted Khaki Grey and the staff skull and claws Pale Sand. Earrings and hair band (not visible in picture) were Silver.

The wolves were dry-brushed with Dark Grey and then Black Grey. Mouths were painted black, tongues Red and teeth Desk Tan.

The armour on the other three figures was painted black and dry-brushed Gun Metal Grey

Gwendoline has Black hair and Dark Sand tunic. Boots are Chocolate Brown and she has a Silver necklace, wrist bangles, belt and pommel.

The Saxon has a Black Red tunic, Flat Brown trousers and Buff leggings. Belts, beard and hair  are Chocolate Brown, and clock is German Camouflage Green.

The Viking has a Dark Grey tunic, Chocolate Brown belts and scabbard, Khaki Grey trousers and Flat Brown hair and beard. The figure didn’t have a weapon when I bought it, so I added an axe from the spares box, and a sword hilt from the GBP Plastic Saxons box to the empty scabbard.

All figures had appropriate coloured Army Painter washes.

Shields backs were painted black then dry-brushed Beige Brown, the faces were painted White. Gwendoline’s shield had a simple cross pattern in Flat Yellow and Red, while the other two had shield transfers from Little Big Man Studios. Shield rims were painted Japanese Uniform.

Finally all were given a matt spray varnish.

The Aftermath

Tony F tells the tale of a game that not even Phil could lose … or could he? Photos by Tony and Andy.

As the club is still unable to meet formally, a few of us met for some outdoor gaming in Phil’s back garden to throw a few dice for the first time since lockdown began. The chosen game was Games Workshop’s Middle Earth rules, The scenario, suggested by our host (and provider of tea and ice-creams), took place between the assault on Minas Tirith and the Battle of the Black Gate.

The Battle of Pelennor Fields is over; the armies of Mordor have been vanquished, defeated by the combined intervention of the Grey Company and the Rohirrim, and finally by the death of the Witch King. In the aftermath, the remnants of the Dark Lord’s forces were pursued from the scene by the combined armies of Men; Gondor, Rohan and the various fiefdoms of Dol Amroth, Lossarnach, Llamedon and others.

View from the western edge.

In our scenario, 500 points of Mordor forces (orcs, Uruks and a troll) are retreating through a small hamlet (in the book, the Pelennor is a fertile area of fields and farms, not the barren plain seen in the films). An equal size force from Dol Amroth are in hot pursuit and have begun to encircle the fleeing orcs. The orcs set up 1/3rd of the way from the Western edge, while the Dol Amroth forces deployed into three separate groups; a group of Knights led by Prince Imrahil on the northern edge, a group of Warriors and Men at Arms on foot on the southern edge and a small group of archers provided harassing fire from the west. The evil forces, being greater in number than the Dol Amroth troops, were split into three forces led by Andy (mostly a covering force of archers), Stephen (Uruk Hai and the troll) and Phil (Mordor orcs). Jeremey handled the Dol Amroth warriors, while Tony took the small group of archers and the knights (“you’ve played this before, you should know what to do with them…”). The Mordor forces were required to get 1/3rd of their troops off the table.

The battle naturally split into three combats; the covering force of orc archers spent much of the game exchanging remarkably ineffective bow fire with their Dol Amroth counterparts who slowly advanced on their barricade.

Jeremey’s main force of Dol Amroth warriors closed on Andy’s Mordor orcs in a small fenced-off area, and between them they spent most of the game performing what became known as the ‘Pelennor Two-Step’, inching forwards and backwards for most of the game.

In the centre, Stephen’s crack Uruk Hai seemed to be the ones selected to lead the retreat. They were engaged by a smaller group of warriors including some foot knights, which slowed their progress somewhat.

Andy offered to give some fire support – in the GW Middle Earth rules, only evil figures are permitted to fire into combats (the good side won’t risk hitting their own figures). Andy checked with his fellow orc that this was OK, but it seems that Stephen didn’t read the small print and realise that there was a chance that he could be hit! One dead Uruk later, it was decided that the experiment was was not to be repeated.

