Tuesday, March 29, 2011

American Civil War

Turn your speakers on to enjoy the delightful yet mournful music of this video...

Whilst I realise many people may have a passion for a particular period, and then try and find a rule set that does justice to their chosen period, I have come at this situation from the reverse.

After enjoying a recent game of Black Powder, I decided to look for some periods to play this rule set with.

One that immediately became obvious was the American Civil War.

I would not say that I am particularly passionate about the period, but it seems an ideal choice for these rules, and a new period to start from scratch, for a few reasons:

Firstly, plastic sets of suitable models are now cheaply available from the Perry's, and secondly, one box set of models can be used for either side in the war, just by painting them the different opposing colours, and thirdly, the period does not feature too many exotic uniforms, so painting up the troops should be relatively easy.

Consequently I couldn't resist buying a brigade deal from Warlord Games.

The figures duly arrived in March '11, and I started work on trimming the first boxed set ready for paint. I usually trim my figures at work during my lunch and coffee breaks, so I get a few models done per day. I reserve painting for home.

I also received a wealth of inspirational literature from a good friend; Roly, which will help me in some colour choices and uniform details to get these figures painted up correctly.

Here today (29/3/11) I present a shot 'from the workbench'

The first boxed set of 36 infantry figures, ready to go to war for the confederacy.

I'll keep this post updated with progress shots...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Court of Fallen Kings

I found and managed to complete three more barrow wights I had acquired, which brought me up to the eight models I needed to form the Court of Fallen Kings for my Angmar War of the Ring army.

They are a lovely, spooky formation quite apt to the forces of Angmar.

The bodies of the past Fallen Kings of Arnor, buried in Barrows in the old fashion way, very similar to Saxon barrows in evidence in the UK, but i digress...

And so it was that when the Witch King came to Angmar to raise an army to destroy Arnor, he sent forth foul spirits to inhabit and animate the corpses of the Kings of old, and bring them forth from their barrows to terrify and kill their foes.

I must admit one of these figures is different to the rest, it's a much older 'Barrow Wight' model from GW/Citadel, but as such it makes a distinctive 'leader' of the company, with a suitably imposing sword!

I hope to see this formation in action soon.

My only slight misgiving, in the depiction of the models, is the colour the 'eavy Metal team chose to paint them up in; a blue tinge. My last re-reading of Lord of the Rings, where the hobbits are captured on the Barrow Downs by the Barrow Wight, mentions a 'pale greenish light', when Frodo is trapped in the Barrow. However the wights are also associated with cold and freezing, and these words tend to make us think of blue as a colour, so I guess they could have been done in either colour, after all.

Haldir's Elves - Legendary Formation

I managed to finish the Galadhrim banner bearer model I had, to add to my recently completed Galadhrim warriors.

This then allowed me to put together the Legendary Formation of Haldir's Elves...

This formation seemed the perfect place to include Galadriel, Celeborn and a Stormcaller...

...and a little help from Rivendell, in the form of Elrond and his twin sons, Elladan and Elrohir. Just enough figures to complete the legendary formations maximum size of four companies. I am not sure I would field these like this, its a lot of 'eggs in one basket' so to speak, but I imagine it would be quite a powerful formation on the battlefield.

It makes for a very nice picture too ;-)

PS... actually just checked the army lists, for some reason Haldir's Elves cannot include a Stormcaller. I can only assume therefore that this formation is the 'Legendary Formation' that arrived at Helms Deep in the movie, without a Stormcaller...
Still, its still possible to put the above together, just using a regular Galadhrim regiment.
This one formation with all Heroes as listed, comes in at a little over 1000 points for WOTR!

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings. Sauron. The Dark Lord. Lord of the Black Land.

He has many titles.

Originally a Maiar, who was swayed to follow Melkor; a Valar who became known as Morgoth to the Elves. Morgoth and his lieutenant Sauron, led the forces of evil against the Valar, Elves and Edain in the battles of the First Age of Middle Earth.

Although Morgoth and his hosts were finally defeated, and fortess lair of Angband thrown down and laid bare, many evil creatures fled the wreck and hid in the east, including Sauron, and the Balrog that hid in Moria.

And thus it was the evil rose once again.

