Sunday, July 05, 2009

Mordor forces of Cirith Ungol

Mordor. Land of shadow, and realm of the Dark Lord Sauron. He can call on many forces from the various bastions that defend that dark land.
Here I have assembled a small force themed on the forces that may issue forth from the pass of Cirith Ungol. Its just a starting point, and there are a great many more orcs to paint up to complete this army, but it gives you an idea of whats possible.

The force is led by the Witch King of Angmar, wearing the Crown of Morgul, and wielding a monstrous morning star.

An orc captain, marshals the orcs into a fighting force, leading with brute strength, fear and intimidation. Without strong leaders, the orcs are an unruly mob, as much a danger to themselves as their enemies. However, they can be a force to be reckoned with when well led.

An orc banner bearer of Cirith Ungol, bearing a banner with a stylized spider glyph. The banner acts as a focal point for the forces. In the skirmish game, orcs near the banner fight better. In the War game, a banner allows you to re-roll charge distance, and re-roll panic results from combat.

Shelob, the great spider, who defends the pass of Cirith Ungol. Roused from her dark pits, and prodded or encouraged into the fight, she can accompany a force of orcs from Cirith Ungol.

Another Nazgul riding a fell beast gives another commander for the dark forces that will combine combat ability, with leadership and spell casting abilities. Truly a fearsome prospect.
For this model I tweaked it a little by adding a set of reins between the hand of the nazgul and the bridle of the beast.

A drummer troll, made from the GW troll kit, gives booming support to the advance of the orcs, allowing all orc forces nearby to advance more quickly into the fight.

A Mordor Troll, again from the GW plastic troll kit, gives some hard hitting monstrous support to the orc rabble is accompanies into battle. A little tricky to get the sword focused at same time as the main body of the troll!

More will be added to this force as time goes by...

Another good thing about the orcs is that just by changing the banners, and monsters and heroes, you get a different force to field.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

In the Clutches of Shelob

The pass of Cirith Ungol. A way into Mordor, that is guarded by one of its most loathsome denizens. A truely monstrous spider, or perhaps some demon in spider form, a descendant of the brood of Ungoliant; an evil Maiar form the First Age, in alliance with Morgoth?

She feeds on what she can, that try to pass her way. Mostly stray or unlucky orcs, and any other poor unfortunate creatures that stumble upon her lair.

Gollum has come across her in his travels as he searched to find the Ring for himself.

Now that he is the guide of Frodo and Sam, on their way into Mordor, he hatches a cunning plan. Let Shelob deal with the hobbits, and once they are consumed, the Ring will easily be taken from their corpses.

But not everything goes Gollums way. Frodo manages to escape the trap, initially but is later taken by surprise by the foul creature Shelob. Sam manages to follow his master, having been previously dismissed by a confused, misled, and way-worn Frodo, and like a true hero, Sam comes to the rescue, and fights the beast, forcing her to back off. Sadly Sam runs out of time as Orcs from the Tower of Cirith Ungol come to investigate. He takes the sword Sting and the Ring, believing Frodo slain, and the quest now solely left to him to complete...

The model is a metal kit requiring assembly and is accompanied by a model of Frodo bound in web, and Sam holding forth the Phial of Galadriel; "May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out".

I haven't got round to painting the webbed Frodo, or Sam models yet, so I show you Shelob as she tries to pounce on Frodo as he is lost in her dark tunnels...

In the game, Shelob is quite a fearsome beast as a single monster in the skirmish game, with pounce attacks and venom. However she is limited by the fact that she is a hunter who is used to surprising her prey. If she gets into a fight and take wounds, she must take a courage test or flee!

In the War of the Ring game, she is an independent monster model, that is a foe terrible to behold!

The Nine

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for mortal men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne.
In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie,
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the shadows lie.

The Nine. The Nazgul. The Ringwraiths.

Led by the Witch King of Angmar. Great Kings of Men, and sorcerors, seduced to follow Sauron, the Dark Lord when he gifted to them each a ring of power, that would grant each the immortality they craved. Yet that immortalty, meant the gradual stripping of thier mortal bodies and leaving merely wraith-like shadows, under the power of the Dark Lord.

His most trusted and loyal servants, utterly faithful to his command, bound to the One Ring.

Once Sauron has learnt the whereabouts of his missing ring, having tortured the creature Gollum, and learning two words "Shire" and "Baggins", he despatches his most trusted servants North and West across Middle-Earth, to find and slay Baggins, take the Ring, and return it to their master.

Once he has the One Ring back in his possession, Middle-Earth is doomed...

As for the models, they are available as a full boxed set of nine metal figures on foot.

In know its difficult to get excited about figures that are essentially just black. So question is how to paint them black but give then subtle enough shading to make them look good, yet not to look grey.

Well, after a black base coat, I dry brushed them with Foundry 32a Slate Grey. Then picked out the edges of their robes in 32b. Once dry the whole model was washed in GW Badab Black wash. Metal areas were painted GW Tin Bitz, followed by a dry brush of Boltgun metal. Then again washed with Badab Black. Finally a light drybrush of GW graveyard grey was done to the bottom edges of their robes to give them a weathered look.

