Friday, August 22, 2014

The Battle of Pelennoo...

Having recently finished a few companies of Gondorians, it got me thinking again about the germ of an idea I had some time ago...

What do you get if you cross Pelennor and Waterloo, you get "Pelennoo"! ;-)



I have long wanted to put on a grand titanic battle between the forces of Good and Evil, Gondor and Mordor...

Rather than focus on the Siege of Minas Tirith, or the defence of the ruins of Osgiliath, though they are no doubt interesting too... I have always had an interest in the defence of the Rammas Echor and the subsequent withdrawal across the Pelennor...

I think the Battle of, or for, the Pelennor, is ripe for a little elaboration...

Several years ago I also rather enjoyed playing the PC game "Battle for Middle Earth". What struck me were the images of the walled farms for the Gondorians... for some reason this immediately put me in mind of the defensive features at the Battle of Waterloo; Hougemont,  La Haye Saint and Papelotte...

Gondorians Farms from the Battle for Middle Earth by EA Games

And thus the idea germinated of running a Lord of the Rings themed "Battle of Waterloo"... I doubt the idea is original, but its been floating about in my gray matter for many years now...

The Pelennor, or Pelennor Fields, as it is also known, is described thus on the Tolkien Gateway:

"The Pelennor Fields lay just outside the city of Minas Tirith, on the west bank of the river Anduin. The land ran down toward the river in slopes and terraces. The City of Minas Tirith was located on the southwestern corner of the fields, at the foot of Mount Mindolluin.
A road ran northeast across the Pelennor Fields to the Causeway Forts on the river bank; a distance of 12 miles. The North-way led from the City through the fields to the Forannest, or north-gate, before turning westward to become the Great West Road to Rohan. The South Road came from the southern provinces of Gondor and passed through the Pelennor Fields on the way to Minas Tirith. A number of other paths also criss-crossed the fields.
The Pelennor Fields were home to farmers and herdsmen who had barns, pens, livestock, granaries, and kilns for drying hops and malt which were located on the Pelennor. The fields were fertile farmland, with tilled fields, orchards, and small brooks flowing down to the Anduin."
Unlike the movie depiction of a vast endless grassy plain, from this we can get an idea that the Pelennor was indeed quite a large area, some 12 miles across, and yet is dotted with assorted farms and orchards, woods and streams etc etc...

So to recreate this idea, all I need to do is build three Gondorian style walled farms...


La Haye Sainte - Grey slate roof and white walls - cant get much more Gondorian than that!

... something like this:

Picture courtesy of Blood, Fire and Death blog
... but perhaps made more 1:1 scale with the model figures, for the skirmish nature of the game... and obviously more Gondorian in theme with arches etc etc...

And then make up the Battlefield with assorted woods and streams, hedges, fences, fields of corn and other crops, and other buildings dotted about, and paths and roadways linking them up...etc etc...

In the game, the strong points can be garrisoned by a mixture of Warriors of Minas Tirith, Osgiliath Veterans, Ithilien Rangers and various Fiefdom troops. The other Gondor forces deployed as if rushing to relieve the beleaguered garrisons...

Mordor's force would of course include all manner of orcs and trolls, and other elements of the forces of evil, Easterlings, Haradrim, Khandish troops... all ready for a titanic clash...

The arrival of the Prussians could be replicated by the arrival of the Rohirrim on the flank... the possibilities are endless, depending on how much you wish to stick to or vary from the written course of the story...

How you choose to play out the game, may vary depending on your end goal. Is this a what-if? To see if the Gondorians could hold out here and push Mordor back, a la Waterloo.. or should we more follow Tolkien Canon, and theme the overall battle as a fighting withdrawal to the relative safety of the walls of Minas Tirith?

Either way it would be an epic game of Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game... and something for me to aim towards in my collecting and painting...








An Assassin ... across the Seven Seas...

A pirate assassin, AKA 'Edward Kenway', has completed a 12000 nautical mile journey, from the Old World to the Colonies, to seek fame and fortune!

As is already well known to most of my blog readers, NorthStar, in connection with Osprey have released a wonderful range of pirate figures, to accompany the release of the new set of Pirate Rules by Osprey; 'On the Seven Seas'.