In battles and betrayals with the Elves and Numenoreans through the Second Age of Middle Earth, finally these two forces came together in the Last Alliance, and fought together against Sauron and his dark forces in Mordor.
This is the image we see in PJ's movie trilogy, in the opening 'Prelude' battle sequence at the start of the Fellowship of the Ring, and a great and awesome image it is too. The model from GW is an excellent representation.

I must admit, I just had to buy the model, simply from a collectors perspective. How could you play Lord of the Rings and not have The Lord of the Rings? ;-)

However, I am not sure whether I will routinely field him in my tabletop forces. He is rather pigeon holed into one great conflict, thus probably best scenario based, rather than a routine adversary. And as in terms of the game, he is exceptionally powerful in the SBG skirmish game, and yet in the WOTR battle game, whilst powerful, he has some unexpected weaknesses!

Still, a marvelous model to have on the wargames room shelves. :-)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Necromancer of Dol Guldur

The Necromancer of Dol Guldur. Later to be revealed by the Wise to be Sauron, the Dark Lord, returned to Middle Earth, some 2000 years after his defeat by the forces of The Last Alliance. Yet still not yet able to fully take physical form.

Eventually the The White Council assembled and attacked Dol Guldur, forcing the Necromancer to flee to East, where he would build his strength once more before returning to Mordor, and rebuilding his fortress of Barad Dur, in readiness for the battles of the War of the Ring, at the end of the Third Age.

Sadly at the time, the Wise of the White Council did think to destroy the fortress of Dol Guldur, and this once more was re-occupied by Ringwraiths, led by Khamul the Easterling.

I must admit I was a little disappointed by the quality of the cast parts of this model. There was a huge mis-alignment between the front and rear halves that needed extensive greenstuff puttying to hide the gap.

But once this work was done the model has painted up nicely.

I now have a suitable figure to lead my forces of Dol Guldur.

Theodred - King's son, doomed to die!

Theodred, son of King Theoden of Rohan. Marshall of the Riddermark.

Mortally wounded in the First Battle of the Fords of Isen, defending the Westfold of Rohan against invading forces from Saruman's Isengard.

A nice Hero to add to my small forces of Rohan for War of the Ring.

This was a 2nd-hand model I acquired, where the horse had a snapped foot, a common problem with the plastic horses of Rohan where only one hoof is in base contact with the models base. I reattached the broken hoof, with wire pinning through the base and some greenstuff to hide the join. I also reared up the horses pose a little to make it a bit more dynamic. Finally I used a little greenstuff to extend the reins into the mans hand from the plastic horse. It makes the whole model look a little more 'real'.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wargaming An Introduction

My young son came back from a trip to the library today with this clutched eagerly in his hands. He said he'd got it out for me. I smiled as I took it from him and had a flick through the pages. He excitedly excaimed its "got everything from Alexander the Great to World War II".

Well, I have to say that was a fair summation.

Although not terribly useful to me now, although I wish I'd had a copy about 20 years ago, for a beginner, or someone looking to get in to the hobby but not quite sure where to start, this is an excellent first book to consider. After a nice introduction and preface, which rung several bells for me, in fact in parts it almost felt like a lift from my very first blog post here, it then goes on to detail all facets of wargaming.

It discusses, figure scales, types of wargame and various periods as previously mentioned above.

It also includes some basic rules sets for several of these periods. So with this book you can try out wargaming without having to initially splash out on any expensive rulebooks to start with.

I am quite sure for anyone with an inkling of interest, this book will kick start them off very smartly in the hobby.

You can see more at good old Amazon:

Although my son is already the budding wargamer, and for the first time beat me playing the board wargame "BattleLore" today, although I have to say he did get some very good cards... ;-) , I hope he may sit down and have a read through this book himself.

There are some nice color plates in the centre of various painted wargames armies, and also a simple Napoleonic battle report at the end to set the scene, so to speak.

Well worth a look!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lord of the Rings - Strategy Battle Game - Battle Report

One of the things I really like about the story of the Lord of the Rings, is the wealth of background information that Tolkien gave us to add context to the tale. This gives the story great depth and 'realism', through a sense of history, to the tale.
The appendices including the Tale of Years, are invaluable, and I have often found myself perusing though them.

The aspects of the histories I really enjoy are the events surrounding the Rise of the Witch King of Angmar and the battles in the far north that led to the downfall of Arnor, and the rise of the Fortress of Dol Guldur, and the threat it brought to the West.

