Virtually Meeting

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).

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…

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.

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…

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…

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.

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.