In the meantime, the formation dance teams carried on their pas des deux on the southern flank, with much two-ing and fro-ing and “After you, Claude”. It involved lots of jockeying for position with supporting spears and pikes in the second rank, much bluff and bluster and very little blood.

The archers slowly kept up their advance, pushing forward in bounds with three moving and three firing (until one got shot, then the numbers went all to pot).

The Knights meanwhile had sped down the northern flank, hoping to cut off the Uruks as they headed for the table edge – and it worked. Although the orcs tried to disperse, the Knights hit them hard – and with foot figures charged by cavalry being automatically knocked over, even those who survived an attack were delayed by a further turn as they got to their feet again.

Although the troll took a toll of several knights, the Prince himself took a hand and, with the aid of the horn blower (who led a charmed life), made sure that not enough orcs reached safety. By this time the dance had broken up, and the Dol Amroth archers reached their Mordor counterparts and their heavier armour proved decisive.

Phil’s evil minions don’t have a great record in our Middle Earth games. But this one involved retreating, so he should be good at that. But after five hours of hard fought combat, he still found himself on the wrong end of the stick…

The Fellowship

Andy completes his Journey through Middle Earth…

I think everyone who plays Lord of the Rings games probably has the fellowship, and I am no exception.

I’ve had these for quite a while, and having finally finished my LotR Dwarves, including Gimli, I thought it was time to paint the rest of them up.

The figures represent the Fellowship after leaving Rivendell; Gandalf has Glamdring, Aragorn has Andúril and Frodo has Sting and the Mithril coat, the latter presumably under his outer clothes.

All paints are Vallejo acrylics unless stated otherwise, and most colours were washed with the appropriate Army Painter tone.

All of the Fellowship were started in the same way. Gaps in the slotabases were filled with 4Ground base render; then a layer of sand & grit glued to the bases with PVA glue. Once dry they were undercoated with Halfords Grey Primer. The bases were painted a dark brown (USA Olive Drab) and dry-brushed London Grey. Faces and hands, and feet for the hobbits, were base coated Brown Sand, then top coated with Medium Flesh and washed with AP flesh tone.

Aragorn

Aragorn’s tunic is Light Brown, his Coat is Flat Green, trousers are Black and boots German Camouflage Black Brown. Belts are Chocolate Brown. The blanket roll over his shoulder is Dark Grey, and on his back are his bow, German Camouflage Medium Brown, quiver, Saddle Brown and another blanket roll, Khaki Grey. His hair is Flat Brown.

Boromir’s overcoat is Black, with Black Grey highlights on raised edges, his robe is Red. The small amount of mail visible is black with a Gunmetal Grey drybrush. His boots and vambraces are German Camouflage Medium Brown, belts German Camouflage Black Brown and hair Light Brown. The Horn of Gondor is Buff with the end Tan Yellow, with silver scroll work. His shield (slung on his back) is Black Red with Gunmetal boss and rim.

Gandalf the Grey has Light Grey tunic and London Grey robes, highlighted Light Grey. Belts are Dark Grey. His hat is Grey Blue. (Definitely a grey theme here). His staff is Beige Brown with an AP Crystal Blue tip. Glamdring is Silver. Hair and beard are Dark Sand.

Legolas

Legolas has a Golden Olive tunic, Light Grey trousers and Pale Greyblue sleeves. Quiver harness and vambraces are German Camouflage Medium Brown, quiver is Flat brown, the latter two lined Saddle Brown. Belts are also Saddle Brown. Boots are German Camouflage Black Brown and bow is Beige Brown. Hair is Dark Sand.

Merry

Merry has Black trousers, a Golden Yellow waistcoat with Bronze buttons and a Deep Green coat. His cloak is London Grey and his hair is Tan Yellow.