There is a lovely sense of menace and foreboding about Dol Guldur. A sinister, malevolent cancer of a place, from which spread all manner of creepy evil creatures.
To my mind it lends itself a sense of Gothic horror, which I find wonderfully appealing in terms of story and sinister forces being gathered together.

I think part of this appeal is also the tie in with the story in The Hobbit, as here we have the Necromancer directly discussed, and it just so happens that at this time, TA ~2941, that the Quest of Erebor takes place, and the White Council force the Necromancer to abandon Dol Guldur. However, even though Sauron abandons it, it is later occupied once again by Nazgul, and forces there grow once more...

Consequently I have to say one of my more favorite SBG supplements is the Fall of the Necromancer.

I therefore present to you a Mirkwood themed battle, where a wood elf force led by Legolas, defends the Woodland Realm against an orc raiding force.

The game was played between my young son Christopher and myself.

The game was played on a 48"x 48" board, with 750 points of troops per side.

The Elves force was:

Legolas with Elven cloak
Wood Elf Captain
Wood Elf Banner
8 x Wood Elf with glaive and throwing daggers and elven cloak
8 x Wood Elf with spear, throwing daggers and elven cloak
8 x Wood Elf with Elf Bow, throwing daggers and elven cloak
Radagast the Brown.

I decided to include Radagast to give the elves some magic support and felt Radagast was a likely themed choice given the potential threat to his dwelling at Rosgobel in the western eaves of the forest.

The orc raiding force was huge by comparison:

Orc captain with shield
2 x Orc shamen
Orc banner
8 x Orc with bow
9 x Orcs with shield
7 x Orc with two handed weapon
8 x Orc with spear
Spider queen
4 x Giant spiders
2 x Giant bats
Wild Warg Chieftan
6 x Wild Wargs

Christopher commanded the elves, and deployed them 6" in from his board edge. He set up a line of elves centrally with Radagast and banner, with Legolas off on left flank with some elves, and the captain with more elves on his right flank. Both these flank forces were trying to occupy woodland, which would hopefully catch the orc force in a crossfire of arrows.

I split my orcs into two bands, to go round either side of the large woodland in front of my centre. The spiders went down the right flank and the wargs down the left. The bats were positioned to fly over the central woodland.

Before we get the battle underway, I thought I'd make some comments:
I wasn't out to annihilate my son, and tried to help him with some of his movement decisions. Also I didn't play aggressively with might points, nor calling heroic moves etc, but allowed him to do so normally.

Also in regards terrain, and particularly "area terrain" like woodland. Whilst the area is considered difficult ground, I find it too fussy to have to have each tree where it is, and work out vision and in the way shots for each tree in turn. So I made the call that, woodland blocked LOS to troops either side of it. But troops in it can see out and be seen in, or through it by other troops in same terrain feature. All such troops in area terrain could claim benefit of cover, of one in-the-way shot, needing a 4+ to get past the woodland cover.

We also forgot many things that may have helped our forces, like banner re-rolls, and I having got 2 shaman into position through the game with Fury cast, kept forgetting to implement its affects... It's tricky when you are having to do the thinking for both sides, take pictures and write report notes... The main thing was we played an enjoyable game, and you get to read a report with some nice pictures!

Also, the army lists may not have been killer lists either, but I prefer to play with painted troops, and used what I had painted up.

To Battle!

Turn 1: Priority to Elves.
The elven captain and a small group of bow armed elves advanced into the eaves of a wood on the elven right flank. The central group of elves re-aligned themselves slightly, and Radagast cast Terrifying Aura on himself.
The evil forces advanced broadly, with wargs led by wild warg chieftain down evil left flank, spiders and spider queen down right flank, the two mobs of orcs moved down either side of central wood, and bats flew forward into cover behind wood. Both orc shamen fail to cast Fury!

Turn 2: Priority to Elves.
Legolas leads a small band of elves into eaves of woods on elven left flank. The rest of the elves stay in position. The evil forces continue their advance, with both orc shamen successfully casting Fury.
The elves begin shooting; a volley of five shots is aimed at the wargs but they just hit trees. There is more success from Legolas's group of elven shooting as they slay a spider.