I must admit I thought long an hard about buying in to this, as the figures are wonderful... but I already have a ton of Foundry Pirates... and a full set of their c18th civilians awaiting prep and paint... so I coudn't really justify the outlay... but one figure from the range did catch my eye, though more so for my son.

Chris has been a fan of the Assassins Creed series of computer games for sometime, currently culminating, in our household, in edition four; "Black Flag", set in the Golden Age of piracy...

Included in their release, Northstar have paid homage to this character producing a look-a-like 'pirate assassin' figure.

A little banter round the blogging world yielded a surprise offer of this figure for free from the 'Legatus', the fine author of "Legatus' Wargames Armies" blog, and many other fine related blogs. The figure did not appeal to the Legatus and he was happy to offer him up, gratis, to someone who would appreciate the gesture...

Appreciate is not the word!

It's arrival here today at 'Bowman Towers', could not have been better timed... a dismal winter afternoon here down under, with a cold southerly blowing wind and rain, combined with an unfortunate power cable failure of the rail service north of Wellington. This stranded my son and his fellow school chums at the train platform after school en-route home... as mobile phones buzzed into action and parents scrambled to try and pick up stranded kids, and the rail service rushed to put on bus service replacements, chaos ensued...

Finally arriving home, hours later than normal... the pirate figurine brought a smile back to Chris' face!

Chris and 'Edward'
And so on closer inspection, I have a rather nice figure to paint up for him, to be part of our pirate games here.

I do rather like the pose. The mean moody two swords drawn posture, certainly has a 'come and get some' ring about it ... I am busy painting a bunch of Uruks for LOTR, one of which is the scout captain; Mauhur who has a similar pose... very cool!


So to paraphrase Saruman " We have work to do!"... I am sure I can sneak this guy into the painting queue.

Thanks again to the Legatus, for his kind generosity.

If you have not already done so, please check out his blog, which I find very entertaining and not only on hobby matters! Most definitely well worth a read, though I caution you not to do it whilst drinking a hot beverage... I have had to wipe down the monitor on at least one occasion ;-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

For Gondor...

... and the city of Minas Tirith!


Three companies of the Ecthelion Tower Guard!


I have been playing and painting Lord of the Rings for many years now, yet still had not got round to painting up some of the main core human troops; the Gondorian soldiery of the City of Minas Tirith.


A couple of years back now I got myself an airbrush, and one of the things I thought would be good, would be to blast up a load on Gondorians  with some spray silver paint...

Well that worked out OK, and was the easy bit... leaving the metallic paint to dry I then gave them a wash with a slightly thinned dark brown shade wash... that was another easy bit... but then reality kinda dawned... these troops have just about as much black to paint as silver - all their tunics are black as are the harness and other strapping and most of the shield... I began to wonder if I had really saved myself much time???


And as is typical I then stalled a bit with them... and they sat staring at me for about a year as other troops leap frogged past them on the painting table, and they stared, and they stared, and they stared till I could bare it no longer!

So I have been busy working on them over the last month or so, to get them finished off. I also added a couple of banners and a captain.

I was in two minds to try and go for speed and not bother with the eyes in their close fitting helmets.. but again... I just couldn't bring myself to leave them 'blind' so spent the extra time doing the eyes as best as I could...

I have kept the basing sparse so they will hopefully look OK defending Minas Tirith or Osgiliath, or fighting on the Pelennor and elsewhere in Middle-Earth...

The formation is not legal yet as I only have one Captain here and need a couple more heroes to lead two of the three warbands... I do have Denethor painted up who could be a cheap hero to lead one, and also have Faramir in Ranger garb. Boromir currently is half done on the painting table, and he will add some power to these fine toops!

I painted up some rangers a long time ago so they will compliment these troops nicely. I also have a box of mounted knights to add, a box of Warriors of the Dead, Swan knights of Dol Amroth, and I would also like to add a warband each of the various Fiefdom troops...

As you can probably guess these are a solid core base trooper, with fair fighting ability and good Defence, and ranked up with supporting spears and banners, can generally be expected to hold their own.  

More to come soon... at this rate I am going to need to paint up more Mordor troops to balance things out a bit on the home front!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The search for Thrain... The Hobbit - Battle Report

It was a dark and stormy night, lightning flashed across the sky... and that was just the weather in Wellington!

Conditions were not much better in the blighted northern regions of Middle-Earth, an icy blast blew down from the north across the fells, bordering the ancient realm of Angmar of old...