Frodo

Frodo has Black trousers, Light Brown waistcoat and Flat Brown coat and hair. His cloak is Luftwaffe Camouflage Green, and belts Chocolate Brown. His pack is Saddle Brown. Sting is painted Silver, with an AP Blue wash, my attempt to represent Sting’s blue glow in the presence of Orcs.

Sam

Samwise has London Grey trousers, with a Deck Tan shirt and a Flat Green coat. His cloak is Black Grey and belts and scabbard Saddle Brown. His hair is German Camouflage Orange Ochre, and on his back he has a pack painted Beige.

Pippin

Pippin also has Back trousers, Beige Brown waistcoat with an AP Crystal Blue jacket and Light Brown Scarf. His haversack is German Camouflage Beige and cloak Flat Red (and I’ve just noticed a little blue on the cloak so that will need touching up). He has Dark Sand Hair.

When I bought the figures off e-bay one of the lots contained a model of Gollum on his rock. So here he is:

Gollum (and his rock)

I started off painting the rock London Grey, with an AP Dark Tone Wash and Light Grey dry-brush. There were a few patches of what looks like moss on the rock, so these were painted with dots of Golden Yellow and Olive Green. Next came his skin; as I wanted him to look paler than the other Hobbits, I used a mixture of Pale Sand and Medium Flesh. Hair was black, eyes white and his loincloth German Camouflage Beige. As he is modelled with a snarling mouth, I painted his tongue Flat Red and teeth Deck Tan. His skin then got a wash of AP Skin tone.

All the figures bases were then flocked, for Gollum I added some flock to some of the flatter sections of the rock, and then tidied up the base edges with more Olive Drab.

Finally, the figures were all varnished with a matt spray.

So that’s the LOTR collection, Fellowship, Dwarves and Goblins completed.

Delving Deepest

Andy’s beard can now be tucked into his belt…

The last of the Dwarf collection are now complete including some odds and ends that won’t make up full Dragon Rampant units.

Originally there were 9 more Archers, but I picked up 3 more from e-bay to round out the Dragon Rampant unit to 12. There were also 6 Warriors with double handed axes, and 17 Rangers; 4 with longbow, 5 with throwing axes and 8 with double handed axes.

The figures were based up in the same way as previous batches. The archers were painted in various shades of red, with boots, leather armour and belts various shades of brown. The axemen were the same, except the tunics were various shades of blue. Armour was painted Gunmetal Grey and washed with AP Dark tone wash.

And the final 3 “E-bay” archers.

Ranger’s tunics were various shades of grey, green and brown; armour in brown and cloaks were painted in greens or greys.

Both Warriors and Rangers skin had a base coat of Brown Sand followed by Medium Flesh Tone and a coat of Flesh Wash. Hair had Soft or Dark tone washes. Bases were then flocked, and the figures varnished with a matt spray varnish.

So, that’s the Dwarves finished. 148 figures, making a 90 point Dragon Rampant army, or around 1800 points in LOTR Strategy Battle Game.

Delving Deeper

Andy continues his metamorphosis into a dwarf. He already has the beard, but I swear he’s getting shorter…

The third batch of Dwarves are now completed. Only 18 in this batch. All unit references are for Dragon Rampant.
• A unit of Light Archers (12 figures) in various shades of green tunics (above).

• Half a dozen Dwarf Rangers, 3 with longbow and three with throwing axes. These are enough for a unit of Scouts.

The figures were glued to their slottabases and any gaps in the base filled. A layer of sand & grit was stuck to the bases with PVA glue. The figures were undercoated with matt black and the bases painted a dark brown (USA Olive Drab) and drybrushed London Grey.

The archers were painted in various shades of green, with boots, leather armour and belts various shades of brown. Armour was painted Gunmetal Grey and washed with AP Dark tone wash. Ranger’s tunics were various shades of green; cloaks were painted in greens or greys. Skin had a coat of Flesh Wash and hair Soft or Dark tone washes.