Varnished and based as normal.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Seeing Seat at Amon Hen

The Seeing Seat. A structure built by the ancient Kings of Gondor. It was built upon the summit of Amon Hen, one of three peaks at the southern end of Nen Hithoel, located on the western banks of the River Anduin. The hill was also known as the "Hill of the Eye" and also "Hill of Sight".
The Seat itself was a throne built upon a pillared structure. It was said, one who sat in the Seat of Seeing could see all the lands for hundreds of miles around. Also known as the Seat of Amon Hen.

Upon an neighboring peak; Amon Lhaw ("Hill of the Ear"), was located the Seat of Hearing.

It was at this location, in both book and movie, that the fellowship of the rings was torn apart by internal strife as Boromir sought to take the ring from Frodo, at the same time as a party of orcs and uruks converged on the party, seeking to reclaim the ring.

Boromir ultimately paid for his act, being slain defending the hobbits Merry and Pippin, having been pierced by many orc arrows. He fought on bravely non the less, and was found near death by Aragorn. Frodo and Sam head off on their own journey to Mordor, whilst Aragorn leads Gimli and Legolas after the uruks who have captured Merry and Pippin, and are taking them to Saruman at Isengard.

Here, Frodo contemplates his future, still clutching the ring, having escaped the threat from Boromir's madness.

Here we see Aragron, defending Frodo from the approaching uruks lead by Lurtz. Yes I know, the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed these are uruk warriors, not scouts. I must apologise, but I haven't got the uruk scouts painted yet!

The terrain piece was made by following the guide in the Fellowship of the Ring journey book. It is constructed from foamboard and polystyrene, with wooden dowels used for the pillars. The whole was skimmed where necessary with interior skim coat filler. Then sand textured paint was made using an equal parts mix of black paint, PVA glue and fine sand. It was then painted in successively lighter tones of grey, and finished with scenic flock.

An enjoyable interlude to painting figures, and and very nice atmospheric terrain pieces too for the Lord of the Rings battle game.

Defence of the Westfold

Rohan, land of the Horse Lords.

This land was once known as Calenardhon, and was the northern border land of the realm of Gondor. It was given to the Eorlings under Eorl, as a reward from Cirion the lord of Gondor, for Eorl leading his Eorlings to aid the plight of Cirion and his Gondor forces, locked in battle with forces from the East. The only stipulation being that it would be maintained loyal to Gondor, and that the two leaders would swear to aid each other in future need. Thus a great alliance was forged.

The Eorlings are a brave and fierce people, and masters of horses, which they use in great numbers to form huge cavalry formations called Eoreds. The vast plains of Rohan are perfect for raising the horses needed for these forces.

At the time of the War of the Ring, the traitor, Saruman has taken Isengard for own and has built an army of fierce uruks, orcs and wild dunlending men. He threatens the land of Rohan from the North West, and his forces probe across the fords of the River Isen.

The king of Rohan, Theoden, is under the sway of Saruman, in part due to the leechcraft of Grima Wormtongue. It is not until Gandalf arrives in Edoras, with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, that this control over Theoden is removed, and the King finally rises to meet the challenges of the battles to come.

The Oathsworn militia form the core infantry of its forces, fighting with light armour, round shields often adorned with horse-head imagery and wielding a variety of swords, axes and spears. Here, two companies are led by Hama, a captain of the Kings Guard.

A company of oathsworn bowmen, lend the infantry, missile support.

The core of Rohans armies; the Riders of Rohan. Expert Horsemen, able to fight from horseback with swords, spears and bows. This expert ability is reflected in the War of the Ring game by the fact that these troops are able to move, shoot their bows and charge all in the one turn sequence. Here three companies are arrayed for battle.

A close up of one of the riders, here spurring his horse into the charge.

Here is Hama to lead my forces. Hama was the Doorward of King Theoden, and captain of the Kings Guard. In the movie, Hama is slain in the warg attack scene as the refugees head to the safety of Helms Deep. In the book, this scene does not happen as shown in the movie, and Hama is finally slain during the battle of Helms Deep while defending the Gate at the Hornburg.

Here he makes a great captain to lead my forces.

I have a great deal more figures to expand this force, including banner bearer both foot and mounted, a great deal more Riders and Heroes including Theoden, Theodred, Eomer, Gamling and Eowyn. Also Merry to in Rohan garb!

I must admit, the forces of Rohan had not been my first choice as a force to paint and assemble, but a set of 6 riders came my way, and whilst a few of the horses were broken, I managed to fix them with green stuff and wire pining. The horse poses are very dynamic, but the plastic nature of the casts, means they could break if handled roughly. So don't give them you your kids to play with!

The Rohan foot soldiers again came second hand, in bits and peices from ebay and trademe. Many had broken weaponry, which again was fixed with various wire pins and putty. After stripping over-thick black undercoats, using neat SimpleGreen, they painted up quite quickly, obviously using shades of brown , grey and green. Characteristic blonde hair was done throughout the soldiery. The Dunlendings call the Eorlings, "Forgoil" in their tongue, which means "strawheads", a derogotary reference to their horse association.

This force of foot soldiery was painted up as part of the troop requirements for my forth coming presentation of the Battle for Helms Deep scenarios from the Two Towers journey book.
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