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.

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.

Of (Norse) Gods and Mortals

I have a fairly large collection of Dark Ages figures, Saxons, Vikings, that sort of thing, so when Osprey’s “Of Gods and Mortals” came out I started looking for some figures to serve as the deities in the game. I didn’t fancy Northstar’s prices for the “official” figures so I kept my eye open at various Wargames shows for something suitable.

On the SHQ stand I found a set of four Norse gods, Odin, Thor, Sif and Loki, for much less than the price of one Northstar model (link). Greek and Roman pantheons are also available’

These figures are larger than life, measuring 40 – 50 mm tall.

After the usual clean up, wash and dry, the figures were fixed to 40mm diameter slotabases; I used matchsticks to fill in the slot before building up the base with 4Ground Base render and priming them with matt black spray paint. All paints are Vallejo unless stated otherwise.

First up we have Thor and Sif (husband and wife) seen above.

Thor’s loincloth is Red, with an AP Red wash, cloak Red Leather with an AP Soft tone wash, boots German Camouflage Medium Brown with Black tops. His belt, Megingjörð, is Bronze with Silver detail, his hammer, Mjölnir, is Gunmetal Grey and Silver with a Beige Brown shaft. Hair is Mahogany Brown with silver braids and his helmet is also Gunmetal Grey and Silver. I did debate removing the horns, but he isn’t exactly a historical figure, is he?

Sif’s clothing is Deep Sky Blue, with an AP Blue wash, her hair is Dark Sand, dry-brushed with Pale Sand and washed with AP Soft tone (don’t believe what you see in Marvel films). Boots are Black Grey with German Camouflage Medium Brown tops. Her belt and scabbard are German Camouflage Black Brown with Bronze fittings. Bases are US Field drab with electrostatically applied grass tufts.

The other two gods are Odin (with his two ravens Huginn and Muninn) and Loki.

Odin’s tunic is Red, cloak Black Red, both with an AP Red wash, trousers London Grey and boots German Camouflage Black Brown with Black tops. His armour is German Camouflage Medium Brown with a black belt and a Bronze buckle. Wrist guard is German Camouflage Black Brown with silver trim, and his arm torc is Silver and Bronze. Hair is Light Grey, dry-brushed White.

Huginn and Muninn are black, dry-brushed Black Grey, their beaks are also Black Grey.
I have a variety of wolves which could serve as Odin’s other animal companions, Geri and Freki.

Loki is mostly in shades of grey, London Grey for the Tunic, Pale Grey Blue for the under tunic and Dark Grey for the Cloak, the latter with a Bronze and Silver clasp. Hair is black.

Bases are the same as Thor and Sif.

To give a sense of the size of these models, here’s Thor with a couple of his followers, 28mm Foundry figures.

Somethings Mythic This Way Come

Andy puns as Shakespeare rolls in his grave…

I’ve had these figures for ages, I probably bought them when I was at university 40 odd years ago, and indeed first painted them back then. They had surfaced from the depths of the loft for some reason and as they were looking very tired, I decided they needed sprucing up. I’ve no idea who manufactured them. They may turn up in in a Dragon Rampant or Broken Legions game at some point. All paints are Vallejo unless otherwise stated.

The first figure is a minotaur, his (human) body was painted with Medium Flesh and heavily washed with Army Painter (AP) Flesh Wash, his head was painted Matt Black with German Black Brown eyes and Pale Sand horns. His tunic is Deck Tan, washed with AP Soft tone with Bronze fastenings. His axe has a Beige Brown shaft with Gunmetal blade and Bronze metalwork.

His base has some flagstones, these were painted London Grey, dry brushed Light Grey and washed with Army Painter Dark Tone, the remainder of the base was covered with Basetex and painted with a couple of shades of green.

The second figure is a demonnette of some foul dimension. Her skin is Metallic Copper, with MIG Rot Braun creases and an AP Red wash. Eyes are Golden Yellow and horns Black. Her snake is Luftwaffe Camouflage Green with an AP Green wash and the orb in her right hand is German Camouflage Bright Green with a mixed wash of Silver and AP Green wash. Base the same as the Minotaur.