Yet here it was that Thorin and a company of stout hearted dwarves from Ered Luin, found themselves, tracking a rumour that Thrain, Thorin's father, had been seen wandering the wilds, in his deranged state...

The northward march of the dwarven company had not gone unnoticed... evil hearted creatures, ever ready to serve the dark powers, had observed their passing, and a murder of crows had been seen overhead of their march...

So it was that as Thorin's company reached the ruins of an ancient settlement, evil forces were lying in wait.

Bhurdur, a great troll chieftain of the northern wastes, on learning of the approaching dwarven column, had gathered his warband around him. He would make sure Thorin would rue the day he dared march north to Angmar!

-----o0o-----

In an effort to raise local awareness and interest in the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit skirmish game, I made contact with the good folks down at the Wellington Warlords, to see if there was much local interest for the game. A positive response was forth coming and Andrew Van Olphen, kindly offered to make the trek north from Wellington to Kapiti, on a week night, to help show the game with me at the local club, Kapiti Wargames Club...

To keep the theme topical with the current Hobbit movies hitting the cinema, Andrew decided to bring a company of dwarves, lead by Thorin, in a 'pre-Hobbit' setting... I would play an evil force, and the themed idea of the search for Thrain would work well. Knowing Thorin would be marching from Ered Luin, evil forces of the north would be logical to call into play and so I decided to take an Angmar force.

We decided to play a 600pt game. Big enough for some varied troop choices, and playable to conclusion in an evening, at a leisurely place, where we'd be chatting about the game with onlookers as we played.

Andrew brought two warbands of doughty dwarven warriors including Khazad guard, Iron guard and warriors led by Thorin and a dwarf captain. Their raven crested banner fluttering alongside them in the breeze... Another dwarf captain led a warband of dwarven rangers.

Andrew also brought some wonderful Galeforce9 gothic ruins that would look perfect as ruins of Angmar...

For my Angmar force, I wanted to try out again, the new Monster brutal power attacks of the Hobbit rules, and decided to bring a pair of cave trolls, lead by Bhurdur; a Cave troll hero. so it would be monstrous brute strength in play, rather than the assorted spooks of Angmar...

Dwarves are notoriously hard as nails, so high strength and/or two-handed weapons would be needed to crack them open! So I took a bunch of orcs with two-handed weapons backed up by plenty of spear support. The new Hobbit rules have amended supporting spears, allowing them to support any allied model.

To lead part of my orc rabble I also took an Orc Shaman, mounted on a warg, the idea being to cast Fury, to bolster my weak orc courage and negate some casualties. An orc banner bearer would encourage all forward. To give my force some mobility, I also included some warg riders led by an orc captain.

To keep things simple we decided to play a straight up scrap and chose 'To the Death' as a scenario. I won the initial roll off, chose sides and started deploying...

Deployment:

Players alternate warband deployment, and I positioned Bhurdur and his trolls and orcs centrally up front to start.



Andrew countered with a dwarf warband angled back centrally. My Shaman and his orcs then went down behind the trolls to support their progress.


Andrew placed Thorin's warband off on his right flank.






 I positioned my warg riders on my right flank, which Andrew countered with his Rangers...




To war!

I won the roll off for initial priority, and started my advance... The Warg riders saw the dwarf rangers ahead of them in the open and charged forward... hoping for an easy victory over the lesser armoured dwarves...


The trolls began their rumble forward, backed up by the Shamans warband, who cast a Channelled Fury! That would mean any orc casualties would be negated on a roll of 5+.


Andrew stoically advanced his dwarves forward, the central dwarves meeting the trolls head on. Thorin's warband advanced from the flank but were still too far away to attack. Dwarven shooting stung the hide of the hammer wielding troll on the end of the line, causing 2 wounds!

Then combat ensued... The troll at the end of the line picked up a dwarf and hurled him along the length of the dwarf engaged battleline causing mayhem, but only one casualty. However this disarray allowed the rest of the evil line to batter the prone dwarves...


The warg riders and rangers proved to be a match for each other, and they fought on over the course of the battle, the dwarf armour keeping them in the game and the warg rider cavalry charges countering somewhat the outnumbering dwarves...