Bases were then flocked, and the figures varnished with a matt spray varnish.

Allies of Gondor

Tony F paints some alternative Lord of the Rings figures.

When I first read The Lord of the Rings, many, many years ago, one of my favourite parts was the defence of Minas Tirith and the Battle of Pelennor Fields. The cavalry actions particularly grabbed my attention, including the charge of the Rohirrim, and the sortie led by Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth (who sadly didn’t make it past Peter Jackson’s editing pencil in the films) to rescue Faramir and the defenders of Osgiliath. I painted up a box of Swan Knights of Dol Amroth for an Open Day game a couple of years ago, and I’ve always wanted to expand them into a full army.

Apart from Prince Imrahil and the Swan Knights, there are few other official figures available from Games Workshop for the fiefdom of Dol Amroth. There is a set of four Men at Arms with pikes, and some older metal foot knights, which don’t really match the new plastic mounted cavalry (which are much better than the old metal ones). Forgeworld also has a new set of very nice resin foot knights which are moderately pricey but are a better match for the new plastic knights.

A while back I came across pictures of another Dol Amroth army with lots of conventional looking warriors on foot. These turned out to be conversions from Gondor figures with new heads – after a brief bit of digging I found that the heads came from eBob Miniatures. So I bought 20 heads (at a very reasonable £1 for 4) and then set about getting some plastic men of Gondor from eBay. I won an auction for 17 already assembled figures – which then of course languished in a box in the hobby shed for over a year (I believe wargamers are like wine collectors – our purchases need to be laid down in a cool, dark place before they can be fully enjoyed).

Then lockdown happened. Unlike some people I was neither laid off nor furloughed (in fact I was one of those for whom lockdown was a very busy period), but there are still weekends, and since we couldn’t go out, the Dol Amroth idea was dusted off again. I started with the head swaps on the plastic figures. The existing heads were removed with a pair of side cutters and cleaned up with scalpel and files, before drilling a small hole with a pin vice for the peg at the bottom of each replacement head. The heads were superglued on, and then came some tedious filling with green stuff. I also had to resculpt hair on the back of some of the figures which had been damaged by the removal of the original heads. I also cut, scraped, filed and sanded off the sculpted-on White Tree motif on all of the shields, as I wanted to replace that with Dol Amroth symbols. I also created a standard bearer using a spare lance from the Knights box – I swapped the hand with a swordsman.

With the conversion work done, painting could begin. I mostly use Citadel paints of all types including shades, dry and the new contrast paints. I started with an undercoat of Halfords grey car primer, followed by spraying them with silver paint bought from the poundshop. I then gave them a black Nuln Oil wash followed by a drybrush of Necron Compound. This is a really quick and easy way to paint silver armoured figures en masse. I painted their tunics blue using a contrast paint (not sure which one, sorry) with a single highlight layer and their trousers with Black Templar (also a contrast colour). After this it was just details – faces, armour straps and belts, and some gold detailing on the helmets.

The shields were painted blue and them I applied some home-made decals; I’d found some suitable designs online which I resized and recoloured in Photoshop, and printed on white decal paper on a laser printer. I touched up the edges of the decals with paint to blend them in as much as possible.

Everything was then given a coat of Army Painter spray varnish, and the bases were finished off with a combination of flock and grass Tufts.

So my Dol Amroth force now had six mounted Knights and 17 warriors on foot. To this I added three Knights on foot and four pike-armed men at arms, all led by Prince Imrahil himself. the other figures were all painted in the same way as the other warriors, starting with their sprayed silver armour. As befits his status, I did spend a bit more time on their leader.

Overall it makes a solid 600-point force, and all from figures that had been in the unpainted pile for a while.

Delving Deep

Andy ploughs on with his Moria Dwarf army.

The second batch of Dwarves are now done. As mentioned in the last post I’m painting these up primarily for use with Dragon Rampant. Most foot units in Dragon Rampant have 12 figures per unit, so taking into account the odds and ends I’ve already painted I’m mainly painting up figures to fill out units to fit these rules.