Building the Rammas Echor

Tony F takes us through a Middle Earth scenery build.

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy made a few diversions from the original books – some of these were forgivable changes (although some were a bit more puzzling and unnecessary). One of these was to turn the Pelennor Fields, scene of the largest battle of the War of the Ring, into a fairly barren, scrubby plain, instead of the area of fields and farms described by Tolkein. I get why it was done – the massed ranks of thousands of CGI orcs, trolls and other beasts looked far more impressive lined up outside the gates of Minas Tirith, which wouldn’t have worked so well had they been broken up by barns and oasts. He also omitted the Rammas Echor, a defensive wall many miles in length which surrounded the whole of the fields of Pelennor. Situated along the wall were a number of forts where the garrison was stationed.

Phil and I thought it might be fun to game out the initial assault on the wall, when the defenders were thrown back to the city (Sauron’s forces however made the mistake of not leaving a small force at the gates of the wall when they advanced on Minas Tirith, giving Theoden’s Rohirrim unimpeded passage).

The closest historical equivalent to the Rammas Echor is probably Hadrian’s Wall. I used a milecastle as the basic model for my small fort, with gates front and back and a small courtyard. The wall was made from 2″ thick high-density insulation foam, of which I had just enough to make three 2′ lengths, each around 3″ high, plus the fort walls. The centre wall section has an arched gateway leading into the fort with a smaller gate at the rear of the courtyard. The basic cuts were made with a fine-toothed handsaw (ie a carpentry saw), the gateways were cut out with a hot-wire cutter which I traced around a card template. The other two wall sections each have a small bastion for archers. The faces of each wall section were scribed with a ballpoint pen to represent stone blocks.

I wanted to mimic the design of the city walls in some way, particularly the distinctive shape of the battlements. I drew out a short section of battlements and had this 3D printed; I then made a mould from silicone rubber and proceeded to mass-produce them in resin (I needed about 80 sections in the end) – the resin also happens to be almost exactly the same colour as the foam. These were attached to the walls using a No More Nails-type industrial adhesive (a solvent free version – a solvent based one would probably attack the foam) which has proved to be pretty robust.

The walls were painted over with a mix of pale grey emulsion paint, PVA and wall filler, then drybrushed pure white. I ran some thinned-down black paint around the bottom of the battlements for shading.

Wooden parts (the gates and a couple of firing platforms) were made from balsa and/or coffee stirrers with plasticard for any ironwork, then painted with cheap Hobbycraft acrylics. The firing platforms also helped strengthen the sections of wall over the gates, which were fairly weak once the gateways had been cut out.

Inside the fort I placed some thatched buildings (from Caliver Books) along with odds and ends such as barrels, carts etc. The fort was garrisoned by a couple of dozen warriors of Minas Tirith – can they hold out until the cavalry arrive …?

This post was also supposed to cover the game as well, but we’ll leave that for another day…

A Modelling Miscellany

Here’s a few things I’ve been up to over the last couple of weeks.

First up is a tower.

Actually, I did this earlier in the year. It’s made from two tubs of healthy snacks – cheeselets (the wider, shorter, tube) and a Pringle tube (smokey bacon flavour – lovely!). The stairway is made from balsa that was skinned with miliput and then scribed to make it look like stonework. Then a few barrels and sacks were added to make it looked lived in.

Next up are some wall bits. I bought these at Cavalier from Debris of War. I already had some walls, bought many moons ago, so I had to paint these to fit with what I already had. Either that or re-paint the whole lot. I’m not a big fan of stark grey stone. It looks artificial and most stone is actually a brown colour of one sort another. Certainly the stone someone builds a wall out of, anyway. Back when I did the first walls grey is all I knew. So these had to be done like that as well.

Another purchase at Cavalier (this time from Scotia/Grendel) was a dragon. I ummed and ahhed for quite a while about what colour to paint it – I prefer to steer clear of bright red or green fantasy dragons. My preference is for a more believable colour (given it’s a dragon). I already have a brown dragon so I couldn’t do that again. Instead, I decided to go with green but a more drab variety like you see in nature. Once done, though, it looked too green, so I decided to add some patternation to the scales – some brown stripes. I’m not entirely happy with the result, to be honest. I think it may get a re-paint at some point.