Turn 3: Priority to Elves
The elven bow groups adjust their position along inner eaves of the two woods, trying to get better shooting positions on the advancing evil forces. The wargs skirt between marsh and wood. The spiders race into woods, unimpeded by the terrain. The bats fly to the front. The orc mobs continue their advance.
More arrows fly killing another spider, wounding a bat swarm, and a thrown dagger hits the wild warg chieftain, but this is saved by a fate point.

Turn 4: Priority to Elves
The elves adjust position slightly again, trying to best get into position to receive the evil advance as best they can. The wargs rush on heedless, and two more are dropped to elven bow fire. The spiders manage to see the elves now through the woods having closed in, their elven cloaks no longer hiding them from view at his close distance, and two spiders manage to charge the elven bowmen. The Spider Queen and bats also now get in on the action, charging a lone elf. All the elves caught in melee are slain this turn.

Turn 5: Priority to Elves.
A crucial turn! Legolas charges Spider Queen, with spear support, and an elf with glaive intercepts a bat swarm. However the second bat swarm flies over to eliminate the spear support. The elven bow line pull back from spiders in the woods. Radagast advances and casts Aura of Dismay. (This seemed a great spell to cast at this point to save elves from being over run - we had forgotten the effects of Fury would have made this void, but never mind...!) The elf captain charged the wild warg chieftain with a spear support, as the other elves back off into the woods. The rest of the elven central line advance to protect Radagast. Two wargs manage to charge in but spiders fail their terror tests. The bats fly forward.
Legolas calls a Heroic Combat versus the Spider Queen and slays her, using up might points. He follows up into bat swarm, and beats them back wounding them twice. The second bat swarm is also beaten off. The elf captain beats back the wild warg chieftain and it is again saved by a fate point. More fighting sees antagonists square off but nothing more killed this turn.

Legolas fights and slays Spider Queen

Elf captain fights off wild warg chieftain

Turn 6: Priority to Orcs - finally!
Radagast calls a Heroic move and cast Aura of Dismay again. The elves fall back allowing evil advance into a barrage of throwing daggers dropping three more orcs and one warg. The elf captain is caught in a fight with wild warg chieftain again but he still has his spear support. Legolas on the left flank with help from four elves, tries to deal with remaining two spiders and two bat swarms.The elven captain beats off the wild warg chieftain using his last might point and wounds it twice. Legolas beats off and disperses the weakened bat swarm.Another elf wounds a spider while the remaining bat swarm pushes back its elven opponent.

Turn 7: Priority to Evil
Radagast calls a heroic move again with his last might point and again casts Aura of Dismay. The elves fall back around Radagast to base of the board - there was no where else to go, and they were hemmed in by the "edge of the world effect". In reality they would have continued to fall back using throwing daggers and bow fire. But that would have meant leaving the 'battlefield' and the game to the evil forces. So they stood their ground. Elven daggers drop another orc, and Legolas shoots another dead. The wild warg chieftain suffers a mortal blow from a plucky elf with spear support whilst the elf captain slays an orc. The remaining bat swarm and a spider each kill an elf.

Turn 8: Priority to Elves
Legolas runs to hide in woods, and a lone elf retreats pursued by remaining spiders. The four remaining elven bows on right flank withdraw, drawing wargs after them.The elven line retreats to board edge as orcs close in. Radagast Immobilizes bat swarm. One of the wargs is slain by a throwing dagger, and another is beaten in combat. One orc is slain in fighting, as two more elves die in the line, and the two spiders catch and kill the lone spear armed elf.

Turn 9: Priority to Elves.
Legolas retreats further into wood, drawing 2 orcs after him, he shoots one dead. The elves on right flank now close in and surround remaining warg. The trapped central elven line take a 'do or die' attitude and charge into orc mob, as it cannot retreat further. The orc archers, who thus far haven't hit a thing, finally drop a lone elf. The final warg is overwhelmed. Two more elves die in the fighting line, as Radagast beats back the orc captain, wounding him once. More elves fall in the melee, taking them to their break point.

Turn 10: Priority to Orcs
The orc captain and two orcs fail this time to charge Radagast, which blocks up end of orc line for further movement. One elf runs off having failed his courage test. The rest of the orcs pile in against elven line, it begins to get ugly for the elves. Radagast Renews a might point to the elf captain. A spider and two orcs die in the melee, taking the orcs to their break point.