This batch comprises the following (photos are work in progress):

Five warriors with two handed axes and three with axes and shields with green tunics; to make up two units of Heavy Foot, one of which will be upgraded to Offensive (those with the two handed axes).
• 8 archers in various shades of blue tunics; to make up a unit of Light Archers.
• 8 warriors with axes and shields also in blue; to make up a unit of Heavy Foot.
Two standard bearers, one in blue and one in green. These will replace a figure in a unit if I want to give them the banner upgrade.

After gluing the figures to their slottabases I filled in any gaps in the base with, well, filler; and then glued a layer of sand & grit to the bases with PVA glue. Once dry they were undercoated with matt black spray. The bases were painted a dark brown (USA Olive Drab) and drybrushed London Grey.

The figures were painted in my usual style, block painting followed by colour appropriate washes. Mail and plate armour were washed with AP Dark Tone, skin with Flesh Wash and hair with Soft or Dark tone washes. Bases were then flocked, and the figures varnished with a matt spray varnish.

The two standard bearers were simple conversions of a couple of warriors in fairly static poses with axe and shield. For one of them I cut the axe from his right hand, drilled the hand to take a wire pole, and glued the axe blade and shaft to his belt. For the other figure I cut back the shield boss on his left hand and filed this down to an empty hand and also drilled it to take a wire pole. After they were painted, I added paper banners.

Only 50 more figures to go!

Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!

Andy updates his Dwarf collection.

Over the past few years I’ve picked up quite a few Games Workshop Lord of the Rings Dwarves at bring and buys and from E-bay. These will be opponents for my Moria Goblin collection. I have painted around half of them, time to finish the rest, in instalments.

I use the Goblins and Dwarves with Osprey’s Dragon Rampant more than the Games Workshop rules, so the unit sizes in DR will determine what I paint up.

First contingent comprises five Khazâd Guard, Gimli, and warrior supposedly with a double handed axe. The latter figure however was slightly damaged as the blade had broken off; so, he needed some remedial action. I thought the simplest fix was to cut a short length of matchstick, drill a hole in it to fit the remaining axe shaft and paint it up as a warhammer. As he will be a bit different to the other figures, I’ll make him a Captain to lead one of the units of Khazâd Guard, which in Dragon Rampant I’ll treat as Elite Foot, needing a total of 6 figures per unit.

I used short sections of matchstick to fill in the base slots where necessary, then added some 4Ground base render to level the slots up to base level, the bases were then given a layer of grit and sand mixed with PVA glue and allowed to dry. The figures were then sprayed matt black and the bases painted US Olive Drab and dry-brushed London Grey.

The Khazâd Guard and the Captain have a mixture of mail and scale armour. I dry brushed the mail with Silver, and painted the scale and helmets Bronze for the Guard and Gunmetal for the Captain. The armour was washed with AP Dark Tone. Tunics are Red, with AP Red Tone wash, boots and gloves German Camouflage Black Brown and belts Chocolate Brown.
Axe shafts Gunmetal and blades and hammer Silver. Pouches and beards/hair are various shades of brown or black.

As the Captain has a silver hammer, I think he should be called Maxwell.

Gimli was painted in a similar way to the Guard, but he has a Light Brown tunic with detail shaded with AP Red Tone wash with a German Camouflage Black Brown jerkin. Red trousers and Mahogany Brown hair and beard.

Bases were finished off with some static grass, and the figures matt varnished.

Maxwell and the Khazâd Guard

For Dragon Rampant games I wanted a Dwarf Wizard, I found one as part of the Northstar Oathmark range, in a command pack that also contains a King and musician. Once I got these home, I found that they are little larger than the Games Workshop figures. Instead of mounting these on slottabases I use some thinner 25mm diameter washers to ty and disguise the height difference.

These figures were painted in the same style as the Games Workshop figures.