And yet another purchase at Cavalier, and another from Debris of War – a ruined…thing. Church? Building? Something.

The tiles were a print out of a medieval tile texture I found on the internet. This ruin is going with other ruin bits that can be put together to form a ruined church or abbey complex.

Last up is a scratch build. I’ve tentatively called it a ‘Templar Hostel’ because that’s what it was made for. I don’t know what they would have really looked like, so it’s quite speculative. It was built for this year’s Open Day (presuming that still goes ahead).

AGM 2020

The first meeting of the year is when we hold our AGM – we try to keep it brief, and no more formal than is absolutely necessary. It’s generally a good meeting since we get more attendees than normal and this more games are put on. So rather than dwell on the thrills of the treasurer’s report on the club’s finances (healthy, by the way), here’s a gallery of the gaming highlights of the day.

Photos by Tony Francis and Andy King

During the AGM, John Legg collected the trophy for last year’s Field of Glory tournament from Paul Lymath, the 2018 winner.

Alan Kirk hosted a large 1940 Chain of Command game.

Tony Francis and Jeremey Claridge put on a Celtos game (but didn’t play in it themselves…)

Instead, they both took part in some aerial combat over the Sinai desert in 1956

As always, there was a Field of Glory game going on – the first of the 2020 tournament

And Jon Roche and John Lambert took to the seas in some ancient galleys

Raid on Rohan

Middle-Earth beckons again with another of Tony F’s photo galleries.

The next game in our series of Lord of the Rings games was a bit of a stop-gap as our ambitious plan to play the whole of the Scouring of the Shire campaign was put off fro a little while as we simply weren’t ready.

So instead, we played a raid by Orc forces on a small village in Rohan in search of food and other plunder. The Orcs had also become aware that the King’s niece, Eowyn, had stopped off on her journey to Edoras so saw it as an chance to strike a major blow against the Royal House of Rohan.

The village was defended by a small contingent of Warriors of Rohan, stiffened by Eowyn and her escort of Royal Guard. We had a few civilian figures milling around (borrowed from Stephen), with a simple mechanic that determined if they fought, froze or fled when confronted by an Orc.

The attacking Orc force included Uruks and Warg riders, with a strong force of infantry seeking to kill Eowyn and the riders concentrating on the hunt for food.

What the Orcs didn’t know is that Eomer had discovered the Orc’s plans and he was racing with a small band of riders to save his sister…

The initial stages of the game didn’t go well for the defenders, Warriors of Rohan are no match for determined Warg riders. The attackers push into the village in search of Eowyn started well, with a several of the Royal Guard being cut down. But the attack get stuck on a narrow road between hedges with no way out, and the Orcs were unable to push through to their target, who acquitted herself well with a sword. The arrival of Eomer turned things – it’s been a standing joke between Phil and myself that he has always been killed off early in every game he’s featured in, but this time he not only survived but cut a swathe through the Orcs and rescued his sister.

The War of the Dwarves and Orcs

Tony F delves once again into his archive of Middle Earth photos.

Following the defeat of Sauron’s minions in Osgiliath, Phil and I went several hundred years into the Middle Earth timeline, to the war between the Dwarves and Orcs in the latter part of the Third Age. Actually, the real reason was that I’d bought some shiny new Dwarf models from Forgeworld and wanted to use them…

We took a scenario from one of the Middle Earth sourcebooks, involving a force of dwarves defending a human village from marauding Orcs. This needed a bridge, so it was also a good excuse to finally paint up a really nice resin bridge, also from Forgeworld, that had been languishing in the loft for nigh on ten years.

Again, I don’t remember too many specific details of how the combat went, except that dwarves are hard – really hard. Only one of my new, heavily armoured, pike-wielding Iron Hills chaps was killed and they saw off a cave troll to boot. Even a normal dwarf warrior is a tough little bugger, so this was one game that the Orcs just weren’t going to win!

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.