Radagast strides forward casting Aura of Dismay

Radagast fights off the orc captain

Turn 11: Priority to Orcs.
With both sides now broken, we fight a final round of combat where three more orcs die, but elves finally surrender, realizing they cannot hold off the inevitable. It was at this point we had remembered the effects of Fury from the shamen, and the orcs were not going to run away, which the elves had been hoping for!

In Conclusion
We both really enjoyed the game, and I think looking back I think Chris should have formed his elves up into a solid firing line from the start, rather then splitting his forces early on. He probably could have got two better rounds of shooting off early on which may have made a difference, perhaps dropping more wargs and spiders earlier which could have made a difference later on.
Great fun and Chris is keen to try this out again, to try this tactic.
In fairness to him though, his tactic wasn't too bad and was probably influenced by this thoughts of woods elves fighting in the woods and his experiences playing the Total War series of computer games where he gets an idea of battlefield tactics. I think he did pretty well, especially maintaining his interest in the game, (helped by him wanting to be in the photos, so that kept him interested too!) which lasted over several evenings. Bed times come quickly when you are seven years old and having fun.

I hope you enjoyed this battle report, they take a surprising amount of effort to do; taking pics, keeping notes through game, then putting it all on to blog post! Several hours that could have been spent painting! ;-)

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Galadhrim Warriors

The Galadhrim, Sindarin for "people of the trees". Here depicted as warriors from Lothlorien.

I like these warriors a great deal, and find them a good, medium infantry for the elves to use to defend their woodland realms and go on the offensive at need, against their ever present foes in the Misty Mountains and from Dol Guldur in the south of Mirkwood.

Interestingly, whilst the elves are not directly featured in the Lord of the Rings book as a fighting force, PJ made the decision to involve them at the battle of Helm Deep. Purists may argue this was near 'blasphemy' and against canon, but it does bring the elves as a fighting force at the time of the War of the Ring into the movie, and because of this fact alone we have a template for the model makers to make figures for us. If it hadn't been for this, we may not have had elven warriors, other than those from the scenes of the Last Alliance battle, or the wood elves of the Woodland Realm.

Plus I quite liked the idea behind PJ's thinking to involve them at this point in the tale. I guess it could be argued they took the place of the Grey Company, who did not make it into the movie.

The only thing I find a little strange with the models (but true to the movie armour depiction) is the two holes in the top of the helmet. Presumably to save weight and allow ventilation? But from a protection point of view, a little odd perhaps...

I just have to finish the banner bearer and the unit will look complete.

Morgul Knights

"All that host was clad in sable, dark as the night. Against the wan walls and the luminous pavement of the road Frodo could see them, small black figures in rank upon rank, marching swiftly and silently, passing outwards in an endless stream. Before them went a great cavalry of horsemen moving like ordered shadows, and at their head was one greater than all the rest: a Rider, all in black, save that on his hooded head he had a helm like a crown that flickered with a perilous light."

from The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four , The Ring goes East, The stairs of Cirith Ungol.

Moving like ordered shadows - I loved that bit, a real sense of menace and malice!

I received these as a Christmas present from my mother-in-law, so naturally they jumped to the front of the painting queue! Upon opening them and examing the contents I was surprised to find they had been sculpted with very skull like faces - no nose, empty eye sockets and bared teeth. I had never envisaged these riders as wraith like or undead. I had always thought of them as men, of the race of the Black Numenoreans, and thus much like the Mouth of Sauron. So I had expected a normal flesh face...

Hmmm thought I, well lets see if we can change them. So out came the green-stuff, and with a will there's a way. I filled the eye sockets and made a groove for the eye slits. I added a nose. That was all they needed to my mind as most of the face would be hidden behind the rest of the helmet.

Here's some progress shots:

I am quite happy with the way they turned out even if I am not the best scupltor in the world! It was a little fiddly and could be argued why bother when you can barely see the effect at a distance. But at least I know they've got faces.

I realize, as I may have said before, its difficult to get excited, by the look of dull black figures, especially when you may be used to looking at the pomp and ceremony of Napoleonic and other colourful historical periods. But they demand their own attention , and getting just the right amount of highlight on black cloth can be tricky without it looking too gray. I love the dark armour on them too.

I will look forward to using them in battle at the head of my Mordor armies. I have tried them out a couple of times before they were quite finished in games against my regular elven opponent and each time he has thrown the proverbial "kitchen sink" at them, so they must put the willies up him anyway! I hope one day I can actually get to have a successful charge with them ;-)

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