Thorin's warband soon got into the fray but the line of orc axemen backed by spears held... keeping the dwarves at bay, while the trolls continued to batter the central dwarf warband... having enjoyed a game of dwarf skittles, the trolls then started seeing what would happen if you got hold of a dwarf's arms and legs and pulled... Rending dwarves became the order of the day...

Towards the end of the game, Thorin started to make his presence felt and used heroic combats to break his way round the end of the orc line, trying to get to the orc Shaman, and take him out of the game...


The warg riders and rangers had just about fought each other to stand still, with neither really getting the upper hand, over the other...


In the centre the trolls continued to bowl, rend  and pummel the dwarves... it was brutal!


As the time grew short, the battle drew to a close. Thorin had won past the end of the orc line and reached his target charging into the orc shaman... but in doing so he had used up his reserves of Might, and the Orc shaman, though losing the fight was able to survive and break away.

The last turn would probably decide it... Evil won priority and there were no Might points left to challenge this... The remaining warg riders charged the remnants of the rangers, and finally got the upper hand, felling several dwarves on the flank... In the centre, Bhurdur decided it was time to go mano-a-mano with Thorin, and the way was cleared for a charge. The flank orc line continued to hold and reduce the dwarf attackers, and the central trolls looked to deal to the remaining central dwarf warband; their banner and a lone dwarf stood there...

The trolls and orcs surrounded them and their end was grisly, though songs will be sung in dwarven halls at the valor they showed that fateful day! The raven banner sadly lost on the bleak battlefield...



Bhurdur crashed into Thorin, and more orcs piled in to Thorin's flank, and he was sorely tested. With no might left to either side, the greater number of evil warriors backed up by their banner held sway and Thorin was bested, the great troll reaching down, lifting Thorin off his feet to pull him apart, but at the last moment his grip slipped (Fate intervened!), and he fell back to the ground, though in a severely beaten state...

Thorin survived, just, with one wound remaining...

-----o0o---- 

And that ended our demonstration game...

We had both had a lot of fun, and enjoyed the 'cinematic' gameplay the new Hobbit rules allow, and despite being on the receiving end of three brutish trolls, Andrew battled on gamely throughout.

The orcs had lost a large part of their force, the Shamans Channelled Fury had failed to save any souls, but the orcs force remained unbroken at the end. Their foul banner still flew in the stiff breeze, and their monstrous leader Bhurdur remained unharmed..

The dwarves had suffered a heavy toll, their numbers at the end falling below break point, their Raven banner was lost, and their leader Thorin grievously wounded.

Songs of valor and bravery would ever recount this day in dwarven halls, and the name of Bhurdur would be added to the tomes of the dwarves, a grudge would most certainly be kept and revenge one day rightly sought!

We totted up the victory points all this meant, and a score of 8-0 was held in favour of the forces of evil.

But rest assured, the dwarves will have their revenge one day!

-----o0o-----

I'd like to thank Andrew again who braved horrible weather for a drive out for an evenings game and for bringing a wonderfully painted army to display, and some great terrain to set the scene. Andrew also brought more of his painted armies to show off including some wonderful customised Dol Amroth troops, and some great Easterlings. I am certainly looking forward to some more games with Andrew.

Also thanks to Kapiti Wargames Club for hosting us, and making us welcome. Lets hope we might have rekindled a little interest in the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit game, in the local area. We'll certainly be happy to play there again...






Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Orc Shaman on warg

As the Fellowship find themselves stuck outside the Gates of Durin, Gandalf states;

" I once knew every spell in all the tongues of Elves or Men or Orcs, that was ever used for such a purpose. "[The Fellowship of the Ring - A Journey in the Dark] 


From this, we can tell the orcs used magic, of some form or another, and thus to have spell casters, or shaman...

This gives a premise for the Orc shaman in the Lord of the Rings Game...

...and if you're going to have Shaman, why not mount him on a vicious warg, giving the shaman a combat edge too and better maneuverability...




Magic in Middle Earth, is rather subtle and not overt... you really don't see much of fireballs blasting back and forth etc. etc... and that aspect I rather like... it's there in the background, in the nature in the place... its harnessed and drawn on by those that can use it, to bend it to their will perhaps...

And so our Orc Shaman, has a couple of spells at his command...

He can whip his followers up into a Fury of a rage, making them headless of dangers and able to perform with reckless courage, and even shrug off wounds that might otherwise cripple another man...

