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.
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…
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’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 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 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 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.
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
Last Saturday, at Stephen’s suggestion, some club members held a ‘virtual’ club meeting; some played solo games or with family members at home, and three even managed to play a board game over Zoom. Here’s a round up of what went on.
Mark H, Mark J and Seán – Nightfighter
Mark H ran a three-player game over Zoom – he’s written it up fully in a separate report.
Marcus – Air Combat in the Gulf War
Marcus played a solo game of modern air combat using Wings at War; this will also be getting its own write-up soon.
Phil – Space Hulk
Phil broke out the new (ish) re-issue of Games Workshop’s Space Hulk with his eldest son; unpainted figures, really!
Stephen – Full Thrust
Stephen, whose idea this all was, went for some solo Full Thrust. Which just sounds all wrong…
Mark J – Kobolds and Cobblestones
Mark.2 played out a Fantasy rumble at the docks.
Tony F – Lord of the Rings
And finally, the webmaster played out a simple Lord of the Rings scenario (the one where Sean Bean/Boromir gets shot full of arrows defending Merry and Pippin).
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…
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.
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!
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.