Or he can Transfix a foe, temporarily instilling perhaps a sense of fear and dread, of indecision, slowing the reactions, making him ineffective in melee...




Subtle effects in keeping with the notion of what a tribal shaman through the ancient ages might have been able to do...

I think it fits rather well in the realm of Middle Earth...


The model I have had for some time... ever since I fielded a Shaman on foot, who was less effective than I hoped, had poorer maneuverability and was relatively easily killed in melee... I just needed an excuse to paint him up...


I have painted him to match the foot model so, I can use it too if he gets the warg mount killed underneath him...

I kept the base decoration minimal as with most of my evil troops...

Hopefully he'll get a try out tomorrow night in a game down at KWC...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"They have a Cave Troll..."

Brute strength and bad attitude, the humble Cave troll... wielding a scavenged dwarven heavy spear, or trident, most probably designed to try and deal with these huge beasts... and flailing its chain lash in front...


The model was actually part of a bulk figure haul I picked up some years ago... but it was in a poor state... its a plastic kit and had noticeable gaps in the joints, the plastic chain was hanging on by a 'thread', the trident was missing a prong, the back end of the spear shaft looked like something had chewed it, and it had no base... As I already had a metal painted up cave troll, I was in no hurry to do anything with it, so it languished in the bitz-box, unloved...


But with recent success using the Instant Mold, on the gyrocopter repair... I thought I'd dig it out and and see what I could do...

So I took a mold of the good side of the trident head, and cast up the prong with some Milliput... and filed it and glued it into place...


I had also sourced some model chain from local store, some time ago... one of those things you think will come in handy... for 'something' someday... well it found its use on this... I trimmed away the busted plastic chain and replaced it with the model chain... Greenstuff to fill the gaps and a new base, and we're ready for paint...



Painting was fairly straight forward, only a few colours to worry about... some shade wash and drybrushing and a little detail work, and job done... Simple base detail to reflect its rocky mountainous home...


So I have another Cave troll, to add to my Moria or Angmar forces... 80 points of brutish nastiness...


Cave trolls have decent Fight and good Strength and Defence and 3 attacks and wounds... but no Might, Will or Fate... in past scraps using one cave troll, they invariable get immobilised by some dratted spellcaster and then chopped up by a plucky hero, shot up by a barrage of archery or just mobbed by troop numbers...


Now that I have two, that hopefully will mean that while the enemy deals with one, the other can cause some mischief...


I sincerely hope so... plus if combined with some Might wielding heroes, then some Heroic moves and Heroic combats may be the order of the day,... and those new Monster Brutal power attacks my get a use after all :-)


A top down view just to show the cast trident prong... not perfect but pretty darn close and you probably wouldn't have noticed it if I hadn't owned up on it!?

Looking forward to squashing a few men, elves and dwarves with this big fella, just so long as the sun don't shine, otherwise he might be needing some of that factor 1000 sunblock! ;-)

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Riders of Rohan... Oaths you have taken...

...Fulfill them all ... to Lord and Land!"


Stirring stuff!


I really love the Riders of Rohan, wonderful models and I always hoped to field them en-masse as per the movie...


The thunder of hooves always gets the blood pumping!


I painted 6 many moons ago, and now I have another six to swell their ranks, and complete my first warband of 12.  Thus far I only have Theodred painted to lead them...I have another 4 boxes to go, and Theoden, Eomer and Erkenbrand and Gamling with the Royal banner to assemble and paint...

I am still plodding on with the Fellowship Journey book saga, and the Causeway board is now fully assembled, with lights fitted, just needs painting now... but I can't help look forward to the wider campaign as it unfolds in the Two Towers Journey book, hence getting some Rohan troops painted up...

The Riders of Rohan, other than the mounted Royal Guard, are essentially light cavalry, equipped with sword, spear and bow. They have a medium level of armour protection. These are not heavily armoured knights. "Tanks", they are not! Their use and role I think should reflect that; use speed and maneuverability, harass the enemy , shoot him down, use hit and run tactics, and chase down the weaker or scattered troops.

The trouble is we see their glorious desperate changes en-masse in the movies at Helms Deep and the Pelennor where they mow down the orc soldiery.... but played out in the game like this, I have found reality has often seen them, pulled from their horses and cut down, after the initial charge, when they have been used this way... so I think a more subtle use and role may be better served...

I look forward to trying this warband out soon...

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